1. says

    Here’s a link to the June 3 Guardian (support them if you can!) coronavirus world liveblog.

    From their latest summary:

    John[s] Hopkins university confirmed that more than two billion vaccine doses have been distributed worldwide, with Israel remaining the country with the most vaccinated – as nearly six-in-10 people are fully inoculated against Covid.

    The US is to donate 75% of its unused Covid-19 vaccines to the UN-backed Covax global vaccine sharing program, president Joe Biden announced as more Americans have been vaccinated and global inequities have become more glaring.

    India placed an order for 300m doses of an as-yet unapproved coronavirus vaccine, a day after its Supreme Court criticised the government for bungling the country’s vaccination programme.

    The potential Covid treatment based on a cocktail of monoclonal antibodies developed by US drugmaker Regeneron and Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche was purchased by the EU to the tune of about 55,000 doses.

    The US embassy ‘strongly suggested that US citizens make plans to leave Afghanistan as soon as possible’ amid spiking reported Covid cases and US citizens reportedly being denied admittance because of a lack of beds, with other concerns unrelated to the virus in the country also growing.

    The head of a Pakistani province decreed that government employees who refuse to be vaccinated against Covid would not be paid from next month.

    A cruise ship arrived in Venice, Italy, for the first time in 17 months, signalling the return of tourists after the pandemic but enraging those who decry the impact of the giant floating hotels on the world heritage site.

  2. says

    Guardian – “ECJ rejects Hungarian case against MEPs’ vote to pursue sanctions”:

    The European court of justice has dismissed an attempt by Hungary to reverse the outcome of a vote by MEPs that for the first time in the EU’s history triggered a process that could lead to a country being stripped of voting rights in Brussels.

    A resolution in 2018 raising concerns over the independence of Hungary’s judiciary, the functioning of its constitution and attacks on freedoms of association, religion and expression passed by a majority of votes cast.

    Hungary’s government, led by the prime minister, Viktor Orbán – who last week met Boris Johnson in Downing Street – argued in court that the European parliament had committed a “massive fraud” [yawn] as abstentions should have been taken into account.

    A resolution triggering the so-called “nuclear option” of article 7 in the EU treaties, capable of leading to the suspension of certain rights resulting from EU membership, requires a two-thirds majority of votes cast to be passed. Of the votes cast in Hungary’s case, 448 were in favour, 197 were against and 48 MEPs who were present abstained.

    In its ruling on Thursday, the ECJ said the parliament had followed the correct procedures and that MEPs’ abstentions do not have to be counted in determining whether the two-third majority has been achieved.

    It said abstention could not be treated in the same way as a vote cast. The MEPs were notified before the vote that abstentions would not be counted.

    The court noted that acts adopted by the parliament under article 7 must also obtain the agreement of a majority of MEPs. Abstentions were taken into account in order to ascertain that the vote in favour represented the views of the majority of MEPs, it found. The court’s decision cannot be appealed.

    Hungary and Poland are the only two EU member states currently subject to an article 7 procedure, which could theoretically lead to the suspension of the countries’ voting rights in the bloc’s institutions. The 2018 vote was the first time the European parliament had triggered an article 7 procedure against an EU member state.

    In reality, the risk to Budapest and Warsaw of losing their voting rights is slight. It takes the support of 26 of 27 member states to suspend rights, and the two countries have pledged to protect each other from censure.

    The difficulty in executing article 7 led in part to the EU agreeing on a new rule of law mechanism this year that permits the European Commission to suspend funding from the bloc’s budget to a member state that is found to be in breach of fundamental democratic values.

    Gwendoline Delbos-Corfield, a Green MEP from France, said: “Today’s ruling once again proves that the European parliament was right to overcome the European Commission’s inaction on the rule of law by triggering the article 7 procedure against the Hungarian government.

    “This ruling clearly sets out that the commission is not the only ‘guardian of the treaties’ and when there are serious threats to European values, the parliament can and must act. More than ever, the council urgently needs to take up its responsibility to protect the rule of law and take action on Hungary. The parliament has shown its willingness to act for years, yet the council has not organised a single hearing of Hungary since December 2019.”

  3. says

    Josh Marshall:

    By rights, it’s over and in effect it probably is over. Last night Israel’s opposition finalized and formally agreed to create a coalition government that will remove Benjamin Netanyahu from power. The coalition stretches from the right to the left and includes an Arab Israeli Islamist party. The architect of the new government is opposition leader Yair Lapid, whose deftness, patience and self-abnegation in this effort is really hard to capture or overstate. He has the signed document, which will make the right-wing Naftali Bennett Prime Minister for the government’s first two years, and he’s brought that to the country’s President. In the Israeli system, that’s it, all but the formality of the parties who just agreed to the deal voting it into power in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament.

    But Netanyahu isn’t letting go.

    The parliamentary vote is a formality but a critical formality.

    No two political systems are the same. As a parliamentary system, Israel is fundamentally different from the US inasmuch as a government can ‘fall’ entirely legally and legitimately at any time. It just takes a certain number of the governments parliamentary supporters voting against it. But the January 6th comparison is very apt because Netanyahu is now using various extra-legal and extra-constitutional means to stay in power. How far he will go is unclear.

    […] Over the last week the country has seen a campaign of incitement and incitements to violence against the right wingers who are supporting the new government, particularly against the guy who will be its primary beneficiary, incoming Prime Minister Naftali Bennett. But it’s also against members of his party, several of whom have been granted increased security. Similar threats have gone out against left members of the coalition. As we saw 25 years ago, the Israeli right is quite capable of producing assassins who will change the political equation dramatically and inalterably.

    […] The Speaker of the Knesset is a Netanyahu ally named Yariv Levin and he says he’ll simply refuse to hold a vote to make the new government official. He can’t refuse forever. But this has never happened before so it’s not totally clear how long he can delay. I’ve heard he can do it for a week. But again it’s not entirely clear.

    The idea is that each day of delay is a day when mounting pressure could break free more right wing members of the coalition or new events could emerge that break it up on its own. This is quite possible. I mentioned above the campaign of incitements to violence. Beyond that and not entirely distinguishable from that is pressure on these right wing members from friends, family, professional and political associates that they are betraying their movement, their country, themselves etc. The coalition is brittle at every point. If you just keep hitting it there’s a decent chance it will crack somewhere. If it does that will almost certainly force yet another election and that means at least months of Netanyahu remaining in power as caretaker Prime Minister. More days of delay are simply more days to hit it and hope it will crack somewhere.

    Netanayhu has created a situation and a mentality in which for a lot of the country his continuance in office is existential. So expect the coming days to be filled with chaos and threats […]

    With the Speaker in the way, the logical move is to remove the Speaker. And the architect of all this, Yair Lapid, worked overnight to begin that process. But incoming Prime Minister Bennett’s party, Yamina, won’t give its votes for that. What to do? Another Arab party (not technically a party but a parliamentary list), the Joint List, says it will provide its votes to do so.

    This is one of those absurd situations that are rife in Israeli politics. The Joint List won’t join or support the government because it opposes on principle supporting a government with the right wing Bennett as Prime Minister. So the question now is whether Bennett and Yamina will allow the Joint List members to can the Speaker to speed up Bennet becoming Prime Minister.

    Did you get the interworkings there? Nonsense. But here we are.

    It is oddities like these – the right wing Bennett’s new government relying, even indirectly on another Arab party to birth it into power – that Netanyahu is hoping will break the whole thing apart. And it might.

    But the big picture is the most important here. When you lose an election you’re supposed to leave. Netanyahu’s not leaving. He’s not doing anything illegal per se, at least not yet. But it is broadly comparable to the situation from mid-November of last year when it was clear that Trump had lost but he spent two more months refusing to accept that.

    Eventually things got dangerously and lethally out of hand. It might here too.


  4. says

    DC Metropolitan Police officer Michael Fanone, who was brutally assaulted during the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection:

    “Here I am escorting the mother of a dead policeman while she and myself advocate for the formation of a commission to investigate the circumstances which resulted in her son’s death — and you have a leader on Capitol Hill who’s making phone calls asking for personal favors and doling out political capital to push for a no vote on that commission,” Fanone said. “It was absolutely disgraceful.”

  5. says

    Blustery insurrectionist Mo Brooks real quiet when private investigator tries to serve him papers

    Republican Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama has a lot of questions to answer. Brooks isn’t good at answering questions, but he is good at making wild and baseless statements, and weaving together conspiracy theories that QAnon types find titillating. During the Jan. 6. ‘Stop The Steal’ rally in Washington, D.C.—the one that led to an attempted coup d’etat at our nation’s Capitol building—Mo Brooks stood in front of the crowd and said, “Today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass! Now, our ancestors sacrificed their blood, their sweat, their tears, their fortunes, and sometimes their lives, to give us, their descendants, an America that’s the greatest nation in world history. So I have a question for you: Are you willing to do the same? My answer is yes. Louder. Are you willing to do what it takes to fight for America? [cheers and applause] Louder! Will you fight for America?”

    We know he did this because it was recorded and broadcast nationally. Since that time, Brooks, like the rest of the Republican Party, has gone all in, duplicitously telling the American public that the Jan. 6 insurrection wasn’t a big deal while also saying that the November 2020 election results are fraudulent. And while the Republican Senate minority was successful in thwarting the will of the American people and our democracy by filibustering away a commission that would have investigated what happened on Jan. 6, 2021, Democratic officials are not done trying to hold people accountable for their actions. Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell of California is one of those officials trying to get to the bottom of what exactly happened—and he has the slimy and wriggling Mo Brooks in his sights.

    CNN reports that a new filing by Rep. Swalwell’s attorneys in a lawsuit he has brought against Mo Brooks, as well as the twice-impeached Donald Trump, his son Donald Trump Jr., and leaky oil can Rudy Guiliani, gives up some interesting details about how cowardly Brooks is in the wild. Rep. Swalwell’s attorneys have said that they have had such a difficult time trying to serve Brooks with the official lawsuit and papers that they were forced to hire a private investigator for the job. On Wednesday, the judge overseeing the case gave Swalwell’s team 60 days to properly serve Brooks his notice, but “due to separation of powers concerns,” would not allow U.S. Marshals to be used to serve them.

    During April and May, Swalwell’s team says they got the run-around from Brooks’ underlings. They also say that Brooks has stonewalled their attempts to contact him via phone and email:

    “Plaintiff had to engage the services of a private investigator to attempt to serve Brooks personally — a difficult feat under normal circumstances that has been complicated further in the wake of the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol that Defendants incited,” Swalwell’s court filing continued. “Plaintiff’s investigator has spent many hours over many days in April and May at locations in multiple jurisdictions attempting to locate and serve Brooks, to no avail.”

    Swalwell’s attorneys have been very diplomatic in the handling of this case, telling CNN, “The problem here is that Mo Brooks’ door is under lock and key … There was just no access to the primary place that he was for much of the day. It just takes persistence and luck sometimes. We’re not claiming Brooks is hiding in a bunker somewhere. But it takes a lot of effort.” Brooks is the only one of the four named in the lawsuit who has yet to respond.

    Mo Brooks has been unrepentant about the Jan. 6 catastrophe, first attempting to blame the violence at the Capitol building on antifa, and subsequently decrying all attempts at investigating the events surrounding Jan. 6 as political stunts. It’s pure GOP authoritarianism with people like Brooks. If you want to know what they are guilty of, just listen to what they are accusing others of.

    Video snippets are available at the link

  6. says

    Trump administration secretly seized phone records of yet another group of reporters

    Add The New York Times to the list of media outlets that has now learned that the Trump Justice Department secretly seized phone records of some its reporters. The Times joins The Washington Post and CNN on that list. As in those cases, the Biden Justice Department revealed the seizures, saying that the Times reporters—Matt Apuzzo, Adam Goldman, Eric Lichtblau, and Michael S. Schmidt—were not themselves targets of investigation. Instead, the Trump administration was looking for information on their sources.

    The phone records, dating to early 2017, were seized in 2020. The Trump administration also obtained a court order for their email logs, but didn’t follow through and seize those. The Times was not notified of what story the leak investigation pertained to, but, based on the time frame of the records seizures and the reporters involve, believes it’s likely to be reporting about former FBI director James Comey’s decision to publicly announce the FBI’s recommendation against prosecuting former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton relating to her private email server. That reporting mentioned a classified document obtained from Russia by Dutch intelligence.

    President Joe Biden has said he will ban secret seizures of reporters’ records, telling CNN’s Kaitlan Collins: “It’s simply, simply wrong. I will not let that happen.” And a Justice Department spokesman said after the latest disclosure that “members of the news media have now been notified in every instance” of such records seizures. […]

    The problem is that while Biden may ban the practice during his time in office, a future Republican administration is likely to pick it back up, along with the other ways the Justice Department abused power under Trump. Like intervening in a lawsuit on behalf of Rep. Devin Nunes, or trying to seize the profits of a tell-all book about Melania Trump, or trying to step in as Trump’s personal lawyer in E. Jean Carroll’s defamation suit against him. Time after time, the Justice Department treated Donald Trump’s personal interests as government matters while also, we’ve now learned, secretly targeting reporters’ communications in leak investigations. […]

    this is another way Trump has chipped away at U.S. democracy, and if there’s no permanent fix to the damage he’s done, the stage is set for more and worse.

  7. says

    McConnell giggles as he shares his extremely whitewashed version of U.S. history

    The New York Times’ 1619 Project was created in order to refocus American history on its story of race and economics. The 1619 date is a reminder of the first enslaved Africans brought by ship to the early European settlements in North and South America. This is history that has long been available to people to discover, but has also been ignored and frequently hidden or suppressed in our country’s official retellings of our collective story. Conservatives across the country, bereft of any ideas since feudalism, are recasting the 1619 Project and other critical race theory educational initiatives as an attack on our country. In their estimation, only white males like themselves are allowed to feel persecuted […]

    On Wednesday, Sen. McConnell took time away from never passing any legislation that wasn’t voter suppression-related or a tax break for the richest amongst us, to speak at a press conference in the Citizens Union Bank in Shelbyville, Kentucky. McConnell’s fellow Kentuckian Republican Rep. Joseph Fischer recently filed Bill Request 60, for the upcoming 2022 state legislature session that would limit how race and the history of racism in our country is taught. […]

    On Wednesday, McConnell told the press that the fact the world participated in slavery and the slave trade during the 17th century means that in America historians marking the first enslaved Africans brought to the Americas isn’t important history. That’s what he argued. [video available at the link]

    […] McConnell’s attempt at speaking out of both sides of his mouth included this statement: “I think trying to completely denigrate and downgrade American historical moments like 1776, 1787, 1965—critical moments—is a mistake.” If you want to know what truly denigrates and downgrades our country’s history, and specifically what those dates mark, all you need to see are McConnell’s own actions in orchestrating a filibuster of a commission into the events of Jan. 6—something that had the bipartisan support of his own constituents. As for the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Republican Party is in the middle of generating hundreds of voter suppression laws throughout the country.

    Here’s McConnell telling people that systemic racism and our country’s use of slavery and racism as a controlling economic foundation is “exotic.” [video is available at the link]

  8. says

    Wonkette: “Shh! Attempted Whitmer Kidnapping Suspect Doesn’t Want You To Know God Told Him To Do It!”

    Back in October, several men, many of them militia members, were arrested for their parts in a plot to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, allegedly to put her on “trial” for doing tyranny to the state of Michigan by enacting restrictions meant to stop the spread of COVID-19.

    One of those men was Barry Croft Jr.

    Croft, a 45-year-old truck driver out of Bear, Delaware, was the official bombmaker of the group, and clearly felt very strongly about not allowing Whitmer to do anything to stop the spread of COVID-19, until he was imprisoned himself and really wanted to be let out for fear he would catch the virus in jail.

    Via Detroit News:

    Prosecutors portray Croft as a ringleader, writing “he was the prime mover behind the group’s construction, testing and detonation of weapons of mass destruction,” Kessler wrote. The prosecutor also cited evidence revealed during bond hearings in October.

    “Evidence adduced at those hearings established that Croft conspired with the other defendants to kidnap the governor … brought materials for an improvised explosive device to a training exercise … participated in the nighttime surveillance of the governor’s home … stopped to inspect a bridge along the way that he planned to bomb … and detonated a second test bomb with shrapnel for use in the plot,” Kessler wrote.

    Croft’s worry now, reportedly, is not that he might be required to wear a face mask in the grocery store to prevent someone else from getting COVID-19, or even that he will contract it himself. Instead, he’s moved on to worrying that people might find out that “God” actually gave him permission to violate the Ten Commandments to stop Whitmer from enacting common-sense safety measures. This information comes from some recorded rantings that the judge in his case was allowed to hear, and which led the judge to refuse to let him out on bond.

    Via Detroit Free Press:

    According to the government, here is some of what Croft does not want the public to hear:

    “Croft expounds in an excited tone about his intent to commit acts of terrorism, and claims God has granted him permission to violate His (God’s) commandments,” prosecutors state in court records. “In one particular passage, Croft explicitly states his intent to kidnap Gov. Whitmer — the primary offense with which he is charged.”

    The media has been fighting for access to this recording, along with several other known recordings and images that Croft and his lawyers are hoping to keep sealed.

    – Photographs of Croft with a “boogaloo” flag, and another with a shotgun.
    – Audio recordings of Croft at a “militia” group meeting in Ohio.
    – Video recording of Croft firing a semiautomatic rifle at a field training exercise in Wisconsin.
    – Audio recording of Croft at a training exercise in Wisconsin.
    – A photograph of a highway bridge near Whitmer’s vacation home.
    – A photograph of Croft’s modified semiautomatic rifle.

    You think they’d also want that picture of him, above, in the tricorn hat [image available at the link] repressed, but that image, and the video interview in which he wore it, remain online for the world to see. But we should probably show you the Boogaloo flag, since we’re here. [Image available at the link]

    Boogaloo flag: igloo, stripes, and a hibiscus layer.

    YEP. That is it!

    Prosecutors argue that releasing this information would not poison the jury pool, “Because Croft’s trial is not until October, and the jury will be drawn from the thirty-four counties … such prejudice is unlikely here.” Media outlets like Buzzfeed have argued that similar information about other defendants has been released and it’s not clear why Croft’s should be any different. It’s not.

    […] absolutely none of these things are remotely unexpected, given who Croft is. Outside of the picture of Whitmer’s vacation home and perhaps the recording about how “God” gave him the thumb’s up on murder, they’re all pretty much what one would assume about the kind of guy who joins militias and wears a tricorn hat.

    The defense lawyers in this case are arguing that none of their clients were literally planning on kidnapping Gretchen Whitmer, and that it was all just a bunch of guys engaging in “tough talk.” And sure, fine, that is a thing people do sometimes. We all come up with plans for things we’re never actually get around to […] But generally speaking, once you actually go out and start doing bomb-testing, it goes from hypothetical “What if we did this?” scenario to actual “plotting to kidnap the governor of Michigan” scenario.

    Frankly, one would think that “I got permission from God to kidnap Gretchen Whitmer” would be the exact kind of thing Croft and his lawyers would want to get out, as it might lead jurors to conclude that he was not all there and thus less culpable than he might be otherwise — but perhaps the whole tape is even more damning than that one clip.


  9. says

    Latest Oath Keeper Arrested Brought 82-Pound German Shepherd Into Capitol, According To Indictment

    An Alabama man charged with conspiring to interrupt Congress on Jan. 6 brought his 82-pound German Shepard, named “Warrior,” into the Capitol with him, according to a federal indictment.

    Jonathan Walden is the 16th person added to a sprawling case docket accusing the Oath Keepers, a nationwide militia group, of conspiring to attack Congress and interrupt the certification of Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory on Jan. 6.

    Walden’s name was initially redacted in the fourth superseding indictment in the case, but was unredacted Thursday after he was arrested, as the Justice Department announced in a press release. On Tuesday, a federal prosecutor told a judge that they were hoping to make plea offers to Oath Keepers charged in the attack over the next several weeks.

    According to the latest indictment, Walden sent an email on or before Jan. 5 stating that he was interested in the “QRF” — quick reaction force. Prosecutors have noted that the Oath Keepers allegedly had men and arms stationed during the attack in a Virginia hotel room, ready to respond to orders to join the fight.

    “I am former Firefighter, EMT-B and have a K-9 trained for security patrol (82 lb. German Shepherd named ‘Warrior’),” Walden allegedly wrote. “I have a Jump Bag with Trauma supplies and have ALL the necessary 2A gear that the situation may require. PLEASE ADVISE. As soon as I hear from you I can hit the road to join up!”

    The indictment noted that a document on codefendant Joshua James’ phone allegedly stated, “Jonathan Walden below is all clear but when I sent return email with burner phone number it was returned so may have to call him.”

    On the day of the attack, Walden allegedly rode with a group of Oath Keepers to the Capitol in a pair of golf carts. They parked near the building and continued on foot, according to the indictment, then “aggressively berated and taunted law enforcement officers” guarding the perimeter of the Capitol before forcibly entering the building about 40 minutes later.

    “Walden brought his dog inside the Capitol,” the indictment stated.

    The man and his dog allegedly left the building after 20 minutes, joining several other people charged in the conspiracy and Stewart Rhodes, the Oath Keepers leader, around 100 feet from the Capitol.

    Rhodes has not been charged with a crime, but he’s consistently popped up in court filings as “Person One.”

  10. says

    White House unveils plan to donate 25 million vaccine doses abroad

    The Biden administration on Thursday announced it will donate 25 million coronavirus doses abroad, with about three quarters of them allocated to the World Health Organization’s COVAX initiative, and the rest donated directly to handpicked countries.

    “We are sharing these doses not to secure favors or extract concessions. We are sharing these vaccines to save lives and to lead the world in bringing an end to the pandemic, with the power of our example and with our values,” President Biden said in a statement.

    The White House said it will donate about 19 million doses to COVAX, which purchases and distributes vaccines to low-and middle-income countries. Administration officials said about 6 million doses will go to Latin America and the Caribbean, 7 million doses will go to Asia, and 5 million will go to Africa.

    Additionally, about 6 million doses will go directly to countries in need, including Mexico, Canada and South Korea, and to United Nations front-line workers.

    Pressure has been growing on the White House to develop a plan to donate its excess vaccines to countries that have been hit hard by the virus without the same access to vaccines as wealthier nations. One concern is that without vaccinations, new variants of the virus may arise in those countries that could threaten the rest of the world.

    Thursday’s announcement, which comes ahead of the Group of Seven Summit next week, stops short of the 80 million total doses promised by the administration last month. Instead, it focuses only on the authorized vaccine doses from Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.

    Biden has said the U.S. will donate “at least” 20 million of those by the end of June.

    He has also pledged to donate 60 million doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine, which is not authorized for use in the U.S., but that effort has been hamstrung by manufacturing safety concerns and a related Food and Drug Administration review. It’s still not clear when, or even if, the FDA review will be complete and the doses will be cleared. […]

  11. says

    Sue Halpern, writing for The New Yorker: The Peril of Not Vaccinating the World

    Absent a concerted global commitment to vaccine equity, the virus will continue to evolve, and humanity may be consigned to a never-ending pandemic.

    When Gregg Gonsalves was a young aids activist and researcher, in the nineteen-nineties, he was struck by a pattern that kept showing up in the data: the distribution of antiviral medications fell neatly along socioeconomic and racial lines: wealthy people got them, and poor people, many of them Black or Hispanic, did not. Later, as an associate professor at the Yale School of Public Health, Gonsalves illustrated the persistence of these kinds of health disparities to his students by overlaying a map of pre-Civil War slave-holdings on a contemporary map of life expectancies, which, not surprisingly, showed that life expectancy was lowest in those regions. “It’s not rocket science that we’re seeing covid-vaccine distribution following those same demographic patterns,” he told me. “We’re just remaining true to form.” According to a recent analysis of C.D.C. data by Kaiser Health News, only twenty-two per cent of Black Americans have been vaccinated, and Black vaccination rates are significantly lower than those of whites in almost every state. Much of what has been called vaccine hesitancy is actually a problem of vaccine access.

    As it turns out, vaccine distribution follows a similar socioeconomic pattern all over the world, with most covid vaccines going to what are called high- and middle-income countries. According to Nature, as of mid-March, those countries had secured more than six billion out of 8.6 billion doses. Less than a week later, the Times reported that “86 percent of shots” that went into arms across the globe were “administered in high- and upper-middle-income countries.” […]

    There are two reasons that a person in London or Los Angeles should care about vaccination rates in Lagos or São Paulo: simple humanity and simple biology. If left unchecked, the loss of human life for families and societies worldwide will be staggering. Viruses are international travellers, and over time they mutate. Wherever vaccine coverage is patchy, there is selective pressure for the virus to evolve resistance. We’ve already seen robust virus variants from South Africa, Brazil, the U.K., and India spread around the world. So far, the first generation of covid vaccines is holding the line against them, but that protection is not guaranteed. […] some epidemiologists think that we have a year or less before the virus breaks through and renders them less effective. […] “the idea that we could revaccinate the whole country or the whole world annually is not an easy challenge. That’s one of the reasons why many people, myself included, think that we should be exploiting the fact that we have vaccines that are incredibly effective right now.”

    […] A more realistic objective is to use mass vaccination to create a bulwark of resistance to prevent the virus from tearing through populations like wildfire. While there still would be flareups, they would die down once the virus lacked a sufficient number of hosts. But, without a concerted global commitment to vaccine equity, poorer regions will remain vulnerable to ferocious outbreaks, giving the sars-CoV-2 virus the opportunity to evolve and, in a worst-case scenario, result in a chronic, never-ending pandemic.

    […] As soon as the mRNA vaccines developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna proved to be both safe and effective, countries with deep pockets, like the United States, signed contracts to buy hundreds of millions of doses, eventually contracting for far more than they needed. The same thing happened later with the vaccines from Oxford University-AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson. […]

    It wasn’t as if these disparities were not anticipated. As early as April of last year, Gavi, a twenty-one-year-old international vaccine alliance, partnered with the W.H.O. and the Oslo-based Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness (cepi) to create covax, an initiative aimed at distributing covid vaccines equitably around the world. Their ambition was to fund vaccine research while also creating mechanisms for any country, regardless of national income, to have access to those vaccines. Participating countries would receive vaccine doses in proportion to their population.

    As of mid-May, covax had distributed sixty-eight million doses—a long way from the goal according to the W.H.O. of two billion by year’s end. (Most are formulations of the AstraZeneca vaccine.) The organization has received a pledge for direct donations of more than a billion doses from pharmaceutical companies and three and a half billion dollars from the U.S. When I asked Chris Elias, the president of global development at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, what it will take to end the pandemic, getting covax fully funded was one key component. On June 2nd, that goal was reached.

    But covax has been stymied by the very thing it was meant to circumvent: vaccine nationalism. One of covax’s biggest suppliers is India’s Serum Institute (S.I.I.), which is partnering with AstraZeneca to manufacture its covid vaccine. covax contracted with S.I.I. to buy more than a billion doses, most of which were slated to go to low- and middle-income countries. But, when the second wave of infections began to devastate India, the Indian government halted vaccine exports. […]

    The United States, the biggest donor to covax, has also been under pressure to do more to help countries struggling to get more vaccines. At the end of April, the Biden Administration committed to releasing sixty million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to countries in need. “That’s showing up to a four-alarm fire with an eyedropper full of water,” Asia Russell, the executive director of Health gap, an aids advocacy group, told the Times. […]

    Pfizer, which spent two billion dollars to develop its messenger-RNA platform—without knowing whether it would prove safe and effective—expects to make fifteen billion dollars from its covid vaccine this year. Industry representatives point to such gambles when they argue that lifting patent restrictions will discourage companies from investing in research and development. In a letter, obtained by The New Yorker, in response to calls from a group of Democratic senators, including Elizabeth Warren, of Massachusetts, and Jeff Merkley, of Oregon, for vaccine developers to share their intellectual property, Jennifer Walton, Pfizer’s vice-president for U.S. government relations, wrote, “Without a strong IP framework, we would not have mRNA vaccine technology, a breakthrough discovery that is helping to address the global pandemic. We believe the IP system is an essential facilitator to the availability of the vaccine […] Walton also argued that opening up the Pfizer vaccine to other manufacturers ran the risk of shutting down the company’s own production, which is now on schedule to deliver a hundred million doses a month. “Manufacturing of our vaccine involves the use of over 280 materials,” she wrote. “These materials come from 86 suppliers in 19 different countries. If any one of the 280 different components from suppliers, however trivial, is not provided, we cannot manufacture or release the vaccine.”

    The C.E.O. of Moderna, Stéphane Bancel, took a different tack. […] in October, the company, which, unlike Pfizer, received billions of dollars from the government to develop its vaccine, had announced that it would not enforce its covid-related patents. Having the recipe for making the vaccine, Bancel explained, was not the same as having the ability to make the vaccine. “There is no mRNA in manufacturing capacity in the world,” he told the group. “This is a new technology. You cannot go hire people who know how to make the mRNA. Those people don’t exist. And then, even if all those things were available, whoever wants to do mRNA vaccines will have to buy the machine, invent the manufacturing process, invest in verification processes, analytical processes. And then they will have to go run a clinical trial, get the data, get the product approved, and scale the manufacturing. This doesn’t happen in six or twelve or eighteen months.”

    […] Increasing vaccine production through technology transfers, although crucial, is insufficient for ending the pandemic. […] Those of us in the United States and other wealthy countries may imagine that to mean living with sars-CoV-2 the way we live with the flu. […] We’ve been blessed with vaccines whose effectiveness against this virus is absolutely remarkable. They give us a shot at potentially eliminating the virus right now in very large parts of the world. If we resign ourselves to perennially trying to keep up with the virus, we could have wasted a remarkable opportunity to rid ourselves of this disease.”

  12. says

    STAT – “A pandemic upside: The flu virus became less diverse, simplifying the task of making flu shots”:

    In the eight years leading up to the Covid-19 pandemic, one of the subtypes of influenza A viruses started acting bizarrely. Flu viruses continuously evolve, to evade the immune defenses humans develop to fend them off. But after 2012, H3N2 started to behave differently.

    It was almost as if there was a falling out within a family. The viruses formed into factions — clades, in virologists’ language — drifting further and further apart with each passing year and making the process of choosing the version of H3N2 to include in flu shots an increasingly challenging task.

    The greater the genetic distance between the clades, the bigger the cost of making the wrong choice. Vaccine that protects reasonably well against one might perform poorly if the other turned out to be the dominant strain in a given winter. In fact, that’s precisely what happened in the 2017-18 season, when the flu shot failed to protect three-quarters of vaccinated people in the U.S. against the H3N2 strain in circulation.

    But an unexpected upside of the Covid-19 pandemic may have solved this problem for us — or at least made flu’s diversity more manageable.

    With Covid suppression measures like mask wearing, school closures, and travel restrictions driving flu transmission rates to historically low levels around the world, it appears that one of the H3N2 clades may have disappeared — gone extinct. The same phenomenon may also have occurred with one of the two lineages of influenza B viruses, known as B/Yamagata.

    Neither has been spotted in over a year. In fact, March of 2020 was the last time viral sequences from B/Yamagata or the H3N2 clade known as 3c3.A were uploaded into the international databases used to monitor flu virus evolution, Trevor Bedford, a computational biologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, told STAT.

    If the global pool of flu viruses has truly shrunk to this degree, it would be a welcome outcome, flu experts say, making the twice-a-year selection of viruses to be included in flu vaccines for the Northern and Southern hemispheres much easier work.

    “I think it has a decent chance that it’s gone. But the world’s a big place,” Bedford said of the H3N2 clade that may have disappeared.

    Florian Krammer, a flu expert at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in Manhattan, has been scouring genetic databases looking for B/Yamagata viruses. He’s hoping the viruses in this lineage are gone for good.

    “Just because nobody saw it doesn’t mean it has disappeared completely, right? But it could,” Krammer said.

    Richard Webby, director of the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Studies on the Ecology of Influenza in Animals and Birds, cautioned that only a portion of flu viruses ever undergo genetic sequencing, so predictions about which flu viruses may have disappeared that are based on what’s in the databases risk being wrong.

    But Webby does believe there has been a large reduction in the diversity of the circulating flu viruses, saying it will be interesting to see how that plays out in coming years.

    “Without doubt this is definitely going to change something in terms of the diversity of flu viruses out there. The extent to which it changes and how long it stays changed are the big question marks. But we have never seen this before,” said Webby, whose center is based at St. Jude Children’s Hospital in Memphis.

    His bet is that the B/Yamagata viruses aren’t gone, noting the flu B virus lineages sometimes go quiet for a while, only to reappear later.

    “But I do think we’re likely to lose a little bit of the H3N2 diversity. That’s a great thing. … Currently when we sit down to make recommendations for vaccine strains, it’s always the headache virus,” Webby said.

    “If we have to pick a [subtype] to lose diversity in, that would be the one.”

    More atl.

  13. says

    Some podcast episodes:

    Fever Dreams – “How a Case of Mistaken Identity Got Me Kicked Out of QAnon HQ with Dave Weigel”:

    You thought Michael Flynn calling for a coup was the most exciting thing to happen at the QAnon conference in Dallas over Memorial Day weekend? Think again, Fever Dreams fans, for just before the wacko retired general longingly wished for a Myanmar-style crackdown here in the U.S. of A., our very own beloved host Will Sommer got kicked out of QCon to a standing ovation. Also on this episode of Fever Dreams, our hosts talk to The Washington Post’s Dave Weigel about the massive GOP push to crackdown on voting rights at the state and local levels, and they discuss how Trump’s associates are trying, and failing, to get the former president to care about encouraging his base to get vaccinated.

    (In the last segment, they talk about this guy Owen Benjamin who appears to be trying to build a white-supremacist compound called “Beartaria” in northern Idaho. Here’s an article by the local journalist they mention, Mike Weland: “Former comic riles neighbors with ‘Bearteria’ plans (updated).”)

    The Muckrake podcast – “Q Anon Is More Widespread Than You Think”:

    Jared Yates Sexton and Nick Hauselman discuss disgraced general Mike Flynn’s affirmative response to a question regarding why we can’t have a Myanmar-style military coup in the United States. Journalist Justin Glawe…, who was at the Q Anon convention where Mike Flynn was speaking, joins the show to add more context and discuss how widespread this movement is. Jared then sits down with Marc-André Argentino…, one of the foremost researchers of Q-Anon and online conspiracy theorism, to talk about how very real the Q Anon threat is, as its spread to our leaders and poses a serious threat.

    (I don’t endorse any mixing in of “fraying of the civil fabric” or “polarization” or hypotheticals about the left with the lucid analysis of what’s happening now, in reality, on the right.)

    QAA – “Episode 143: Jim Caviezel: Enter The Cavortex feat Dave Anthony”:

    Three anonymous sources spoke to Julian Feeld about the actor who played Jesus in Mel Gibson’s ‘The Passion of the Christ’. Dave Anthony, of the Dollop podcast, joined us for this exploration of Jim Caviezel — from his rise to fame and role in Terrence Malick’s ‘The Thin Red Line’, to his promotion of the QAnon-related Adrenochrome conspiracy theory at the ‘Health and Freedom Conference’, to his bizarre and dangerous behavior on the set of ‘Person of Interest’.

    The latest episode of Maintenance Phase, on celery juice:

    Do you have viruses? Cysts? Cancer? Are you tired sometimes? According to Instagram, the problem might be a lack of liquefied vegetables! This week, Mike and Aubrey take on a troubling taste test, meet a ghost with bad intentions and encounter the longest list of problematic celebrities we’ve ever seen.

  14. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    Malala Yousafzai says she fears the coronavirus crisis will cause millions of girls worldwide to lose their education.

    The activist and Nobel Prize laureate, 23, said the pandemic had “drastically” impacted progress made over 20 years, and many young women were being forced to abandon their education, PA reports. Speaking to Vogue, she said: “We have seen progress over the past 20 years, it has been a steady and slow progress, however, things have changed drastically because of Covid. “It’s because these girls are now in their homes and they now have more family work to do, they’re asked to do family chores, they’re asked to become financial supporters for their family. “All these girls are pushed into early child marriages and many of these girls may never be able to return to school. “This is something that we saw in the Ebola crisis as well and this is the fear that I have for girls – that they will lose their education because of this pandemic.”

  15. says

    Guardian – “Hong Kong vigil leader arrested as 7,000 police enforce ban on Tiananmen anniversary protests”:

    Hong Kong police have arrested a prominent barrister for allegedly promoting an unauthorised assembly on the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, as thousands of officers were deployed to enforce a ban on protests and gatherings across the city.

    Police confirmed that barrister and activist Chow Hang Tung, vice-chairwoman of the group which organises annual vigils for the victims of China’s 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy protesters, was arrested. A 20-year-old male was also detained on suspicion of publicising an unlawful assembly through social media posts.

    “Their online remarks involved advertising and calling on others to participate or attend banned public activities,” senior superintendent Law Kwok-hoi told reporters.

    Discussion of Beijing’s brutal military crackdown on the evening of 3 June and morning of 4 June, 1989 is all but forbidden on the mainland. And Hong Kong’s traditional status as the only place in China where large-scale commemorations were tolerated appeared to be coming to an end.

    Thousands of police were deployed on Friday to enforce a ban on the city’s traditional candlelight vigil, which has drawn huge crowds to Victoria Park on 4 June for more than three decades. The day has traditionally served as a display of pro-democracy people power that China has made clear it will no longer tolerate.

    Authorities banned this year’s gathering citing the coronavirus pandemic – although Hong Kong has not recorded an untraceable local transmission in more than a month, and held large public events. Police have also cited the national security law in warning people not to gather for unnamed events, and reminded the public of the recent convictions of some activists.

    Police say that thousands of officers will be on standby to halt any “unlawful assemblies” while officials have also warned that a sweeping new national security law could be wielded against Tiananmen mourners.

    Most of the city’s most prominent democracy figures – many of whom would organise and attend the annual Tiananmen vigils – are in jail, have been arrested or have fled overseas, after Beijing imposed a controversial national security law in Hong Kong last year.

    The threat of mass arrests on Hong Kong has forced those who would normally attend the vigil to think creatively. Activists have called on residents to light candles in their own homes or neighbourhoods on Friday evening, or post commemoration messages on social media.

    Vigils are planned in cities like Tokyo, Sydney, London, Berlin and Washington.

    In mainland China, the Tiananmen anniversary is usually marked with a dramatic increase in online censorship and the square in Beijing being cordoned off.

    Ahead of this year’s anniversary, the Tiananmen Mothers support group made new appeal in a statement. It also said that many young Chinese have “grown up in a false sense of prosperous jubilance and enforced glorification of the government (and) have no idea of or refuse to believe what happened on June 4, 1989, in the nation’s capital.”…

    More atl.

  16. says

    Guardian – “Ousted Myanmar politicians call for Rohingya to join fight against junta”:

    Myanmar’s parallel government has urged Rohingya to join with them in fighting the military junta, promising to offer justice and citizenship to the persecuted minority.

    The statement has been welcomed by rights experts as “an important and notable step forward” in the movement for full rights for the Rohingya, who have faced decades of discrimination and violence in Myanmar.

    Despite roots that go back for centuries, Rohingya are widely seen as foreigners in the country and have been denied citizenship under successive governments, including that of Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD). Her government avoided even using the term Rohingya, instead referring to the minority ethnic group as “Muslims in Rakhine state”. In 2019 Aung San Suu Kyi appalled international observers when she traveled to The Hague to defend the military against allegations of a genocide.

    In a statement on Thursday, Myanmar’s national unity government, which includes many NLD politicians, said attitudes were changing.

    “The entire people of Burma is sympathetic to the plight of the Rohingya as all now experience atrocities and violence perpetrated by the military,” it said.

    “The solidarity of the entire people is now at its best. We are confident that we can build a union that meets the needs of all those in the country who have a stake in its future.”

    The statement said the NUG would scrap a 1982 citizenship law that denies Rohingya citizenship, and which has effectively rendered them one of the largest stateless populations in the world. Citizenship would instead be based on birth in Myanmar, or birth anywhere to a Myanmar citizen, the NUG said.

    The NUG, which was set up after the military coup, also said it was committed to the safe repatriation of Rohingya who have been forced to flee military violence, and promised to “actively seek justice and accountability for all crimes committed by the military against the Rohingya”.

    Nearly 900,000 Rohingya refugees remain stuck in squalid, crowded conditions in refugee camps in neighbouring Bangladesh. This includes about 750,000 people who were forced to flee over the border in 2017, when the military launched a genocidal campaign of violence, rape, murder and torching homes.

    The NUG, which is seeking international recognition, has faced questions, including from the US, over whether it will recognise the citizenship and rights of Rohingya.

    At least 845 people have been killed by the military since it seized power on 1 February, while thousands remain in detention, including Myanmar’s elected politicians.

  17. says

    More re #21:

    DN! – “‘The Second’: Carol Anderson on the Racist Roots of the Constitutional Right to Bear Arms”:

    Do African Americans have Second Amendment rights? That’s the question Emory University professor Carol Anderson set out to answer in her new book, “The Second,” which looks at the constitutional right to bear arms and its uneven application throughout U.S. history. She says she was prompted to write the book after the 2016 police killing of Philando Castile, who was fatally shot during a traffic stop after he told the officer he had a legal firearm. Anderson says the Second Amendment was always intended to be a means of arming white people to control the Black population. “There was this massive fear about these slave revolts, Black people demanding their freedom, being willing to have an uprising to gain their freedom,” says Anderson. “What I saw was that it wasn’t about guns. It was about the fear of Black people.”

    AMY GOODMAN: Gun control advocates are pushing lawmakers to do more to stop a surge in gun violence. A recent study by Everytown for Gun Safety found gun violence took over 19,000 lives in the United States last year — a 25% increase from 2019. Gun sales are also soaring to record levels.

    Despite this, Republican lawmakers are pushing measures to loosen gun control regulations. In Texas, Governor Greg Abbott is expected to soon sign a recently passed bill which would allow Texans to carry handguns openly in public without a permit. It also allows people without a felony criminal conviction to carry a handgun without a background check. Abbott has praised the bill as the, quote, “strongest Second Amendment legislation in Texas history.”

    Well, today we’re going to take a deep look at the Second Amendment and its racist roots. We’re joined by Carol Anderson, author of the new book The Second: Race and Guns in a Fatally Unequal America. Professor Anderson details how the Second Amendment was written to empower local militia groups to put down slave revolts and protect plantation owners. She writes the Second Amendment is, quote, “rooted in fear of Black people, to deny them their rights, to keep them from tasting liberty.” Carol Anderson joins us from Atlanta, where she’s professor at Emory University….

    Full interview and transcript atl.

    Newtown Action Alliance:

    Today is National Gun Violence Awareness Day. Not every homecoming video has a happy ending. Watch. Share. Take Action:… #EndGunViolence #NotComingHome #WearOrange

    Video atl.

  18. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    Russian president Vladimir Putin has – perhaps unsurprisingly – praised his country’s response to the pandemic.

    Addressing an economic forum in St. Petersburg, Putin lauded the efficiency of Russian-designed vaccines and bemoaned what he described as “politically-motivated bans” in some countries on their purchase.

    Last year, Russia boasted of being the first in the world to authorise a coronavirus vaccine, but it has since moved slowly in getting its population immunised, AP reports.

    The news agency said the slack pace of vaccination has been partly attributed to public skepticism about the vaccines amid controversial signals from the authorities.

    Experts have questioned whether Russia will be able to meet the government’s target of vaccinating more than 30 million of the country’s 146 million people by mid-June, and nearly 69 million by August.

    Putin today again urged the Russians to move more quickly to get the shots, noting that the Russia-designed vaccines have been “proven to be the safest and most efficient” and emphasising that there have been no fatalities linked to their use.

    Putin invited foreign nationals to visit Russia to get the coronavirus shots, saying he would instruct the government to move quickly to facilitate that.

    The estimated reproduction “R” number in England remains at over 1 and the epidemic could be growing by as much as 3% each day, the UK’s health ministry has said.

    Reuters reports that the estimated R number was between 1.0 and 1.2, meaning that on average, every 10 people infected will infect between 10 and 12 other people. Last week, it was estimated at between 1.0 and 1.1.

    The daily case growth was estimated at 0% to +3%, remaining at the same rate as last week.

  19. says

    CNN – “House Democrats finally get to interview former White House counsel McGahn”:

    Former Trump White House Counsel Don McGahn is testifying Friday before the House Judiciary Committee about former President Donald Trump’s attempts to obstruct the Russia investigation, in a closed-door interview that’s the culmination of a two-year court fight Democrats waged against the Trump administration.

    The interview is poised to have McGahn put on record with Congress about some of the most pivotal moments of the Trump presidency, such as when Trump directed McGahn to fire then-special counsel Robert Mueller and McGahn refused. These incidents were documented in Mueller’s final report then were nearly eclipsed from public discussion during inter-branch power struggles in 2019 and 2020.

    McGahn served as the top lawyer on Trump’s 2016 campaign and was White House counsel until fall 2018. He was one of the most significant witnesses against Trump — sitting for interviews with the FBI and prosecutors five times in Mueller’s investigation as Mueller sought to chronicle the multiple instances of Trump’s obstructive acts.

    Between 2017 and 2019, McGahn told the special counsel he refused to follow the President’s directions to fire Mueller “deciding that he would resign rather than trigger what he regarded as a potential Saturday Night Massacre,” Mueller’s report said, referring to one of the darkest periods of the Nixon presidency during the Watergate scandal. Trump also told McGahn to deny he had tried to fire Mueller, but the lawyer wouldn’t do it, according to the Mueller report.

    Under the agreement for McGahn’s testimony, committee members and staff who interview McGahn behind closed doors can ask him about the incidents documented in the Mueller report of Trump’s attempts to fire special counsel Robert Mueller and block the Russia investigation, and about the Mueller investigation’s accuracy. The Justice Department can assert executive privilege or McGahn can decline to answer on other topics, meaning Democrats would be unable to press McGahn on other scandals that occurred during Trump’s presidency.

    While the interview is being held behind closed doors, a transcript will be released in the following days, according to the agreement that was reached. He will be interviewed by both Democrats and Republicans on the Judiciary Committee, in alternating rounds.

  20. says

    southpaw on the Pence video:

    Notice the intended applause line about how Pence and members of Congress “did our duty under the constitution and the laws of the United States” falls totally flat before the NH GOP crowd.

    Then they’re on their feet moments later to celebrate the accomplishments of an administration that presided over the preventable deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans. What a strange time this is.

    I did notice this. He was clearly hoping for applause there, but the party is too far gone.

  21. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    A nine-year old Asiatic lion has died from coronavirus in a state-run zoo on the outskirts of the south Indian city of Chennai, the zoo has said.

    There have been various Covid cases in animals, including two white white tiger cubs thought to have died of Covid-19 in neighbouring Pakistan and lions have also tested positive in Spain and two other cities of India.

    Great apes in the US also contracted the virus, and were subsequently given an experimental vaccine.

    “A 9-year old lioness Neela succumbed to the disease on the evening of 3 June,” the Arignar Anna zoological park said of the latest incident. The outbreak was first observed yesterday, with most of the lions asymptomatic, it said. They were quarantined and given antibiotics.

    “Samples of tigers and other large mammals are being sent for testing,” the zoo’s statement added.

  22. says

    @SC 21
    I think I see why.

    “But “a well-regulated militia” wasn’t, as the story goes, about how valiant and effective the militias were in repelling the British. George Washington was disgusted with their lack of fighting ability and the way the men would just cut and run from battling against a professional army. Nor was the militia reliable as a force to uphold the law. In Shays’ Rebellion, bands of armed white men, who were in the state’s militia, attacked the Massachusetts government because of foreclosures and debt seizures, demonstrating, again, how unreliable the militia were. Boston merchants had to hire mercenaries to put down the rebellion.”

    Can’t actually fight, are actually cowards, are in-debt and willing to use violence to get out of it (smells grifter-y)…

  23. says

    Facebook: “In Response to Oversight Board, Trump Suspended for Two Years; Will Only Be Reinstated if Conditions Permit”

    Matthew Gertz:

    If I understand Facebook’s stated reasoning, they kicked him off for inciting violent unrest and in two years they will reassess… whether he’s learned his lesson and won’t do it again?

    What Facebook has actually done is created an escape hatch — if Republicans take back Congress and have committee gavels in January, the company can offer up Trump’s reinstated account as a peace offering/tribute.

    I think they’re probably hoping events will intervene.

  24. says

    Ben Collins:

    The biggest takeaway from Trump’s overall ban is… rules. Actual rules.

    You can get banned for a month or 6 months or a year or 2 years, and Facebook can also say you can’t use its service ever again.

    Facebook has rules and punishments now, which include permanent expulsion.

    Screenshot atl.

  25. says

    FB statement, by Nick Clegg:

    Last month, the Oversight Board upheld Facebook’s suspension of former US President Donald Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts following his praise for people engaged in violence at the Capitol on January 6. But in doing so, the board criticized the open-ended nature of the suspension, stating that “it was not appropriate for Facebook to impose the indeterminate and standardless penalty of indefinite suspension.” The board instructed us to review the decision and respond in a way that is clear and proportionate, and made a number of recommendations on how to improve our policies and processes.

    We are today announcing new enforcement protocols to be applied in exceptional cases such as this, and we are confirming the time-bound penalty consistent with those protocols which we are applying to Mr. Trump’s accounts. Given the gravity of the circumstances that led to Mr. Trump’s suspension, we believe his actions constituted a severe violation of our rules which merit the highest penalty available under the new enforcement protocols. We are suspending his accounts for two years, effective from the date of the initial suspension on January 7 this year.

    At the end of this period, we will look to experts to assess whether the risk to public safety has receded. We will evaluate external factors, including instances of violence, restrictions on peaceful assembly and other markers of civil unrest. If we determine that there is still a serious risk to public safety, we will extend the restriction for a set period of time and continue to re-evaluate until that risk has receded.

    When the suspension is eventually lifted, there will be a strict set of rapidly escalating sanctions that will be triggered if Mr. Trump commits further violations in future, up to and including permanent removal of his pages and accounts.

    In establishing the two year sanction for severe violations, we considered the need for it to be long enough to allow a safe period of time after the acts of incitement, to be significant enough to be a deterrent to Mr. Trump and others from committing such severe violations in future, and to be proportionate to the gravity of the violation itself.

    We are grateful that the Oversight Board acknowledged that our original decision to suspend Mr. Trump was right and necessary, in the exceptional circumstances at the time. But we absolutely accept that we did not have enforcement protocols in place adequate to respond to such unusual events. Now that we have them, we hope and expect they will only be applicable in the rarest circumstances….

  26. blf says

    EW Jackson Complains That Biden and Harris Ate at French Restaurant on Memorial Day:

    President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and their respective spouses ate lunch at a French restaurant in Washington DC, on Memorial Day and that has upset right-wing pastor and radio host EW Jackson.

    Jackson [bellowed] that the group ate fancy French food on Memorial Day instead of hamburgers and hotdogs, which he said just goes to show how “out of touch” they are with real Americans.

    Did you know that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris — you know where they chose to go for the Memorial Day dinner? Jackson asked. They went to a French restaurant, and I can’t even pronounce some of this stuff that they ate: steak tartare du parc, escargots à la bourguignonne, foie gras parfait, and gougères. Lord help us. How about some hamburgers and hotdogs and barbecued chicken? These people are just, they are so out of touch it is just sad.

    Just like teh food karen, who some years ago decided any ingredient she couldn’t pronounce is bad: “Essentially, she fancies herself a consumer advocate whose job it is to protect you from toxic food ingredients, with said toxicity determined by how scary or unfamiliar the name of the ingredient is.”

    Jackson bellows some more (see the linked-to RWW excerpt).

    The Biden’s and Harris’s dinner sounds delicious !

  27. says

    Why Trump’s utterly bonkers ‘reinstatement’ ideas matter

    When a democracy and its institutions are under attack, it’s a mistake to look away, even when the attackers are ridiculous.

    One of the earliest signs came in early February. Donald Trump and his team issued assorted written statements and legal filings which went to comedic lengths to avoid use of the phrase “former president” — suggesting the Republican believed he was still the rightful leader, despite having been rejected by his country’s electorate.

    Two months later, Trump sounded like a politician who believed it was still possible his defeat would be reversed and he’d be welcomed back into the White House. Soon after, the former president reportedly told associates he believed Arizona’s indefensible election audit “could undo” the 2020 presidential election.

    Last week, he celebrated a poll showing most Republican voters “believe Donald Trump is the true president,” and this week, the New York Times’ Maggie Haberman noted that Trump “has been telling a number of people he’s in contact with that he expects he will get reinstated” to the presidency by August.

    She’s not alone. National Review’s Charles C. W. Cooke, a prominent conservative writer, published this piece yesterday:

    …Haberman’s reporting was correct. I can attest, from speaking to an array of different sources, that Donald Trump does indeed believe quite genuinely that he — along with former senators David Perdue and Martha McSally — will be “reinstated” to office this summer after “audits” of the 2020 elections in Arizona, Georgia, and a handful of other states have been completed. I can attest, too, that Trump is trying hard to recruit journalists, politicians, and other influential figures to promulgate this belief — not as a fundraising tool or an infantile bit of trolling or a trial balloon, but as a fact.

    Last night, CNN ran a related piece, reporting that Trump has “been asking advisers in recent weeks if he could somehow reassume the presidency this year after listening to farfetched suggestions from conservative commentators and allies.”

    A former Trump adviser added that the former president has been listening to “the bottom of the bottom of the crazies in the barrel.”

    At this point, I can hear some of you shouting at your screens. It doesn’t matter what Trump thinks, the argument goes. He’s irrelevant. His delusions are inconsequential. Our time is better spent focusing on those in positions of power, not former officials slipping deeper into derangement.

    I wish it were that simple. The mistake at the heart of that argument is the idea that Trump no longer has power.

    To be sure, he lost his bid for a second term by a fairly wide margin, making Trump a civilian with no official authority or responsibilities. That said, the United States only has two major parties, and right now, one of them is becoming a sycophantic personality cult toward a man who is, as National Review’s Cooke put it, actively engaged in “a rejection of reality, a rejection of law, and, ultimately, a rejection of the entire system of American government.”

    What’s more, Trump fully expects others in his party to climb aboard his train to Bonkers Town. The Washington Post reported this week that the former president is “consumed” with his anti-election lies, which the Republican is turning into “a litmus test of sorts as he decides whom to endorse for state and federal contests in 2022 and 2024.”

    […] The concern is not that Trump will actually reacquire presidential power at some point over the next three-and-a-half years. […]

    Rather, the concern is that Trump is deliberately undermining our democracy; few in his party are willing to tell him this is dangerously insane; his party is aggressively pursuing anti-voting and anti-election measures in service of the lies and delusions; and as Rachel explained on last night’s show, it’s an open question as to what the former president’s most rabid followers will be expected to do as Trump maintains the idea that he’s the real president, reality be damned. […]

  28. says

    Steve Benen has this right:

    In the wake of this week’s congressional special election in New Mexico, state GOP officials said yesterday that state Sen. Mark Moores’ (R) loss was due in part to “angry” Republican voters who “questioned election integrity.” There’s reason for skepticism about the explanation, but if GOP officials genuinely believe this, shouldn’t they have an added incentive to stop pushing ridiculous election conspiracy theories?

    On a related note, Democratic officials were so pleased with the party’s landslide victory in New Mexico that they believe it will help with the party’s 2022 recruitment efforts.

  29. says

    Oh, FFS:

    Donald Trump will speak at the North Carolina Republican Party’s state convention this weekend, delivering what he and his team are describing as an “official presidential speech,” despite the fact that he’s not the president.

    Some good news:

    Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) yesterday signed into law a new measure creating permanent mail-in voting in state elections. Nevada is now the sixth state to adopt such a model.

  30. says

    ‘You Are Full Of Poop’: A Proud Boy-Fueled Power Struggle Divides Portland-Area GOP

    “First of All, James Ball III, you are full of poop,” wrote one Republican Party functionary to another in a bitter, paramilitary-tinged rift over the future of the GOP in Multnomah County, Oregon.

    “That is a legal term used by bible believing Christians,” the email continued, “who want to say something much much stronger but err on the side of caution.”

    The author was Tim Sytsma, a precinct committee person, or PCP, for the Multnomah County Republican Party who helped arrange for an associate of the Proud Boys, the right-wing street gang, to provide security for a recent meeting in which the county chair was recalled. The target of his email, Ball, is also a PCP […]

    The beef — aired out in a series of stories over the past month by the Portland-based Willamette Week (WW) — is part of a pattern playing out in some form around the country: Fringe and even violent movements like the Proud Boys are muscling their way into internal Republican Party politics.

    “I have no fear,” Sytsma wrote in another email reported by WW. “I have friends, neighbors, 3%ers people, my Proud Boy and Plain Clothes ‘security friends’…some who live within 6 blocks of me.…both in Uniform and OUT, I have contacted my local Precinct, they won’t be responding to any ‘Swat calls’…I enthusiastically practice my 2nd Amendment Rights,.…so frankly.…A phone call and I have more pals at my aid in literally single digit minutes than I can ever need.”

    On Thursday night, the two sides held dueling Multnomah County Republican Party meetings to elect seemingly dueling party chairs, at hotels two miles apart from each other. […] the May 6 recall vote was unusual.

    For one thing, its location, a Portland church, was not publicized ahead of time, WW reported. More suspicious still, an associate of the Proud Boys, Daniel Tooze Sr., provided volunteer security at the door as his associates roamed around the neighborhood.

    […] “We showed up at the recall meeting, and it was odd to see these people that I didn’t recognize in their 20s and 30s, big beards, black jackets, and it was pretty clear that they had firearms under their jackets,” he recalled.

    Ball said he didn’t want to pick a fight with people he believed were armed, but that he was upset about the group’s presence.

    […] the intra-party friction didn’t end there. At a subsequent county GOP meeting on May 17, several party members were not allowed into the venue, another church in town. Ball and others said they saw Proud Boy associates providing security for this meeting, as well […]

    “The second time, at the May 17 meeting, they were physically keeping people out of the meeting,” Ball told TPM. “Which, again you just can’t do that.”

    […] Undeterred, Ball and nearly 20 others held a meeting in the parking lot — and voted to reelect Lloyd party chair.

    […] At press time Friday, Lloyd was still listed as county GOP chair on the Oregon Republican Party’s website. But the party will need to make a more explicit choice soon, Ball said: On Saturday, the ORP is having a statewide meeting, and will need to determine which Multnomah County Republican Party delegation is legitimate. […]

  31. says

    U.S. added 559,000 jobs in May and unemployment dropped to 5.8%

    After a disappointing April jobs report, May looked significantly better with 559,000 new jobs added to the economy, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s still a little short of the 650,000 jobs analysts predicted, but unemployment ticked down from 6.1% to 5.8%, the lowest since the coronavirus pandemic began in March 2020. “America is on the move again,” President Joe Biden declared in response to the report. “No other major economy is gaining jobs as quickly as ours, and none of this success is an accident,” he said, crediting the American Rescue Plan with boosting the recovery.

    The Economic Policy Institute’s Elise Gould described the overall report as “a promising sign that the recovery is on track.” Gould continued, ”If this pace continues over the next year, we will likely get down to 4% unemployment by mid-2022 and will be fully recovered before the end of 2022, fully absorbing losses plus population growth.”

    Another piece of good news is that women gained jobs after losing massive numbers of jobs throughout the pandemic, accounting for 56.2% of the new jobs in May. It’s just a start—women would need to gain jobs at that rate for 13 months straight to get back to where things stood in the before times, according to the National Women’s Law Center—but a start is better than another month of continuing to fall behind. Women’s labor force participation rose from 57.2% in April to 57.4% in May, still behind the February 2020 rate of 59.2%. […]

  32. says

    Bargain hunters pounce as Trump condo prices hit decade lows

    It’s a stunning reversal for a brand that once lured the rich and famous willing to pay a premium to live in a building with Trump’s gilded name on it.

    The building has stunning Manhattan skyline views, its spa offers deep-tissue massages, and the fancy restaurant off the lobby serves up prime steaks. Best of all, many apartments at the Trump World Tower are selling at a deep discount — assuming the buyer doesn’t mind the name over the door.

    “Fifty percent of the people wouldn’t want to live in a Trump building for any reason … but then there are guys like me,” says Lou Sollecito, a car dealer who recently bought a two-bedroom unit with views of the Empire State Building. “It’s a super buy.”

    The purchase price was $3 million, nearly a million less than the seller paid in 2008.

    […] An Associated Press review of more than 4,000 transactions over the past 15 years in 11 Trump-branded buildings in Chicago, Honolulu, Las Vegas and New York found prices for some condos and hotel rooms available for purchase have dropped by one-third or more.

    That’s a plunge that outpaces drops in many similar buildings, leaving units for sale in Trump buildings to be had for hundreds of thousands to up to a million dollars less than they would have gone for years ago. […]

  33. says

    House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.):

    I think Facebook was right. I think that they have an absolute right to ban liars and the president — the former president — is an absolute liar. It’s not a question of free speech, because free speech is a question of the government limiting free speech, and there’s no question of that here.

    Private companies … can print whatever they want, and I think they’re right to not print lies.

  34. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Rachel Maddow in her opening monologue had a longish and informative with Dr. Fauci. Video if posted in the morning.

  35. blf says

    The Swiss Army Knife is a defensive weapon (and therefore military Shooty McShootfaces must not be banned)! ‘Disgusting slap in the face’: California governor slams judge as assault rifles ban overturned:

    Gavin Newsom responds after Judge Roger Benitez compares AR-15s to Swiss army knives good for both home and battle

    The governor of California, Gavin Newsom, has slammed a federal judge’s decision to overturn his state’s three-decade-old ban on assault rifles as “a direct threat to public safety and the lives of innocent Californians”.

    In a strongly worded attack, the Democrat added: “Comparing an AR-15 to a Swiss army knife is a disgusting slap in the face to those who have lost loved ones to gun violence.”

    Newsom issued his stinging statement late on Friday after Roger Benitez, a district judge in San Diego appointed by George W Bush, ruled that the state was unlawfully depriving law-abiding Californians of weapons allowed under US supreme court rulings, denying their right to bear arms.

    Under no level of heightened scrutiny can the law survive, Benitez wrote, issuing a permanent injunction stayed for 30 days. The California attorney general, Rob Bonta, called Benitez’s ruling flawed and said it would be appealed.

    Assault-style rifles are disproportionately used in crime and have been used in most modern US mass shootings […]

    The California assault rifles ban has been in place since 1989. […]

    Nonetheless, Benitez said: Like the Swiss army knife, the popular AR-15 rifle is a perfect combination of home defense weapon and homeland defense equipment. Good for both home and battle.

    Hey, nutter: THE SWISS ARMY KNIFE IS NOT A WEAPON, AND IS NEITHER Good for both home [nor] battle. Try to use it as a weapon, and you’ll probably cut your own fingers off.

    Assault weapon restrictions have been upheld by six federal district and appeals courts, the state argued. Overturning the ban would allow things like assault shotguns and assault pistols, it said.

    Benitez said: This case is not about extraordinary weapons lying at the outer limits of second amendment protection. The banned ‘assault weapons’ are not bazookas, howitzers or machine guns. Those arms are dangerous and solely useful for military purposes.


    This is an average case about average guns used in average ways for average purposes,he wrote. One is to be forgiven if one is persuaded by news media and others that the nation is awash with murderous AR-15 assault rifles. The facts, however, do not support this hyperbole, and facts matter.

    Hey nutter: “AVERAGE PURPOSES” DO NOT INCLUDE homeland defense equipment. Nor, in the hands of an untrained, untested, unlicensed, person, should it include home defense. And even then, there are (supposed-)professionals, such as the police (with caveats if one is black or not a thug-supporting voter).

    In California, murder by knife occurs seven times more often than murder by rifle.

    I have no idea if that’s true, but (1) In the States as a whole, in 2019, there where c.186,000 firearm assaults, and c.117,000 knife assaults (Number of aggravated assaults in the United States in 2019, by weapon used ). And (2) I suspect murder by rifle is rare with, I suspect, must murder-by-firearms being hand-held guns (pistols, etc.). This is a distinction without a difference since rifles, pistols, assault- and machine-guns, etc. — firearms — are all Shooty McShootfaces, deadly, and frequently designed / intended specifically for use on humans. That is simply not true of knives (look at your table, chef’s, or Swiss Army knives, as some examples — none designed for use on / against humans, and most very unsafe for such a use).

    On murders specifically in the States, in 2019, there were c.9,500 by firearms and c.1,500 by knives (Number of murder victims in the United States in 2019, by weapon used). So if the so-called “judge’s” claim is true, California is a significant outlier (ignoring that sneaky qualifier “rifles”).

    Apparently, this so-called “judge” has form:

    The state is appealing a 2017 ruling by Benitez against a nearly two-decade-old ban on the sale of magazines holding more than 10 bullets. That decision led to a buying spree before the judge intervened. It was upheld in August but the ninth US circuit court of appeals said in March an 11-member panel will rehear the case.

    The state also is appealing an April 2020 decision by Benitez which blocked a 2019 law requiring background checks for anyone buying ammunition.

    Both measures were championed by Newsom as lieutenant governor — and backed by voters in 2016.

    In 2017, Polifact checked this knives kill more than rifles bellowing, and basically found what I suspected above — there are not that many murders specifically by rifle (ignoring all other types of Shooty McShootfaces) — Out-of-context comments inflate stabbing statistics (my added emboldening):

    “FBI Uniform Crime Report for 2016 shows more than four times as many people were stabbed to death than were killed with rifles of any kind.”

    […] The data provided by the FBI breaks down murders by types of firearms, and rifles is a subsection of all firearm murders.

    When totaling the data from the FBI crime report, we see that 374 people were killed by rifles, while 1,604 were killed by knives or cutting instruments. That means about 4.3 times as many people were killed by knives or cutting instruments as were killed by rifles.

    “[Rep Nick Schroer] is comparing a full set of cutting instruments to a partial set of guns which makes cutting instruments look more deadly,” said Dr James Nolan, a sociology professor at West Virginia University.


    The real story from the data is that the odds of being murdered by a firearm are nearly seven times higher than the odds of being murdered by a knife or cutting instrument,” he said.

    When you look at firearms murders overall, the number is staggeringly different: 11,004 murders out of 15,070 total murders were committed with firearms. That is, 73 percent of U.S. murders were committed with firearms — 3.4 percent of firearm murders were committed with a rifle. The other categories are shotguns, handguns and “type unknown.”


    Schroer is cherry-picking data by comparing all people who were stabbed to death versus a small percentage of those that were shot to death. In 2016, 73 percent of U.S. murders were committed with firearms, but while 10.6 percent were committed with some type of knife or cutting instrument, just 2.5 percent were committed using rifles.

    I know of no statistics for number of attempted defensive actions undertaken (successful or not) using a Swiss Army Knife, but suspect it’s essentially zero. The mildly deranged penguin points out flinging spiders, penguin eggs, or even cheese at a would-be attacker is likely to be more effective than a Swiss Army Knife (albeit the attacker may double-up in laughter at the “threat” of being Swiss Army Knifed, allowing the assaultee to run away (albeit running with an open Swiss Army Knife is not recommended).

  36. blf says

    Follow-up to @477(previous page), about Paxton Smith, who gave a highly-regarded high school graduation speech about anti-abortion laws, ‘People were excited’: Paxton Smith on her valedictorian speech for abortion rights:

    When 18-year-old Paxton Smith used her valedictorian address to rail against Texas’s near-total abortion ban last Sunday, she inspired cheers at her Dallas high school, as well as an outpouring of support for her across the country and online.


    “It’s definitely scary to take a stand on such a big stage on such a controversial issue,” she told the Guardian.

    Yet her speech has garnered millions of views on social media and won praise from politicians such as Hillary Clinton and Beto O’Rourke. And for Smith, the most meaningful reactions have come from concerned fathers who fear for their own daughters’ futures.

    “That really hits me so hard, ’cause of course a parent wants the best for their daughters,” she said. “And they’re allowing themselves to be vulnerable, and say, ‘Thank you. Thank you for protecting my daughter when I haven’t had as much of a chance to.’”

    Texas’s new heartbeat[] measure ranks among the most extreme abortion bans in the US, blocking the procedure as early as six weeks into a pregnancy — before many women and girls even know they’re pregnant. The bill, due to come into force in September, doesn’t include exceptions for rape or incest and allows private citizens to enforce its provisions through what could be a torrent of expensive and time-consuming lawsuits.


    She said she had been dreading the address until she walked onstage, when a calm washed over her. Her voice grew stronger and more impassioned as she excoriated those lawmakers who are accused of stealing the bodily autonomy of women across Texas, including her own.

    Soon, people started cheering — primarily parents in the audience, she thinks. Despite Texas’s reputation as a conservative bastion, a sizable majority of Texans agree with the US supreme court’s landmark Roe v Wade decision, which established the constitutional right to an abortion nearly 50 years ago.

    “I was very surprised,” Smith said. “It was exciting that so many people were excited that I said that up there.”

    The school district’s board president told the Lake Highlands Advocate that Smith’s speech had not been submitted or approved and that her actions were unexpected and not supported by the high school or district, which would try to prevent something like this from happening again. Those quotes have since been amended [LHHS valedictorian ‘overwhelmed’ with messages after graduation speech on reproductive rights].

    But Smith remembered far more praise than pushback after her speech and she said she could count on one hand the negative messages she had received.


    From the embedded link:

    Before Smith and other student speakers addressed the crowd, they were warned the microphone would be cut off if they deviated from the messages they’d submitted to Principal Kerri Jones for approval.

    “I was concerned the speech wouldn’t go over as I hoped” (if someone turned off the mic), she says. “I thought it was worth taking the risk.”

    [… The school district eventually said (in part, after (still?) threatening to review the procedures),] “It is important to note that the following is written on the back of our graduation program, ‘The students who shall be speaking at the graduation ceremony were selected based on neutral criteria to deliver the messages of the students’ own choices. The content of each student speaker’s message is the private, voluntary expression of the individual student and does not reflect the endorsement, sponsorship, position or expression of the District or its employees.’”

    Russell Smith says he couldn’t be prouder of his daughter and her actions.

    “It was something that she felt was important, and she had the nerve, determination and boldness to put herself out there and say her piece. So few people demonstrate this level of maturity and poise, regardless of age.


      † The Grauniad did, thankfully, put “scare quotes” around heartbeat, since, at 6 weeks, what is being detected is NOT a heartbeat, “Jennifer Keats, an ob-gyn at University of California, San Francisco, stated that the fetus’ cardiovascular system at six weeks is ‘very immature’. Keats described the cardiac activity as ‘a group of cells with electrical activity. That’s what the heartbeat is at that stage of gestation … We are in no way talking about any kind of cardiovascular system'” (Ye Pffft! of All Knowledge). ‘Fetal heartbeat’ in abortion laws taps emotion, not science puts it more succinctly: “[A]t the point where advanced technology can detect that first flutter, as early as six weeks, the embryo isn’t yet a fetus and it doesn’t have a heart.”

  37. blf says

    Arizona emails show Trump pushed to prove any fraud before Capitol attack:

    Emails were released this week in which the Republican president of the Arizona state senate said Trump called her after his election defeat last year, to thank her for pushing to prove any fraud.

    The emails add to understanding of the evolution of Trump’s “big lie”[ …], and how it fuelled the deadly Capitol assault.

    The Arizona emails were obtained by American Oversight, a legal watchdog, via a Freedom of Information request. They showed how Trump and his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, pushed officials to act and how a controversial election audit in Arizona’s most populous county came to be set up.


    In one Arizona email released on Friday, dated 2 December, Karen Fann, the Republican state senate president, told two constituents she had spoken to Giuliani at least six times over the past two weeks.[]

    Threatened later in the month with being recalled from office by the new patriot movement of the United States, Fann wrote that the state senate was doing everything legally possible to get the forensic audit done.


    The emails also show the involvement of Christina Bobb. A reporter[propagandist] for One America News Network, a rightwing TV channel praised by Trump, Bobb has raised funds in support of the Maricopa audit.


      † I have no idea why the Grauniad choose to put “scare quotes” around big lie.

      ‡ Possibly true, but since it’s uttered by a thug / wannabe-dalek (as in someone who kowtows to hair furor and his Big Lie), that assertion is set in eejit quotes.

  38. says

    Nerd @49, I approve of the way Dr. Fauci dismissed the kinds of attacks being flung at him by rightwing nutcases and by rightwing media: “It’s all nonsense.”

    In other news, this is from Politico:

    A bipartisan group of lawmakers urged President Joe Biden to immediately evacuate the thousands of Afghans who worked closely with the U.S. government over the past 20 years and will likely be punished by the Taliban once the last American troops leave the country this summer.

  39. says

    Sigh. Alleged US Capitol rioter who heckled police for ‘protecting pedophiles’ served jail time for statutory rape of 14-year-old girl

    A Trump supporter accused of storming the US Capitol and heckling police officers for “protecting pedophiles” previously served jail time after being convicted in the statutory rape of a 14-year-old girl, according to court records reviewed by CNN and lawyers involved in the cases.

    Federal prosecutors say Sean McHugh of Auburn, California, fought with police as they fended off the massive mob of Trump supporters outside the Capitol on January 6. During the scuffle, McHugh was recorded by police body-worn cameras heckling the officers with a megaphone.

    According to prosecutors’ description of the footage, McHugh allegedly shouted, “You guys like protecting pedophiles?” “you’re protecting communists,” “I’d be shaking in your little s–t boots too,” and, “there is a Second Amendment behind us, what are you going to do then?”

    […] McHugh was convicted in 2010 on a state charge of unlawful sex with a minor, according to California court records reviewed by CNN and lawyers involved in McHugh’s cases. McHugh was sentenced to 240 days in jail — though he served less — and got four years of probation.

    […] McHugh has been charged with eight federal crimes tied to the Capitol insurrection, including trespassing charges and the more serious counts of obstructing congressional proceedings and assaulting police officers with a dangerous weapon. He hasn’t yet entered a plea in court.

  40. says

    Chinese Billionaire Hosts Trump Extremist Folk Revival

    When Mike Flynn took the stage on Wednesday at the World Trade Center, he took the opportunity to extol two things that did not exist: one is Trump’s victory in last year’s election, and the other is an unborn country called the New Federal State of China.

    “It took a lot of strategic thought to get to this place,” Flynn said, referring to the nonexistent nation before gesturing towards himself. “Who are your partners? Who are your allies? I can tell you, you’re looking at an ally. This guy personally will ally with you.” The former general added that the nation was on the verge of “a big revival, a big reformation.”

    Flynn’s remarks occurred at a one-year anniversary celebration for the fledgling and fictive state, announced last year by exiled Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui and former Trump campaign chairman Stephen K. Bannon.

    It was a rambling, 12-hour event held on the 102nd floor of the World Trade Center, per Mother Jones reporter Dan Friedman, who was in attendance.

    Guo and Bannon have been working on the New Federal State of China for at least a year. After Bannon’s arrest on Guo’s yacht last year, he thanked supporters of the country for their support.

    The project aims to create a government-in-exile that may one day supplant the Chinese Communist Party’s control over China.

    In addition to Bannon and Flynn, in attendance were Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani and MyPillow CEO and election myth promoter Mike Lindell.

    All four of them drew heavy comparisons between Guo’s New Federal State of China and their own battle to overturn the results of the 2020 election based on the myth that it had been stolen. Bannon referred to the New Federal State as the “deplorables of China,” while Flynn made the comparison more explicit.

    “When we talk about the formation of new ideas, of new countries, new nation-states, you have to take a look at yourself, have the conversations in your communities,” Flynn said. “Like the communities that I represent, which are people that care deeply about freedom, and we are not about to give it up.”

    […] “There are hundreds of millions of people around this country that are not about to give this country up,” Flynn added, who are “willing to sacrifice, because we cannot take for granted any of the freedoms that we have.”

    The former general made a grinning reference to his remarks last weekend that a Myanmar-style coup “should happen here” to reinstall Trump.

    “I’ve been pilloried in the media for things that I may have said or may not have said,” he said with a smile.

    […] Lindell, the MyPillow representative, came later in the day. His remarks were preceded by a music video featuring Guo, combining Backstreet Boys-inspired direction with an anti-CCP message.

    He rambled through a series of election fraud allegations before Bannon interrupted him by getting the crowd to chant: “Take Down The CCP.”

    Giuliani rounded out the celebration, giving a speech in which he referred to the COVID-19 pandemic as the “Fauci pandemic” and accused the Chinese Communist Party of creating the virus.

    “Where were the bats in Wuhan?” Giuliani asked. “They were in the laboratory!”


  41. Pierce R. Butler says

    blf quoting the Grauniad @ # 51: … she said she could count on one hand the negative messages she had received.

    That astounds me – a strong pro-choice message by an 18-y-o in central Texas doesn’t generate ferocious backlash?

    I had expected that by now we’d see articles about Paxton Smith & family in hiding as police guarded their home from arsonists. There may be hope for the Lone Star State after all…

  42. says

    Follow-up to comment 55.

    Posted by readers of the article:

    So they want to replace the communists with a bunch of fascists?
    The New World Order is back, and it’s bigger than ever!

    But there’s no need to be alarmed. Steve Bannon knows only the best Chinese insurrectionists. He just needs several hundred million dollars a year for a few decades.
    “Where were the bats in Wuhan?” Giuliani asked. “They were in the laboratory!”

    The bats are in Rudy’s belfry…
    “Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.” —attributed to Eric Hoffer

    These Grifters always start at the Racket Phase.
    Man, Putin is really getting his money’s worth out of these chaos agents.

  43. blf says

    Not really political, ‘Mum, what’s a phone box?’: watching 80s films with my kids has become a history lesson:

    [… My children are] also bemused by the past. I expected to have to explain some things to them […] You know, educating them in the exotic linguistic differences: “zee” for “zed” and so on. But I didn’t anticipate that I would be explaining actual ancient history.

    [… W]hat is that weird box he’s walking into?

    “That’s a phone box. It’s what people used to make calls in before they had mobiles,” I said. They stared at me, as if I spoke of a time before people had oxygen (which doesn’t say great things about how much they see me with my phone, but let’s ignore that). It got worse: what is that book […]?

    “That’s a phone book. It’s how people found out other people’s numbers,” I said, suddenly understanding how my grandfather felt that time he told me about growing up without indoor plumbing.

    [… O]verall, the world in 1955 is recognisable to a kid from 1985. He knows what a phone box and phone book are, for a start.

    To kids born in 2015, however […], both worlds are completely baffling. Why look up someone’s phone number in a book instead of on the phone itself? […] It’s the same thing with Sesame Street (if Bert can’t find Ernie, why doesn’t he just call him?); with The Muppet Show (why can’t Kermit just ask Google where he could find a new theatre?) […]

    Mainly, this is down to the rise of the internet and mobile phones, both of which have obliterated things kids in particular relied on for decades, from Encyclopedia Britannicas to actual phone calls […]. How to explain all the Walkmans in 80s movies? The Discmans in 90s movies? And — soon — iPods in 2000s movies? (A phone that doesn’t phone? Genius!) […] I now sound like an 85-year-old: “Gather close, children, as I tell you about something called the PalmPilot…”

  44. blf says

    @56, “That astounds me — a strong pro-choice message by an 18-y-o in central Texas doesn’t generate ferocious backlash?”

    It also astonished me. I believe her.

    I also did an admittedly quick search for negative comments, indeed comments, from anti-abortionists, etc., but failed to find anything. At all. (I presume that is more to do with me not wanting to spend too much time in going down the rabbitholes, and that there are “the usual” frothing spittle-flecked reactions somewhere, but I’ve no idea where.)

    For example, when SC@475(previous page) first posted a link to a twittering-thread with an excerpted video of the speech, I was surprised that then (dunno about now) there didn’t seem to be any trolling or negative comments, etc.

  45. blf says

    I vaguely recall seeing(? making?) a comment in this series of poopyhead threads when he won his award (September-ish 2020), and he’s now retiring, Magawa the mine-sniffing rat ends career in Cambodia on a high (video):

    After five years of sniffing out landmines and unexploded ordnance in Cambodia, Magawa is retiring.

    The African giant pouched rat has been the most successful rodent trained and overseen by a Belgian nonprofit, APOPO, to find land mines and alert its human handlers so the explosives can be safely removed.

    Magawa has cleared more than 141,000 square metres of land, the equivalent of some 20 football pitches, sniffing out 71 land mines and 38 items of unexploded ordnance, according to APOPO.

    And for the first time, it won a British charity’s top civilian award for animal bravery last year, an honour so far exclusively reserved for dogs.

    “Although still in good health, he has reached a retirement age and is clearly starting to slow down,” APOPO said. “It is time.”


    APOPO also works with programs in Angola, Zimbabwe and Mozambique to clear millions of mines left behind from wars and conflicts.

    More than 60 million people in 59 countries continue to be threatened by landmines and unexploded ordnance. In 2018, landmines and other remnants of war killed or injured 6,897 people, the group says.

    Giant pouched rats can apparently live toc.8 years. Magawa is around 7 years old. The Grauniad doesn’t say how he will retire, but according to Al Jazeera, ‘Hero rat’ Magawa retires from Cambodian bomb sniffing career, “Magawa will spend more time doing what he loves — eating bananas and peanuts”.

  46. says

    A longer read for your Saturday: it’s a celebration of science, sort of, and so far it is not political and not QAnon adjacent. A massive international project just provided results that could redefine the fate of the universe

    […] the Dark Energy Survey (DES) isn’t an ordinary experiment. An international collaboration between numerous universities and research labs, the survey harnessed the power of a 570-Megapixel digital camera attached to a 4-meter telescope on a mountaintop in the Chilean Andes, and spent six years scanning the southern skies, generating thousands of overlapping images. While those images covered only a portion of the southern sky, they captured information that can give the best answers yet about the structure of the cosmos, the nature of two mysterious forces, and the ultimate fate of the universe.

    Last week, the DES issued its first big update, covering three years spent analyzing that data. Not only does that information contain the location of an incredible 226 million galaxies, the data dump came complete with 30 research papers by scientists who had been working with DES and had early access to this new wealth of information. And some of those papers are already changing our perception on some of the grandest questions imaginable.

    Considering that the Earth is just one planet, around a single star, in a galaxy that contains about 100 billion such stars, it’s understandable that people tend to think of galaxies as rather large objects. Even a ship capable of traveling at the speed of light would require more than 105,000 years to cross the Milky Way. And yet, the best current guess is that there may be two trillion galaxies in the observable universe,

    The Dark Energy Survey is about looking at how those galaxies are arrayed across the universe. Are they distributed randomly? Is the distribution “smooth” and regular, or is it “clumpy” and uneven? Are there grander structures of which galaxies are only a part?

    Truthfully, we already knew the answers to these questions. Galaxies are not equally spread across the universe, but are grouped into clusters, and those clusters are in turn arrayed in great “strands” that sweep through millions of light years. […] it’s not like any spider web you’ve ever seen. Imagine instead a great mass of sponge. Then imagine all the irregular, unevenly spaced holes in that sponge getting larger and larger, until all that’s left of the sponge are shells and curves that trace the outlines of those voids. […]

    But while we’ve understood this large scale structure for some time, we also understand that the measurements we make of these not-so-airy halls has a problem. Actually, two problems.

    One of these can be seen when we look at galaxies themselves. Just as planets orbit around a star, in most galaxies stars orbit around the center of mass—which is often, or maybe even always—a supermassive black hole. The nearest of these, the black hole at the center of the Milky Way, is about 25,800 light years from Earth. About every 240 million years, our sun makes an orbit around that central mass … and that’s the problem. It’s too fast.

    If we took all the mass of all the stars, planets, nebulae, black holes, and every other object we can see or detect, and added it all together, the gravity it would generate is still not enough to explain how stars move around the galaxy. There simply isn’t enough mass. Based on everything we can see, they should go spinning off into the void.

    […] scientists believe there is something we can’t see: some kind of matter which doesn’t reflect light and doesn’t block light, but which can alter the path of light through the force of gravity. This stuff we can’t see is tagged “dark matter,” and the math indicates that it’s about 85% of all the matter in the universe. The ordinary stuff […] makes up the other 15%.

    It’s still possible that dark matter does not exist. There could be something about the nature of gravity on vast scales that we simply don’t understand. But Einstein’s model of relativistic gravity has been so damn good at predicting specific cases, whether that’s planetary orbits or neutron star collisions, that it’s hard to think of how it could be tweaked. […] there are really good reasons to believe that dark matter, strange as it seems, is a real thing which makes up the majority of our universe.

    […] Dark energy is a name applied to a second discrepancy between what scientists expected to find when they focused their instruments on the universe.

    Since the time of Edwin Hubble—with a lot of work by […] Alexander Friedman, all of which was based on the “she should be more far more celebrated” Henrietta Swan Leavitt—we’ve understood that the universe is expanding. For decades, astronomers have been looking to find out just how fast that expansion really is.

    And they’ve been working to see how quickly that expansion is slowing down. Because of course it would be slowing down. All that matter, dark and otherwise, has to be putting a drag on the system so that eventually there will at least be stasis and … […] The rate of expansion is speeding up?

    […] Despite an ever improving sense of how the universe was formed, and the various expansion phases that happened in the opening milliseconds of reality, measurements continue to insist that things are speeding up out there.

    Something is providing a counter-force to gravity. That force is actually greater than all the gravity generated by all the matter. That’s “dark energy,” and there is a lot of it. […] roughly 68% of everything there is.

    So 68% percent of the universe is dark energy, and 85% of what’s left is dark matter. Everything we’ve ever touched, seen, or detected in any way […] fits in the < 5% of stuff that isn’t “dark.”

    […] The Dark Energy Survey is designed to help scientists learn about the nature of dark energy (and also dark matter) by obtaining precise measurements giving the relative locations of hundreds of millions of galaxies. Over 400 scientists from over 25 institutions around the world are engaged in this survey […]

    […] what the survey has already announced is three-years worth of data cranking […] There is a wealth of potential information to be gleaned from this information. Looking at the structure can potentially explain much about how dark energy works, about the history of the universe, and about the Ultimate Fate of All Things (which seems like a phrase that deserves caps).

    Three years in the DES has generated a raft of astronomical papers that are already starting to have an impact on our understanding of cosmology.

    […] good on you, calibration teams!

    A second group of papers consist of “catalogs.” Running through a list of 200+ million galaxies is bound to generate a lot of examples, as well as more than a few unexpected results and genuine oddballs. These papers are essential for anyone who wants to find an object and trace it back to its source in the vast catalog of images. […]

    Several of the papers involve looking for dark matter through gravitational lensing. In relativity, gravity isn’t so much a force as a distortion in space time. Heavy objects, like galaxies, “dent” space time, and everything, including light, is affected by that dent. The result is that light reaching Earth can be shaped by the gravity of a galaxy or star as if it were passing through a lens. By picking out images distorted by by gravitational lensing, researchers were able to not just study the location of the visible galaxies, but also the location of dark matter by looking at how it shaped the light.

    […]. Weak lensing doesn’t cause a galaxy to appear as a ring around another, or cause parts of an image to double up, it just slightly alters the apparent shape. Understanding weak lensing is critical to using the data for dark matter measurements […]

    sensitive instruments could pick up fainter, more distant galaxies. Being more distant, those galaxies, and the shapes of which they’re a part, are older than most of the galaxies imaged. That allows a comparison between the structure of the universe over a period of several billion years, showing how the structures we recognize “evolved.” (Though, given the distance to these objects, we can’t really say any of this represents the universe as it is today.) […]

    We don’t know what dark energy is, and its behavior runs maddingly counter to expectations. Over the last two decades, a number of theories have been proposed and discarded. However, there are a few leading contenders. One of these, due to an unfortunate coincidence of timing between when the theory was first published and the release of a certain Star Wars prequel, is known as “phantom energy.” It postulates not just an expanding universe, but an ever-increasing level of dark energy.

    That theory would explain why the observed rate of expansion seems to be picking up, and the suggested solution indicates that it will keep accelerating, ad infinitum. Worst of all, it indicates that ω < -1 […] In this case, that little omega represents the ratio between dark energy pressure, and dark energy density. Which is … really, the rabbit hole is there if you want to climb in.

    Without getting too deep into the “equation of state,” just know that ω -1, so you can drop those plans for a pre-rip party in a trillion years or so. However, frustratingly, the value is ω > -1 … which is still messy. Because if dark energy is actually going to play nice with the rest of the universe, and with physical laws as we know them, the real answer should be ω = -1.

    Unfortunately, there are now a whole cluster of measures some of which have ω > -1, and some of which have ω < -1, and all of which have supposed ranges of error that don’t overlap ω = -1. […] But the results from the three-year dataset at DES are very close to ω = -1. It seems entirely possible that when the whole thing is on the table, that difference between almost -1 and -1 could disappear.

    But for now, the DES vote goes for “no rip.”

    The answer is … I don’t know. […] This first set of papers suggests not just the universe safe from the Big Rip, it’s also strangely smoother than expected. Not smooth—that big holey sponge still exists—but smoother than any previous model predicted; slightly less clumpy. It also seems to suggest that the relationship between the placement of dark matter and visible matter is more problematic than in previous results.

    What’s clear is that the DES is generating a wealth of information that could shed light on the two great mysteries that define most of the universe. The papers that have been released are just the tip of a 226 million galaxy iceberg, most of which serve to define the wealth of data available.

    What’s been released so far is likely to overturn a lot of cherished ideas, and generate a million more. And there’s a lot more to come.

  47. says

    Trumpy Man who’s concerned that vaccine was too rushed gives Trump all the credit for rushing it

    […] I’d always wondered about the kind of mind that could simultaneously believe Trump deserves all the credit for developing the COVID-19 vaccines while also believing that the vaccines are part of a sinister plot to surreptitiously implant nanobots that will make all red-blooded Republican men want to go antiquing with Armistead Maupin and his boyfriend before spending the remainder of the afternoon sipping cosmos at an adorable sidewalk French cafe. Or whatever the conspiracy theory is this week. Maybe the vaccine just makes your balls fall off. […]

    Then there’s this guy, who ratchets the cognitive dissonance up to 11: [video available at the link]

    WALTER MASTERSON, EXPERT PRANKSTER: “Trump does not get enough credit for rushing the vaccine and getting it on the market.”

    TRUMPY MAN: “Oh, he was instrumental in ‘let’s get rid of the red tape and let’s do business and see what we can do’ …”

    MASTERSON: “Like you said, like a businessman.”

    TRUMPY MAN: “Well, who do you want in charge?”

    MASTERSON: “Exactly!”

    TRUMPY MAN: “What’s the biggest business in the United States?”

    MASTERSON: “The government.”

    [Jump cut]

    MASTERSON: “You’re not getting the vaccine.”

    TRUMPY MAN: “Naw.”

    MASTERSON: “I feel like it was a little too rushed.”

    TRUMPY MAN: “Yeah. Is it FDA approved and all that yet? You know what I’m getting at.”

    MASTERSON: “Yeah, it was rushed out there.”

    TRUMPY MAN: “Yeah, usually it takes years and years and years. Yes, hopefully Donald, Mr. Trump there, you know, president, got that through, right, because you know he did. He said he was gonna. If he said he was gonna do this … he does what he says he’s gonna do.”

    And … scene.

    Take a bow, Trumpy Man. Those were some mental gymnastics worthy of Simone Biles.

    I fear for our country as long as people like this walk among us. This is why Joe Manchin and Krysten Sinema need to suck it up and get election reform and infrastructure passed—because there’s simply no reasoning with the unreasonable, and if we don’t act now, the unreasonable will soon have a hammerlock on our democracy.

  48. says

    Follow-up to Nerd’s comment 49.

    Assault on Dr. Fauci turns even uglier as Don Jr. jokes about murder and Trump promises worse ahead

    Days after thousands of emails from Dr. Anthony Fauci became public through a series of FOIA requests, Republicans are using out of context portions from those emails to ramp up attacks on the long time director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Those emails are being conflated with a series of media-hyped articles about the origins of COVID-19, and the result is a genuinely toxic stew that is being used by Republicans ranging from Josh Hawley to Donald Trump Jr. as a way or stirring hate and raking in cash.

    […] those channels have become a 24/7 assault on the 80-year-old doctor […] All of these outlets are in heavy rotation with the idea that COVID-19 originated in a Wuhan lab operated by a friend of Dr. Fauci, that Fauci helped China in covering up that origin, and that this somehow absolves Trump of all responsibility in American deaths.

    And that’s the lightweight version. The version being pushed by multiple “guests” and “experts” appearing on these programs is that the SARS-CoV-2 virus was deliberately engineered to infect people as part of a program that Fauci—and President Obama—approved of and funded. […] others, like Donald Trump Jr., are already chuckling over the idea that Dr. Fauci could be murdered.

    On Friday evening, Donald Trump Jr. showed that he wasn’t just expecting Dr. Fauci to be killed by the rabid Trump supporters being pushed to believe that a man who has lived his life in service to medicine and the nation is some kind of monster, Junior is ready to celebrate that murder. In an Instagram post, Trump Jr. posted an image saying “I’m just going to jump ahead on this, and said I don’t think Fauci killed himself.” Those words were pasted over a smiling image of the odious and sadistic slave owner Calvin Candie from the film Django Unchained.

    Sen. Rand Paul started the latest edition of the smear train on Thursday when he issued a fundraising pitch insisting that Fauci “must go” and claiming that Fauci — who was forced to correct Paul over and over in Senate hearings — had “continuously and deliberately misleading the public at every turn.” He provided no examples, but insisted that someone must “fire Fauci!”

    On Friday, Sen. Josh Hawley explicitly tied together vague claims about Fauci’s emails, with equally vague claims about COVID-19 saying “Anthony Fauci’s recently released emails and investigative reporting about COVID-19 origins are shocking.” Exactly what in Fauci’s emails Hawley found upsetting, he didn’t say. But he did call for Fauci to resign as well as “a congressional investigation” into claims that Fauci somehow covered up the pandemic’s origins.

    Also on Friday, Donald Trump issued a statement saying that “After seeing the emails, our Country is fortunate I didn’t do what Dr. Fauci wanted me to do.”

    What this means is anyone’s guess, but by Saturday morning Sen. Marco Rubio figured he had his marching orders, so piled on, calling for Biden to remove Dr. Fauci. And again, Rubio’s claim went directly back to the idea that Fauci “dismissed the idea that the virus could have come from a lab.”

    Fauci never made such a dismissal. And the “lab escape” origin of COVID-19 certainly isn’t proven. But it has been getting constant fluffing from a series of articles and constant right-wing coverage, all of which features the implication that “Trump was right” about “the China virus.”

    […] Trump intends to make things even worse when he makes his first appearance on Saturday evening at a North Carolina rally. He’s planning to make attacking Dr. Fauci the center of his tirade,

    On Friday, President Biden spoke up in support of Dr. Fauci, responding to a question by saying, “Yes I’m very confident in Dr. Fauci.”

    But the assault on Anthony Fauci is unrelenting and the level of ugliness demonstrated by the Trump Jr. message is only getting worse. If Republicans have learned anything from January 6, it’s apparently that they really can inspire and direct deadly hate.

  49. blf says

    I haven’t really been following the story, but in March this year, a shady UK-based financial operation called Greensill collapsed. It was basically a ponzi scheme, albeit camouflaged in financial-babble, “Greensill was not lending its own money. It acted as an intermediary, packaging the debt of companies such as Bluestone and selling it on to other investors, such as Credit Suisse. The Swiss bank’s clients bought up the debt, earning interest on their investments.” That Bluestone company is owned by West Virginia governor Jim Justice, and it turns out Justice is personally liable for $700m. (Bluestone is a coal mining company, an example of just how shady Greensill was — from memory, coal operations are having a very hard time getting finance from more reputable sources.) In the best thug tradition, Justice is now trying to weasel out of his personally-guaranteed debt, West Virginia governor sues Greensill over $700m debt:

    The Republican governor of West Virginia, Jim Justice, has revealed he is personally liable for hundreds of millions of dollars in loans taken out by his coalmining companies.

    In a new court filing on Friday, Justice blamed the collapsed UK- and Australia-based Greensill bank, which has controversial ties to the former British prime minister David Cameron, for $700m of his debt.

    Greensill made its profits by guaranteeing loans and providing cash advances. It collapsed in March, leaving Justice liable for the loans in question.

    The same month, the Republican sued Greensill in federal court in New York, alleging that Greensill perpetrated a continuous and highly profitable fraud[] by hiding its own financial risk.


    The latest filing in the case shows that the governor and his wife, Cathy Justice, and son Jay Justice personally guaranteed payment on the loans for Bluestone.


    In the UK, the Financial Conduct Authority launched a formal investigation into Greensill after allegations of fraud and criminal activity.

    Cameron has come under intense scrutiny over his lobbying for Greensill. He has denied any wrongdoing. In late May the British chancellor, Rishi Sunak, denied giving special treatment to the now-collapsed bank following an intensive campaign by Cameron.

    Justice is also responsible for a $368m debt to the Virginia-based Carter Bank & Trust. Additionally, his companies could owe $3.2m in federal penalties and lawsuits over claims they failed to deliver coal.

    Forbes recently took Justice off its list of billionaires. The governor called the loans a burden on our family beyond belief.

    Justice is apparently a real work. For instance, from Ye Pffft! of All Knowledge:

    In 2015, Justice announced his candidacy for governor in the 2016 West Virginia gubernatorial election. Although Justice was a registered Republican before running for governor, he ran as a Democrat and defeated the Republican nominee […]. Less than seven months after taking office, Justice switched back to the Republican Party after announcing his plans at a rally with US president [sic] Donald Trump in the state. In the 2020 gubernatorial race, he won re-election [still as a thug].


    Justice’s mining companies have been under the spotlight for alleged cases of safety violation and unpaid taxes; in 2016, NPR called him the “top mine safety delinquent” in the United States. Justice allegedly owed millions of dollars to the government in back taxes, and unpaid coal mining fees and fines: “His mining companies owe $15 million in six states, including property and minerals taxes, state coal severance and withholding taxes, and federal income, excise and unemployment taxes, as well as mine safety penalties, according to county, state and federal records.” Two debt-related lawsuits were settled in 2019, and in 2020 mining companies owned by Justice or his family agreed to pay $5 million in delinquent safety fines.

    According to a ProPublica investigation, Justice paid more than $128 million in judgments and settlements over unpaid bills by his businesses.


    As governor of West Virginia, he is in charge of the state agencies that regulate many of his businesses.


    In 2020 Justice signed into law the Critical Infrastructure Protection Act, which created felony penalties for protests targeting oil and gas facilities. The law, which was passed with the support of Dominion Energy, the West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association, and the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers trade association, was described by its sponsor John Kelly as having been “requested by the natural gas industry”.


    And so on. Quickly skimming the list of Justice’s positions, it all looked very much what you’d expect from yet another wannabe-dalek (as in hair furor supporter in a position of powerto cause massive damage).

    As the Grauniad summarised, the Greensill ponzi scheme’s collapse has gotten a lot of attention in the UK, perhaps mostly due to the involvement of ex-PM David Cameron (the eejit who promised teh brexit referendum), David Cameron lobbied top Treasury official by phone, MPs told (is one article of many of the UK-side of the ongoing situation).

      † Justice is a thug, acting like a thug, hence the eejit quotes, albeit since Greensill was basically a ponzi scheme, that quote is not necessarily completely wrong.

  50. blf says

    me@65, I mean me@64, obviously…

    (And for the next correction, I’ll misspell “thug” as “Republican”.)

  51. blf says

    Chris Riddell in the Grauniad, Going on holiday? Not if the Delta variant has its way (cartoon). Some background: “Delta” is the new WHO-approved name for the Covid-19 variant first found in India, Covid-19 variants to be given Greek alphabet names to avoid stigma. The variant first found in the UK is “alpha”, the one first found in S.Africa is “beta”, and the one first found in Brazil is “gamma”.

    UK PM Boris Johnson seems determined to remove all(?) internal(?) restrictions on 21st June, despite growing numbers of delta cases. Because of the worrisome nature of delta, and the rising number of cases in the UK, the EU-as-a-whole is not lifting restrictions on UK travel (albeit several individual countries, such as Spain, apparently intend to allow UK visitors). Apparently, c.75% of all new cases in the UK are delta, [Delta] Covid variant may increase risk of hospital admission, early data suggests (also, UK reports 6,238 daily Covid cases amid fears over Delta variant infectiousness, “The Delta variant of coronavirus is 30% to 100% more transmissible than the previously dominant [alpha] variant”).

  52. says

    National Enquirer hit with $187,000 fine from FEC for hiding Trump’s mistresses during 2016 campaign

    […] The issue is simple: The National Enquirer sought out people who had dirt on Donald J. Trump, paid them for their stories while promising those stories would run, and then spiked the stories, making sure they couldn’t be told to another media outlet without breaking the contract and facing penalties.

    The discovery of the concern and the issuance of a fine isn’t surprising, but this paragraph shows exactly the problem that existed within the Trump administration’s department of justice—there was no, you know, actual justice.

    The available information indicates that during Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, AMI and its executives, Pecker and Howard, paid $150,000 to Karen McDougal to purchase the rights to her claim that she engaged in a relationship with Trump beginning in 2006. AMI enteredinto a Non-Prosecution Agreement with DOJ on September 21, 2018. In that Non-Prosecution Agreement, AMI admitted that it made the payments to McDougal to ensure that she did notpublicize her allegations and “thereby influence [the 2016 presidential] election.”

    After receiving all the information needed for this in 2018, the FEC sat on it (and it appears the Department of Justice did as well) until now. While it is certainly possible that the Department of Justice was building a more long-term case and that AIM media has more stories to tell in a broader case, it is more likely that this letter, and the fine, represent the conclusion of the story—after the 2020 election, which denied many American voters the knowledge of exactly how corrupt the 2016 campaign actions were, and the ongoing actions of the Department of Justice doing the slow walk for the Trump campaign.

    It’s a new day, however, and AIM media will pay the fine. The $187,000 marks their participation in something illegal. Was that fine, long-delayed, worth it to them to get the electoral results they wanted? My guess is, unfortunately, yes.

    It is time for much stiffer penalties and actions to stop this kind of corruption in campaigns.

  53. says

    Oh, FFS.

    Milo Yiannopoulos Claims Going Ex-Gay Made Dogs Stop Barking At Him

    There was a time when there was reason to be legitimately afraid of Milo Yiannopoulos and his effect on the culture at large. He had a huge platform, adoring fans and acolytes, and a career that seemed to be dovetailing perfectly with the rise of Donald Trump. He was, perhaps more than anyone, made for that moment in time.

    And now? Now he’s just some putz who is so desperate for relevance that he decided not only to go ex-gay, but to be extremely weird about it. So why are we covering the stupid shit he does? Because it’s Saturday and it’s also my birthday and honestly this whole thing is too bizarre to pass up.

    Because Milo’s latest claim is that, uh, ever since he became ex-gay … dogs have stopped barking at him. [video available at the link]

    When I made my announcement, the first thing that happened — which will make you laugh, but it’s true — is dogs stopped barking at me. I am one of those people. You know, everyone’s got that friend that dogs always go nuts around?[…] I was always one of those, and it sounds so stupid, but this is just how I think God reveals himself to us, right?

    He really dug his heels into this theory, which made it all the more awkward when one of the TruNews hosts kept blowing up his spot by insisting that his own dog never barked at Milo.

    But let’s get this straight, no pun intended. Milo went his whole life with all of the dogs mysteriously barking at him for no reason. Then he decides he’s gonna be straight. And he goes on whatever it is he went on and announces to the world that he is straight and even puts on a baseball cap to prove it.

    And God — God goes to himself “Oh boy, how can I get this one guy to know I really approve of his decision to pretend to be a heterosexual? How, oh how do I do this? Do I send a gift basket? Maybe a nice bottle of wine? Do I help him get steady employment so he doesn’t have to scream at whatever fans he has left to give him all their money so he can keep himself in fancy designer clothes? OH. I know. I will get all of the dogs to stop barking at him all of the time. That’s the ticket!”

    I admit that I have a highly limited understanding of how Christianity is supposed to work, but that just seems a little “off” to me. It’s almost like he’s trying super hard to pretend he got miracled in some capacity so he can hop on the Prosperity Gospel circuit and go around being a troll for Jesus. Or he’s going off the deep end. One of the two.


  54. says

    After Lavish Nights of Clubbing in Bangkok, a Covid Outbreak

    New York Times link

    Thailand went for months without a single confirmed case of local transmission, but the epidemic has now radiated from nightclubs to areas where social distancing is all but impossible.

    When the V.V.I.P. customers disembarked from their limousines at the Krystal Exclusive Club in Bangkok, young women in tiaras, angel wings and not much else sometimes greeted them.

    The V.V.I.P. clientele were whisked to the V.V.I.P. rooms, with their padded walls and plush sofas. Thai government bigwigs partied at Krystal — one of its mottos is “the luxury entertainment of night light” — as did diplomats, army officers and businessmen. For much of the pandemic, coronavirus restrictions did not stop the fun.

    But this spring, as go-go dancers shimmied, Krystal and another neighborhood nightclub, Emerald, turned into the epicenter of what is now Thailand’s biggest and deadliest coronavirus surge, according to health ministry officials. Scores of people linked to the clubs have tested positive, including an ambassador and a government minister. (The minister’s staff said that he was infected by an aide who frequented Krystal.) Police officers and women who worked at the clubs have been infected, too.

    For all the mask-wearing rigor and lockdown obedience displayed by many Thais, the abandon of a privileged few catalyzed Bangkok’s latest coronavirus outbreak, health officials said. The nightclub cluster also highlights the impunity of the rich in a country with one of the largest wealth gaps among major economies.

    Thailand went for months without a single confirmed case of local transmission, but the epidemic has now radiated from luxury nightclubs that cater to powerful and wealthy men to the warrens of slums that hug Bangkok’s highways and railroad tracks. In these cramped quarters, social distancing is impossible. Infections have also spread to prisons, construction camps and factories.

    “The rich people party and the poor people suffer the consequences,” said Sittichat Angkhasittisiri, a neighborhood chairman in Bangkok’s largest slum, Khlong Toey, where the coronavirus has infected hundreds of people.

    After recording fewer than 5,000 cases total through November, Thailand racked up more than 5,800 cases on a single day in late May. The total number of infections is now about 175,000. Gone are the days when the World Health Organization praised Thailand for its coronavirus-fighting prowess.

    Thailand’s virus surge, happening just as many Western nations approach a semblance of normalcy, is part of a late-breaking wave that has washed over much of the rest of Southeast Asia, where adequate vaccines are largely unavailable. Thailand is counting on local production this summer of the AstraZeneca vaccine by a company controlled by the country’s king. The company has never made vaccines before.

    The phuyai, as the gilded elite of Thailand are known, can book overseas tours to get vaccines unavailable at home; one $7,000 jaunt for jabs in Russia is fully booked until July. But the poor struggle. Many must wait for cots at free government field hospitals set up in stadiums or other areas. The rich with mild cases can convalesce at expensive hotels. […]

  55. says

    Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Endorses Maya Wiley for N.Y.C. Mayor

    New York Times link

    Ms. Ocasio-Cortez’s endorsement on Saturday may cement Ms. Wiley as the left-wing standard-bearer in the New York City mayor’s race.

    Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, one of the most prominent left-wing leaders in the country, endorsed Maya D. Wiley in the race for New York City mayor on Saturday, urging voters to “come together as a movement.”

    Ms. Ocasio-Cortez’s endorsement represents the most significant development yet in left-wing efforts to shape the June 22 Democratic primary that is almost certain to determine the city’s next mayor.

    “If we don’t come together as a movement, we will get a New York City built by and for billionaires, and we need a city by and for working people,” Ms. Ocasio-Cortez said outside City Hall in Manhattan, as Ms. Wiley waited in the background. “So we will vote for Maya No. 1.”

    Ms. Ocasio-Cortez’s endorsement of Ms. Wiley, a civil rights lawyer and former counsel to Mayor Bill de Blasio, comes at a moment of extraordinary volatility in the mayor’s race — one week before early voting begins.

    Eric Adams, the Brooklyn borough president, has increasingly been seen as the Democratic front-runner in the race, in close competition with Andrew Yang, the former presidential candidate. Kathryn Garcia, the former sanitation commissioner, has also demonstrated growing traction. But sparse public polling and interviews with party strategists suggested that there was still a significant number of voters who remained undecided.

    Ms. Wiley has generally been considered part of the top tier of candidates, too, but she has not been seen as a front-runner throughout the race. In recent weeks, however, she has landed a growing number of endorsements, especially from the left. […]

  56. blf says

    Notoriously unhinged delusional conspiracy theorist Naomi Wolf banned from Twitter for spreading vaccine myths:

    […] Naomi Wolf has been suspended from Twitter after using it to spread myths about the pandemic, vaccines and lockdown.

    Wolf […] holds staunch anti-vaccine views. Last month she told a US congressional committee that vaccine passports would re-create a situation that is very familiar to me as a student of history. This has been the start of many, many genocides.

    We interrupt this diatribe to point out Wolf is not an accurate historian, not only in this case, but in many cases. A recent example is her book Outrages, which had “[a]n error in a central tenet of the book — a misunderstanding of the legal term ‘death recorded’, which Wolf had taken to mean that the convict had been executed but which in fact means that the convict was pardoned or the sentence was commuted — was identified in a 2019 BBC radio interview with broadcaster and author Matthew Sweet. He cited a website for the Old Bailey Criminal Court, the same site which Wolf had referred to as one of her sources earlier in the interview. Reviewers have described other errors of scholarship in the work” (Ye Pffft! of All Knowledge, my added emboldening). The error was so serious the book was pulled from publication. Wolf is not scholar, is not a historian, but is a frothing-at-the-mouth spittle-flying wobbly-eyed conspiracy loon.

    As the pandemic continued, the author variously claimed that vaccines were a software platform that can receive uploads […]

    In her most recent post, she argued that vaccinated people’s urine / feces(sic) needed to be separated from general sewage supplies/waterways until its impact on unvaccinated people via drinking water was established.

    Her suspension was widely applauded on the social media platform. One tweet read: “Thanks, @Twitter, for finally suspending Naomi Wolf for spreading harmful and floridly delusional anti-vax disinformation.” Others observed: “Never forget. Naomi Wolf’s suspension could not have come any sooner.” Another said: “Congratulations to naomi wolf who is i think the first person to be banned from here for being too stupid.”

    The award-winning author Steve Silberman, who is a historian of autism, said: “I’ve been reading vile anti-vaccine propaganda for 20 years, and Wolf’s claims were as out-there and delusional as I’ve ever seen.”

    […] Twitter has said the suspension is permanent and no appeal will be allowed.

    In other unsubstantiated claims, Wolf has said the US military was importing Ebola from Africa with the intention of spreading it at home, and that US intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden might be a government plant.

    She doesn’t seem to have an entry at the Encyclopædia of American Loons, but there is a long rundown of her bellowings at Ye Pffft! of All Knowledge. Also see the 2014 Vox article, The insane conspiracy theories of Naomi Wolf.

  57. blf says

    Several days ago, twittering deleted an violence-promoting blathering by Nigerian alleged-president Muhammadu Buhari, a war criminal from the 1967 Biafra genocidal atrocity, and suspended his account for a short time, causing his “government” to throw around lots of shite, including banning twittering. He’s still in a snit, and has now decreed it “illegal” to access twittering, Nigerians breaking Twitter ban rules could be prosecuted:

    Nigeria’s Attorney General Abubakar Malami has ordered the immediate prosecution of those who try to circumvent the government’s Twitter ban after all mobile operators in the country were ordered to suspend access to the social media giant.

    [… lots of protesting messages, several making the point there is no law (legal framework) to support such an action…]

    Twitter can still be accessed through the relatively more expensive fixed broadband, which very few Nigerians use. It is unclear if access through this route will also be blocked. Some users in Nigeria were able to circumvent the ban through the use of a virtual private network (VPN).

    Nigeria’s information ministry announced on Friday that the government was “indefinitely” suspending Twitter’s operations. It did not mention Buhari’s deleted tweet, but said the platform was being suspended for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.


    Many groups, including the Nigerian Bar Association, have threatened legal action if the government does not rescind the decision to suspend Twitter.

    The alleged-president’s abusive blathering “threatened to punish pro-Biafra groups blamed for escalating attacks on government and security authorities”, Twitter deletes Nigerian president’s ‘abusive’ Biafra tweet:

    Buhari referenced his role as a brigade major during the bitter 1967 Biafra war, when an attempted secession for an independent state sparked one of the darkest chapters in Nigerian history. Nigeria’s military was widely accused of potential war crimes and abuses, and millions of people died from hunger and malnourishment after a government-backed blockade was imposed by the army.

    Many of those misbehaving today are too young to be aware of the destruction and loss of lives that occurred during the Biafra war, Buhari wrote. Those of us in the fields for 30 months, who went through the war, will treat them in the language they understand.


    The painful legacy of the Biafra war runs deep in Nigeria, Those who died are not officially commemorated and the claims of atrocities levelled at the military have never been acknowledged. The war is not taught in schools and cultural depictions of the conflict are tightly censored.

  58. blf says

    Follow-up to @73 from the Nigerian Guardian (no relationship to the UK’s Grauniad), Outrage as Buhari bans Twitter in Nigeria:

    [… Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai] Mohammed said the Federal Government has also directed the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to immediately commence the process of licensing all OTT [explained below –blf] and social media operations in Nigeria.


    Like Twitter, Facebook has also deleted Buhari ‘s alleged offensive post.


    The [Nigerian] Guardian had sought to know how the Commission intends to implement the directive and whether there are existing laws the NBC could rely on in carrying out the order, especially the licensing of Over-The-Top (OTT), a media service offered directly to viewers via the Internet, which bypasses cable, broadcast and satellite television platforms, the types of companies that traditionally act as controllers or distributors of such content.

    In his reaction to government’s clamp down on Twitter, Nobel Laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka, said, “The evocation of the civil war, where millions of civilians perished, is an unworthy emotive ploy that has run its course, adding, “Finally, the chickens have come home to roost.

    “It does not take the formal declaration of hostilities, with or without lethal bombardments, for a nation to find itself shell-shocked. The populace of this nation is already in that shell-shocked condition. So, what is there left to shock?”

    While rejecting the ban, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) described the move as a draconian action and a slide towards a fascist regime.

    In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, PDP said it was appalled that the Federal Government could exhibit such “primitive intolerance and power intoxication because the social media giant demonstrated international best practices in not allowing the Buhari presidency to use Twitter as a platform to propagate and spread the Buhari administration’s hatred towards Nigerians.”


    Also reacting, Amnesty International, Nigeria, […] wrote: “Amnesty International condemns the Nigerian government’s suspension of Twitter @Twitter in #NigeriaFlag of Nigeria, a social media widely used by Nigerians to exercise their human rights, including their rights to freedom of expression and access to information. […] This action is clearly inconsistent and incompatible with Nigeria’s international obligations, including under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.”


    Apparently, all the announcements about the ban on twittering, etc., have done by blatherings on twittering (i.e., by tweets on Twitter). There are multiple quotes in the excerpted article pointing this out, and then typically referring to the so-called “government” as “clueless”.

  59. blf says

    An opinion column in the Grauniad by Professor Pippa Norris, “a comparative political scientist at Harvard University and founding director of the“, Republicans have no incentive to abandon Trump and the big lie. We must act now. This excerpt skips most of the introductory comments — a description of the flaws — which are presumably well-known to most readers of this blog, and focuses on her suggestions:

    […] Republican federal and state lawmakers have no rational incentives to abandon Trump and the big lie about electoral fraud, even if they recognize the falsehood. Most incumbents are nominated through party primaries and hold safe districts due to partisan gerrymandering, so Republican chances of re-election depend on throwing red meat to the Maga base, not building a broader coalition among moderate independents.

    What is to be done?

    To fix the system, two steps are essential. Both need to be enacted before the November 2022 midterm elections, when the Democrats are likely to lose control of the Senate, if history is any guide.

    First, the Senate filibuster has to go as a relic of a bygone era. Worldwide, about 41 national legislatures have some supermajority rules but in nearly all cases these are only used, quite sensibly, for constitutional amendments, not for routine legislation (like establishing the 6 January commission). The rule benefits the opposition party seeking gridlock in DC and stymies effective electoral reform.


    Second, the US Senate needs to pass the HR1 For the People Act. This offers a comprehensive package of moderate reforms designed to protect voting rights in US elections, reduce partisan gerrymandering, make campaign spending more transparent and tighten ethics in public life. Getting rid of extreme partisan gerrymandering and ultra-safe districts is vital to incentivize House candidates to appeal broadly to all citizens well beyond their base. The Senate also needs to pass HR4, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, restoring provisions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act requiring certain states to pre-clear changes to their voting laws with the federal government […].

    A series of other reforms are highly desirable in the long term but impractical right now.

    One is adopting non-partisan blanket primaries, as in Washington and California, where the two candidates with the highest vote share get to run in the general election, irrespective of their party affiliation. This increases the incentive for all candidates to reach out to a broader constituency than the party base, so it is likely to encourage the election of more moderate lawmakers in Congress.

    Another is designed to break the stranglehold on two-party winner-take-all competition, ideally by implementing a mixed-member proportional electoral system for the US House […], or ranked-choice voting in multimember districts.

    Yet another reform is adopting a compulsory retirement age for members of Congress, like the minimum age requirement, to increase incumbency turnover, limit gerontocracy and expand representation for the younger generation of leaders, women and minorities.

    These are all worthy matters for future debate about long-term constitutional and legal reforms to American elections, a generational project. […]

  60. blf says

    Mysteriously-provided mysterious data mysteriously analyzed and allegedly, and also mysteriously, validated by a mystery expert not-so-mysteriously allegedly shows someone unknown yet mysteriously blamed on “China” untraceably and mysteriously hacked voting machines… yadda, yadda, yadda… and so the Supreme Court will magically restore hair furor. Mike Lindell Is 100 Percent Sure the Supreme Court Will Vote 9–0 to Pull Down the 2020 Presidential Election:

    Mike Lindell […] posted a video on his FrankTV platform Thursday presenting his alleged evidence that the Chinese government hijacked the 2020 presidential election by hacking Dominion Voting System machines and other voting machines. Lindell titled the video Absolutely 9–0, reflecting his prediction that when his evidence gets before the US Supreme Court, it will result in a unanimous decision to pull this election down.

    Lindell’s 26-minute video features someone Lindell describes as a computer expert who he said has been reviewing millions of lines of data that someone — who, we don’t know — gave Lindell on Jan 9. Lindell claimed that the data proves there were thousands of hacks from China and millions and millions of votes that were flipped in our election by China from Trump to Biden.


    The unnamed expert Lindell hired to review the files, who appeared with his face digitally hidden from view, said the data had been recorded in real time during alleged hacks on election night, akin to capturing a bank robbery on video. They claimed that their analysis of just 20 of the thousands of attacks from China demonstrated enough flipped votes to reverse the election results in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Arizona, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

    Lindell asked his expert to verify for viewers that Lindell had demanded that they carefully validate all their evidence, and the expert affirmed that we validated the validation that was validated.

    This isn’t subjective,[true — it’s delusional! –blf] Lindell insisted. It is irrefutable, his supposed expert agreed.

    Even the mildly deranged penguin is having trouble following the logic here — or whereever this mysterious alleged logic is hiding…

  61. blf says

    Follow-up to @76 in the Washington Post, Mike Lindell’s fraud allegations are even more ridiculous than you might think:

    […] Lindell offers very little that’s actually intended to serve as direct evidence of malfeasance. There is a lot of hand-waving about questions that had been raised about Dominion’s machines and lots of ad hominem assertions about the company and its employees, but the suit [Lindell’s countersuit against Dominion, filed this(?) week (see below) –blf] introduces very little that might be considered actual, direct evidence that votes were manipulated.

    Instead, there’s a lot of circumstantial stuff — like that Dominion wouldn’t turn over proprietary passwords to the team in Arizona that’s working on behalf of the Republican majority in the state Senate — to gin up questions about the election results. This was addressed in a scathing letter from county officials in Arizona explaining that the problem is the “auditors” chosen by the senators lacked the necessary credentials to do the research they wanted to do. The existence of that effort is itself presented by Lindell as evidence that something untoward happened, which is a bit like spending $250,000 on Bigfoot deterrents and then pointing to that investment as evidence that Bigfoot must exist.

    The Post using Grauniad-level snark !

    Another bit of evidence presented by Lindell cites a complaint filed by an attorney named Matthew DePerno on behalf of his client in a lawsuit targeting Antrim County, Mich., where a vote adjustment also occurred on election night. Lindell’s lawsuit quotes a determination about Dominion’s machines made by an organization called Allied Security Operations Group [… but] leaves out that Allied Security Operations Group is so unreliable that it was viewed as too partisan even to participate in the Arizona “audit.”

    [… other flaws with the lawsuit (and more snarks)…]

    The Post then describes what Lindell’s mysteriously acquired mystery data (see @76) seems to be, and cites a twittering thread by a real expert. Basically, what Lindell and his tame and obviously fake expert are all excited about are raw(?) TCP/IP (“Internet”) packet dumps. They aren’t. They can’t be. I’m not a networking expert, but still know roughly what a raw packet will look like — what is shown might be payload, but ain’t packets (and, rather importantly, clearly is not encrypted — very Very weird for highly-sensitive data like actual votes). Another expert points out it seems to be SQL data for a real polling place; indeed, it seems to the (presumably) publicly-available voter roll for a precinct in Pennsylvania.

    The post then goes on to describe other alleged data described earlier by Lindell, which seems to be related to some gibberish fake data former Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne has previously posted.

    The Post’s article concludes:

    [… M]aybe Lindell’s analyst has some way of verifying that votes were flipped besides literally doing nothing more than claiming that they were. Then the question becomes how: how did this happen without anyone noticing, how did it route through the Internet in a process that’s localized in states and why did it happen in some cases days after the election (purportedly) and from eight different countries?

    Oh, and how did someone figure out how to do all this but not figure out how to actually encrypt what they were doing?

    The short answer is that there’s simply no reason to assume that this is true. Literally none. It is much more likely that the conspiracy here is that some tech-savvy guys figured out how to bill a credulous billionaire for weeks of work than it is that this unnamed guy found actual evidence of vote-flipping and, instead of going to the police and becoming a celebrity, he went to a pillow salesman.

    In other words, one assumes that Dominion’s lawyers aren’t that worried about this lawsuit. Particularly given this new development on Friday afternoon:

    Barnes and Thornburg partner out after signing on as counsel in MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell election fraud lawsuit. The Big Law firm says ex-partner was not authorized to put the firm’s name on the filing.

    And The Hill chimes in, MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell’s lawyer leaves law firm a day after filing lawsuit:

    Bloomberg News reported on Friday that [Mike Lindell’s] attorney Alec Beck was not authorized by Barnes & Thornburg LLP to file the lawsuit in a Minnesota federal court.

    In a statement shared with The Hill, the firm said it “became aware of the filing of the complaint which was done without receiving firm authorization pursuant to internal firm approval procedures.”

    “The firm has withdrawn as local counsel in this matter and has ended the client relationship. The attorney representing the client in this matter is no longer with the firm,” the statement said.


    The suit alleges that Dominion and Smartmatic are using litigation to suppress evidence that their voting machines were manipulated to influence the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.


    The complaint states that the companies are uniting in a common purpose to use the litigation process to attempt to suppress the revelation and public discussion of these truths.

    The complaint, which was filled with quotes from George Orwell’s novel “1984,” alleges that Lindell stands to lose $2 billion from the litigation against him.

    And the problem is…?

    “This meritless lawsuit is an increasingly desperate attempt to distract from the harm Mike Lindell and MyPillow continue to cause Dominion and the democratic process itself,” Dominion said in a statement to The Hill.

    It’s not completely meritless — it has identified a sleazy ambulance-chaser, and should cost Lindell yet more… two billion dollars and counting !

    Whilst researching this comment, I stumbled on other examples of ultra-absurd analysis about the election. For example, from memory, some supposed-expert did a curve-fit of historical voting data for four(?), then tried to match the curve to another five(?) nearby counties. No idea why. (Trend analysis?) In any case, not too unexpectedly, the curve was a reasonable fit for those other counties. Ergo, concluded the expert, fraud! The voting machines have been preprogrammed!!1!

  62. blf says

    And again, the raping children cult ducks responsibility, Pope Francis stops short of apology over deaths in ex-Catholic school in Canada:

    Pontiff fails to issue direct apology for church’s role in residential schools where children were abused

    [… Teh cult’s leader] stopped short of the direct apology many Canadians had demanded from the Catholic church for its role in the residential schools, which operated between 1831 and 1996 and were run by a number of Christian denominations on behalf of the government.


    The residential school system forcibly removed about 150,000 children from their homes. Many were subjected to abuse, rape and malnutrition in what the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2015 called “cultural genocide”.

    Francis spoke two days after the Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, said the Catholic church must take responsibility for its role in running many of the schools.

  63. blf says

    No no, it’s not teh satellite mafia, it’s the microchips in the vaccines ! Trump aide asked DoJ to investigate bizarre ‘Italygate’ claim votes were changed by satellite (Grauniad edits in {curly braces}):

    Conspiracy theory says people in Italy used military satellites to make US voting machines switch votes for Biden

    Donald Trump’s final White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, pressured the acting attorney general to help push the lie of electoral fraud in Trump’s defeat by Joe Biden — even asking him to investigate a conspiracy theory which said people in Italy used military satellites to make US voting machines switch votes for Biden.


    Before he became Trump’s fourth and final chief of staff, Meadows was a hard-right congressman from North Carolina and a loyal Trump supporter. The [New York] Times said he emailed acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen five times in December and January.

    One email dealt with the Italygate conspiracy theory, the Times said, adding that Rosen refused to set up a meeting with a former CIA agent pushing the claims online.


    Asha Rangappa, a former FBI agent turned CNN analyst and editor for Just Security, tweeted: “We are at a place where Republican voters can more easily be convinced that Italy (?) secretly altered ballots using remote technology than that simply more people voted for a normal candidate from the opposing party.”

    The academic and author Norman Ornstein said pushing the Italygate conspiracy theory made Meadows an “unAmerican traitor to our fundamental values {who} does not belong in a civil and democratic society or political system.”

    The emails were discovered by the Senate judiciary committee.


    Fortunately, I’d never heard of this conspiracy theory before. Reuters fact-checked the nonsense back in January, Fact check: Evidence disproves claims of Italian conspiracy to meddle in U.S. election (known as #ItalyGate). It’s a complicated story involving theft of data relating to “Europe’s biggest unmanned fighter jet program and aircraft used by the military and police”, unverified documents and recordings, etc., etc. Reuters concluded: “False. There is no legitimate evidence that an employee of the Italian defense company Leonardo SpA interfered in the 2020 US presidential election.” (Apparently, the claim is someone claimed there was a plan “to use the firm’s military satellite uplink to load the software and transfer it over to change the votes from Trump to Biden“, which is bonkers.)

  64. says

    blf @72, “[…] a frothing-at-the-mouth spittle-flying wobbly-eyed conspiracy loon.” LOL. I very much enjoyed that description of Naomi Wolf. And from comments by others that you quoted: “floridly delusional.” That’s apt.

  65. blf says

    Virginia supreme court to hear cases challenging removal of Confederate statue:

    The supreme court of Virginia will this week hear arguments in legal challenges to Governor Ralph Northam’s plan to take down a 131-year-old statue of Confederate Gen Robert E Lee, a move met with widespread praise from activists who had long seen it as a symbol of white supremacy.


    Among the central issues to be decided by the court whether the Commonwealth of Virginia is bound by a decision made by state officials more than 130 years ago, or can it undo that decision […]

    Separate lawsuits were filed by residents who own property near the statue and a descendant of signatories to a 1890 deed that transferred the statue, pedestal and land they sit on to the state.

    In the latter lawsuit, William Gregory argues that the state agreed to “faithfully guard” and “affectionately protect” the statue.

    In the other suit, five property owners, including lead plaintiff Helen Marie Taylor, say an 1889 joint resolution of the Virginia general assembly accepting the statue and agreeing to maintain it is binding. […]

    Gregory’s attorney, Joseph Blackburn, argues that removal of the statue would cause irreparable harm.

    For 130 years, his family has taken pride in the Lee Monument and his family role in the placement of the Monument on land originally belonging to his family and given to the Commonwealth in consideration for the Commonwealth’s guarantee that it would perpetually care for and protect the Monument, Blackburn wrote in a brief.

    Translation of Blackburn’s statement: “For over 130 years the family has taken pride in enslavement, and now views the very concept of BLM as demeaning, democratic — I mean demagogic — and contrary to their perpetual control of the Commonwealth.”

  66. blf says

    Netanyahu says Israeli coalition poised to unseat him is result of election fraud:

    Benjamin Netanyahu has said a newly formed Israeli coalition that is poised to unseat him as prime minister was the result of the greatest election fraud in the history of democracy.

    What, an espionage ring in Italy used satellites to activate the microchips injected with the vaccines ?

    Netanyahu focused his allegations on a broken campaign promise from the man set to replace him as prime minister, nationalist Naftali Bennett.

    Bennett had pledged not to partner with leftwing, centrist and Arab parties, but on Wednesday announced with opposition leader Yair Lapid that they had formed a governing coalition with factions from across the political spectrum.

    We are witnessing the greatest election fraud in the history of the country, in my opinion in the history of any democracy, Netanyahu said in comments to legislators of his rightwing Likud party.

    No, no, stealing the election from hair furor is much hugley bigger. Just ask hair furor.

    On Saturday, the head of Israel’s Shin Bet internal security agency, Nadav Argaman, issued a rare public statement warning of a “severe escalation in violent and inciting discourse” on social media.

    “This discourse could be understood by certain groups or individuals as enabling illegal violence that could even cost a life,” Argaman said, calling on public officials to “issue a clear call to stop this discourse”.

    Politicians opposing Netanyahu and some local media have interpreted Argaman’s statement as a warning to the premier.


  67. blf says

    A year on, the battered and graffitied Colston is finally a potent memorial to our past (great image at the link!):

    Last week, for the first time in months, the burning eye of the outrage industry pivoted westwards and came to rest upon the city of Bristol. On Friday, the statue of the 17th-century slave trader Edward Colston, toppled last June during a Black Lives Matter protest, was put on display. To the fury of some, it was not returned triumphantly to its pedestal in the centre of the city, but exhibited in Bristol’s M Shed museum.

    My understanding is it’s at M Shed (which postdates my own time in Bristol) to encourage a discussion about what to do with it in the end.

    The debate around Colston in the summer of 2020 was largely conducted in a fact-free zone. So it is surely disconcerting for those determined to defend the memorialisation of a mass murderer that in this new setting Colston’s bronze effigy is surrounded by displays that give a detailed history of the slave trader’s grim career and the strange story that explains why, in the 19th century, a cult was created around him and the statue erected.

    For most of the 300 years since his death in 1721, Colston was little known outside Bristol. Few would have imagined that his statue would become the totemic image for Britain’s 21st-century history wars. Still, the professionally outraged have never allowed Colston’s relative obscurity to stand in their way as they rushed to his defence, having first looked him up on Wikipedia.

    Yet as Colston appeared on display last week, carefully preserved and presented by conscientious curators, it was not obvious what the source of offence would be. The statue has, after all, been retained and with so much actual history included in the exhibit, there was a danger that those sent to report on Colston’s second coming might have to write about the suffering of his victims.

    Luckily, two petty grievances were found. The first is that the statue is being displayed at an inappropriate angle. Perhaps there is a perfect angle, as yet unknown to museum professionals, for the public display of mass murderers at which their crimes become more acceptable, perhaps even quaint? The second grievance: that the statue still carries the graffiti sprayed on it during the demonstration of last June.

    What the Bristol curators appreciated is what curators anywhere would appreciate — that the graffiti is now an integral part of its story, like the graffiti carved into Stonehenge and the pyramids or daubed on the walls inside the Reichstag by soldiers of the Red Army in 1945. […]

  68. blf says

    The on-line version of the UK’s daily heil is at it again, MailOnline mocked for suggesting Didsbury is ‘no go’ area for white people (Grauniad edits in {curly braces}):

    MailOnline has been criticised for a story claiming there are British towns that are no-go areas for white people, generating particular ridicule for the inclusion of the Manchester suburb of Didsbury.


    The 2011 census showed that Didsbury West was 84.1% white and Didsbury East was 77.9% white. Only last month, MailOnline published a story describing the area as “posh and leafy” with “plenty of pubs”, which presumably do not cater exclusively for Muslims as they are forbidden to drink alcohol under their religion.

    [… Didsbury] has a reputation for its cafes and specialist, and expensive, food shops, which many comments humorously referenced as they sought to debunk the Mail article.


    Anne Coates wrote: “For my non Mancunian readers, Didsbury is probably the most expensive place to live in Manchester. If you were to visit, you wouldn’t see many people who weren’t white. It has a shop that just sells cheese.”

    Oops. Bad move. The mildly deranged penguin is already en route.

    Teh daily heil’s “article is based on a book by former Islamist radical Ed Husain called Among the Mosques: A Journey Across Muslim Britain”.

    […] Sameer Rahim, who reviewed it for the Literary Review, wrote: “It is, by some distance, the worst book I have reviewed in nearly 20 years as a critic — at times laughable, at others frankly sinister.”

    Husain, a co-founder of the now defunct counter-terror thinktank Quilliam, is a controversial figure, having previously championed the government’s Prevent programme and declared that spying on British Muslims, whether they were suspected of committing crimes or not, was morally right as the alternative {would be} to let the buggers do what they wish, until they appear on the violence radar, which is too late.

  69. blf says

    An amusing snippet from The Guardian librarian: ‘There was a tart exchange with management about photocopiers’, written by Richard Nelsson, the Grauniad’s current librarian, about the arrival of the Grauniad’s first professional librarian, Geoffrey Whatmore, in the early 1950s:

    The office my predecessor arrived at hadn’t changed much since CP Scott’s day, with life still revolving around the leader writers’ corridor, sometimes obstructed by an editor’s large and somnolent dog. But the paper was changing, and with it the library.

    After winning a battle to have a telephone installed, memos from the Guardian archive reveal a “tart” exchange with management about purchasing a photocopier. Admittedly this was cutting-edge technology at the time, but Whatmore eventually got his way.

    Much harder was wresting control of the book collection from an old man who also called himself the librarian. These were kept under lock and key in the corridor and were only to be read by the editor and a few privileged writers. Eventually a spare key was acquired and the collection was supplemented with books scavenged from the pile of review copies — something I still do.

  70. says

    Re: Mike Lindell’s behavior relative to his “evidence”.

    Lindell, Trump, and Trump supporters seem to be staying in “gossip mode” making most (all?) of their evidence testimonial evidence at best. Consider Trump referring to “them/they” saying things in his support (or the opposite, a generalized “them” in opponents). In the nextdoor politics board this was very common, link-dumps that posters could not describe making it a “they support me”, and the articles themselves were also references to claims of fraud, none admitted as evidence, and eventually rejected by courts.

    It’s like “passing the buck” (passing responsibility) for the story.

  71. says

    That nextdoor politics group has since been deleted. That is not surprising. I’ve been invited to a private version by some of the good members of the previous group, but now all the behavior routines from that board are taking their time settling down. It’s getting easier though.

  72. blf says

    The article I snippeted in @86 is part of a Grauniad series I didn’t know existed, Before My Time, where the present incumbents interview previous incumbents of the same(-ish) position at the Grauniad (as part of their 200 years celebration): “Guardian writers, correspondents and editors interview their predecessors about how the job — and the subject matter — has changed over the years”. Some snippets from another article in that series, ‘Nose to the grindstone’: how Simon Winchester covered Watergate for the Guardian by their current Washington DC correspondent, David Smith:

    [Smith:] To attend Trump’s campaign rallies was to be surrounded by a raucous crowd worshipping a demagogue while booing and jeering enemies of the people” like me. To sit in his coronavirus taskforce briefings was to feel like a plane passenger strapped in as the captain announces that he intends to fly blind through a mountain range.

    Winchester says: “The sort of Washington WASPy elite were very pro-Guardian. Alastair Hetherington’s editorial denouncing the Suez crisis, which of course lost us 100,000 readers, really appealed to America and so we were quids in in the state department because we were seen to have taken the right approach, and towards Ireland as well. We were a much-loved paper. […]”

    [Winchester became a US citizen and is now an elected official in a small Massachusetts town.] “We have 536 people who voted in the election; 200 of them voted for Trump and, looking at the Massachusetts firearms licence applications, a very large number of them are quite heavily armed. The guy that went past a couple of hours ago sanding my road because of the ice and so forth is a Trump supporter and he carries a gun and he knows where I live. That sounds like paranoia speaking, but it’s something I’ve never felt before.

    “I know if I went to Ilfracombe or Bideford or Taunton, despite Brexit and the stain Nigel Farage has left on the body politic in Britain, people are not likely to be quite so potentially violent. So that does trouble me a bit.”

  73. blf says

    I’m sorry, more snippets from that Gruaniad series (see @89), this one decidedly not political, The Guardian’s first fashion editor: ‘Highbrows no longer ignore high fashion’, about Alison Adburgham by current associate editor (Fashion), Jess Cartner-Morley:

    “Now comes the Paris week, with the fighting on the stairways, the multilingual shrieking in the salons; a week of over-heating, under-eating, little sleeping; a week of vitiation and dehydration, ineffectively compensated by indifferent champagne.”

    In other words, fashion week has barely changed in 61 years. […]

    At which point I completely lost it. The mildly deranged penguin, recently returned from Didsbury (see @85), jumped into a pillow-fort and refused to come out until I offered her two whole peices of cheese (still giggling, and by then, also hiccuping).

    As a critic [Adburgham ] was not afraid to bite: her review of a 1971 Yves Saint Laurent show (“a tour de force of bad taste … nothing could exceed the horror of this exercise in kitsch”) is the stuff of fashion legend.

    Ms Adburgham died in 1997 and so was spared hair furor, who probably couldn’t dress up to that “exercise in kitsch”.

  74. says

    blf @83, Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu are going to have get in a boxing ring and fight for the claim of having been dethroned thanks to “the greatest election fraud in the history of democracy”. Both have made that claim when the people voted them out of power. Surely there can be only one “greatest election fraud.”

    BTW, I enjoyed the snippets from the Guardian series, “Before My Time,” which included several examples of excellent writing, some equally excellent snark, and a bit of dry humor (British style).

  75. says

    Oh, FFS.

    Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) on Sunday denied having any delusions of bipartisan compromise in a 50-50 Senate after declaring his opposition to the House-passed For the People Act in an op-ed published in the Charleston Gazette-Mail.

    In his op-ed published hours before his appearance on “Fox News Sunday,” Manchin dismissed the sweeping voting rights legislation his Democratic colleagues have pushed as “partisan,” while also reaffirming his refusal to eliminate the filibuster that has presented obstacles in moving Democrats’ agenda forward with its 60-vote threshold. The West Virginia senator, who previously expressed issues with the broad nature of the bill, reiterated his support for the less-comprehensive John Lewis Voting Rights Act.

    During Manchin’s interview on “Fox News Sunday,” anchor Chris Wallace asked whether the West Virginia senator’s hopes for bipartisanship is the “wrong” approach heading into negotiations with Republican colleagues in the Senate. Wallace suggested that perhaps if he voted to nuke the filibuster, Republicans would be more incentivized to negotiate due to centrist senator’s role as a key vote in the upper chamber.

    Manchin denied that his commitment to preserving the filibuster “empowers Republicans to be obstructionists,” citing the handful of Republican senators who voted to convict former President Trump for “incitement of insurrection.”

    “I don’t think so because we have seven brave Republicans that continue to vote for what they know is right and the facts as they see them, not worrying about the political consequences,” Manchin said.

    Manchin added that he believes there are a lot more Republicans in the Senate who agree with him.

    “I’m just hoping they are able to rise to the occasion to defend our country and support our country and make sure that we have a democracy for this republic of all the people. I’m just very hopeful that — and I see good signs,” Manchin said. “We’re doing more things than ever before. Give us some time. I know everyone’s putting deadlines, got to be done by this, this and this.”

    Wallace then brought up Republicans’ use of the filibuster to kill the House-passed bill to create an independent and bipartisan Jan. 6 commission, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) remarks of being “100 percent” focused on blocking President Biden’s agenda, before asking Manchin whether he is being naive by hanging his hopes on bipartisan cooperation in a 50-50 Senate.

    Manchin denied having political naivety.

    “I’m not being naive. I think (McConnell is) 100 percent wrong in trying to block all the good things that we’re trying to do for America,” Manchin said. “It would be a lot better if we had participation and we’re getting participation.”

    Manchin maintained that he will “continue to keep working with my bipartisan friends.”

    “There were 33 Democrats in 2017 that signed a letter to please save the filibuster and save our democracy,” Manchin said. “That’s what I’m trying to do.” [Wrong framing of the issue! So, not naive, but perhaps stupid?]

    Both Sens. Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema’s (D-AZ) commitment to preserving the filibuster poses obstacles to Senate Democrats’ efforts to abolish the filibuster. […]


  76. says

    Follow-up to comment 92.

    Posted by readers of the article:

    This “protecting the filibuster” sounds like an excuse to protect his own conservative, Republican beliefs. He is basically saying that he would allow widespread voter disenfranchisement, blatant racial discrimination in new voting laws and give Republicans leeway to overturn elections that they lose, just to protect the filibuster. Yeah, right. He is protecting his own interests and calling it integrity. In what universe is he a Democrat? [Lynna notes that Manchin does have a record of voting along Democratic Party lines most of the time. I think he is afflicted with a blindspot when it comes to the filibuster.]
    Coming next year, Republican majorities in the House & Senate pass the Protect The Vote bill that prevents the Justice Department in the Biden Administration from investigating naked state attempts to deny the franchise to Democratic-leaning groups.

    And the slender Senate majority will gleefully abolish the legislative filibuster to do so.
    He’s fooling no one –
    “Manchin’s op-ed might as well be titled, ‘Why I’ll vote to preserve Jim Crow,’” tweeted Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.).

    “We didn’t need an op-ed to know you’re unwilling to protect our democracy,” Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) added.
    even Chris Wallace on Fox News, of all places, has trouble pointing out to him how counter-productive his “stance” is, and how it just plays into the hands of the Republican obstructionists who are using him for their own completely partisan, and totally NOT “bipartisan” purposes.
    Chris Wallace. On FOX.

  77. says

    3 dead, 5 injured in shooting at Miami-area graduation party

    Three people were killed and five others were wounded in a shooting at a graduation party in the Miami area, The Associated Press reported Sunday.

    Miami-Dade police Director Alfredo “Freddy” Ramirez told reporters that the shooting happened at 2 a.m., toward the end of a graduation party at a suburban strip mall. A group of vehicles pulled up to the party and opened fire on the gathering, he said.

    The vehicles then fled, and one of them crashed into a nearby wall, authorities said. Miami-Dade Fire and Rescue responded to the crash. Two occupants in the vehicle were reported dead, police told the AP.

    […] Several victims drove themselves to a nearby hospital for treatment. Twenty-year-old Tyleisha Taylor, a state corrections officer, was identified as one of the casualties.

    “We are devastated to learn a member of our FDC family, Officer Taylor, was killed in a fatal shooting. Our prayers are with her family as they navigate this unimaginable loss,” Florida Secretary of Corrections Mark Inch said in a statement in the AP report.

    None of the other people who were killed or wounded have been identified.

    This weekend’s shooting follows another last week in which three people were killed and 20 were wounded at a local event during Memorial Day weekend.

    Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava expressed her condolences, adding that she partnered with Miami-Dade police in launching an initiative to combat the ongoing problem of violent crime. […]

  78. says

    Wonkette: “Joe Manchin Can Name 12 Logical Fallacies Preventing Him From Supporting Voting Rights”

    This morning, West Virginia newspaper the Charleston Gazette-Mail published an op-ed from Senator Joe Manchin, titled, very simply, “Why I’m Voting Against the For the People Act.”

    […] the way I figure it, if he is going to write an entire article titled “Why I’m Voting Against the For the People Act,” he should at least have the decency to explain why he is voting against the For the People Act.

    He does not.

    In this op-ed, Manchin spends lots of time explaining why he’s opposed to ending the filibuster, but the only explanation he gives for why he opposes the For the People Act is that it’s “partisan.”

    Via Charleston Gazette-Mail:

    [W]e now are witnessing that the fundamental right to vote has itself become overtly politicized. Today’s debate about how to best protect our right to vote and to hold elections, however, is not about finding common ground, but seeking partisan advantage. Whether it is state laws that seek to needlessly restrict voting or politicians who ignore the need to secure our elections, partisan policymaking won’t instill confidence in our democracy — it will destroy it.

    As such, congressional action on federal voting rights legislation must be the result of both Democrats and Republicans coming together to find a pathway forward or we risk further dividing and destroying the republic we swore to protect and defend as elected officials.

    The For the People Act is huge. There is a lot in it. And yet, Manchin does not manage to name one single specific item in the bill that he can say is explicitly “partisan.” He may as well have said that he found the bill “derivative” or claimed that it “insists upon itself.” It means nothing. Given that this is a major piece of Democratic legislation, one would think he could do us all the favor of being a little more specific. Which aspect of the bill does he find “partisan?” Which part of it does he think would be unfair to Republicans? I think we’d all be happy to hear him out were he able to make that known.

    Rather than explaining what about it he finds specifically objectionable, Manchin simply assures us that if the bill were good, it would have support from all of the wonderful Republicans in Congress who agreed that the president encouraging a bunch of cafones to storm the Capitol building was maybe bad.

    Democrats in Congress have proposed a sweeping election reform bill called the For the People Act. This more than 800-page bill has garnered zero Republican support. Why? Are the very Republican senators who voted to impeach Trump because of actions that led to an attack on our democracy unwilling to support actions to strengthen our democracy? Are these same senators, whom many in my party applauded for their courage, now threats to the very democracy we seek to protect?


    […] Democrats winning elections because everyone is able to vote easily and Republicans winning because it is harder for certain people to vote are not equal scenarios. […]

    Manchin’s main point of contention seems to be that the Act is simply unfair to Republicans because they did not help to write it. It is unclear, however, who it was that was stopping them. Two Republican House representatives in fact proposed amendments to the bill, and yes, they were voted down, but that’s how things work. Some amendments proposed by Democrats also failed, because that is also the way things work. Republicans could have participated more, they chose not to. […]

    I believe that partisan voting legislation will destroy the already weakening binds of our democracy, and for that reason, I will vote against the For the People Act. Furthermore, I will not vote to weaken or eliminate the filibuster. For as long as I have the privilege of being your U.S. senator, I will fight to represent the people of West Virginia, to seek bipartisan compromise no matter how difficult and to develop the political bonds that end divisions and help unite the country we love.

    It is a known fact that nothing destroys democracy quite like making voting more accessible.

    Even if bipartisanship were the magic path to super great legislation […] it’s not feasible. It is bad for Republicans, electorally, to vote to advance practically any legislation put forward by Democrats. It doesn’t matter how inoffensive it is, they’re not going to do it because their voters do not want them to do it. If they vote for it, they will be swiftly replaced by the closest available Marjorie Taylor Greene.

    I do not expect Joe Manchin to agree with me […] on basically anything. I do, however, expect him not to base his opposition to important pieces of legislation entirely on logical fallacies, and I think that is more than fair.


  79. blf says

    Republicans Are One Week Away From Starting a Lock Her Up Chant for Anthony Fauci:

    Early on in the COVID-19 pandemic, the GOP collectively decided to make Anthony Fauci, MD, public enemy number one, having found in the veteran immunologist the perfect target through which to whip up their base and take the spotlight off the fact that the then president[Wacko House occupant] had let the virus gain a foothold in the country while actively lying about it at every turn. Fauci, of course, is everything conservatives hate: An educated man of science with not one but two degrees, he committed what Republicans believe was a capital offense when he failed to back up everything Donald Trump said about the disease, including the part about treating it by freebasing bleach. While tiresome and dangerous — Fauci and his family required a security detail at one point — the ridiculous attacks and conspiracies, like that Fauci invented the coronavirus and is part of a secret cabal with Bill Gates and George Soros to profit from vaccines have had little impact. […]

    But like the living embodiment of a QAnon forum, Republicans, Trump, and Fox News now appear to believe they’ve found some kind of smoking gun showing Fauci is somehow responsible for the virus, based on the fresh interest in the lab-leak theory (which the doctor himself is supportive of investigating, which you wouldn’t think he would be if he was implicated in the whole thing, a slight wrinkle conservatives will probably explain at a time and place TBD). So naturally, they’re amping up their attacks like he‘s the second coming of Benghazi / Hillary Clinton / Pol Pot.


    Incidentally, none of the people calling for the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to basically be tried for war crimes have expressed the slightest interest in any investigation whatsoever into the events of January 6 and in fact have lost their collective shit over the prospect of anyone digging into the that day, and the lead-up, too closely.

    […] As for the possibility he or his organization might actually be responsible for the virus because they provided a small amount of funding to the Wuhan lab, Fauci, like most sane people, believes the idea is absurd. “Are you really saying that we are implicated because we gave a multibillion-dollar institution $120,000 a year for bat surveillance?” he asked.

  80. blf says

    Senegalese professor holds pupil’s baby during class in show of support for student mothers:

    Labaly Touré, a doctor of geomatics who teaches at the Sine Saloum Elhadj Ibrahima Niass University in Kaolack in southeast Dakar, posted two photos on June 2 along with the caption: “This morning, I had the pleasure of carrying the baby of one of my students during my class at the university.”

    [… Touré:] “A student came to my class with her baby, who was less than a year old, tied on her back. She wasn’t able to concentrate on the course like that. She put the baby on her lap, and when I saw that, I offered to take the baby myself so that she could focus on class. I kept the baby with me for the entire class, he stayed very calm.

    “It was a way to help her, but also a nod to all student mothers who are juggling motherhood and higher education. I want to show them that these two roles aren’t incompatible these days. Because I am a father myself, I am sensitive to these issues. And we, as teachers, have a role to play in helping these mothers.

    “I don’t know of many women attempting to do this in my university or elsewhere. But when I do encounter a student mother, I’ll do everything I can to support her so that she doesn’t give up her education. I also spoke to my colleagues, telling them that motherhood shouldn’t be a reason for someone to stop their studies.


    “The predicament of these young mothers highlights a problem in Senegal — daycares and nannies are expensive, so they aren’t really an option for everyone, especially when you think about students who, very often, have limited financial means. Obviously, if my student could pay for a nanny, she would. She didn’t have a choice and I wasn’t going to send her away because she came to class with her baby!”


  81. blf says

    Jen Psaki likens Fox News reporters to Russian and Chinese propagandists:

    Joe Biden’s White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, has likened reporters from Fox News and other rightwing outlets to “representatives of the Russian and Chinese media asking questions directed by their government … propaganda pushers” to be treated with extreme caution.

    Psaki was speaking to CNN’s Reliable Sources in an interview broadcast on Sunday. Her relations with the media have been smoother — and her briefings more frequent — than any predecessor in the Trump administration. […]


    On CNN, Psaki said: “The things that get under my skin are when the premise of a question is based on inaccurate information, misleading information. That can be frustrating. I try not to show it too much, try not to let people see me sweat too much. But occasionally I have a moment of humanity.”

    Host Brian Stelter pointed out that most questions “based on falsehoods come from brands like Newsmax, which does sometimes get called on the briefing room. I know a lot of liberals don’t want Fox News to get called on. I think they should be, but … why do you call on Fox News and Newsmax?”

    Psaki said: “My point of view and more importantly, the president’s point of view, is that the story is not about me or a debate with news outlets. The story is about the plans of the administration and what we’re trying to project to the American people.

    “And when he pledged to govern for all Americans, that means talking to a range of outlets — liberal, conservative, people who have different areas of interest. So that’s exactly what I try to do every day.”

    Stelter asked why some viewers celebrate when the press secretary is seen to “shut down” a questioner such as Doocy.

    “I also have a responsibility not to allow the briefing room to become a forum for propaganda or a forum for pushing forward falsehoods or inaccurate information,” Psaki said.

    “My best preparation for that was actually serving as the state department spokesperson when there were representatives of the Russian and the Chinese media in the briefing room asking me questions that were directed by their government.”


    Fox News gleefully rounded up conservative criticism of the interview. Verdicts included subservient, obsequious and bootlicking.[ …]

    Whilst the Grauniad isn’t completely clear, context suggest that “criticism” is of Psaki’s statements rather than the “reporting”, etc., on faux, newsmin, etc — hence the eejit quotes.

  82. blf says

    Republicans pledge allegiance to fossil fuels like it’s still the 1950s:

    Joe Biden may be pressing for 2021 to be a transformational year in tackling the climate crisis, but Republicans arrayed in opposition to his agenda have dug in around a unifying rallying theme — that the fossil fuel industry should be protected at almost any cost.

    For many experts and environmentalists, the Republican stance is a shockingly retrograde move that flies in the face of efforts to fight global heating and resembles a head in the sand approach to the realities of a changing American economy.

    In a recent letter sent to John Kerry, Biden’s climate envoy, more than a dozen Republican state treasurers accused the administration of pressuring banks to not lend to coal, oil and gas companies, adding that such a move would “eliminate the fossil fuel industry in our country” [and the problem is…? –blf] in order to appease the US president’s radical political preferences.

    The letter raised the extraordinary possibility of Republican-led states penalizing banks that refuse to fund projects that worsen the climate crisis by pulling assets from them. Riley Moore, treasurer of the coal heartland state of West Virginia, said undue pressure was being put on banks by the Biden administration that could end financing of fossil fuels and devastate West Virginia and put thousands of families out of work.

    It may also cause the W.Virginia alleged-governor, Jim Justice, to lose yet more money (see @64).

    The shunning of banks in this way would almost certainly face a hefty legal response but the threat is just the latest eye-catching[rolling] Republican gambit aimed at propping up a fossil fuel industry that will have to be radically pared back if the US is to slash its planet-heating emissions in half this decade, as Biden has vowed.

    In Louisiana, Republicans have embarked upon a quixotic and probably doomed attempt to make the state a fossil fuel sanctuary jurisdiction that does not follow federal pollution rules.

    See Bill seeks to make Louisiana ‘fossil fuel sanctuary’ in bid against Biden’s climate plans (“Republicans and Democrats are introducing bills to push against Biden’s new restrictions on oil and gas companies”).

    The messaging appears to be filtering down to the Republican electorate, with new polling by Yale showing support for clean energy among GOP voters has dropped dramatically over the past 18 months.

  83. blf says

    Texas bakery sells out of goods after backlash for its Pride rainbow cookies (essentilly quoted in full):

    A small Texas bakery which lost orders and Facebook followers after posting a message in support of the LGBTQ community sold out its inventory two days in a row over the weekend, after a surge of support from around the world.

    Confections, in Lufkin, east Texas, said it had suffered a backlash after posting a photo on 2 June of a rainbow-decorated cookie in the shape of a heart, accompanied by the message: “More LOVE. Less hate. Happy Pride to all our LGBTQ friends! All lovers of cookies and happiness are welcome here.”

    The message, marking Pride month which runs through June, was followed up by a more solemn post the next day.

    “Today has been hard. Really hard,” Confections wrote. “We lost a significant amount of followers because of a rainbow heart cookie we posted.

    “We received a very hateful message on our business page canceling a large order (5dz) of summer themed cookies for tomorrow morning (that we just finished decorating) because of a rainbow heart cookie we posted.”

    “My heart is heavy. Honestly I never thought a post that literally said more love less hate would result in this kind of backlash to a very small business that is struggling to stay afloat and spread a little cheer through baked goods.”

    The bakery added that it now had “an over abundance” of cookies available for sale, but could hardly have expected what happened next. The post attracted more than 11,000 likes, from people around the world, with people more local to east Texas promising to visit the bakery.

    Many duly did attend, and a photo posted by Confections showed a line of customers stretching down the street outside the business. On Saturday, Confections returned to Facebook to share some good news.

    “We’ve sold out,” the bakery wrote, adding that the team were “just so humbled and grateful and moved by this outpouring of love”.

    Confections said after it sold out of its baked goods, some customers had lingered and donated money, which it said would go towards local animal rescues.

    As the company scrambled to respond to the thousands of goodwill messages sent across Facebook and Instagram, co-owner Miranda Dolder wrote a comment to those who had shown support.

    “Thank you!” Dolder wrote.

    “More love, less hate. Always.”

  84. blf says

    Hawaii [sic (Hawaiʻi)] bill seeks to gut funding aimed at protecting environment from tourism:

    Since 1998, the Hawaiian Tourism Authority (HTA) […] has had its focus largely on marketing Hawaii to the world. But in 2019, when the state hit a record of over 10 million tourists, the milestone taxed residents, and caused significant environmental impacts on trails, beaches and sacred sites.

    During the pandemic, the agency’s new leader, John De Fries, called the time a “huliau”, which in Hawaiian means a time of transition. It was one that De Fries, the first Native Hawaiin in the role, felt would be the perfect moment to reset Hawaii in a way that would marry modern technology and Indigenous wisdom to protect the future of the island and promote its state-adopted sustainability goals by 2030.

    As the first state in the nation to declare a climate emergency, Hawaii’s residents have long felt an urgency for better tourism management strategies, with a majority of them believing that the island has been run for tourists at the expense of the locals, according to a recent HTA survey. Then, for the first time ever, HTA expanded beyond marketing and came up with the most comprehensive, sustainable and regenerative tourism plan, involving three new focuses that prioritized Native Hawaiian culture, community, and the environment. It cited an increase in $7.5m to support those efforts.

    But just as they finally launched their recovery strategies […] the legislature, in a last-minute gut-and-replace move, introduced House Bill 862, stripping HTA’s funding and responsibilities in April. In one of the earlier amended versions of the bill, the legislature cut all of its financing for any Native Hawaiian organizations, cultural programming, and environmental nonprofits it had already been funding for years, causing immediate uproar in the community and over 200 public testimonials in opposition.

    “You want to use us, you want to take all you can from our home, our resources, and our way of life and give us little to nothing in return,” testified Mapuana Da Silva, Executive Director of the Kailua-based cultural nonprofit Hika’alani.

    According to Maggie Kahoilua, a Kona-based philanthropist, the bill perpetuates the cycle of occupied powers destroying national identity, further erasing knowledge of the Hawaiian kingdom. “A lot of people don’t even know the Hawaiian kingdom exists and that’s what they prefer.”

    Senator Glenn Wakai [who is a dummie (democrat), not the anticipated thug (republican) –blf], who is in support of the bill, said that HTA should focus on its original purpose of brand marketing, and that the agency needs to have more accountability with their spending.

    [… A]waiting a decision from Governor David Ige [thug], the new bill, if it were to go into effect, would take HTA’s fiscal year 2023 budget to zero, and the agency would have to go through a rigorous process to justify to legislators why it should receive general funds, while also, requiring state approval for all future contracts and purchases. Even if vetoed, another bill, HB200, also threatens to thwart its funding.

    This has left the agency scrambling to use special funds for cultural organizations by 1 July, so the money won’t go back to the state. Meanwhile their multi-year plans to protect the environment and communities are now up in the air.


  85. says

    Wow. More than 30 million.

    NBC News:

    Biden used his weekly address for a brief Zoom chat with Obama to draw attention to the six-month expanded enrollment period that closes Aug. 15. Meanwhile the government released a report that says that nearly 31 million Americans — a record — now have health coverage through Obamacare, formally known as the Affordable Care Act. “We did this together,” said Obama, whose administration established the health insurance marketplace.

    More information from Steve Benen:

    […] HHS has revised the coverage tally to 31 million: 11.3 million through exchange marketplaces, 14.8 million through the ACA’s Medicaid expansion, 3.9 million who became eligible for traditional Medicaid through the ACA’s improved eligibility standards, and 1 million through the Affordable Care Act’s Basic Health Program option.

    What’s more, HuffPost’s Jonathan Cohn noted that by some measures, the Biden administration is probably undercounting the most up-to-date figure.

    The latest enrollment figures do not include the past few months when Biden reopened enrollment and the Democratic COVID-19 relief bill made that new assistance available. “The actual total as of TODAY could be as high as 33.5 million…or 10% of the entire U.S. population,” Charles Gaba, health care analyst from, noted on Twitter.

    No wonder Biden and Obama looked so happy in the White House video.

    All of this coincides with the Democratic president’s special open-enrollment period, which more than a million Americans have already taken advantage of. They can continue to do so: the window doesn’t close until August.

    What’s more, this good news coincides with the expansive new ACA benefits included in the Democrats’ COVID relief package: some have seen their premiums cut in half, while millions have seen their premiums fall to literally zero, thanks entirely to the investments in the American Rescue Plan.

    As we’ve discussed, the issue is one of political will. Trump and his team could’ve taken these steps more than a year ago. The options were on the table to create new open-enrollment periods, alert the public to the coverage opportunities, make premiums even more affordable, and so on.

    But the Republican administration didn’t want to, so it didn’t.

    The Biden administration, meanwhile, wants more Americans to get coverage they can afford, and it’s taken effective steps to make that happen. The results speak for themselves.

    Postscript: It hasn’t generated much political chatter lately, but we are still awaiting word from the U.S. Supreme Court on whether conservative justices will tear down the ACA system in its entirety. A ruling is expected sometime over the next few weeks

  86. says

    Trump pretends he’s ‘not the one trying to undermine democracy’

    Trump would have his followers believe his attacks on our democracy are really little more than a defense of democracy, which is as twisted as it sounds.

    Donald Trump spoke at the North Carolina Republican Party’s state convention on Saturday, delivering what he and his team described as an “official presidential speech,” despite the fact that he’s not the president. Ahead of his spiel, some of Trump’s allies pleaded with him not to dwell on conspiracy theories surrounding his 2020 defeat.

    Naturally, he did it anyway. As NPR reported:

    “The 2020 presidential election, that election, the 2020 presidential election, was by far the most corrupt election in the history of our country,” Trump baselessly claimed in a speech before the North Carolina Republican Party, continuing his false grievance about an election he lost. He said Democrats “used COVID” and “used mail-in ballots to steal an election.” He called it a “third-world election, like we’ve never seen before.” He derided it as the “crime of the century” and claimed that the “country is being destroyed, perhaps by people who have no right to destroy it.”

    It’s worth emphasizing for context that Trump, while suggesting that U.S. elected officials “perhaps” weren’t actually elected, appeared to be reading from prepared text. While the former president is notorious for ignoring scripts during public appearances, in this instance, the Republican was delivering a specific and deliberate message.

    In other words, Trump wasn’t just popping off, sharing random thoughts that occurred to him at the time. He and his team wanted his audience to believe the former president questions the legitimacy of their successors.

    At the same event, Trump soon after declared, “I’m not the one trying to undermine democracy. I am the one who’s trying to save it.”

    The sentiment wasn’t altogether surprising, but it was a peek into a twisted perspective. The failed former president tried to cling to power after losing; he helped inspired an insurrectionist attack on his own country’s Capitol; and he continues to question the legitimacy of the United States’ rightful leaders. Trump would nevertheless have his followers believe his attacks on our democracy are really little more than a defense of democracy — an idea predicated entirely on the idea that his crackpot conspiracy theories are true and he won the election he lost.

    Earlier in the day, the National Republican Senatorial Committee released a new video in which Trump boasted that his party is “going to take back the Senate, take back the House, we’re going to take back the White House — and sooner than you think.” He added, “It’s going to be really something special.”

    A generous interpretation of the comments would be that Trump expects Republicans to control the White House “sooner” than, say, 2029. But the former president’s prediction came against a backdrop in which he’s reportedly told associates he expects to be “reinstated” to power later this year, reality be damned.

    I realize there’s a school of thought that says it’s better to ignore pitiful tirades from a guy who couldn’t quite cut it as a blogger for a full month. But whether he deserves the influence or not, Donald Trump remains the head of one of the nation’s major political parties, and he’s made attacks against our democracy one of his principal post-presidency hobbies.

  87. blf says

    Follow-up to @84, Campaigners try to block Edward Colston display at Bristol museum:

    Campaigners who want the statue of the slave trader Edward Colston restored to its plinth in Bristol are urging supporters to block-book tickets to the museum where it is on display daubed with graffiti, in a bid to prevent visitors seeing it.

    As the 19th-century bronze memorial went on display in Bristol, the Save Our Statues campaign group, which calls for the preservation of Britain’s precious cultural furniture, mobilised supporters to book tickets to the M Shed museum.


    Some replies to the Save Our Statues Twitter post were critical of the action. One poster, who identified himself as Matt Ray, wrote: “So you’re called ‘Save Our Statues’ and you’ve deliberately stopped people seeing a statue. How does that work? Shouldn’t you call yourself ‘We demand statues on our terms or not at all!’?”


    As a matter of democratic principle, the first step must be to repair and reinstate the statue, and then if the council wants to run a democratic process, it can, the [We demand statues on our terms or not at all!] statement said. Unlike what happened one year ago today, this is a peaceful and civilised way to exercise our democratic right to protest.


    On the day the exhibit opened, the historian David Olusoga said the statue had been transformed from “a mediocre piece of late-Victorian public art” into “the most important artefact you could select in Britain if you wanted to tell the story of Britain’s tortuous relationship with its role in the Atlantic slave trade”.

    On Sunday a plaque was placed at the spot where the Colston statue was pushed into the water to mark the anniversary of the incident. According to a statement sent to the Guardian by a group calling itself Guerilla Hiztory, the plaque was designed by John Packer, a Bristol-based artist, and installed by anonymous well-wishers. [image at the link]

    An engraving on the plaque described the circumstances in which the statue was pulled down. It also includes an abridged version of the poem Hollow by Vanessa Kisuule, Bristol City poet 2020, which reads: “You came down easy in the end. As you landed / A piece of you fell off, broke away, / And inside, nothing but air. / This whole time, you were hollow.”

    A spokesperson for the group said: “The toppling of Colston’s statue was a pivotal moment in a global popular uprising, and the enormous symbolic and historical significance of this event reverberated around the world.


  88. says

    Wonkette: “Mississippi GOP Gov. Has Some Real Wild Ideas About Human Gestation Periods”

    On Sunday, Mississippi GOP Governor Tate Reeves appeared on Jake Tapper’s “State of The Union” to discuss his hopes and dreams for his state’s law banning abortion after 15 weeks. It should come as no surprise that his hope is that it will lead to the overturning or at least the erosion of Roe v. Wade. But what Reeves wanted to make most clear to Tapper and to CNN audience was that he wanted it overturned not just because of his personal beliefs about abortion, but because he believes the science has changed, therefore the law must keep up with that.

    Here, however, appears to be Governor Reeves’s best guess on what “the science” says. It is very different from what “the science” actually says. [video available at the link]

    He said:

    REEVES: For people such as myself that are pro-life, I believe that the Supreme Court made a mistake in the 1970s. But that’s not the issue at stake that is before the court, hopefully when the arguments are heard sometime in the fall.

    The question that is before the court, and this is something you mentioned earlier, and that’s with respect to understanding and appreciating and respecting science.

    The fact is, we know so much more in America today about the formation of young children in the womb than we did when Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973. We know so much more even than we knew when Casey was decided in 1992, that was 30 years ago. It is not unusual for the court to review cases from the past. And what we know now, Jake, is that we know that the heart has partially formed at 15 weeks. We know that the baby in the womb is practicing breathing. We know that most internal organs have started to form and we believe that child is viable outside the womb.

    As it turns out, “we” know exactly none of those things, because Tate Reeves just made them all up as he went along.

    The heart is not “partially formed” at 15 weeks. The “heartbeat” that anti-choice zealots like to talk about is fetal pole cardiac activity. “The science” Reeves is so keen on respecting actually says there is “little organization of human heart cells until 20 weeks of pregnancy.”

    Fetuses are also not practicing breathing at 15 weeks. The lungs are in fact one of the last organs to fully develop, usually around 37 weeks. The fetus does not “practice” breathing until the third trimester.

    The biggest pile of bullshit here, however, is believing a human fetus is viable outside the womb at 15 weeks, when the most premature baby to ever survive was born at 21 weeks and five days. Perhaps he is thinking of chinchillas. Or tigers. Or some other animal with a much shorter gestational period than humans.

    Sadly, Tapper did not question him on any of this. Just sort of let it hang there, unchallenged. Instead, he switched the conversation over to how the law included no exceptions for rape or incest, and asked Reeves what he would say to a child pregnant by their father or uncle. Granted, this is certainly the more dramatic approach, but only if you think anti-choicers actually care about that.

    Reeves responded by saying “I’m not telling any child in Mississippi anything,” which, to be fair, is probably true. Were such a child anywhere around him, he would likely just ignore them just like he ignores facts about gestational development.

    Then he just went on about how he thinks abortion is murder and how very, very much the state of Mississippi cares about babies and human life.

    REEVES: What I’m telling everyone is we believe that abortions are murdering literally millions and millions and millions of Americans across many, many years and it’s a sad, sad state of affairs and we’re going to work very hard to make sure that when that baby becomes viable that it is treated as a human life because that is exactly what it is.

    Mississippi, for the record, has the worst health care system and the highest infant mortality rate in the entire country.


  89. says

    Despite pandemic, level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere hits historic levels.

    Washington Post link

    “If we want to avoid catastrophic climate change, the highest priority must be to reduce CO2 pollution to zero at the earliest possible date,” one top scientist says.

    Economies worldwide nearly ground to a halt over the 15 months of the coronavirus pandemic, leading to a startling drop in global greenhouse gas emissions.

    But that did little to slow the steady accumulation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which reached the highest levels since accurate measurements began 63 years ago, scientists said Monday.

    “Fossil fuel burning is really at the heart of this. If we don’t tackle fossil fuel burning, the problem is not going to go away,” Ralph Keeling, a geochemist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, said in an interview, adding that the world ultimately will have to make emissions cuts that are “much larger and sustained” than anything that happened during the pandemic.

    Scientists from Scripps and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said on Monday that levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide peaked in May, reaching a monthly average of nearly 419 parts per million.

    That represents an increase from the May 2020 mean of 417 parts per million, and it marks the highest level since measurements began 63 years ago at the NOAA observatory in Mauna Loa, Hawaii. Twice in 2021, daily levels recorded at the observatory have exceeded 420 parts per million, researchers said.

    […] “It’s significant in that it shows we are still fully on the wrong track.”

    Tans noted that humans continue to add about 40 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide pollution to the atmosphere each year, and that avoiding catastrophic changes to the climate will require reducing that number to zero as quickly as possible.

    “The fact that CO2 concentrations at Mauna Loa data are already so high and are keep going up so fast is disturbing but not surprising because the emissions of CO2 continue to be incredibly high,” said Corinne Le Quéré, research professor of climate change science at the University of East Anglia. “The concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere will stop rising when the emissions approach zero.”

    […] Even as international borders closed and global economic activity took a massive hit throughout much of 2020, researchers have found that human-caused emissions rebounded fairly quickly after decreasing sharply early in the pandemic.

    […] Energy-related carbon dioxide emissions during 2020 dropped to about the same level of global emissions that prevailed in 2012 — not nearly low enough to change the world’s current trajectory. That reality offers the latest evidence of the stubbornness of human-related emissions, and the difficulty the world faces in making the kind of far-reaching, long-lasting cuts necessary to slow Earth’s warming and avoid the most catastrophic effects of climate change. […]

  90. says

    Vice President Harris is taking her first step onto the global stage Monday as she meets with Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei in an effort to revive U.S. relations with the country and tackle a daunting corruption problem.

    Harris is visiting Guatemala, followed by a trip to Mexico on Tuesday, as part of her mission to tackle the root causes of migration from Central America’s Northern Triangle countries by addressing the dire conditions that cause people to flee.

    Biden asked Harris in March to spearhead the administration’s efforts to address the conditions driving immigration to the United States from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador — in addition to other politically volatile issues in her portfolio, such as voting rights.

    But the problems Harris is being asked to address are difficult and long-standing.

    Administration officials say they recognize that any government or private investment may take years or even decades to bear fruit in a region where crippling poverty, cartel-linked crime and government corruption have long nudged people toward making a perilous 2,000-mile journey to the U.S. border.

    The Biden administration has pledged $310 million in humanitarian aid to the region and has a $4 billion plan to boost development there. Administration officials have also said that Harris is likely to discuss more stringent anti-corruption measures with Giammattei.

    But the United States has crafted aid programs in Guatemala for years with the goal of deterring migration. There were efforts to help coffee farmers improve their yields and forestry management programs. There were vocational schools pointedly called Stay Here Centers
    Through it all, the flow of migrants continued unabated.

    Since 2019, about 400,000 Guatemalans have been apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border — more than 2 percent of the country’s population.

    After meeting with Giammattei, Harris was scheduled to take part Monday in a roundtable with Guatemalan community leaders about the root causes of migration. Next on the itinerary was a visit to a local university to see projects created by young female engineers and to talk with the women about the problems faced by female business owners. […]


  91. says

    Putin’s Russia adopts Republican talking points on Jan. 6 riot

    On Jan. 6, far-right Republicans have a political ally, once again, in Vladimir Putin, who’s only too pleased to amplify their talking points.

    The first sign of trouble came a week ago, when Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov sounded a bit like a far-right Republican when talking about the insurrectionist attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Lavrov told reporters last Monday that the Kremlin is “following with interest” the “persecution” of those “accused of the riots on Jan. 6.”

    If the foreign minister’s name sounds familiar, Donald Trump welcomed Lavrov into the Oval Office in May 2017 for a visit that was never fully explained. It was in this meeting that [Trump] revealed highly classified information to his Russian guests for reasons unknown.

    […] The Daily Beast reported:

    During an economic forum in St. Petersburg on Friday, [Russian President Vladimir Putin] said the people who violently stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 to stop Congress from certifying Donald Trump’s loss were people justifiably angry with the election results. “They came with political demands,” he told a moderator during a Q&A session.

    Putin added that the Jan. 6 rioters “are not looters or thieves.” He went on to say the criminal suspects were slapped with “very harsh charges…. Why is that?”

    The broader context is obviously important: Biden is scheduled to meet with Putin in two weeks, and it’s a safe bet the American leader will press his counterpart in Moscow on human-rights abuses — including Putin’s treatment of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

    The point was hardly subtle: Putin wants to be able to say he’s prosecuting his domestic political opponents, just as the Biden administration prosecutes those responsible for the Jan. 6 insurrectionist riot. As far as the Russian leader is concerned, there’s a moral equivalence, so Biden can’t claim the high ground during their upcoming meeting.

    In reality, that’s ridiculous. Alexei Navalny is not a criminal. He did not launch any violent attacks against the Kremlin. He challenged Putin through democratic means and nearly paid with his life. The idea that Navalny has anything in common with insurrectionist rioters in the United States is the opposite of reality: Navalny supports democracy in his country; the Jan. 6 mob tried to derail democracy in their country.

    But as relevant as the motivations behind the talking points are, the end result matters just as much. As Rachel noted on Friday night, “It is a remarkable thing to see Russia’s head of state take up the cause of the January 6th attack by Trump supporters who were trying to block the counting of the votes in the last election because they didn’t want it to be so that Trump lost. It’s kind of remarkable to see a foreign head of state to take up that cause, too.”

    As things stand, a series of GOP officials are eager to rewrite the history of the Jan. 6 attack, turning the villains into sympathetic heroes, and lashing out at federal law enforcement for prosecuting the rioters. And now they have a political ally, once again, in Russia’s authoritarian president, who’s only too pleased to amplify their talking points.

  92. blf says

    ‘Covid terraces’ become permanent summer fixtures in Paris:

    The makeshift café terraces that sprang up in Paris last year to serve Covid-wary patrons outdoors will become permanent summer fixtures of the capital, city hall announced Monday.


    The city turned over thousands of parking spaces last year to beleaguered restaurant and café owners who were no longer allowed to serve indoors as the pandemic raged.

    Outdoor drinking and dining resumed across the country last month as France emerged from its third wave of coronavirus cases […]

    Yep burp ! Lunch today was Charcuterie Boeuf, followed by Encornets Farcis, and then Chocolate, all washed down with a local vin rouge.

    But while some owners invested in high-quality structures, others did little more than nail together wooden shipping pallets that have not weathered well.

    That has fed complaints that Mayor Anne Hidalgo has allowed Paris to become ugly under her watch, evinced by the recent social media surge of grim Paris photos tagged with #saccageparis (trashed Paris) [‘Dirty and ugly’ city? Paris slams viral campaign].

    Terraces will have to remain without closed walls and plants and other greenery will be encouraged, with an annual contest for the most attractive designs.

    Except perhaps for the contest, open terraces with plants (and, often, patio umbrellas) is what most restaurant terraces here in the village are like.

    Outdoor seating can also be extended on adjacent squares and sidewalks, and also in front of neighbouring businesses if they give approval.


    On Wednesday, restaurants and cafés will be allowed to start serving indoors and the nationwide curfew will be pushed back to 11:00 pm […]

    Ah… I vaguely thought there was another week to go.

    I just checked the track-and-trace app’s statistics: ICU occupancy is now just under 50%, with slightly more than 1000 new detected cases (probably low due to the “weekend effect” causing under-reporting). R is c.0,8. Nationwide, almost 28m have been vaccinated (at least one jab), out of a total population of c.67m — suggesting France is, finally, within striking distance of “50%”.

    The rate of vaccinations has notably increased, and most of the silliness surrounding getting a vaccination has been eliminated. Also, recent polling suggests that famous December result of only c.40% willing to be vaccinated is improving, albeit still far too low, and the problem of moment, too many second jabs are being skipping (appointments missed, etc).

  93. KG says

    Marjorie Taylor Greene has requested that Biden investigate Fauci and she wants answers by June 31st – blf@79

    What’s the problem? Biden should promise to give her the answers just as soon as June 31st comes round!

  94. blf says

    Whilst you can certainly get the stuff in various forms in the village where I live, I don’t know if any is commercially grown nearby, Lavender, the blue gold of France’s Provence region (video): “The lavender fields of the Valensole Plateau, in France’s southern Provence region, are an ocean of purple-blue. This is where much of the plant’s global production is grown. Many families in the region have been working with lavender for several generations. There are those who continue their activity in the traditional way and those who have opted for a more industrial method. Either way, these beautiful landscapes attract thousands of tourists from around the world.” (Valensole is roughly 100km inland of where I live.)

  95. blf says

    KG@112, Hee hee. However, what she wrote was by June 31, 2021, which, whilst slightly ambiguous, can easily be read as “before June 31”, or equivalently, “on or before June 30”.

    I’ve had to decipher ambiguous dating so often now I notice these things. Waiting until the date is June 31st might make a point, but for anyone with a few brain cells, could also be construed as not responding / obeying. Which suggests trying that strategy could work, she has not got a non-negative number of said cells!

  96. says

    KG @112 and blf @114, Marjorie Taylor Greene has a problem: she does not pay attention to details, to nuance, and to facts; nor does she understand the fact that in the hierarchy of the U.S. Government, she is not qualified to declare arbitrary (and fictional) deadlines to be met by the President of the United States.

  97. says

    This sounds like good idea:

    Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is recommending that President Biden nominate to the federal bench two voting rights attorneys who were involved in some of the most pivotal voting rights cases in recent years.

    “With the national focus on voting rights now, their elevation is timely, their perspective will be invaluable,” Schumer said Monday, as he announced the recommendations.

    For a seat on Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which is based in New York, Schumer is recommending Myrna Perez, a top lawyer at New York University’s Brennan Center, which works on voting rights and criminal justice issues. Perez worked on the blockbuster voter ID case in Texas, which culminated with the most conservative appellate court in the country ruling in 2016 that the requirement was discriminatory towards minority voters.

    More recently, she was also involved in the litigation over the end-run Florida’s legislature did around the restoration of ex-felons’ voting rights approved by Florida’s voters in 2018. As Brennan Center’s director of voting rights and election programs, she has had her hand in several other voting rights cases, and if confirmed, Perez would be the only Latina to serving on the 2nd Circuit, according to the AP.

    Schumer is also recommending for the U.S. District Court in Manhattan Dale Ho, who is the head of ACLU’s Voting Rights Project. Ho spearheaded the successful legal challenge to the Trump’s administration’s census citizenship question and twice argued census cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. He also led the charge to defeat the Kansas proof of citizenship requirement for voter registration that had been championed by the former Secretary of State Kris Kobach. […]

  98. says

    Big win for Merkel’s party confounds pundits and pollsters

    Chancellor’s CDU romped home in state of Saxony-Anhalt despite polls suggesting close race with far right.

    A resounding victory for Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats in a small eastern state had German pollsters and pundits posing a big question: Why didn’t we see it coming?

    In the run-up to Sunday’s election in Saxony-Anhalt, polls had put Merkel’s CDU and the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) neck and neck. Some even had the AfD in first place. That prompted much alarm and angst among mainstream German politicians and media outlets, particularly as a national parliamentary election is little more than three months away.

    Yet the final result was not remotely close. The center-right CDU won 37.1 percent of the vote while the AfD came second with 20.8 percent. The CDU’s result was nearly 10 percentage points higher than its score in the polls just a few days before the vote. Its margin of victory was more than 16 percentage points — a world away from the small single-digit lead suggested by the polls.

    […] While voter turnout — at 60.3 percent — was down slightly compared to the last state election in 2016, the CDU was able to attract more than 61,000 voters who stayed home last time. […]

  99. says

    Did Devil Give Rick Wiles COVID For Letting Milo Talk About Giving Up Dong On His Show? Sure Why Not.


    Got some wild-ass news for you, which ties together two other very important news stories we’ve been following.

    Crazypants end times pastor idiot Rick Wiles recently got the COVID, after boldly proclaiming he was going to be one of the few survivors of the coming global genocide that is the COVID vaccine. He’s fine, or at least he was last time we checked. Said he was getting out of the hospital. Continued thoughts ‘n’ prayers, etc.

    Meanwhile, that batshit Milo character, who says he’s “ex-gay” now, claimed recently on Wiles’s program that because of how the Lord has healed him from the man-on-man sexytimes, dogs have stopped barking at him. We don’t know how these things are correlated, or why dogs were barking at him before, but, just, you know, warmest regards for all these people.

    Here’s what ties the two stories together. Lauren Witzke, a batshit QAnon idiot who … yeah, you don’t care who she is. (She’s been on Wonkette before, as a Senate candidate.) Just know that she was guest-hosting Wiles’s TruNews show the same day Milo said the thing about the barking dogs, because Wiles is still out with the COVID. And that day she explained WHY Wiles and the entire TruNews staff got the COVID. Was it because they were busy trying to save themselves from the global genocide of COVID vaccines, by not getting vaccinated? Occam’s Razor might suggest!

    But no, she’s done her own research and she doesn’t think it’s any coincidence. It has to do with Milo and how TruNews had previously allowed him to share his story about how he allegedly now refrains from extracurricular dick activities. And that made Satan GRRRR. So Satan retaliated in a really odd way! [video available at the link]

    WITZKE: I don’t think it’s any coincidence that the TruNews crew all got deathly ill – got very sick – right after they brought Milo onto their show and he shared his testimony.

    Did Milo have COVID? Because that would be a case where it may very well be not a coinkydink! We don’t know if he had COVID, of course, but that wasn’t her point.

    The man with the British accent off camera said he didn’t know where this was going, and the man with the British accent off camera was Milo, so …

    Witzke continued:

    WITZKE: You have to remember that this is a spiritual battle as well and our enemy retaliates. This was retaliation.

    It was retaliation.

    WITZKE: We constantly battle demonic spirits and demonic attacks on ourselves and we as Christians must stay equipped. And also we must stay prayerful as we walk into these times.

    OK. Still not seeing the …

    WITZKE: It was no coincidence that Rick and his crew are in the situation they’re in because they stood for Christ and had, you know, the spine to bring Milo on and share his platform and his testimony.

    Satan throatcrammed Rick Wiles and his pals with COVID because Milo was allowed to share his story about how he hasn’t had a peener-related incident for however many days? Truly, Satan works in mysterious ways.

    WITZKE: Milo was somebody who belonged to the darkness. He was Satan’s favorite sodomite, wasn’t he?

    Highly doubt Milo was ever Satan’s favorite sodomite. Not even in the top 100.

  100. says

    Fed recovers millions in ransomware payments from Colonial Pipeline hackers.

    Washington Post link

    The seizure of cryptocurrency paid by Colonial Pipeline to a Russian hacker ring marks a major milestone for Department of Justice.

    Federal authorities have recovered more than two million dollars in cryptocurrency paid in ransom to foreign hackers whose attack last month led to the shutdown of a major pipeline that provides nearly half the East Coast’s fuel, according to officials.

    The seizure of funds paid by Colonial Pipeline to a Russian hacker ring, DarkSide, marks the first recovery by a new ransomware Justice Department task force. It follows a string of cyber attacks that panicked consumers and led President Biden to warn Russia that it needed to take “decisive action” against the criminal networks.

    “Today we turned the tables on DarkSide,” Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said, announcing the recovery on Monday afternoon. “The Department of Justice has found and recaptured the majority of the ransom” in the wake of last month’s attack.

    Colonial Pipeline CEO Joseph Blount told The Wall Street Journal last month that the firm paid $4.4 million in ransom.
    “I know that’s a highly controversial decision,” he said. “ … But it was the right thing to do for the country.”

  101. blf says

    The Trump Test: Johnny Enlow Says Support for Trump Is a Measure of One’s Loyalty to God:

    QAnon conspiracy theorist and supposed “prophet” Johnny Enlow […] claimed that continuing to believe that former President[Wacko House occupant] Donald Trump won the 2020 election and is still the legitimate president of the United States is a test of one’s true commitment to God.

    Enlow, who is among the various self-proclaimed “prophets” who guaranteed that Trump would win the 2020 election and still refuse to accept that their prophecies were wrong, actually declared that it is not enough for Christians to simply worship God, but rather they must also recognize that Trump has been anointed by God and therefore continue to support him.

    [… bellow and blather, prophesies and profits, hair furor and hoary fury, and he still lost bigly!…]

  102. says

    The Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear a challenge to a federal law that requires only men to register for the military draft.

    As is the court’s custom, it gave no reasons for turning down the case. But three justices issued a statement saying that Congress should be allowed more time to consider what they acknowledged was a significant legal issue.

    “It remains to be seen, of course, whether Congress will end gender-based registration under the Military Selective Service Act,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote in the statement, which was joined by Justices Stephen G. Breyer and Brett M. Kavanaugh. “But at least for now, the court’s longstanding deference to Congress on matters of national defense and military affairs cautions against granting review while Congress actively weighs the issue.”

    The requirement is one of the last sex-based distinctions in federal law, one that challengers say cannot be justified now that women are allowed to serve in every role in the military, including ground combat. Unlike men, though, they are not required to register with the Selective Service System, the government agency that maintains a database of Americans who would be eligible for the draft were it reinstated. […]

    NY Times link

  103. says

    Sen Whitehouse Worries Climate Is Falling Out Of Infrastructure Talks

    […] “I’m officially very anxious about climate legislation,” Whitehouse tweeted.

    Joe Biden remains in discussions with Republican senators as Democrats continue to try to negotiate a bipartisan infrastructure bill, a priority of Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV). The status of those negotiations remain broadly unclear, though a Republican counteroffer released last month proposed virtually no spending on climate compared to the original Biden proposal.

    White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Monday that the GOP proposal currently “did not meet the President’s bar of growing the economy, tackling the climate crisis and creating new jobs.” A $1.7 trillion Democratic counteroffer released on May 21 demanded that Republican negotiators come back with an offer that included more money for electric vehicles, environmental cleanup, and other climate priorities.

    Negotiations over the package remain somewhat opaque, as do which provisions may be on the table and which may already have been cast aside.

    In the thread, Whitehouse warned that climate had “fallen out of the infrastructure discussion, as it took its bipartisanship detour.” […]

  104. says

    Humor/satire from Andy Borowitz:

    Calling recent speculation “absurd,” Vladimir Putin said that he has “no intention whatsoever” of reinstating Donald J. Trump as President of the United States.

    Speaking to reporters, the Russian President bristled at the suggestion that he would reinstall Trump in the White House “this August or any other month, for that matter.”

    “I think if I were planning to put Trump back in power, I would know about it,” the visibly annoyed Putin said. “This was all news to me.”

    Irritated by the former U.S. President’s “needy” behavior, Putin said that he wished that Trump “would stop texting me.”

    “I realize that he’s been banned from Twitter and Facebook and God knows where else, and he’s probably lonely,” the Russian leader said. “But, really, he’s got to get a life. I’ve moved on. Why can’t he?”

    New Yorker link

  105. says

    USA Today:

    The Biden administration announced Friday that it will be reversing several policies put in place during the Trump administration related to endangered or threatened species.

    The reviews by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service are aimed at five Endangered Species Act regulations finalized by the Trump administration, including critical habitat designations and rules defining the scope of federal actions on endangered species.

    The Trump-era regulations opened the door to consideration of economic factors in decisions for species protections, weakened protections for critical habitat and left threatened species without guaranteed protections, according to the Center for Biological Diversity.

    Speaking about the Biden administration’s announcement, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service principal deputy director Martha Williams said Friday that “the Fish and Wildlife Service is committed to working with diverse federal, Tribal, state and industry partners to not only protect and recover America’s imperiled wildlife but to ensure cornerstone laws like the Endangered Species Act are helping us meet 21st century challenges.”

  106. says


    The U.S. Postal Service is signaling that widespread mail delays prevalent in 2020 and early 2021 are the new normal, setting expectations for the remainder of the year far below historical norms.

    USPS expects to deliver less than 88% of regular First-Class Mail on time for pieces slated for a two-day turnaround and less than 69% on time for those in the three-to-five day window. That would mark a decrease from 2020—already a down year—when the agency delivered 91% and 79% of mail on time, respectively. The reduced targets approved last month by the postal board of governors highlighted a significant departure from previous USPS goals, as it expected to deliver more than 95% of mail on time in all recent years.

    The Postal Service will have to improve performance to meet even those lower targets, as it delivered just 86% of two-day and 58% of three-to-five day mail on time in the second quarter of fiscal 2021. Postal management announced on Thursday it had improved its overall First-Class Mail on-time delivery to 88% for the month of May. That still remains below its performance in recent years, including pandemic-affected 2020. USPS hopes to avoid delays on 93% and 85% of mail, respectively, for the remainder of fiscal 2021.

    “The Postal Service will have to achieve substantial improvement in service performance across all products over the second half of the year in order to meet its end-of-fiscal-year targets,” management said in a recent filing to Congress.

    Postal leadership avoided setting performance targets at the outset of the fiscal year as typically required, later saying it needed more time to assess the “ongoing and unprecedented impacts of the COVID-19 global pandemic.” Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said on Thursday there is reason for optimism going forward that mail delays will be curbed. […]

    Steve Kearney, executive director of the Alliance of Nonprofit Mailers, suggested USPS’ declining targets were a tactical move directly related to the new proposed windows.

    “It looks like they’re justifying their proposed slowdown of First-Class Mail with dismal expectations,” Kearney said. […]


  107. says

    Quoted in Lynna’s #55:

    “It took a lot of strategic thought to get to this place,” Flynn said, referring to the nonexistent nation before gesturing towards himself. “Who are your partners? Who are your allies? I can tell you, you’re looking at an ally. This guy personally will ally with you.”

    Trump tried to deport Guo in 2017:

    …According to the Journal’s account, Trump called for Guo’s deportation in a discussion on policy towards China, describing him as a “criminal” at an Oval Office policy meeting in June, on the basis of a letter from Beijing accusing him of serious crimes.

    The report said the letter had been hand-delivered to him at a private dinner by Steve Wynn, a Las Vegas casino magnate and Republican National Committee finance chairman with interests in the Chinese gambling enclave of Macau, for which Wynn relies on Beijing for licensing.

    The Journal report said that aides tried to persuade Trump out of going ahead with Guo’s deportation, noting he was a member of the president’s Mar-a-Lago club in Florida. The aides later ensured that the deportation would not go ahead….


    “When we talk about the formation of new ideas, of new countries, new nation-states, you have to take a look at yourself, have the conversations in your communities,” Flynn said. “Like the communities that I represent, which are people that care deeply about freedom, and we are not about to give it up.”

    Says the agent of…Turkey.

  108. says

    Quoted in blf’s #105:

    the Save Our Statues campaign group, which calls for the preservation of Britain’s “precious cultural furniture”

    LOL. How is this not satire?

  109. says

    Guardian – “Peru elections: Fujimori’s fraud claims criticised as rival’s narrow lead widens”:

    Keiko Fujimori, one of the two candidates fighting vote by vote for the presidency of Peru, has alleged fraud and irregularities in the count of Sunday’s election as her rival leftist teacher Pedro Castillo widens a narrow lead.

    An inter-American observer mission did not report any irregularities and said the ballot passed off correctly, complying with international standards.

    With more than 96% of the official vote counted, hard-left candidate Castillo holds a razor-thin lead of about 0.2% over his far-right opponent, an advantage of nearly 100,000 votes.

    But at a late press conference on Monday, Fujimori, 46, claimed there had been a “series of irregularities which worry us and we think it’s important to highlight”.

    She accused Castillo’s party Perú Libre of using a strategy to “distort and delay the results which reflect the popular will” by challenging ballot tallies which, she alleged, had favoured her party Fuerza Popular.

    Later on Monday night, Castillo addressed a large crowd of supporters in downtown Lima and in a tweet called on them to “defend democracy which is expressed in each one of our votes, inside and outside our beloved Peru”.

    Fujimori’s remarks have attracted criticism from political figures and analysts who have described it as an act of desperation as she appears to be on the verge of losing her third election runoff in 10 years.

    “It’s extremely regrettable that when the result is not favourable, that the candidate talks about fraud. It’s terrible,” Fernando Tuesta, a political science professor at Lima’s Pontifical Catholic University, told national radio broadcaster RPP on Monday night. “They have been talking about fraud because they don’t want to respect the result,” he said.

    As a candidate, Fujimori’s father – who is serving a 25-year sentence over corruption and death squad murders – and her own record as a politician play against her.

    Fujimori has also racked up accusations of graft, accused of receiving more than $17m in illegal campaign funds and heading a criminal organisation, and could face a 30-year jail term if convicted. She denies the allegations, which she describes as politically motivated.

    The vote in the Covid-battered nation has split the country between the poor, rural Andes and the wealthier and more urban northern coast and capital Lima. It comes amid one of the worst economic slowdowns in the region, which has pushed nearly 10% of Peru’s population into poverty, millions into unemployment and prompted many others to leave major cities and return to their rural villages.

  110. says

    Guardian – “Rightwing protesters at Klamath Falls threaten to open reservoir headgates”:

    Fears of a confrontation between law enforcement and rightwing militia supporters over the control of water in the drought-stricken American west have been sparked by protests at Klamath Falls in Oregon.

    Protesters affiliated with rightwing anti-government activist Ammon Bundy’s People’s Rights Network are threatening to break a deadlock over water management in the area by unilaterally opening the headgates of a reservoir.

    The protest has reawakened memories not only of recent standoffs with federal agencies – including the one led by Bundy in eastern Oregon in 2016 – but a longer history of anti-government agitation in southern Oregon and northern California, stretching back to 2000 and beyond.

    The area is a hotbed of militia and anti-government activity and also hit by the mega-drought that has struck the American west and caused turmoil in the agricultural community as conflicts over water become more intense. Among the current protesters at Klamath Falls are individuals who have themselves been involved in similar actions over two decades, including an illegal release of water at the same reservoir in 2001.

    While the protesters claim to represent the interests of farmers, they have been disavowed by agricultural leaders, including Ben DuVal, president of the Klamath Water Users Association, who told the Sacramento Bee that the protesters were “idiots who have no business being here”, who were using the crisis as “a soapbox to push their agenda”.

    Whether or not DuVal speaks for the majority of farmers, there is no sign that the so far small protest is catching on like 2001’s anti-government surge, which saw protest crowds in the thousands in the lead up to the breaching of the headgates.

    And while the protesters’ placards promise “Ammon Bundy coming soon”, their leader has so far not made the trip to the Klamath camp from neighboring Idaho, where he recently filed to run for governor.

    More atl.

  111. says

    CNN – “Exclusive: New audio of 2019 phone call reveals how Giuliani pressured Ukraine to investigate baseless Biden conspiracies”:

    Never-before-heard audio, obtained exclusively by CNN, shows how former President Donald Trump’s longtime adviser Rudy Giuliani relentlessly pressured and coaxed the Ukrainian government in 2019 to investigate baseless conspiracies about then-candidate Joe Biden.

    The audio is of a July 2019 phone call between Giuliani, US diplomat Kurt Volker, and Andriy Yermak, a senior adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. The call was a precursor to Trump’s infamous call with Zelensky, and both conversations later became a central part of Trump’s first impeachment, where he was accused of soliciting Ukrainian help for his campaign.

    During the roughly 40-minute call, Giuliani repeatedly told Yermak that Zelensky should publicly announce investigations into possible corruption by Biden in Ukraine, and into claims that Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election to hurt Trump. (These separate claims are both untrue.)

    “All we need from the President [Zelensky] is to say, I’m gonna put an honest prosecutor in charge, he’s gonna investigate and dig up the evidence, that presently exists and is there any other evidence about involvement of the 2016 election, and then the Biden thing has to be run out,” Giuliani said, according to the audio. “… Somebody in Ukraine’s gotta take that seriously.”

    The new audio demonstrates how Giuliani aggressively cajoled the Ukrainians to do Trump’s bidding. And it undermines Trump’s oft-repeated assertion that “there was no quid pro quo” where Zelensky could secure US government support if he did political favors for Trump.

    The call was one of the opening salvos in the years-long quest by Trump and his allies to damage Biden and subvert the 2020 election process — by soliciting foreign meddling, lying about voter fraud, attempting to overturn the results, and inciting the deadly January 6 assault on the Capitol.

    There is an ongoing criminal investigation into Giuliani and his Ukraine dealings, including whether he violated lobbying laws while coordinating with ex-officials who gave him dirt on the Bidens. The federal inquiry ramped up when the FBI raided Giuliani’s home and office in late April. It’s unclear if the call with Yermak is part of the investigation. Giuliani denies all wrongdoing.

    A partial transcript of the Giuliani-Yermak phone call was first published by BuzzFeed News in April, and Time Magazine was first to publish some key excerpts from the call in February.

    Over and over, Giuliani pressed for the investigations, according to the audio recording. Giuliani even said the US-Ukraine diplomatic relationship would improve if Zelensky launched the probes. Giuliani and Volker suggested during the call that a public announcement could clear the way for Zelensky’s much-desired visit to the US, or for in-person meetings with Giuliani.

    “That would clear the air really well,” Giuliani said, according to the recording. “And I think it would make it possible for me to come and make it possible, I think, for me to talk to the President (Trump) to see what I can do about making sure that whatever misunderstandings are put aside … I kinda think that this could be a good thing for having a much better relationship.”…

    Much more atl.

  112. says

    Ari Melber fact checks MAGA riot lies.

    We’ve seen lots of fact-checking on this issue before, but Melber does an exceptionally good job here.

    A growing number of Republican members of Congress are minimizing, dissembling, and lying about the January 6th insurrection. This fact-check by MSNBC’s Chief Legal Correspondent Ari Melber confronts recent statements by those officials with the factual record, documenting 10 key examples of the Orwellian effort to deny the reality of the insurrection, and debunking each one with documentary footage, evidence from legal cases, and independent reporting.

    The video is about ten minutes long. Well worth watching. Neal Katyal is interviewed at the end, and he adds some good analysis and facts. Ari Melber takes on the most prominent liars one by one and busts them for lying.

  113. says

    Several Republican senators go to bat for Jan. 6 rioters (again)

    There was a brief political consensus in the immediate aftermath of the insurrectionist attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. As we’ve discussed, the left, right, and center could all agree on a simple truth: participating in a riot inside the nation’s seat of government is a serious attack against our democracy.

    It wasn’t long, however, before the consensus broke down. For example, some Republicans started pushing the ridiculous line that the pro-Trump attackers may have been secret liberals. Soon after, Donald Trump, who played a key role in inciting the violence, got in on the game, insisting that the Capitol attackers posed “zero threat,” and were merely “hugging and kissing the police and the guards.”

    Last month, multiple Republican House members tried to manufacture an entirely new reality in which the riot’s perpetrators were actually the victims. One GOP lawmaker described the rioters as “peaceful patriots,” and blasted law enforcement for “harassing” them. Another said the Jan. 6 violence more closely resembled a “normal tourist visit” than a deadly attack.

    Soon after, Senate Republicans derailed a bipartisan proposal for an independent commission to investigate the insurrectionist assault.

    Yesterday, several congressional Republicans went to bat for the rioters once again, this time pressing Attorney General Merrick Garland on whether the Jan. 6 attackers are being treated unfairly. [A line of argument that Putin also put forward.]

    The letter, signed by Sens. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Ted Cruz of Texas, Tommy Tuberville of Alabama, Mike Lee of Utah and Rick Scott of Florida, asks Garland to provide information related to what they assert is “unequal justice” being meted out to those involved in the Capitol attack compared with other “mass unrest, destruction and loss of life.”

    As the Washington Post report explained, the five conservative Republican senators — three of whom voted against certifying President Biden’s victory in the wake of the Capitol assault — were “specifically referring to the pockets of violence and vandalism in U.S. cities that followed the murder of George Floyd, a Black man who died after a White police officer knelt on his neck for more than nine minutes.”

    In other words, the GOP senators are deeply concerned about whether federal law enforcement treated racial-justice protesters better than members of the pro-Trump mob that attacked the seat of our democracy in order to hunt American elected officials and derail our system of elections.

    Conflating the racial-justice protests with the insurrectionist Capitol riot is difficult to take seriously, but it’s quickly become a staple of Republican politics, as Johnson, Cruz, Tuberville, Lee, and Scott were eager to prove yesterday.

  114. says

    Here’s a link to the June 8 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    From there:

    Many thousands of vaccine doses have been destroyed in African countries after exceeding their expiry dates amid a reluctance to be inoculated and a lack of medical infrastructure, the BBC reports.

    Malawi has destroyed almost 20,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, while South Sudan said it would safely dispose of 59,000 doses and hand back another 72,000 to the global Covax scheme for poorer countries.

    The Democratic Republic of Congo said it could not use most of the 1.7 million AstraZeneca doses it received through Covax, so they were sent to Ghana, Madagascar and elsewhere. Nigeria was also unable to use some doses.

    Some vaccines are given with a short shelf life before expiry, such as a batch of one million doses South Africa received from India in February with an expiry date of 13 April. However, the the country’s government opted not to use them due to concerns the jabs did not offer sufficient protection from the prevalent Covid variant.

    Malawi virologist Gama Bandawe told the BBC that mistrust of vaccines has played a role in the country being unable to use all the supplies it has received.

    A study commissioned by the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention on Covid-19 vaccine perceptions in 15 countries suggests that a significant proportion of people on the continent harbour concerns around vaccine safety.

  115. says

    Why it’s sensible to see voting rights as a national security issue

    The Biden White House sees voting rights as a national security issue. That may seem like a stretch. It’s not.

    At face value, voting rights in the United States would appear to be an entirely domestic issue. But at a press briefing yesterday, a top member of President Biden’s team made a compelling case for a broader perspective.

    The day after the apparent demise of the Democrats’ For the People Act, a sweeping democracy-reform package, a reporter asked White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan whether voting rights is a national security issue. He replied:

    “I would say the basic notion of democratic reform and voting rights in the United States is a national security issue. We are in a competition of models with autocracies, and we are trying to show the world that American democracy and democracy writ large can work, can effectively deliver the will of the people. And to the extent that we are not updating, refurbishing, revamping our own democratic processes and procedures to meet the needs of the modern moment, then we are not going to be as successful in making that case to the rest of the world — to China, to Russia, or to anyone else. And so there is a national security dimension to this today.”

    […] There are competing models of government on display throughout the world, and in this White House, it’s a priority to make clear to international audiences that a liberal democracy is the superior governing method. That, in turn, means voting rights and the vitality of our political system has a direct effect on the United States’ global influence and stature.

    And that necessarily means that the more our democracy withers, the more it strengthens anti-democratic forces around the world. [True!]

    […] President Biden wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post ahead of his first trip abroad as president, describing the overseas excursion as an opportunity to demonstrate “the capacity of democracies to both meet the challenges and deter the threats of this new age.”

    This is a defining question of our time: Can democracies come together to deliver real results for our people in a rapidly changing world? Will the democratic alliances and institutions that shaped so much of the last century prove their capacity against modern-day threats and adversaries? I believe the answer is yes. And this week in Europe, we have the chance to prove it.

    […] Authoritarian governments would have the world believe that democracies are slow, messy, and dysfunctional, and Biden is desperate to prove them wrong.

    […] one of the [USA’s] major parties appears a bit too eager to abandon democracy altogether, and one of the senators from his own party is standing in the way of voting rights legislation — not because it’s substantively flawed, but because the party that’s increasingly hostile toward democracy doesn’t like it. […]

  116. says

    From today’s DN! headlines:

    Over 100 Water Protectors Arrested in Minnesota as Mass Civil Disobedience Targets Line 3 Pipeline

    In northern Minnesota, over 100 water protectors were arrested Monday in the largest act of civil disobedience to date aimed at halting the Enbridge Line 3 pipeline. If completed, Line 3 would carry more than 750,000 barrels of Canadian tar sands oil a day through Indigenous land and fragile ecosystems, endangering lakes, rivers and wild rice beds. The day of action began when over 1,000 water protectors blockaded a pipeline pump station north of the town of Park Rapids. Many of the activists locked themselves together or to heavy machinery, including bulldozers and diggers.

    Protesters are calling on President Biden to shut down the pipeline.

    Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Hits 420 Parts Per Million, Highest Level in 4 Million Years

    New data shows atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have reached their highest level in over 4 million years. Scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration measured CO2 levels averaging 419 parts per million in May — about 50% higher than pre-industrial levels.

    This comes as Amnesty International is blasting the Group of 7 world leaders for failing to meet the challenge posed by the climate crisis. Amnesty said in a statement, “The unambitious climate plans submitted by G7 members represent a violation of the human rights of billions of people. These are not administrative failures, they are a devastating, mass-scale assault on human rights.”

    Meanwhile, June temperature records continue to fall in many parts of the world. Five countries in the Middle East have topped 50 degrees Celsius this week — or more than 122 degrees Fahrenheit. And much of the U.S. continues to bake in extreme heat, with weekend highs in parts of South Dakota and Minnesota topping 100 degrees.

    ProPublica: Vast Trove of IRS Data Shows How U.S. Billionaires Pay Little in Income Tax

    ProPublica has obtained a vast trove of IRS data showing how U.S. billionaires pay little in income tax compared to their massive wealth — sometimes even nothing. The data show Warren Buffett paid a true tax rate of just 0.1% on income of $125 million between 2014 and 2018. Over the same period, Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and Michael Bloomberg all paid a true tax rate of less than 3.5% as their collective wealth grew by over $100 billion. ProPublica says it will use the IRS data in the coming months to detail how the ultra-wealthy avoid taxes, exploit loopholes and escape scrutiny from federal auditors.

    Canadian Police Say Hit-and-Run That Killed Four Was Deliberate Islamophobic Attack

    In Canada, police say a 20-year-old man who ran down five pedestrians with his pickup truck in London, Ontario, on Sunday targeted his victims because they were Muslim. All five victims were members of a family that immigrated from Pakistan more than a decade ago. Among those killed was a teenage girl. The only survivor was a 9-year-old boy who was hospitalized with serious injuries. The suspect fled the scene but was pulled over and arrested by police a few miles from the crime scene. This is London, Ontario, police chief Stephen Williams.

    Stephen Williams: “We believe that this was an intentional act and that the victims of this horrific incident were targeted. We believe the victims were targeted because of their Islamic faith.”

    Prosecutors are considering terrorism charges. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Twitter, “Islamophobia has no place in any of our communities. This hate is insidious and despicable — and it must stop.”

    1,100 Alabama Coal Miners Enter Second Week of Strike for Better Wages and Benefits

    In Alabama, 1,100 coal miners have entered the second month of their strike against the Warrior Met Coal company. Six years ago, the miners accepted a huge pay cut in order to help their company emerge from bankruptcy. Now they say Warrior Met is failing to repay them as it rakes in hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue. The workers went on strike April 1 after rejecting a contract proposal they say offered too little in wages and benefits. Last month, 11 of the striking miners were arrested as they blocked strikebreakers from entering their worksite.

    Striking miner 1: “We don’t feel like we’re breaking the law, when this company is trying to starve our people and their families from their livelihood.”

    Striking miner 2: “I’ll die for my family. And I’ll do whatever it takes for this union right here.”

    The United Mine Workers says there have been three separate cases of vehicular assault on picketing workers by persons working for Warrior Met Coal in recent days.

  117. says

    Guardian – “Hundreds arrested in global crime sting after underworld app is hacked”:

    A global sting in which organised crime gangs were sold encrypted phones that law enforcement officials could monitor has led to more than 800 arrests in 18 countries.

    The operation by the FBI and Australian and European police, ensnared suspects in Australia, Asia, Europe, South America and the Middle East involved in the narcotics trade.

    More than 800 suspected members of organised crime gangs were arrested and $148m (£104m) in cash seized in raids around the world, along with tonnes of drugs, cryptocurrencies, weapons and luxury cars.

    The Australian prime minister said the operation “struck a heavy blow against organised crime – not just in this country, but one that will echo … around the world”. “This is a watershed moment in Australian law enforcement history,” Scott Morrison added.

    Operation Greenlight/Trojan Shield, conceived by Australian police and the FBI in 2018, was one of the biggest infiltrations and takeovers of a specialised encrypted network.

    It began when US officials got involved in the development of An0m, a supposedly secure encrypted messaging app, which was then sold to organised crime networks.

    The FBI helped to infiltrate the phones into 300 criminal groups in more than 100 countries, Calvin Shivers of the FBI’s criminal investigative division told reporters in The Hague.

    In a pattern repeated elsewhere, one Australian underworld figure began distributing phones containing the app to his associates, believing their communications were secure because the phones had been customised to remove all capabilities, including voice and camera functions, apart from An0m.

    As a result, there was no attempt to conceal or code the details of the messages, which police were reading.

    “It was there to be seen, including ‘we’ll have a speedboat meet you at this point’, ‘this is who will do this’ and so on,” said the Australian federal police commissioner, Reece Kershaw. “We have been in the back pockets of organised crime … All they talk about is drugs, violence, hits on each other, innocent people who are going to be murdered.”…

    The DoJ will be announcing this at 12 ET.

  118. says

    Bits and pieces of news:

    […] * Reuters reported yesterday that Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) contacted conservative media outlet Newsmax earlier this year about a possible job, but the network rejected the controversial Florida Republican. [So sad.]

    * In keeping with the recent trend, the Georgia Republican Party approved a resolution over the weekend censuring Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) for doing his job too well during the 2020 election cycle

    * In Vermont yesterday, Gov. Phil Scott (R) signed into law a bill that would make permanent mail-in voting for all future general elections in the state. Last year, town clerks mailed ballots to all active, registered voters because of the pandemic, and the system proved popular and effective. [Yay!]

    * As Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) prepares for a 2022 re-election bid, Politico reports that the governor is launching “an aggressive summertime out-of-state fundraising swing, with DeSantis capitalizing on his rising profile to stuff his reelection coffers and cultivate a national donor network that could power a prospective 2024 presidential bid.” [Boo!]

    * And USA Today reports that a new political action committee launched yesterday specifically with the goal of defeating Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.). According to the folks behind the PAC, this is “the first time a federal PAC has been formed for the sole purpose of firing a sitting member of Congress.”


  119. says

    Accused Capitol rioter says he ‘bought into a pack of lies’

    The more Jan. 6 defendants say they were victims of a scam, the more obvious the need for an independent investigation into those who did the scamming.

    Five months after the insurrectionist attack on the U.S. Capitol, hundreds of accused rioters are facing criminal charges and making court appearances. The Associated Press reported yesterday on one of the many defendants:

    A Des Moines, Iowa, man pictured prominently with a QAnon shirt ahead of a crowd of insurgents inside the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6 attack asked a judge on Monday to release him from jail, saying “he feels deceived, recognizing that he bought into a pack of lies.”

    This is not the first report we’ve seen along these lines. In this case, Douglas Jensen, according to a court filing from his attorney, didn’t mean to harm anyone. As the story goes, he simply went to D.C. at Donald Trump’s urging, carried a “work pocketknife,” and entered the Capitol because he wanted to watch the developments as they unfolded.

    Jensen claims he is “a victim of numerous conspiracy theories that were being fed to him over the internet by a number of very clever people, who were uniquely equipped with slight, if any, moral or social consciousness.”

    […] Postscript: This coincides with the release of a new Senate report that concludes that U.S. Capitol Police failed to act on documented threats, as part of a profound intelligence and security failure. The Senate’s findings reportedly had to be watered down to get Republican support at the committee level.

  120. says

    Team Trump is noticeably short on team members

    […] From a distance, it’s easy to imagine Trump surrounded by a small army of sycophantic former White House aides, following a few steps behind him, jotting down his directives as he barks assorted orders.

    The truth, however, appears to be far more pitiful. The New York Times reports that the former president slips into Manhattan [from his Bedminster golf club in New Jersey] to work out of Trump Tower at least once a week, but “the place isn’t as he left it.”

    Many of his longtime employees are gone. So are most of the family members who once worked there with him and some of the fixtures of the place, like his former lawyer Michael D. Cohen, who have since turned on him. Mr. Trump works there, mostly alone, with two assistants and a few body men. His political operation has also dwindled to a ragtag team of former advisers who are still on his payroll […] Most of them go days or weeks without interacting with Mr. Trump in person.

    The article added that some Trump associates joke that “the most senior adviser to the former leader of the free world is Christina Bobb, a correspondent with the far-right, eternally pro-Trump One America News Network, whom he consults regularly for information about the Arizona election audit.”

    In other words, Team Trump is noticeably short on team members.

    It’s an open question as to why the former president is isolated. Indeed, after raising hundreds of millions of dollars in the wake of his defeat, Trump should have the resources necessary to assemble an impressive crew. At least for now, that hasn’t happened.

    But of greater interest is the asymmetry between [Trump’s] paltry operation and the potency of his political reach within his party.

    On the one hand we see a former president, who had to shut down his blog because so few people were reading it, standing “mostly alone,” overseeing a “ragtag” political operation. He’s unpopular; he’s facing multiple investigations; and he’s been reduced to muttering absurdities about being “reinstated” to power based on bonkers conspiracy theories and an ignorance about American civics. […]

    On the other hand, we see that same former president leading a major political party, wielding considerable power over the GOP’s direction and priorities, and preparing for a possible third national campaign.

    […] It’s an increasingly bizarre dynamic, but it’s one the GOP appears reluctant to abandon.

  121. says

    AP – “Senate report details broad failures around Jan. 6 attack”:

    A Senate investigation of the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol found a broad intelligence breakdown across multiple agencies, along with widespread law enforcement and military failures that led to the violent attack.

    There were clear warnings and tips that supporters of former President Donald Trump, including right-wing extremist groups, were planning to “storm the Capitol” with weapons and possibly infiltrate the tunnel system underneath the building. But that intelligence never made it up to top leadership.

    The result was chaos. A Senate report released Tuesday details how officers on the front lines suffered chemical burns, brain injuries and broken bones, among other injuries, after fighting the attackers, who quickly overwhelmed them and broke into the building. Officers told the Senate investigators they were left with no leadership or direction when command systems broke down.

    The Senate report is the first — and could be the last — bipartisan review of how hundreds of Trump supporters were able to push violently past security lines and break into the Capitol that day, interrupting the certification of Joe Biden’s presidential election victory. It recommends immediate changes to give the Capitol Police chief more authority, to provide better planning and equipment for law enforcement and to streamline intelligence gathering among federal agencies.

    As a bipartisan effort, the report does not delve into the root causes of the attack, including Trump’s role as he called for his supporters to “fight like hell” to overturn his election defeat that day. It does not call the attack an insurrection, even though it was. And it comes two weeks after Republicans blocked a bipartisan, independent commission that would investigate the insurrection more broadly.

    “This report is important in the fact that it allows us to make some immediate improvements to the security situation here in the Capitol,” said Michigan Sen. Gary Peters, the chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which conducted the probe along with the Senate Rules Committee. “But it does not answer some of the bigger questions that we need to face, quite frankly, as a country and as a democracy.”

    Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Tuesday the findings show even greater need for a bipartisan commission to investigate the root causes of the attack, referring to Trump’s unfounded claims about the 2020 election.

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told colleagues in a letter Tuesday that if the Senate fails to approve the commission, her chamber will launch its own investigations.

    The committee’s interviews with police officers detail “absolutely brutal” abuse from Trump’s supporters as they ran over them and broke into the building. The officers described hearing racial slurs and seeing Nazi salutes. One officer trying to evacuate the Senate said he had stopped several men in full tactical gear, one of whom said “You better get out of our way, boy, or we’ll go through you to get (the senators).’”

    The insurrectionists told police officers they would kill them, then members of Congress.

    At the same time, the senators acknowledge the officers’ bravery, noting that one officer told them, “The officers inside all behaved admirably and heroically and, even outnumbered, went on the offensive and took the Capitol back.”

  122. says

    Josh Marshall:

    From an American perspective the most interesting thing right now about the political crisis in Israel is how closely it maps to the one in the United States: a right wing political leader who simply refuses to accept losing office. […] Netanyahu and his supporters have continued the campaign of incitement against the right wing members of the incoming government. After the head of the country’s domestic security service issued an all but unprecedented warning about incitement and the risk of civil violence or assassinations, Netanyahu responded with even more incitement. In reply he made a perfunctory statement about incitement and then told his supporters to “let’em have it.” So, not really getting the message. [That’s also very Trumpian: make a cover-your-ass statement, and then repeat and repeat incitements to violence.]

    […] the response in editorials and statements has basically been, it’s too much. You need to let go. Don’t burn the country down on the way out.

    At present Netanyahu’s ally, the Speaker of the Knesset, has scheduled the confirmation and swearing in of the new government for Sunday – a date which itself seems timed to engineer a Shabbat from hell for the right wing religious ministers in the new government if they attend services.

    A side drama, meanwhile, is unfolding over a nationalist march in Jerusalem which had been scheduled for later this week. The idea is to have right wing Israelis march through Jerusalem’s Muslim quarter. It’s comparable to the Orangemen marches they used to have through Catholic neighborhoods in Northern Ireland before the Good Friday agreements. Israeli police have tried to reroute the path it takes and then canceled it entirely on the pretty straightforward rationale that it’s likely to restart the conflagration that blew up last month. […] Not only is that not great from the point of view of civil violence or another mini-war with Gaza. It also stands a good chance of deepening the electoral/political crisis. And what’s happening right now is that Netanyahu – who still has four or five days left in power – is pushing the police to allow the march or take the decision away from them entirely.

    In other words, he’s trying to trigger another crisis out of some mix of a desire to stay in power (by breaking up the right-left, Jewish-Arab coalition) or simply burning things down on the way out.

    […] Netanyahu’s supporters have pretty much adopted the “stop the steal” terminology from Trump. The particular ‘steal’ theory is that the right-wing parties joining the new government are ‘stealing’ right wing seats that belong to Netanyahu, that are meant to keep him in power.

    The oddity of this frenzy was brought into clarifying relief in comments the incoming Prime Minister, Bennett, made a couple days ago. He basically said, this isn’t a tragedy. It’s not something shocking. It’s a turnover of power after an election. No government lasts forever. It’s actually totally normal.

    This is really even more the case since the new government is stocked with former Netanyahu proteges and associates. Those who say the incoming government is no different from Netanyahu’s are wrong. About 2/3rds of the MKs are from the center and the left. Even though the right wing Bennett will be Prime Minister for the first two years he’s boxed in by the center and the left. But the center and left folks are too. They can’t do anything meaningfully without the okay of the ministers who are of the right. The point is, even in the most substantive sense, it’s a pretty low risk new government from the perspective of someone with right wing politics in Israel. […]

    What is really comes down to is one person: Benjamin Netanyahu. For him, very clearly it’s ‘after me the deluge’. […] A big part of the country feels the same way. And this is what makes this relevant to our politics here in the United States. It’s the same thing. It all comes down to Trump. Not only is Trump losing power an existential development for America in his supporters’ eyes. But his fall from power can only be illegitimate, can only be the product of fraud.

    […] It’s no accident they are playing these roles in the same political era. The logic of strongman-ism is contagious. It grows from similar roots in different political cultures.


  123. says

    Good news:

    In an exciting change, the state Democratic Party of Montana ruled to create a formal, official role for Native Americans based on the tribes’ population ratio in the state. This means that Native folks will have a proportional representative role in official party business. On a literal level, this breaks down to eight Tribal Reservations each having two delegates, with one vote each, at the Montana Democratic Party Platform, Rules, Officers, and Special Nominating Conventions. Representatives would then have the autonomy to create content for their own platforms and choose leaders for both the party and candidates for special elections. The Montana Democratic Party is the first state party in the U.S. to make this change.

    In a statement, President Andrew Werk Jr. of the Fort Belknap Indian Community expressed gratitude toward the Committee for its effort toward equalizing representation. Werk stressed that the new rule “allows Indian people to move closer towards equal representation,” per a media release.

    […] In a media statement, Donovan Hawk, treasurer of the Montana Democratic Party, expressed that this step isn’t just about “having a seat at the table” but about the ability to deliver results in regard to the economy, infrastructure, and health care. “Proportional representation for indigenous Montanans is another step toward making sure our communities have the representation they deserve in Helena and Washington, D.C.,” Hawk stated. […]


  124. says

    A company you’ve probably never heard of caused half the internet to go dark

    Countless websites, including major news outlets, were offline after an outage at Fastly, a cloud computing provider.

    Swaths of websites went down on Tuesday morning after an outage at the cloud computing services provider Fastly. Internet users were unable to access major news outlets, e-commerce platforms, and even government websites. Everyone from Amazon to the New York Times to the White House was affected.

    At around 6:30 am ET, Fastly said it applied a “fix” to the issue, and many of the websites that went down seemed to be working again as of 9 am ET. Still, the outage highlights how dependent, centralized, and susceptible the infrastructure supporting the internet — especially cloud computing providers that the average user doesn’t directly interact with — actually is. This is at least the third time in less than a year that a problem at a large cloud computing provider has led to countless websites and apps going dark.

    Fastly is a content delivery network (CDN), which maintains a network of servers that transfer content quickly from websites to users. The company, which counts Shopify, Stripe, and countless media outlets as customers, promises “lightning fast delivery” and “advanced security.” The nature of such a network also means that problems can quickly spread and affect many of those customers at once. In the case of Tuesday’s incident, Fastly says it “identified a service configuration that triggered disruptions” around the globe. It took about two hours from the time the problem was identified until a fix was implemented.

    At the moment, there’s no reason to suspect the outage was the result of a cyberattack. […] The site Downdetector, which tracks complaints about website failures, shows a slew of sites received an uptick in complaints this morning, not only for media outlets like the New York Times and CNN but also for Reddit, Spotify, and Walt Disney World. Outages at payments systems like Stripe and e-commerce platforms like Shopify also suggest money could have been lost in transactions that didn’t go through, though it’s so far unclear if that’s the case.

    […] The scale of Tuesday’s outage — and frequency of large outages like this one — is what’s really worrisome. Last July, connection issues between two of the data centers operated by Cloudflare ultimately took many sites, including Politico, League of Legends, and Discord, briefly offline. Then, a data-processing problem for Amazon Web Services last November caused problems for sites like the Chicago Tribune, the security camera company Ring, and Glassdoor. The Fastly outage shows the trend continuing, especially as most of the web remains increasingly dependent on cloud providers.

    While the issue seems to be fixed for now, it will take some time to measure the damage caused by even a couple hours of downtime at a major cloud computing provider. And that leaves the world anxiously awaiting the next time this happens. […]

  125. says


    West Virginia’s Democratic Senator Joe Manchin dramatically announced the other day that he still loves the filibuster and he can’t possibly vote for the For The People Act, because — *Wonkette checks stupid Joe Manchin op-ed to see if there are any reasons in it* — ahem, because none of his Republican friends […] like it. (Because they don’t like democracy. […])

    Politico Playbook reports that today, Manchin is meeting about voting rights with Black and civil rights leaders including NAACP head Derrick Johnson, NAACP Legal Defense Fund President Sherrilyn Ifill, and Rev. Al Sharpton. Not sure he’s planning on listening very hard. “Those who know Manchin tell us the senator’s mind isn’t exactly open to persuasion on S. 1 as he heads into this meeting.” Will he listen to them when they try to explain that the filibuster is a racist tool for old racists? Does he have a clue that his Republican pals literally hate democracy at this point? Does he even care?

    Maybe he’ll tell them how much he likes this other voting rights bill, H.R. 4, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which is narrower but still a good bill that addresses some of the problems. Alaska GOP Senator Lisa Murkowski is on board with that one, which means that if you do some back of the napkin math, Manchin just has to find … NINE MORE REPUBLICANS who value American democracy more than they value preserving their minority power over an innocent American majority that loathes them. Then in a few months, Manchin can tell these same Black leaders he now opposes that bill because not enough Republicans like it.

    Manchin simply refuses to understand that the current GOP isn’t an American political party. His friends on the other side of the aisle are not his real friends, and they don’t share the core values he claims to hold. We don’t have to wonder what Republicans would do if the shoe were on the other foot, because we’re watching them in state after state destroy access to the ballot box on purely party-line votes, wherever they have the majority to do so.

    In Manchin’s op-ed, he asked with wide eyes, or maybe he thought he was asking rhetorically:

    Are the very Republican senators who voted to impeach Trump because of actions that led to an attack on our democracy unwilling to support actions to strengthen our democracy?

    Yes. Also, there weren’t 10 of them, which is the margin he’s decided he needs to see before he’ll let even anything that actually is bipartisan pass.

    […] To be clear, what’s at stake here isn’t just voting rights. It’s gun control. It’s DC statehood. It’s infrastructure and a permanent child tax credit and immigration and abortion rights and gender equality and, and, and! It was an actual congressional investigation into the Trump terrorists who attacked the Capitol on January 6. It’s literally everything Democrats could do to make Americans’ lives better and preserve the republic. Instead, Joe Manchin is fantastizing about a circle jerk of bipartisanship that doesn’t exist anywhere […]

    As Manchin’s Democratic Senate colleague Brian Schatz, one of the few to speak out publicly about this right now, said:

    “I admire Joe’s optimism but at some point anyone who is defending the 60-vote threshold has an obligation to help the body to get to 60 votes,” said Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii.) “It would be wonderful if we could get 10 Republican votes for democracy reforms. There’s just literally no evidence that it’s going to happen.”

    Eugene Robinson writes in the Washington Post that Manchin “has the right to live in a make-believe wonderland if he so chooses. But his party and his nation will pay a terrible price for his hallucinations about the nature of today’s Republican Party.” […]

    Manchin is up for re-election in 2024, and it’s not unlikely his Senate career ends there. West Virginia is one of the Trumpiest of the Trump states, and his approval ratings there are underwater. Find a criminal or a child molester with an “R” next to their name to run against Manchin on a platform of Trump’s Big Lie, and Manchin might be done […]

    actually West Virginians don’t hate what the Democrats are selling, AKA what Manchin is opposing. Here are a couple of screenshots from that poll from Rachel Maddow’s show last night: [Chart available at the link]

    As you see in that frame, fully 79 PERCENT of West Virginians are just fine with the For The People Act. (The same poll found 84 percent of Arizonans support it too. Of course, Kyrsten Sinema is actually a co-sponsor of the bill, but that doesn’t matter if she keeps clinging to the filibuster […].)

    Here’s the partisan breakdown, which shows that it’s … what’s that word that gives Joe Manchin all the groin feelings? Oh yes, it has BIPARTISAN SUPPORT! Just not among the fascist assclowns who serve as Republicans in the US Senate. [Chart available at the link]

    There’s not even a partisan divide, really.

    They asked if people would be more or less likely to support Manchin if he supported voting rights legislation, and 33 percent said “more,” while only 12 percent said “less.” And the same poll showed that West Virginians don’t give too much of a fuck either way about the filibuster, at least not to the point it’s a hill worth dying on.

    Point is, Manchin might very well lose in 2024. Supporting these things might not actually help him in 2024, but it’s doubtful they’d hurt. He can’t even claim he’s doing right by his constituents right now. […]

    Here’s what an influential union in West Virginia thinks about protecting voting rights and democracy:

    The United Mine Workers of America, an influential group in Manchin’s state, reiterated its support for voting rights legislation on Monday, citing restrictive laws being passed by Republican legislatures in some states. “It is wrong for these states to attack the basic rights of citizens to participate in our democracy,” UMWA International President Cecil E. Roberts said in a statement. “Congress should be doing everything possible to not just maintain, but expand voting access and create freer and fairer elections. If only one party is interested in doing that, then so be it.”

    […] Manchin claims he’s already made his choice on the For The People Act and the filibuster, but he’s got a choice yet to make, and it ain’t over until it’s over. And whatever he does, we have a feeling it’s going to end up in the history books.

    If he sticks with his current course, he is not gonna like what those history books say about him […].


  126. says


    Donald Trump is a deeply stupid man. Donald Trump is a deeply stupid man and he believes every nutter conspiracy that comes down the pike. […]

    So when the long disgraced […] Dick Morris told Trump the shiny conspiracy he had pulled from his own bottom, that Democrats were going to replace Joe Biden at the Democratic National Convention if Biden were poised to become the 2020 Democratic nominee, Trump huffed, and he wailed, and he thought very hard, and he made what would be in hindsight a typically stupid decision. See, he wanted to run against Joe Biden, a man he greatly underestimated because he bought the Fox News “senile” spin. […] (To be clear, he was also scared shitless of Joe Biden, and we know this by how he spent over a year trying to get Ukraine to fancy up some dirty dirt on Biden to help take him out. But he was ALSO scared of who they’d replace Biden with, in this fantastical conspiracy theory he had latched onto. […])

    And so he directed his idiot staff to hold fire so Biden wouldn’t get knocked out too soon — not until the DNC did his pigs’ blood work for him […]

    Vanity Fair: “The president, meanwhile, had often complained that his early attack on [Elizabeth] Warren had damaged her presidential bid, which he regretted because he viewed her as an easier opponent than Biden,” [Wall Street Journal reporter Michael] Bender writes. “Now he worried that a heavy blitz of attack ads would hasten the secret plot being hatched by Democrats, and his mind raced with who they might select in Biden’s place.” During a meeting held the month after the coronavirus outbreak hit the U.S., Trump expressed his Biden replacement theory to advisers, saying that Democratic leadership would “realize [Biden is] old, and they’re going to give it to somebody else. They’re going to give it to Hillary, or they’re going to give it to Michelle Obama.”

    The first thing you’ll note is this is some dumb fake bullshit […] Michelle Obama couldn’t have said, more times, out loud, with her mouth, that she didn’t want it.

    […] back in 2017, former DNC chair Donna Brazile wrote that she had actually contemplated such an action — except in that case, she had wanted to singlehandedly, with no care for democracy, replace Hillary Clinton with Old Handsome Joe.

    In 2017, Brazile explained that she had found a CANCER in the Democratic Party, and it had KEPT BERNIE SANDERS from the nomination. (It hadn’t. It was a joint fundraising agreement with the exact same nominee oversight of the party’s structure that Brazile herself had had when she ran Al Gore’s campaign. […]) And then, in practically the same breath, Brazile wrote blithely in her memoir about her desire to replace Hillary Clinton as the Democratic nominee.

    At the time, Hillary Clinton was suffering from pneumonia — or, as the rightwing media insisted, cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s, mental retardation, uranium poisoning, and death. And Brazile was getting some calls from people about replacing Clinton as nominee if she were “incapacitated.”

    […] she seriously contemplated replacing Hillary Clinton as the party’s 2016 presidential nominee with then-Vice President Biden in the aftermath of Clinton’s fainting spell, in part because Clinton’s campaign was “anemic” and had taken on “the odor of failure.” […]

    […] She was just cold going to replace Clinton with Joe Biden, who had opted out of running after his son Beau’s death, based on her feelings.

    To date, a presidential nominee has never been replaced by his or her party in US politics. But Brazile’s 2016 Good Times Fuckaround Jamboree had clearly planted a germ in Dick Morris’s filthy ear. […]

    And that is why we may have Donna Brazile and Dick Morris to thank in part for Joe Biden’s 2020 beating Donald Trump […] Trump held fire on Biden because he thought … well, however his brain works, there was “strategy” in there, and it came from Dick Morris […]

    Alas, there was no bucket of pigs’ blood poured on Joe Biden at Democrat Prom, and Donald Trump had to return to his Florida trash castle and try to win office the old-fashioned way: inciting a coup.


  127. says

    Senate Dems get to work confirming Biden’s court nominees

    As the Senate confirms Biden’s first judge, let’s not forget that this same jurist was badly mistreated by Senate Republican leaders five years ago.

    Just 10 days after President Joe Biden’s inauguration, NBC News reported that the new White House team and Senate Democrats were “embarking on a mission to shape the courts after Republicans overhauled them in the last four years.”

    That mission took an important step forward today.

    The Senate is set to approve President Joe Biden’s first judicial nominees this week, marking the start of an ambitious push to make an impact on the federal courts. The Senate advanced the nomination of Julien Xavier Neals to be a district judge in New Jersey by a vote of 66-28 on Monday, setting up a final confirmation vote Tuesday. Next up on Tuesday is Regina M. Rodriguez to be a district judge in Colorado.

    Neals was, in fact, confirmed to the federal bench shortly after noon, with a 66-33 vote on the Senate floor.

    It was a long time coming. In fact, it was more than six years ago when then-President Barack Obama first nominated Neals for the district court. The respected lawyer received a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, and he was so uncontroversial that he cleared the panel in November 2015 with a voice vote.

    And then, nothing. Senate Republican leaders weren’t exactly eager to confirm a Democratic president’s court picks, regardless of merit, so Neals’ nomination withered on the vine. He waited nearly 700 days for a confirmation vote that never came.

    At least, that is, until this year, when Biden re-nominated him and Senate Democratic leaders confirmed the overdue judicial nominee.

    In floor remarks this morning, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said of Neals’ confirmation, “The first, but certainly not the last, not even close.”

    […] As of this morning, there are 80 vacancies on the federal bench — more if we include the Court of International Trade and the Court of Federal Claims — and that number is likely to be around 100 later this year as sitting judges retire and take senior status. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), a senior member of the Judiciary Committee, has said filling every vacancy by the end of 2022 is his party’s “very prudent goal.”

    That’s an ambitious target, which will require a concerted effort on the part of Democratic leaders, but so far, the relevant players appear to be taking the right steps in a smart direction.

  128. says

    New Mexico Republicans sound the alarm bells about Trump’s toxic impact on House special election

    The dominant performance of Democratic Rep.-elect Melanie Stansbury in last week’s special election for New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District held some potential midterm strategies for Democrats, but many Republicans are also airing their takeaways, and they basically boil down to one axiom: Trumpism doomed us.

    […] their candidate, state Sen. Mark Moores, lost by a whopping 25 points—a bigger rout than really anyone imagined. […] when Donald Trump was elected to office in 2016, Republicans were still competitive in the state. GOP Gov. Susana Martinez had recently won reelection, Republicans had gained control of the state House, and Republican Richard Berry was also serving out his second term as Albuquerque’s mayor. Today, Democrats control the governorship and both state legislative chambers by wide margins, along with Albuquerque’s mayoral seat.

    Many New Mexico Republicans attribute the state party’s declining fortunes to Trump, and the margin by which Moores lost last week’s special election is yet another sign of how far the party has fallen since Trump became the GOP’s standard-bearer.

    […] According to these Republicans, Moores’ biggest problem wasn’t necessarily his focus on crime and law and order, which didn’t get much traction with voters. Rather, he was caught in a Trump pickle. He couldn’t afford to totally disavow the Big Lie that the election was stolen or heavily criticize the Jan. 6 insurrection, for example, even though every reality-based voter in the district knew that both were driven by delusional right-wing thinking fomented by Trump.

    During a debate in May, for instance, Moores refused to hold Trump responsible for the Jan. 6 insurrection. “I think everyone deserves, including us, fault for that riot,” he said, noting that he meant “us as a nation.” He did, however, concede that Joe Biden won the election during the debate.

    […] “I think a lot of us—that aren’t saying the election was rigged and that Covid is like the flu, and all the other things that Trump stirred up—are so tired of the Trump message,” said Mark Veteto, a major GOP donor and president of Me-Tex Oil and Gas. “The party’s being ripped down the middle, and I think I’m gonna blame Trump for that,” Veteto added.

    Following the GOP’s shellacking last week, the party issued an email statement attributing the loss to depressed Republican turnout due to disillusionment over the 2020 election results. “Republican voters were angry from 2020—many questioned election integrity—and stayed home,” said the statement.

    Looks like Republicans repeatedly telling their voters that elections are rigged and 2020 was stolen isn’t a great motivator for the base, not to mention a nonstarter with many swing voters. The notion that Trumpism alienated swing voters along with depressing GOP turnout is also a best case scenario for Democrats next year.

  129. KG says

    If he sticks with his current course, he is not gonna like what those history books say about him – Lynna, OM quoting wonkette@147

    That makes the very optimistic assumptions that if Manchin continues on his declared course: (a) there are going to be history books, and (b) they are not going to be written by the fascists he’s enabling.

  130. says

    Stacey Abrams calls on young voters of color to support election reform bill

    […] Stacey Abrams’s group Fair Fight Action on Tuesday unveiled a new campaign aimed at mobilizing youth voters of color to get behind the For the People Act, Democrats’ sweeping election reform bill that’s currently stalled in the Senate.

    Dubbed Hot Call Summer, the campaign will run through the end of June and feature a “three-stop regional virtual tour” which Abrams will headline along with election workers, elected officials and other public figures from across the country.

    “With voting rights under attack in 48 out of 50 state legislatures across the country, the moment has never been more urgent, and it will take all of us to ensure that Congress passes the voting rights protections our country and democracy desperately need,” Abrams told supporters in an email, according to CBS News, who first reported the campaign.

    In a press release, Fair Fight Action said that the aim of Hot Call Summer is “to drive daily phone calls to U.S. Senators from every state in the weeks leading up to the Senate vote on the For the People Act.”

    Abrams’ group will encourage these phone calls through “a national digital media buy” as well as by texting “over 10 million voters in the 2022 battleground states that have seen anti-voter bills pushed in state legislatures.” […]

  131. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    US secretary of state Antony Blinken cast doubt on the methodology of a report on the origins of Covid-19 cited that concluded the hypothesis of a virus leak from a Chinese lab was plausible.

    “I saw the report. I think it’s on a number of levels, incorrect,” Blinken told a Senate committee hearing on the State Department’s budget request when asked about the Journal article.

    The article by the Wall Street Journal cited people familiar with a classified report by a U.S. government national laboratory as saying it concluded that the hypothesis of a virus leak from a Chinese lab in Wuhan was plausible and deserved further investigation, Reuters reports.

    The report said the study was prepared in May 2020 by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and referred to by State when it conducted an inquiry into the pandemic’s origins during the final months of former President Donald Trump’s administration.

    Blinken said that to the best of his understanding, the report originated after the Trump administration asked a contractor to look into the origins of the coronavirus that causes Covid-19, with a particular focus on whether it was a result of a lab leak.

    “That work was done, it was completed, it was briefed, to relevant people in the department. When we came in, we also were made aware of the findings,” Blinken said.

    “The Trump administration, it’s my understanding, had real concerns about the methodology of that study, the quality of analysis, bending evidence to fit preconceived narrative. That was their concern. It was shared with us.”

  132. blf says

    Idaho candidate for governor endorsed by rightwing militia leader, video reveals:

    Idaho’s Republican lieutenant governor and gubernatorial candidate, Janice McGeachin, attended a gathering where she was endorsed in a glowing introductory speech by a rightwing militia leader, as revealed in a video obtained by the Guardian.

    The video shows Eric Parker, who was charged over his role in the standoff in 2014 at Bundy Ranch in New Mexico where he was pictured pointing an assault rifle at federal agents, reminding McGeachin that she told him at an earlier meeting that if I get in, you’re going to have a friend in the governor’s office.

    In the same speech, Parker tells the small audience that when he sought McGeachin’s assistance in the case of Todd Engel, another Bundy Ranch attendee who was sentenced to 14 years in prison in 2019, he showed her sealed evidence from the trial.


    In his endorsement, Parker tells the audience: We need to do everything we can to get her where she can do the most good for us … we got to get her in there for us. A few moments later McGeachin walks into frame and the two embrace.

    McGeachin has encountered previous controversies involving links with extremist groups. In 2018 she refused to answer media questions as to whether she was using Three Percenter members as security during her gubernatorial run. In 2019, she was pictured with Three Percenters who were rallying in support of Engel.

    She has also offered support to anti-mask and anti-lockdown protesters in the state, who include Ammon Bundy’s Peoples Rights Network.

    [… more on Parker and Engel…]

    Lindsay Schubiner, program director at the Western States Center, a progressive non-profit whose work includes monitoring extremist groups in the region, said […] McGeachin “has consistently sought the support and backing of extreme, anti-democratic movements in Idaho”, and that “no public official has any business advancing the agenda of an anti-democratic paramilitary group”.


    More on McGeachin, The sad, dangerous line from McCarthy to McGeachin:

    On Thursday, Idaho will see its very own McCarthy hearings begin with the first meeting of Lt Gov Janice McGeachin’s Indoctrination Task Force. One might argue that the name of the committee is a political blunder because it sounds like a task force that is focused on indoctrinating Idaho’s students, but since that is ACTUALLY what it is aiming to do, the title is remarkably accurate.

    At the heart of this task force is a significant lie: the lie that students are being indoctrinated in Idaho’s public schools by learning about (gasp) race in America. McGeachin, and the people she hand-picked for her politicized task force, believe that it’s un-American to teach that enslaving Africans was bad, or that we shouldn’t discriminate against people because of their race, or that Native Americans were forced off of their land, or that migrant workers are actually human beings, or that Mormons, at the turn of the 20th century were discriminated against and targeted, in Idaho. The big lie that the Lt Governor is promoting through this committee is that US history is un-American.

    [… T]he entire pretext for establishing this Indoctrination Task force was, apparently, based on fabrications and lies as well. The right-wing extremists behind this “Farce Force” accused Boise State University of indoctrinating students and cited a student reporting that they had been bullied for being white. There was even a video, they claimed.

    But on Monday, one of Idaho’s most revered and esteemed law firms, Hawley Troxell, found zero evidence of indoctrination in Boise State’s classrooms, found zero evidence supporting the allegation that a white student was bullied, found zero evidence of any student complaining about being indoctrinated, and perhaps most shockingly, found zero evidence that an actual video of the event even exists.

    Let that sink in for a moment. This year, Idaho’s Legislature cut university budgets by $2.5 million, rejected $6 million in early childhood education, held K-12 teacher pay raises hostage, and passed an overtly racist bill that directly called out the teaching of critical race theory — teaching about RACE — based on this lie about our country’s history. And we now have a farcical task force filled with right wing extremists looking for new ways to indoctrinate students in their manipulative belief system, and it’s entirely based on an incident and video that the evidence shows, at this point, DIDN’T HAPPEN AND DOESN’T EXIST.


    I know nothing at all about the second source excerpted above (e.g., how reliable they are?). They describe themselves as “Idaho Education News is a comprehensive collection of online sources that provides information about public education in Idaho.”

    A snippet from that same site, McGeachin’s political strategy, unmasked, about McGeachin’s quickly-overriden order banning masks (mentioned previously in this series of poopyhead threads):

    Schools didn’t know what was coming until the order came down. McGeachin blindsided officials in Idaho’s largest district, the West Ada School District, where a mask mandate remains in place for the waning days of the school year. She also left the Idaho School Boards Association scrambling to make sense of the policy — and eventually, the ISBA said trustees have statutory and constitutional powers that superseded McGeachin’s order.

    McGeachin didn’t just disregard protocol. According to Attorney General Lawrence Wasden’s office, she ignored the law itself. In an opinion issued Friday, chief deputy attorney general Brian Kane said McGeachin’s order defied school districts’ “express statutory authority to protect the morals and health of their pupils.” And after McGeachin has spent more than a year accusing [Governor Brad] Little of overstepping his executive powers, she found herself on the receiving end of the same criticism.

    “There is no existing law prohibiting mask mandates,” Kane wrote. “Thus, rather than ensuring that an existing law is faithfully executed, the acting governor’s (executive order) prohibiting mask mandates has the effect of creating a law through executive order. This likely encroaches on the lawmaking power of the Legislature and violates the separation of powers between the executive and legislative branch.”

    That article also mentions “Little has been conspicuously quiet about McGeachin’s hand-picked and ideologically stacked task force to study school indoctrination — another issue that allows McGeachin to energize her base.”

  133. blf says

    The Trump method: How Netanyahu jeopardises Israel’s democracy:

    Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud party’s efforts to find defectors among opposition forces the latest example of ‘King Bibi’ and his quest for power.


    Ironically, it was Netanyahu who made the next government possible by passing a new law and by ending the tradition of not entering talks with Arab parties, said Donna Robinson Divine, professor of Jewish Studies and Government at Smith College.

    “Netanyahu paved the way for the alternate government about to gain power. He introduced a Basic Law allowing for alternative prime ministers; he began to speak to Mansour Abbas about supporting his own coalition,” she told Al Jazeera.

    It has become a reoccurring theme in Israeli politics. For years Netanyahu utilised all kinds of political shenanigans and Machiavellian power plays to remain the country’s prime minister. However, Israel has paid for it dearly. Politically, Israel has been paralysed. Even the most basic government responsibilities have been put on hold, Divine said.

    “Netanyahu found ways to impose four elections in two years on Israel, with the country having to operate without a budget for the last two,” she noted.

    Socially, the country is deeply divided, essentially into pro and anti-Netanyahu camps.


    Asked about whether Netanyahu’s remarks of election fraud are similar to Trump’s playbook, Uriel Abulof, visiting associate professor at Cornell University, told Al Jazeera: “To an extent: Netanyahu was not suggesting that it was rigged [yet! –blf], but that Bennett deceived his voters. However, Bennett did not, as he clearly indicated that he would like to see Netanyahu removed.”

    [… argy-bargy about Bennett saying he won’t work with Arab parties…]

    Additional fuel was added by the support from an influential group of national-religious and ultra-Orthodox rabbis, who adopted a similar tone by stating everything needed to be done to prevent the new government from being sworn in.

    [… argy-bargy about the idea of a term limit law…]

    “There will be lots of shouting about the transition of government, but Naftali Bennett is correct — Israel is not a monarchy,” said Divine.

    However, the damage has been done. Netanyahu is seemingly inclined to jeopardise Israel’s democracy for the slim chance to somehow remain in power, primarily for personal reasons, Divine said.

    “His determination to remain in office as a way of avoiding prison if he is convicted on the charges against him have compromised state institutions.”

    Nevertheless, the implications of Netanyahu’s selfish modus operandi are vast and dangerous, according to [lecturer in the Department of Social Science at the University of Roehampton, Maayan] Geva.

    “We are witnessing a desperate politician who has been in power for a long time and is fearful of what will happen if he is no longer PM. Netanyahu has a strong support base, and it is possible that some violence will ensue in response to his claims. Possibly some of this violence will be directed at members of the predicted government, in particular members of right-winged parties whom Netanyahu is portraying as traitors.”

    Netanyahu, of all people, ought to be cognisant of how swiftly heated circumstances can escalate. In 1995, then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was murdered by a right-wing hardliner.

    Similar to today, Netanyahu played a role and does not seem to have learned. While opposition leader, he was the key speaker at two demonstrations that included chants such as Death to Rabin and generally was involved in the anti-Rabin movement. He has denied the accusations.

    “Netanyahu is again playing a major role in fuelling the dangerous idea that the country is under existential threat in an attempt to rally his supporters,” said Geva.

    “Therefore, it is easy to compare the present with 1995 based on the concern that people will act on the accusations coming from Netanyahu and his supporters, and use violence in order to save the country.”

    Good point. I’d forgotten Netanyahu was behind Rabin’s assassination.

    In essence, the current situation is another test if Israel is becoming a failing state, Abulof concluded.

  134. blf says

    Not exactly a surprise, Arizona ballot audit backed by secretive donors linked to Trump’s inner circle:

    Dark money groups pushing baseless election claims appear to be playing key role in unprecedented review of 2.1m ballots


    Republicans in the Arizona state senate, which authorized the inquiry[fraudit], allocated $150,000 in state funds to pay for it — just a fraction of the projected overall cost, which is still unknown. The state senate had enough money in its operating budget to pay for the investigation, the Arizona Mirror reported in April, but chose not to pay the full price.

    Instead, the effort is being paid for by private donors, who remain hidden from the public, according to a review by OpenSecrets and the Guardian. Arizona Republicans and Cyber Ninjas […], have refused to say who is providing the rest of the money.


    At least $150,000 of the inquiry’s funding has purportedly come from Voices and Votes, a 501(c)(4) run by Christina Bobb, an anchor for the One America News Network (OANN) […]. The group is also run with [OANN’s] White House correspondent[troll] Chanel Rion and Courtland Sykes, Rion’s fiancé. Bobb spoke with Trump about the review, according to the Washington Post, and emailed Fann affidavits on behalf of Giuliani last year, emails show.

    Bobb frequently plugs the effort during shows, where she covers the Arizona review, and on social media, but told BuzzFeed that OANN is not in any way affiliated with her fundraising despite the dark money group being run by multiple OANN employees and being promoted on the network. Voices and Votes was incorporated in Wyoming in March, shortly before the inquiry was announced, by attorney Greg Roeberg, an Arizona attorney. A press release from the Trump campaign last year listed a Greg Roeberg as a “key member” of Jewish Voices for Trump. […]

    L Lin Wood, the pro-Trump attorney behind a slew of lawsuits seeking to overturn election results last year, told Talking Points Memo that his non-profit, Fight Back, donated $50,000 to Voices and Votes for the review. But it is not clear what the money is actually going to since the groups are subject to few financial disclosure rules.

    Wood, who has promoted fundraising efforts for the review on Telegram, also told TPM that Cyber Ninja[s] chief [Doug] Logan worked out of Wood’s home to investigate 2020 election voter fraud claims.

    Patrick Byrne, the former chief executive of and an ardent Trump supporter, is also leading a group funding the effort. Byrne was involved in what Axios described as the “craziest meeting of the Trump presidency” — a December 2020 summit in the Oval Office that included Michael Flynn, and Sidney Powell, who falsely claimed voting machines had flipped votes for Trump and suggested he use government resources to seize voting machines. Byrne also reportedly screamed at representatives from the White House counsel’s office, saying they were not sufficiently helping to overturn the election.

    As briefly mentioned in @77, Byrne is also the source of some gibberish fake data about votes that Mike Lindell and his tame fake expert may be using.

    In April, Byrne’s nonprofit, the America Project, launched a Fund the Audit campaign aiming to raise $2.8m. Byrne says he contributed $1m to the effort, but at least another $900,000 has come from unknown sources. Byrne’s non-profit is also helping vet workers who participate in the review, according to the Arizona Republic.

    Byrne also served as chief of another dark money group involved in the review, Defending the Republic […]. Created by Powell, Defending the Republic published every Arizona lawmakers’ contact info on their website and promoted a misleading Election Fraud Facts & Details document authored for the Arizona Senate by Cyber Ninja’s Logan prior to the probe. The document contains disproven claims about voting machine software switching votes from Trump to Biden.

    And, believe it or not, the story gets even crazier (no, Bigfoot hasn’t been sighted — yet — but probably only because hair furor is a cheapsake and won’t meet their appearance fees):

    Powell’s group also previously hired Wake Technology Services, Inc (Wake TSI), a subcontractor to audit election equipment in Fulton County, Pennsylvania, at the request of Doug Mastriano, a state senator who aggressively suggested the election was stolen, according to county documents obtained by the Guardian.

    Paula Shives, a Democrat on the three-member county commission, was stunned that the company was allowed to inspect election materials last year. “Who authorized this? When was this scheduled? Who was notified and present during the process?” Shives wrote in a text message to the country’s election director and two commissioners that was obtained by OpenSecrets and the Guardian through a public records request.

    Randy Bunch, a Republican county commissioner, replied that the review did not show any problems: “On a good note, they didn’t find one thing wrong and praise our team meaning Patty and our staff on how organized everything was and we come(sic) out with no flaws it all matched up.”

    Wake TSI submitted a draft report to county officials in February that appeared to back up that assessment, according to the Washington Post.

    But the copy of the that Pennsylvania review uploaded on the county website contended [Fulton County Pennsylvania Election System Analysis (PDF)] Dominion Voting Systems did not meet the state’s certification requirements, documented errors in scanning ballots, and purportedly identified non-certified software installed in the county’s voting system. (Wake TSI did not respond to requests for an interview.)

    Wake TSI abruptly withdrew from the Arizona review in May, and it’s unclear why. Mastriano was one of several Pennsylvania lawmakers who visited the audit site in early June, where he was interviewed by Bobb on OANN.


    The influx of private funds comes as Republicans themselves, including in Arizona, have pushed to outlaw the use of private grants for election processes after charities stepped up to fund under-resourced election officials during the pandemic. In particular, Republicans have targeted grants from organizations backed by hundreds of millions dollars of donations from Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan.

    In April, Arizona governor Doug Ducey, a Republican, signed a law prohibiting election officials from accepting private money to help run elections, saying it could weaken confidence in elections. Similar provisions have been enacted in Florida and Georgia this year.

    And dark money raised for the review may be going to more than just paying the firms conducting it.

    Arizona state representative Mark Finchem, a strong supporter of the review and the Stop the Steal movement[cult], claimed that his 501(c)(4) Guardian Defense Fund is “paying money for additional security at the site” in an interview with Steve Bannon on America’s Voice News.

    Finchem is currently campaigning to be Arizona’s next secretary of state, and claimed he has talked to Trump about the 2020 election in an appearance on the Twitch stream of Redpill78, which the New York Times reported promotes QAnon conspiracy theories. His attorney previously represented Cyber Ninjas.

    [… more eejits and fraudsters, including Jovan Pulitzer, the guy who most empathically did not invent the QR code, who is now using some sort of superdooper secret “tech”woo-woo at the Arizona fraudit to find the bamboo which must, just must, be in the ballots…]

    Some of the firms and individuals conducting the review also stand to potentially benefit from a proliferation of similar efforts across the country.

    A recently dismissed Michigan case that was promoted and fundraised for in the Arizona Telegram channels featured Cyber Ninja’s Logan as an expert witness. Another expert witness in the case was Benjamin Cotton, the founder of CyFIR, a digital forensics firm that is helping conduct the Arizona audit.

    The plaintiff’s attorney, Matthew DePerno, raised around $300,000 for an Election Fraud Defense Fund to support the failed case in Michigan.

    And while the amount of money raised through online fundraising platforms is publicly available, the total amount of money changing hands between each of the individuals and organizations involved in the efforts is subject to few disclosure requirements.


    A circular frauditing squad of Cyber Ninjas, Doug Logan, OANN, Christina Bobb, L Lin Wood, Patrick Byrne, Michael Flynn, Sidney Powell, Wake TSI, Mark Finchem, CyFIR, Benjamin Cotton, Jovan Pulitzer … Neither Lindell nor Bigfoot was specifically mentioned in this article, but at least one of those two plausibly could also be involved, especially as they are busily pushing dubious mysterious data which isn’t what it’s claimed to be to claim voting machines were rigged, which is more-or-less the thesis of the Arizona fraudit.

    ‘Round and ’round we go, sucking in millions of dollars, bellowing a Big Lie, legislating massive voter suppression, saying the insurrection is a nothing and doesn’t need investigation (because it was clearly an antifa plot), ’round and ’round we go, sucking in millions of dollars, bellowing a Big Lie, legislating massive voter suppression, saying the insurrection is a nothing and doesn’t need investigation (because it was clearly an antifa plot), ’round and ’round…

  135. blf says

    Not exactly a surprise, Arizona ballot audit backed by secretive donors linked to Trump’s inner circle:

    Dark money groups pushing baseless election claims appear to be playing key role in unprecedented review of 2.1m ballots


    Republicans in the Arizona state senate, which authorized the inquiry[fraudit], allocated $150,000 in state funds to pay for it — just a fraction of the projected overall cost, which is still unknown. The state senate had enough money in its operating budget to pay for the investigation, the Arizona Mirror reported in April, but chose not to pay the full price.

    Instead, the effort is being paid for by private donors, who remain hidden from the public, according to a review by OpenSecrets and the Guardian. Arizona Republicans and Cyber Ninjas […], have refused to say who is providing the rest of the money.


    At least $150,000 of the inquiry’s funding has purportedly come from Voices and Votes, a 501(c)(4) run by Christina Bobb, an anchor for the One America News Network (OANN) […]. The group is also run with [OANN’s] White House correspondent[troll] Chanel Rion and Courtland Sykes, Rion’s fiancé. Bobb spoke with Trump about the review, according to the Washington Post, and emailed Fann affidavits on behalf of Giuliani last year, emails show.

    Bobb frequently plugs the effort during shows, where she covers the Arizona review, and on social media, but told BuzzFeed that OANN is not in any way affiliated with her fundraising despite the dark money group being run by multiple OANN employees and being promoted on the network. Voices and Votes was incorporated in Wyoming in March, shortly before the inquiry was announced, by attorney Greg Roeberg, an Arizona attorney. A press release from the Trump campaign last year listed a Greg Roeberg as a “key member” of Jewish Voices for Trump. […]

    L Lin Wood, the pro-Trump attorney behind a slew of lawsuits seeking to overturn election results last year, told Talking Points Memo that his non-profit, Fight Back, donated $50,000 to Voices and Votes for the review. But it is not clear what the money is actually going to since the groups are subject to few financial disclosure rules.

    Wood, who has promoted fundraising efforts for the review on Telegram, also told TPM that Cyber Ninja[s] chief [Doug] Logan worked out of Wood’s home to investigate 2020 election voter fraud claims.

    Patrick Byrne, the former chief executive of and an ardent Trump supporter, is also leading a group funding the effort. Byrne was involved in what Axios described as the “craziest meeting of the Trump presidency” — a December 2020 summit in the Oval Office that included Michael Flynn, and Sidney Powell, who falsely claimed voting machines had flipped votes for Trump and suggested he use government resources to seize voting machines. Byrne also reportedly screamed at representatives from the White House counsel’s office, saying they were not sufficiently helping to overturn the election.

    As briefly mentioned in @77, Byrne is also the source of some gibberish fake data about votes that Mike Lindell and his tame fake expert may be using.

    In April, Byrne’s nonprofit, the America Project, launched a Fund the Audit campaign aiming to raise $2.8m. Byrne says he contributed $1m to the effort, but at least another $900,000 has come from unknown sources. Byrne’s non-profit is also helping vet workers who participate in the review, according to the Arizona Republic.

    Byrne also served as chief of another dark money group involved in the review, Defending the Republic […]. Created by Powell, Defending the Republic published every Arizona lawmakers’ contact info on their website and promoted a misleading Election Fraud Facts & Details document authored for the Arizona Senate by Cyber Ninja’s Logan prior to the probe. The document contains disproven claims about voting machine software switching votes from Trump to Biden.

    And, believe it or not, the story gets even crazier (no, Bigfoot hasn’t been sighted — yet — but probably only because hair furor is a cheapsake and won’t meet their appearance fees):

    Powell’s group also previously hired Wake Technology Services, Inc (Wake TSI), a subcontractor to audit election equipment in Fulton County, Pennsylvania, at the request of Doug Mastriano, a state senator who aggressively suggested the election was stolen, according to county documents obtained by the Guardian.

    Paula Shives, a Democrat on the three-member county commission, was stunned that the company was allowed to inspect election materials last year. “Who authorized this? When was this scheduled? Who was notified and present during the process?” Shives wrote in a text message to the country’s election director and two commissioners that was obtained by OpenSecrets and the Guardian through a public records request.

    Randy Bunch, a Republican county commissioner, replied that the review did not show any problems: “On a good note, they didn’t find one thing wrong and praise our team meaning Patty and our staff on how organized everything was and we come(sic) out with no flaws it all matched up.”

    Wake TSI submitted a draft report to county officials in February that appeared to back up that assessment, according to the Washington Post.

    But the copy of the that Pennsylvania review uploaded on the county website contended [Fulton County Pennsylvania Election System Analysis (PDF)] Dominion Voting Systems did not meet the state’s certification requirements, documented errors in scanning ballots, and purportedly identified non-certified software installed in the county’s voting system. (Wake TSI did not respond to requests for an interview.)

    Wake TSI abruptly withdrew from the Arizona review in May, and it’s unclear why. Mastriano was one of several Pennsylvania lawmakers who visited the audit site in early June, where he was interviewed by Bobb on OANN.


    The influx of private funds comes as Republicans themselves, including in Arizona, have pushed to outlaw the use of private grants for election processes after charities stepped up to fund under-resourced election officials during the pandemic. In particular, Republicans have targeted grants from organizations backed by hundreds of millions dollars of donations from Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan.

    In April, Arizona governor Doug Ducey, a Republican, signed a law prohibiting election officials from accepting private money to help run elections, saying it could weaken confidence in elections. Similar provisions have been enacted in Florida and Georgia this year.

    And dark money raised for the review may be going to more than just paying the firms conducting it.

    Arizona state representative Mark Finchem, a strong supporter of the review and the Stop the Steal movement[cult], claimed that his 501(c)(4) Guardian Defense Fund is “paying money for additional security at the site” in an interview with Steve Bannon on America’s Voice News.

    Finchem is currently campaigning to be Arizona’s next secretary of state, and claimed he has talked to Trump about the 2020 election in an appearance on the Twitch stream of Redpill78, which the New York Times reported promotes QAnon conspiracy theories. His attorney previously represented Cyber Ninjas.

    [… more eejits and fraudsters, including Jovan Pulitzer, the guy who most empathically did not invent the QR code, who is now using some sort of superdooper secret “tech”woo-woo at the Arizona fraudit to find the bamboo which must, just must, be in the ballots…]

    Some of the firms and individuals conducting the review also stand to potentially benefit from a proliferation of similar efforts across the country.

    A recently dismissed Michigan case that was promoted and fundraised for in the Arizona Telegram channels featured Cyber Ninja’s Logan as an expert witness. Another expert witness in the case was Benjamin Cotton, the founder of CyFIR, a digital forensics firm that is helping conduct the Arizona audit.

    The plaintiff’s attorney, Matthew DePerno, raised around $300,000 for an Election Fraud Defense Fund to support the failed case in Michigan.

    And while the amount of money raised through online fundraising platforms is publicly available, the total amount of money changing hands between each of the individuals and organizations involved in the efforts is subject to few disclosure requirements.


    A circular frauditing squad of Cyber Ninjas, Doug Logan, OANN, Christina Bobb, L Lin Wood, Patrick Byrne, Michael Flynn, Sidney Powell, Wake TSI, Mark Finchem, CyFIR, Benjamin Cotton, Jovan Pulitzer … Neither Lindell nor Bigfoot was specifically mentioned in this article, but at least one of those two plausibly could also be involved, especially as they are busily pushing dubious mysterious data which isn’t what it’s claimed to be to claim voting machines were rigged, which is more-or-less the thesis of the Arizona fraudit.

    ‘Round and ’round we go, pulling in millions of dollars, bellowing a Big Lie, legislating massive voter suppression, saying the insurrection is a nothing and doesn’t need investigation (because it was clearly an antifa plot), ’round and ’round we go, pulling in millions of dollars, bellowing a Big Lie, legislating massive voter suppression, saying the insurrection is a nothing and doesn’t need investigation (because it was clearly an antifa plot), ’round and ’round…

  136. blf says

    And it’s French local-ish election time (June 20th / 27th), and the first bit of propaganda has dropped through my letterbox. Not entirely certain which group of nutters this is (except it’s not teh le penazis), but there’s two clews they are loons: (1) Their top — № 1 — “promise” (no translation needed here), « SANS MASQUE — Pour le retour à la vie, le retour de nos libertés et l’accés aux sions pour tous ». And (2) The two individuals pictured look very much like they are in a permanent state of scowl, have only just heard of this “smiling” thing, and have absolutely no idea how to do it. Very creepy!

  137. says

    Republican filibuster derails Dem bill to address gender pay gap

    “There’s absolutely nothing controversial about making sure every worker gets paid fairly for their work,” a Senate Dem said. Her GOP colleagues disagreed.

    It was in Bill Clinton’s second term when Democrats first rallied behind the Paycheck Fairness Act, designed to address the lingering gender pay gap. After years of effort, the party very nearly passed the measure in 2010, when 58 senators supported it and 41 opposed it — though thanks to the way the modern Senate operates, that meant the bill failed.

    Dems are still trying. Republicans still won’t budge.

    Senate Republicans on Tuesday blocked debate on a bill to combat pay discrimination against women and L.G.B.T.Q. workers, the first in a series of votes set up by Democratic leaders this month to highlight the power of the filibuster to stop even the consideration of legislation.

    Every Senate Democrat supported the legislation, and they needed at least 10 Senate Republicans to break ranks in order to overcome a GOP filibuster. They fell 10 short: zero Republicans backed the proposal. Even the ostensible “moderates” stuck with their conservative allies.

    […] It was only the second time this year that Republicans successfully derailed legislation that enjoyed majority support. The first came two weeks ago, when GOP senators rejected a bipartisan proposal to create an independent commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack.

    But let’s not brush past the fact that this bill has real merit. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which Barack Obama signed into law in early 2009, was an important step forward when it comes to combating discrimination, but it was also narrowly focused to address a specific problem: giving victims of discrimination access to the courts for legal redress. As regular readers may recall, the Paycheck Fairness Act is a broader measure.

    As the New York Times noted, the proposal would require employers “to prove that pay disparities between men and women are job related and would strengthen the hand of plaintiffs filing class-action lawsuits that challenge pay discrimination.”

    A recent CNBC report added that the Paycheck Fairness Act would also “make it illegal for employers to ask employees about their salary history in the hiring process” and would “protect workers from facing retaliation if they discuss their salary with co-workers.”

    Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), who’s helped champion the measure for years, said yesterday, “There’s absolutely nothing controversial about making sure every worker gets paid fairly for their work.”

    Yesterday, literally every Senate Republican made clear they disagree.

  138. says

    blf @156, JFC. Batshit bonkers extremist militia supporters get themselves elected in Idaho and things rapidly go from bad to worse. Now one of them is running for governor.

  139. says

    Guardian – “EU-UK talks to resolve Northern Ireland crisis end without agreement.”

    Also in the Guardian – “Leading biologist dampens his ‘smoking gun’ Covid lab leak theory”:

    A Nobel prize-winning US biologist, who has been widely quoted describing a “smoking gun” to support the thesis that Covid-19 was genetically modified and escaped from a Wuhan lab, has said he overstated the case.

    David Baltimore, a distinguished biology professor, had become one of the most prominent figures cited by proponents of the so-called lab leak theory.

    Originally quoted in an article in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists in May, and widely requoted since, Baltimore had appeared to suggest that a specific feature in Covid-19’s genome, known as the furin cleavage site, was the “smoking gun” to the theory the virus had been contained inside a laboratory and then escaped via a leak.

    “These features make a powerful challenge to the idea of a natural origin for Sars2,” he said at the time.

    In recent days, however, Baltimore has told a fellow researcher, the scientific journal Nature and the LA Times that – while he had been quoted accurately in the bulletin – he should not have used the phrase “smoking gun” and was uncertain what the feature proved regarding the origins of the virus – natural or otherwise.

    In an email exchange with the Los Angeles Times, Baltimore conceded he had overstated the case and that he had an open mind on the matter.

    “[I] should have softened the phrase ‘smoking gun’ because I don’t believe that it proves the origin of the furin cleavage site but it does sound that way.

    “I believe that the question of whether the sequence was put in naturally or by molecular manipulation is very hard to determine but I wouldn’t rule out either origin.”

    Baltimore also clarified his stance in an exchange with Nature, saying: “There are other possibilities and they need careful consideration, which is all I meant to be saying.”…

    Really irresponsible.

  140. says

    KATIE PAVLICH [Fox host]: “This is what happens when you choose your vice president based on gender and skin color rather than actual talent and expertise. We’re seeing that disaster unfold right now.”

    GERALDO RIVERA: “That’s so mean.”

    PAVLICH: “Oh, it’s mean? It’s actually true.”

    RIVERA: “She was the attorney general for the state of California. She was a United States senator. You can’t demean her.”

    PAVLICH: “Well, there’s a reason why she got zero votes and had to drop out of the race before they even started taking votes.” [A reference to Kamala Harris dropping out of the Democratic Primary race]


    What have I missed? Did Harris’ work in addressing the border “crisis” cause a horde of troglodytes to ransack the U.S. Capitol or something? The last I heard she’s discussing the root causes of immigration with Guatemala’s president, not daydreaming about lining the border with alligator-filled moats or shooting immigrants in the legs. I’ve no doubt Katie would view these as effective strategies, because her goober god has decreed it.

    Also, wasn’t “choosing our vice president based on gender and skin color” what we did the last 48 times? Seriously, fuck you, Katie. Fuck you for implying Kamala Harris didn’t earn her position. She was a fucking U.S. senator, you twit. Donald Trump’s political experience before he became pr*sident was limited to shitposting for hours about things he didn’t understand. You, on the other hand, filled a spot that could have been given to an average-looking person with a brain.

    […]. And check your overt racism. Didn’t you get the memo? You’re supposed to pretend you’re not a total racist shitheel. I’m quite certain you’ll find that somewhere in the Fox employee manual.


  141. says

    David Rothkopf:

    Note to journalists: Biden infrastructure talks did not fail. Capito’s effort to shrink the package to the point of inadequacy to meeting our national needs failed. Biden has completed an important step necessary to getting to a 50+1 majority for a substantial, historic package.

    Maybe. Still wasted a lot of time talking to Republicans.

  142. says

    Here’s a link to the June 9 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    From there:

    Russia reports highest daily new case figures since early March

    Russia has reported 10,407 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, its highest number of daily infections since early March, taking the national tally to 5,156,250 since the pandemic began.

    Regular readers will note that I’ve expressed some scepticism about how Russia’s official figures basically haven’t moved for months, which doesn’t feel like how the pandemic has behaved elsewhere.

    Reuters said the government coronavirus task force reported 399 people had died, pushing the national death toll to 124,895. The federal statistics agency has kept a separate toll and has said that Russia recorded around 270,000 deaths related to Covid-19 between April 2020 and April 2021.

    One of those stories today that is likely to feature in both Andrew Sparrow’s UK politics live blog, and here on our Covid blog, but a judge has just ruled that the government acted unlawfully when it awarded a contract without a tender last March to a polling company owned by friends of Dominic Cummings, then British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s chief adviser.

    When the pandemic then hit, Cummings urged civil servants to hire the company Public First to hold focus groups on the government’s Covid-19 health messaging.

    Mrs Justice O’Farrell, who gave the ruling on the Cabinet Office contract with the company Public First, said: “The decision of 5 June 2020 to award the contract to Public First gave rise to apparent bias and was unlawful.”

    UK facing “substantial third wave”

    The UK is facing a “substantial third wave” of infection according to new modelling but its scale will depend on how effective vaccines are against new strains, Prof Neil Ferguson warned.

    PA Media reports that Prof Ferguson told a media briefing the new data, compiled by SPI-M – a subgroup of Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) – had been submitted to the government….

  143. says

    From today’s DN! headlines:

    Vaccination Key to Curbing Spread of Delta COVID Variant; CDC Updates Coronavirus Travel Guidance

    A more transmissible variant of the coronavirus first identified in India, known as the Delta variant, now represents around 6% of infections in the U.S. In Britain, the rapidly spreading Delta variant is causing officials to weigh whether to fully reopen the country. White House coronavirus adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci said, however, two doses of the Pfizer vaccine or the AstraZeneca vaccine appear to be highly effective in combating it.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new travel guidelines for over 120 countries, with separate advice for vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers. Thirty-three countries, including Israel and Singapore, have been moved to the lowest risk level, while the CDC recommends against nonessential travel for unvaccinated people to countries including Mexico, Russia and Iran. Brazil and India are in the highest threat category, meaning travel should be avoided.

    U.N. Warns of Mass Deaths and Suffering After Military Attacks Displace 100,000 in Eastern Burma

    A United Nations official is warning of possible mass deaths, illness and starvation in Burma after an estimated 100,000 people had to flee military attacks in eastern Kayah State. The U.N. is calling for immediate action to prevent further tragedy as the Burmese military continues its indiscriminate attacks on ethnic groups and protesters who have been taking to the streets since the February 1 coup.

    Salvadoran Woman Jailed for Having Miscarriage Freed After 10 Years Behind Bars

    In El Salvador, a woman serving a 30-year prison sentence, accused of having an abortion, has been released after nearly a decade behind bars. Sara Rogel was arrested in 2012 after she went to the hospital with bleeding injuries she said she sustained after a fall. Rogel, then a 22-year-old student, was prosecuted and sentenced for terminating her pregnancy. Rogel spoke after her release Tuesday.

    Sara Rogel: “I know I am no danger for society. And likewise, I know, as well, that my fellow women who remain in prison aren’t dangers to society, either. And so I demand justice for them, as well, so they can have the liberty that I have today.”

    El Salvador has long criminalized abortions, with a total ban since 1998. Dozens have also been convicted and imprisoned after having miscarriages and stillbirths….

  144. says

    Netanyahu’s only comment on the curses, insults & threats hurled at his opponents is to post a somewhat misleading collage depicting him as victim. ‘We need to fight all incitement to violence– including the incitement my family & I have experienced every day in recent years’.”

    Wow: “Cover of the ultra-orthodox magazine @themishpacha, depicting Israel’s incoming Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman made out of dollar bills. It would be considered an outrageously antisemitic caricature anywhere else.”

    Photo atl. In light of the attacks on Ilhan Omar after her “all about the Benjamins” remark (for which she unequivocally apologized), it’s wild that they’ve put Franklin’s face right over his nose. (Looks like there are some euros in there, too.)

  145. blf says

    From the Grauniad’s current USAlien politics and pandemic live blog (my added emboldening):

    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell made the declaration yesterday that “the era of bipartisanship is over” as it pertained to the Paycheck Fairness Act, saying that it was clear in the bills that the Democrats were introducing this month that they were going after extreme, left-wing provisions that no Republican could ever support.

    “To secure our democracy for all our children, we have to stand up in this defining moment in America,” said Georgia Senator Raphael Warnock. “We can’t dance around senate procedure. No senate procedure, no senate rule, is more important than people’s constitutional rights.”

    I presume Manchin will continue his hands over ears, la-la-la can’t hear anything stance.

  146. says

    CNBC – “Joe Manchin is opposing big parts of Biden’s agenda as the Koch network pressures him” (could’ve used some more proofreading):

    The political advocacy group backed by billionaire Charles Koch has been pressuring Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., to oppose key parts of the Democratic agenda, including filibuster reform and voting rights legislation.

    That lobbying effort appears to be paying off. Manchin, in a recent op-ed, wrote that he opposed eliminating the filibuster and that he would not vote for the For the People Act, which, advocates say, would limit the influence of big donors on elections.

    CNBC reviewed an episode of a Koch policy group Americans for Prosperity’s video series, along with ads crafted by the organization. The network specifically calls on its grassroots supporters to push Manchin, a conservative Democrat, to be against some of his party’s legislative priorities.

    Americans for Prosperity launched a website titled West Virginia Values, which calls on people to email Manchin “to be The Voice West Virginia Needs In D.C. — Reject Washington’s Partisan Agenda.”

    It then lists all of the items Manchin has promised to oppose, including the idea of eliminating the filibuster, the For the People Act and packing the Supreme Court. It then shows everything the group believes Manchin should oppose, including Biden’s infrastructure plan and the union-friendly PRO Act.

    Americans for Prosperity leaders took part in one of their video series with their West Virginia state director in May where they praised Manchin for voicing his opposition to abolishing the filibuster….

    The video was reviewed by CNBC after it was posted to the group’s Facebook page.

    “A wise man once said that it takes a lot of courage to stand up to your enemies but that it takes even more courage up to stand up to your friends,” Ted Ellis, director of coalitions for Americans for Prosperity’s government affairs team, told the audience. “And that’s what Joe Manchin is doing right now. He’s displaying, I think, a lot of courage and we should applaud that.”

    “Our grassroots are critically important and it would be difficult to say that they are more important anywhere than West Virginia right now because of the dramatic impact that our grassroots have in West Virginia in encouraging Senator Manchin to stand strong on this point,” Casey Mattox, vice president of legal and judicial Strategy at Americans for Prosperity, said during the presentation.

    Ellis is listed on a recent lobbying report as one of the Americans for Prosperity officials who in the first quarter of 2021 lobbied against the For the People Act and Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan. The lobbyists targeted House and Senate lawmakers.

    Americans for Prosperity also launched a radio ad in West Virginia that quotes Manchin himself saying Democrats aren’t for the Green New Deal or Medicare for All. “Encourage Senator Manchin to keep his promise. To reject a partisan agenda that will host West Virginia’s back from meeting their full potential,” the voiceover says in the ad.

    The Koch political network is just one of many groups that have orchestrated outside efforts to oppose the Democratic-backed election bill.

    The New Yorker reported on a meeting between Koch leaders and representatives from other conservative-leaning groups about how they have tried to stop the bill from passing but that some of their own polling shows the campaign finance elements of the legislation is widely supported.

    Heritage Action and other groups organized a rally in March in West Virginia that was meant to pressure Manchin to oppose similar legislation to the For the People Act, , according to the watchdog group Documented[dot]net.

    Manchin has defended the Kochs from attacks by his own party.

    “People want jobs. You don’t beat up people. I mean, I don’t agree with their politics or philosophically, but, you know, they’re Americans, they’re doing — paying their taxes,” he said in response to questions about party leaders blasting the Kochs.

    “They’re not breaking the law. They’re providing jobs,” he said.


  147. blf says

    Re Lynna@146, Amusingly, when the outage happened, I was at lunch (see @111) and puzzled when assorted quite-reliable apps began giving sometimes-bizarre connectivity errors. What had me worried is earlier that very morning, there had been a big update to my mobile, around a dozen apps (including some of those which where “failing”) and also the Android OS itself. Everything seemed to check-out Ok after the updates, but then at lunch, well, no… eh? (I have a number of diagnostic and investigative tools / apps installed, and quickly decided the problem was elsewhere, but was definitely concerned for a few moments those very-recent upgrades had badly broken stuff!)

    As noted, the problem was fixed quickly, and the first Grauniad article I saw after service was restored was headlined something like “Massive Internet failure takes many sites offline, including Graudian”. Ah!

  148. says

    Ken Bensinger, BuzzFeed:

    In a new filing, the DoJ said it believes Oath Keeper Jason Dolan hid multiple firearms — including one he gave to his 7 year old daughter — as well as an Oath Keeper t-shirt, gloves & a gaiter he wore into the Capitol on Jan. 6, all in an effort to “delete or secrete evidence”

    A magistrate ordered Dolan’s release after his arrest last week, but prosecutors are moving for that to be revoked & for Dolan to remain behind.

    They claim he’s “similarly situated” to Kenneth Harrelson, another defendant in the Oath Keepers case who did not receive bond.

    Both Dolan and Harrelson traveled to DC together, appeared to stash weapons in the same Virginia hotel, and entered the Capitol together. But when FBI agents searched Dolan’s house, they found no firearms or ammo whatsoever.

    But neighbors told the FBI Dolan had “at least two assault rifles & a 9mm handgun.” The contact photo for Dolan’s wife shows her holding an AR-15 style rifle. And YouTube records show Dolan posted comments about his guns and bragged about buying his 7 year old daughter a gun.

    Defense Dept records show Dolan was a marksmanship instructor while in the Marines, prosecutors said. And surveillance photos from the Comfort Inn show Dolan and Harrelson wheeling what appear to be gun cases into the hotel on Jan 5 and out again on Jan 7.

    Here are the pics the DoJ included to show Dolan and Harrelson with what it claims are gun cases on a cart in the hotel….

    Prosecutors also say Dolan gave an anonymous interview to Gateway Pundit in May claiming someone inside the Capitol released magnetically locked doors, allowing the crowds into the building.

    This is the interview:…

    Although the interviewee’s voice was masked, prosecutors say they can identify it as Dolan & that he was “espousing a troubling conspiracy-theory belief that the Capitol Police wanted the rioters to come inside the building. That shows “a lack of remorse and continued danger.”

    Dolan appears to have deleted all his email on March 10, two days after Harrelson was arrested, prosecutors say. They also rebut claims by Dolan’s attorney* that he had “cut off contact” with the Oath Keepers, but cell phone records show he called Harrelson on March 2, 4 & 9.

    *Dolan’s attorney is Michael van der Veen, who was one of Donald Trump’s defense lawyers during his 2nd impeachment trial, as noted yesterday by @ryanjreilly

    van der Veen argued for Dolan’s release during a 4-hour detention hearing held last week.

    One more interesting thing to note here is that the DoJ claims it has arrested 10 of the 13 people identified as being part of the Oath Keeper “stack” that entered the Capitol on Jan. 6. Three others, it would seem, are still at large.

    Here is the full motion, along with a prior detention motion, transcripts of Dolan’s detention hearing (spread over 2 days) and a transcript of the Gateway Pundit interview….

    Links and screenshots atl.

  149. says

    Vice – “Trump Congratulates Nigeria’s Autocratic Ruler for Banning Twitter”:

    Donald Trump just wishes he had the power of a leader from one of those “shithole countries.”

    The former president issued a statement congratulating Nigeria for banning Twitter on Tuesday evening, days after Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari declared the platform wasn’t allowed in his country because it deleted one of his controversial tweets.

    “Congratulations to the country of Nigeria, who just banned Twitter because they banned their President. More COUNTRIES should ban Twitter and Facebook for not allowing free and open speech—all voices should be heard,” Trump said in a statement to reporters that was emailed because he was banned from all major social media platforms for his role in inciting the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

    “Who are they to dictate good and evil if they themselves are evil? Perhaps I should have done it while I was President,” Trump continued, unironically using the word “dictate” after praising the strongman-like-move from the Nigerian autocrat. He then ends it with a leading question: “2024?”

    Trump, frustrated that he can’t tweet himself (or post to Facebook or YouTube), seems jealous of Buhari’s power to try to unilaterally ban social media and suppress free speech in his country. Other social media isn’t doing it for him either: He recently gave up on a halfhearted attempt to start his own blog because its traffic sucked.

    Nigerians rely on Twitter to spread anti-government protests, and many are using VPNs to try to get around the ban. During the #EndSARS protests last year against a corrupt and violent police unit, the platform was critical for those gathering and disseminating information, a tactic the government hated. Now, Buhari’s government has threatened to arrest and charge anyone they catch using the now-banned platform, even though there’s no actual law on the books banning Twitter; Nigeria’s Attorney General, Abubakar Malami, called for the “immediate prosecution of offenders of the Federal Government’s ban on Twitter operations in Nigeria.”

    Trump has a long history of praising autocrats, especially democratically elected ones who’ve pushed their countries towards dictatorship from Russian strongman Vladimir Putin to Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte to Turkish President Recep Erdoğan. And his anti-democratic reaction to losing in the 2020 election—a steadfast refusal to accept his loss—showed he’s not that different from them temperamentally. His latest statement shows he’s added yet another democracy-eroding leader to his fanclub.

  150. says

    SCOOP: The Biden administration is buying 500 million doses of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine to donate to the world. Biden will make the announcement at the G7….”

    WaPo link atl.

  151. says

    Even more closely related bat CoVs to SARS CoV-2 than RaTG13 for a lot of their genomes. None are the progenitor, but getting warmer…..

    Identification of novel bat coronaviruses sheds light on the evolutionary origins of SARS-CoV-2 and related viruses”

    Link to Cell article atl:


    -Four novel SARS-CoV-2 related viruses were identified in rhinolophid bats.
    -RpYN06 is the closest relative of SARS-CoV-2 in most of the virus genome.
    -A high diversity of bat coronaviruses was present in a very small geographic area.
    -Ecological modeling reveals a broad range of rhinolophid bats in parts of Asia.


    Despite the discovery of animal coronaviruses related to SARS-CoV-2, the evolutionary origins of this virus are elusive. We describe a meta-transcriptomic study of 411 bat samples collected from a small geographical region in Yunnan province, China, between May 2019 and November 2020. We identified 24 full-length coronavirus genomes, including four novel SARS-CoV-2 related and three SARS-CoV related viruses. Rhinolophus pusillus virus RpYN06 was the closest relative of SARS-CoV-2 in most of the genome, although it possessed a more divergent spike gene. The other three SARS-CoV-2 related coronaviruses carried a genetically distinct spike gene that could weakly bind to the hACE2 receptor in vitro. Ecological modeling predicted the co-existence of up to 23 Rhinolophus bat species, with the largest contiguous hotspots extending from South Laos and Vietnam to southern China. Our study highlights the remarkable diversity of bat coronaviruses at the local scale, including close relatives of both SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV.

  152. blf says

    Texas Creates 1836 Project to Promote Patriotic Education and Christian Heritage:

    According to a report by Austin’s KAMR and KCIT, the 1836 Project will initially focus on parks, museums, and landmarks, but some teachers are concerned about the impact it will eventually have on curriculum and classroom teaching.

    To keep Texas the best state in the United States of America, we must never forget why Texas became so exceptional in the first place, Abbott said during the signing ceremony. Under the law, every newcomer to Texas who applies for a driver’s license will get an official pamphlet that outlines Texas’s rich history as well as the principles that make Texas, Texas. It also establishes an award that will recognize students’ knowledge of the founding documents of Texas history.

    I rather suspect those founding documents (and indeed, the entire whitewashing) won’t include — either at all or unabridged—  the Texas Articles of Secession explaining why Texas revolted against the US:

    […] The bulk of the document offers justifications for slavery saying that remaining a part of the United States would jeopardize the security of the two. The declaration includes this extract praising slavery, in which the Union itself is referred to as the “confederacy”:

    We hold as undeniable truths that the governments of the various States, and of the confederacy itself, were established exclusively by the white race, for themselves and their posterity; that the African race had no agency in their establishment; that they were rightfully held and regarded as an inferior and dependent race, and in that condition only could their existence in this country be rendered beneficial or tolerable.  — Texas Secession Convention, A Declaration of the Causes which Impel the State of Texas to Secede from the Federal Union (February 1861).

    At this time, African Americans comprised around 30 percent of the state’s population, and they were overwhelmingly enslaved. According to one Texan, keeping them enslaved was the primary goal of the state in joining the Confederacy:

    Independence without slavery, would be valueless… The South without slavery would not be worth a mess of pottage.  — Caleb Cutwell, letter to the Galveston Tri-Weekly (February 22, 1865).

    So teh best state in the United States is valueless as there is no (chattel) slavery, and considers Blacks an inferior and dependent race [fit only for enslavement].

    Back to RWW:

    Historian Seth Cotlar was among those who responded to Abbott’s signing statement with posts about the state’s history of encouraging settlement by slave owners and its decision to secede from the Union in response to northern states’ hostility to the beneficent and patriarchal system of African slavery.

    Given the long history of organized efforts to imbue Texas textbooks with right-wing political ideology and the current right-wing propaganda campaign against “critical race theory,” it seems likely that this committee will be a vehicle to advance those ideas […]

    I cannot find it at the moment, but Doonesbury had a great cartoon some yonks ago about some other proposed / official Texas distortion of history about its succession, where a student in a class reads the actual document. From memory, the student’s comment: This was written by fascists!

  153. blf says

    There seems to be a qAnonsense faction within Brood X, ‘Watch out for the cicadas’, Biden warns ahead of Europe trip:

    Reporters traveling to the United Kingdom for US President Joe Biden’s first overseas trip were delayed seven hours after their chartered plane was overrun by cicadas.

    Even Biden was not spared. The president brushed a cicada from the back of his neck as he chatted with his Air Force greeter after arriving at Joint Base Andrews for Wednesday’s flight.


    The bugs also tried to stow away on Air Force Two on Sunday when Vice President Kamala Harris flew to Guatemala. The cicadas were caught hiding in folds of the shirts of a Secret Service agent and a photographer, and escorted off the plane before takeoff.


    It was unclear how cicadas disrupted the mechanics of the press plane. Weather and crew rest issues also contributed to the flight delay late Tuesday. Ultimately, the plane was swapped for another one, and the flight took off shortly after 04:00 EDT (08:00 GMT) on Wednesday.

    “Well, why wouldn’t the cicadas want to go to the UK with the president of the United States?” asked University of Maryland entomologist Mike Raupp. Periodic cicadas are mostly in the United States with two tiny exceptions in Asia. They are not in Europe. At least not yet.


  154. says

    Civil rights groups also can’t budge Joe Manchin on voting rights

    The good news is, the conservative Democrat was willing to sit down with prominent civil rights leaders. The bad news is, they couldn’t change his mind.

    It’s become a parlor game of sorts on Capitol Hill: figuring out who can persuade Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) to help protect voting rights from a dramatic Republican assault.

    […] Roll Call reported late yesterday:

    Manchin was unmoved on his opposition to the broader bill Tuesday after what those present described as a constructive morning meeting with a group of influential civil rights leaders. “There was nothing basically for or against…. Basically, everyone’s position was discussed,” Manchin told reporters after the meeting.

    Asked if the discussion affected his position at all, Manchin replied, “No, I don’t think anybody changed positions on that.”

    A Washington Post report added, “According to interviews with several of the civil rights leaders who participated, the discussion was indeed courteous and substantive. But they said it produced little meaningful progress in bridging the gulf between the advocates, who consider the spate of GOP state laws as an assault on American democracy, and Manchin, who has said that any change to federal voting laws must be done in cooperation with Republicans.”

    […] As the process continues to unfold, it’s worth remembering that there are two bills to keep an eye on, and three ways to pass them.

    On the legislative front, there’s the For the People Act, which is an expansive democracy-reform package, and there’s the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which is designed to restore the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in response to Supreme Court conservatives gutting it in 2013.

    They both relate to voting rights, but they’re not the same thing. Manchin intends to help Republicans kill the former, but he supports the latter.

    But that support will prove meaningless if the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act is derailed by a GOP filibuster. So how do pro-voting advocates get the bill across the finish line? There are really only three options:

    – Find 10 Senate Republicans willing to push back against their own party’s anti-voting crusade and support the Democratic legislation.
    – Carve out an exception to the Senate’s existing filibuster rules and pass the Voting Rights Advancement Act in an up-or-down vote.
    – Eliminate the Senate’s existing filibuster rules, return the institution to its majority-rule roots, and pass the Voting Rights Advancement Act in an up-or-down vote.

    (A possible fourth is that Democratic leaders attach the Voting Rights Advancement Act to some other bill, but that’s probably a long shot.)

    Either one of those three scenarios happen, or Congress does nothing to protect voting rights and our democracy suffers. It’s as simple as that.

  155. says

    Follow-up to SC’s link in comment 175.

    Ohio Republicans ask conspiracy theorists to speak at anti-vaxx hearing and it goes bananas

    “Bananas” is a polite way to put it.

    Republican Gov. Mike DeWine of Ohio is a great example of what the GOP is today. He has found himself in the unenviable position of trying to offer up the bare minimum of public health policy, something that in previous election cycles would not have been considered a partisan issue, in a political climate fraught with the anti-critical thinking fallout of decades of GOP misinformation. His Vax-a-Million program launched in the last weeks of May, in the hopes of using our country’s income inequality desperation to ‘lotterize’ public health—promising those who go and get vaccinated against COVID-19 chances to win million-dollar prizes. One of the problems DeWine and other officials are facing is that some of the hundreds of thousands of vaccine reserves they have are set to expire in the next few weeks, and if arms are not found, they will go to waste.

    The other, more pressing problem for Americans in general (and Republican officials like DeWine specifically) is that there is a solid anti-vaccine sentiment that has turned politically toxic among his Republican constituents. This has somehow led to more craven conservative politicians using public health measures as a way to clamber up the GOP ranks. And while Gov. DeWine has attempted to get the Buckeye State’s lagging vaccination numbers up, even pointing out how places like churches can be unsafe if its attendees are unvaccinated, his fellow Republican legislators in Ohio have been working with anti-vaxx groups to turn vaccine mistrust into an all-out public health disaster.

    ArsTechnica reports that GOP lawmakers in Ohio have been trying to get legislation through that would end the lottery campaign immediately. They have also introduced legislation that would end all vaccination requirements in the state—not simply any possible COVID-19 vaccination requirements that might come out in the future.

    House Bill 248, introduced last month by Rep. Jennifer Gross (R-West Chester), would allow anyone to decline any vaccine with a simple verbal declaration based on “reasons of conscience.”

    Ohio already has very loose vaccination requirements for school exemptions. All a parent needs to do is write out a statement that says they don’t want have their child vaccinated for “reasons of conscience.” But they do have to provide a written statement. Not good enough, apparently! However, the more insidious piece of anti-public health legislation in Rep. Gross’s bill is that “universities and day cares could no longer require students to have vaccinations.” Also, “businesses would not be able ask unvaccinated employees, customers, or clients to wear masks or take other measures to prevent the spread of disease—even if there were high-risk individuals present, like cancer survivors and people who have compromised immune systems.”

    This is the context of Republicans in Ohio, allowing people like Dr. Sherri Tenpenny, an Ohio-licensed physician, a chance to utter this statement in a public forum:

    “I’m sure you’ve seen the pictures all over the internet of people who have had these shots and now they’re magnetized,” Tenpenny, of Middleburg Heights in Cuyahoga County, said. “You can put a key on their forehead, it sticks. You can put spoons and forks all over and they can stick because now we think there is a metal piece to that.”

    […] The CDC published this announcement on the United States’ official government page on June 3.

    Can receiving a COVID-19 vaccine cause you to be magnetic?

    No. Receiving a COVID-19 vaccine will not make you magnetic, including at the site of vaccination which is usually your arm. COVID-19 vaccines do not contain ingredients that can produce an electromagnetic field at the site of your injection. All COVID-19 vaccines are free from metals such as iron, nickel, cobalt, lithium, and rare earth alloys, as well as any manufactured products such as microelectronics, electrodes, carbon nanotubes, and nanowire semiconductors. In addition, the typical dose for a COVID-19 vaccine is less than a milliliter, which is not enough to allow magnets to be attracted to your vaccination site even if the vaccine was filled with a magnetic metal. Learn more about the ingredients in the COVID-19 vaccinations authorized for use in the United States.

    Here’s a 10-minute video from Debunk the Funk with Dr. Wilson, where he goes through Dr. Tenpenny’s wildly inaccurate statements about COVID-19 and the vaccinations created to fight it. [Video available at the link.]

    Politically, Gov. DeWine is as conservative as it gets, supporting misogynistic policies like “personhood amendments on abortion” and promoting all of the fascistic voter suppression legislation that one would expect from a Republican politician. […] It’s all standard GOP stuff.

  156. says

    Watch Louie Gohmert ask if BLM can move the Moon

    Daily Kos has a policy against using terms that are associated with mental illness or with a disability for someone who has not been diagnosed with one. This is a good policy for any number of reasons, not least of all because it helps guard against the use of lazy, repetitive writing. Over the last five years, the tendency to fall back on ableist terms like “crazy” or “dumb” has been difficult to fight, but doing so not only helps to avoid stigmatizing those genuinely experiencing mental illness or disability, it leads to more precise and informative language.

    And that is why, this morning, I have to say that … I have nothing to say about Rep. Louie Gohmert.

    Gohmert: I understand, from what’s been testified to, the Forest Service and the BLM, you want very much to work on the issue of climate change. I was, uh, informed by the immediate past director of NASA that they found that the Moon’s orbit is changing slightly and so is the Earth’s orbit around the Sun, we know there’s been significant solar flare activities, um, and so, is there anything that the National Forest Service or BLM can do to, uh, change the course of the Moon’s orbit or the Earth’s orbit around the Sun? Obviously that would have profound effects on our climate.

    The only thing you really need to know, is that in this clip, Gohmert thinks he is being clever. [video available at the link]

    And it is too bad no one followed up by asking what effects he believes altering the Moon’s orbit would bring.

    I think Gohmert was referencing the Bureau of Land Management and not Black Lives Matter. Asking if the Bureau of Land Management can move the moon is not less stupid than asking if Black Lives Matter can do it.

  157. blf says

    On 181’s bananas: Ah, but the microchips are inert until activated by a magnet. Once activated, they become themselves magnetic. The intention was for the injected microchips to be activated by EMF from a mobile (e.g.) — 5G is particularly good for this — or by woo-woo from numerous sources. The magnetic activation means the chips in separate vials don’t interfere with each other during transport and storage, and being inert, can survive freezing.

    Once activated, the microchips and their magnetism suck in all available woo-woo, and, importantly, bananas. Over time, the woo-woo then turns the vaccinated person into bright yellow fruit. (Being covered with spoons and other ferrous metallic objects probably helps, especially the anvils st(r)uck to the head.) It is thought there is a spacefleet nearby, filled with either chimpanzee-like aliens, or mutant fruit flies, eagerly waiting for Earth to become Totally Bananas.

  158. says

    […] Remember, nothing is ever Trump’s fault. It was the media’s fault. It was the Democrats’ fault. And now, it’s China’s fault. If only China hadn’t leaked that virus, people wouldn’t have turned against Trump. Or, so Lindsey Graham and MAGA nation believes.

    Except, distressingly enough, the pandemic didn’t much change any minds about Trump, and, even if the lab leak (conspiracy?) theory is true, it would paint Trump in even a worse light:

    It’s one thing to be unprepared for an unforeseen natural disaster. It’s another to be attacked by a foreign adversary and fail to protect our nation. In other words, if Graham and Trump are right, then Trump didn’t keep us safe.

    […] back to Lindsey Graham, who is claiming: “If Trump was right about the lab leak, it would change the image the public had of President Trump regarding the Coronavirus.”

    […] The MAGA idiots still see [Trump] as blameless for our nation’s mass-death experience, and everyone else realizes that the guy who claimed, on a daily basis, that COVID-19 would disappear within days and wanted us to inject Clorox and shove a UV light up our butts … well, that guy was nothing but a menace. By Trump’s own low standards, he was a disaster. Remember when he said “if we could hold [deaths] down, as we’re saying, to 100,000 – it’s a horrible number, maybe even less, but to 100,000, so we have between 100 [thousand] and 200,000 – we altogether have done a very good job”?

    But Trump supporters don’t hold Trump to his own standards. Neither does Trump. He assumes everyone will forget the stupid shit he says and move on […]

    But there’s another subtext to Graham’s quote that is even more ridiculous: that if the Chinese did, in fact, release that virus (whether on purpose or accidentally), then Trump is absolved of all blame! How perfect and convenient would that be?

    Except, how does that work?

    Do they really think that Trump could be blamed for his pandemic response if it was an unforeseen natural disaster, but he gets a pass if it was the result of another nation’s actions? How does that logic work?

    If China was at fault for the pandemic, then Trump failed his No. 1 job as president: to keep this nation safe from foreign adversaries. All he had to do to counter the threat (no matter its source) was to wear a goddam mask, and he couldn’t even manage that!

    No matter the source of the virus, American public opinion about Donald Trump is baked in and immovable. No one’s minds will change, because no one’s minds have changed.

    But if it was truly China’s fault, Trump failed his most basic responsibility to protect our nation from external threats.


    Video of Lindsey Graham being annoyingly stupid is available at the link.

  159. says

    blf @183, LOL. That makes so much sense. Dr. Sherri Tenpenny needs to add that explanation to her arsenal.

    Speaking of vaccines: ACLU calls on Biden admin to give detained immigrants ‘immediate access’ to COVID-19 vaccine

    The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is calling on the Biden administration to give people detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) “immediate access” to the COVID-19 vaccine. ICE facilities have had an average infection rate five times that of prisons, yet officials created no vaccination plan for immigration detention sites. There is one for federal prisons.

    […] “ICE’s failure to ensure a coordinated strategy for vaccination continues to endanger people in detention nationwide,” the ACLU said in a letter to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and acting ICE Director Tae Johnson. “ICE’s COVID-19 plan has left it to individual detention facilities to ‘contact their state’s COVID-19 vaccine resource … to obtain vaccine.’” But the organization said that this approach “has led to widespread failure.”

    ”While more than 60 percent of adults in the United States have received at least one dose of a vaccine, the vast majority of people in ICE detention have yet to receive a dose: as of May 7, 2021, less than seven percent of ICE detainees nationwide had received COVID-19 vaccines,” the group continues. […]

    While ICE detainees in California became eligible for the vaccine in March, a judge that same month slammed ICE for taking no action to protect detainees at a site in New York. […]

    “In contrast to ICE’s failed vaccination strategy, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, which worked to secure vaccine doses directly from the federal government, has administered over 184,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to prisoners and staff,” the ACLU continued. “By mid-May, the Bureau of Prisons has offered vaccines to all incarcerated individuals in federal prisons.”

    Meanwhile, analysis after analysis has made it clear that ICE always had the power to prevent a health disaster within its facilities, but largely chose not to. Instead, the agency worsened it. The pandemic ultimately contributed to the agency’s highest in-custody deaths in 15 years. Among them was 61-year-old Cipriano Chavez-Alvarez, who was ordered released from prison by a federal judge due to his underlying medical conditions, only to then be snatched up by ICE. He died from COVID-19 in September.

    Facility workers have been affected too, with private prison executives telling Congress last July that 900 of their employees had tested positive for the virus. […]

    […] “Given the urgency posed by COVID-19—including the introduction of new variants and continued outbreaks throughout detention centers across the country from increased population numbers—it is imperative that ICE act quickly to provide vaccines to all detained people and staff in all detention facilities nationwide,” the ACLU said.

  160. says

    Major Land Agreement Could Be “Nail in the Coffin” for Alaska’s Pebble Mine

    The gold and copper mine threatens to destroy the world’s most prolific sockeye salmon fishery.

    In a major win for conservationists, an Alaska Native corporation that owns 44,000 acres of land near Bristol Bay just voted to sell conservation easements to an environmental nonprofit, likely thwarting efforts to build a gold and copper mine that could destroy the world’s most prolific sockeye salmon fishery.

    The potential purchase is the culmination of years of about 40 years of fighting between the mining industry and the people who cherish the salmon in Bristol Bay—Alaska Natives, environmentalists, commercial fishermen, and even the Republican senators who represent them. The 82-mile road for transporting ore and the potential contamination from the proposed Pebble Mine threaten to destroy the salmon’s habitat. But the purchase of conservation easements on a huge swath of land by the nonprofit the Conservation Fund, first reported by the Washington Post, could protect the area against future developments—including the mining operation’s planned road.

    Tim Troll, executive director of the Bristol Bay Heritage Land Trust, told the Post, “I would say if it’s not the nail in the coffin, it’s just waiting for the last tap of the hammer.”

    Good news.

  161. says

    U.S. warns Venezuela, Cuba to turn away Iranian ships believed to be carrying arms

    Caracas is trying to leverage the situation to gain relief from U.S. sanctions, officials said.

    The Biden administration is urging Venezuela and Cuba to turn away two Iranian warships believed to be carrying arms intended for transfer to Caracas, while vowing that the U.S. will take “appropriate measures” to deter what it sees as a “threat” to America’s partners in the Western Hemisphere.

    The warnings — some public and some private, according to three people briefed on the situation — come as the vessels have traveled a significant distance across the Atlantic Ocean. A senior Biden administration official said the ships are thought to be carrying weapons to fulfill a deal that Iran and Venezuela made a year ago.

    The official did not specify the types of weapons involved, but last summer there were reports that Venezuela was considering purchasing missiles from Iran, including long-range ones […]

    The intelligence community, meanwhile, has evidence that one of the ships, the Makran, is carrying fast-attack boats, likely intended for sale to Venezuela, according to a defense official and another person familiar with the intelligence. […]

    More details at the link.

  162. says

    Garland defends Justice Department moves seen as pro-Trump

    […] “I know about the criticism,” Garland said in response to a question from Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.). “The job of a Justice Department in making decisions of law is not to back any administration, previous or present. Our job is to represent the American people and our job in doing so is to ensure adherence to the rule of law.”

    “The fundamental rule of a democracy, or a republic, or a republican democracy, and the essence of the rule of law … is that like case be treated alike, that there not be one rule for Democrats and another for Republicans, that there not be one rule for friends and another for foes,” Garland told the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee.

    […] Garland stressed that while the department was defending some actions by the Trump administration, it had also changed a series of policies since Biden appointees arrived earlier this year.

    “We have reversed policies of the previous administration many times over the last three months,” the attorney general said. “We have initiated our own policies.”

    Garland also spoke publicly Wednesday for the first time about one of those policy changes: a decision by Biden that federal investigators will no longer seek records from journalists as part of investigations into leaks of classified information.

    “This is a very important issue. The president has made clear his views about the First Amendment and it coincides with mine,” the attorney general said. “Going forward, we have adopted a policy most protective of journalists being able to do their jobs in history. … That is going to be our policy.”

    Garland asserted that each recent administration added new protections for journalists, although there is no indication the Trump administration did so. The attorney general addressed the issue in response to a question from Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), who noted that reporters for several news organizations were notified in recent weeks that their phone and email information was sought, and in some cases obtained, during leak probes. […]

    Garland’s defense still looks weak to me if you are looking carefully at the DOJ’s defense in a libel case against Trump, including the DOJ filing a brief on Monday continuing the government’s defense of Trump in that defamation lawsuit brought by New York writer, E. Jean Carroll, who accused Trump of raping her in the 1990s in a Manhattan department store fitting room, after which Trump claimed Carroll was lying and was “not my type.” It is not, in my opinion, an official presidential duty for a president to defame women concerning an interaction that occurred twenty years ago. That’s not an appropriate or official use of the office of President of the United States.

  163. blf says

    Ingenuity, Nasa’s helicopter on Mars, successfully completed its seventh flight yesterday (June 8th) and landed at an “airfield” surveyed only from orbit, similar to the sixth flight. Unlike the sixth flight on May 22nd, there were no anomalies.

    That sixth flight is the only time sofar there has been a problem whilst airborne: About halfway into that flight, a single image from the downwards-pointing navigation camera was lost, causing all subsequent images to have the wrong attached time. Hence, Ingenuity was trying to navigate using current images but incorrectly “dated”. This confused it and it began wildly gyrating whilst still in-flight. Nonetheless, due to the safety margins and a previously-mentioned design decision, it still managed to land, safety, within 5 metres of its intended target.

    The design decision which helped save Ingenuity is that during landing, it does not use either its altimeter or navigation camera — the concern was enough dust would be thrown up to make the data useless. Instead, Ingenuity lands by the simple method of flying downwards until there is no more vertical motion, and then stops. In the case of the sixth flight, because the navigation camera was deliberately ignored during landing, Ingenuity stopped gyrating (no more bad data) and landed as intended, albeit slightly off-mark.

  164. says

    ‘Are You Freaking Kidding Me?’: New Report Paints Trump Surprising Officers Amid Chaos At Lafayette Square

    A new report from the inspector general of the U.S. park police paints a chaotic picture of law enforcement formulating a plan to clear Lafayette Square in Washington D.C. and put up higher fencing amid protests last summer, a scheme foiled by poor coordination, unauthorized use of tear gas and a surprise visit by […] Donald Trump.

    The episode has become one of the most iconic images of the Black Lives Matter protests that roiled D.C. last summer, as protesters were brutally removed from the square shortly before Trump took a photo in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church holding a Bible aloft. Some reporting suggested that then-Attorney General Bill Barr ordered the area be cleared so Trump could take that photo.

    The new report from USPP IG Mark Greenblatt found that the square wasn’t cleared for Trump’s photo-op or at Barr’s command — rather, Greenblatt said, plans were already in motion on June 1, 2020 to clear out protesters and ring the park with higher, anti-scale fencing to separate officers and protesters.

    At around 6:10 p.m., the report details, Barr stopped by the park, immediately provoking protesters who recognized him. The USPP operations commander told Barr that the area was unsafe, and asked him to move further from the crowd. Barr asked why a crowd remained on H Street, saying that he thought the protesters would be gone by that point.

    The operations commander told Greenblatt’s team that Barr asked: “Are these people still going to be here when POTUS comes out?”

    The operations commander, who hadn’t known that Trump was planning a visit, responded: “Are you freaking kidding me?” according to the report. He then hung his head and walked away. Barr left the park, and the operations commander maintained that Barr did not instruct him to clear the area.

    The USPP incident commander too said that the plan was in motion before Barr’s arrival, and that his visit did not alter the operation or timeline.

    “This plan doesn’t get developed in 2 minutes,” he said, per the report. “[The Attorney General] might be a very important guy in the government, he’s just not my boss.”

    When officers decided to begin clearing the square, things quickly devolved into chaos.

    The USPP incident commander planned to give the protesters three warnings to disperse before officers started physically pushing people out. The report details that the warnings were very hard to hear amid a chaotic and noisy atmosphere, and that many protesters expressed confusion at what the commander was saying.

    Then, even before the commander had given the final warning, Secret Service, the USPP and Arlington County Police Department civil disturbance units all deployed, visibly surprising many of the protesters. The warnings, hard to hear and incomplete as they were, also did not point protesters towards a safe pathway to exit that would have allowed them to avoid the oncoming officers.

    That frenzy intensified when members of the Metropolitan Police Department used chlorobenzylidene malononitrile (CS) gas, sometimes colloquially called tear gas, which, the report said, USPP had not authorized.

    “The MPD assistant chief of police later confirmed that the MPD used CS gas on 17th Street and told us that it did so in response to protesters who engaged in acts of violence against MPD officers after the USPP cleared Lafayette Park and began pushing protesters toward 17th Street,” the report said. “The MPD also told us that its internal investigation determined MPD officers used CS gas on 17th Street on June 1.”

    The USPP previously denied that CS gas was used on protesters.

    The report details that some USPP officers were also surprised by the MPD’s use of the unauthorized irritant, forced to stop and strap on gas masks as they felt its effect.

    In addition, the report found, officers with the Bureau of Prisons may have fired pepper balls into the crowd on June 1, again contrary to the USPP incident commander’s instructions.

    Many have criticized law enforcement agencies for charging before the city’s 7:00 p.m. curfew, which Mayor Muriel Bowser imposed as tensions ratcheted up and clashes between protesters and police officers intensified. The report found that officers were eager to get the fencing up as quickly as possible, to put a barrier between officers and protesters before night fell, a time that had marked an uptick in violence during the past few days of protests.

    The report ends by recommending that USPP write out more detailed procedures and requirements for situations like the protests in the square, including the number of warnings required and how better to ensure that protesters can actually hear them. The IG also recommended that USPP figure out how to manage multi-agency operations, to make sure they’re all operating under the same rules and expectations.

  165. says

    The House Judiciary Committee has released the transcript of the closed-door June 4 hearing with Don McGahn, the former White House counsel.

    “Mr. McGahn provided the Committee with substantial new information—including firsthand accounts of President Trump’s increasingly out of control behavior, and insight into concerns that the former President’s conduct could expose both Trump and McGahn to criminal liability,” said committee chair Jerry Nadler in a release. “Mr. McGahn also confirmed that President Trump lied when he denied the accuracy of the Mueller report, and admitted that he was the source for a Washington Post report that confirmed Trump’s direction to McGahn to remove the Special Counsel.”

    […] House lawyers were constrained by an agreement they reached to secure McGahn’s testimony, after spending two years in court fighting to enforce a congressional subpoena. That agreement restricted McGahn’s testimony to events covered in the Mueller report.

    That being said, McGahn said at one point that while counsel he was trying to avoid causing a “chain reaction that would cause this to spiral out of control in a way that wasn’t in the best interests . . . of my client, which was the President.”

    In that case, McGahn was referring to a June 2017 call from Trump in which the former president directed the White House counsel to call Rod Rosenstein and have him raise the issue of Mueller supposedly being conflicted out of acting as special counsel.

    “I didn’t want to continue having what had been the same conversation on more than one occasion on something that, as counsel, I wasn’t really comfortable doing, raising some kind of personal or business conflict,” McGahn said. The “chain reaction” in that case would have been Rosenstien resigning, McGahn said, adding that it could have been a repeat of the Nixon-era Saturday Night Massacre.

    “It was time to hit the brakes and not make a phone call to Rod to raise this issue that the President had continued to raise with me,” he added.

    McGahn testified that he was concerned that firing Mueller might constitute obstruction of justice, and that both he and the President were worried about their own liability. He also affirmed that Trump had asked him to put out the false statement that Trump had never asked him to have Rosenstein remove Mueller, knowing that it could expose him to criminal prosecution.

    Calling Rosenstein and asking him to remove Mueller, McGahn testified, could have turned him from a witness in the already-ongoing Mueller probe into “an appearance that somehow I was meddling in an investigation.”

    At one point, McGahn said he was “disappointed” to see Trump go on TV in June of 2019 and say that he never suggested firing Mueller.

    “Well, you know, he certainly entertained the idea,” he testified. “Certainly seemed to ask a number of people about it. Certainly had a number of conversations with me about something along those lines.”


  166. says

    Lynna @ #188, I agree. I’m also angry that they’re not keeping the public up to date on the non-secret parts of the 1/6 investigation, and from what legislators have said in hearings not providing witnesses or documents to congressional committees.

    Here’s Rachel Maddow’s segment on it last night – “Trump Corruption of DOJ Lingers Under Garland, Risks Precedent”:

    Rachel Maddow reviews the abuse of the Department of Justice by Bill Barr in sacrificing justice to serve the political needs of Donald Trump, and notes that rather than cleaning the department with accountability for indulging that corruption, Attorney General Merrick Garland is apparently punishing none of it and even continuing some of it, risking a precedent that will surely be embraced by the next corrupt president.

  167. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    Mastercard Inc and drinks company Ambev, major sponsors of South American football, have backed away from the Copa America as players criticised organisers for moving the tournament to Brazil despite one of the world’s worst Covid-19 outbreaks.

    Last week, the South American Football Confederation unexpectedly relocated the tournament, which kicks off on Sunday, after co-hosts Colombia were dropped because of civil unrest and Argentina withdrew after a surge in coronavirus infections. More than 475,000 Brazilians have died from coronavirus, Reuters reports. The Brazil football team cited “humanitarian” concerns in a statement criticising the organization of the Copa America on Wednesday, but they committed to participating in the tournament after rumors of a potential boycott. Mastercard Inc said it decided not to “activate” its sponsorship of Copa America in Brazil after a thorough analysis, meaning it will temporarily remove its branding from the event it has sponsored since 1992. Ambev SA, a unit of brewer AB InBev sponsoring both the tournament and the Brazilian national team, said “its brands will not be present at the Copa America.”

    Some of the UK’s biggest care home operators have told the Guardian they repeatedly warned Matt Hancock’s department about the risk of not testing people discharged from hospitals into care homes in March 2020.

    Their claims are likely to increase pressure on the health secretary when he appears before MPs on Thursday to defend his handling of the Covid pandemic to a parliamentary inquiry.

    Care England, which represents the largest private chains where thousands of people died in the first months of the virus, told the Guardian it raised “the lack of testing in hospitals and in the care sector” several times in correspondence with the Department of Health and Social Care as well as NHS England in late March 2020.

    The Care Provider Alliance also called on the government to prioritise testing for care residents to stop the spread of the virus, warning on 26 March 2020 that without it “there is no way of knowing whether they are going to infect others”.

  168. says

    Worthwhile piece by Matthew Remski: “The New Age / Medieval Mortifications of Jordan Peterson.”

    (I have no idea where he came up with “akathisia, an unbearable shaking [?] disorder known to users of anti-psychotics [sic] who taper their medication [sic] too quickly.” The claim about tapering isn’t in the paper to which he links, which makes plain that this is caused by the drugs – they literally call it “antipsychotic-induced akathisia.” There’s a pattern of this sort of error in discussions of psychiatric drugs.)

    Here’s another article with background from a few months ago at MIA: “Beyond Benzos: Jordan B. Peterson’s Trip to Hell and Back.”

    (Reading this, I probably thought or said aloud “What? Why?!” a dozen times.)

    Both pieces, notably, are based on Peterson’s self-reported history. It’s astonishing that he writes self-help books.

  169. says

    Chris Hayes just interviewed Brian Sicknick’s partner (both of them were Trump supporters), who told him that one Senator she went to meet with this week physically pushed her out of their office.

  170. says

    AP – “Russian court outlaws opposition leader Navalny’s groups”:

    A Moscow court on Wednesday night outlawed the organizations founded by Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny by labeling them extremist, the latest move in a campaign to silence dissent and bar Kremlin critics from running for parliament in September.

    The Moscow City Court’s ruling, effective immediately, prevents people associated with Navalny’s Foundation for Fighting Corruption and his sprawling regional network from seeking public office. Many of Navalny’s allies had hoped to run for parliamentary seats in the Sept. 19 election.

    The ruling, part of a multipronged Kremlin strategy to steamroll the opposition, sends a tough message one week before President Vladimir Putin holds a summit meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden in Geneva.

    The extremism label also carries lengthy prison terms for activists who have worked with the organizations, anyone who donated to them, and even those who simply shared the groups’ materials….

    Authoritarianism is so bankrupt.

  171. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Rachel Maddow reported that the Keystone pipeline has been terminated by the builder.
    CNN verification.

    The developer of the Keystone XL pipeline announced Wednesday it is pulling the plug on the controversial project after the Biden administration revoked its permit in January.
    TC Energy, the Canadian company behind the project, said it decided to terminate the project after a comprehensive review of its options and consulting with the government of Alberta, Canada. The company said it would coordinate with regulators, stakeholders and Indigenous groups to ensure a safe exit from the project.
    The cancellation ends more than a decade of controversy over the pipeline and marks a big win for environmentalists who argued the project threatened the environment and would only worsen the climate crisis.

    The project aimed to carry oil from the tar sands of Canada into the United States, and it has been a political football for years.

    Caine would be very happy.

  172. says

    NY Times:

    The coronavirus might be receding in much of the United States, but health officials worry that the low immunization rates in parts of the country and the spread of highly contagious virus variants may pose a threat to the nation’s remarkable progress since vaccines were introduced. […]

  173. says

    Judge who reversed California assault weapons ban faces barrage of criticism

    U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez overturned the state’s three-decade-old assault weapons ban. How he shaped his arguments is “incredibly problematic,” one legal expert said.

    And that’s not all. Judge Benitez turns out to be a dunderhead on many subjects, including vaccines, the coronavirus, etc.

    A federal judge whose ruling last week to strike down California’s three-decade-old assault weapons ban garnered swift backlash is drawing more criticism over his claims about Covid-19 vaccines, firearm injuries and other subjects.

    As the state gears up to appeal U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez’s decision Friday, which California Attorney General Rob Bonta dismissed as “fundamentally flawed,” legal experts say scrutiny of the case goes beyond why he concluded that the state’s prohibition is unconstitutional to another level of concern: how he shaped his argument.

    “I think it’s incredibly problematic when a federal judge quotes things that are factually incorrect, because it hurts the integrity of the branch,” said Jessica Levinson, a law professor at Loyola Marymount University […]

    Benitez’s ruling has grabbed attention for how he likened the AR-15 rifle […] to a Swiss Army knife that could be used “for both home and battle.” But tucked within his 94-page decision were other comparisons that critics said were inexplicable.

    He wrote that studies prove “that the ‘harm’ of an assault rifle being used in a mass shooting is an infinitesimally rare event,” adding, “More people have died from the Covid-19 vaccine than mass shootings in California.” [WTF!]

    Benitez offered no citation for the claim […] An analysis by Newsweek of the last 80 mass shootings in the U.S. found that 26 percent involved the use of AR-15 rifles.

    California has had more than a dozen mass shootings this year, the deadliest of them in May, when a gunman killed nine people at a San Jose rail yard before dying by suicide. […] Since 2017, more than 50 people in California have been killed in mass shootings, some of them during a rampage in March at an Orange County business complex, which left a 9-year-old dead, and at a crowded dance hall in 2018 in Thousand Oaks.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that while it has investigated nearly 4,900 reports nationwide of deaths among people who received Covid-19 vaccines from Dec. 14 to May 24, physicians were unable to establish a “causal link” to the vaccines. There have been extremely rare cases of potentially life-threatening blood clots involving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which led to a temporary pause in its use in April.

    […] In his decision, Benitez also makes a point about firearm injuries by citing an emergency room physician’s testimony. He wrote that “injuries from firearms like the AR-15 which are banned as ‘assault weapons’ are no different from other firearms that are common and lawful to own.”

    The experiences of trauma surgeons who have treated victims of mass shootings involving military-style rifles have been documented in recent years, particularly after the shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, in 2018 that left 17 people dead.

    Dr. Heather Sher, a radiologist in Broward County who treated victims of the Parkland shooting and other incidents, wrote in The Atlantic about the differences in wounds from AR-15s and handguns.

    “Handgun injuries to the liver are generally survivable unless the bullet hits the main blood supply to the liver,” Sher wrote. “An AR-15 bullet wound to the middle of the liver would cause so much bleeding that the patient would likely never make it to the trauma center to receive our care.”

    Constitutional law scholar Laurence Tribe, a professor emeritus at Harvard Law School, said Benitez’s assertions are “utterly without factual foundation.”

    “They are irresponsible in the extreme, whether described as purported ‘facts’ or repackaged as opinions,” Tribe said in an email. “His entire theory about which firearms are protected by the Second Amendment has no basis in the text, history, or judicial interpretation of the Amendment and swallows its own tail by making the circular assertion that the weapons in common use at any given time are those protected by the Amendment.”

    Benitez was nominated to a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California in 2004 by President George W. Bush. His nomination was overwhelmingly opposed by a committee of the American Bar Association, which said other judges and lawyers interviewed about him described him as being arrogant, short-tempered and “altogether lacking in people skills.” […]

    The Senate confirmed his nomination 98-1.

    In recent years, Benitez, who is based in San Diego but whose rulings could reverberate through several Western states under the jurisdiction of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, has overseen a number of high-profile gun-related cases. He has opposed California’s ban on high-capacity magazines and its mandatory background checks to buy ammunition in colorful, strongly worded rulings. […]

    […] Benitez stayed his order for 30 days to give the state a chance to appeal to the 9th Circuit.

    Observers say the case could land before the Supreme Court, which agreed in April to take up a challenge to New York’s concealed handgun law — the first time in more than a decade that the high court will hear a central issue of the gun rights debate.

    Levinson said the potential unraveling of California’s assault weapons ban shows how federal judicial appointments, which are lifelong, can having lasting effects on many issues.

    “This should be a lesson to us all. It really matters who’s on the federal bench,” she said.

  174. says

    Good news: Seattle is first major US city to see 70 percent of residents fully vaccinated, mayor says

    […] Mayor Jenny Durkan (D) said in a statement that the city passed San Francisco, which was leading the country in vaccinations.

    Sixty-nine percent of San Francisco residents over age 12 have been fully vaccinated, according to data from the city.

    Durkan said that 78 percent of Seattle’s population age 12 and older has gotten at least one shot, which is also one of the highest rates in the nation.

    […] Speaking at a news conference, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) congratulated the city and its leaders for doing “everything they can to make” vaccines accessible throughout the city.

    “They’ve been very creative, getting to people who might not normally have good access to health care,” Inslee said.

    Inslee said that the state is close to being able to begin fully reopening by June 30 if at least 70 percent of the population receives at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine. […]

    Meanwhile, only 29% of the residents in my county in Idaho have been vaccinated. Sigh.

  175. says

    Here’s a link to the June 10 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    From there:

    Covid-19 infections, hospitalisations and deaths are falling fast across Europe but the risk of a deadly autumn resurgence remains high as societies open up and the more transmissible Delta variant advances, the World Health Organization has warned.

    Urging people and governments to exercise “caution and common sense” over the summer, WHO Europe’s regional director, Hans Kluge, said community transmission was still widespread and would continue as travel and social gatherings increased.

    Both officials warned that while the region was now vaccinating at a much faster rate, with 30% of people having received at least one dose and 17% fully vaccinated, coverage “was still far from sufficient to protect the region from a resurgence” and “many among vulnerable populations above the age of 60 remain unprotected”.

    Thirty-six of the region’s 53 countries were now easing restrictions, he said. “But we are by no means out of danger,” he warned, calling for “everyone to exercise caution, reduce risks and keep safe” while they enjoy the summer….

    Here’s a link to their UK blog. Matt Hancock is being questioned by MPs.

  176. says

    Guardian – “Boris Johnson must respect rule of law and implement Brexit deal, says EU”:

    Boris Johnson must respect the “rule of law” by fully implementing the post-Brexit arrangements for Northern Ireland, EU leaders have said ahead of the G7 summit in Cornwall.

    Charles Michel, the president of the European Council, said the behaviour of the prime minister was of increasing concern to EU member states. “It’s paramount to implement what we have decided – this is a question of rule of law,” he said.

    The prime minister will hold a trilateral meeting with Michel and the European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, in Cornwall.

    The framing of the dispute between the UK and the EU as one of respect for the international legal order will chime with the US president, Joe Biden, who arrived in Cornwall on Thursday. Biden is expected to call for both sides to respect the Good Friday agreement.

    Under the withdrawal agreement signed by Johnson, Northern Ireland in effect remains in the single market and the EU’s customs code is enforced down the Irish Sea to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland. But Brussels has complained that these arrangements are not being respected.

    The EU has already accused Johnson’s government of breaking international law by unilaterally extending grace periods on a range of controls and border checks on goods entering Northern Ireland from Great Britain.

    The construction of border control posts at ports in Northern Ireland has been suspended, sufficient staff have not been recruited to carry out controls and checks and systems to trace goods have not been built, EU officials complain.

    The EU believes the UK’s attitude towards the end of a grace period on a ban on the export from Great Britain to Northern Ireland of chilled meats such as sausages and mince will present a “crossroads” moment.

    A further unilateral extension of the grace period would most likely lead to the EU opening a case in the withdrawal agreement’s dispute resolution procedure. That could lead to the application of tariffs on UK goods entering the EU or the suspension of parts of the trade deal.

    The EU has not ruled out a jointly agreed extension of the grace period but there is a lack of trust in the UK to help find a permanent solution.

    During a joint press conference with Michel ahead of meetings with Johnson in Cornwall, Von der Leyen said the UK could not avoid all of the consequences of Brexit.

    She said: “We agreed with the United Kingdom that the protocol was the only solution, ensuring the absence of a hard border for Northern Ireland [with the Republic of Ireland], we’ve been really debating that since years and we found the one and only solution.

    “Now, we have a treaty on that, the withdrawal agreement, it has been signed by both sides – Pacta sunt servanda [agreements must be kept]. It is important that we now implement the protocol. We have shown flexibility, we will show flexibility, but the protocol and the withdrawal agreement has to be implemented, completely.

    “The good part about an agreement, a signed treaty, is that both sides signed up to also a dispute settlement mechanism, and to remedial measures that can be taken. So, there are no unilateral actions, but there is an agreed dispute settlement mechanism with different steps.”

    However, Von der Leyen stressed she wanted the protocol to work for “everyone” and added that the commission would be flexible in the coming weeks as solutions are sought.

  177. says

    From Rachel Maddow last night:

    “Trump, Now Just A Citizen, Could Be Criminally Exposed”:

    Rachel Maddow looks at a newly released transcript of last week’s testimony by former Trump White House counsel Don McGahn that affirms findings in the Mueller report that could expose Donald Trump to criminal liability that couldn’t be prosecuted when Trump was president but could be now if a prosecutor was willing to look at the assembled evidence and give the matter honest consideration.

    “Failure Of ‘Norms’ To Restrain Trump Corruption Prompts Calls For Accountability”:

    Rachel Maddow highlights passages from a Boston Globe editorial series arguing for corruption reforms and criminal prosecution of Donald Trump to deter future presidents who might be inclined to follow Trump’s example of self-dealing.

  178. says


    During the Obama admin, folks thought we’d have a 60 Dem majority for a while. It lasted 4 months.

    Dems are burning precious time & impact negotiating w/GOP who won’t even vote for a Jan 6 commission. McConnell’s plan is to run out the clock.

    It’s a hustle. We need to move now.

  179. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    About 90% of African countries will miss a September target to vaccinate at least 10% of their populations against Covid-19 as a third wave of the pandemic looms on the continent, Reuters reports.

    Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa, said the continent required an extra 225 million doses to be able to vaccinate a tenth of its people by September this year.

    Africa has hit 5 million COVID-19 cases, with the southern Africa region the worst affected, accounting for 37% of total cases, according to a Reuters tally. South Africa is the worst affected African country, with about 34% of the total cases and about 43% of all deaths.

  180. says

    FBI director Christopher Wray is testifying before the House Judiciary Committee. (The difference between Democratic and Republican members in terms of quality on this committee is extraordinary.)

  181. says

    Why Republicans have taken a sudden interest in burrito prices

    Americans are effectively being told, “Vote Republican: Workers will make less money, but your next burrito will cost a little less.”

    About a month ago, Chipotle announced that it was eager to hire thousands of additional employees, and in response to a complex job market, the chain was increasing its wages to an average of $15 an hour. Yesterday, however, it made a related announcement.

    The New York Times reported that Chipotle has also decided to raise its menu prices “by about 4 percent to cover the cost of the increased employee wages.”

    And that apparently gave some Republicans an idea. The Hill reported:

    House Republicans are blaming Democrats for the rise in Chipotle burrito prices. The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) issued a statement on Wednesday pointing to Chipotle’s recent announcement they would raise prices on their menu products by about 4 percent — and blaming Democrats.

    At a certain level, I suppose this is a step up from Republicans talking about Dr. Seuss and imaginary “meat bans,” since there’s at least a policy dimension to the NRCC’s pitch.

    But it’s nevertheless a tough sell. To hear Republicans tell it, Chipotle is paying its workers more as a result of the American Relief Plan — the NRCC called the Democrats’ COVID relief package a “socialist stimulus bill” — which in turn means “your burrito just got more expensive.” Not a lot more expensive, of course, but a little more.

    The tricky part is what happens when we extrapolate from there. Evidently, the National Republican Congressional Committee would have voters believe that Chipotle workers shouldn’t be making an average of $15 an hour, because it’s more important to prevent a 4% increase in the price of lunch at a prominent fast-food chain. […]

    It’s another overly simplistic culture war idea from Republicans.

  182. says

    With Trump out, US’s global reputation improves ‘dramatically’

    Everything Trump said about his successes in improving our standing was wrong, and it’s Biden who’s accomplishing what his predecessor lied about.

    At a campaign event last summer, Donald Trump turned his attention to one his very favorite falsehoods: “You know, we’re respected again. You may not feel it, although I think you do. You may not see it. You don’t read about it from the fake news, but this country is respected again.”

    […] it has long been foundational to the Republican’s worldview: the United States was an international laughingstock for decades, Trump believes, but thanks to how awesome his awesomeness is, he singlehandedly restored the nation’s global stature. It was a ridiculous idea he brought up constantly, seeing it as one of his most important accomplishments.

    Even in his strange farewell address, Trump found it necessary, one last time, to boast to Americans, “The world respects us again.” In an apparent message for Joe Biden, the outgoing president added, “Please don’t lose that respect.”

    It was a bizarre challenge from a failed leader who’d done extraordinary harm to the United States’ international reputation. Six months later, a new report from the Pew Research Center suggests President Biden is succeeding in undoing much of the damage.

    The election of Joe Biden as president has led to a dramatic shift in America’s international image. Throughout Donald Trump’s presidency, publics around the world held the United States in low regard, with most opposed to his foreign policies. This was especially true among key American allies and partners. Now, a new Pew Research Center survey of 16 publics finds a significant uptick in ratings for the U.S., with strong support for Biden and several of his major policy initiatives.

    The findings are extraordinary. At the end of Trump’s term, 83% of international respondents did not have confidence in the U.S. president to do the right thing regarding world affairs, while 17% did. Now, under Biden, 75% of international respondents do have confidence, while 22% do not.

    Similarly, at the end of Trump’s term, 63% of international respondents had an unfavorable view of the United States, while 34% had a favorable view. Under Biden, the results have been flipped: 62% have a favorable view, while 36% do not.

    […] the stain of the Trump era has not been fully erased. For example, whereas the United States has traditionally held itself out as a model for others to emulate, the Pew Research Center’s findings found few abroad who see American democracy as a worthwhile model for other nations to follow.

    But the topline takeaways are clearly reassuring: confidence in the U.S. presidency have soared now that Biden has replaced Trump; the United States is now more respected and seen as a reliable international partner; people abroad have greater confidence that the United States can be counted on to do the right thing; and most abroad expect U.S. relations with their respective countries to improve in the near future.

    […] During the 2016 Republican presidential primaries, […] Jeb Bush insisted that during the Obama era, “We have lost the trust and confidence of our friends.” Around the same time, Scott Walker and Trump had a chat about “how poorly” the United States was “perceived throughout the world.” (In 2014, Trump also tweeted, “We need a President who isn’t a laughing stock to the entire World. We need a truly great leader, a genius at strategy and winning. Respect!”)

    […] In reality, the United States’ reputation soared under Obama, repairing the damage done during the Bush/Cheney era. Now, it’s déjà vu all over again, as Biden restores confidence in the wake of Trump.

    All of this matters in ways that go well beyond bragging rights. As Rachel explained on last night’s show, Biden is determined to show the world that the United States is back, it’s ready to lead responsibly, and it’s eager to prove that liberal democracy is the superior model that should endure against its authoritarian critics.
    […] the world is listening anew.

  183. says

    Texas’ scandal-plagued state AG faces yet another investigation

    The FBI had already shown up at Ken Paxton’s door. Now the Texas bar association has questions about his bonkers pro-Trump efforts from late last year.

    […] It’s hard to believe that a state attorney general asked the U.S. Supreme Court to invalidate election results he didn’t like.

    But that’s actually what happened. Six months ago, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) sued four states that dared to support President Biden — Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin — arguing that he disapproved of their pandemic-era election procedures. Paxton asked the high court to block those states from voting in the Electoral College.

    Reuters’ Brad Heath explained at the time, Paxton was “literally asking the Supreme Court to throw out the results of other states’ presidential elections, set aside the millions of votes cast in states that are not Texas, and have other state legislatures make Trump president.”

    It was an utterly bonkers gambit that failed. But the story isn’t quite over: As the Associated Press reported yesterday, Paxton’s ridiculous antics are now the subject of a new investigation.

    The Texas bar association is investigating whether state Attorney General Ken Paxton’s failed efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election based on bogus claims of fraud amounted to professional misconduct. The State Bar of Texas initially declined to take up a Democratic Party activist’s complaint that Paxton’s petitioning of the U.S. Supreme Court to block Joe Biden’s victory was frivolous and unethical. But a tribunal that oversees grievances against lawyers overturned that decision late last month and ordered the bar to look into the accusations against the Republican official.

    It’s the larger context that makes matters considerably worse: Paxton was already under indictment on felony securities fraud charges when members of his own team made multiple criminal allegations against him.

    In December, FBI agents arrived at Paxton’s door.

    The Texas Republican, who served as the chair of Lawyers for Trump in 2020, is nevertheless running for re-election. He’s facing a primary challenge from state Land Commissioner George P. Bush.

    George P. Bush is also a bonkers cult follower of Trump.

  184. blf says

    SC@208, The Grauniad, Biden arrives with demand that UK settle Brexit row over Northern Ireland, suggest the States didn’t issue a formal démarche:

    Senior US embassy diplomats in London, backed by the US national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, have directly warned the UK’s Brexit negotiator, Lord Frost, that he will inflame tensions in Northern Ireland if he does not compromise over border checks.

    A meeting between the US charge d’affaires Yael Lampert, currently America’s most senior diplomat in London, and Frost led to an urging by the US for Britain to come to a negotiated settlement with the EU, according to an internal UK government note.

    However, US officials questioned whether a formal d[é]march had been issued by the US to the UK, a rare reprimand between two such close allies. The US has said its role was to urge compromise from all sides.

    An often overlooked point (perhaps because it’s a bit obscure (e.g., I myself am uncertain about even the basics, much less the details)) is that, supposedly, the States is a “guaranteer”(? “guarantor”?) of the GFA (Good Friday Agreement). This is hinted at in the Grauniad article, “[the States] has a formal role to uphold the Good Friday deal.”

  185. says

    The latest bipartisan talks to collapse: background checks

    Every time bipartisan negotiations collapse, it serves as reminder that making bipartisanship a prerequisite to governing is hopelessly misguided.

    It was about three months ago when the Democratic-led House passed a pair of gun reforms, including a bill called the Bipartisan Background Checks Act, which would require background checks on practically all firearm purchases. It passed 227 to 203, with eight Republicans breaking ranks and supporting the legislation. The response from the political world was muted, and it was easy to understand why.

    Sure, the bill would likely make a difference. And sure, it’s popular. And sure, President Biden would gladly sign it into law. But the proposal was headed to the Senate, where it would face an inevitable Republican filibuster, which proponents had no chance of defeating.

    That said, as we discussed at the time, the door was not completely closed. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a leading voice on gun reforms, told NBC News in March, “I think a universal background checks bill can get 60 votes.”

    Note, he said “a” bill, not “the” bill — suggesting the House version stood no realistic chance of success, but a narrower proposal might have a chance.

    To that end, Murphy negotiated with Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) on a measure to bolster background check rules by tweaking federal rules on who can register as a federal firearms licensee, closing an unintended loophole that allows unlicensed sellers to transfer weapons to dangerous people who skirt the background check system.

    Yesterday, those negotiations effectively collapsed. […]

    In a written statement, the Connecticut Democrat added, “I have been very open to compromise and I think Senator Cornyn was negotiating in good faith. But we haven’t been able to get to a bill that would meaningfully increase the number of gun sales that require background checks. The good news is that I’m still talking with other Republican colleagues about different proposals to expand background checks, and I’m committed to getting something done.”

    […] what’s notable is the frequency with which these things happen — and the appropriate lessons to be learned from the failures.

    Democrats tried to strike a bipartisan deal on COVID relief, but Republicans balked. Democrats have tried to reach a bipartisan compromise on infrastructure, but those talks aren’t going well, either. Democrats made all kinds of concessions during bipartisan talks on forming an independent Jan. 6 commission, but Republicans wouldn’t take “yes” for an answer.

    On issue after issue — voting rights, immigration, gun violence, et al. — the relevant players keep sitting down, keep looking for common ground, and keep walking away empty handed.

    […] It doesn’t help that one of the parties has abandoned the pretense of taking policymaking seriously.

    But it’s against this backdrop that some believe — and insist — that nothing of significance in Congress can happen unless both parties link arms, put aside their differences, and work cooperatively on consensus solutions.

    Every time bipartisan negotiations end in failure, as happened again yesterday, it serves as reminder that such an approach to governance is doomed.

  186. quotetheunquote says

    RE: SC #212, the original Tweet has been deleted, apparently. What’d I miss?

    Totally O/T, my Better Half dragged me out of bed at 0415 hrs this morning, so that we could drive to a quiet country road to watch (and photograph) the annular eclipse rising. Glorious.

  187. says

    blf @217, I have the same question! And I live in a state replete with immigrants from Mexico.

    SC, LOL. Her demonstration failed. The key wouldn’t stick to her neck even though she claimed that vaccine had magnetized her! Hilarious. She just blithely continued: “Can anyone explain to me why this is happening?” Oh, lord. ROTFL.

    In other news,

    […] former Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D), the big winner in his primary fight this week, appeared on MSNBC yesterday and said, “I don’t think Trump has the courage” to campaign in Virginia for Republican nominee Glenn Youngkin. The former president lost Virginia by double digits last fall.

  188. says

    Claims that Lafayette Square was not cleared for Trump don’t hold up to even a cursory examination

    And just like that, it never happened. Donald Trump and William Barr never ordered an attack on peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters in Lafayette Square on June 1, 2020. Mounted federal officers never rode down working journalists and members of the clergy. Heavily armed officers from the Bureau of Prisons and Park Police in riot gear never fired rubber bullets, flash bangs, and tear gas into a chanting crowd and drove them from the area across from the White House generating numerous injuries … all so that Donald Trump could walk across the street, hold a Bible over his head, and conduct a violent, ugly, and utterly disgusting photo op.

    Seizing on a report issued on Wednesday by Mark Lee Greenblatt, an inspector general at the Department of the Interior, right-wing media is engaging in a smug round of “I told you so” on Thursday morning, as that report “confirms” that Trump has made from the outset in which he claimed that the square was not violently cleared for the purposes of his self-aggrandizing tough guy march. Instead, says the report, the decision was made two days earlier, to protect the safety of contractors hired to install a new fence. Frustratingly, it’s not just OANN that’s repeating this claim, but ABC News, USA Today, the Chicago Sun Times, and dozens of others.

    There’s only one problem with this report. Or two. Or maybe three. Four. There are at least four.

    The first of these is that it utterly ignores how Trump appeared in the Rose Garden minutes before the assault began. As he did so, both Barr and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley, in full uniform, went to the area directly across from Lafayette Square and were clearly directing the actions of the National Guard and Park Police before and during the assault. Then those same units fell in beside Trump and escorted him for his stroll to St. John’s Episcopal Church where he posed for a photo op with and without his entourage while holding a Bible stiffly—and upside down—above his head.

    The report is very precise on the timing of events when it comes to clearing the area across from the White House:

    The operation began at 6:23 p.m. and was completed by 6:50 p.m. Shortly thereafter, at 7:01 p.m., President Trump walked from the White House through Lafayette Park to St. John’s Church. At 7:30 p.m., the contractor began assembling and installing the antiscale fence and completed the work by approximately 12:30 a.m. on June 2.

    According to the report, it’s that second thing—the installation of the fence—that was the whole purpose of clearing the park. And the entire evidence to support this is that “the USPP did not know about the President’s potential movement until mid- to late afternoon on June 1” while plans to clear the park had been made “hours earlier.” The idea that there could have been plans to clear the park, and that those plans might have been made more urgent and violent by the desire for Trump to make his stroll never seems to have been considered.


    In a whistleblower report from September 2020, National Guard Major Adam DeMarco provided sworn testimony that the decision to conduct a violent assault on protesters was a decision in fact made well in advance. Those plans included not just stockpiling tear gas and other “less lethal” weapons, but acquiring 7,000 rounds of ammunition. Planning for the event even included asking for two other weapons: one that that would have attacked the crowd with sound, and the other that would have literally cooked them with a beam of microwaves.

    According to the IG report, all of this was done so that protesters could be cleared from the park, a half hour before curfew began, for the benefit of fence contractors. Contractors who were assembling what was just another barrier in a series of barriers that had already been raised. The report does not provide any other examples in which the federal government suggested the use of heat rays or issued live ammunition for constructing a fence.

    Another issue with the “they did it for the fence” scenario is that Trump, Barr, and any number of former White House officials already made the claim that the reason the park was cleared so suddenly and forcefully—claims of violence on the part of protesters. Along with claims that the federal police actions were unrelated to the Bible-waving strut, came the explanation that protesters were engaged in violence, specifically that they were hurling objects at officers, and that was why the Bureau of Prisons and Park Police forces rushed in.

    That was also the sworn testimony of U.S. Park Police Chief Gregory Monahan, who, as The Washington Post reported last September, said that “violence by protesters spurred his agency to clear the area ahead of the D.C. mayor’s 7 p.m. curfew … with unusually aggressive tactics.”

    So the story of why they cleared the park changed over time. Suspicious.

    All these claims of violence are counter to the clear evidence, recorded at the scenes by individuals and news cameras, that showed peaceful protesters chanting in Lafayette Square until the attack takes them by complete surprise […] all the audio recordings of Park Police communications that day gone conspicuously missing.

    Someone made relevant evidence disappear!

    Finally, just two weeks ago, the Department of Justice asked a federal judge to toss a quartet of lawsuits involving Barr’s ordering a violent clearing of peaceful protesters from Lafayette Square. Those requests do not mention a fence. What they do mention is that efforts to clear the square were a matter of “presidential safety” and that “Trump and other U.S. officials are immune from civil lawsuits over police actions taken to protect a president and to secure his movements.”

    If the action was actually taken to allow the installation of a fence, why is the DOJ arguing, in court, that this was a police action taken “to protect a president and secure his movements?”

    […] The Department of Justice is engaged in a legal argument that the clearing of Lafayette Square was done specifically to clear the way for Trump.

    No one, not DeMarco, not Monahan, not the DOJ, mentioned anything about protecting fencing contractors anywhere in their sworn testimony.

    The Secret Service may well have obtained new fencing on June 1, and may have planned to put it up that evening after the curfew went into effect. But none of that had anything to do with the violence assault that began before the curfew. That assault was clearly directed by Barr, planned well in advance to coordinate with Trump’s Rose Garden appearance, and took place in spite of protesters definitively not being violent.

    […] Back in June, 2020 officials from the D.C. Metro Police spoke directly to the issue of whether the square had been cleared for the purposes of building a fence. If that was the plan, they certainly didn’t seem to share it with the people who needed to know the most.

    A D.C. Police spokesperson similarly said: ”We knew that they were considering the perimeter expansion, but there was no indication if or when it would happen.” […]

    Republicans are pushing revisionist history. Don’t buy the lie.

  189. says

    New Giuliani Tape Shows Key Witness Didn’t Testify Accurately in First Trump Impeachment

    Kurt Volker said he didn’t know Trump wanted Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Biden. New audio indicates he did.

    The testimony of a key witness in Donald Trump’s first impeachment trial is under new scrutiny by the House Intelligence Committee following a report this week that undercuts the veracity of his claim that he was unaware of a Trump effort to pressure Ukraine into mounting a meritless investigation of Joe Biden.

    On Monday, CNN reported new details of a July 2019 call between Rudy Giuliani, then–US special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker, and Andriy Yermak, a top aide to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. During that call, Giuliani, then Trump’s personal lawyer, aggressively pressed Ukraine to announce investigations into dubious accusations about Biden and about alleged Ukrainian meddling in the 2016 election. […] The recording of the conversation contradicts Volker’s sworn testimony to Congress that he never witnessed any attempt on the part of Trump and Giuliani to muscle Ukraine into launching an investigation of Biden […]

    The discrepancy between Volker’s testimony and the recording of the call has drawn the attention of House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), who tells Mother Jones that Volker’s assertions to Congress amounted to “a disingenuous revision of history.”

    […] Volker claimed in sworn testimony during Trump’s impeachment proceedings that, even as he helped push Ukraine to look into Burisma and corruption, he did not know that those topics related to Joe Biden—and, consequently, he was unaware that he was assisting in the Giuliani-Trump effort to smear a political rival.

    “Vice President Biden was never a topic of discussion,” Volker said in an October 3, 2019 deposition before the House Intelligence Committee. He repeated that claim in televised testimony before the committee the following month: “At no time was I aware of or knowingly took part in an effort to urge Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Biden. As you know from the extensive real-time documentation I have provided, Vice President Biden was not a topic of our discussions.”

    CNN’s report on that July 2019 phone call shows that Volker’s account was not true. Giuliani repeatedly urged an investigation targeting Biden during that conversation, which Volker was part of. And Giuliani said that announcing such a probe would help Zelensky improve relations with Trump.

    […] Giuliani also told Yermak that he was eager for Ukraine to look into an allegation that Shokin “was fired because Vice President Biden threatened [former Ukrainian President Petro] Poroshenko with not getting a [US] loan guarantee that was critical at the time.”

    In his October 3 deposition, Volker acknowledged arranging and participating in this call with Giuliani and Yermak, but he insisted it was “just an introductory” conversation. “It was literally, you know, ‘let me introduce, you know, Mr. Giuliani; let me introduce Mr. Yermak. I wanted to put you in touch.’” Volker said. “Blah, blah, blah.” In fact, the lengthy call—which reportedly shocked Ukrainian officials—included an extensive discussion of what Giuliani and Trump hoped to get out of Ukraine.

    Volker’s misleading testimony mattered. Republicans including Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who argued successfully against the Senate convicting Trump, cited the former diplomat’s claims to defend Trump. “Volker, the special envoy, said there was no quid pro quo,” Graham told reporters in November 2019, adding: “I find the whole process to be a sham and I’m not going to legitimize it.”

    […] Schiff, who acted as lead House Manager during Trump’s first Senate impeachment trial, argues that the information that Volker failed to disclose—Giuliani overtly pressured Yermak for a so-called quid pro quo on the July 19 call—is more evidence that Trump should have been removed from office. […]

  190. says

    Three dead including child in shooting at Florida Publix, sheriff says

    Three people are dead including a child following a shooting inside a Publix grocery store in Royal Palm Beach, Fla., with the shooter among those dead, according to police.

    The Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office said in a tweet that deputies arriving at the scene found three individuals with gunshot wounds, including an adult male, an adult female and a child. […]

    This is a developing story. Very few details so far.

  191. says


    Seth Aaron Pendley, a 28-year-old who brought a sawed-off shotgun to the Capitol riots, has pleaded guilty. Though not to that particular crime.

    You see, after January 6, Pendley decided that terrorism suited him just fine and decided to step up his game by plotting to bomb the Amazon servers in order to take out “70 percent of the internet.” Unfortunately for him, and fortunately for the rest of us, he was actually terrible at terrorism and decided to discuss these plans on a website that anyone can access, called

    On January 8, a concerned user on contacted the FBI to let them know that someone calling himself Dionysus was going around the site talking about how “he was planning to ‘conduct a little experiment,’ that he said would ‘draw a lot of heat’ and could be ‘dangerous.’ When asked what the plan was, Dionysus said ‘death.'”

    Would just like to note what the sidebar on says:

    Everything you have heard about militias from the media is likely wrong. Main stream news has primarily reported on the negative stereotypes and criminal activity of groups that have nothing to do with militia. The true militia has exactly the opposite purpose; to uphold the law and the Constitution.

    Except, you know, for the ones who want to bomb Amazon data centers for being mean to Nazi Friendster.

    Via Department of Justice:

    In plea papers, Mr. Pendley admitted that he disclosed his plan to blow up a prominent tech company’s data center to a confidential human source via Signal, an encrypted messaging app, in January.

    In late February, he sent the source a list of data center addresses and said he hoped a successful attack could “kill off about 70% of the internet.” When the source offered to help him obtain C4 explosives to use in the attack, Mr. Pendley responded, “F*** yeah.”

    Mr. Pendley then showed the source a hand-drawn map of a data center on Smith Switch Road in Virginia, featuring proposed routes of ingress and egress at the facility. He later described how he planned to disguise his car to evade detection by law enforcement.

    In late March, the confidential source introduced Mr. Pendley to an individual who he claimed was his explosives supplier. In actuality, the man was an undercover FBI employee.

    In recorded conversations, Mr. Pendley allegedly told the undercover employee he planned to attack web servers that he believed provided services to the FBI, CIA, and other federal agencies.

    “The main objective is to f*** up the Amazon servers,” he said, adding that he hoped to anger “the oligarchy” enough to provoke a reaction that would convince the American people to take action against what he perceived to be a “dictatorship.”

    You know, for someone who is supposed to be suspicious of the government and frightened of “the oligarchy” and thinks he is living in a dictatorship, Seth Pendley is not at all paranoid. What kind of paranoid government conspiracy theorist talks about planning to commit crimes on the internet, where anyone can see, and then sets up a meeting with a total stranger to buy some C4? Not a very good one, I will tell you that much.

    Pendley’s particular anger at “Amazon servers” likely had much less to do with “oligarchy” than with the fact that, after the Capitol riots, Amazon decided to kick the rightwing social media site Parler off its servers. Parler had served as a major organizing hub for the insurrection, and, as a result, no one really wanted anything to do with them anymore — except for the users of the site who were very, very mad about this, because no one on any other social media site wanted to talk to them.

    […] Pendley is now facing between five and 20 years of prison time he likely thought he’d never serve.


  192. says

    Biden, Boris Johnson release updated Atlantic Charter after first meeting

    Washington Post link

    President Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson have different politics, different styles and some deep differences of opinion, including over Britain’s exit from the European Union.

    Biden, when running for president, once even disparaged Johnson as a “physical and emotional clone” of President Donald Trump.

    But both leaders underscored the history and durability of ties between their two nations ahead of their first in-person meeting, which took place Thursday. They were expected to focus on common goals such as ending the covid-19 pandemic and combating climate change.

    […] Biden and Johnson, who is hosting the G-7 at a nearby coastal resort,agreed to an updated version of the 80-year-old Atlantic Charter originally signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill in 1941 governing technology, travel and some trade ties between the two nations.

    […] “Our revitalised Atlantic Charter, building on the commitments and aspirations set out eighty years ago, affirms our ongoing commitment to sustaining our enduring values and defending them against new and old challenges,” Biden and Johnson say in the new document. “We commit to working closely with all partners who share our democratic values and to countering the efforts of those who seek to undermine our alliances and institutions.”

    The new document details eight areas of agreement, expressed mostly in broad strokes with few specifics, starting with a “resolve to defend the principles, values, and institutions of democracy and open societies, which drive our own national strength and our alliances.”

    The two leaders also pledge to “strengthen the institutions, laws, and norms that sustain international cooperation to adapt them to meet the new challenges of the 21st century.” […]

  193. says

    The Democratic agenda and the fierce urgency of now

    It’s an open question what Senate Democrats intend to do with their limited time in the majority. Shouldn’t canceling the August recess be on the table?

    […] Though there’s an annoying myth that Senate Dems had 60 votes for the first two years of Barack Obama’s presidency, the party’s supermajority spanned just four months, during which time Democrats approved the Affordable Care Act. […]

    Those who thought at the time that Democrats could be patient, and waste months negotiating with Republicans on possible agreements GOP senators would end up rejecting anyway, were taught a valuable lesson — which seems quite applicable now.

    The question, of course, is what Democrats intend to do with the clicking clock.

    Bloomberg’s Jonathan Bernstein made a compelling case this week that the party could agree to scrap Congress’ August recess, giving Dems more time to do the people’s business. It’s a provocative point — members have looked forward to their August breaks for quite a while, in part because the Capitol didn’t use to have air conditioning and D.C. summers can get quite unpleasant — but it deserves serious consideration.

    Remember, at face value, Senate Democrats have a majority for 24 months — a majority that could evaporate in response to an unexpected resignation or death. Given that Mitch McConnell blocked Dems from taking control for all of January, that lowers the total to 23 months. If members head home this August and next, that’s 21 months. Given that we’re in already in June, we can subtract another four full months from the calendar.

    Sure, it’s possible Democrats will do well in next year’s midterm elections and get another 24 months, but historical models suggest the president’s party fares poorly in his first midterm cycle, and there’s nothing favorable for Dems about the 2022 Senate map.

    All of which suggests the party has every reason to take seriously the fierce urgency of now.

  194. says

    Capitol Police officer warns that Jan. 6 ‘was the tip of the iceberg’ as Republicans dismiss threat

    Capitol Police Officer James Blassingame is one of two officers who filed suit against Donald Trump back in March for the physical and emotional injuries he suffered during the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol. That suit, which came the same week that Trump claimed his supporters had been just “hugging and kissing the police” during the attack, stated that Blassingame was suffering long-term physical effects and depression from the events of that day.

    […] a PBS interview with Blassingame made clear what happened on that day and spelled out exactly why, even months after the event, the officer had been unable to engage in many of his former duties and why, as his lawsuit stated, he is ”haunted by the memory of being attacked” during the Trump-inspired insurrection.

    Right from the start, Blassingame makes it clear exactly what kind of “hugging and kissing” the white supremacist mob was providing. “I have never been called a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) to my face in 39 years,” said the officer. “[…] That streak ended on January 6. I was called a (EXPLETIVE DELETED). I was called a traitor, I was called various epithets.”

    In case there’s any question of exactly which expletive has been deleted above, Officer Blassingame is Black.

    On the day of Jan. 6, Blassingame had been with the Capitol Police for 17 years and was serving as the Training Programs Manager. In all those years on the force he had never pulled his weapon, but he says he considered it on that day. “The only reason why I didn’t do it was because the mentality was, this is a four-alarm blaze,” said Blassingame. “And if I pull my gun out and start shooting, I’m throwing kerosene on it. Maybe there’s a chance I survive if I don’t pull my weapon, but, if I do, I’m probably not going to make it out of here alive. You don’t have enough bullets.”

    […] the Trump mob “forced its way over and past the plaintiffs and their fellow officers, pursuing and attacking them inside and outside the United States Capitol, and causing the injuries.”

    […] Blassingame is also a former U.S. Marine. However, that experience did not prepare him for the violence he experienced at the hands of his fellow Americans. After being pushed back from a position outside the Capitol, Blassingame moved to join other officers defending a corridor within the building. It was actually inside on the first floor the Capitol that Blassingame was surrounded by “enraged” Trump supporters, who threw a collection of items at the officers before rushing forward to assault them with fists and flagpoles. Finally, a wave of insurrectionists shoved Blassingame away from the other officers, slamming him against a stone pillar, injuring his back and causing a concussion. During this attack, Blassingame says he lost count of how many times he was called an (EXPLETIVE DELETED).

    But the most painful portion of Blassingame’s interview might not be when he discusses his injuries, or even the vile racism of the Trump crowd. It’s when he talks about the Republican legislators who he put himself on the line to protect that day. […] “Something as simple as a commission being passed or trying to take that on, at the end of the day, as bad as it was, like, we did our job,” said Blassingame. “Like, no member of Congress was harmed, you know?”

    But that commission was voted down in the Senate by Republicans who filibustered to prevent any investigation into the events of Jan. 6. Now those same Republicans can smugly walk the halls Blassingame and others defended without concern.

    “To have to see these people every day, and they don’t have our back. Something as simple as just trying to find out what happened, so that it doesn’t happen again, because my fear is this was the tip of the iceberg.

    You have a lot of people that are radicalized, that this is exactly what they wanted to do. And it’s — by there being no accountability, it’s emboldening them.”


    And when it comes to the casual dismissal of Jan. 6 by Republicans in Congress who are determined to brush the violence of that day aside with claims that it was “not an armed insurrection,” Blassingame has a message that should be repeated: “I would think certain things are above politics,” said the officer. “I mean, it’s deplorable to say — as bad as it looks on film, believe me, it was much worse. They can stitch together as much footage as they want to, but I’m telling you, and anybody in that was in that scrum will tell you, it was much worse in person than anything you’re ever going to see on film.”

    […] the efforts of Republicans to dismiss the events of Jan. 6 will have just one outcome: a repeat.

    “For the narrative to be modify or changed, so that it’s trying to make it seem something other than what it was, it’s disheartening, especially — we go to work every day and we have to protect members of Congress. And for them to come and say, thank you for your service, and appreciate what you do, but you don’t, because this is very simple, just having a commission to find out what happened, so this doesn’t happen again.”

  195. says

    Florida city bans gambling amid prospects of Trump-owned casino

    Florida’s Miami-Dade County city of Doral voted unanimously on Wednesday to officially ban gambling and casinos in the city, potentially putting in jeopardy reported plans for the Trump-owned Doral golf resort to establish its own casino.

    With the 4-0 vote from the Doral city council, properties wishing to establish gambling or a casino must get a request approved by residents in a referendum.

    […] Eric Trump, the former president’s son who runs the Trump Doral, indicated earlier this year that the Trump Organization would be interested in establishing a casino at Doral.

    “Many people consider Trump Doral to be unmatched from a gaming perspective — at 700 acres, properties just don’t exist of that size and quality in South Florida, let alone in the heart of Miami,” Eric Trump told The Washington Post in March.

    However, the Doral city council in May voted in favor of an emergency ordinance banning casinos in city limits, with Wednesday’s vote approving the measure on a nonemergency basis.

    Doral Mayor Juan Carlos Bermudez told the Miami Herald ahead of Wednesday’s vote that the city “wanted to make sure we weighed in.”

    “We will take whatever steps necessary,” he added. […]

  196. says

    Hoover Dam reservoir plunges to record low amid extreme drought

    Lake Mead provides water to 25 million people in the Western U.S.

    Reuters reports Lake Mead hit a record-low around 11 p.m. local time Wednesday, as the surface of the reservoir fell to 1,071.56 feet above sea level.

    The previous lowest level had been 1,071.61 feet on July 1, 2016.

    Most of the Western half of the U.S. is experiencing drought, with large parts of California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah and New Mexico in extreme and exceptional drought categories.

    […] Lake Mead was formed in the 1930s by the damming of the Colorado River at the Nevada-Arizona border and is the nation’s largest reservoir by volume.

    […] “We expect it to keep declining until November,” U.S. Bureau of Reclamation spokeswoman Patti Aaron told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

    Most of the Western half of the U.S. is experiencing drought […]

  197. says

    quotetheunquote @ #220, it was a video by this guy Neil Patel describing “why I don’t read books” – they’re actually written a whole year or more before they’re published, by which time they’re already totally outdated, so people should go to YouTube instead. I’m not surprised he removed it.

    Your morning drive sounds lovely!

  198. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    Covid-19 cases on the rise in every region in England

    Covid-19 case rates have increased across every region in England with a sharp rise in the North West, new figures show.

    The latest weekly surveillance report from Public Health England (PHE), published on Thursday, shows that rates in north-west England increased to 149.6 cases per 100,000 people in the seven days to June 6, up week-on-week from 89.4, PA news reports.

    This is the highest for the region since the week ending February 21 and is also the highest of any region in England. South-west England has the lowest rate: 20.8, up week-on-week from 9.7.

    Meanwhile, PHE also said that case rates have risen among almost all age groups in England, with a spike in rates amongst 20 to 29-year-olds, going from 54.0 in the week ending May 30 to 121.0 in the seven days to June 6.

    This is the age group with the highest rate and the biggest week-on-week increase, while the second highest rate is among 10 to 19-year-olds, up from 73.7 to 99.4.

    The latest figures come as Health Secretary Matt Hancock told MPs that the Delta variant first identified in India now comprised 91% of cases of coronavirus in the UK….

    Britain said it agreed a partnership with the United States on Thursday to tackle new pandemics by bolstering disease surveillance and genomic sequencing worldwide, on the eve of a G7 leaders’ summit.

    Britain used its presidency of G7 to pledge to improve global preparedness against emerging health threats in light of the coronavirus pandemic, Reuters reports.

    The United States will purchase half a billion Covid-19 vaccine doses for lower income countries with no strings attached, US President Joe Biden said on Thursday.

    “Half a billion vaccines will start to be shipped in August, as quickly as they roll off the manufacturing line,” Biden said at a news conference before the G7 summit in Britain….

  199. says

    Washington Post:

    Nearly a year after the Trump administration replaced an Obama-era fair housing rule that critics decried as ‘burdensome’ and that President Donald Trump alleged would ‘abolish’ suburbs, President Biden’s housing department is restoring the requirement that communities take steps to reduce racial segregation or risk losing federal funds.

  200. says


    The Senate voted 81-16 on Thursday to confirm Zahid Quraishi as the U.S. District Judge for the District of New Jersey. […] The vote makes Quraishi, the son of immigrants from Pakistan, the first Senate-confirmed Muslim American to serve as a federal judge and President Biden’s third judicial nominee to be approved by the chamber. […]


  201. says

    The Bogus Maricopa Audit Has Become A Mecca For MAGA Politicians Nationwide

    If you’re a Republican politician who wants to prove your loyalty to […] Trump and his election fraud lies, a stop at Arizona’s shambolic recount has become a must.

    In recent days, state-level candidates for office from all over the country have descended on the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum to observe the partisan recount of Maricopa County’s 2.1 million ballots that was ordered by Arizona’s GOP Senate.

    The most recent pilgrim was Virginia State Sen. Amanda Chase (R) who’s embraced the nickname “Trump in Heels” and unsuccessfully sought the state party’s gubernatorial nomination this year.

    […] This week also featured visits by state lawmakers from Alaska and Georgia. The leader of Nevada’s Republican Party visited as well. All told, the MAGA stars of at least six different states have flocked to Arizona to observe the so-called “audit.”

    […] Once they arrive at the recount site, these Republicans have been given a tour by members of the audit team of the recount’s floor, according to the observing reporters, who themselves have had very limited access to the audit site and those leading it. Some of the Republican lawmakers have then stopped to give interviews to the “press,” with Trump-loving platforms One America News Network and Gateway Pundit getting first dibs, while local reporters are blown off.

    The first out-of-staters to make a visit to the audit were three Republicans from Pennsylvania’s legislature, including State Sen. Doug Mastriano, a Trump ally who attended the rally that preceded the Jan. 6 insurrection.

    Then came a visit from the Republican party chair and two state Republican lawmakers from Georgia, a battleground that, like Arizona and Pennsylvania, went for President Biden in 2020 and thus became a target of President Trump’s election reversal crusade. Vernon Jones, a Trump-loving former state representative who is now attempting to primary Gov. Brian Kemp, also visited this week alongside the former New York City police commissioner and Trump pardon recipient Bernard Kerik.

    After their visits to Arizona, some Republicans have said that they would see the recount effort replicated in their states […]

    But the magnetic MAGA pull of the Maricopa recounted has extended beyond the states that contributed to Trump’s defeat, with a Tuesday visit from a Republican lawmaker in Alaska, which went for Trump.

    […] Whether these visits are fundraising gimmicks or will yield new 2020 “audits” elsewhere remains to be seen. A fight is already underway over whether an outside group led by a conspiracy theorist can examine the mail ballots cast in Georgia’s Atlanta area. The Pennsylvania lawmakers who visited Maricopa had previously quietly sought local reviews of the 2020 elections in small towns, the Washington Post revealed after their Arizona trip.

    But perhaps the biggest concern, among election experts, is that a model is being developed for undercutting the results of future elections. That fear was laid out recently by Matt Masterson, former Republican appointee to the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission who worked on election security at Trump’s Department of Homeland Security.

    “Now we have a playbook out there where if you don’t like the results — by the way in an election that wasn’t particularly close … you just claim you didn’t lose and in fact the process itself was rigged against you,” Masterson, now a policy fellow with the Stanford Internet Observatory, told NPR last week.

    Masterson’s concerns were validated in an interview that Mastriano, the Pennsylvania lawmaker who visited Arizona, gave to Steve Bannon.

    “I think this is really the model, in the future, for any elections that might be in dispute,” he said.

    Oh, FFS.

  202. says

    Follow-up to comment 237.

    Posted by readers of the article:

    No real audit permits access to visitors who don’t have a legitimate reason for being on the premises. That’s like a bank giving open tours of in-use vaults or storage areas; it can’t be done in a way that maintains security.
    First, you must touch Donald Trump, then you journey to Arizona and pray to the Audit God, also known as the God of Mischief, AKA Loki.

    If unable to travel, you must face in the direction of the audit and say ‘Hail Donald Trump’ seventy-four times.
    It’s the Internet. In the Before Times, your local village idiot couldn’t do too much damage outside the village they lived in. Travel was expensive, long distance phone calls were expensive (remember that, anyone?). Now that all the village idiots are linked together via the Internet nationwide, we have a problem.
    It will never end.

    Welcome to the Hotel Maricopa.
    Until the ballots begin to crumble in their hands.
    confederacy of dunces. I guess we’re living through one these mass hysteria events, but on steroids.

  203. says

    Actual election experts challenge incompetent Arizona ‘audit’ team: ‘Put up or shut up’

    As the Republican so-called “audit” of Maricopa County’s election results slithers its way to an eventual close, actual election experts remain uniform in their belief that the weirdos and conspiracy theorists assembled by inexpert company “Cyber Ninjas” do not have the slightest notion of how to actually do an audit. Or how to handle the ballots they are currently “testing for bamboo” in an effort to determine whether they came from China. Or, possibly, how to count.

    Another group of experts is calling out Cyber Ninjas, daring them to test their claims against actual experts. As reported by The Arizona Republic, Arizona Republican Benny White, Clear Ballot Group founder Larry Moore, and retired Clear Ballot technology officer Tim Halvorsen are daring Cyber Ninjas to, quote, “put up or shut up” on their ballot-counting claims.

    Their proposal is gloriously straightforward: Pick a box, any not-yet-opened box, from the stored archive of ballots the current “audit” team is working their way through. The expert team will then tell Cyber Ninjas and the Republican-held Arizona Senate who set this whole fiasco in motion the exact vote totals they will find in that archived bundle of ballots, in every race—without going to Arizona or even lifting the box’s lid.

    Why? Because elections officials archive these ballots in a very specific manner, have compiled a database of the votes on each ballot, and have recorded which ballots have gone into which boxes as matter of standard procedure. It’s all in the systems. This is very basic stuff that is the whole premise of auditable, testable election administration, and any team of actual experts would know all this.

    Then, the team challenges, Cyber Ninjas can send the box through their Tilt-a-Whirl of counters and spinning tables and bamboo seances and see what vote they come up with. Will the experts be proven right? Will the Ninjas? Wouldn’t that be a hoot to watch.

    While the Republic reports the team has made a formal pitch to Senate President (Republican) Karen Fann—and the Republic kindly went to special effort to make sure Fann indeed saw the proposal—it seems unlikely that Senate Republicans will allow the challenge to take place. It’s been clear from the beginning that Cyber Ninjas has been botching their procedures in ways that are all but assured to result in botched counts and spoiled ballots that will never be able to properly be audited again, and at this point the incompetence of the effort has turned a nationwide embarrassment. There’s no upside to Republicans putting a final capper on things with definitive proof showing their “audit” isn’t even able to count ballots.

    It’s likely to be a moot point. The Republic reports that the Ninjas are allegedly only a few days away from completing their “count,” which means they will have opened (and therefore spoiled) every box of votes. Soon after that we can expect the Ninjas to either release their vote totals, which will absolutely not be the same as the counts generated on election night because of their own screw-ups, or issue a statement explaining that because of insufficient bamboo testing, unusual sunspot activity, or an insufficient supply of snacks, they are unable to reach any conclusions unless someone, um, pays them to do it again.

    The point was never to “count” the ballots. The point is to produce something, anything, that Republicans can generate new conspiracy theories from. The point is to produce a narrative that can be used by party leaders to nullify future elections that don’t produce the vote totals the party wanted to see.

    Still, it seems a shame that the Ninjas will have no opportunity to prove that they are not incompetent scammers. Even if all the boxes are opened and spoiled, a fascinating post-count test might be to put a box of ballots before the Cyber Ninja team, have them count the votes, then put the same box of ballots in front of them the next day and have them recount it. That would go a long way towards settling the question of whether their human counters can even tally the numbers the same way twice.

    We’re probably not going to be getting that one, either. The first rule of carnivals is to never let on how the games are rigged, and this game has been rigged since fascism-promoting state Republicans picked a team headed by a conspiracy peddler rather than any of the actual experts who do these things for a living. It is governing by hoax, and Republicanism has lost the ability to govern by anything else.

  204. says

    MLB All-Star game to stay in Denver, judge rules

    A federal judge on Thursday ruled that the Major League Baseball (MLB) All-Star game will remain in Denver after rejecting an effort to move the event back to Atlanta, Reuters reported on Thursday.

    MLB moved the summer classic from Atlanta after Georgia’s legislative approved legislation that drew criticism from Democrats, voting rights groups and MLB players, who all said it was designed to reduce access to the polls by minority groups.

    A conservative small business group, Jobs Creator Network, sued, arguing its members in Atlanta would be irreparably harmed by the move.

    U.S. District Judge Valerie Caproni, an appointee of former President Obama, ruled that the group did not have standing to sue, and that it is “not at all clear why it cares more about small businesses in Atlanta than small businesses in Denver,” according to Reuters.

    JCN sued the MLB last week, arguing it should pay $100 million in damages to local businesses in Georgia as a result of moving the All-Star Game to Colorado.

    Lawyers of the league said in a court filing on Monday that JCN didn’t provide any evidence for their claims and argued that the court shouldn’t waste their time on “political theatrics.”

    The All-Star Game will be played in Denver on July 13.

  205. says


    […] You know End Times nutbag person Rick Wiles got the COVID, which was shocking since he was actively boycotting the vaccine, since he thinks the vaccine is going to bring about a global genocide. […]

    Now Rickles the Clown has solved the science conundrum of how he got the COVID. […]

    (Transcript via Right Wing Watch because puh-leeze, we are not in a transcribing mood.)

    “There is a medical mafia in this country,” a noticeably hoarse and thinner Wiles said. “I’m suggesting the CCP agents in America struck at me because I am calling for Fauci to be arrested and interrogated.”

    The CCP agents — he means the Chinese Communist Party — struck the COVID directly at him! […]

    OK, so … China attacked Rick Wiles in his man body because he won’t stop telling his global audience of probably trillions that he wants known Chinese Communist Party Doctor Anthony Fauci arrested. Gotcha.

    “I mean this with all my heart,” Wiles continued.

    No foolin’.

    “If the China Communist Party is not stopped, most Americans may be dead in the next five years.”

    Hoo boy. We are no fans of the Chinese authoritarian dictatorship, but we are forced to ask to what end? What would be their point in murdering all of America?

    Oh thank goodness, he explains:

    “Think about what I just said: a systematic, genocidal plan to exterminate the American population over the next five years through a variety of biological weapons and vaccines, to the point that there’s hardly anybody remaining alive in the country. China is deliberately exterminating the American population for the purpose of migrating hundreds of millions of Chinese settlers to North America.”

    They want to move here? All of ’em? Do they have lots of Zillow alerts set up and everything? Has China SEEN what a seller’s market most of America is right now? Because if we were real-estate-advising the entire nation of China right now, we might say wait a sec to see if things cool off. Otherwise all of China gonna be paying $50K over asking with no inspection […]

    In summary and in conclusion, Rick Wiles got COVID because he’s a batshit COVID vaccine conspiracy theorist, and we hope that is the end of this story arc about Rick Wiles.

    Glad he’s back in the studio and we pray for his continued healing […]


  206. says

    Reuters – “Three Percenters militia members charged in U.S. Capitol attack”:

    Federal prosecutors have charged six members of the Three Percenters right-wing militia group with conspiring to attack the U.S. Capitol, the latest in a series of such charges arising from the Jan. 6 riot by former President Donald Trump’s supporters.

    The charges against the six men, all from California, were disclosed in an indictment unsealed on Thursday in federal court in Washington. Two of them, Alan Hostetter and Russell Taylor, were seen a day before the riot with Roger Stone, a friend and adviser to Trump, during a protest outside the U.S. Supreme Court against the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.

    About 30 people – including members of two other right-wing groups, The Oath Keepers and The Proud Boys – have been accused of conspiracy, the most serious charges related to the riot. Those pending cases are the largest and most complex of the roughly 500 brought by the Justice Department since the attack.

    The other Three Percenters charged were Eric Scott Warner, Felipe Antonio “Tony” Martinez, Derek Kinnison and Ronald Mele.

    According to the indictment, Hostetter founded a group in 2020 called the American Phoenix Project that protested restrictions on public gatherings imposed as a public health measure during the COVID-19 pandemic. That group became a platform to advocate violence against government leaders, according to the indictment.

    Beginning in December 2020, the six men hatched a plan using the encrypted messaging app Telegram to bring weapons to Washington and storm the Capitol, according to the indictment. Prosecutors said the men selected Jan. 6 because of a Dec. 19 Trump Twitter post stating: “Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!”

    Prosecutors said that on Dec. 29 Taylor told his accused co-conspirators on Telegram: “I personally want to be on the front steps and be one of the first ones to breach the doors!”…

  207. says

    NBC – “Message in a jacket: Jill Biden offers ‘love’ during U.K. trip”:

    Jill Biden is sending a sartorial message of “love” as she accompanies her husband President Joe Biden overseas.

    The first lady wore a black jacket with the word “love” outlined on the back in silver beading as she and the president met with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his wife Thursday. She wore the same jacket more than two years ago to kick off Biden’s presidential campaign.

    “We’re bringing love from America,” she told reporters, explaining her fashion choice.

    “This is a global conference, and we are trying to bring unity across the globe, and I think it’s needed right now, that people feel a sense of unity from all the countries and feel a sense hope after this year of the pandemic.”

    Biden is known for her sartorial choices, often donning bright pastels or eye-catching patterns for her outings on behalf of the Biden administration. She is rarely seen without a kitten heel or stiletto boot, adding height to her petite frame.

    And this isn’t the first time she’s sent a direct message with her clothes: During a campaign trip to Iowa late last year, Biden wore black skinny jeans bearing the word “VOTE” down each calf.

    Biden’s jacket and pants come in contrast to the last first lady to offer a message with her clothes: Melania Trump wore a jacket that read “I Really Don’t Care, Do U?” during a trip to a detention center for migrant children in 2018. She wore a different jacket at the shelter….

    Photo atl. Love it.

  208. says

    BREAKING: Adam Schiff and House Intel Committee aides — and the aides’ family members, including a minor — had their data from Apple subpoenaed by DOJ in 2017 and 2018.”

    NYT link atl. Schiff will be on with Rachel Maddow.

  209. says

    Katie Benner, NYT: “NEW: In hunting for people who leaked Russia investigation intel to reporters, DOJ subpoenaed Apple for data belonging to Adam Schiff, another House Intel Committee Democrat, aides and family members. One was a minor.”

    Link to the same NYT article atl.

  210. KG says

    A rather belated comment on the MSNBC article Lynna linked to @136. I’d say the rise of Fascism2.0, and in particular of Trump and the Trumpist Party, indicates that liberal democracy is inadequate to the age of the Internet, financial crisis, and looming environmental catastrophe. It has relied, perhaps particularly in the USA, on the bulk of the population being politically passive, and misinformed about who really constitute the “elite” and how they retain their power and wealth. This has allowed elite factions prepared to jettison liberal democracy’s limited but real constraints on executive power to embark on a program of subordinating the judiciary, critical media, educational institutions, and civil society. This is powered, through social media and the likes of the Murdoch press, by scapegoating minorities and a largely invented “liberal elite”. Their followers are fooled into a false sense that they are participants in an existential struggle, while in reality, they are merely spectators – QAnon is the purest example of this so far.

  211. KG says

    Biden, Boris Johnson release updated Atlantic Charter after first meeting – Lynna, OM@227

    My hunch is that Biden agreed to this essentially meaningless but (to Johnson) politically valuable “updated Atlantic Charter” in exchange for a promise by Johnson that he would negotiate a UK surrender in the Great Sausage War with the EU, thus protecting the Good Friday Agreement. But as the Sausage War itself demonstrates, Johnson’s promises are worthless – even when they take the form of an international treaty he signed and boasted about.

  212. says

    The voting rights ‘disaster’ Manchin fears is already unfolding

    To hear Joe Manchin tell it, a single-party push on voting rights is a “disaster waiting to happen.” But what if this disaster is already unfolding?

    For Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), nothing is more important than bipartisan governing. As the New York Times’ Michelle Goldberg put it, the conservative Democrat is part of a tiny contingent committed to the idea of bipartisanship “as a supreme good, which in practice means bowing to the wishes of a party that doesn’t believe Joe Biden is a legitimate president and wants above all to see him fail.”

    Given the fact that the Senate is evenly divided, leaving Democratic leaders with literally no margin for error, the implications of the West Virginian’s approach are far-reaching. On every issue, if Manchin isn’t on board with his party’s agenda, the issue dies.

    This includes voting rights. The senator told NBC News last week that any voting rights legislation considered by the Senate must be bipartisan to gain his vote, saying that a single-party push on the issue is a “disaster waiting to happen.”

    But what if there was already a single-party push on the issue? The Atlantic’s Ron Brownstein explained in a newly published piece that the latest research “quantifies how completely Republicans have excluded Democrats from the passage of the restrictive voting laws proliferating in red states.”

    In places such as Florida, Georgia, Arizona, Iowa, Kansas, and Montana, the most restrictive laws approved this year have passed on total or near-complete party-line votes, with almost all state legislative Republicans voting for the bills and nearly all Democrats uniting against them, according to an analysis of state voting records provided exclusively to The Atlantic by the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU.

    Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D) told Brownstein that Republicans in her state have not only targeted elections, GOP officials have also “completely shut the Democrats out of the [legislative] process.”

    Jennifer Konfrst, the Democratic whip in the Iowa House of Representatives, added, “It is unfathomable to me that we would look at this issue and say we have to bring Republicans along, in this political climate, in order to make true change. I don’t see anywhere where Republicans are inviting Democrats along, or inviting Democrats to the table.”

    The Iowa legislator asked, “Why are some Democrats saying, ‘I won’t do this unless it’s bipartisan?'”

    […] To hear Joe Manchin tell it, a single-party push on voting rights is a “disaster waiting to happen.” Reality makes clear, however, that this precise disaster is already unfolding, and has been for months. Republicans in states nationwide are brazenly abusing their positions, undermining democracy by tilting the electoral playing field in their power, confident in the knowledge that voting-rights advocates will receive no federal rescue.

    The decision Senate Democrats have to make — in this instance, literally all of them — is whether the “disaster” Joe Manchin fears will continue unchecked.

    I agree with Michelle Goldberg: As the New York Times’ Michelle Goldberg put it, the conservative Democrat is part of a tiny contingent committed to the idea of bipartisanship “as a supreme good, which in practice means bowing to the wishes of a party that doesn’t believe Joe Biden is a legitimate president and wants above all to see him fail.”

  213. says

    Despite threats, Feinstein does not see our democracy ‘in jeopardy’

    If the current circumstances do not reflect a democracy in jeopardy, what would? What would it take for Dianne Feinstein to be concerned?

    As Democratic senators weigh what to do, if anything, about protecting voting rights at the federal level, important legislative questions hang over head. Does the party have the votes to properly respond to the democratic crisis? Are the pending proposals sufficient to bolster democracy while it’s under attack? Do congressional rules need to be altered to respond to the seriousness of the current circumstances?

    Each of these questions, and more like them, are predicated on a basic idea: the contemporary Republican Party is moving away from the idea that Americans resolve their differences through free and fair elections, creating a challenge without modern precedent.

    But what if there are some officials who simply don’t see the threat?

    Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) broke with colleagues who have said they would “choose democracy” and scrap the filibuster if Republicans tried to block H.R. 1, Democrats’ sweeping election reform bill, telling Forbes, “If democracy were in jeopardy, I would want to protect it,” but “I don’t see it being in jeopardy right now.”

    Such complacency is difficult to understand.

    Earlier this year, a defeated American president went to great lengths to overturn the results of an American election when he didn’t like the results. Soon after, that same defeated president directed a violent insurrectionist mob to attack the U.S. Capitol — Dianne Feinstein’s workplace — for the express purpose of disrupting the democratic process and the certification of an election.

    In the months that followed, Republican officials across multiple states began placing indefensible hurdles between Americans and ballot boxes through voter-suppression measures. At the same time, GOP officials are hijacking election administration systems. And actively undermining public confidence in election results. And positioning far-right, anti-election ideologues to serve as Secretaries of State, whose offices oversee elections. And targeting poll workers. And exploring ways to make it more difficult for Americans to turn to the courts in the hopes of protecting voting rights. And intensifying voter-roll purges. And empowering heavy-handed poll watchers. And preparing to exploit gerrymandering to create voter-proof majorities.

    And laying the groundwork to allow officials to overturn election results Republicans don’t like.

    It’s against this backdrop that a defeated former president is using his influence to convince as much of the public as he can that the nation’s elected leaders are illegitimate and the only election results that can be trusted are the ones he endorses.

    This comes on the heels of a four-year effort in which that same former president, while in office, deliberately tried to weaken the pillars of our democracy, targeting democratic institutions and eroding political norms.

    Despite all of this, Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein reportedly told Forbes magazine that, as far as she’s concerned, our democracy is not “in jeopardy right now.” […]

  214. says

    Follow-up to comments 245 and 246 from SC.

    Trump’s Justice Dept. targeted congressional Dems in leak probe

    Early on in Donald Trump’s presidency, there was considerable reporting about the contacts between the president’s team and their Russian benefactors who helped elect the Republican in 2016. For the administration, the principal problem was not with the interactions, but rather, with the leaks that brought the scandal to the public’s attention.

    With that in mind, the Justice Department began an unusually aggressive leak investigation, which ultimately led federal officials to obtain reporters’ records in the hopes of identifying their confidential sources. These efforts remained hidden until very recently.

    But as the New York Times reported overnight, these extraordinary steps were part of a larger and more serious abuse.

    As the Justice Department investigated who was behind leaks of classified information early in the Trump administration, it took a highly unusual step: Prosecutors subpoenaed Apple for data from the accounts of at least two Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee, aides and family members. One was a minor.

    It’s one thing for a president to urge the Justice Department to target his perceived political foes. It’s something else for the Justice Department to actually do it.

    According to the Times’ reporting, Trump’s DOJ seized the records of at least a dozen people tied to the House Intelligence Committee, including California Reps. Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell, both of whom were in the congressional minority at the time.

    The prosecutorial probe did not pan out, and federal law enforcement under then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions did not find any evidence of leaks from the committee. But then Bill Barr took office, brought in an allied prosecutor with little relevant experience, and “revived languishing leak investigations.”

    All of this was kept secret, with the Justice Department securing a gag order on Apple, so that the targeted lawmakers, staffs, and their families wouldn’t know that they’d been targeted.

    […] It’s every bit as extraordinary as it seems: the Republican Justice Department secretly seized communications records from members of Congress. […]

    In a press statement, Adam Schiff, now the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said, “President Trump repeatedly and flagrantly demanded that the Department of Justice carry out his political will, and tried to use the Department as a cudgel against his political opponents and members of the media. It is increasingly apparent that those demands did not fall on deaf ears. The politicization of the Department and the attacks on the rule of law are among the most dangerous assaults on our democracy carried out by the former President.”

    The Democratic lawmaker added, “Though we were informed by the Department in May that this investigation is closed, I believe more answers are needed, which is why I believe the Inspector General should investigate this and other cases that suggest the weaponization of law enforcement by a corrupt president.”

    On the show last night, Schiff went on to note the extent to which the Trump administration took steps to turn the Justice Department into “a fully owned subsidiary of the president’s personal legal interests,” which cannot stand.

    “It’s hard to express just how shocking an abuse of power this really is,” Schiff concluded.

  215. says

    Over the past two months of infrastructure talks, there’s been a constant refrain from Republican negotiators: why not just use all the unspent COVID aid money to pay for the bill?

    The idea has helped negotiators avoid Biden’s demand for new spending, and has been met with some concessions, even from Democratic senators.

    “You need to look at, see what hasn’t gone out the door or what has gone out the door, hasn’t been spent yet or dedicated in any way,” Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) said last month.

    But a close look at which COVID relief funds remain “unspent” reveals that the vast majority of money available would come from President Biden’s biggest legislative accomplishment: the American Rescue Plan.

    That effectively reduces the negotiations to a debate over how far the Biden administration would be willing to go to strip its signature COVID relief package, passed in March, of resources to fund entirely different priorities.

    […] A group of five Democratic and five Republican senators announced on Thursday that they had reached a deal that includes $579 billion in new spending, out of a total of $974 billion. It’s not yet clear how that would be paid for, and if that proposal would also draw on repurposed COVID funding.

    […] Any new spending in the plan, meant to go to roads, bridges, water pipes and eldercare programs, needs to have new revenue to match it.

    But at the same time, the GOP said that it would be opposed to any tax increases — framing that as changes to the Trump tax law.

    […] an impression that the American Rescue Plan left states and cities with too much money — confounding local officials and state legislators who lack projects to spend it on. “The majority of it has not been spent,” said Sen. Rob Portman (R-PA) in April. “Perhaps there’s a way to spend that money on infrastructure as part of this legislation.”

    […] it comes as states and cities shore up budgets that were depleted during the pandemic and rehire staff that were laid off because of the virus. It also includes plans for grappling with the longer-term consequences of the pandemic, in the form of programs for those suffering from long COVID, or funding for public health programs.

    […] Irma Esparza Diggs, director of federal advocacy for the National League of Cities, said that for many cities, the narrative of “too much” federal aid was overblown and that officials she spoke to were still searching for more funds to restart programs that were cut during the COVID recession.

    […] Though there is money left in state and local funding, even that would not come anywhere near to the hundreds of billions of dollars on the table.

    […] “The funds are meant to be used to address the short term and long term effects of the economic and health care impacts of the pandemic,” she told TPM. “That this is now being floated as a pay-for is a slap in the face to local leaders who have just really struggled.”


  216. says

    Take his name off of everything.

    The New York state Senate approved a bill Thursday that could trigger the renaming of a Hudson Valley state park which for years has carried the name of former President Donald Trump.

    “New York’s Senate just gave Donald Trump an early birthday present: we’re stripping his name from a state park,” state Sen. Brad Hoylman, a sponsor of the bill said. “Trump has dishonored the state and should not be honored with a state park named for him.”

    The New York Daily News reported that the measure directs the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, to launch a legal review into renaming the largely unused “Donald J. Trump State Park,” which straddles the border of Westchester and Putnam Counties along a state parkway.

    The review could pave the way for a name change for the park and the installation of new signs.

    Lawmakers have sought for years to rename the 435-acre site which Trump donated to the state in 2006 after hitting roadblocks in plans to convert the land into the 18-hole championship golf course and country club he envisioned after purchasing it for $2 million in the early 1990s.

    If Trump’s name is eventually blotted from the park, it would appear to be an answer to numerous longstanding public calls for its renaming, including a petition in 2015 that gathered 2,800 signatures on called “Rename Donald J. Trump State Park to… anything else.”


  217. says

    Follow-up to comment 257.

    Posted by readers of the article:

    Unfortunately the IRS will not be clawing back the $6.9 billion deduction Trump claimed for donating the land.
    I think there are plenty of sinkholes in Floriduh that would love to have that very fitting name. Or landfills.
    There is some reporting that indicates that Trump may have claimed a 26 million dollar value which would have been 10 times what Trump paid for the land and a minimum of 5 times more than it was worth at the time of donation.
    At the rate things are going, his headstone will read [Individual-1].

  218. says

    Josh Marshall:

    […] it’s important to keep up on the right wing media ecosystem to understand what Republican politicians are saying. In this instance, Republicans have galloped far past the possibility that a lab leak may have been the origin point for the COVID. They’re now pushing the idea that Anthony Fauci was involved in the experiments which created COVID and has conspired with the Chinese to cover-up the lab leak which created COVID.

    As you can see from this tweet this morning, Sen. Marco Rubio is pushing just that idea.

    The Wuhan lab conducts experiments that turn natural animal viruses which aren’t transmissible in humans into new ones that are

    Fauci knew this & supports this controversial practice

    Which may be why he has always downplayed the lab leak theory

    You can see he’s softened it up a bit for general public consumption. But that’s what he’s saying.


  219. blf says

    Lynna@257 quotes “Rename Donald J Trump State Park to… anything else.”

    Seems reasonable to me, Anything Else State Park.

  220. says

    Lawmakers urge Merrick Garland to restore asylum law, enact immigration court reforms

    Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal leads 60 lawmakers in calling on Attorney General Merrick Garland to enact a series of measures to protect immigrant communities, including rolling back the previous administration’s anti-asylum attacks, expanding legal aid, addressing the massive immigration court backlog, and reviewing politicization of that court, a system that falls under the purview of the Department of Justice (DOJ).

    “In light of the ongoing and irreparable harm that is being inflicted upon immigrant communities, we urge you to implement reforms to the Executive Office for Immigration Review and other Department of Justice immigration policies,” they state. […]

    “As you know, the Trump administration took aggressive steps to rewrite asylum law and restrict discretionary decision-making and judicial independence,” they write to Garland. That included former Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III punishing domestic violence survivors seeking asylum and imposing a quota system that one former immigration judge called “an affront to judicial independence.” Legislators write that “[u]ltimately, long-term structural reform is needed, and we look forward to the eventual enactment of legislation to create an independent Article I immigration court.”

    Legislators in their recommendations urge a “leadership-driven” review of the enormous 1.3 million cases in the immigration court backlog, as well as to begin a review of immigration judge appointments, writing that the previous administration “politicized the immigration courts by prioritizing individuals with political connections and enforcement-heavy backgrounds.” They write that the previous fiscal year saw a “historic” asylum denial rate of 72%, “as compared to 54.6 percent in FY 2016.”

    […] Legislators further urge the administration to continue its recent efforts to expand legal representation to vulnerable people in immigration courts. Unlike the criminal court system, people in immigration court, including children, are not guaranteed legal help if they can’t afford it.

    […] “We stand ready to work with you to restore the foundational principles of justice, fairness, and transparency to the immigration system, and would appreciate a briefing on these issues at your earliest convenience,” legislators conclude.

  221. says

    Follow-up to comment 255.

    […] While the investigation may not have turned up any evidence against Schiff or Swalwell, it absolutely does serve to indict someone—Barr, who directly lied to the Senate when he testified that he didn’t know of any investigations being conducted at Trump’s direction. […]

    Garland seems to have taken his writ as attorney general to be apolitical, but that’s not the effect of what he’s doing. Corruption can’t be ignored, it has to be fought. Merrick Garland is not fighting; He’s sitting back and allowing the corrupt practices put in place under Trump to continue. […]

    The DOJ should end its ridiculous attempt to defend Donald Trump against charges of rape [it’s actually charges of defamation, since the charge of rape can no longer be brought … statute of limitations]. The acting head of the DOJ’s Civil Division justified the government’s intrusion into this case by saying that ”Speaking to the public and the press on matters of public concern is undoubtedly part of an elected official’s job,” which should be jaw-dropping in its audacity and ugliness. This is nothing less than another way of saying that occupying the White House is a license to commit slander against private citizens. It’s not just a miserable reading of the law, it’s disgusting. And Garland must end it now. [Right!]

    The DOJ should immediately end the investigation still being conducted by former U.S. Attorney and now Special Counsel John “Bull” Durham—an investigation that has now gone on over twice as long as the Mueller investigation, and which has generated only a single minor indictment of a low level official. That investigation has been a genuine “witch hunt” from the outset, and has included efforts to rope allied intelligence agencies into working against the CIA, and is now reportedly involved in examining the records of the Clinton Foundation. There is no possible justification for continuing this “investigation.” And Garland must end it now.

    The DOJ must—must—release the full and unredacted Mueller Report, along with the memos showing how Barr and his team worked to subvert the findings of the report and generate a “summary” that was deeply slanted to help Trump. The decision not to charge Trump with obstruction clearly did not grow from the overwhelming evidence for such a charge found in Mueller’s report. That the DOJ is still protecting these documents is nothing less than abetting a cover-up. And Garland must end it now.

    Garland is […] not moving to conduct a DOJ investigation of the events leading up to the attack on peaceful protesters in Lafayette Square. He’s not just failing to act to put the Department of Justice back on track, he’s continuing to drive it even further into the weeds.

    Merrick Garland has to end this now. Or get out of the way for someone who will.


  222. says

    blf @260, LOL. Good choice.

    In other news: Coronavirus restrictions spark mutiny against GOP governor

    In Idaho, a Trump-era proving ground for feuding Republican factions, Gov. Brad Little faces a fierce primary challenge — from his lieutenant governor.

    Gov. Brad Little had only briefly traveled out of state to attend a Republican governors’ conference when his own lieutenant governor made him regret it.

    Without warning, GOP Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin took advantage of Little’s absence in late May and issued a statewide order banning any local government from enforcing Covid-prevention mask mandates.

    Little rescinded it the next day upon his return, swiping at McGeachin for her “irresponsible, self-serving political stunt.” But the lieutenant governor had already made her point: she would go to almost any length to defy the governor, when it comes to pandemic restrictions.

    It’s another messy chapter in Idaho’s 2022 Republican gubernatorial primary, the only one in the nation in which a sitting governor is being challenged by a lieutenant governor of his own party.

    What’s happening here isn’t simply about an overly ambitious second-in-command. In a deeply conservative state that’s a proving ground for feuding factions in former President Donald Trump’s GOP, the primary revolves around a derivative of Trumpism — resistance to coronavirus-related mandates and restrictions.

    […] “We are one of the big strongholds for the ultra-conservatives and they’re looking to make this their kingdom,” she [Kay Lynn Smith, the GOP chair in rural Butte County] said. “Moderates and a lot of the people who had the money and the power are aging out and losing interest. They’re not interested in supporting a party with radicals.”

    In Idaho, as in a handful of other states, the governor and lieutenant governor don’t run on the same ticket — they are separately elected. […]

    By at least two key metrics, Idaho was a pandemic success story under Governor Little: It has the sixth-lowest unemployment rate in the nation and ranks 41st in Covid death rate. With the good economy and Republicans largely in lockstep about low taxes, gun rights and fewer regulations, McGeachin’s campaign has instead centered around mask mandates, appeals to personal freedom and bashing the federal government — even when she benefited from coronavirus relief money.

    […] “Half the party or more is on the DeSantis train. We would like a DeSantis,” said Boise County GOP Chair Eric McGilp.

    Rebecca Crea, the GOP chair in Lewis County, said there’s a feeling among many in the party that Little was too strict with pandemic restrictions. She said Little was a RINO (Republican in Name Only) who won his office in 2018 thanks to slick ads and a crowded GOP primary that siphoned votes from the more conservative candidate […]

    “Everybody says, ‘oh, it’s about the economy, about the economy, about the economy.’ Sure. But it looks as if the Republican Party is moving away from economic issues, because in a place like Idaho, it’s already so strong,” the adviser said. “So where do you go next? I mean, there’s been critical race theory discussions here in Idaho, discussions about diversity programs in Idaho. The conversations are starting to change in this Republican primary. […]”

    McGeachin isn’t Little’s only challenger on the right — her message is amplified by anti-government activist Ammon Bundy, a vigorous opponent of Little’s stay-at-home order and other Covid-related legislation. […]

    I shudder at the thought of a Governor more conservative than Little.

  223. says

    Teen who filmed Floyd murder awarded honorary Pulitzer

    The Pulitzer Prizes on Friday awarded a special citation to Darnella Frazier, whose 2020 video recording of an officer kneeling on George Floyd’s neck before he died rocked the nation and prompted more national conversations around racism and police brutality.

    “The Floyd story in particular highlighted not only the essential role of journalists, but the increasing importance of ordinary citizens in the quest for truth and justice,” said Mindy Marques, co-chair of the Pulitzer Prize Board, during the award ceremony.

    “We want to note that the board has awarded a special citation to Darnella Frazier, the teenage witness who filled and posted the transformative video that jolted viewers and spurred protests against police brutality around the world,” Marques added.

    In an Instagram post in May reflecting on a year since the death of Floyd, Frazier wrote, “Even though this was a traumatic life-changing experience for me, I’m proud of myself. It if weren’t for my video, the world wouldn’t have known the truth.” […]

  224. says

    Re: SC 225
    “Operation Underground Railroad”
    I’ve been thinking about the the use of pedophilia by the Qanon crowd and how it’s evolved. Actual child abusers shaping the conspiracies making them and people shaped by their propaganda 2 groups. I believe that the whole “pedo joe” thing was because Trump is worse than Biden when it comes to sexual boundaries, and it was useful social manipulation by actual pedophiles and Rs to point the “save the children” instinct at their political enemies.

    Fast forward and now you have a bunch of people who have to make that look serious politically, some child abusers, some abusive dupes. The first attempt was the “save the children” protests. Now there are these socially poisoned organizations like “Operation Underground Railroad”. Appropriation of “underground railroad” is standard bigot behavior.

  225. says

    Garland: DOJ Voting Rights Push To Include Focus On Sketchy Audits, Elex Worker Threats


    Attorney General Merrick Garland laid out on Friday a muscular approach he says the Justice Department will take to protect the right to vote. In a policy speech at the department’s D.C. headquarters, Garland addressed not only the slew of restrictive voting measures advancing in GOP statehouses, but the harassment of election officials and the recent phenomena of dubious post-election “audits” that cast doubt on the 2020 results.

    “We have not been blind to the dramatic increase in menacing and violent threats against all manner of state and local election workers, ranging from the highest administrators to volunteer poll workers,” Garland said. “Such threats undermine our electoral process, and violate a myriad of federal laws.”

    As for the drive for more post-election audits, which Garland described as fueled by “disinformation,” their “abnormal” methodologies “may put the integrity of the voting process at risk and undermine public confidence in our democracy.” [About time Garland said something about that!]

    For years, Republicans have sought to undermine federal voting rights laws, while GOP state legislators over the last decade have ramped up their push to limit ballot access. On Friday, Garland framed the renewed DOJ focus on safeguarding democracy within the department’s long history of making voting rights a key priority.

    “Progress to protect voting rights, and especially for Black Americans and other people of color, has never been steady,” Garland said.”Moments of voting rights expansion have often been met with counter efforts to curb the franchise.”

    […] “To meet the challenge of the current moment, we must rededicate the resources of the Department of Justice to a critical part of its original mission: enforcing federal law to protect the franchise for all voters,” Garland said.

    Garland vowed that within the next 30 days, the department would double the enforcement staff in the Civil Rights division. He said that the department will be “scrutinizing” the new laws and existing practices that may infringe on the right to vote.

    “Where we see violations, we will not hesitate to act,” he said.

    He also previewed plans to publish DOJ guidance on early voting, mail voting, post-election audits and redistricting, as the upcoming redistricting cycle will be the first one without the Voting Rights Act requirement that certain states have their maps vetted by the federal government.

    Democrats in Congress are expected in coming months to roll out new legislation to restore the so-called “preclearance” requirement in the VRA, which was gutted by the Supreme Court in 2013. A separate voting rights bill that would set national standards for ballot access is currently in paralysis in the Senate, where it lacks the votes to overcome a GOP filibuster.

    Garland touched on both pieces of legislation, and promised to provide Congress with all “necessary support” as it considers voting measures.

    “There are many things that are open to debate in America, but the right of all eligible citizens to vote is not one of them,” Garland said.

  226. says

    Oh, FFS.

    A fundraising group led by a host and correspondent from the far-right One America News Network is now covering travel expenses for out-of-state Republican legislators to tour the shambolic “audit” of Maricopa County, Arizona’s 2020 election results.

    The audit, which was authorized by the GOP-led Arizona Senate and is being led by an inexperienced firm with a CEO who espoused wild conspiracy theories, has become a pilgrimage site for Republican legislators eager to back up Trump’s phony voter fraud grievances — and potentially bring the Arizona model back to their home states.

    […] Voices and Votes is headed up by the former Trump administration official and current OAN host Christina Bobb, who has led the channel’s coverage of the audit, and Chanel Rion, OAN’s White House correspondent. In mid-April, Bobb announced that Voices and Votes had hit its first $150,000 fundraising goal for the audit. A week later, the Arizona Republican Party announced that OAN would provide livestreams of the audit process.

    […] Bobb and Rion’s group hasn’t been shy about its fundraising for the audit, which is accepting private outside donations from the likes of ex-Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne and others. As of Friday, donors to Voices and Votes could choose to fund several options on the organization’s website: “General Fund Donation,” “Arizona Election Audit” and simply “Pennsylvania.”

    The pro-Trump conspiracy theorist lawyer Lin Wood told TPM in April that his group Fight Back had donated $50,000 to the audit effort through Voices and Votes. Wood also confirmed that Doug Logan, CEO of the audit’s lead contractor, Cyber Ninjas, was at Wood’s home last year “working on the investigation into election fraud” with others. […]

  227. says

    DOJ inspector general opens investigation into efforts to break into Democratic reps phones

    It’s good to know that someone at the Department of Justice is worried about more than whether or not their actions offend Donald Trump. And it’s even better to know that someone can move fast.

    On Friday afternoon, DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz announced that the department would open an investigation into the use of subpoenas “and other legal authorities” to obtain phone records of members of Congress. That announcement came just one hour after Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco, who was named to her current position in April after serving as an advisor within the Department of Homeland Security under President Obama, called on the inspector general’s office to investigate. It was also just one hour after Sen. Chuck Schumer and Sen. Dick Durbin issued a joint statement calling on former Attorneys General William Barr and Jefferson Sessions to face subpoenas, and to subject themselves to congressional testimony or be “compelled to testify under oath.”

    All of this follows news on Thursday evening, that the Department of Justice tried to obtain phone records from the phones of Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell and Rep. Adam Schiff, as well as members of their family. The investigation—supposedly about leaks of classified data from the House Intelligence Committee—came up dry. But that didn’t stop the DOJ from seeking phone records belonging to the representatives’ underage children or their spouses, and it didn’t stop Donald Trump from declaring Schiff guilty despite having no evidence.

    Attorney General Merrick Garland is scheduled to meet with leaders of top news organizations on Friday afternoon to discuss both the department’s role in going after Democratic leaders’ records and the ongoing efforts to look into reporters’ phone records. But former Attorney General Barr isn’t waiting. He’s speaking up already—to claim he had nothing to do with it. […]

    And there’s this detail:

    […] Despite all the efforts, no evidence was ever found that Schiff or Swalwell ever leaked any information. It’s too bad that as long as the DOJ was deciding to surveil a co-equal branch of government, they didn’t think to look at any Republican members. Because there’s certainly at least one good candidate who has spilled information all over the place.

    Mar 22, 2017 — [Devin] Nunes launches the first of several press conferences in which he declares that he has secret information showing that the Obama administration spied on Trump. Then Nunes runs back to Paul Ryan, then he holds a second press conference during which it becomes clear that Nunes is both revealing classified information and sharing that information with the people supposedly under investigation by his committee.


  228. says

    Wonkette: “Is Bill Barr LYING? Or Does He Just Think We’re All Idiots?”

    Did Bill Barr lie to reporters just a tiny? Was he less than perfectly honest about his role in wire-tapping Congressmen Schiff and Swalwell in a leak investigation? Would our saintly former attorney general stoop to telling fibs to protect his own reputation?

    […] Here’s how the New York Times described Barr’s role in the inquiry:

    But William P. Barr revived languishing leak investigations after he became attorney general a year later. He moved a trusted prosecutor from New Jersey with little relevant experience to the main Justice Department to work on the Schiff-related case and about a half-dozen others, according to three people with knowledge of his work who did not want to be identified discussing federal investigations.

    And here’s what he told Politico after the story broke:

    In a phone interview, Barr said he didn’t recall getting briefed on the moves.

    Uh huh.


    A CNN report in August 2019 about another leak investigation said prosecutors did not recommend to their superiors that they charge Mr. Comey over memos that he wrote and shared about his interactions with Mr. Trump, which were not ultimately found to contain classified information.

    Mr. Barr was wary of how Mr. Trump would react, according to a person familiar with the situation. Indeed, Mr. Trump berated the attorney general, who defended the department, telling the president that there was no case against Mr. Comey to be made, the person said. But an investigation remained open into whether Mr. Comey had leaked other classified information about Russia.

    And Politico:

    Barr also said that while he was attorney general, he was “not aware of any congressman’s records being sought in a leak case.” He also said Trump never encouraged him to target the Democratic lawmakers in this case.

    “He was not aware of who we were looking at in any of the cases,” he said. “I never discussed the leak cases with Trump. He didn’t really ask me any of the specifics.”

    UH HUH.

    Look, sometimes two things can both be true. But sometimes someone is lying his pathetic ass off and crossing his fingers that the Inspector General will drag this thing out for three years before issuing a report, by which time we’ll all have lost interest.[…]

    As for the contention that Barr had NO IDEA whether Trump wanted the DOJ to tapp Schiff and Swalwell’s wires, that’s horseshit on its face.

    “Little Adam Schiff, who is desperate to run for higher office, is one of the biggest liars and leakers in Washington, right up there with Comey, Warner, Brennan and Clapper! Adam leaves closed committee hearings to illegally leak confidential information. Must be stopped!” Trump tweeted on February 5, 2018.

    And he was still at it two years later on February 22, 2020, snarking, “Just another Shifty Schiff leak. Isn’t there a law about this stuff?”

    The man spent his entire presidency howling about leakers and accusing everyone who ever worked for him of revealing classified information based on his own cracked theory that all his utterances were state secrets. Remember that time when the DOJ sued Melania’s former BFF for writing a mean book about her? Are we supposed to believe that Bill Barr never discussed it with anyone at the White House, deciding to devote Department resources to such a pissant garbage claim all on his own? Really? (The suit has since been dropped by Merrick Garland, BTW.)

    Barr is the one who parked New Jersey gang prosecutor Osmar Benvenuto over at the national security division so he could work on the leak investigations, and the Times says Benvenuto personally briefed Barr on his progress. Is Jowly Roy Cohn really going with the line that he dispatched this guy to do something, but he had no idea what it was and they never discussed it again?

    COME THE FUCK ON, ASSHOLE! Your Wonkette was born on a Tuesday, but it wasn’t last Tuesday.


  229. says

    Wonkette: “Tom Cotton Claims Biden Incited Heretofore Unseen Racism, Sexism In The Military”

    Late last month, Texas Representative Dan Crenshaw announced his creation of a “woke ideology whistleblower” site where military personnel could send him their horror stories of being told that racism and sexism exist and are problems for those who experience them.

    On Thursday, Republican Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas shared some of these findings with the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing. With all the heartfelt sincerity in the world, he explained to Lloyd Austin, American’s first black Defense Secretary, that racism and sexism were starting to happen in the military for the first time ever. Why? Because military personnel in some areas are being required to learn about these things and find that uncomfortable.

    “We’re hearing reports of plummeting morale, growing mistrust between the races and sexes where none existed just six months ago, and unexpected retirements and separations based on these trainings alone,” Cotton said to Sec. Austin, hoping for sympathy.

    Via Military Times:

    Cotton, a former Army infantry captain, detailed a handful of anonymous submissions to the site, set up in partnership with Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, a retired SEAL lieutenant commander.

    One Marine wrote that his unit’s “mandatory military history training was replaced with training on police brutality, white privilege and systemic racism,” Cotton said. “He reported several officers are now leaving this unit citing that training.”

    Of course, while service members regularly rotate in and out of units, and sometimes have opportunities to leave a unit early to pursue another role, they are not able to transfer at will.

    Continuing, Cotton spoke of a special operations troop who was told “the special operations community is racist”; a soldier who said a general officer referred to “the entire U.S. as racist”; an airman said his or her unit was forced to conduct a “privilege walk,” where troops separated themselves by race and gender to talk about their experiences with privilege; and soldiers “forced to watch videos about systemic racism and “documentaries that rewrite America’s history as a fundamentally racist and evil nation.”

    Cotton also cited a response to his website claiming that a freshly recruited Space Force guardian filed separation paperwork saying that joining the armed services amounted to “indoctrination.”

    […] It also seems like they are probably full of shit. As you may recall, no one was required to actually prove that they were in the military in order to fill out this form.

    There is, of course, no question that racism and sexism have been very big problems in the military. Notoriously so!

    Via Task and Purpose:

    Dog whistles aside, there is plenty of evidence that racism and sexism within the ranks actually predates the Biden administration. Task & Purpose has documented 40 cases since 2016 of service members and veterans participating in extremist organizations, such as white supremacist groups.

    The Pentagon tried to bury a 2017 survey that found nearly one-third of Black service members who responded said they had experienced racism. Moreover, 30% of Black respondents and 22% of Asian respondents felt their chances for promotion would be harmed if they reported the racial harassment and discrimination that they endured. […]

    As for sexism within the military, there are many examples from before Biden took office in January of commands failing to protect female service members from sexual harassment. A review following the April 2020 murder of Army Spc. Vanessa Guillén also showed that female soldiers at Fort Hood faced an environment so toxic that they constantly lived in “survival mode”

    […] Racism and sexism are not more rampant now that people have to do diversity training and learn that racism and sexism exist. That is not the issue. The issue is that people who didn’t have to worry about whether or not something they said or did was racist or sexist or consider how something they said might make someone else feel now have to worry about that. And they don’t like it, because having to think about those things makes them uncomfortable […]

    This is not a social phenomenon that is unique to the military or even to issues of racism and sexism. We all know people who get away with saying horrible things because no one wants to “make things awkward” by acknowledging it, and we know how aghast those people can get when someone finally does. We’re socialized to feel that the onus for not making things awkward or uncomfortable is on the oppressed or insulted in practically any situation, and people do get uncomfortable when that script is flipped […]

    I can only speak to this as a woman, but I know a lot of women who have felt like they had to laugh off sexual harassment, laugh off men groping them or otherwise being grotesque, not only for their own safety, but for everyone’s collective comfort. […] there was a time when women were more likely to plead with me to just let it go than men were. This was a fantastic situation for men, because women were largely policing each other. They weren’t the ones who had to worry about where the boundaries were.

    Things like diversity training take away the “Oh, they just don’t know any better” excuse — and with that comes the possibility that people won’t just let things go anymore. Because at the end of the day, what woke means is “paying attention.” And that’s really scary for some people who are used to being able to trust that their comfort will always come first. Because it won’t anymore.


  230. says

    This melting glacier was already the biggest source of sea level rise. Then things got worse.

    Washington Post link

    West Antarctica’s Pine Island glacier is speeding up as its ice shelf disintegrates, new research shows.

    The Pine Island glacier was already scary. The 160-mile-long river of ice is known as “the weak underbelly” of West Antarctica. It contributes more to sea level rise than any other glacier on the continent and ranks among the fastest melting glaciers in the world.

    Unlike other Antarctic glaciers, Pine Island is not sheltered from the warming ocean by a vast expanse of sea ice. The only thing preventing it from flowing directly into the Amundsen Sea embayment is a shelf of floating ice that sticks out from the glacier’s edge. This shelf is like a cork in a bottle, pressing against the stable sides of the bay to contain the tremendous pressure at its back.

    But the ice shelf is tearing itself apart. It has lost one-fifth of its mass in the last five years, shedding icebergs the size of cities. Rifts have opened up in the center of the shelf, potentially adding to the instability.

    Now the world has a whole new reason to worry about Pine Island. According to research published Friday in the journal Science Advances, the glacier is flowing toward the ocean 12 percent faster than at the start of 2017 — a result of the weakened ice shelf’s inability to act like plug.

    If this disintegration continues, “the whole shelf could potentially fall apart in the next few years, which is greatly faster than what we expected,” said Ian Joughin, a glaciologist at the University of Washington’s Applied Physics Laboratory who co-wrote the new report.

    The loss of the ice shelf would accelerate Pine Island’s decline even further. The faster it flows, the more ice it spits into the ocean, raising sea levels. The glacier already adds a sixth of a millimeter to sea level rise each year; but losing the ice shelf could double or triple that rate, Joughin said. Pine Island contains roughly 180 trillion tons of ice — enough to cause 1.6 feet of sea level rise.

    […] Previously, scientists had focused on the slow but steady thinning of the ice shelf as warm ocean waters seep underneath it. This melting makes ice shelves more vulnerable to collapse during the Antarctic summer, when high temperatures cause melting on the surface. But, since temperatures in West Antarctica are rarely more than a few degrees above freezing, that process was expected to take centuries to unfold.

    What’s happening now is much faster and less predictable, Joughin said. It appears that the rapid slide of the glacier is creating fractures in the ice shelf, which leads to more pieces breaking off, or “calving.” […]

    Pine Island’s ice shelf used to calve every four to six years, according to NASA, but since 2017 it has lost huge chunks of ice every year. Radar instruments on board the European Space Agency’s Sentinel-1 satellites capture images of the glacier every six days, even amid the months-long darkness of Antarctic winter. This allows scientists to watch the ice shelf break up in almost real time.

    NASA scientists flew over one of Pine Island’s newly formed bergs in 2018. Even from 1,500 feet, the Seattle-sized fragment took up the researcher’s entire field of vision. “It was spectacular and inspiring and humbling at the same time,” Brooke Medley, deputy project scientist for Operation Ice Bridge, said in a blog post from the agency.

    Just two years later, more bergs broke off along the ice shelf’s “shear margin,” where it attaches to thicker ice along the sides of the bay.

    It’s as if the cork in the bottle containing Pine Island glacier is crumbling. Having lost contact with the sides of the bay, the shelf is giving way to the river of ice behind it. […]

  231. says

    ‘People of Praise leaders failed me’: Christian group tied to Justice Amy Coney Barrett faces reckoning over sexual misconduct.

    Washington Post link

    In December, Katie Logan called the police in this Minneapolis suburb to unearth a buried secret: Her high school physics teacher had sexually assaulted her two decades earlier, she said. She was 17 and had just graduated from a school run by a small Christian group called People of Praise. He was 35 at the time, a widely admired teacher and girls’ basketball coach who lived in a People of Praise home for celibate men.

    Logan told police she reported the June 2001 incident to a dean at the school five years after it happened. Police records show the dean believed Logan and relayed the complaint to at least one other senior school official.

    But the teacher, Dave Beskar, remained at Trinity School at River Ridge until 2011, when he was hired to lead a charter school in Arizona. In 2015, he returned to the Minneapolis area to become headmaster of another Christian school. Beskar denies that any inappropriate sexual activity took place.

    “People of Praise leaders failed me,” Logan, 37, said in an interview with The Washington Post. “I think they wanted to protect themselves more than they wanted to protect me and other girls.”

    Logan was encouraged to go to police by a founder of “PoP Survivors,” a Facebook group formed last fall after the Supreme Court nomination of Amy Coney Barrett, who has deep roots in People of Praise and who served on the board of its schools years after Beskar left. Barrett’s ascendancy to the nation’s highest court has forced a painful reckoning in People of Praise, an insular Christian community that emphasizes traditional gender roles. The former members are now demanding that the group acknowledge their suffering and that it mishandled complaints, prompting People of Praise to hire two law firms to investigate allegations of abuse.

    The Post interviewed nine people in the Facebook group — all but one of them women — who said they were sexually abused as children, as well as another man who says he was physically abused. In four of those cases, the people said the alleged abuse was reported to community leaders. Logan gave The Post recorded statements and other documents from the police investigation of her complaint.

    […] People of Praise grew out of the charismatic Christian movement of the early 1970s, which adopted practices described in the New Testament of the Bible, including speaking in tongues, the use of prophecy and faith healing. The group says it has 1,700 members across the United States, Canada and the Caribbean.

    Barrett, who was raised in a People of Praise community in Louisiana, has long been active in the branch in the South Bend area, where she was a student at Notre Dame Law School. Barrett lived for a time with People of Praise co-founder Kevin Ranaghan and his wife, Dorothy, Dorothy Ranaghan has confirmed. A People of Praise 2010 directory shows Barrett served as a “handmaid,” a key female adviser to another female member. Barrett served on the Trinity Schools board, whose members must belong to People of Praise, from 2015 to 2017.

    […] “I am not questioning whether she is a brilliant legal mind,” said one former member, Sarah Mitchell Kuehl. “It’s more her association with this repressive organization that worries me and how it will impact her ability to be impartial knowing what I grew up with and the mind-set.”

    Kuehl said she was molested as a young child by a man who was staying with her family in the Minneapolis area in the late 1970s. They were members of Servants of the Light, a charismatic Christian group that merged with People of Praise in the early 1980s. Both groups’ practices include communal living, in which single people often live “in household” with families, and families often reside in clusters.

    […] Kuehl filed a civil claim against McAlpin when she was 17 in 1990. The following year, in a psychological assessment required as part of an agreement to settle the case, he acknowledged abusing a minor in the 1970s roughly 20 times. The assessment, which Kuehl provided to The Post, recommended that McAlpin receive treatment for pedophilia.

    […] Women in the Facebook group recalled childhood warnings from parents and teachers that wearing revealing clothing would tempt the opposite sex. They were responsible for warding off sexual advances from men, the women said they were told.

    “For so long, I felt like I did something wrong, and that I should be embarrassed and ashamed,” said Grundhofer, 47, who only recently told her parents she was molested around age 4. “I finally realized I didn’t do anything wrong.”

    People of Praise is led by an all-male board of governors. Younger adults are assigned a “head” of the same sex to guide them on spiritual and secular matters. Husbands typically take over as heads of their wives; wives do not become heads for their husbands. […]

    Sounds like mormonism.

  232. tomh says

    Republican US Sen. Ron Johnson Suspended From YouTube
    Tech Company Cited Wisconsin Senator’s Violation Of Its COVID-19 Misinformation Policy
    By Shawn Johnson
    Published: Friday, June 11, 2021

    Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson has been suspended from YouTube over videos he posted about COVID-19 that violated the company’s policy on medical misinformation.

    Johnson made the comments at a Milwaukee Press Club event held earlier this month. He was reportedly suspended from YouTube after uploading clips from the event.

    “We removed the video in accordance with our COVID-19 medical misinformation policies, which don’t allow content that encourages people to use Hydroxychloroquine or Ivermectin to treat or prevent the virus,” said a spokesperson for YouTube in a written statement.

    YouTube’s company policy bans any content “that spreads medical misinformation that contradicts local health authorities’ or the World Health Organization’s (WHO) medical information about COVID-19.” The policy specifically bans videos that recommend Hydroxychloroquine or Ivermectin to treat COVID-19 unless it includes “context that gives equal or greater weight to countervailing views from local health authorities or to medical or scientific consensus.”

    Johnson has been a vocal advocate for Hydroxychloroquine or Ivermectin to treat COVID-19 despite warnings from the medical community that the drugs are ineffective and could have averse side effects….

    The full, unedited video of Johnson’s remarks covering a wide range of topics remains on the Milwaukee Press Club YouTube page.

  233. blf says

    Follow-up to @159: Two more electionerroring propagandas plopped through the letterbox recently. One is from teh le penazis, with at least three of their four main “promises” xenophobic (control the border, insult Algiers, and keep Turkey out of the EU), plus a fourth one I haven’t decoded, but which may be save our statues! They are still pushing their twisted version of localism, which, e.g., in the sane world means, regarding food, locally-produced, but in their loony little loos, means no foreigners since they aren’t local. And something about defending xians in the Middles East from rampaging moolsin hordes. Normally I recycle the propagandas, but this one gets shredded. (And in what seems to be this year’s theme, five of the six pictured candidates have no idea at all how to simile — they all appear to scowl all the time — and so look like either vampires crazed by being out in the sunlight, or the stereotypical skulls mounted on posts.)

    The other propagandas is from some Socialist-Green outfit (or at least that’s how they refer to themselves), and lists a lot of issues, most of which seem sensible (ecologically-responsible transport and power with lasting jobs, etc.). One individual hasn’t figured out smiling, and another looks like a professor who’d like to be smoking a pipe whilst pontificating.

  234. blf says

    From RWW, Biden’s Demonic Lesbian Army:

    ● Eric Metaxas was booted from YouTube, which he apparently thinks is very similar to what happened to Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German theologian who was killed by the Nazis: I’ve written about so many heroes of the faith that have stood against this, so I cannot shrink from what comes to my doorstep.

    ● Scott Lively says the rainbow flag is an effort to sanitize the abomination of male homosexuality and that’s why, in the End Days, the association of the rainbow with the Antichrist is so connected.

    ● Larry Gaiters claims that Tiger Woods’ car accident was an attempted assassination by the deep state, which wanted to silence him before he exposed the Biden family’s ties to GameStop. [one of the comments from the associated twittering thread: “Like if you are going to make up a conspiracy theory at least make it make sense” –blf]


    ● Gordon Klingenschmitt warns that the Biden administration is actively recruiting lesbians into the military because they want a demonic military to help the Antichrist rise and take over the world.

    Demonic Lesbians world “rulers” (ignoring the military bit) might be worth a try, or possibly a band name.

  235. blf says

    US tech titans would have to exit key businesses under House plan:

    Democrats and Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee tabled legislation that would ban tech companies from owning a business that competes with other products or services on their platforms, among other measures.


    “Unregulated tech monopolies have too much power over our economy,” said Representative David Cicilline, a Rhode Island Democrat, who led the panel’s 16-month investigation into the power of four giant technology platforms: Apple, Facebook Inc., Amazon and Google.

    The panel concluded that the four companies are abusing their dominance in digital markets to thwart competition. “Our agenda will level the playing field and ensure the wealthiest, most powerful tech monopolies play by the same rules as the rest of us,” Cicilline said.

    “Big Tech has abused its dominance in the marketplace to crush competitors, censor speech, and control how we see and understand the world,” said Representative Ken Buck, a Colorado Republican.

    The bill is part of a package of legislation with bipartisan support aimed at giving antitrust enforcers new legal tools to take on dominant tech firms that have been accused of quashing competition in digital markets.

    The measures would also make it harder for large technology companies to win approval for mergers and place additional restrictions on how they run their platforms.

    The legislative package was praised by antitrust experts who say tech giants have used their power to insulate themselves from competitive threats and that existing law is inadequate to challenge the companies.

    Charlotte Slaiman, competition policy director at Public Knowledge in Washington, said the bills would go a long way toward opening digital markets to competition.

    “Now platforms can discriminate in ways where it’s almost impossible to put competitive pressure on them,” she said. “If we take those tools of control away, then they’re not going to to be able to protect their gatekeeper positions and great new products will be able to have a fair shake.”


    The bill targeting mergers would make it much harder for tech companies to win antitrust approval for deals. It would deem acquisitions illegal unless the companies can show the deal isn’t a threat to competition. That’s a significant change to existing law, which puts the burden on the government to prove a deal is anticompetitive. Under the proposal, the onus would shift to the companies and give the government a leg up in winning cases in court.

    The proposal on banning some businesses targets one of the main complaints about the big tech companies: that their business models create inherent conflicts by running vast marketplaces that other companies depend on to reach consumers, while at the same time competing against some of those companies with their own offerings.

    Cicilline proposed legislation that would impose non-discrimination provisions on the tech platforms preventing them from putting products and services from competitors at a disadvantage. It would also prohibit them from denying rivals access to their platforms.

    One of the provisions in Cicilline’s bill appears aimed at Apple and Google’s mobile-operating systems. It bans platforms from making it difficult or impossible for users to un-install software applications that have been pre-installed or to change default settings that steer users to their products.

  236. blf says

    The title, whilst accurate, perhaps misses the significant point alleged-torturer Ahmed al-Raisi may become president of Interpol, ‘Torture’ complaint filed in France against UAE official:

    Complaint by Lebanon-based NGO accuses Ahmed al-Raisi, a candidate for president of Interpol, of playing role in torture of jailed activist Ahmed Mansoor.

    An NGO campaigning for human rights in the Gulf has filed a complaint in France against a top UAE official running to be president of Interpol, accusing him of being responsible for the torture of a prominent dissident, its lawyer said on Friday.

    The Lebanon-based Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) filed its complaint against Major General Ahmed al-Raisi, inspector general at the UAE interior ministry, at a Paris court on Monday.

    The complaint accuses al-Raisi, who is a member of Interpol’s executive committee, of being responsible for “torture and barbaric acts” against the prominent UAE dissident Ahmed Mansoor who it says is being held in an Abu Dhabi jail in “mediaeval conditions”.

    Mansoor was arrested in 2017 and sentenced to 10 years in prison the following year on charges of criticising the UAE authorities and tarnishing the image of the country on social media.

    Amnesty International describes Mansoor as a prisoner of conscience.

    [… mercifully short description of the horrific conditions of Mansoor’s confinement…]

    Al-Raisi was accused last year of being responsible for the torture of a British academic and a football fan.

    He is regarded as a possible figure to become president of the France-based global police body, Interpol, when candidacies are presented at its general meeting in November, a prospect that has horrified activists.

    In a joint statement last month, Human Rights Watch and the GCHR warned that his candidacy “may jeopardise the global police organisation’s commitment to its human rights obligations”.

    [… William Bourdon, lawyer for GCHR,] said an “imminent visit” of al-Raisi to France as “part of his (Interpol) campaign” could make prosecution in France possible on the basis of universal jurisdiction.

    French judicial authorities can in theory judge crimes against humanity, war crimes and torture under universal jurisdiction if suspects are on French territory, regardless of where the crimes took place.


  237. blf says

    Rightwing firm posed as leftist group on Facebook to divide Democrats:

    A digital marketing firm closely linked to the pro-Trump youth group Turning Point USA was responsible for a series of deceptive Facebook ads promoting Green party candidates during the 2018 US midterm elections, the Guardian can reveal.

    In an apparent attempt to split the Democratic vote in a number of close races, the ads purported to come from an organization called America Progress Now (APN) and used socialist memes and rhetoric to urge leftwing voters to support Green party candidates.

    Facebook was aware of the true identity of the advertiser — the conservative marketing firm Rally Forge — and the deceptive nature of the ads, documents seen by the Guardian show, but the company determined that they did not violate its policies.

    Rally Forge would go on to set up a pro-Trump domestic “troll farm” for Turning Point Action, a “sister” organization of Turning Point USA, in 2020, earning a permanent ban from Facebook.

    “There were no policies at Facebook against pretending to be a group that did not exist, an abuse vector that has also been used by the governments of Honduras and Azerbaijan,” said Sophie Zhang, a former Facebook employee and whistleblower who played a small role in the investigation of the Green party ads.

    She added: “The fact that Rally Forge later went on to conduct coordinated inauthentic behavior with troll farms reminiscent of Russia should be taken as an indication that Facebook’s leniency led to more risk-taking behavior.”


    Many many more details at the link, including a highly-dubious non-investigation by the FEC.

  238. blf says

    Teh raping children cult — of whom President Biden is described as a “devout member” — is considering blackmailing him (and very possibly others) for daring to support abortion, Unique problem: Catholic bishops split over Biden’s support for abortion rights (my added emboldening):

    […] Next week, a national online meeting of US bishops will discuss whether the president and other high-profile political figures should be denied the sacraments because of his stance on abortion rights.

    How can he say he’s a devout Catholic and he’s doing these things that are contrary to the church’s teaching? archbishop Joseph Naumann, chair of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) committee on pro-life activities, asked last month. Biden’s position was a grave moral evil which presents a unique problem for the church, Naumann said.

    Cardinal Raymond Burke, a leading conservative and critic of Pope Francis, has gone further, saying that politicians who “publicly and obstinately” support abortion are “apostates” who should not only be barred from receiving communion but deserve excommunication.

    At this point a reminder that most of the Supreme Court justices are also members of the raping children cult (at least six of the nine). The article and quotes presume the threats are mostly directed at Biden, but…

    Father Gillespie’s [“of Holy Trinity in Washington, the church Biden usually attends in the capital”] public defence of Biden attending Mass has drawn angry phone calls, letters and emails. He told the Guardian it seemed best to refrain from speaking further on the matter, but said the president “has and will be welcomed to receive the Holy Eucharist” at his church.


    Andrew Chesnut, professor of religious studies at Virginia Commonwealth University, said […] “The proposal to exclude Biden and all election officials who support legal abortion from communion is an effort on the part of conservative bishops to shore up their base of regular Mass-goers who are the life blood of the church. But exclusionary ecclesial policies will only lead to greater defection from the pews […].”

    Michael Budde, professor of Catholic studies and political science at DePaul University in Chicago, said barring Biden from communion “will be rightly seen as a move of desperation, an attempt to coerce what has not been won by persuasion or dialogue”.


    A scathing editorial in the National Catholic Reporter earlier this month said the “tragic reality” of proceeding with the proposal was that “it will seal the deal on the branding of Catholicism in the United States as a culture war project. […]”

    Professor Chesnut also ties the move to internal cult politics, in particular, opposition to the Vatican’s “relatively liberal” alleged stance on various issues (i.e., only slightly to the right of, e.g., teh le penazis (see @274), which is far far too leftish).

  239. blf says

    Oregon house expels Republican who helped far-right rioters enter capitol:

    A Republican politician who on Thursday became the first representative ever expelled from the Oregon state house said the people he covertly let into the state capitol in December were mostly blue-haired old ladies.

    In fact they were far-right agitators, among them members of Patriot Prayer, a far-right group often involved in street violence, and people toting guns and Confederate flags and wearing militia regalia. Some attacked law enforcement officers with bear spray. Outside, reporters were assaulted and doors broken. Police struggled to force the rioters back.

    Widely seen CCTV footage from 21 December, when the state legislature was in special session and closed to the public, showed Republican Mike Nearman opening a door for agitators there to protest against coronavirus-related public health measures.


    Representatives of both parties called for Nearman to quit. Then, this month, new video surfaced in which Nearman described how the covert entry would work — and how he would deny knowledge if confronted.


    On Thursday, Nearman was ejected from the state House by a vote of 59–1 [only Nearman himself voted against his explusion –blf]. His seat will probably remain empty until the end of the session, later this month.

    In May, he was arraigned on “charges of official misconduct and criminal trespass”.

    Some snippets from Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB), Oregon House expels state Rep Mike Nearman, plotter of state Capitol incursion:

    You’re considering expelling a member, for the first time in history, because he thinks that people should have access to their Capitol, especially during session, Nearman said. After this session, we’re all going to go out to dinner or stop at the grocery store, or maybe tomorrow we’ll shop and buy clothes or get our oil change, because all these places are open, but not this building.

    Yes, those are the sorts of thing one does when carrying Shooty McShootfaces, wearing military combat gear, waving pro-slavery flags, and spraying people with bear spray. “Anyone fancy a curry?”

    […] Speaking before the special House committee, the lawmaker[breaker] repeatedly suggested that leading Democrats had violated the constitution by closing the Capitol to the general public; a step meant to curb the spread of COVID-19.

    Expelling me will not make the building any safer, Nearman said in a prepared statement. What will make everyone safer is if legislative leadership, beginning with the Speaker and the Senate president, admit that what happened in this building on December 21st was wrong and never should have happened. They never should have excluded the public from the public’s building.

  240. blf says

    Sadly, surviving terrorism does not include surviving hair furor’s rein, Marco Rubio wants to pause student debt — but only to terrorism survivors:

    Americans who survive a terrorist attack should get an automatic one-year deferment on their federal student loan payments, according to a bill introduced by Marco Rubio […]


    Rubio’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on how “terrorist attack” is defined in the legislation, and which mass shootings or other violent attacks would count as “terrorist attacks”.

    Some of the reactions to Rubio’s bill were strongly negative, with commenters suggesting the policy proposal was an insulting response to America’s sweeping student loan crisis.


    More than 40 million Americans have federal student loan debt. They owe an average of $39,406 each, according to

    In recent years, the number of victims killed annually in US domestic terrorism attacks has ranged from 22 to 66 people, according to data assembled by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

    “This is nice, but if Senator Rubio were actually seriously interested in safety and giving relief to survivors, he would back commonsense gun legislation like HR 8,” Christopher Zoeller, 19, the Florida state director for March for Our Lives, a youth gun violence prevention group, said in a statement to the Guardian.

    “He didn’t do it after Pulse, he didn’t do it after Parkland, and he still hasn’t done it today. We can see right through this gimmick.”

  241. says

    Trump DOJ Subpoenaed Apple For Data On More Than 100 In Leak Probe

    Prosecutors subpoenaed Apple in February 2018 for data on 73 phone numbers and 36 email address as part of the Trump Justice Department’s investigation into leaks of classified information, according to multiple reports.

    The New York Times reported on Friday that Apple said it had received the Justice Department’s grand jury subpoena on Feb. 6, 2018, but that the request had not disclosed information about the nature of the investigation or its targets. According to the Times, the company said it was only later that it learned the information it had handed over belonged to at least two Democratic lawmakers, staffers and their families, including a minor.

    The new details about just how many phone numbers and emails had been included in the request, come after the Times reported earlier on Friday that the Justice Department had issued the subpoena as part of its investigation into leaks of classified information. Two California Democrats, Reps. Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell, said they received notice last month that their data had been seized.

    They were informed after a gag order that had previously been extended three times, expired this year and the company was finally able to alert the affected customers.

    A person familiar with the request told CNN that the subpoena had demanded information from the tech giant beginning with the opening of the targeted accounts through the date of the subpoena. [!!!]

    An Apple spokesperson said no information had been provided in the subpoena about the nature of the probe.

    “In this case, the subpoena, which was issued by a federal grand jury and included a nondisclosure order signed by a federal magistrate judge, provided no information on the nature of the investigation and it would have been virtually impossible for Apple to understand the intent of the desired information without digging through users’ accounts,” Apple spokesperson Fred Sainz said in a statement.

    Sainz added that consistent with the request, “Apple limited the information it provided to account subscriber information and did not provide any content such as emails or pictures.”

    The statement from Apple comes as the Justice Department’s independent inspector general announced on Friday an investigation into the decision by federal prosecutors to secretly seize the data of House Democrats and reporters amid earlier revelations that the Justice Department had also seized communication records from several journalists from the New York Times, the Washington Post, and CNN.

    Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) demanded on Friday that the former attorneys general William P. Barr and Jeff Sessions testify before Congress about the leak investigations, specifically about the subpoena issued to Apple and another to Microsoft.

  242. says

    Follow-up to comment 283.

    Posted by readers of the article:

    I really want to know who in the DOJ persuaded a grand jury to authorize subpoenas against members of Congress who were known political opponents of Trump. There’s a lot here in the background that needs to be made public. DOJ’s inherent tendencies for secrecy.
    Apple is just the tip of the iceberg. Revelations from Microsoft are next. Then Google. And others.

    But this was no “leak probe”; it was a political fishing expedition. Barr was after dirt on Trump’s political enemies, and wanted whatever he could get: private gossip, compromising texts, questionable photographs, financial transactions, how much they knew of Nunes’ treachery, even re-electoral strategy and pending legislative maneuvering…

    Make no mistake – this was pure political ratf*ckery under the cover story of a leak probe.

    The revelations yet to come will shock even those among us who believe their capacity to be shocked has been exhausted.
    No disagreement about it being a fishing expedition, but this was 2018 so it was Sessions as AG until November of that year. Barr picked up the ball and ran with it, but it started with Sessions.
    how many Republicans will be targets of the probe? I will venture a guess and say zero.
    The subpoenas were for metadata, date, time, call duration, calling / contacted party, and location. Not content.

    So it could be used simply to confirm whether person A ever phoned person B. But the cell tower location is insidious. With a cell location, you can cast a net to figure out, for example, who else has been to the same coffee shop as Adam Schiff. Data companies like Palantir crunch this data for ICE, to track down people through their friend network.

    On a fishing expedition, you could look for blackmail fodder. Or simply find more associates to question or intimidate.

    I’d like to see what other information was subpoenaed in this so-called investigation.
    Seeking info from account creation through today does seem like a bit of a fishing expedition doesn’t it?
    Barr resurrected it all AFTER Sessions DOJ found nothing illegal, and was ready to put it to bed permanently. Barr KNEW definitively, that nothing was amiss. That’s how we know his actions are DEFINITELY abuse of power.
    Massive crunching of metadata is incredibly intrusive. But it flies under the radar, not noticed or understood by the public. I would like people to be alarmed!

  243. says

    Sessions, Barr, and Rosenstein all need to answer for the misuse of the DOJ

    When Donald Trump wanted to talk about the investigation being conducted into how his campaign colluded with Russian agents, he used a term that was meant to demean and delegitimize. He called it “spying.” Trump also accused the Obama administration of “wiretapping” his offices, which—no matter what Trump says—was in no sense true. But as more information emerges about the efforts of the DOJ to chase down supposed intelligence leaks, it’s hard to think of more appropriate terms. The Justice Department may not have been technically spying, and seeking to crack open metadata from cell phones isn’t really wiretapping, but the DOJ was absolutely surveilling member of Congress and their families, including their minor children.

    Unlike the investigation of Trump, which was begun because the intelligence community was presented with evidence that Trump’s team was engaging in efforts to gain Russian assistance in altering the outcome of the election, the effort to obtain phone data from California Reps. Eric Swalwell and Adam Schiff, as well as members of their families, seems to have been launched for no reason other than because Trump wanted it so. And, despite spending weeks finding no evidence, subpoenas were issued at least three times. Then the effort was revived months later and additional resources were added.

    As might be expected, Republicans are already being dismissive about the whole affair, with multiple claims that investigating Congress over potential intelligence leaks is nothing new. However, attempting to obtain phone records of Congress members without their knowledge is certainly a new thing—much less trying to get the records of their spouses and children. It’s clear that the DOJ went to extraordinary efforts to find something they could bring back to Trump as evidence that either Swalwell or Schiff had done something wrong.

    […] Former attorney general Jefferson Sessions says he didn’t start it. Former attorney general Bill Barr says he didn’t know about it. One of these men is absolutely lying. The other may be. But there’s a third man who almost certainly was involved in both the beginning and the end of this effort to … sure, why not … to spy on the families of representatives. That man is former deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein.

    […] The statement from Sessions is vaguely possible. Sessions recused himself from DOJ activities related to the Russia investigation in March of 2017, earning Trump’s undying rage in the process. Since the information released was connected to that investigation, it’s possible that Sessions was not involved. […]

    On the other hand, the statement from Barr is, as might be expected, pure bullshit. As has been widely reported, Barr was not only aware of the investigations, he revived them when he took office in 2018. Even though attempts to pin intelligence leaks on Congress had come up dry, and investigators were indicating that the whole thing was a dead end, Barr expanded the investigation. He added more staff and brought in a prosecutor expressly to handle the leak investigations. […]

    Like hell, Bill Barr “can’t recall.”

    And then there’s Rosenstein. […] Rosenstein has “refused to comment.” […]

    There was a time in the spring of 2017 when Rosenstein seemed like the one person at the DOJ who was holding some semblance of justice together. He authorized the Mueller investigation after Sessions recused himself. […]

    But by the spring of 2018, Rosenstein appeared desperate to show he was fully on Team Trump. He instructed the DOJ to increase prosecutions of refugee families. […] it was Rosenstein who argued that children should be separated from parents, even if they were infants. That fall, Rosenstein was reportedly crying after a call to Trump and then-chief of staff John Kelly, in which it appeared he might be forced to resign. He begged for his position, telling Trump that “I can land the plane,” and suggested that keeping him in place gave the Russia investigation “credibility.”

    Once Barr came on board, Rosenstein was reliably at his elbow, providing cover for Barr’s actions. That included signing off on the conclusion that Donald Trump not be charged with obstruction in spite of the mountains of evidence in support of that charge.

    Rosenstein left in 2019, but he didn’t pass into obscurity. He went to work as a partner at white-shoe law firm King & Spaulding, where he is in charge of “special matters and government investigations.” […]

    Far from being run out of town, Rosenstein was helped into a nice, soft, lucrative position at a firm with deep connections to Trump. A firm which counts the Trump Organization as one of its largest clients. […]

    It’s obvious that Rosenstein must had done a lot to earn that spot. And it’s obvious that he needs to testify.

    He can start by answering questions about his knowledge of the effort to secure the phones of sitting representatives and their families. Sessions might claim ignorance. Barr might feign forgetfulness.

    But Rosenstein was there for it all.

  244. says

    Secret recordings, leaked letters: Explosive secrets rocking the Southern Baptist Convention

    The article was written for The Washington Post by Sarah Pulliam Bailey.

    Demands for political loyalty. Disputes about racism. A fight between conservatives and ultraconservatives. It sounds like current debates within the Republican Party, but on Tuesday, thousands of Southern Baptists will gather in Nashville to vote on issues that will shape the massive denomination’s future, including the choice of its next president. [And it’s support for Republican politicians.]

    […] infighting at the highest levels of leadership that has become public in recent weeks. New details released to news media outlets have shined a light on the backroom dealings of several of its high-profile leaders.

    Russell Moore, who previously led the Southern Baptist Convention’s public policy arm, recently left his position and his church for a new position at Christianity Today magazine. On his way out, two letters he sent to SBC leadership were leaked to media, in which Moore described a culture of racism and mishandling of sexual abuse claims.

    […] The Washington Post interviewed a dozen employees of SBC institutions, as well as five pastors, all of whom said they could not speak openly about what has taken place without jeopardizing their jobs.

    One Black pastor has decided to share his removal earlier this year from his job as director of information technology at the SBC’s missions and church planting institution, the North American Mission Board (NAMB).

    Tez Andrews, who also serves as an SBC pastor in Atlanta, said that in March, he published a Facebook post about one of the candidates running to be SBC’s president, Mike Stone, who spoke on a podcast against critical race theory (CRT), an intellectual framework used to examine systemic racism in the United States.

    NAMB, which poured $130 million into SBC churches in 2020, is a powerful force within the convention, because it decides how to distribute money to things such as relief efforts and church planters […]

    Stone compared people who use CRT as a framework to Catholics, Methodists and Pentecostals — Christians with whom Baptists have major theological differences and who cannot be in the SBC. He compared CRT to issues of women’s ordination and LGBT-endorsing churches. […] “If one group in the Southern Baptist Convention believes that critical race theory is a helpful tool but another group believes it is completely incompatible with the Bible and ultimately destructive to our gospel efforts, there can be union, but there cannot be true biblical unity,” Stone said.

    Andrews responded to Stone on Facebook: “Critical Race Theory is a theory and a model that helps predict systemic race issues in society. Mike Stone and people like him are afraid of losing their supremacist position.”

    […] “They basically said, ‘You disrespected Mike Stone, so you’re gone,’” said Andrews, who will attend the Nashville meeting. “To me, it’s the good-ol’-boy system.” […]

    Andrews said NAMB leaders told him it would invest money in his lower-income community, yet he is still waiting for the money to come through. When Andrews negotiated his severance, NAMB leaders had Andrews sign a nondisclosure agreement and a nondisparagement clause, which Andrews signed. It said he agreed to not say anything bad about NAMB. […]

    Another person recently singled out for speaking out about SBC issues is Jamie Ivey, a prominent Southern Baptist Bible teacher and podcaster. […] Two people involved said the decision was made because leaders were concerned that Ivey calls herself a preacher and that she and her husband drink alcohol. (NAMB has a policy that doesn’t allow its church planters to consume alcohol.)

    Caught in a culture war, this multiracial family navigates a predominantly White evangelical world.

    […] The transactional nature of the denomination allows pastors and lay members to financially benefit from things such as pastors’ health insurance and reduced tuition rates at its schools. […]

  245. says

    From the Washington Post editorial board: Another stunning revelation about the Trump Justice Department requires answers — and action

    […] Donald Trump’s Justice Department subpoenaed communications records of federal lawmakers and their families — including those of a minor — in 2017 and 2018, in stunningly aggressive leak investigations targeting prominent Trump critics. This news comes on top of the recent revelations that federal investigators sought similar data about journalists who reported on Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and the subsequent investigation into Kremlin meddling. In both cases, the department obtained gag orders preventing the targets from learning that the government was seizing their personal information.

    […] The public is only just learning about the extraordinary aggressiveness with which the department pursued these investigations, with little apparent regard for the separation of powers or press freedom, as Mr. Trump applied pressure on his aides to get tough on leakers. There is a lot the public does not know. But, along with the Justice Department’s secret pursuit of journalists at Trump-disfavored outlets such as The Post, the Times and CNN, the latest revelations indicate that Trump officials used the Justice Department for political purposes to a degree unknown since the Nixon administration. They point to how much worse the abuse of law enforcement powers could have gotten — or could get — in a second Trump term. As his four years wore on, Mr. Trump got better at weeding out or sidelining conscientious officials in favor of those more willing to do his bidding, with results that were both visible and, at the time, invisible.

    While in office, Mr. Barr objected to the notion that he helped Mr. Trump’s friends and hounded the then-president’s enemies. “What enemies have I indicted?” he asked during 2020 House testimony. Well, he apparently went after Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), the House Intelligence Committee chairman who led the first Trump impeachment. When that is added to the favors Mr. Barr did for criminal Trump allies, such as former national security adviser Michael Flynn and presidential confidant Roger Stone, the judgment that Mr. Trump’s Justice Department willingly and crudely served his personal political interests appears more warranted than ever.

    Attorney General Merrick Garland should provide further transparency on these subpoenas. Then he must ensure that the right rules are in place to prevent the department’s vast law enforcement tools from being used as cudgels against any president’s political enemies or journalists. Congress may need to legislate to ensure that future attorneys general cannot simply cancel whatever standards Mr. Garland sets. His top priority must be repairing the reputation of the Justice Department after four years of assault on the principle that investigations and prosecutions should be free of political interference.