It’s a time warp! The Infinite Thread is back!


I’m consolidating things. I’m fusing the Open Thread (which died in 2020) and the Political Madness thread, which has been going strong all this time, thanks to the stewardship of Lynna, into one unholy amalgam of anything goes. Almost anything goes, that is. I’m hoping Lynna will continue to inject regular antidotes to the political madness, but also it’ll be a place where all the random odd thoughts and question and socializing can go on.

This would be the 20th iteration of the political madness thread, I think, so fill this up and we’ll go on to Infinite Thread XXI.

Oh, also: The Endless Thread has been maintained on Affinity. This is not a replacement for that lovely thread!

Comments

  1. onion girl, OM; social workers do it with paperwork says

    Ah, home sweet home. lights candles and puts out a tray of tea and snacks

  2. raven says

    I do want to thank Lynna, SC, blf, and the other regulars for keeping the Political Madness thread going. I don’t post on there often, but I read it every day.

    It’s always got the important points of what political madness happened that day.
    And will never run out of news items to post.

  3. says

    Hello All, welcome to the new amalgamation thread.

    For our dose of political madness today, we check in to see how Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene are doing. These two Republican doofuses can always be counted on to meld stupidity with promoting wild conspiracy theories. Lo, the duo has been kicked to the curb by some California venues.

    Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) on Saturday held a last-minute event on a sidewalk after a third California venue bailed on their plans to host an “America First” rally amid safety concerns.

    According to the Orange County Register, Gaetz and Greene held a “Free Speech Peaceful Protest” outside the Riverside City Hall following three cancelations from California venues in light of the lawmakers’ history of incendiary remarks.

    Awww. Why can’t two dunderheads promote violence-engendering, baseless conspiracy theories? What is this country coming to be?

    On Saturday afternoon, the M3 Live Anaheim Event Center canceled on Gaetz and Greene hours before their event was scheduled to begin — a move that happened after two other venues, the Pacific Hills Banquet & Event Center in Laguna Hills and the Riverside Convention Center, backed out of hosting the lawmakers’ events after owners of the venues received backlash for hosting the event.

    “Backlash” works, people. Keep participating in that truth-promoting activism.

    The Register reported that Greene and Gaetz decried the cancelations by painting themselves as victims of “cancel culture.”

    “And here’s what we’re going to do, America. You’ve got two members of Congress right here and we refuse to be canceled because we won’t let you be canceled,” Greene said, according to the Register.

    Gaetz similarly griped over the cancelations to a crowd of more than 100 people, saying that he wants to fight back.

    “They may try to cancel us online. They may try to pursue us in real life. They may try to shut down our venues. But we will take this fight to them in the courts, in the halls of Congress and if necessary, in the streets!” Gaetz said, according to the Register.

    Earlier Saturday, the city of Anaheim delivered a third blow to the lawmakers’ attempts at holding “America First” rallies by canceling the event less than 10 hours before its scheduled time, according to the Register.

    “We respect free speech and we are capable of holding events,” Anaheim spokesman Mike Lyster said. “But it was the lack of advance notice for an event that would attract the attention at the level this one would that has raised issues for our city.”

    Lyster added that the city has “concerns about the nature of the event” and that it does not reflect “the values we share.”

    “We as a city shared our public safety concerns with the operator and the operator shares the concerns,” Lyster said, the Register reported.

    Gaetz and Greene, both of whom are Trump loyalists who continue to do the former president’s bidding of pushing the big lie of a “stolen” presidential election, have become embroiled in a series of controversies in recent months.

    The Justice Department is investigating whether Gaetz had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old and paid for her to travel across state lines. Gaetz has repeatedly denied the allegations.

    Last February, Greene had her committee assignments revoked after her inflammatory social media posts resurfaced, which included musings about the execution of Democratic politicians who are now her colleagues.

    Link

    All of Trump’s “best people” are still out there behaving like cult followers.

  4. says

    raven in comment #2, thank you. We appreciate your appreciation and are glad you found the political madness thread helpful.

    Follow-up to comment 4, with commentary posted by readers of the article:

    Even if they weren’t promoting lies, violence, and sedition, showing two assholes the door is not a rejection of free speech, it is just showing two assholes the door.
    ———————
    Back ranting on a street corner is where they belong.
    ———————-
    Gee, I wonder why these venues won’t host them? It’s almost as if they’re a liability or something.
    ————————
    They are denied event spaces to spread their lies and grievances so they take to the street to scream at the sky about what ‘victims’ they are? Charming.
    ———————–
    The grift must go on, without it where would either of those two losers be? Grift or bust should be their motto. [Quite true, Both doofuses are making money off this.]
    —————–
    Four Seasons Landscaping wasn’t available.
    ——————-
    One video showed a crowd yelling “PEDOPHILE!” while Gaetz was speaking. Now THAT’S gotta sting!

  5. says

    Why is Tucker Carlson still on the air?

    Honestly, a better question might be “Why is Tucker Carlson not in jail?”

    On Friday night, Carlson was back on Fox News to welcome COVID-19-”truther” Alex Barenson to his program. Together, the two said that “masks are useless” and nothing more than a symbol that someone is obedient to the government, and claimed that mask mandates have no intention other than to make people scared, and are doing “psychological damage.” They then moved on to say that the vaccines are “declining in effectiveness very quickly,” and that the truth about vaccines was being blocked by “tremendous financial pressure.”

    Decades ago, the Supreme Court determined that the United States should live with a very expansive view of the First Amendment’s promises of free speech; in fact, that view has continually expanded. Until the 20th century, the primary test was of “bad tendency”; that is, speech could be outlawed if it could be seen as causing harm to the public welfare. Then, for most of the last century, the test was “clear and present danger,” meaning that speech didn’t have to just be something that was considered a threat, but an imminent and specific threat. That requirement was made even sharper after 1969 when a series of decisions moved the stakes to a requirement that speech be designed to generate “imminent lawless action.” Under that requirement, speech is not protected only if it is intended to create an incident that is both “imminent and likely.”

    That expansion of First Amendment rights has been a good thing, in part because it has protected the speech of those arguing for civil rights and those protesting war. But it’s also been used for bad purposes, to protect speech designed to create schisms in the nation and to build up racist hatred. However, even the most extreme interpretation of the First Amendment should not protect the acts in which Carlson is currently engaged. His words are, by any standard, causing harm to the public welfare, generating a clear and present danger, and creating an imminent threat to the very lives of Americans.

    Whether or not Carlson could be successfully prosecuted is an open question. Whether he should be on the air is not.

    [snipped details of “Tide Pod challenge” videos appearing on social media.It was dangerous. It was shut down.}

    […] another event that took place in 2017. That’s when Harley Branham, a manager at the local Dairy Queen in Fayette, Missouri, was charged with encouraging the suicide of a 17-year-old employee. As the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported, Branham harassed the employee over a period of three months, making fun of his weight, his appearance, his way of speaking, and his intelligence. In 2019, Branham pleaded guilty to a charge of third-degree assault in the youth’s death, and was sentenced to two years’ probation after making a deal with prosecutors.

    [Snipped details concerning 18-year-old Conrad Roy’s suicide.]

    In May 2021 alone, over 18,000 Americans died of COVID-19. Of those who died, only about 150 were people who had been vaccinated. In the same month, more than 107,000 Americans were hospitalized for severe illness attributed to COVID-19. Only 1% of those people had been vaccinated.

    It may be too much to charge Tucker Carlson directly with 18,000 counts of manslaughter for his actions over the course of that month, but there is one thing certain: What Carlson is doing is much closer to the actions of Branham or Carter than it is to the teens laughing over the Tide Pod challenge. The frozen food heir is fully aware of the consequences of his actions, He is fully aware of the falseness of his claims. He is fully culpable in the deaths of thousands of Americans.

    This is not a case of a broadcaster repeating a mistaken claim, or someone rushing forward with information that is incomplete. Carlson is deliberately, frequently, and constantly providing disinformation to the public that generates real and lasting harm—including death on a massive scale.

    […] Every single platform should feel an obligation to not just disown Carlson, but to prominently feature material correcting his false claims. Every single news program should feel obligated to call out this threat regularly, until it no longer exists. And every single sponsor who puts up a dime for his program should be considered a co-conspirator in his acts.

  6. says

    Military-grade spyware found on journalists and activists’ phones

    Military-grade spyware licensed by an Israeli firm was used in attempts to hack into smartphones belonging to journalists and activists, according to a new investigation by The Washington Post and 16 media partners.

    The Post reported on Sunday that the spyware, licensed from the Israeli firm NSO Group to governments for tracking terrorists and criminals, was used in attempts to hack into 37 phones belonging to journalists, human rights activists, businesses executives and two women who were close to murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Some of the hacking attempts were successful.

    The phones were included on a list of more than 50,000 numbers, many of which were based in countries that are known to surveille their citizens and are recognized clients of NSO Group, according to the investigation. […]

    More at the link.

  7. says

    Anthony Fauci:

    If you look at the extraordinary historic success in eradicating smallpox and eliminating polio from most of the world, and we’re on the brink of eradicating polio, if we had the pushback for vaccines the way we’re seeing on certain media, I don’t think it would have been possible at all to not only eradicate smallpox; we probably would still have smallpox, and we probably would still have polio in this country.

    If we had the kind of false information that’s being spread now, if we had that back decades ago, I would be certain that we’d still have polio in this country.

    The quotes are taken from an interview conducted by “CNN Newsroom” host Jim Acosta.

  8. says

    Rightwing-ish, conservative coffee? WTF?

    On Friday, The New York Times ran a profile of the owners of Black Rifle Coffee, a coffee company that has become closely associated with the far right due to fans like accused murderer Kyle Rittenhouse and the Zip Tie Guy from the January 6th insurrection wearing their apparel. This was not a mere accident or a situation like the Proud Boys adopting Fred Perry polos as their official uniform. Over the last several years, Black Rifle Coffee has purposely courted these sorts by adopting right-wing meme culture and positioning themselves as the anti-hipster, pro-gun “Starbucks of the Right.” It was a smart move, business-wise […]

    it’s gone too far and the coffee companies don’t like that insurrectionists, murderers, and Nazis are going around wearing their branded merchandise. Though it is unclear who else they thought they were going to be appealing to with gun-themed coffee.

    Via New York Times:

    “You can’t let sections of your customers hijack your brand and say, ‘This is who you are,’” [Matt] Best told me. “It’s like, no, no, we define that.” The Rittenhouse episode may have cost the company thousands of customers, but, Hafer believed, it also allowed Black Rifle to draw a line in the sand. “It’s such a repugnant group of people,” Hafer said. “It’s like the worst of American society, and I got to flush the toilet of some of those people that kind of hijacked portions of the brand.” Then again, what Hafer insisted was a “superclear delineation” was not too clear to everyone, as Munchel’s choice of headgear vividly demonstrated.

    “The racism [expletive] really pisses me off,” Hafer said. “I hate racist, Proud Boy-ish people. Like, I’ll pay them to leave my customer base. I would gladly chop all of those people out of my [expletive] customer database and pay them to get the [expletive] out.”

    While “the Rittenhouse episode” — in which Black Rifle Coffee said they weren’t “sponsoring” him, because they didn’t want to make money off of a tragedy — led to many on the Right abandoning them, this profile certainly sealed the deal. Across social media, the brand was swiftly denounced by far-right pundits and white nationalists alike, who accused them of grifting the base and then turning their back on them when it became inconvenient.

    From a marketing perspective, the company kind of shot themselves in the foot with this one. The fact is, there are more people in this country who believe in the existence of “principled conservatives” and “reasonable Republicans” than there are actual living, breathing human beings in either of those demographics combined. Frankly, the only place they really exist is on television shows written by self-hating liberals.

    In the Times article, Black Rifle Coffee co-founder Evan Hafer asked:

    How do you build a cool, kind of irreverent, pro-Second Amendment, pro-America brand in the MAGA era without doubling down on the MAGA movement and also not being called a [expletive] RINO by the MAGA guys?

    The answer is that they can’t, because that is not a demographic that exists. It is purely theoretical.

    Ironically, any non-fair trade coffee is about as right-wing as you can get, given that coffee beans are frequently harvested by children and “bonded workers” (aka slaves), so at the end of the day the only thing they’re really mad at is not being marketed to the way they’d like.

    Still, other brands hoping to corner the far-right market announced their support for Kyle Rittenhouse and the January 6 insurrectionists popped up hoping to woo the freshly abandoned customer base. Brands like “Right Wing Brew.” Let’s take a look at how they describe their coffee, shall we?

    FREEDOM COFFEE, MADE FOR AMERICANS.

    Rumored to have been tasted by George Washington himself, our coffee is truly American to the bone. Never miss an opportunity to fill your heart and soul with this tasty experience. Right Wing Brew.

    This 12oz bag of whole bean coffee is proudly roasted in Boise Idaho. We’re veteran owned and operated.

    Warning: This coffee may entice you to love guns, ride eagles, eat steak, vote Republican, stand for the national anthem and care less about Europe. Side effects may also include, taking a deep breath of freedom, craving bacon and being one of two genders.

    […] Noted Seth Rich conspiracy theorist Matt Couch backed “Beard Vet” coffee, which he claimed does not “turn their backs on patriots.” […]

    While Ann Coulter repped Three Rivers Coffee, claiming “THESE guys aren’t frauds.” […]

    In response to the Black Rifle Coffee guys saying that they didn’t want to put a picture of St. Michael on their coffee due to the way a picture of the archangel stepping on the neck of a demon has been adopted by white nationalist supporters of Derek Chauvin, another coffee company, Stocking Mill Coffee, announced “We’re not just pro-21, we’re pro-Saint Michael.” […]

    The company was also cited as being “Pro-Kyle Rittenhouse.”

    Alas, while many of the MAGA types said they were happy to switch to Stock Mill, or had been using it the whole time due to their underlying feeling that Black Rifle was grifting them, others “called them out” for having recently encouraged their followers to get vaccinated and wash their hands. […]

    Who will win the battle for the black hearts of America’s worst humans? Only time will tell, although we probably won’t notice because who the hell cares what kind of coffee these assholes drink anyway?

    Anyway, get yourself yourself a non-Nazified coffee […]

    Link

  9. says

    Boris Johnson back in coronavirus quarantine on eve of Britain’s ‘Freedom Day’

    Washington Post link

    First, the new British Health Secretary Sajid Javid — three weeks on the job, in the middle of an explosion in cases, who had declared it was time to “live with the virus”— announced on Saturday that he’d tested positive for the coronavirus and would self-isolate.

    Then on Sunday, both Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Finance Minister Rishi Sunak said they’d been alerted by the National Health Service that since they had been in close contact with an infected individual — i.e., Javid — they must immediately quarantine at home.

    The quarantine of the top leadership in a British government struggling to manage the pandemic comes less than 24 hours before Johnson plans to end almost all government mandates in England for mask-wearing and social distancing. On Monday, dubbed “Freedom Day” by the press, it will be a “personal choice” whether to mask or distance in most settings. A number of health experts have condemned the opening as a reckless experiment. […]

    Johnson got the word that he must quarantine while he was spending the weekend at Chequers, the prime minister’s official countryside estate. According to his spokesman, the prime minister will spend Freedom Day not out and about, but instead conducting business, again, via remote teleconference.

    The prime minister’s quarantine comes as coronavirus infections explode in Britain, driven by the highly infectious delta variant, first detected in India. There were more than 53,969 new infections recorded in Britain on Saturday, almost double the number of recent cases in the United States and orders of magnitude more than the few thousand a day recorded in Britain in May. […]

    Johnson’s government continues to run a test-trace-isolate mobile phone app, which “pings” people if they have been in close contact with a newly infected individual. Now there’s a “pingdemic” with more than 500,000 people pinged just last week and told to stay home. It looks like more of Boris Johnson’s fumbling and bumbling around as he pretends to do his job.

  10. says

    U.S. could lose its top-level bond rating because of the Big Lie

    […] late yesterday, more evidence came that should amply demonstrate that nothing Trump did will ever be worth it. Shortly after the markets closed, one of the credit rating agencies responsible for rating government bonds and securities warned that Trump’s obstinate insistence that he won a second term could cost this country its decades-long “AAA” bond rating.

    The warning came from Fitch Ratings, one of the “Big Three” credit rating agencies. David Badash of The New Civil Rights Movement explains:

    In a “rating action commentary” published just minutes after markets closed Fitch Ratings said it “has affirmed the United States’ Long-Term Foreign Currency Issuer Default Rating (IDR) at ‘AAA,’” but warned: “The Rating Outlook is Negative.”

    Why?

    In a word, Trump.

    “The failure of the former president to concede the election and the events surrounding the certification of the results of the presidential election in Congress in January, have no recent parallels in other very highly rated sovereigns,” Fitch declared, explaining its negative outlook warning.

    […] a country with a lower credit rating has to pay more interest on debt that it issues. […] the prospect of having to pay more interest, even a little more, is not a good look. And that would be especially true if we ended up having to pay more interest because of a guy whose slogan is “Make America Great Again,” and who declared time and again that he alone could ensure we were great again. […]

  11. tacitus says

    Huge study supporting ivermectin as Covid treatment withdrawn over ethical concerns

    Must be bullshit. The rightwing message boards have declared it to be a miracle cure that stops the Delta variant in its tracks…

  12. says

    I do want to thank Lynna, SC, blf, and the other regulars for keeping the Political Madness thread going. I don’t post on there often, but I read it every day.

    Very much agree. This is a great collection of news stories and I often find things I otherwise would have missed. I appreciate that you have the energy to keep it going.

  13. tacitus says

    If you guys haven’t heard for the Freedom Phone you should look it up — it’s hilariously bad — but it gave me an idea. Can’t one of the vaccine manufacturers put out a special edition of their vaccine and call it Freedom Juice? Their marketing campaign could focus on showing how it would help them “own the libs” at the next election (i.e. they would live long enough to vote in the next election).

  14. says

    The quarantine of the top leadership in a British government struggling to manage the pandemic comes less than 24 hours before Johnson plans to end almost all government mandates in England for mask-wearing and social distancing.

    One thing the Johnson government is infamous for are the many U-turns it has had to make over policy, because reality stubbornly refuses to align with how they want it to be.

    Methinks here is another U-turn in the making.

  15. John Morales says

    When trolling backfires:
    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-07-19/katie-hopkins-visa-cancelled-deported-channel-seven/100303648

    Far-right British commentator Katie Hopkins will be deported after her visa was cancelled overnight.

    Ms Hopkins had been brought to Australia by Channel 7 to join its reality television program Big Brother VIP, but was dropped from the program after boasting about the ways she was undermining the hotel’s safety protocols, describing the lockdown as a “hoax”.

    Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews told ABC News Breakfast Ms Hopkins’s visa had been cancelled.

    “We will be getting her out of the country as soon as we can arrange that,” she said.

    […]

    In a video that has since been deleted from Instagram, Ms Hopkins said she had been “lying in wait” by her door for workers delivering food to her room, so she could “spring it open and frighten the shit out of them and do it naked with no face mask”.

  16. birgerjohansson says

    John Morales @ 19
    The likes of Kate Hopkins know deep in their bones that ‘rules’ and ‘laws’ are for the peasants, not for their betters.
    .
    I know that most of the readers are likely familiar with ‘God Awful Movies’ (motto: we watch awful religious films so you don’t have to)
    but I will remind you spending an hour of listening to them decoding fundiethink is hilarious.
    One film that comes to mind is “Plandemic”.
    Do you want to widen your perspectives? From Nigeria comes the Christian gem ‘Vultures of Horror’, likewise dissected at GAM. Also some terrible Japanese cult-commissioned animes.

  17. birgerjohansson says

    The Young Turks at Youtube have told the story of a straw poll at CPAC that shows Trump has a total lock on this segment of the Republicans.

    -In addition, Trump said straight out that if a poll gave him bad numbers, he would dismiss it as ‘fake news’ and if it gave him good news he would praise the poll.
    He told his followers to their faces he would lie to them and they just applauded and cheered. It’s a cult.

  18. Silentbob says

    Is it wrong that I prefer emo-nihilist PZ and his existential dread from 2015?

    I’m not even going to try to foster this thing called “community” any more – I will be a cold dark ember of a star, following my own whims, drifting alone, not trying to create a hospitable atmosphere. If you like what I write, read it; if you want to comment on it, write; but I won’t be providing any special places for social interaction. [… ] I’m afraid my mind is made up and I will not be reinstituting traditions that have become a source of constant trouble.

    The OP:

    The Infinite Thread is back!

    Wait… TIT? You’re offering us TIT?

    (Sorry, it’s not my fault; I grew up watching Benny Hill.)

    I just hope this isn’t the return of old-school fuck-yourself-sideways-with-a-rusty-clenched-tentacle-salute-dead-porcupine style Pharyngula. That place sucked.

  19. John Morales says

    Silentbob,

    That place sucked.

    Ah, those were the days!

    (Order of the Molly days)

  20. Silentbob says

    @ 24 John Morales

    Yeah, the significance of the OM in the ‘nym of commenter #1 was not lost on me and indeed sent a shiver down my spine.

    Not insignificant, though, don’t you think, that so many from those halcyon days of yore turned out to be despicable assholes? Lady Mondegreen / Stacy Kennedy? – Today an unhinged reactionary transphobe. Remember Josh Spokesgay? – Now an Alex Jones style covid denying right wing anti-SJW loony.

    It’s almost like what attracted people to old-school Pharyngula was not, in fact, a concern for social justice, but a place to be openly and unapologetically a shit. (Present company excepted of course John, I’m sure that in no way describes your worthy self. ;-)

    And lest I be misunderstood,  Poopyhead excepted as well. He’s always stuck to the side of the angels, no matter how shitty people around him have turned out to be, including his own co-bloggers or commenters.

  21. birgerjohansson says

    I learned that the six Democratic senators implicated in the “sting” of a lobbyist have recieved around 300,000 $ from fossil-fuel and other conservative lobbyists in campaign donations Coughbribescough the last few years.

    The surprising thing is the low amount, especially when you split it across six. It may seem much for an ordinary working Joe, but this is coffee money for these corporations.
    Heck, there may be some high-class call girls that make more, but those get to maintain some self-esteem , unlike these political hacks.
    I do not know the current US federal budget but it is a lot more than 300 billion.
    These six losers are selling out the country for literally less than a millionth of the US budget!
    If I was a villain, I would demand at least one per cent.
    .
    Now that these amounts have been made public, Americans should thoroughly shame those senators, för instance with a campaign called “Buy back Joe Manchin”, collecting money to theoretically outbid the lobby groups.
    .
    And if there is some liberal film actor with the money, we should ask him to literally go on TV with a checkbook, waving it in the air and offering to pay the six Democratic senators more, if they put their voters ahead of the lobbyists. After all, it is fair to offer them compensation if they are to give up their grift for the “public good”. 😊

  22. John Morales says

    [nostalgia, social]

    Remember Josh Spokesgay?

    I do. Yeah, pertinent point. There are those.

    But still… remember Josh the geologist?
    Carried a lot of weight back in the Titanoboa threads, which led to the original TET. Such informative posts!

    It’s almost like what attracted people to old-school Pharyngula was not, in fact, a concern for social justice, but a place to be openly and unapologetically a shit.

    Yes, the hurly-burly days of yore. And where one could be a shit to shits and a troll to trolls. Good times!

    I remember the original Pharyngula, before SB days even. Before it even became feminist and queer-friendly (and busy!).
    And it was people like SC and Caine (and yes, Josh) who bent it that way.

    (I took truth machine as my sifu; alas, I’m but a pale imitation of his relentless acumen, exactitude and bluntness)

    He’s always stuck to the side of the angels, no matter how shitty people around him have turned out to be, including his own co-bloggers or commenters.

    There was the bad, but also the good.

    Circling back to your point, I kinda feel bad about the circumstances that befell Chris Clarke’s participation; I think that had a big effect on PZ.

  23. birgerjohansson says

    ….aand the “origin story” of Tucker Carlson has been debunked. He claimed to have been victimised by evil librul teachers in hos early schooldays. His old teacher was able to disprove his bullshit. But his viewers will never hear about it, they only watch Fox News.

  24. says

    More re Lynna’s #8 above – the Guardian (support them if you can!) is doing a full series on the spying: the Pegasus project.

    From the series – “Viktor Orbán using NSO spyware in assault on media, data suggests”:

    Viktor Orbán’s government has deployed a new weapon in its war on the media in Hungary, according to forensic analysis of several mobile devices, using some of the world’s most invasive spyware against investigative journalists and the circle of one of the country’s last remaining independent media owners.

    The Pegasus project, a collaborative investigation run by the French nonprofit journalism organisation Forbidden Stories, has reviewed leaked records that suggest a wide range of people in Hungary were selected as potential targets before a possible hacking attempt with the sophisticated Pegasus spyware, sold by the Israeli company NSO Group. In a number of cases, forensic analysis confirmed devices had been infected with Pegasus.

    The leaked data includes the phone numbers of people who appear to be targets of legitimate national security or criminal investigations.

    However, the records also include the numbers of at least 10 lawyers, an opposition politician and at least five journalists.

    The phones of two journalists at the Hungarian Pegasus project partner, the investigative outlet Direkt36, were successfully infected with the spyware, including Szabolcs Panyi, a well-known reporter with a wide range of sources in diplomatic and national security circles.

    Forensic analysis of his device by Amnesty International stated conclusively it had been repeatedly compromised by Pegasus during a seven-month period in 2019, with the infection often coming soon after comment requests made by Panyi to Hungarian government officials.

    Previously, Orbán’s spokesperson Zoltán Kovács has publicly attacked Panyi, accusing him of “Orbánophobia and Hungarophobia” [FFS] and describing him as “deep into political activism”.

    Since Orbán became prime minister in 2010, Hungary has fallen from 23rd to 92nd in the World Press Freedom Index. Earlier this month, Reporters Without Borders put Orbán on its Enemies of Press Freedom list, the first time an EU leader has featured.

    There have been almost no cases of physical violence against journalists in Hungary; instead, Orbán’s war of attrition against the media has used different means. These have included harassment of independent journalists, pressure on media owners, withdrawing state advertising funds from critical titles and aggressive takeovers by government-friendly figures….

  25. says

    Here’s a link to the July 19 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    From there:

    A French Holocaust survivor has denounced anti-vaccination protesters who compared themselves to the Jewish people who were persecuted under Nazi Germany during marches over the weekend, reports AP.

    It comes after more than 100,000 people marched against the French government’s vaccine rules on Saturday, with some demonstrators wearing yellow stars and carrying signs that made reference to the Auschwitz death camp.

    Joseph Szwarc, a survivor of the Holocaust who was deported from France by the Nazis, said: “You can’t imagine how much that upset me. This comparison is hateful. We must all rise up against this ignominy.”

    “I wore the star, I know what that is, I still have it in my flesh,” Szwarc added. “It is everyone’s duty to not allow this outrageous, antisemitic, racist wave to pass over us.”

    France’s secretary of state for military affairs also condemned the protesters’ as “intolerable and a disgrace for our republic”.

    The International League against Racism and Anti-Semitism said the protesters were “mocking victims of the Holocaust”.

    And here’s a link to today’s Guardian UK coronavirus liveblog.

    From there:

    Good morning. England has reached what the anti-lockdown media has been calling “freedom day” – the day when most remaining legal Covid restrictions disappear – but there is no sign of the mood of triumphalism anticipated a few weeks ago, and instead – in government, and amongst the public at large – there is growing concern that it might all go wrong. The Mail on Sunday claimed that Boris Johnson originally planned to give a speech today that would, in the words of a government source, “effectively declare victory over the virus by summoning the spirit of Churchill”. Obviously that is not happening, and instead yesterday Johnson issued a video message urging people to be cautious. He said:

    So please, please, please be cautious. Go forward tomorrow into the next step with all the right prudence and respect for other people and the risks that the disease continues to present.

    Given that experts from around the world are criticising Johnson for being the opposite of cautious – “dangerous and unethical” is the term used here – in his opening up policy, this might be a good example of why some have concluded that only the satirists describe this government properly, and why the Press Award for political commentator of the year last week went to my brilliant colleague Marina Hyde.

    Johnson used to say he wanted lockdown easing to be cautious but irreversible. He has gone quiet on the “irreversible” bit recently and the news release issued by No 10 overnight confirms that the possible return of restrictions later this year is now a definite possibility. It says:

    Data will be continually assessed and contingency measures retained if needed during higher risk periods, but restrictions will be avoided if possible.

    Johnson was deemed to have won the 2019 general election because he was more in touch with public opinion than his rivals, but on Covid restrictions the public has consistently been much more pro-lockdown than Johnson himself and new YouGov polling for the Times today (paywall) suggests that, by a margin of almost two to one, people think lifting most restrictions in England today is wrong….

  26. says

    BBC – “Brazil’s Bolsonaro leaves hospital after treatment for blocked intestine”:

    Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has been released from hospital four days after being admitted with serious intestine problems.

    Mr Bolsonaro, 66, had been suffering persistent hiccups for 10 days.

    There have been concerns about the far-right leader’s health since he was stabbed in the intestines while campaigning in 2018.

    After treatment for an obstruction to the intestine, which did not need surgery, he promised to be back at his office on Monday morning.

    “Only God can remove me from that chair,” Mr Bolsonaro said upon leaving hospital, in reference to the presidency.

    “I wanted to leave from day one, but they didn’t let me. I hope in 10 days I’ll be eating barbecued ribs, eating anything,” he added.

    He also rejected recent corruption accusations against his former health minister over negotiations to purchase overpriced coronavirus vaccines.

    The allegations are part of a major congressional inquiry into the Brazilian government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

    After two-and-a-half years of a controversial presidency, Mr Bolsonaro is under growing pressure over his handling of the pandemic.

    At the beginning of the month, tens of thousands of people took to the streets to protest over the corruption allegations.

    The Brazilian leader has been heavily criticised for the lack of a national response to the crisis and his scepticism toward vaccines, lockdowns and mask-wearing.

    Last month, Covid deaths surpassed 500,000 – the second-highest in the world after the US….

  27. birgerjohansson says

    Rarely has a single person so successfully surfed on populism, xenophobia, ignorance and a refusal to acknowledge that the things happening before your nose are happening.
    .
    Manfred Mann’s Earth Band made the song Demolition Man.
    Bojo makes me think of the lines “I’m a walking nightmare, a messenger of doom… … I’m a walking disaster ”
    .
    Of course, the likes of Cameron and May made him possible, and so did the billionaire newspaper owners that collectively are to Britain what Murdoch and Ailes were to USA.

  28. says

    Bloomberg Law – “Texas Senate Votes to Remove Required Lessons on Civil Rights”:

    The Texas Senate on Friday passed legislation that would end requirements that public schools include writings on women’s suffrage and the civil rights movement in social studies classes.

    Among the figures whose works would be dropped: Susan B. Anthony, Cesar Chavez, and Martin Luther King Jr., whose “I Have a Dream” speech and “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” would no longer make the curriculum cut.

    The bill (S.B. 3), which was passed on a vote of 18 to 4, now is stalled because the House can’t achieve a quorum while a breakaway group of Democrats is out of the state. The special session is set to end on Aug. 6.

    It would remove more than two dozen teaching requirements from a new law (H.B 3979) that bars the teaching of critical race theory, an academic framework exploring racism’s shaping of the country.

    That law included a list of historic figures, events and documents required for inclusion in social studies classes. The Senate-passed bill would remove most mentions of people of color and women from those requirements, along with a requirement that students be taught about the history of white supremacy and “the ways in which it is morally wrong.”

    The measure also would bar the teaching of the 1619 Project— a New York Times initiative exploring U.S. history starting at the date enslaved people arrived in the English colonies….

  29. says

    Some podcast episodes:

    Jacobin Radio – “A World to Win: Imperial Nostalgia w/ Peter Mitchell”:

    This week, Grace speaks to Peter Mitchell, author of Imperial Nostalgia: How the British Conquered Themselves, which considers how the memory of empire continues to inflect British culture and politics. They discuss how imperial nostalgia manifests itself in our politics today, the role of the Labour Party in supporting these trends, and how the Left should respond to emotive calls for a return to a better age.

    Behind the Bastards – “Part One: Pappa Doc and Baby Doc: Dictators of Haiti”:

    Robert is joined by Propaganda to discuss Pappa Doc and Baby Doc.

    (Here’s part two.)

    Fever Dreams – “CPAC Showdown Feat. Zach Petrizzo”:

    Outlandish sunglasses company Pit Viper has a problem: white nationalists love them. This week, Fever Dreams hosts Will Sommer and Asawin Suebsaeng talk about Pit Viper’s attempts to push back on their alt right fanbase, after the reflective shades popped up during the Capitol riot. Salon reporter Zach Petrizzo talks his appearance at CPAC Texas, where the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys were out in full force and Rep. Matt Gaetz had to throw a party all his own.

  30. says

    AP – “In Trump’s Jan. 6 recast, attackers become martyrs, heroes”:

    …Four years ago, Trump appeared to equate white supremacists and racial justice protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, with his comment that there were “very fine people, on both sides.”

    This time, in this telling, the very fine people on Jan. 6 were on one side: his.

    For the other side — the police, overwhelmed for hours and bloodied in the insurrection — Trump only has an in-your-face question that doubles as a four-word conspiracy theory: “Who killed Ashli Babbitt?”

    Those words have become a viral mantra meant to elevate Babbitt as a righteous martyr in the cause of liberty….

    Babbitt has become the face of the insurrection — emblazoned on T-shirts and cheered in basement ballrooms at hotels around the country where conspiracy theorists gather to vent. In Washington’s Georgetown neighborhood, flyers are plastered on street lamps and building facades telling of an unveiling of a statue of Babbitt in nearby Alexandria, Virginia, on July 27, at “high noon.”

    Trump and many Republicans have cycled through various characterizations of the insurrection, each iteration wholly unlike the previous one. The attackers were said to be leftist antifa followers in disguise. Then they were said to be overexcited tourists. Now they are heralded as foot soldiers for freedom.

    Each iteration has required Americans to ignore the rage they saw on their screens, and some lawmakers to ignore that they were among the shocked targets of the attackers that day. The hunted now praise the hunters.

    …An aggressive amnesia seems to have taken hold over how ugly it all was, even though the scenes that were broadcast and streamed in real time are forever.

    Swarming to the Capitol after a staging rally where Trump told them to “fight like hell,” and vowed, falsely, that he would be right there with them, the attackers beat the vastly outnumbered law enforcement officers, injuring scores of them. In one particularly awful case, an officer was crushed against a door by people pushing to get in, his mouth bleeding as the side of his face pressed against the glass of the door.

    Lawmakers inside ran for their lives, hiding for hours as the mob wandered the halls of Congress holding up Trump flags. The assailants called out for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and wanted Trump’s vice president, who was there, too. “Hang Mike Pence,” they chanted.

    Babbitt was part of the group that was trying to beat down the doors of the House chamber as Capitol Police officers were evacuating the House floor and as some members were still trapped in the upper gallery. The officers used furniture to barricade the glass doors separating the hallway from the Speaker’s Lobby to try to stave off the attackers, who were breaking glass with their fists, flagpoles and other objects.

    Only three police officers were guarding the doors on the other side of the stacked furniture as at least 20 attackers tried to get in, screaming, “F— the blue!” and “Break it down!” One smashed the door glass next to an officer’s head; another warned the officers they would be hurt if they didn’t get out of the way.

    A Capitol Police lieutenant pointed his gun. “Gun!” “Gun!” the attackers shouted as the hysteria reached a fever pitch. They started to lift Babbitt up, to climb through the window. The officer fired one round.

    Babbitt was struck in the shoulder. She later died. The officer was cleared of wrongdoing, and his name was not released.

    Trump now states falsely — and with a stream of repetitions — that she was shot “right in the head.”

    “They were there for one reason, the rigged election,” he told Fox News a week ago. “They felt the election was rigged. That’s why they were there. And they were peaceful people. These were great people. The crowd was unbelievable. And I mentioned the word love. The love — the love in the air, I have never seen anything like it.”

  31. says

    Well, hello there.

    Let me start by thanking the people who keep the threads in line. Are they weavers? Knitters? Anyhow, thank you.

    I’ve been away for a while, but I hope to be here more frequently once again.

    Re: politics, the mask mandate has been lifted almost everywhere in The Netherlands, except for public transit. No matter, I’ll keep wearing it indoors, even though I’ve had my second shot. Haven’t had a comment on it yet, but if I get one, I’ll be sure to point out that in doing so, I’m going against official policy. Hopefully that’ll make their heads implode.

    Now Limburg, a province in the south of The Netherlands, has been getting a lot of rain the past week. Rivers like the Meuse, the Geul, and the Rur all have water levels several meters above their normal, which has lead to widespread flooding. Not as bad as Belgium and Germany, where a lot of people died, but still pretty bad. Cue Willem Engel, our national virus denier, going “the only part of The Netherlands that is was above sea level has flooded. Curious.” Which of course totally ignores the fact that it’s a flooding from rain water, not from sea water.

  32. says

    Re: the flooding, I sure hope Gilliel is doing okay — I thought she lived somewhere near the affected area in Germany.

  33. says

    Guardian UK liveblog:

    Police have been responding to an anti-lockdown protest in Westminster, which saw demonstrators block a road and force traffic to a standstill on so-called “freedom day”, PA Media reports. PA says:

    Protesters held signs and chanted “freedom” as they gathered in Parliament Square after all remaining coronavirus restrictions were lifted in England, including an end to social distancing rules.

    The demonstration moved from Parliament Square to spread onto the road and up to the gates of the Palace of Westminster, leading Metropolitan Police officers to urge protesters to move out of the road.

    An officer was seen to put a lock on a gate at the entrance to parliament while those outside held signs with anti-vaccination and anti-police messages, with some chanting “shame on police” and “arrest Boris Johnson”.

    And more recently: “The protest at Westminster by anti-lockdown campaigners has turned more confrontational.”

    I’m…confused.

  34. says

    From today’s DN! headlines:

    COVID Cases on the Rise Among Olympic Athletes Days Ahead of Tokyo Opening Ceremony

    At least four people, three of them athletes from the South African soccer team, have tested positive for COVID-19 in Tokyo’s Olympic Village ahead of the kickoff to the Summer Olympics later this week. Meanwhile, one of tennis’s biggest rising stars, 17-year-old American Coco Gauff, had to bow out of competition after contracting COVID-19. Japanese officials announced earlier today an unnamed American gymnast had also tested positive for COVID. No spectators will be allowed at the Olympics in Tokyo, where there is very low public support for the event.

    Delta Variant Spreads Across Africa, Latin America, Where Vaccines Are Sorely Lacking

    The highly contagious Delta coronavirus variant is continuing its rapid spread across the globe, with poor, mostly unvaccinated countries bearing the brunt of its impact. Namibia is recording a world record of 28 COVID-19 deaths per 1 million people as infections soar across many African nations. The World Health Organization is also warning cases are surging in Latin America and the Caribbean as the Delta variant becomes dominant across the region.

    Death Toll in Western Europe Flash Floods Nears 200; 70 Major Wildfires Rage in Western U.S.

    In climate news, the death toll from the catastrophic floods that have torn through parts of Western Europe continues to rise. At least 157 people have been confirmed dead in Germany, while 31 fatalities are being reported in Belgium. Rescue efforts are ongoing as hundreds of people remain missing. This is the heaviest rainfall many European countries have seen in at least a century.

    This comes as climate change-fueled wildfires continue to rage across the western United States. In Oregon, firefighters battling the massive Bootleg Fire were forced to retreat from portions of the fire line last week as high winds and dry conditions are fueling the blaze’s growth. As of Sunday, the Bootleg Fire had burned nearly 300,000 acres. More than 70 major fires are burning in the western U.S.

    Colombian Police Say Former Haitian Gov’t Official Ordered Assassination of Jovenel Moïse

    Martine Moïse, the widow of assassinated President Jovenel Moïse, has returned to Haiti after being treated at a Miami hospital for injuries sustained in the attack at the presidential residence.

    Colombian authorities said Friday a former Haitian Justice Ministry official, Joseph Felix Badio, may have ordered Moïse’s killing. Few other details are known, including Badio’s whereabouts.

    Israeli Forces Violently Evict Palestinian Worshipers from Al-Aqsa Mosque

    In occupied East Jerusalem, Israeli police violently attacked and forcibly removed worshipers from the Al-Aqsa Mosque Sunday, just two days ahead of Eid al-Adha and as Israeli forces continue their attacks in the Occupied Territories. This is Sheikh Omar al-Kiswani, the director of the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

    Sheikh Omar al-Kiswani: “It is clearly provocative action. At dawn, Israeli forces evacuated worshipers by force, and more than 1,300 extremists visited and prayed, and did provocative tours. The occupation forces raided Al-Aqsa compound and attacked worshipers who are in there until now.”

    Abdul Latif Nasser Released from Guantánamo Bay After 19 Years Without Charge

    The first Guantánamo Bay prisoner to be released under the Biden administration has returned to his home country of Morocco. Fifty-six-year-old Abdul Latif Nasser was imprisoned for nearly two decades without charge and had been cleared for release since 2016. Thirty-nine prisoners remain at Guantánamo.

    Workers at Kansas Frito-Lay Factory Strike Against Horrific Conditions

    In Kansas, hundreds of workers at the Frito-Lay factory in Topeka have been on strike for two weeks to demand fair pay and humane working conditions. Workers say they are forced to work 12-hour days, including over the weekend, and many have not received a pay raise in years. In the summer, workers endure triple-digit temperatures without air conditioning. Multiple workers have reportedly died on the job of heart attacks. Senator Bernie Sanders voiced support for the strikers over the weekend, noting Frito-Lay made over $4.2 billion in sales last year.

  35. KG says

    SC@43,
    It is indeed bizarre. These people seem to be protesting despite (or because?) of the fact that they’ve been given what they said they wanted.

    SQB@41,
    What’s Engel’s point? Does he think the flooding is a hoax? Caused by Bill Gates/George Soros/Antony Fauci? What??

  36. raven says

    Covid vaccination centres vandalised in France
    Published 10 hours ago BBC

    Two vaccination centres have been ransacked in France, as people protested against the introduction of tougher coronavirus rules.
    One site in south-east France was vandalised and flooded using fire hoses on Friday night, authorities said.
    A day later, another clinic in the south-west was partially destroyed by an arson attack, local media reported.

    The incidents came on a weekend of demonstrations. More than 100,000 came out to protest on Saturday.
    Critics have accused President Emmanuel Macron’s government of violating freedoms by introducing new rules.
    The most controversial of the rules include mandatory vaccinations for health workers and health passes to access most public places.

    They, the antivaxxers, are attacking vaccination centers in France.
    One was destroyed in an arson attack.

    This is something that hasn’t yet happened in the USA.
    It is equivalent to throwing the lifejackets overboard after the ship has hit an iceberg and then destroying the life boats.

  37. says

    Shayan Sardarizadeh, BBC:

    Speaking at today’s anti-lockdown, anti-vaccine protest in Parliament Square, retired police officer Mark Sexton says if all Covid restrictions are not lifted and vaccinations are not ceased, citizens have a right to arrest ministers and MPs by force and set up common law courts.

    Former nurse and anti-vaccine activist Kate Shemirani says Covid vaccines are “bioweapons” and “surveilance systems” with an “electrical charge” that can transmit and receive signals from 5G towers. She adds people who have been vaccinated will likely die “within two years”.

  38. says

    @KG Engel transformed from “the lockdown is an overreaction and is hurting economically” to “covid doesn’t exist” to “everything governments and the media tell you, is a hoax”, so yeah, probably. I think he said something about “they need a new crisis”.

  39. Akira MacKenzie says

    I’ve given up entirely on our species. Whenever we are faced with environmental, social, economic, or public health crisis, we reject what needs to be done in the name of naked greed, religious superstition, or individualist nonsense. Enjoy what pleasures you can now, because over the next few years things are going to get very, very bad. Then humanity will be gone.

  40. says

    Bits and pieces of political news:

    The Associated Press reported that the number of Arizona ballots flagged for potential voter fraud is far too small to confirm Donald Trump’s conspiracy theories regarding his election defeat.

    [… though California’s gubernatorial recall race is just eight weeks away, Republican candidate Caitlyn Jenner has reportedly flown to Australia to appear on a reality television program. It’s not entirely clear how long she’ll be gone.

    […] Bloomberg News reported that Georgia’s DeKalb County last week “agreed to create new policies for handling challenges to individual voters based on their residency, resolving a lawsuit claiming the current practice puts thousands of people with unstable housing at risk of being disenfranchised.” As part of the agreement, DeKalb County will “reinstate dozens of eligible voters who were purged from the voter rolls before the suit was filed in February 2020.” [Possibly good news.]

    […] while Kentucky’s gubernatorial election is still nearly 28 months away, state Auditor Mike Harmon (R) is nevertheless moving forward with plans to run against incumbent Gov. Andy Beshear (D) in 2023. Harmon said he was particularly outraged by the governor’s efforts to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Link

  41. says

    Agency watchdog: Trump cabinet chief [then-Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross] provided false testimony

    Five times a member of Trump’s cabinet was referred to the Justice Department for possible prosecution. Five times nothing happened.

    The Trump administration made every effort to include a citizenship question in the 2020 census, though the gambit ultimately failed. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts explained in 2019 that the White House came up short, not because a citizenship question was legally impermissible, but because the administration didn’t have a coherent, justifiable reason for their plan.

    Making matters worse was the fact that then-Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross obviously lied about the scheme, as other Trump administration officials struggled to keep their stories straight.

    As Government Executive reported, the matter was so significant that the Commerce Department’s inspector general’s office opened an investigation and concluded that officials, including Ross, “provided false testimony regarding the origins of the proposed citizenship question on the 2020 census.”

    […] while it’s of interest that the former cabinet secretary lied to Congress, more than once, about the Republican scheme, it’s of even greater significance that the inspector general’s office presented its findings to the Public Integrity Section of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.

    In other words, the agency’s independent watchdog department thought the Trump appointees’ deceptions might have risen to the level of criminal wrongdoing.

    As it turns out, the Justice Department decided not to prosecute, which has proven to be a familiar consequence.

    As regular readers may recall, the first example was Ryan Zinke. Corruption allegations involving Donald Trump’s scandal-plagued Interior secretary were referred to Justice Department prosecutors, but Trump’s DOJ declined to charge the Montana Republican.

    Then there was Alex Acosta, Trump’s scandal-plagued Labor secretary, who was also referred to Justice Department prosecutors, only to have Trump’s DOJ decline to charge the Florida Republican, too.

    Robert Wilkie, Trump’s controversial VA secretary, was also referred to Justice Department prosecutors, only to have Trump’s DOJ choose not to charge him, either.

    It was earlier this year when we learned that the Transportation Department’s watchdog also asked the Justice Department to criminally investigate former Secretary Elaine Chao late last year over allegations that she misused her office. In keeping with the pattern, Trump’s DOJ didn’t pursue the matter.

    Though the details of the timeline are not yet clear, in the case of Wilbur Ross, it appears it was the Biden administration’s Justice Department that declined to prosecute.[WTF!?]

    The bottom line in striking: Five times a member of Trump’s cabinet was referred to the Justice Department for possible prosecution. Five times nothing happened.

  42. says

    Trump’s rhetoric on vaccines takes a dramatic turn for the worse

    […] a dramatic turn for the worse. Trump issued this written statement yesterday:

    “Joe Biden kept talking about how good of a job he’s doing on the distribution of the Vaccine that was developed by Operation Warp Speed or, quite simply, the Trump Administration. He’s not doing well at all. He’s way behind schedule, and people are refusing to take the Vaccine because they don’t trust his Administration, they don’t trust the Election results, and they certainly don’t trust the Fake News, which is refusing to tell the Truth.”

    The shift in posture is unmistakable: In March, the former president encouraged people — most notably his own conservative followers — to do the right thing, roll up their sleeves, and get vaccinated. In July, Trump’s new message implicitly suggests that only those who believe President Biden, election results, and independent news organizations are getting the shots.

    As infection numbers inch higher, this is plainly dangerous. The more vaccinations are politicized, the more it undermines public health.

    Also note the degree to which Trump is blaming Biden for far-right vaccine opponents’ refusals. The rhetoric introduces the possibility of a twisted incentive: Those who want to keep the Democratic White House “behind schedule” suddenly have another reason to avoid vaccinations.

    Alas, it’s not the former president whose rhetoric is taking a ridiculous turn. Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), a medical doctor by training, was asked on Fox News yesterday morning for his thoughts on the public dynamic — especially the fact that his home state of Louisiana is among the nation’s worst when it comes to vaccinations.

    Cassidy immediately blamed the president, saying “people don’t trust government” because Biden described GOP voter-suppression measures as the “next Jim Crow laws.” In the next breath, Cassidy went on to blame Democratic leaders for “not cooperating” with Republicans on an infrastructure bill — even as Biden cooperates with Republicans on an infrastructure bill.

    By most counts, only about 36% of Louisiana residents have been fully vaccinated, and the state’s senior U.S. senator’s response to this is to peddle lazy partisan nonsense on national television. Does Cassidy seriously expect people to believe there are voters saying to themselves, “I might have been vaccinated, but then I heard Biden criticize voter-suppression laws, so now I’ll just take my chances”?

    No good can come of this. The Biden administration is engaged in a desperate campaign to protect public health and save lives — without regard for party or ideology. Everyone would benefit if the president’s Republican critics at least tried to be responsible.

    Expect Trump to jump on the anti-vax bandwagon in an even more spectacular way soon. In March, Trump pussy footed around, whined a lot about not getting credit for developing vaccines, and then finally said, “So everybody, go get your shot.” Now Trump is anti-vax because he sees it as a way to defeat Biden. (Ignore all the dead, the dying, and the sick people who, (unvaccinated), are the result.) It’s a typical Trump move that he somehow manages to blame President Biden for anti-vaccination campaigns. Sheesh.

  43. says

    It looks (from the translation) like Engel retweeted someone claiming the German government deliberately caused the flooding in Germany by “blocking off” dams and water basins so the water couldn’t drain. People in the responses talked about cloud seeding. Someone asked Engel if he thought it was part of something called “Agenda 2030,” and he does. When challenged elsewhere, he doesn’t appear to deny the existence of the floods or the deaths, but blames “corruption.” He says global warming is a revenue model and means of enslaving people, the flooding is being “exploited” by “climate fanatics,” the floods are “very suspicious,” and the people responsible should be tried.

    So it appears that he’s claiming that the flooding is real, but that it was deliberately caused or greatly exacerbated by governments in league with scientists and climate activists in order to exploit the disaster for power and profit and that those people need to be held accountable. I took the trouble to look into it because I suspect we’ll see a lot more of this dangerous sort of conspiracy theorizing as environmental disasters become more frequent.

  44. says

    Jon Sopel, BBC:

    On #FreedomDay in England the US ⁦@CDCgov raises UK to highest risk level and warns Americans not to travel to Britain because of prevalence of #deltavariant

    There’d been speculation that travel ban for Britons travelling to the US would be lifted at G7. It wasn’t.
    That was replaced by speculation it will be lifted by end of summer. It won’t, given latest CDC advice

  45. says

    SC @58, “Infuriating.” Exactly. They are all getting away with it.

    raven @49:

    They, the antivaxxers, are attacking vaccination centers in France.
    One was destroyed in an arson attack.
    This is something that hasn’t yet happened in the USA.
    It is equivalent to throwing the lifejackets overboard after the ship has hit an iceberg and then destroying the life boats.

    That’s an apt analysis. I hope that doesn’t happen in the USA, but the cynical part of me says it’s only a matter of time.

    SQB @41, thank you for the appreciative comments. And thank you for keeping us up to date on news from The Netherlands.

  46. says

    Graham’s new plan: Leave DC to derail Dems’ infrastructure plan

    How badly does Lindsey Graham want to derail Democrats’ infrastructure plans? He’s prepared to flee Capitol Hill. Could this work?

    […] USA Today reported:

    Taking inspiration from Texas Democrats’ bid to stop a new round of election laws […], Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said he would leave the nation’s capital to block Democrats from passing a key priority of President Joe Biden’s agenda. Graham said the move may be necessary to stop Senate Democrats from passing a $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package, which includes many long-standing Democratic priorities regarding social services, the environment and infrastructure.

    “[T]o my Republican colleagues, we may learn something from our Democratic friends in Texas when it comes to avoiding a $3.5 trillion tax and spend package: leave town,” he told Fox News’ Maria Bartiromo.

    When the host pressed the senator on whether he was serious about trying to derail the upcoming legislation by fleeing D.C., Graham added, “Hell yeah, I would leave!”

    It wasn’t long before many started wondering whether this could work. The answer is, almost certainly not.

    Right off the bat, the thresholds matter: in Texas, the legislature requires a quorum of two-thirds to conduct state business. In the U.S. Senate, meanwhile, it’s a simple majority: 51 senators are needed to conduct business.

    At this point, you’re probably thinking, “But wait, aren’t there are only 50 members of the Senate Democratic conference? One short of 51?” The answer is yes, but that would mean Graham’s gambit — if he seriously intended to pursue this — would need the cooperation of literally every other Republican senator.

    That’s unlikely to happen.

    What’s more, Bloomberg’s Steven Dennis argued that if the Senate GOP conference actually tried to pull this off, Democrats would probably start seeking unanimous consent on their proposals. If even one Republican senator stuck around to object, there would necessarily be a quorum in the chamber.

    But let’s also not brush past the motivations at play: Lindsey Graham likes the idea of having Republicans flee Capitol Hill, not in support of a noble cause, but because Democrats are eyeing a legislative package that would, among other things, expand Medicare and address the climate crisis.

    The South Carolinian should probably consider a Plan B.

  47. says

    After conservative ruling, what’s next for protecting Dreamers?

    Republicans can’t pass a bill to derail DACA protections for Dreamers, but they could turn to a controversial Texas judge.

    It was six years ago when Republicans hoped to derail the Obama administration’s DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans) program, designed to extend protections for undocumented immigrants whose kids are American citizens. The policy’s GOP opponents knew exactly which court would be most likely to give them the outcome Republicans wanted to see.

    The case reached U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Hanen, a George W. Bush appointee, who blocked DAPA from advancing. It was around this time that Ian Millhiser referred to Hanen as “one of the most viciously anti-immigrant judges in the country.” Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern described Hanen as “one of the most notoriously partisan conservatives in the federal judiciary.”

    Of course, Republicans also hoped to derail the Obama administration’s DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program. Take a wild guess which district court they filed the case in.

    A federal judge in Texas on Friday declared illegal the federal program that has allowed nearly 800,000 young people brought to the United States illegally as children to avoid deportation and remain in the country. U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Hanen in Brownsville, Texas, said the Obama administration failed to follow federal administrative rules in launching the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in 2012.

    All things considered, the ruling could’ve been worse. The conservative jurist blocked the Department of Homeland Security from granting any new applications for Dreamers seeking DACA protections, but Hanen also left intact the protections for immigrants already receiving protected status.

    The case was brought by Texas and eight other Republican-led states.

    The day after the ruling was issued, President Joe Biden said his administration will appeal the ruling, which he described in a written statement as “deeply disappointing.”

    […] In his statement, Biden urged Congress to move forward with legislation to permanently protect those covered by the program. “Only Congress can ensure a permanent solution by granting a path to citizenship for Dreamers that will provide the certainty and stability that these young people need and deserve,” the president said.

    […] while Republican filibusters will make it impossible to approve protections for Dreamers through traditional legislative means, there’s growing talk that Democrats might try to include immigration provisions to the “human infrastructure” legislation taking shape on Capitol Hill.

    […] the controversy serves as a reminder of why Republicans have placed so much emphasis on the federal judiciary in recent years. GOP officials haven’t been in a position to legislate DACA protections away from Dreamers, but by moving the courts to the right, Republicans don’t need legislation — they simply need allied judges who can serve as a governing proxy.

    The appeal in this case now heads to the 5th Circuit, where Republican-appointed judges have a two-to-one advantage over Democratic-appointed judges.

  48. says

    Josh Marshall:

    Hardcore Trump rallygoer and bit player insurrectionist quoted in The Washington Post: “It just looked so neat. We weren’t there to steal things. We weren’t there to do damage. We were just there to overthrow the government.”

    Ironically, Saundra Kiczenski’s quote sounds pretty much like what Trump is now saying. Like him, she says there’s no reason for anyone to be in jail or facing charges: “It’s ridiculous those people are in prison for no reason. And it’s a shame because if Donald Trump were still the president, they’d all be free.”

    https://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/clear-as-day-2

  49. says

    ‘Democracy Is In Trouble,’ Judge Says During First Felony Sentencing For Capitol Attack

    A federal judge on Monday issued the first sentence to a Capitol rioter who’d pleaded guilty to a felony charge, telling Paul Hodgkins he’d be spending eight months in prison as a result of his actions and saying the damage caused by the Capitol attack “will persist in this country for decades.”

    The sentence was lower than the 18-month term prosecutors sought for Hodgkins’ plea — one felony count of obstructing an official proceeding — but more than Hodgkins had hoped for. In a sentencing memorandum last week, defense attorney Patrick Leduc invoked Abraham Lincoln and Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter to assert that sentencing Hodgkins to prison time would amount to “cancelling” him.

    U.S. District Judge Randolph Moss’ sentence also included 24 months of supervised release and $2,000 in restitution.

    “Sentencing is always a very challenging task, and the court here had to consider both what I think are the extremely damaging events that occurred that day, but also who Mr. Hodgkins is as an individual,” Moss said at the end of Monday’s hearing. “I tried to strike that balance,” he added.

    Moss noted several factors that worked in the defendant’s favor: He was one of the first defendants to enter a guilty plea, he did not play a leadership role in the attack, and he was not violent during the breach itself.

    But the judge also emphasized the importance of deterring others from attempting to undermine the United States government.

    “Democracy requires the cooperation of the governed,” Moss said. “When a mob is prepared to attack the Capitol, to prevent our elected officials from both parties from performing their constitutional and statutory duty, democracy is in trouble.”

    […] “He was staking a claim on the floor of the United States Senate not with an American flag, but with a flag declaring his loyalty to a single individual [he carried a Trump flag] over the nation.”

    […] “It means that it will be harder today than it was seven months ago for the United States and our diplomats to convince other nations to pursue democracy,” the judge continued. “It means that it will be harder for all of us to convince our children and our grandchildren that democracy stands as the immutable foundation of this nation. It means that we are now all fearful about the next attack in a way that we never were. It makes us question whether our democracy is less secure than what we previously believed just seven months ago.”

    “Those are all enormous harms that were caused by the events that day.”

  50. says

    Follow-up to comment 64.

    Posted by readers of the article:

    I fully agree with the sentiments of thejudge. But WTF, only 8 months for a felony?

    Helps to be white, I guess.
    ——————–
    People are receiving multi-year sentences for accidentally voting improperly, but actually storm the Capitol in insurrection mode in which people died, and receive less than one full year. Incredible.
    ———————-
    Moving on with his life is going to be difficult even with such a short sentence. Every time he applies for a job or a loan or a license of one kind or another, he is going to have to explain what an asshole he was. […] The felony is going to follow him around for the rest of his life.
    —————————
    Although I wish that the sentence had been longer, I’m glad that the judge called attention to the symbolism of the T flag in the floor of the Senate. It was a statement of allegiance. I would venture a guess that he will claim that this was never his intent. Bummer he didn’t pay attention on symbol day in sophomore English. I hope that when they get to those a-holes who carried the battle flag of the Confederacy into the Capitol, they point out that this was specifically the flag of a group who wished to destroy the country, and will sentence accordingly.
    ———————-
    Let’s also not forget 24 months of supervised release. That sounds a lot easier than it is especially if his probation officer is a hard ass. Once you land in the system, it can take years and years to get out.

  51. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 64

    …he’d be spending eight months in prison…

    8 MONTHS!!!

    The sentence was lower than the 18-month term prosecutors sought for Hodgkins’ plea…

    18 MONTHS!!! Everyone–and I do mean everyone–who participated, planned, and started the Jan 6 insurrection deserve far, far worse! Why doesn’t Biden just send an invitation to the fascist party that’s already plotting to lynch him when the next insurrection comes? (And it IS coming.) He’d happily do it in name of “bipartisanship” and “unity.”

  52. Akira MacKenzie says

    Addendum @ 64

    U.S. District Judge Randolph Moss’ sentence also included 24 months of supervised release and $2,000 in restitution.

    Oooo… How harsh. /s

  53. says

    It’s official: Republicans prioritize fat-cat tax cheaters over, well, everyone else

    Senate Republicans have found yet another way to prove that Trump rules their world. How ironic is it that his empire is tottering in a tax fraud investigation in which Trump himself is implicated at precisely the same time Republicans refuse to give the IRS the funding it needs to go after tax cheats in order to help pay for rebuilding infrastructure?

    Sen. Rob Portman, who has been “leading” the handful of Republicans alongside Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema in the never-ending bipartisan negotiations, broke the news Sunday. This one bit of funding—making sure that everybody has to pay their goddamn taxes—that they had agreed upon is now out of what they have been calling a deal.

    Now it’s back to the drawing board, so they can’t possibly have anything ready to move forward in the Senate this week, as Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has asked. Never mind that they have been “working” on this for nearly seven weeks—they can’t possibly be ready to vote Wednesday on whether or not they’re ready to have a bill to vote on eventually.

    Because that’s what they’ll vote on Wednesday—just a procedural vote, or cloture, for a placeholder bill that their plan would eventually be poured into. That’s unconscionable, says Portman, that he would demand they show the tiniest bit of their work. “Chuck Schumer, with all due respect, is not writing the bill, nor is Mitch McConnell,” Portman said. “So that’s why we shouldn’t have an arbitrary deadline of Wednesday. We should bring the legislation forward when it’s ready.” Which will be approximately never.

    Because while Portman had to make sure he got that part in there about how McConnell isn’t writing the bill, McConnell is absolutely in charge of the Republicans. And when McConnell says he has “total unity” from his team in obstructing Joe Biden’s presidency, he’s not bluffing.

    As if to demonstrate, Republican Sen. Mitt Romney—the one guy who supposedly stands for something among the GOP—parroted the party line about Schumer being too hasty. “I think we’ll move quickly, but we’re not going to vote on something until we actually have a bill,” he told reporters at the end of last week.

    Schumer has also set Wednesday as the deadline for agreement in the Democratic caucus on the budget blueprint that will form the basis of a larger $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill that includes the major economic priorities of Biden’s plan. He’s been intent on making the two tracks of this process—the regular order bipartisan bill and the budget reconciliation, which can pass with a simple majority—proceed side-by-side.

    […] At least Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin seems to be okay with adding immigration into the mix. He still finds it “very, very disturbing” that the proposal deals with climate change, however. [FFS!]

    But supporting a reconciliation bill that might hike taxes on the wealthy and invest in lessening our reliance on fossil fuels? “That’s a challenge,” Manchin said. It’s going to be a long, busy week.

  54. says

    Some progress on this front:

    Some of the Afghan nationals who aided the U.S. war effort will be temporarily housed at a U.S. Army base about 140 miles south of Washington while they await approval of their visas.

    The first round of applicants will be taken to Fort Lee, Va., according to a congressional official who viewed a National Security Council notification sent to Capitol Hill on Monday. […]

    Link

  55. says

    Trump businesses made $2.4 billion during his presidency: Forbes

    [Trump’s] businesses raked in $2.4 billion during his tenure in the White House, according to an analysis of documents conducted by Forbes.

    Trump businesses were averaging around $650 million in revenue for the first three years of his presidency, according to Forbes. In 2020, however, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, income from the businesses dropped to approximately $450 million.

    Forbes examined property records, ethics disclosures and debt and securities filings, among other documents, to determine how much money the former president’s businesses earned between January 2017 and December 2020.

    The largest cut of Trump’s earnings came from his clubs and golf properties, which brought in about $940 million over his four years in the White House.

    His Miami golf resort, the Trump National Doral, was responsible for roughly $270 million of those earnings. Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s Palm Beach, Fla., club, made approximately $270 million, and Trump National Golf Club Bedminster in New Jersey brought in about $60 million.

    […] His hotel and licensing management businesses took a hit during the pandemic. Forbes found that while revenues were above $100 million between 2017 and 2019, they dropped to around $50 million in 2020.

    In his Washington, D.C., hotel, earnings reportedly remained steady at roughly $52 million from 2017 to 2019. Matters worsened, however, when COVID-19 took hold in the U.S., causing revenues to drop to less than $20 million.

    Trump’s personal wealth and the financial health of his businesses was a focus throughout his presidency.

    The former president fell nearly 300 spots on the Forbes billionaires list, released in April, after his fortune decreased by more than $1 billion during his time in the White House.

    Let’s hope that his financial fortunes continue to fall.

  56. says

    Five people shot, including ambulance crew, in Arizona attack

    A series of attacks on paramedics, firefighters and police on Sunday left five people shot, several children missing and one person dead in Tucson, Ariz. […]

    The suspect, who is in critical condition after being shot by police, is an unidentified 35-year-old man accused of opening fire on an ambulance responding to a medical call at Quincie Douglas Park at about 3:45 p.m.

    The man allegedly shot the 20-year-old male EMT driver in the head and struck the 21-year old female passenger in the chest and arm, according to USA Today. Both were hospitalized, the driver in critical condition and the passenger is in stable condition.

    The suspect is then accused of driving to the scene of a nearby house fire about a mile away and opening fire on firefighters and neighbors who were attempting to put out the fire. A neighbor was fatally shot in the head while the fire captain was shot in the arm. Another person was grazed in the head by a bullet. That person and the fire captain are reportedly in good condition.

    […] After fleeing the scene, the suspect allegedly rammed a police officer’s vehicle and started to shoot at the officer. The officer returned fire, critically wounding the suspect. The suspect is currently hospitalized and in extremely critical condition, according to NBC. The officer who shot him was not wounded during the exchange.

    “This is both a highly tragic, really horrific incident with many unknowns at this time that is going to involve a lengthy and complex investigation,” Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus told NBC News.

  57. says

    Wonkette: “Fox’s Brian Kilmeade Wants Viewers To Have Freedom To Die Of COVID”

    For the last six months, at least, Fox News has been peddling anti-vaccine conspiracy theories to its viewers. Why? Well, because there is money in it. Because a narrative about the Biden administration nefariously violating the freedoms of Americans by trying to “force” them to take a vaccine that might literally kill them is more enticing to their viewers than “Hey, how about everyone gets vaccinated so we can go back to normal?” They have, in fact, trained their viewership to be appealed to in this way […]

    One would think, though, that they might have enough affection for their viewership — if only for monetary reasons — that they would want to keep them from getting COVID or dying from it. Apparently not Brian Kilmeade from “Fox & Friends.” He’s pretty sure people have a choice whether they live or die from COVID, and he’s not afraid to say it!

    In response to co-host Steve Doocy pointing out that “99 percent of people who are dying are unvaccinated,” Kilmeade insisted, “That’s their choice!” And when Doocy suggested that perhaps they did not actually want to die and that the mask mandates are necessary to protect the unvaccinated, Kilmeade countered with “That’s not their job, it’s not their job to protect anybody.”

    Really? […] pretty curious about OSHA, anti-smoking laws […] [video available at the link]

    Well, he may be on Fox, but as I have said to way too many people over the course of my life, “That person is not your friend. Friends don’t actually want you to feel like crap or for bad things to happen to you.”

    If Brian Kilmeade were fighting for the right of people to die on their own terms, I would totally support that. I believe that assisted suicide should be legal. But he’s not. These people don’t think they’re going to die if they don’t get the vaccine, and many of them actually believe they will die if they do take it. Why? Because they’re watching Tucker Carlson and other Fox News idiots and for better or worse — I would say worse — they trust what comes out of their mouths. So if Tucker Carlson is up there falsely claiming that people are dying from the COVID vaccine, people are going to believe him and they’re not going to get vaccinated.

    Even though he almost definitely is vaccinated himself.

    In a video produced by The Hill, The Intercept’s Ryan Grim reported today that Fox News employees have their very own “vaccine passport,” just like the ones they have been claiming would be the end of the world and all freedoms for the last several months. Those who have been vaccinated can send their information to corporate and get a cute “FOX Clear Pass” enabling them to move freely about the studios without a mask, while those who have not been vaccinated must continue to wear masks and practice social distancing. […]

    instead of making sure those who are scared have all the facts and are able to make an informed decision, our vaccinated Fox hosts, at large, have chosen to scare them even more because they know that is what works for them. Because that is what makes them money.

    I monitor right wing conspiracy forums and I am telling you, for the most part these people are not going “Oh boy, I can’t wait to own the libs by dying in a COVID ward alone and unable to see my family!” They legitimately think it’s the vaccine that will kill them. It’s post after post of people talking about how scared they are that their friends and family members got vaccinated, how sad they are that they will have to ban those people from their homes because they don’t want to be killed by the spike proteins.

    Here is one person from the TheDonald.win forum talking about how they won’t even get “the jab” to see a dying parent, and another person suggesting they should just not see them. […]

    Question:

    If your parent was immune-compromised (AML+flt3 mutation, Moderna jab) and the doctor said you can’t be near them unless you’re “vaccinated” – plus knowing that parent may be entering their final few months and already doesn’t understand why you won’t get “vaccinated” for them – what would you do?

    Parent is a well-intentioned liberal, which is to say incurious/oblivious MSM consumer/victim. I have no intention of taking any of the so-called vaccines, but may be the only immediate family member not to.

    I’m praying about this and wanted to share.

    Response:

    This may be a cold way of thinking about it, but if your parent is passing soon, I’m not sure that seeing them for a few days is worth having potentially lifelong health effects from the vaccine. You are going to miss him/her just the same after he/she is gone.

    I know that is a very cold and logical way to think about it, but even for those of us who have had the luxury of saying goodbye to loved ones, we STILL long for “one more day” or “one more moment” with them.

    That is where these people are right now. That and pondering important questions like “What is the endgame of the jab? […]

    Link

  58. says

    More Cops Charged With Taking Part In Trump’s Jacklegged Coup

    Some more members of law enforcement have been charged with participating in the January 6 siege on the Capitol. The latest are the father and son duo, Kevin “Tito” Tuck and Nathaniel A. Tuck of central Florida. They were arrested last week and released on $25,000 unsecured bond.

    The Apopka, Florida, police employed Nathaniel Tuck until August 2020 and later cooperated with the FBI’s investigation into his insurrection-related activities. Kevin Tuck resigned Thursday from the Windermere Police Department. Windermere is a well-off white suburb of the more racially diverse Orlando. According to a statement from Police Chief David Ogden, the elder Tuck joined the Windermere PD as a reserve officer in May of 2019 and advanced to full-time in October of the same year. He’d previously worked as a cop in Longwood, Florida. Tuck didn’t inform his superiors he was leaving the state to protest democracy, but a fellow Windermere officer raised concerns about his alleged conduct at the Capitol.

    Both Tucks are accused of joining alleged Proud Boy members at the Donald Trump-inspired riot. Kevin Tuck allegedly entered the Senate chamber, which is trespassing, not ambitious tourism, and Nathan Tuck is accused of general civil disorder.

    “The Windermere Police Department (WPD) has worked tirelessly over the past eight years to build a reputation of serving with Honor, Integrity and Service to our residents, and this arrest doesn’t reflect on the hard work of the men and women of the Windermere Police Department,” Ogden said.

    [video available at the link]

    At present, federal authorities have arrested 535 suspects in the Capitol attack and at least 20 of those charged were law enforcement officers. This is alarming. There really is no acceptable percentage of cops you want to see involved in a violent attempt to overturn a presidential election. […]

    The Washington Post reports:

    U.S. investigators say that at least 65 Proud Boys affiliates joined an on-the-ground communications channel in Washington, led by four men accused of leading others in some of the most destructive, aggressive and earliest attacks to breach police lines and break into the Capitol, forcing Congress to evacuate.

    The Tucks were added to an indictment with Arthur Jackman, who was arrested in late March. Jackman is a Proud Boy member and vice president of its Orlando chapter. The FBI has a photo of Jackman standing with a group of five other assholes, including Proud Boys organizer Joseph Randall Biggs from Daytona Beach, Florida. Prosecutors allege that Biggs was among the first to enter the Capitol immediately after fellow Proud Boy Dominic Pezzola helped smash a window on the Senate side of the building. Pezzola used a riot shield he’d taken from the police […]

    Jackman is married to an Orange County, Florida, sheriff’s deputy. […] Sarah Jackman […] isn’t a member herself, but she’s described the Proud Boys as “pro-American, pro-family, and very patriotic.” The proof of such a claim is lacking. She also absurdly suggested the Proud Boys spent time their time together attending Bible studies and that it is absolutely “not a terrorist organization, not a hate group, nor a right-wing extremists group.” It doesn’t seem ideal when a police officer shares the same delusions as a mob wife.

    […] The FBI designated the Proud Boys a far-right extremist group with ties to white nationalism in 2018. We’d expect local cops to keep up with this sort of thing.

    Officials within Trump’s own White House, including former Department of Homeland Security official Elizabeth Neumann, had called out “white supremacy and anti-government extremism as a growing threat on par with ISIS.” Trump ignored these warnings, and at the time, we assumed he just didn’t care. Now, it’s far more insidious. The rot has spread deep within police departments across the nation.

    Link

  59. says

    Missouri Just Gonna Keep These Wrongfully Convicted Prisoners Locked Up, Because Why Not?

    […] It’s bad in Missouri, where GOP Attorney General Eric Schmitt is refusing to release wrongfully convicted prisoners on the grounds that they already used up all their appeals.

    This weekend’s “CBS Sunday Morning” featured a profile of two of the wrongfully convicted men Schmitt has decided must remain in prison. Both are Black men who have been in prison for decades, and in both cases, the men have prosecutors arguing for their release. Perhaps most gallingly, in both cases, the people who actually committed the crimes these men were wrongfully accused of have not only confessed, but have already served out their sentences for those crimes.

    Kevin Strickland was convicted of a triple homicide in 1979. The evidence he is innocent is so compelling that Jackson County prosecutor Jean Peters Baker issued a public apology to him in May.

    Two years ago, St. Louis prosecutor Kim Gardner petitioned for the release of 47-year-old Lamar Johnson, who was convicted of murdering one of his best friends in 1994, based on “overwhelming evidence of innocence.” Part of this evidence was that “Gardner’s office said it uncovered proof that the [only] eyewitness had been paid thousands of dollars by detectives” to point to Johnson.

    […] that is no way a normal thing for prosecutors to do […] But still, AG Schmitt is fighting against their release, and so far, Governor Mike Parson (also a Republican, obviously) has refused to pardon either of the men.

    It’s not because they believe these men are guilty, but because they literally do not care that they’re innocent. Moreover, the law does not require them to care.

    Via CBS:

    Sean O’Brien, a law professor at the University of Missouri Kansas City, said, “I do know that the Attorney General’s office, for a long time, has had a practice of opposing every case regardless of its merit. They think that their duty is to defend every judgment, no matter the justice of it.”

    “Even with new evidence that shows that the wrong person was convicted?” asked Moriarty.

    “Even with new evidence,” he replied.

    Gardner appealed, but this past March, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled against her, stating that, “This case is not about whether Johnson is innocent … This case presents only the issue of whether there is any authority to appeal … No such authority exists.”

    We’d all like to think that if prisoners are discovered to be innocent — particularly if someone else is convicted of the crime they were alleged to have committed — that they’d not only be released, but that they’d be owed piles of money from the state. But that’s not the case, at least in Missouri. The AG’s office — and apparently the governor and the state supreme court — are determined to force these men, and others, to stay in prison for crimes they didn’t commit. On the off chance they ever are released, the state will not be required to pay them anything. […]

    if the system were basically good, if the system were simply dedicated to protecting our society from truly dangerous people and punishing the guilty, these men would have no problem getting out of prison. Getting them the hell out would be seen as just as much of an emergency as getting a little white girl out of a well. They would not continue to have years of their lives stolen from them. And if that’s what obeying the rules looks like, then the rules are wrong.

  60. says

    Haiti’s acting prime minister Claude Joseph says he will step down amid leadership dispute.

    Washington Post link

    Claude Joseph, who has nominally led Haiti as acting prime minister since the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, said in an exclusive interview with The Washington Post on Monday that he had agreed to step down, handing over power to his challenger, who has been backed by the international community.

    The agreement ends a power struggle between two men who had been courting support internationally and domestically for their rival claims as Haiti’s interim leader, and is aimed at defusing a roiling political crisis that has left the troubled Caribbean nation rudderless since the July 7 assassination.

    Joseph had previously claimed that Ariel Henry, a 71-year-old neurosurgeon who was appointed prime minister by Moïse two days before the killing, had not yet been sworn into the job and had no right to act as interim leader. Joseph, who was Moïse’s foreign minister, had served as acting prime minister before Moïse named Henry, which he had said made him Haiti’s rightful interim leader following the assassination.

    But on Monday, he said that he and Henry had been meeting privately over the past week in a bid to resolve the leadership dispute, and that he had agreed on Sunday to step down “for the good of the nation.”

    […] Joseph would not say whether any pressure had been exerted, and said it remained unclear whether he would remain within Henry’s government.

    “I am willing to do the transfer of power as quickly as possible,” Joseph said. […]

    Much more at the link, including this:

    […] Asked about the situation in Haiti at a news conference on Monday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said: “We have been encouraging for several days now Haitian political actors to work together and find a political way forward. So we’ve certainly seen news reports. We have not received an official notification through our embassy. But we welcome reports that Haitian political actors are working together to determine a path forward.” […]

  61. says

    Despite the hype, iPhone security no match for NSO spyware.

    Washington Post link

    International investigation finds 23 Apple devices that were successfully hacked

    The text delivered last month to the iPhone 11 of Claude Mangin, the French wife of a political activist jailed in Morocco, made no sound. It produced no image. It offered no warning of any kind as an iMessage from somebody she didn’t know delivered malware directly onto her phone — and past Apple’s security systems.

    Once inside, the spyware, produced by Israel’s NSO Group and licensed to one of its government clients, went to work, according to a forensic examination of her device by Amnesty International’s Security Lab. It found that between October and June, her phone was hacked multiple times with Pegasus, NSO’s signature surveillance tool, during a time when she was in France.

    The examination was unable to reveal what was collected. But the potential was vast: Pegasus can collect emails, call records, social media posts, user passwords, contact lists, pictures, videos, sound recordings and browsing histories, according to security researchers and NSO marketing materials. The spyware can activate cameras or microphones to capture fresh images and recordings. It can listen to calls and voice mails. It can collect location logs of where a user has been and also determine where that user is now, along with data indicating whether the person is stationary or, if moving, in which direction.

    And all of this can happen without a user even touching her phone or knowing she has received a mysterious message from an unfamiliar person — in Mangin’s case, a Gmail user going by the name “linakeller2203.”

    These kinds of “zero-click” attacks, as they are called within the surveillance industry, can work on even the newest generations of iPhones, after years of effort in which Apple attempted to close the door against unauthorized surveillance — and built marketing campaigns on assertions that it offers better privacy and security than rivals.

    Mangin’s number was on a list of more than 50,000 phone numbers from more than 50 countries that The Post and 16 other organizations reviewed. Forbidden Stories, a Paris-based journalism nonprofit, and the human rights group Amnesty International had access to the numbers and shared them with The Post and its partners, in an effort to identify who the numbers belonged to and persuade them to allow the data from their phones to be examined forensically. […]

  62. says

    @Salty Current, ah, my source was a press conference by his group, Viruswaarheid (“Virus Truth”), in which he simply said that there was a new Watersnoodramp (literally “flood disaster”, but the name harkens back to the Great North Sea Flood of 1953) in the only part of The Netherlands that’s above sea level, and that they have their questions about that.
    And that came first to my attention because of a clip someone had made out of that, interspersing clips of the flooding with his “we have some questions about that”.

  63. says

    Remember Josh Spokesgay? – Now an Alex Jones style covid denying right wing anti-SJW loony.

    Damn, that sucks. Really liked the guy.

    I saw something similar closer to home. An acquaintance, the mother of a friend of my eldest, went from atheist to christian in the span of the pandemic. Excited to be baptised shortly. Feels like a loss.

  64. says

    A traffic stop for a missing front license plate leads to Minnesota Democrats calling for a state representative’s resignation.

    This story is a bit complicated. MPR links embedded.

    Democratic state representative John Thompson was pulled over by St. Paul police early the morning July 4 for a missing front license plate, which is illegal in Minnesota. As Thompson pointed out in a statement, this was a pretextual stop, since the officer didn’t charge him for the missing license plate. Instead, they ran his Wisconsin drivers license and found that Thompson had a suspended license in Minnesota (despite never having a Minnesota driver’s license) for delinquent child support. They cited him for that. Thompson is accusing the officer of racial profiling.

    Thompson has since paid his delinquent child support and had his license privileges reinstated in Minnesota. However, Fox 9’s investigation for their story (I won’t link directly to Fox on principle) revealed that Thompson most recently renewed his Wisconsin driver’s license in 2020, the same year he was elected to the Minnesota House. In Minnesota, residents are required to apply for a Minnesota driver’s license within 60 days of moving to the state. Lawmakers are required to live in the districts they represent, and there seems to be some indication that Thompson’s Minnesota address isn’t in his district.

    Fox 9 also revealed allegations of domestic assault and abuse, though the only case that resulted in charges (disorderly conduct) stemmed from an incident at a hospital in the Twin Cities, with a trial pending.

    As a result of these assault and abuse allegations, several Minnesota Democrats including Governor Tim Walz, Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan, and House Speaker Melissa Hortman have called for Thompson to resign. At the moment, it appears Thompson is denying all allegations and is refusing to resign.

  65. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    It appears that Ingenuity, the little helicopter that could on Mars, is proving itself beyond the minimum requirements. It can range ahead of the rover Perseverance, and help it avoid sand traps like the one that killed Spirit.
    Link

  66. Rob Grigjanis says

    SC @57:

    I suspect we’ll see a lot more of this dangerous sort of conspiracy theorizing as environmental disasters become more frequent.

    Without a doubt. There’ll be a lot more before then, but there’s a big ‘un coming in the mid 2030s, when the combination of climate-induced sea level rise and the varying inclination of the moon’s orbit around Earth could cause major tidal flooding.

    Lots of not very informative articles on the subject, for example

    https://www.cbsnews.com/news/nasa-moon-wobble-orbit-record-flooding-earth-sea-level-rise-climate-change/

  67. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    Boris Johnson denied the NHS would be overwhelmed and said he was not prepared to lock down the country to save people in their 80s, texting his adviser “get Covid and live longer,” according to new WhatsApp messages released by Dominic Cummings.

    In his first TV interview, the prime minister’s former chief adviser said Johnson held out on reimposing Covid restrictions because “the people who are dying are essentially all over 80.”

    Cummings also told the BBC that Johnson had been determined to go to see the Queen in person, despite people in Number 10 already ill with Covid in March 2020. Downing Street denies the account.

    In WhatsApp messages, shared with the BBC, that were sent to aides in mid October, Johnson appears to say: “I must say I have been slightly rocked by some of the data on Covid fatalities. The median age is 82 – 81 for men 85 for women. That is above life expectancy. So get Covid and live longer. Hardly anyone under 60 goes into hospital (4 per cent) and of those virtually all survive.

    “And I no longer buy all this NHS overwhelmed stuff. Folks I think we may need to recalibrate.”…

    He could have died himself!

  68. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    A federal judge has ruled Indiana University can require its students and employees to get vaccinated for Covid-19.

    US district judge Damon Leichty in South Bend rejected a request from eight students aiming to block the requirement while they pursue a lawsuit claiming that the university’s policy violated their constitutional rights by forcing them to receive unwanted medical treatment, the Associated Press reports.

    Hundreds of private and public colleges across the United States have introduced vaccine mandates.

    Leichty said that the Constitution “permits Indiana University to pursue a reasonable and due process of vaccination in the legitimate interest of public health for its students, faculty and staff”.

    James Bopp, a conservative lawyer representing the students, said Monday that he plans to appeal the ruling.

    Indiana law currently requires college students to get vaccinated against six diseases — diphtheria, tetanus, measles, mumps, rubella and meningitis. Pupils in state primary and secondary schools are required to get vaccinated for a further five diseases.

    Following backlash over asking for vaccine documentation, Indiana University is allowing students and employees at its seven campuses to state to their vaccination in an online form.

  69. says

    SQB @ #78, thanks for posting the information about Engel. I wasn’t familiar with him, and I think his case is really informative regarding what’s happening now and likely to come next.

  70. says

    Also in the Guardian:

    “German flood alert system criticised for ‘monumental failure’”:

    Germany is asking itself how one of the world’s richest countries managed to be taken by surprise by last week’s extreme weather events, as more details emerge of how early warnings about record rainfall and expected floods did not make their way to the communities most at risk….

    “Met Office issues first ever extreme heat warning for UK”:

    The Met Office has issued its first ever extreme heat warning for the UK with temperatures possibly reaching 33C in western areas.

    The amber warning is in place for much of Wales, all of south-west England and parts of southern and central England.

    It also warned of increasing water safety concerns as six people died in incidents over the weekend.

    The Met Office also said there could be an increased risk of wildfires as well as damage to heat-sensitive equipment and potential power cuts.

    The West Midlands fire service put out a fire when a bus stop self-combusted in Chelmsley Wood suburb of Solihull.

    “Keir Starmer expected to back purge of far-left Labour factions”:

    Keir Starmer is preparing to support a purge of far-left factions that were vocal supporters of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership….

  71. Tethys says

    Hello to the new TET, and to it’s denizens.

    It is great to be able to access the political thread too. Finding it and scrolling through hundreds of comments to reach the newest remarks is not a go

  72. Tethys says

    Hello to the new TET, and to it’s denizens.

    It is great to be able to access the political thread too. Finding it and scrolling through hundreds of comments to reach the newest remarks was not working. It will be more accessible now that I can just click the recent comments.

    So glad to hear Giliell is safe. The images from Germany are highly alarming. Flash flooding is a known danger in those valley communities. The drain is small, so they fill up like a sink when you get torrential rains, and then the land itself starts slipping away and creates mudslides.

    Oddly it was the social justice appeal of being able to slap down misogynist trolls without fear of assault that convinced me to delurk and join the horde. The excellent logic and apparent intelligence of the commentariat is rather legendary throughout various social media platforms. I’ve even had people on FB correctly pin me as a follower of Pharyngula, generally because they said something sexist and were called on it.

    Yes, I will be mean to you if you just insulted my entire gender/ liberals/ POC/ or the rainbow of LGBTQ people. I need to keep my teeth sniny, and there is an entire internet full

  73. Tethys says

    Hello to the new TET, and to it’s denizens.

    It is great to be able to access the political thread too. Finding it and scrolling through hundreds of comments to reach the newest remarks was not working. It will be more accessible now that I can just click the recent comments.

    So glad to hear Giliell is safe. The images from Germany are highly alarming. Flash flooding is a known danger in those valley communities. The drain is small, so they fill up like a sink when you get torrential rains, and then the land itself starts slipping away and creates mudslides.

    Oddly it was the social justice appeal of being able to slap down misogynist trolls without fear of assault that convinced me to delurk and join the horde. The excellent logic and apparent intelligence of the commentariat is rather legendary throughout various social media platforms. I’ve even had people on FB correctly pin me as a follower of Pharyngula, generally because they said something sexist and were called on it.

    Yes, I will be unkind to you if you just insulted my entire gender/ liberals/ POC/ or the rainbow of LGBTQ people. I need to keep my teeth sniny, and there is an entire internet full of numbskull cupcakes who all seem to fear the horde.

    Its sad that it took a deranged cheeto being elected POTUS for some of these ‘liberals’ to understand that racism and sexism did not end with the civil rights movement.

    Carry on!

  74. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Evidently, today is one year anniversary of Joy Reid having her prime time (6 pm et) show on MSNBC, The Reid Out.. Any SJW should check her show out if your haven’t. Poor Tuckums of Faux News is scared of her.

  75. Tethys says

    Ugh, so sorry for whatever is happening. I swear I only hit post comment once, and have no idea why or how I made such a mess.

    Maybe I’ve got an infected device? *relurk

  76. says

    No worries, Tethys.

    Oddly it was the social justice appeal of being able to slap down misogynist trolls without fear of assault that convinced me to delurk and join the horde. The excellent logic and apparent intelligence of the commentariat is rather legendary throughout various social media platforms. I’ve even had people on FB correctly pin me as a follower of Pharyngula, generally because they said something sexist and were called on it.

    :)

  77. John Morales says

    Tethys,

    It is great to be able to access the political thread too. Finding it and scrolling through hundreds of comments to reach the newest remarks was not working.

    This platform’s not perfect.
    When a new page is created (after 500 comments), new comments no longer show up on the ‘recent comments’ tab on the sidebar.

  78. says

    Update long in coming – HuffPo – “Judge Guts Trump-Era Case Against Rocker Raided For Photo Shoot Promoting His Band.”

    Even after Trump left office, federal prosectors defended the search warrant and the case. Joseph Murphy, the acting U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Hillary Lawler Parham asked the court in early July to consider “the state of civil unrest and protest” in America following the death of George Floyd last year, saying it helped put the affidavit against Coffman in context.

  79. Tethys says

    @John Morales

    I’m also limited to my phone since my computer was broken, which makes navigating this site a challenge. Every blog here has unique technical bugs, which change constantly. Some days I can copy and paste, other days the system logs me out after two minutes and won’t load properly.

    I don’t appreciate my phone making me look like an idiot, so I don’t comment much, but I like to read and stay informed.

  80. says

    @Nerd of Redhead (91)

    Poor Tuckums of Faux News is scared of her.

    Poor Tuckums is afraid of his own shadow if the sun is on his right. But thanks for the tip.

  81. snarkrates says

    Lynna@72
    That Kilmeade-Doocy interchange is a perfect example of why the glibertarian philosophy just cannot work for humans. The reason is that we are social creatures, capable of causing tremendous change in the environment around us (for good or ill), and the glibertarians are incapable of conceiving of the common good or common cause. They are in the truest sense of the word–anti-human.

    If we were not social, there would be much less to worry about with humans transporting a fatal pathogen from its origin to become a global pandemic. If we were not herd animals, there would be much less worry about mutations/variants preventing us from achieving herd immunity. Such variants would tend to remain isolated near their point of origin.
    Glibertarians either cannot conceive of their own actions affecting anyone else, or they do not care. They are likely to say that “your rights end at your nose,” while breathing virus infested air into our nose.

    Any problem involving the common good of ourselves as a social species–public health, climate…– will prove not just beyond their ability to solve but beyond their ability to even acknowledge.

  82. says

    Here’s a link to the July 20 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    From there:

    Lockdowns do not harm health more than Covid, say researchers

    Natalie Grover

    Since early in the coronavirus pandemic, critics of unprecedented lockdown measures seen worldwide have argued that these interventions cause more harm than the disease itself. But an analysis of global health data suggests there is little evidence to support the idea that the cure is worse than the disease.

    The analysis, published in the journal BMJ Global Health, considered claims that lockdowns cause more health harms than Covid-19 by examining their impacts on measures including death rates, routine health services and mental health.

    Using an international dataset of all-cause mortality from 94 countries, the researchers found that countries such as New Zealand and Australia experienced no excess mortality last year. In contrast, places with few Covid restrictions such as Brazil, Sweden, Russia and at times parts of the US had large numbers of excess deaths over the course of the pandemic.

    “It is … one of the most compelling pieces of evidence to support the notion that the cure was not worse than the disease,” said author Prof Gavin Yamey, from the Duke Global Health Institute at Duke University. “It does seem that countries that acted quickly and aggressively often had fewer deaths than in previous years. One study showed that lockdown may have reduced annual mortality by up to 6% from eliminating flu transmission alone.”

    The excess-mortality data could not rule out harms caused by lockdown or conclude whether lockdowns have a net benefit, however, especially given very high excess mortality in many nations that did pursue such strategies such as the UK, the researchers wrote.

    Another avenue of inquiry was healthcare services. Although data suggests a clear reduction in attendance for vital non-Covid health services during lockdowns, overwhelmed health services or a high perceived risk of infection at health facilities would also disincentivise people from accessing care, the researchers suggested. “With current evidence, it is simply not possible to support either causal assertion adequately,” they concluded.

    The relationship between mental health and lockdowns is often highlighted but the link between large-scale Covid outbreaks and depression and anxiety is often overlooked, the researchers noted. “Missing school clearly affects children’s mental health, but so does losing a loved one to Covid-19.”…

  83. says

    CNN – “Twitter temporarily suspends Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene for vaccine misinformation”:

    Twitter on Monday evening temporarily suspended Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene after she shared misinformation about Covid-19 and vaccines, a company spokesperson told CNN.

    The Georgia Republican, who has a track record of incendiary rhetoric, will not be able to tweet for 12 hours due to Twitter’s policy against people who repeatedly share misinformation.

    The social media platform had labeled two tweets from Greene as “misleading” in recent days. If she continues to share misinformation about Covid-19 through her Twitter account, Greene could be suspended from the platform permanently.

    The temporary suspension comes as the White House has struck a confrontational posture with social media platforms over the prevalence of misleading claims about coronavirus vaccines as cases tick up nationwide.

    Greene had received a 12-hour suspension from Twitter earlier this year following a conspiracy-laden thread about the Georgia Senate elections. Some of those tweets earned labels from Twitter noting: “This claim about election fraud is disputed, and this Tweet can’t be replied to, Retweeted, or liked due to a risk of violence.”…

  84. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    New infections in France are increasing at an unprecedented rate due to the Delta variant, after 18,000 cases were reported for the previous 24 hours, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reports, citing the health minister Olivier Véran. The news agency reports. Addressing the French parliament, he said:

    That means we have an increase in the spread of the virus of around 150 percent in the last week: we’ve never seen that, neither with Covid [the original form], nor the British variant, nor the South African or the Brazilian one.

    The level of infections is the highest since mid-May, when the country was emerging from a third nationwide lockdown. France, which is bracing for a fourth wave of infections because of the spread of the Delta variant, has been racing to get as many people vaccinated as possible.

    AFP reports:

    Addressing vaccine sceptics, Veran said the new figures showed that ‘this is no time for doubts and hesitation’ and that achieving herd immunity through a high degree of vaccine coverage is ‘the only way we have …of getting rid of Covid once and for all’.

    He was speaking as parliament was due to debate a set of controversial new rules aimed at pressuring millions of vaccine holdouts into getting a jab, since only 45% of the population is fully vaccinated.

    Under a bill to be put a vote in the coming days, people who want to eat in restaurants, go to the cinema or take a long-distance train will have to be vaccinated or produce a negative Covid test.

    And, from September on, vaccinations will become mandatory for healthcare and retirement home workers.

    Macron’s announcement of the measures this month sparked a scramble for vaccine shots in a country that was one of the most vaccine-shy in the world at the start of the pandemic.

    UK suffers worst death toll in months

    The UK has reported its worst daily death toll since March, even as England lifts almost all Covid measures, the government in Westminster has said.

    A further 96 people died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Tuesday; the highest reported daily figure since 24 March. It brings the UK’s total to 128,823. As of 9am, there had been a further 46,558 lab-confirmed Covid-19 cases in the UK, offiial figures show….

  85. snarkrates says

    SC@94, I particularly like the response from Philip Gourevitch–author of a book on the Rwandan genocide, just a !.

    Tuckums has lost it.

  86. says

    Why Republicans don’t really need ‘more time’ on infrastructure

    Republicans say they need “a little bit more time” before a bipartisan infrastructure package advances. It’s a tough line to take seriously.

    A couple of weeks ago, the public first learned of a video in which Rep. Chip Roy (R-Tex) told allies about his party’s legislative perspective. The Texas Republican said it’s the “job” of GOP lawmakers to slow down the Democratic majority’s agenda — on infrastructure, among other things — until next year’s midterm elections.

    Roy added that Republicans would benefit from “18 more months of chaos and the inability to get stuff done.”

    The quote kept coming to mind yesterday, as Senate Republicans, after already agreeing to a bipartisan framework on an immigration deal, said they don’t want to move forward with a procedural vote tomorrow. Rather, as the Washington Post reported, GOP senators want to slow things down and take more time.

    With the package still in flux, the deadline greatly troubled Republicans, some of whom blasted Democrats for rushing already fragile negotiations. “Unless Senator Schumer doesn’t want this to happen, you need a little bit more time to get it right,” Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) stressed during an interview on Fox News Sunday.

    Yep. That’s a warning light. The Republicans are just following their “18 more months of chaos and the inability to get stuff done” tactic to defeat Joe Biden. Don’t fall for it.

    Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) added yesterday that she, too, is concerned that Democratic leaders are trying to rush the process. [bullshit]

    For those keeping track of the calendar, President Joe Biden began bipartisan infrastructure negotiations in February. It’s also been four weeks since the White House and a bipartisan group of lawmakers shook hands and reached an agreement on how best to proceed.

    With this in mind, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) scheduled a procedural vote for tomorrow — not on final passage of a compete piece of legislation, but to move the debate to the next stage.

    The New York Democrat explained as much yesterday, saying he would use “a shell bill” as the final proposal takes shape, which in turn will allow members to advance the process.

    He said the motion Wednesday would allow him to move quickly to swap in the official bill that the group of five Democratic and five Republican senators are working on as “the first substitute amendment” Thursday. If it’s not done by then, “I will offer an amendment that consists only of the elements of the bill that have gone through committee with substantial bipartisan support,” he said.

    As of late yesterday, Senate Republicans were nevertheless insisting that they’re prepared to derail tomorrow’s vote. The measure will need 60 votes to advance, and one GOP leader said there’s “no chance” that 10 Republican senators are prepared to go along with the Democrats’ timeline. [Well, that’s an obstructionist move.]

    Around the same time, the president delivered brief remarks about the economy, and said, “[W]e should be united on one thing: passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework, which we shook hands on. We shook hands on it.”

    The implication of Biden’s comments was that he expects Republicans to follow through on their commitments to the bipartisan deal. That now appears unlikely.

    [head/desk]

  87. says

    Rand Paul makes an odd case against rescuing Afghan translators

    Afghan interpreters put their lives on the line, assuming we’d look out for them. Rand Paul would apparently leave them behind.

    If there’s one issue that should enjoy overwhelming bipartisan support on Capitol Hill, it’s the need to protect people in Afghanistan who’ve worked alongside Americans — as translators and drivers, among other roles — under impossibly difficult circumstances. The end of the U.S. war may be controversial, but taking care of those who face deadly retribution for having helped us should be a no-brainer.

    “It is a life and death situation,” Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio) said last month. “It’ll be a black eye on the United States if we don’t do everything in our power to protect these allies.”

    Quite right. And with this in mind, Rep. Jason Crow (D-Colo.), a decorated retired Army Ranger who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, has been helping lead the effort to save these Afghans’ lives by expediting the process for them to receive special immigrant visas (SIVs), raising the federal cap and waiving application requirements.

    There are logistical challenges that need to be overcome, but the effort itself — rescuing those who are being hunted because they agreed to help the United States — enjoys broad support, not only among elected officials, but also among military veterans.

    After all, who’s going to defend leaving these allies behind to die at the hands of Taliban soldiers eager to kill them? As it turns out, Bloomberg News found someone.

    Senator Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican and long-time critic of the war in Afghanistan, has questioned whether Congress needs to act. Paul is well-known for blocking legislation, although he didn’t specifically say he would do so on an Afghan visa bill. “I think those who speak English and are our friends should stay and fight for their country,” Paul said. “I think if they all leave we’re more likely to see the Taliban take over.”

    Oh. So as far as Rand Paul, a one-time presidential candidate, is concerned, Afghan interpreters put their lives on the line, assuming we’d look out for them. As the United States withdraws, our message should apparently be, “Taliban soldiers are coming to kill you. Here’s a gun. Good luck.”

    Fortunately, the White House has a different policy in mind. NBC News reported yesterday afternoon:

    The Biden administration plans to fly about 2,500 Afghans at risk of retaliation from the Taliban for their work with U.S. troops to a military base in Virginia in the coming days, the State Department said Monday. The group of Afghans are being flown directly to the United States because their visa applications are nearly complete and have passed security vetting, State Department spokesperson Ned Price told reporters.

    Legislative efforts on Capitol Hill, meanwhile, are ongoing and have the White House’s backing. Proponents probably shouldn’t count on Rand Paul’s vote, though.

  88. says

    From the Guardian Pegasus series:

    “Pegasus: NSO clients spying disclosures prompt political rows across world”:

    …In Hungary, where Viktor Orbán’s government stands accused of using NSO’s hacking software against journalists, opposition MPs said they would convene an extraordinary meeting of parliament’s national security committee to discuss the allegations.

    “If any part of this is true, even half of it, it’s one of the deepest national security scandals I have seen,” said the opposition MP Péter Ungár, who sits on the committee.

    European leaders also voiced anxiety about the deployment of NSO in Europe, with one calling for MEPs to hold their own inquiry. “No more ‘deeply concerned’… the EU has a dictatorship growing inside of it,” wrote the MEP, former Belgian prime minister and longtime Orbán critic, Guy Verhofstadt, on Twitter, in response to the Pegasus project allegations. “We need a full inquiry by the European parliament!”

    “Freedom of the press is a core value of the European Union,” said the European Commission chief, Ursula von der Leyen, on Monday while on a visit to Prague. She said if the allegations were true, “it is completely unacceptable”….

    “Modi accused of treason by opposition over India spyware disclosures”:

    …In a statement, [the Congress party] accused the Modi government of being the “deployer and executor” of a “spying racket”.

    “This is clearly treason and total abdication of national security by the Modi government, more so when the foreign company could possibly have access to this data,” said the Congress statement, which labelled Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) government as the “Bharatiya Jasoos [spy] party”.

    “This is an unforgivable sacrilege and negation of constitutional oath by the home minister and the prime minister,” it added.

    Priyanka Gandhi, the general secretary of the Congress and sister to Rahul Gandhi, called the leaks “abhorrent” and an “affront to democracy”.

    “If true, the Modi government seems to have launched a grave and sinister attack on the right to privacy – constitutionally guaranteed to Indian citizens as a Fundamental Right,” she said on Twitter.

    The Pegasus project leaks prompted multiple denials from high-level figures in the Modi government, who sought to discredit the reports as coming from those with an “anti-India agenda”.

    India’s home minister, Amit Shah, Modi’s closest political ally, accused “global organisations which do not like India to progress” of being behind the reports of possible surveillance of Indian politicians, journalists, activists and government critics.

    “This is a report by the disrupters for the obstructers,” said Shah in a statement. “Disrupters are global organisations which do not like India to progress. Obstructers are political players in India who do not want India to progress. People of India are very good at understanding this chronology and connection.”

    In a press conference, the former IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad alleged that only India was being “targeted” for the use of Pegasus when 40 nations were using it, according to NSO. The Pegasus project is reporting on apparent abuse of the software by at least 10 countries.

    Prasad accused Amnesty International, which had access to the leaked data, of having “an anti-India agenda”. He also accused the opposition Congress party of a role in the story because “they are losing power” and questioned whether the allegations were “some kind of revenge for the way India handled Covid?”…

  89. says

    In their case against the tax police, GOP pushes fake ‘scandal’

    Years later, Republicans either don’t remember how the IRS “scandal” turned out, or they’re counting on you to not remember how the story turned out.

    As part of the bipartisan infrastructure negotiations, Republicans insisted that no one would be asked to pay more in taxes, especially the wealthy and big corporations who benefited from the GOP’s Trump-era tax breaks. Fine, President Biden said, offering an alternative: the IRS could simply better enforce the tax laws already on the books.

    Republicans balked at this, too, and despite an earlier agreement, the idea has been removed from the pending bipartisan framework at GOP senators’ behest.

    Yesterday, leading Republicans were pressed for some kind of explanation for rejecting a simple and effective solution that would give them what they claimed they wanted. It didn’t go well.

    “I don’t think anybody’s looking forward to an army of auditors to audit your tax returns. Unfortunately, the IRS has a reputation problem because of weaponization … the Lois Lerners of the world,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) told a HuffPost reporter Monday.

    This was, alas, the inevitable Republican talking point. When far-right groups started lobbying against the IRS provision in the infrastructure deal, they sent a letter to senators that read in part, “No additional funding for the Internal Revenue Service, especially given its multiple scandals over the past decade. We have not forgotten about Lois Lerner’s tactics of using IRS enforcement to harass conservative groups and donors. Republicans in Congress shouldn’t either.”

    […] the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal pushed the same line. “Remember Lois Lerner? During her tenure as director of exempt organizations, the IRS unfairly singled out conservative nonprofits for special scrutiny and harassment,” the editorial said. “It was a sobering lesson in how one of Washington’s most powerful agencies can be weaponized against political opponents.”

    […]GOP leaders such as Texas’ John Cornyn are reading from the same script. The problem, however, is that they’re relying on a made-up controversy.

    […] the IRS “scandal” was all the rage in the spring of 2013. The Obama White House’s detractors and much of the Beltway media was quite certain the story was Watergate, Iran-Contra, Teapot Dome, Abscam, all rolled into one mega-controversy.

    And then it all collapsed. Reality showed that the tax agency hadn’t singled out conservatives for unfair scrutiny; there was no conspiracy; […] and the political world moved on past the discredited allegations.

    Congressional Republicans held hearings, which offered no evidence of wrongdoing. The FBI launched its own probe, and federal law enforcement didn’t uncover anything, either. A federal prosecutor specifically concluded that Lois Lerner hadn’t done anything wrong. […]

    John Cornyn insists that the IRS has earned a reputation for having been “weaponized,” but that reputation exists only in the minds of conservative imaginations, because of a scandal that did not exist in reality.

    If Republicans are looking for an excuse to justify their opposition to funding the tax police, they’ll have to look elsewhere.

  90. says

    The problem with Kevin McCarthy’s GOP picks for the Jan. 6 probe

    It’s tough to imagine how McCarthy’s selections for the committee will help advance the interests of the investigation into January’s insurrectionist riot.

    It was three weeks ago when House members voted to create a special select committee to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. Soon after, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) unveiled her selections for the panel, including Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.). House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), however, initially refused to say whether he’d nominate any members to participate in the probe.

    [McCarthy] raised all kinds of unfortunate complaints about the committee, suggesting he didn’t think the investigation should happen at all, and leaving the impression that Cheney would remain the only Republican on the panel.

    Yesterday, however, McCarthy finally made an announcement.

    […] McCarthy tapped Reps. Jim Banks of Indiana, Jim Jordan of Ohio, Rodney Davis of Illinois, Kelly Armstrong of North Dakota and Troy Nehls of Texas to serve on the panel.

    Banks, who currently serves as the chair of the Republican Study Committee, will fill the role of ranking member on the select committee, effectively making him the lead GOP representative in the investigation.

    […] Banks recently made headlines by sending a memo to his fellow House Republicans, urging them to “lean into” the culture war as a way of returning to power. He specifically emphasized critical race theory as a winning issue for the congressional GOP, despite the fact that Congress has nothing to do with where, how, or whether the theory is taught.

    Ohio’s Jim Jordan, of course, is also a well-known political figure, having earned a reputation as a far-right firebrand and unyielding Trump ally. The congressman was also accused of having turned a blind eye to sexual abuses at Ohio State during his tenure as a coach at the university.

    […] Three of these five members — Banks, Jordan, and Nehls — voted against certifying the results of the 2020 presidential election, even after the attack.

    Two of the five — Banks and Jordan — signed onto a legal brief, asking the Supreme Court to reject the election results. […]

    Each of the five voted against creating the select committee on which they’re poised to serve. Four of the five voted against creating an independent Jan. 6 commission, too.

    […] McCarthy’s selections are more suggestions than appointments: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has final say over who serves on the panel, and in theory, she could veto the minority leader’s choices.

    There’s been no indication that she will take such a step, though the Speaker’s office hasn’t endorsed McCarthy’s picks, either.

  91. says

    @KG (104)
    I’m not sure if the political system has much to do with it. I happened across an interesting study by the Lowy Institute that analysed various factors in covid-19 responses.
    New Zealand has done very well, but so has Vietnam, or at least until about a month ago, while countries like Switzerland and The Netherlands have done much worse. So while I agree that both of Trump’s and Bolsonaro’s responses have been atrocious, it’s not as clear-cut as that.

  92. says

    Follow-up to comment 115.

    In GOP Opposition To Beefing Up IRS Enforcement, Shades Of A Fake, Obama-Era Zombie Scandal

    […] How did the GOP senators in the bipartisan group end up stepping away from a plan they had initially backed? […]

    The Pressure Campaign
    In early July, a group of big-ticket conservative groups sent a letter to Republican lawmakers, warning them not to support the bipartisan plan unless it followed their guideposts. Stephen Moore, Grover Norquist and Steve Forbes were among the signees.

    While most of the letter’s demands were concerned with expressly banning any measures to help mitigate the climate disaster unfolding before our eyes, one addressed the IRS enforcement provision.

    […] The supposed Lois Lerner scandal was quite the throwback, and one the Republican minority on the House Ways & Means Committee had resurrected in a press release published the day before the letter from conservative coalitions made the same argument. [Coordinated obstructionism]

    […] The unspoken piece of Republicans’ pushback is clear: they don’t want to alienate their wealthy supporters and donors. It seems politically extreme that they’re willing to potentially sink the bipartisan infrastructure plan in service of those very wealthy few […] but the presumption that Republicans will support policies to help the richest in society is so baked in that it doesn’t even generate headlines.

    So instead, the GOP pressure campaign is pegged to an explanation simpler and more righteous for Republicans to echo: an IRS scandal, where innocent conservatives were harassed and targeted. Fox Newsian red meat, in other words. [And fabricated. It’s false.]

    The Republican memory of the IRS “scandal” during the Obama administration is pure fantasy, yet continues to be the dominant story of what happened, aided by a credulous media.

    In 2013, right-wing groups started complaining that the IRS was targeting them for seeking a tax-exempt status, loading them with undue burdens and difficulties. Republicans wasted little time accusing former President Barack Obama of being behind the effort to target Tea Party groups, and Obama himself preemptively condemned any potential wrongdoing. Media outlets of all stripes bit.

    Even in the immediate aftermath of the Republican uproar, it soon became clear that the IRS was not only targeting conservative groups; it was trying to identify all political groups, including liberal ones, to weed out those that were inappropriately seeking the coveted tax-exempt status during an era when it was coming into vogue (as it continues to be) among dark money groups looking to hide the identities of their wealthy backers. While using search terms like “tea party” to expedite that process, the IRS also used “progressive” and “green energy.” And it stopped using the search terms altogether once the “scandal” broke.

    […] None of that stopped Republicans from beating the dead Benghazi-esque horse, insisting that this was a bona fide Obama administration scandal and insinuating that the President was behind it — despite the Department of Justice, FBI and Treasury Department coming up empty after exhaustive probes. Republicans even called for the impeachment of an IRS commissioner who didn’t work there during the “scandal.” […]

  93. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    The Delta variant of Covid-19 is the cause of more than 80% of the new cases in the US, but the vaccines are still more than 90% effective in preventing hospitalisations and deaths, said top US infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci during a senate hearing.

    The highly contagious Delta variant was first found in India earlier this year. It has since become the dominant strain of Covid-19 in the US and has been detected in more than 90 countries worldwide.

    Deaths from Covid-19 in the United States have averaged 239 per day over the past week, nearly 48% higher than the previous week, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky said during the hearing, though the number as a percentage of excess deaths was not reported by Reuters.

    Meanwhile, a fully vaccinated White House official tested positive for COVID-19 off site and has mild symptoms but was not found to have had close contacts with White House principals or staff, a White House official said. The official remains off White House grounds pending additional testing for confirmation, the official said.

  94. says

    Fox News weirdness:

    In the Republican spirit of prolonged denial followed by measured acceptance, Fox News host Sean Hannity finally urged his viewers to take “seriously” the coronavirus pandemic that has been raging for more than a year now, killing more than 600,000 people in the United States alone. “Please take COVID seriously. I can’t say it enough,” Hannity said Monday night on his show. “Enough people have died. We don’t need anymore death. Research like crazy.” Hannity added: “Talk to your doctor, your doctors, medical professionals you trust based on your unique medical history, your current medical condition, and you and your doctor make a very important decision for your own safety. Take it seriously. You also have a right to medical privacy. Doctor-patient confidentiality’s also important, and it absolutely makes sense for many Americans to get vaccinated. I believe in science. I believe in the science of vaccination.”

    Then he made a mistake frequently repeated by many a conservative before him: He kept talking.
    [video available at the link]

    “Across the country, with the approval of Joe Biden, some colleges and universities are mandating that students take the vaccine, regardless of whether they had natural immunity,” Hannity said. “The courts, so far, seem to be on the side of mandates.

    “For example, a federal judge on Monday upheld Indiana University’s vaccination requirement for students despite arguments from plaintiffs that such rules violate their right to body integrity and medical privacy.”

    […] His conflicting opinions aside, Hannity’s clip had been viewed 3.8 million times on Twitter by Tuesday morning. MSNBC host Joy-Ann Reid tweeted: “Wow what happened? You know what? I don’t even care. Say more of these words, Hannity. Apparently he’s one of like two people over there who don’t actively want their viewers to die.”

    […] Journalist Keith Boykin tweeted: “So, Sean Hannity and Fox News waited 16 months, while 600,000 Americans were killed and 35 million infected, before they finally decided to encourage their viewers to ‘take Covid seriously’ and ‘believe in science.’” Journalist Jan Wolfe tweeted: “Before this clip, Hannity criticized a university for mandating vaccines. After this clip, Hannity interviewed a young woman who lost feeling in her legs for a month in 2019 after getting a different type of vaccine.”

    […] It’s unclear what prompted the network’s sudden change, but several news outlets have reported falling stocks as fears about the pandemic worsening return. The Associated Press reported on Monday that the S&P 500 was 1.9% lower in morning trading, following a record high just a week earlier. In other causes for concern, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 769 points, or 2.2%, and the yield on the 10-year Treasury dropped below 1.20%, “close to its lowest level in five months,” the news wire reported. […]

    Others, like conservative former candidate for president Joe Walsh, played into a rumor that Hannity was forced to say what he did by Fox lawyers.

    Yes, Hannity was ordered to say what he said tonight.

    Yes, what Hannity said tonight he should’ve said 16 months ago.

    Yes, watching Fox News can get you killed.

    Yes, that coward Tucker dumped on the vaccines again tonight.

    It’s still never too late to help save lives.

    […] Political commentator Majid Padellan tweeted: “I don’t care why he did it. I don’t care what he said before. Fox News viewers believe in Hannity, he told them to get vaccinated, and we need more of that from THEM. It could make a huge difference.”

  95. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    The European Commission will not approve Hungary’s recovery plan until the country carries out judicial reform and guarantees that corruption cases are investigated, justice commissioner Didier Reynders has said.

    There are systemic problems with the rule of law in Hungary, and the European Commission is ready to use all tools to protect democracy, including the suspension of EU funds, Reynders said on hvg.hu news site.

    In a report published today, the European Commission listed serious concerns about the rule of law in Poland and Hungary, Reuters reports. The commission said Poland and Hungary were undermining media pluralism and court independence. They are the only two countries in the 27-member bloc under formal EU investigation for jeopardising the rule of law.

    Hungarian Justice Minister Judit Varga said on Facebook the commission was “blackmailing” Hungary because of a child protection law which won’t allow “LGBTQ-activists and any sexual propaganda into Hungarian kindergartens and schools”.

  96. says

    Guardian – “Colombia under fire for backing Cuba protests while stifling dissent at home”:

    Colombia’s government has been accused of hypocrisy after calling for solidarity with protesters in Cuba even as it cracks down harshly on mass demonstrations against economic inequity and human rights abuses.

    Colombia is bracing for another round of anti-poverty demonstrations and unrest, with large marches planned for Tuesday 20 July, Colombia’s independence day, after taking a monthlong hiatus during a surge in Covid-19 cases.

    Colombia’s rightwing government, led by President Iván Duque, has said the marches are the result of “terrorist” agitators and are supported by illegal armed groups.

    But the Colombian government’s tone towards dissent at home jars with its support for mass marches in Cuba, with Colombia’s foreign ministry calling on communist rulers there to “guarantee the freedom of expression” and “respect the right” to peaceful protest….

    More at the link.

  97. says

    Pillow Man thinks Trump won California, because Pillow Man is out of his pillowy mind

    […] first, some context: Uber-Trump sycophant Mike Lindell, the Pillow Man in question, is holding what he calls a cyber symposium over the weekend of Aug. 10-12 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Because if you want the national media, beltway insiders, and hundreds of the world’s top IT experts to show up to your event, everyone knows the place to be is … South Dakota.

    So Lindell thinks Trump actually won the election with 80 million votes to Joe Biden’s 68 million. He claims he has “packet captures” from the entire election that show China attacked our election through Dominion Voting Systems machines, and he’s certain that when the Supreme Court sees the evidence he has, it will vote 9-0 to take down the 2020 election and reinstall Trump.

    All caught up? (Yeah, I could have just said, “This dude’s cuckoo for crack puffs” and left it at that, but then you’d only understand 20% of what he’s blathering on about here instead of, say, half.)

    But while all of the above is sublimely weird, it’s nothing next to this. Here’s Lindell this past weekend at the Reawaken America Tour in Anaheim, California: [video available at the link]

    LINDELL: “People keep asking me today, ‘Did he win California?’ People keep asking me that. Okay. You want me to wait till Aug. 10 to tell you? Okay, the answer, this is going to be a subjective answer but it’s the best answer I can give you. If you take the machines, if you take that fraud out of the picture, he still loses by a little bit. But, I call it, that’s the machine fraud, that’s the cyberattack. Now there was something, I call the organic theft. This is what Donald Trump wins all those other swing states on anyway. That’s dead people voting, illegals voting, nonresidents voting, minors voting, people with seven ballots voting. That’s the organic theft, okay? If you add that in to California, I believe Donald Trump won the state of California.” [Huge cheers from assembled members of the deludenoid community]

    Okay, if you follow politics even a little, you know it’s basically impossible for Trump to have won California. The final FiveThirtyEight snapshot of aggregated polls prior to the election showed Biden with a 29.2% lead. As a Biden supporter, I fretted about plenty of states before Nov. 3. I never spent a nanosecond worrying about California. In the end, Biden won the state by—oh, lookee here—exactly 29.2%.

    In other words, no one believes Donald Trump won California. No one—with the possible exceptions of Pillow Man and Donald Trump.

    Of course, Lindell also thinks Donald Trump was a great commander in chief who, and this is a direct quote, “is the only president in my lifetime who wasn’t in it for the ego and worked only for the people and not for his own interests.” So you can see he’s not the brightest bulb on the marquee.

    No doubt Lindell actually thinks what he’s doing is historic. He’s certain that one day he’ll be placed among our pantheon of great patriots and that his mustache will hang in the Smithsonian next to Bill Cosby’s sweater.

    And when Aug. 13—the day of reckoning—finally arrives, I expect he’ll be gobsmacked. It won’t be pretty.

    But that doesn’t mean he’ll give up. After all, he has the “great” Donald Trump by his side. And how could anyone ever give up on Supermanatee?

    BTW, I forgot to provide a link in comment 120. Here is that link.

  98. says

    Ted Cruz is full of shit (and racist to boot):

    Surprise: Ted Cruz is, as usual, full of shit. The Republican senator had grossly claimed last week that COVID-19 cases in south Texas are on the rise as “a direct result” of undocumented immigrants “being released into communities.” Like noted at the time, we know this is a racist trope with a long, disturbing history. What Cruz said is just a straight-up lie—and there’s new data made public since then further knocking down his claim.

    “Several days ago, Ted Cruz blamed migrants for rising COVID cases in South Texas,” tweeted immigration policy expert Aaron Reichlin-Melnick. “Well, newly-released data from one of the largest migrant shelters in South Texas not only conclusively disproves that claims, but also shows that 90% of migrants have voluntarily gotten a vaccine!”

    By comparison, just 42% of Texans have been vaccinated, The Texas Tribune reported this past weekend. Reichlin-Melnick, policy counsel for the American Immigration Council, noted that while the “COVID test positivity rate among migrants has increased from 4% to 8%,” Texas’ rate “has risen to 10%.”

    “In addition, every migrant is tested, which is obviously not happening elsewhere,” he continued in his thread. “So the true rate for the rest of Texas is likely higher.” Valerie Gonzalez reports for The Monitor that when migrants arriving at one overnight shelter in the region do test positive for the virus, they are quarantined for ten days. Most asylum-seekers have final destinations to the U.S. homes of relatives already here.

    […] when Greg and Lieutenant Gov. Dan Patrick also sought to disgustingly blame undocumented immigrants for COVID-19 cases, they went onto Fox News to do it. They of course did this with no proof. Because if there’s one thing anti-immigrant politicians are consistent in, it’s in blaming immigrants for problems facing our nation—especially problems anti-immigrant politicians made worse.

    Link

  99. says

    Was markdown always available? I recall using the proper html tags back in the day, which is a pain on mobile.

  100. says

    @Lynna (124)

    […] there’s new data made public since then further knocking down his claim.

    When has that ever stopped him or any other Trumpian? It has to make their followers feel good, truth isn’t even secondary.

  101. says

    SQB, true. I still bother to post facts that debunk trumpian lies.

    In other news: How Bad Is the Bootleg Fire? It’s Generating Its Own Weather.

    New York Times link

    Unpredictable winds, fire clouds that spawn lightning, and flames that leap over firebreaks are confounding efforts to fight the blaze, which is sweeping through southern Oregon.

    A towering cloud of hot air, smoke and moisture that reached airliner heights and spawned lightning. Wind-driven fronts of flame that have stampeded across the landscape, often leapfrogging firebreaks. Even, possibly, a rare fire tornado.

    The Bootleg Fire in Southern Oregon, spurred by months of drought and last month’s blistering heat wave, is the largest wildfire so far this year in the United States, having already burned more than 340,000 acres, or 530 square miles, of forest and grasslands.

    And at a time when climate change is causing wildfires to be larger and more intense, it’s also one of the most extreme, so big and hot that it’s affecting winds and otherwise disrupting the atmosphere.

    “The fire is so large and generating so much energy and extreme heat that it’s changing the weather,” said Marcus Kauffman, a spokesman for the state forestry department. “Normally the weather predicts what the fire will do. In this case, the fire is predicting what the weather will do.”

    […] Many wildfires grow rapidly in size, and the Bootleg Fire is no exception. In the first few days it grew by a few square miles or less, but in more recent days it has grown by 80 square miles or more. And nearly every day the erratic conditions have forced some of the nearly 2,200 firefighting personnel to retreat to safer locations, further hindering efforts to bring it under control. More than 75 homes and other structures have burned.

    On Thursday night along its northern edge, the fire jumped over a line that had been treated with chemical retardant, forcing firefighters to back off. It was just the latest example of the fire overrunning a firebreak. […]

  102. Akira MacKenzie says

    Political commentator Majid Padellan tweeted: “I don’t care why he did it. I don’t care what he said before. Fox News viewers believe in Hannity, he told them to get vaccinated, and we need more of that from THEM. It could make a huge difference.”

    No, it won’t. The rubes will declare Hannity and FOX to be compromised by the Deep State/Chi-Com/Satanic Cabal and start getting their “news” from sources they trust: OAN, NewsMax, InfoWars, etc..

  103. says

    Following a recent pattern, a judge in Georgia dismissed a lawsuit that sought to overturn Democratic Sens. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff victories. The case was filed by a local voter pushing conspiracy theories about Dominion Voting System machines.
    Atlanta Journal Constitution link

    […] The plaintiff, Fulton County resident Michael Daugherty, said the senate election was marred by misconduct, raising doubts that Warnock and Ossoff were the true winners. He cited allegations of improper ballot counting at State Farm Arena in Atlanta on election night in November. Those allegations were investigated and debunked by the Secretary of State’s Office.

    Among other things, he also said the state’s Dominion Voting System machines did not accurately record the results — claims that election officials say are false and have led to defamation lawsuits against some of the attorneys who have spread them.

    The defendants in the lawsuit included Warnock and Ossoff, as well as Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, the State Election Board, and election boards in Fulton, DeKalb and Coffee counties.

    In court briefs and arguments, they said Daugherty’s arguments have already been rejected by judges in other lawsuits. They said the problems he cited occurred in November, not during the January runoff. They argued the election challenge was filed too late and that the lawsuit was not properly served on Warnock and Ossoff.

    […] At a press conference after the hearing, Daugherty vowed to appeal the judge’s ruling.

  104. says

    Rachel Maddow noted on the show last night that Donald Trump’s political operation really did pay people to attend his campaign launch event in June 2015, despite all of the denials at the time.

    Link

    Rachel Maddow looks back at how the Trump campaign denied reporting that they had paid actors to fill out the audience at Donald Trump’s presidential campaign announcement in 2015, only to confirm, now that Trump is out of office, that the story was true after all.

    The video is about six minutes long. It’s good.

  105. says

    MMFA – “Despite Facebook’s COVID-19 promises, anti-vaccine groups are thriving”:

    Although Facebook has recently dismissed the Biden administration’s concerns about vaccine misinformation on the platform, the company is still failing to take action against Facebook groups dedicated to pushing COVID-19 vaccine misinformation. A review by Media Matters found at least 284 public and private anti-vaccine Facebook groups — with over 520,000 combined members — that were spreading COVID-19 vaccine misinformation and/or conspiracy theories.

    Media Matters’ latest review shows that the company is either being dishonest or willfully ignorant. We identified at least 284 public and private anti-vaccine groups that are currently active on Facebook, which is more than double the 117 anti-vaccine groups we reported on in April. These groups expose their roughly 520,000 combined members to harmful COVID-19 vaccine misinformation and, as nearly 60% of these groups are private, it is more difficult for Facebook to moderate them.

    Despite Facebook’s claims of taking action against COVID-19 vaccine misinformation, these groups continue to replicate and grow even as researchers try to hold Facebook accountable. In April, for example, Media Matters identified [“——,”] a private anti-vaccine group dedicated to a baseless claim that the MTHFR gene causes a harmful reaction to the COVID-19 vaccine. Despite our reporting, the group is still active and is now one of the largest anti-vaccine groups on the platform, with nearly 28,000 members.

    Even when Facebook removes a group for coronavirus-related misinformation, the platform still allows users to make nearly identical backup groups to evade its policies. On April 22, Facebook removed a large private group, COVID19 VACCINE VICTIMS AND FAMILIES, dedicated to gathering stories of people allegedly injured by the COVID-19 vaccine after it amassed more than 125,000 members. Since removal, there have been at least two more iterations of the group — one of which has roughly the same name, has been active since May, and is one of the largest anti-vaccine groups we found, with over 46,000 members.

    Facebook’s content policy against vaccine misinformation specifically states that it removes claims that COVID-19 vaccines kill or seriously harm people, inaccurate claims about how the COVID-19 vaccine was developed or its ingredients (such as that it contains microchips or “the mark of the beast”), and claims involving conspiracy theories about a COVID-19 vaccine or vaccination program.

    Of the 284 active anti-vaccine Facebook groups that Media Matters identified, six groups have over 15,000 members — and each of them has content that violates Facebook’s stated policy against COVID-19 vaccine misinformation….

    Descriptions of these six groups with illustrative screenshots atl.

  106. says

    Wonkette:

    […] Fauci was testifying for the Senate HELP Committee when Rand Paul, a horrible self-certified eye doctor, started fucking the same riding lawn mower he’s been fucking for months, trying to get Fauci to “admit” that he and the National Institutes of Health have been funding “gain of function” research in Wuhan — i.e., lab experiments to engineer more lethal viruses for study or development of treatment, which is a very important part of the conspiracy theory wingnuts believe about the genesis of COVID-19. ([…] Rand Paul is just being an ass, as usual, a Little Leaguer trying to play in the Majors.) Fauci has explained gently to Paul in the past that Paul is wrong and Paul is an idiot and Paul is a bad doctor. He has to do it pretty much every time he goes to the Senate.

    This time, Fauci said right to Mister “Doctor” Paul’s mediocre face that “You do not know what you’re talking about.” He added that he wanted to say that “officially,” out loud, on the public record. (Watch both videos […]) […] [videos are available at the link]

    This time, Paul was even nastier than usual, essentially blaming Fauci for killing four million people around the world with this alleged “gain of function” research Paul does not understand. Paul accused Fauci of previously lying to Congress: “Knowing that it is a crime to lie to Congress, do you wish to retract your statement of May 11 where you claimed that the NIH never funded gain of function research in Wuhan?”

    Fauci responded, “Senator Paul, I have never lied before the Congress, and I do not retract that statement.” He explained that what Rand Paul was referring to was not what Rand Paul thinks it is, which is understandable to us because advanced medicine is really not Rand Paul’s field, OK?

    “Senator Paul, you do not know what you are talking about, quite frankly, and I want to say that officially. You do not know what you’re talking about.”

    Paul, continuing to act like a janitor at LensCrafters […], went on to accuse Fauci of “trying to obscure responsibility for four million people dying around the world from a pandemic.” After some more back and forth, after Paul again accused him of lying, Fauci said actually sir, you are the one who is lying.

    Rand Paul was trying so hard to shake his tail feathers […], cosplaying as a big man when he said “all the evidence is pointing that it came from the lab, and there will be responsibility for those who funded the lab, including yourself!” Fauci responded, “I totally resent the lie that you are propagating,” and proceeded to explain more science Rand Paul doesn’t understand, using words like “molecular.”

    After Senator [Paul’s] time had expired, but while the senator was of course still yapping […], Fauci said, “You are implying that what we did was responsible for the deaths of individuals. I totally resent that. And if anybody was lying here, Senator. It is YOU.” He jabbed his finger right at Rand Paul when he said that.

    With an insolent look on his face, Kentucky’s junior senator took a sip of water. […]

    Link

    Yeah, Rand Paul got his TV time, and he propagated his lie yet again. Fauci was good at shutting Rand Paul down, but I doubt that that will matter to the conspiracy theorists.

  107. says

    @Lynna (133)

    Rachel Maddow noted on the show last night that Donald Trump’s political operation really did pay people to attend his campaign launch event in June 2015, despite all of the denials at the time.

    It’s always projection, isn’t it? In this case, the accusations of hiring crisis actors.

    “It’s what we did/do/would do, so you must be doing it if you’re in the position to do so.”

    Accusations of rigged votes, crisis actors, paedophilia, fake news, anything. All projection. Time and time again shows they are the ones to do it.
    So if I were a USAnian, I’d be very concerned about their accusations of death camps and the like they threw around during Obama’s term. Because that means they would do it.

  108. says

    Raw Story – “Unvaccinated Trump supporter who spread coronavirus conspiracy theories dies of COVID-19”:

    On Tuesday, the Cape Cod Times reported that Linda Zuern, a former member of the Bourne, Massachusetts Board of Selectmen and a Trump-supporting figure in the local Republican Party, had died of COVID-19.

    Zuern died at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston of severe complications caused by COVID-19, according to the report. She was 70 years old and had not been vaccinated.

    For months, Zuern, a member of the pro-Trump group the United Cape Patriots, had promoted conspiracy theories about the pandemic on Facebook. She has shared articles accusing the World Health Organization of a coverup of the “Wuhan Virus” and claiming COVID-19 is cover for “globalists” to usher in “U.N. Agenda 2030” — a sustainable development initiative right-wing conspiracy theorists assert is a plot to create a one world government.

    Zuern also expressed support for the QAnon conspiracy theory, posting their creed of “WWG1WGA” (Where We Go One, We Go All).

    Zuern promoted the use of hydroxychloroquine as a treatment of COVID-19 during a Barnstable County Assembly of Delegates meeting in December and questioned whether officials “had looked into preventative measures that people could use besides a vaccine to help build up their immune system,” the Cape Cod Times reported.

    According to the report, Zuern and her mother contracted COVID-19 while returning home from a trip to South Dakota — a state where Republican-motivated policies have let the virus propagate with little control.

    She spent the last several weeks of her life on a ventilator in a coma.

  109. says

    Follow-up to comments 8, 30, 76, and 114.

    On the list: Ten prime ministers, three presidents and a king.

    Washington Post link

    Among 50,000 phone numbers, the Pegasus Project found those of hundreds of public officials.

    Spies for centuries have trained their sights on those who shape destinies of nations: presidents, prime ministers, kings.

    And in the 21st century, most of them carry smartphones.

    Such is the underlying logic for some of the most tantalizing discoveries for an international investigation that in recent months scrutinized a list of more than 50,000 phone numbers that included — according to forensics analyses of dozens of iPhones — at least some people targeted by Pegasus spyware licensed to governments worldwide.

    The list contained the numbers of politicians and government officials by the hundreds. But what of heads of state and governments, arguably the most coveted of targets?

    Fourteen. Or more specifically: three presidents, 10 prime ministers and a king.

    […] here’s who’s on the list: Three sitting presidents, France’s Emmanuel Macron, Iraq’s Barham Salih and South Africa’s Cyril Ramaphosa. Three current prime ministers, Pakistan’s Imran Khan, Egypt’s Mostafa Madbouly and Morocco’s Saad-Eddine El Othmani.

    Seven former prime ministers, who according to time stamps on the list were placed there while they were still in office, including Lebanon’s Saad Hariri, Uganda’s Ruhakana Rugunda and Belgium’s Charles Michel.

    And one king: Morocco’s Mohammed VI. […]

  110. snarkrates says

    On Faux News “turnaround” on vaccines: ” It’s unclear what prompted the network’s sudden change,…”

    Bullshit. It’s the only thing that ever motivates them–fear that they will eventually be found out for the sociopathic scam artists that they are. Every once in a while, when they are facing legal action or the criticism is getting a little too hot, they will back track. They’ll say, “Oh, we’re not a news organization, we’re in the business of entertainment…” Or they’ll say, “How could any responsible person in his or her right mind take seriously the turds dropping from the mouth of Tucker/Laura/Hannity/Billdo…?” Or they’ll admit on one program that Biden won while continuing to sell the Big Lie everywhere else.

    Basically, the Murdoch’s know they have the market cornered on scamming stupid people. They’ll do anything they can to preserve that.

  111. says

    Oh, FFS.

    First, a plea: If and when the Republicans who serve on the Jan. 6 select committee do everything in their power to sabotage a full accounting, let’s not treat this as just Republicans being Republicans.

    We are not obliged to accept GOP venality, bad faith and contempt for the public interest as just normal features of our politics, ones that we must all tolerate, because, well, that’s just how Republicans conduct politics these days.

    This is thrust upon us by the news of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) choices for the committee to investigate the insurrection. One is Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.), who has already signaled his intent to sabotage the proceedings.

    Banks released this extraordinary statement:

    If Democrats were serious about investigating political violence, this committee would be studying not only the January 6 riot at the Capitol, but also the hundreds of violent political riots last summer when many more innocent Americans and law-enforcement officers were attacked.

    Oozing with phony victimization, Banks added that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) created the committee “solely to malign conservatives.”

    Once you’re done weeping for the plight of these “maligned” conservatives, please note this: The select committee comes after an extensive effort by Democrats to create a bipartisan commission with a process that was extraordinarily fair to Republicans.

    Guess what: Banks voted against the bipartisan commission. So did three of McCarthy’s other picks for the new committee: Reps. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), Kelly Armstrong (R-N.D.), and Troy E. Nehls (R-Tex.).

    Only one of McCarthy’s new picks — Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) — voted for the bipartisan panel. And three — Banks, Jordan and Nehls — voted to object to the certification of Joe Biden’s electoral votes on the day of the riot.

    Banks appears to be McCarthy’s most important choice. As Politico reports, McCarthy sees this as a way to elevate Banks up the leadership ladder.

    It is remarkable and telling that someone being groomed for higher GOP glory has unabashedly declared that the insurrection should not be the primary focus of the committee’s investigation. Remember, Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) was elevated in large part due to her public role in elevating the very lies about Donald Trump’s 2020 loss that inspired Jan. 6.

    Banks’s declaration that the panel should look at leftist violence — which he casts as a more serious threat than what we saw on Jan. 6 — is just a continuation of the game Republicans have played for six months now.

    […] this level of bad faith about a matter involving nothing less than the durability of our political order requires a response: Democrats must say no to it. And the media has a role here, too. As Brian Beutler notes, this sort of GOP “bad acting” can no longer be covered as a “given.”

    Instead, the basic facts of the situation — like McCarthy’s choice of Banks and Jordan — should be unflinchingly rendered as what they truly are: central to a broader campaign to cover up an effort to overturn our political order, a coverup saturated in a level of venality, bad faith and contempt for the public interest that has no place in a functioning democracy.

    Washington Post link

  112. says

    Related to #55 – the AP has appended this to their report on Ross: “This story has been corrected to reflect that the decision not to prosecute Ross was made by the Department of Justice during the Trump administration, not the Biden administration.”

    :/

  113. says

    Dave Neiwert at Daily Kos – “Gaslighting right-wing pundits double down on claiming Jan. 6 siege ‘wasn’t an insurrection’”:

    The American right has an insurrection problem. It knows that millions of people watched the events of Jan. 6 at the U.S. Capitol unfold in real time. It knows that video and other evidence, such as that compiled by the New York Times’ video-investigations team, shows clearly that a violent, armed mob attempted to overturn the outcome of the presidential election—unquestionably an insurrection. And because so many of them played a role in enabling and empowering that mob, they now want all that to just go away.

    So they are now turning to the next essential step in creating a right-wing “bloody shirt” trope that enables them to stand reality on its head: gaslighting the public. From Tucker Carlson to Megyn Kelly to Glenn Greenwald to the nutty protesters outside the D.C. Detention Center last weekend, the right and its apologists are doubling down on the claim that Jan. 6 wasn’t an insurrection—it was just a protest that got a little out of hand. Who are you gonna believe: a slick pundit or your lying eyes?

    This is, of course, how the old right-wing trope of “waving the bloody shirt”—the one in which the violent bully is transformed into a victim, and the victim into a bully, all through the magical power of gaslighting—has always worked: First, minimize the violence that has been committed so that the public will have sympathy for the perpetrators and doubt the motives of the accusers. The next step—which is to characterize the accurate portrayal of the violence as exaggerated for political or other motives, and to cast aspersions on the persons attacked—is what naturally follows….

    Much more atl.

  114. says

    An early follow-up to #57 – Vice – “Conspiracy Theorists Think a Town Destroyed by Wildfire Was Decimated by a Massive Laser”:

    …The man is just one of the many conspiracy theorists focused on Lytton where, on June 30, a ferocious wildfire forced the residents to flee at a moment’s notice. The fire proceeded to burn down 90 percent of the village and two residents died. Just days before the fire Lytton garnered international headlines after setting multiple records for the hottest temperature in Canadian history. An investigation into the fire’s cause is still ongoing with a clear focus on the possibility that the fire was started by a passing train.

    Like almost every newsworthy event these days, the devastating fire is being used as proof of nefarious conspiracies that, of course, touch on globalists and vaccinations. Some conspiracy theorists are going so far as to journey to the small village to search the wreckage for evidence and try to interview the evacuees who are trying to piece their lives back together. Their evidence for the conspiracies ranges from the conventional, ‘look how weird it is that this tree burned and this one didn’t; to the downright inane, a fire information worker’s name is Forrest Tower and that name is so apt therefore the entire situation must be fake.

    The influencers have posited two central theses.

    The first focuses on Dr. Charles Hoffe, a Lytton family physician who gained some infamy for questioning the safety of COVID-19 vaccines in the spring. His outspoken anti-vaccine rhetoric was a double edged sword for Hoffe as he got a plethora of anti-vaxx love for his outspoken attitude but also was removed from shifts at the Lytton emergency room as a result.

    The theory goes that a direct energy weapon (essentially a powerful laser known as DEW) was used by powerful elites, who are invested in the vaccine being taken, to burn down the entire town as payback for Hoffe’s anti-vaxx tirades. A form of this DEW conspiracy pops up every wildfire season. Another theory is that a train did start the fire but since the Gates Foundation holds sizable shares in CN Rail, the fire was started on purpose as revenge from the Gates family (again because of Hoffe.)

    The second theory posits the fire, and accompanying heatwave, was man-made and used as an excuse for the globalists to instate future “climate lockdowns.” This one is growing in popularity among some anti-lockdown influencers who recognize that the COVID-19 lockdowns are coming to an end….

  115. says

    CNN – “Trump ally Tom Barrack charged with acting as an agent of a foreign government”:

    Tom Barrack, a former adviser to former President Donald Trump, was charged Tuesday with illegal foreign lobbying on behalf of the United Arab Emirates for what federal prosecutors in Brooklyn described as an effort to influence the foreign policy positions of both the 2016 Trump presidential campaign and the subsequent incoming administration.

    Barrack is charged in a seven-count indictment with acting as an agent of the UAE between April 2016 and April 2018. He is also charged with obstruction of justice and making false statements to federal law enforcement agents.

    Barrack was the chairman of Trump’s Inaugural Committee, and while some of the charged conduct concerns the presidential transition, it appears unrelated to the inaugural festivities.

    According to the indictment, Barrack and two other men charged Tuesday — Matthew Grimes of Aspen, Colorado, and Rashid Sultan Rashid Al Malik Alshahhi, a UAE national — capitalized on Barrack’s status as a senior outside adviser to the Trump campaign to “advance the interests of and provide intelligence to the UAE while simultaneously failing to notify the Attorney General that their actions were taken at the direction of senior UAE officials.”

    Barrack was directly and indirectly in contact with UAE senior leadership, according to the charges, and he referred to Alshahhi as its “secret weapon” to promote its foreign policy agenda in America.

    Barrack and Grimes are scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday afternoon in Los Angeles, according to the Justice Department, while Alshahhi hasn’t been arrested. In a court filing Tuesday asking for Barrack’s detention, prosecutors said that three days after being interviewed by federal agents in April 2018, Alshahhi fled the US and hasn’t returned.

    The indictment cites several instances of the defendants’ alleged promotion of UAE’s agenda to the Trump campaign. In May 2016, Barrack inserted language praising the UAE into a campaign speech about US energy policy, then sent an advance draft of the speech to Alshahhi to give to UAE officials, according to the indictment. In 2016 and 2017, Barrack, Alshahhi and Grimes received talking points from UAE officials for Barrack’s TV appearances in which he promoted the UAE’s interests.

    Following one appearance, Barrack emailed Alshahhi, “I nailed it. . . for the home team,” referring not to the United States but to the UAE, according to the charges.

    After Trump won the 2016 election, the defendants allegedly continued to push UAE interests at the direction of UAE officials. In December 2016, Barrack, Grimes and Alshahhi attended a meeting with senior UAE government officials, where Barrack told them to make a “wish list” of US foreign policy items for the first 100 days of the incoming presidential administration, as well as for the first six months, year and four years….

  116. says

    SC @144, thank you for that correction! That’s important.

    SC @146, OMG. Too stupid to be believed.

    In text quoted by SC in comment 147:

    After Trump won the 2016 election, the defendants allegedly continued to push UAE interests at the direction of UAE officials.

    Yeah, that part is really interesting. Barrack and his cronies were still close to Trump, and still advising Trump (pushing the gullible Trump around) after Trump was elected. They mad a UAE “wish list” to guide US foreign policy! Holy fuck.

  117. says

    From Steve Benen:

    […] While we take stock of the alleged criminal details [regarding Barrack’s arrest], it’s hard not to notice the “culture of lawlessness” surrounding the former president keeps getting worse.

    Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, was charged, convicted, and sentenced to prison.

    Trump’s former campaign vice chairman, Rick Gates, was charged, convicted, and sentenced to prison.

    Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, was charged, convicted, and sentenced to prison.

    Trump’s former adviser and former campaign aide, Roger Stone, was charged, convicted, and sentenced to prison.

    Trump’s former White House national security advisor, Michael Flynn, was charged and convicted.

    Trump’s former campaign adviser, George Papadopoulos, was charged, convicted, and sentenced to prison.

    Trump’s former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, was charged with wire fraud and money laundering.

    The CFO of Trump’s business, Allen Weisselberg, was recently charged with tax fraud.

    And today, the former chair of Trump’s inaugural committee was arrested, too.

    To be sure, some of these men were ultimately pardoned by the former president, who doled out pardons as party favors before exiting the White House, but this doesn’t change the “remarkable universe of criminality” surrounding Trump.

    Link

    Not mentioned above: Five (5!) of Trump’s Cabinet Secretaries were referred to the Justice Department for possible criminal prosecution, but Bill Barr (and other Trump Attorneys General) refused to prosecute them.

  118. says

    Josh Marshall:

    […] Barrack is the guy who put Trump together with Paul Manafort when Manafort was desperate for the gig. He was also at the center of the feeding frenzy of Gulf governments and plutocrats attracted to the fee-for-service culture surrounding the Trump campaign. Barrack was in the mix in numerous parts of the Trump-Russia story but never quite at the center of it.

    It was Barrack who kept Rick Gates on the payroll after the campaign and right down to the moment of his indictment. As a Trump campaign surrogate he published an article in Fortune in 2016 calling for a “Marshall Plan” for the Middle East based on a rapprochement with Russia. “The only solution is one that works with Russia and not against them.” [Another stooge for Putin, even if secondhand.]

    But again, Russia and everything tied to it always seemed secondary to Barrack. His real thing was the money men in the Gulf. To the extent he cared about Russia it was tied to resetting US policy in the Gulf and helping people buy access to Trump.

    The big thing about Barrack during the Trump campaign is that he seemed to stand out as a legitimate rich guy who was actually Trump’s friend. […] Barrack was legitimately rich and someone who had built a real real estate empire. Because of this he was supposed to play a unique role in Trump’s world – the non-toady, someone who didn’t need Trump and could thus give him good advice. [Good advice? LOL]

    […] It was Barrack who at first claimed to be bringing legitimate capital to Trump’s plan to turn the DC post office into a Trump hotel. After Trump got the contract, Barrack disappeared and Trump got the money from Deutschebank instead. […]

    Barrack is a child of Lebanese immigrants and because of that knew Arabic. That knowledge gave him an entre into the world of the burgeoning wealth of the Gulf where he worked in the 1970s. That’s where he met Manafort. They both worked in Saudi circles in the 1970s. In any case, those business relationships in the Gulf provided the sources of capital through which Barrack built his real estate empire. They also appear to be what landed him in legal hot water.

    https://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/who-is-tom-barrack

    Rich and unethical.

  119. says

    Lynna @ #148, it’s quite something!

    Reading the indictment now…:

    Three days later, on or about January 31, 2017, BARRACK participated in a nationally televised interview during which he discussed Executive Order 13769 [the Muslim ban – SC], including the need to promote “good Islam” and partner with “our allies” in the Middle East. Following the interview, GRIMES sent ALSHAHHI an Internet link to the interview. ALSHAHHI replied, “Wow that’s exactly what I wanted.”

    These assholes were down with a racist policy of exclusion and happy to sell out millions of their fellow Muslims as long as they could promote themselves as the “good” ones.

  120. says

    Interesting:

    Trump ally Tom Barrack has been indicted for illegal lobbying on behalf of the UAE.

    In 2018, we uncovered Treasury Sec. Steve Mnuchin’s calendars, showing a meeting Barrack arranged with ambassadors from the UAE and other gulf states.

    Barrack showed up repeatedly in Mnuchin’s calendars in the first months of the Trump administration. In addition to the dinner with gulf ambassadors, Barrack met with Mnuchin at least three times between February and May 2017.

    Mnuchin now has an investment fund backed by the UAE among other Middle East regimes.

  121. says

    France 24 – “Chinese army warns dam battered by storms could collapse”:

    The Chinese army warned that a stricken dam in the centre of the country “could collapse at any time” after being severely damaged in torrential storms that killed at least three people and brought the region to a standstill.

    Weather authorities have issued the highest warning level for central Henan province as downpours caused widespread disruption and the evacuation of residents of flooded streets.

    On Tuesday evening the regional unit of the People’s Liberation Army warned that the relentless downpour had caused a 20-meter breach in the Yihetan dam in Luoyang — a city of around seven million people — with the risk that it “may collapse at any time.”

    The PLA’s Central Theater Command said it had sent soldiers to carry out an emergency response including blasting and flood diversion.

    “On July 20, a 20-meter breach occurred at the Yihetan dam ….the riverbank was severely damaged and the dam may collapse at any time,” it said in the statement….

  122. KG says

    SC@140,157,
    I wonder if these floods will persuade the Chinese authorities to stop building coal-fired power-stations.

  123. says

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

    From there:

    Coronavirus infections in Rome have increased fivefold over the past nine days, a boom believed to have been triggered by the European football championship celebrations.

    The Italian capital registered 557 new cases on Tuesday, compared to 122 on 11 July, the day Italy beat England in the Euros 2020 final.

    Across Lazio, the region surrounding Rome, there were 681 new infections – the highest among Italy’s 20 regions.

    “We’re paying for the effects of the football,” said Alessio D’Amato, the health councillor for Lazio, adding that the situation in hospitals was so far under control. He expects cases to rise further over the next few days as a result of the football victory celebrations, with mostly “young and unvaccinated” people being affected.

    Infections across Italy have jumped over the past week, mostly driven by the Delta variant. As of Tuesday, the seven-day average was 19,384 infections, compared to 9,007 the week before.

    Ten more Covid-related fatalities were confirmed on Tuesday, bringing the total death toll to 127,884 – the highest in Europe after Britain.

  124. says

    NBC – “Covid plus overdose deaths drove down life expectancy in 2020”:

    Life expectancy in the U.S. plunged last year in the largest one-year drop since World War II, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Wednesday, further widening the longevity gap between the U.S. and comparable countries.

    Deaths from Covid-19 and drug overdoses fueled the decline — wiping out any improvements the country made in decreasing deaths from cancer and chronic lower respiratory diseases — leading to a 1.5-year drop and bringing the life expectancy at birth down to 77.3 years. (Life expectancy at birth refers to how long a person born in the year being studied — in this case, 2020 — is expected to live.)

    The decline, which was reported by provisional models last month, spotlights the country’s system of poor health, experts said.

    “What happened in the U.S. did not occur in other comparable countries despite Covid-19 being a global pandemic,” said Steven Woolf, director emeritus of the Center on Society and Health at Virginia Commonwealth University.

    Deaths from Covid-19 caused almost 75 percent of the reduction in life expectancy on average. But the disease was responsible for 90 percent of the drop in life expectancy among Hispanic Americans, compared to 68 percent in white Americans and almost 60 percent in Black Americans.

    The life expectancy advantage among Hispanic Americans compared to white Americans more than halved — from 3 years in 2019 to 1.2 years in 2020, bringing Hispanic Americans’ current life expectancy to 78.8 years. Life expectancy for Black Americans declined by almost 3 years, to 71.8 years, the youngest age for the population since 2000; the decline was nearly 2.5 times the decline among white Americans, whose life expectancy fell to 77.6 years. Data were unavailable for other races and ethnicities.

    The report also highlighted an increase in homicides and diabetes, which together accounted for about 5.5 percent of the decrease in life expectancy. Chronic liver disease and cirrhosis — which hint at an increase in alcohol abuse, Woolf said — accounted for nearly 2.5 percent of the decrease.

  125. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ KG

    I wonder if these floods will persuade the Chinese authorities to stop building coal-fired power-stations.

    I’m sure they’ll be about as persuasive as North American heat domes and Arctic wildfires are to our government officials and energy conglomerates.

  126. KG says

    Akira MacKenzie@165,
    You may be right. But the Chinese Communist Party plans to be in power for a long time, and while there are certainly commerical and official special interests pushing for the continued building of coal-fired power stations, they may be more easily controlled than American fossil fuel interests. We’ll see.

  127. says

    AL[dot]com – “‘I’m sorry, but it’s too late’: Alabama doctor on treating unvaccinated, dying COVID patients”:

    Dr. Brytney Cobia said Monday that all but one of her COVID patients in Alabama did not receive the vaccine. The vaccinated patient, she said, just needed a little oxygen and is expected to fully recover. Some of the others are dying.

    “I’m admitting young healthy people to the hospital with very serious COVID infections,” wrote Cobia, a hospitalist at Grandview Medical Center in Birmingham, in an emotional Facebook post Sunday. “One of the last things they do before they’re intubated is beg me for the vaccine. I hold their hand and tell them that I’m sorry, but it’s too late.”

    Three COVID-19 vaccines have been widely available in Alabama for months now, yet the state is last in the nation in vaccination rate, with only 33.7 percent of the population fully vaccinated. COVID-19 case numbers and hospitalizations are surging yet again due to the more contagious Delta variant of the virus and Alabama’s low vaccination rate.

    “A few days later when I call time of death,” continued Cobia on Facebook, “I hug their family members and I tell them the best way to honor their loved one is to go get vaccinated and encourage everyone they know to do the same.”

    “They cry. And they tell me they didn’t know. They thought it was a hoax. They thought it was political. They thought because they had a certain blood type or a certain skin color they wouldn’t get as sick. They thought it was ‘just the flu’. But they were wrong. And they wish they could go back. But they can’t. So they thank me and they go get the vaccine. And I go back to my office, write their death note, and say a small prayer that this loss will save more lives.”

    More than 11,400 Alabamians have died of COVID so far, but midway through 2021, caring for COVID patients is a different story than it was in the beginning. Cobia said it’s different mentally and emotionally to care for someone who could have prevented their disease but chose not to.

    “You kind of go into it thinking, ‘Okay, I’m not going to feel bad for this person, because they make their own choice,’” Cobia said. “But then you actually see them, you see them face to face, and it really changes your whole perspective, because they’re still just a person that thinks that they made the best decision that they could with the information that they have, and all the misinformation that’s out there.

    “And now all you really see is their fear and their regret. And even though I may walk into the room thinking, ‘Okay, this is your fault, you did this to yourself,’ when I leave the room, I just see a person that’s really suffering, and that is so regretful for the choice that they made.”

    Cobia said that the strain wears on healthcare workers after the trauma of 2020 and 2021.

    “It’s really hard because all of us physicians and other medical staff, we’ve been doing this for a long time and all of us are very, at this point, tired and emotionally drained and cynical,” she said….

    More atl.

  128. Akira MacKenzie says

    But the Chinese Communist Party plans to be in power for a long time…

    I’m sure the overt capitalists* in the west also want their financial dynasties to be passed on to their feckless, spoiled, crotch-spawn, but that doesn’t stop them from turning this planet into a greenhouse hellhole.

    *Fun Fact: “Maoist” China, the vanguard of the proletariat revolution against class and privilege, has now more billionaires than the U.S.

  129. says

    Rep. Liz Cheney’s (R-Wyo.) Republican primary rivals will reportedly gather at one of Donald Trump’s golf clubs next week, seeking the former president’s blessing. As the Associated Press reported, the Wyoming congresswoman has at least seven GOP challengers, and it’s not yet clear how many of them will show up to kiss Trump’s ring in New Jersey.

    Associated Press link

  130. says

    Throughout the COVID crisis, there have been countless reports on frustrated medical professionals, this new report from the Alabama Media Group is getting a fair amount of attention today in large part because of the candid comments from one local physician.

    Dr. Brytney Cobia said Monday that all but one of her COVID patients in Alabama did not receive the vaccine. The vaccinated patient, she said, just needed a little oxygen and is expected to fully recover. Some of the others are dying. “I’m admitting young healthy people to the hospital with very serious COVID infections,” wrote Cobia, a hospitalist at Grandview Medical Center in Birmingham, in an emotional Facebook post Sunday. “One of the last things they do before they’re intubated is beg me for the vaccine. I hold their hand and tell them that I’m sorry, but it’s too late.”

    Alabama has one of the nation’s lowest vaccination rates, which is contributing to rising infection totals and climbing hospitalization rates in the state. Avoidable tragedies are becoming more common.

    Cobia added, “A few days later when I call time of death, I hug their family members and I tell them the best way to honor their loved one is to go get vaccinated and encourage everyone they know to do the same.

    “They cry. And they tell me they didn’t know. They thought it was a hoax. They thought it was political. They thought because they had a certain blood type or a certain skin color they wouldn’t get as sick. They thought it was ‘just the flu’. But they were wrong. And they wish they could go back. But they can’t. So they thank me and they go get the vaccine. And I go back to my office, write their death note, and say a small prayer that this loss will save more lives.”

    […] the argument goes, these folks were given an opportunity to do the responsible thing, and they ignored it.

    But I don’t blame ailing COVID patients, I blame those who lied to them. Those struggling at the Grandview Medical Center in Birmingham aren’t powerful figures at far-right news outlets. They didn’t concoct ridiculous conspiracy theories. It wasn’t their idea to politicize a pandemic.

    It’s easy to feel pity for those who get sick after putting their faith in the wrong people.

    Link

  131. says

    What a doofus: The funny contradiction at the heart of Pompeo’s attack on Dems

    Pompeo believes Democrats are communist sympathizers in league with elite financial institutions. No, seriously, that’s his latest pitch.

    In March 2011, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R) reflected on his fears about the nation’s future. Speaking at a church in Texas, Gingrich imagined a future United States in which his grandchildren “will be in a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists.”

    The Republican did not try to reconcile the hilarious contradiction. In fact, Gingrich ignored it altogether: he simply expected his far-right audience to believe it’s possible for a secular atheist country to be dominated by radical Islamists.

    […] All of this came to mind this morning, watching former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo make his case against the Democratic Party during a Fox News interview this morning.

    “I think the Democrat Party [sic], I think they have been captured on the left by a group of people who see socialism as just a step away from communism, and they see each of those two things as something that they say, ‘Well that just makes people a little more equal.'”

    To be sure, this is familiar red-baiting nonsense, peddled by lazy partisans. But note the argument the Kansas Republican pushed in the next breath:

    “We saw when the Wuhan Virus came around, we saw when the Chinese Communist Party foisted this virus on the world, we saw big American companies, with big financial interests in China, refuse to do the right thing and begin to disengage in a way that they needed to from the Chinese Communist Party. Those same big, elite, New York financial institutions are the ones that are underwriting this Democrat Party [sic].”

    Thank goodness we have someone like Mike Pompeo to explain political complexities to the public: Democrats are communist sympathizers in league with elite financial institutions.

    Because if there’s one thing rascally communists are known for, it’s their partnerships with Wall Street institutions that write generous checks to finance their efforts.

    It makes about as much sense as religious radicals running a secular atheist country.

    Mike Pompeo clearly takes himself very seriously, but in Grown-Up Land, communists have not “captured” any American political parties; it’s called the “Democratic Party”; COVID is not the “Wuhan Virus”; and big, elite, New York financial institutions have contributed all kinds of money to Pompeo’s Republican friends.

  132. says

    In news today from the conspiracy buffet – JPost – “‘Jews are behind the pandemic’ chanted at anti-vaccine protest in Poland”:

    An anti-vaccine protest that took place in Glogow, Poland, blamed Jews as being responsible for the start of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, according to the website Notes from Poland.

    Those that took part in Monday’s protest chanted: “Jews are behind the pandemic” and that they “rule the world.”

    “Every Pole can see today that behind the ‘plandemic’ are the Jews,” the crowd chanted together.

    Polish police arrested three protesters at the site after engaging in confrontations, after participants were reportedly behaving aggressively towards them.

    The American Jewish Committee office in Central Europe, and based in Warsaw, condemned the protest in a tweet….

  133. KG says

    Lynna, OM@172,
    Hitler called from Hell – he wants proper acknowledgement from Mike Pompeo that he had the idea of claiming big financial institutions and communists (the Rothschilds and “Jewish Bolsheviks”) were in league nearly a century ago!

  134. KG says

    Akira Mackenzie@169,
    As I said, we’ll see. But the cultural and institutional context is different. American capitalists like to think they are buccaneering individualists, ruthlessly competing against each other. The Chinese Communist Party, despite the number of Chinese billionaires, retains control of the “commanding heights” of the economy, notably banking, and likes to believe it acts in the interests of the Chinese people.

  135. tomh says

    WaPo:
    Pelosi rejects GOP’s Banks, Jordan for Jan. 6 select committee, saying they may jeopardize ‘integrity of the investigation’
    By Marianna Sotomayor
    Today at 12:50 p.m. EDT

    “With respect for the integrity of the investigation, with an insistence on the truth and with concern about statements made and actions taken by these Members, I must reject the recommendations of Representatives Banks and Jordan to the Select Committee,” Pelosi said in a statement. “The unprecedented nature of January 6th demands this unprecedented decision.”

  136. says

    KG. Ha! Good point.

    In other news: GOP hearing on race in schools excludes Black speakers

    A legislative committee in the Republican-led Missouri General Assembly actually went about holding an invite-only hearing on how race is taught in schools without including a single Black parent or educator, according to NBC-affiliated KSHB-TV. The hearing on Monday only featured the voices of those who oppose critical race theory, a framework for interpreting law that maintains racism has an undeniable effect on the legal foundation of American society. One of the invited guests who got a chance to testify was Katie Rash, who leads Missouri’s chapter of the political group No Left Turn in Education, KSHB reported. “Some students are having serious emotional problems dealing with the CRT, or social justice, concepts being taught in our schools,” Rash said.

    Heather Fleming, a former teacher and diversity and inclusion trainer, told KSHB she wasn’t allowed to testify and that legislators were “talking about us, without us.” “What not having any African Americans in the room really showed was that this wasn’t really about understanding,” Fleming said. Missouri NAACP President Rod Chapel called the display of privilege “ridiculous,” “excluding the very people who are saying we’ve been treated inequitably.”

    “That talks more to the kind of hearing that they wanted to have than the information that they wanted to gather,” he told journalists after the hearing. “They wanted to hear from their friends who were going to support their political talking points.” […]

  137. says

    Republicans ready to filibuster bipartisanship on infrastructure efforts

    The Senate is going to vote on Wednesday afternoon on infrastructure procedure. To be absolutely clear, the Senate is going to vote on “a motion to proceed,” i.e., whether they should begin consideration of the bipartisan infrastructure bill. This is just a vote to see if there is bipartisan agreement that in the near future they will consider a bipartisan bill. “A ‘Yes’ vote on the motion to proceed simply means that the Senate is ready to begin debating a bipartisan infrastructure bill,” Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has gone to great lengths to explain.

    There will not be that agreement. Republicans are going to filibuster an invitation to start talking on the Senate floor about the bill they have supposedly been negotiating in good faith with Democrats for weeks. Because, they argue, they just don’t have the bill on paper. “I think there’s a unanimous point of view that we shouldn’t vote on the motion to proceed until people know what the summary is of the bill. They haven’t seen the numbers, they haven’t seen the pay-fors,” said Sen. Mitt Romney, a Republican who has been on the negotiating team for all these weeks in which nobody managed to get anything down on paper. Not even a summary.

    So, yeah. This.

    It is hard to credibly claim you are for bipartisanship if you filibuster bipartisanship. [Brian Schatz]

    Republicans insist that they just need a little bit more time. “I would like to see the leader delay the vote until Monday. We’re making significant progress, but we need more time,” said Sen. Susan Collins of Maine on Tuesday. “There’s no magic in having the vote [Wednesday] and so if it were delayed until Monday, I think we could continue our work and present to our colleagues a more complete bill.” But they are not voting on a bill. They are voting on whether they want to talk about the bill. If they’re actually confident that they’ll have something concrete by Monday, they can vote to open debate even though the bill isn’t final, which is common practice. It would put the bill that much further ahead in getting through quickly so everybody could go home for August recess on time.

    They don’t want that to happen because, as McConnell has made very clear, they don’t want this groundbreaking and extremely popular proposal from President Joe Biden and the Democrats to pass. Drawing it out as long as possible and trying to woo moderate Democrats away has been the strategy for McConnell and team—reliably led by Collins—all along.

    Democrats did see this coming, which is why Schumer is forcing the vote Wednesday even knowing that Republicans will filibuster. Because Republicans filibustering bipartisanship demonstrates just how unserious they are. Schumer and Sen. Bernie Sanders, chair of the Budget Committee, are prepared.

    If the roughly $1 trillion bipartisan plan fails, they’ll fold it in to the larger reconciliation bill they can pass with just Democratic votes. Or if absolutely necessary, they can add the already passed House transportation and water bill into this larger package, in the event that there really isn’t a bipartisan plan advanced enough to use—a distinct possibility since as of yet, no one has produced anything approaching legislative language on the thing. But taking the stuff that the Senate gang has agreed to would be a better approach for getting the two Democratic problem children—Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema—to stick with Democrats on reconciliation.

  138. says

    The delta variant doesn’t give a flying #@$% if you’re tired of hearing about COVID-19

    […] You are a member of the Army of People Capable of Making Rational Decisions. And we can’t afford to be tired.

    Two months ago, it looked like we might actually get out of this thing in time to have something like a normal summer. When the CDC recommended that kids need not wear masks as they return to school in August, it was surprising, but not so unreasonable. Hell, it was even hopeful. Remember hopeful? But we didn’t count on two things. First, we didn’t count on how quickly the Delta variant would take over as the dominant variant in the United States. That’s because we didn’t really conceptualize the difference between the basic reproductive rate (R0) of this variant and everything that’s come before. […]

    The other things we failed to calculate was just how badly 30% of the population could destroy the nation if they dedicated themselves to being aggressively malicious.

    When it comes to the virus itself, what’s been happening is what should be expected—it’s increasing in its ability to infect humans. This is a brand-new virus. That means both that no one has a natural immunity to this virus and the virus itself has just stumbled into the combination of proteins that allows it to attach to human cells. So it should not be a surprise that, as quadrillions of new copies of the virus are produced, some will refine that ability.

    When the original strain of COVID-19 rolled through the area around Wuhan, it had an R0 value just a little worse than that of seasonal flu. That rate of transmission, paired with a rate of serious outcome two orders of magnitude greater than flu, was enough to sound every alarm that this was a serious disease. A couple of months later, the version of the virus that rolled through Italy and France, then took up residence as the primary variant in the United States, had a reproductive rate that was about 25% higher. That variant was swept aside in the fall by the alpha variant, which was a full two times more contagious than the original version and formed the bulk of cases during the massive spike of cases that occurred around the start of the year. Now alpha has been dislodged by the delta variant. Best estimates put its R0 at numbers from 5.7 to 8.0.

    [snipped details regarding the lambda variant]

    […] We should assume that new COVID-19 variants will continue to be kicked up which are more contagious and more vaccine evasive. How fast those variants appear is directly related to how many cases of the disease are kicking around the planet.

    […] Over the last couple of days, Sean Hannity has reversed some of his anti-vaxx positions and actually spoken favorably about getting the vaccine. That’s given some impression that perhaps, just perhaps, Fox is stepping back from their role as a disseminator of bioterrorism. Don’t bet on it.

    Immediately before Hannity, Fox viewers got a full hour of Tucker Carlson saying that the vaccine was ineffective, made people sicker, that the government was engaged in “vaccine coercion,” and to “ignore people giving medical advice on TV.” Somehow, Carlson did not disappear into a puff of logical contradiction.

    Immediately after Hannity, Laura Ingraham was up to tell Foxists that there was “every reason to doubt” the vaccine, and to insist that the efficacy was much lower than health experts would admit. The effect was to bookend even the slightest admission that vaccines were a good thing with a double injection of vaccine scorn.

    […] Republicans are still in a position where they believe that spreading the disease is better for their poll numbers than taking action. If they didn’t believe that, they—and Carlson—would be singing a different tune.

    […] The way to save the maximum number of lives and to do the maximum amount of good in slowing the pandemic and slowing the development of future variants is to get vaccine into the arms of as many people as possible. So send those vaccines now to South America, to Africa, to Asia, and to everywhere there are people who are willing to do the right thing

    […] Ultimately, we cannot live with COVID-19 as a recurring, endemic disease. This is not the flu. […] here’s one reminder from back in June—“Even mild cases of COVID-19 may lead to loss of brain tissue.” Yeah, keep that in mind. Because I have notes on two upcoming studies that associate the delta variant and biomarkers generally associated with Alzheimer’s. There is no way that we can stay economically, socially, or politically stable unless this thing gets squashed. Ultimately that means gaining a much higher level of vaccine acceptance. […] you can’t run a society where a quarter of the population is reveling in their role as living bioweapons.

    […] I want to shut up. I want to never write about this topic again. None of us is getting what we want.

    Because the hard work is still ahead.

  139. says

    There is a transmission chain of disinformation on the right that is profitable both financially and politically. This week, Donald Trump supplied a text-book example.

    The former president sent out email soliciting donations for his political action committees. The note began with an explosive headline: “BREAKING: New Evidence Indicates Enough Illegal Votes in Georgia To Tip 2020 Results.” In the Trump-signed letter, he claimed that a “just-released” report had concluded there were various instances of voting irregularities in the Peach State. This email was not just a plea for money—”I’m reviewing a list of patriots who contribute to this email and I expect to see your name”—it was a missive propagating his Big Lie that the election had been stolen from him. And he suggested a full forensic audit will reveal more vote-counting shenanigans.

    Recipients of the solicitation might be persuaded—or have their preexisting errant assumptions reinforced—by the email’s declaration of “new evidence.” Yet under the most cursory examination, this claim of real evidence crumbles. […]

    Link

    It’s all about raking in money.

  140. says

    Follow-up to tomh @176.

    Pelosi rejects two GOP picks for Jan. 6 investigatory committee

    House Republicans wanted two anti-election members to serve on the Jan. 6 investigatory committee. Speaker Nancy Pelosi understandably refused.

    […] After explaining the historic significance of the insurrectionist attack, and the importance of the special select committee’s work, Pelosi explained in a written statement this morning:

    “Monday evening, the Minority Leader recommended 5 Members to serve on the Select Committee. I have spoken with him this morning about the objections raised about Representatives Jim Banks and Jim Jordan and the impact their appointments may have on the integrity of the investigation…. With respect for the integrity of the investigation, with an insistence on the truth and with concern about statements made and actions taken by these Members, I must reject the recommendations of Representatives Banks and Jordan to the Select Committee.

    The Democratic House Speaker added that she’s prepared to appoint McCarthy’s other selections — Illinois’ Rodney Davis of Illinois, North Dakota’s Kelly Armstrong, and Texas’ Troy Nehls — but not Indiana’s Banks or Ohio’s Jordan.

    “The unprecedented nature of January 6th demands this unprecedented decision,” Pelosi concluded.

    […] Of the House Republicans’ five picks, Banks and Jordan were the only two who not only refused to certify the election results, but who also signed onto a brief to the U.S. Supreme Court, asking the justices to help overturn the presidential race.

    What’s more, Jim Jordan, a controversial Trump sycophant, is on record saying, “I don’t know how you can ever convince me that President Trump didn’t actually win this thing.”

    To the extent that the congressional GOP has a wing overtly hostile toward democracy, Banks and Jordan are members of that contingent. The idea that either of these Republicans were prepared to play a serious and constructive role in the investigation is plainly ridiculous.

    Pelosi surely realizes that the partisan blowback will be ferocious, but she’s apparently made the calculus that having these far-right members on the panel — covering for Trump, undermining the process, making a circus of the proceedings — would be worse than dealing with the GOP’s outrage.

    In theory, McCarthy could respond by choosing two more responsible members to fill the available slots, but that’s not going to happen: There are new reports this afternoon that the minority will instead boycott the investigatory committee, pulling all five of his selections.

    McCarthy said in a statement, “Unless Speaker Pelosi reverses course and seats all five Republican nominees, Republicans will not be party to their sham process and will instead pursue our own investigation of the facts.”

    Of course, some side GOP “investigation” will lack subpoena power.

    The circumstances will inevitably lead Republicans to argue that the special select committee, its examination, and its ultimate conclusions are “political” and “partisan,” but let’s not forget that Pelosi has already tapped one GOP member — Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) — to serve on the panel, which means the investigation will be bipartisan.

    What’s more, the Speaker has already made clear that the committee doesn’t actually need McCarthy’s picks to proceed.

    […] Postscript: In case this isn’t obvious, let’s not forget that Republican and Democratic members negotiated a compromise for an independent Jan. 6 commission, with an equal number of members appointed by both parties. GOP officials made a series of specific demands, and Democrats agreed to the terms.

    Republican leaders then killed the proposal anyway.

    As GOP officials seethe with outrage today in response to Pelosi, it’s worth remembering that they’ve had ample opportunities to endorse a fair examination of the attack on the Capitol. Republicans clearly don’t want one.

  141. says

    McConnell Floats New Plan To Derail Infrastructure Talks: Hold The Debt Ceiling Hostage

    As the much-covered drama over the fate of the bipartisan infrastructure deal dies down, McConnell told Punchbowl News Tuesday night that he doesn’t think Republicans will vote to raise the debt ceiling. It’s a revival of old tactics of GOP political brinksmanship that Republicans favored during the Obama administration.

    “I can’t imagine there will be a single Republican voting to raise the debt ceiling after what we’ve been experiencing,” McConnell said. […]

  142. says

    Follow-up to comments 176 and 181.

    Wonkette:

    […] oh boy, Kevin McCarthy is mad. If Pelosi doesn’t let McCarthy’s two very good un-American piece of shit sedition boys on the committee, then McCarthy won’t let Pelosi have ANY Republicans!

    McCarthy issued a statement saying that if Pelosi doesn’t respect his authoritah and appoint all his picks, “Republicans will not be party to their sham process and will instead pursue our own investigation of the facts.” Sure, buddy. Pelosi responded, “We have a bipartisan quorum. We can proceed.” (Remember how she appointed a Republican, Liz Cheney? BIPARTISAN QUORUM. They can proceed.)

    Point is, this is just as unfair as when a bunch of imaginary cows on Twitter started undermining Devin Nunes’s chairmanship of the House Intelligence Committee during its Russia investigation, which Nunes was supposed to be recused from, just because Nunes was an important part of covering up and distracting from Trump’s Russian collusion crimes.

    How will Republicans do the important work of covering up Donald Trump’s January 6 crimes and screaming about antifa and Black Lives Matter on Nancy Pelosi’s committee NOW? This is a OUTRAGE.

    https://www.wonkette.com/pelosi-to-kevin-mccarthy-try-again-mfer

  143. says

    Follow-up to comment 182.

    In today’s episode of “Republicans Are Terrorists,” Mitch McConnell threatens to tank the US economy if he doesn’t get what he wants. Again. Yes, that’s right, we’ve reached the time of year when Congress has to vote to raise the debt ceiling, and the GOP is preparing to point a gun at the head of American taxpayers and threaten to shoot if Democrats don’t let them starve some poor people.

    During the past four years, Republicans cheerfully voted to lift the cap on US borrowing to cover money already spent, heedless of the effect on the national debt, which went up almost $8 trillion on Trump’s watch. But approximately fifteen minutes after a Democratic president was sworn in, the Gippers remembered that they care deeply about that stuff and threatened to blow up the country’s credit rating if they don’t get what they want.

    […] Keep in mind that we are talking about money needed to cover last year’s spending, all of which was allocated when McConnell held the gavel and Trump wielded the veto pen. It’s psychotic to threaten to default on the national debt, not to mention being the height of chutzpah when you’re talking about ponying up for bills you yourself accrued.

    Majority Leader Chuck Schumer exploded in rage on the Senate floor this morning, calling out McConnell’s “shameless, cynical and totally political” maneuvering.

    “This debt is Trump debt. It’s COVID debt,” he continued, pointing out that his team didn’t take the entire economy hostage when it was in the minority. “Democrats joined three times during the Trump administration to do the responsible thing and the bottom line is that Leader McConnell should not be playing political games with the full faith and credit of the United States. Americans pay their debts.”

    The reality is that Democrats don’t do it, because we’re not fucking terrorists. Republicans pull this stunt all the time, threatening to default on America’s debt obligations as a political ploy, heedless of the consequences. And there are real consequences, as McConnell knows well from 2011, when his crew managed to get the US bond rating downgraded, making it more expensive for Uncle Sam to borrow money.

    […] Describing this as anything less than a threat to shoot the American economy fails to appropriately describe reality. […] it’s a disservice to readers to pretend it’s business as usual when one side threatens to tank the economy, safe in the knowledge that the other side cares more about protecting Americans […]

    In summary and in conclusion, Mitch McConnell is a terrorist, the GOP are nihilists who’d happily tank the economy to hurt President Biden, and under no circumstances should we treat this as a normal part of the political process.

    Link

  144. says

    ‘End this terror and release all detainees’: Advocates shut down New Jersey ‘ICE black site’

    Dozens of pro-immigrant activists blocked an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) field office in New Jersey on Tuesday in protest of the agency’s inhumane practice of transferring detained immigrants without notice to attorneys or family. Rather than just releasing them—which ICE can do—officials transfer immigrants to faraway regions, often under the cover of night.

    “Every day ICE abducts people from their homes, their workplaces, their communities,” Movimiento Cosecha organizer Haydi Torres said in a statement. “Every day ICE transfers people in detention in the dead of night from one location to another, without telling people why or where they are going, without notifying family or lawyers.” Torres said, “all of this ICE terror is organized through this office and we are here to expose it.”

    […] On Tuesday, advocates including Movimiento Cosecha, Abolish ICE NY-NJ, NYC ICE Watch, Never Again Action, Close the Camps, and Jews for Racial and Economic Justice gathered outside a desolate, unidentified office they’ve deemed an “ICE black site” where immigrants are held before being transferred out of state, or deported. There, they blocked one main exit in order to impede vans moving immigrants. When officials then tried to use a back exit, advocates blocked that one too.

    “We successfully blocked all ICE activity at their New Jersey black site during the morning deportation window,” Never Again Action tweeted. “The vans that would have taken people to be transferred or deported never even made it out of the parking lot. And their landlord is on notice: we’ll be back.” […]

    The Biden administration is also facing a lawsuit brought on by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the ACLU of New Jersey, and the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild over this transferring practice.

    […] ICE has a history of sending immigrants to remote regions of the nation, intentionally making it harder for them to reach relatives, advocacy groups, and legal help. […]

    Advocates said that among those recently targeted by ICE is Alex Kamara, who was transferred from a local facility to Arizona. “From Frelinghuysen Avenue [the site of today’s action], they forced us to sign papers,” he said. “About six guys jumped us, slammed us to the road. And after that we got chained hands and feet and they drove us over to Newark airport.” Kamara had been critical about the treatment of detained immigrants. Advocates say “transfers are also a method ICE uses to retaliate against people who organize and demand freedom.”

    “I live in fear every day, fear that that they will transfer my husband and I will not be able to see him anymore,” Laura Julney said. Her husband, Patrick, has been detained at Bergen for over two years. “It’s the only time we truly have peace, when we can see each other smile and laugh, and find a moment of escape in each other’s eyes.” While the state’s legislation has taken important action to rein in ICE’s abuses by passing a historic bill that would ban new ICE contracts as well as prohibit the renewal of existing agreements, Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy has not yet signed it. […]

  145. says

    […] the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued its own revised guidelines on Wednesday. Those guidelines call for everyone over two years old—students, teachers, and staff—to wear masks in the school environment whether or not they have been vaccinated. In doing so, the AAP notes that rates of in-school transmission have been generally low, a fact often cited by Republicans when claiming that there should be no concern about schools. However, as the statement makes clear, those numbers have been low “when proper prevention measures are used.” That means masks and social distancing, along with vaccines for those who are old enough.

    And schools are just one place where masks are making a necessary comeback.

    As NPR reports, some schools won’t be able to meet these guidelines. Because Republicans have already sabotaged the system to place children at maximum risk. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has already signed on to legislation that says schools can’t require anyone to wear a mask, including visiting adults. South Carolina has also prohibited school districts from mandating masks for either students or staff.

    However, there are some states on the side of reason. Washington is already on track with the AAP guidelines, with regulations requiring schools to require both students and staff to be masked indoors.

    States that are following the CDC guidance and requiring masks only for the unvaccinated have the issue of either tracking vaccination status, which some states have already forbidden, or simply letting it go. Which really means there are just two positions: masks or no masks. With children’s lives subject to the whims of those who would rather thump their chest about “freedom” than accept the advice of medical experts. […]

    Link

  146. says

    Follow-up to comment 187.

    Wonkette:

    Liz Cheney disliked being set upon by a pack of MAGA chuds at the president’s behest, and unlike other Republicans […] she declined to shut her goddamn mouth about it and make nice.

    So now, following today’s news of Nancy Pelosi DQing McCarthy’s Republican picks for a congressional commission investigating the insurrection of 1/6, and McCarthy taking Jim Jordan and going home, she had some words. They are very mean words! [Video is available at the link.]

    “She rejected two. One who may be a material witness to events that lead to that day… the other who disqualified himself by his comments over the last 24 hours demonstrating he’s not taking this seriously.

    […] I think that any person who would be third in line to the presidency must demonstrate a commitment to the Constitution and a commitment to the rule of law and Minority Leader McCarthy has not done that.

    […]

  147. says

    […] This morning we had a post on “Look At All These Republicans Suddenly Begging The Morons To Get Their Shots.” And it’s true, something does seem to be happening among certain Republicans, a come-to-Jesus freakout over all these white Republicans in red states suddenly getting infected and hospitalized and dying of the COVID, now that the new delta variant is spreading like a common pandemic.

    There is of course a flipside. There are still shitloads of Republican lawmakers clinging to vaccine conspiracy theorizing like it’s a Bible with a hollowed out compartment with a gun inside. And despite how Fox News has featured three or four brief moments — which went VIRAL […] — of hosts saying the vaccines are fine, that’s not widespread, and there is just as much anti-vax anti-science bullshit on that network as ever. […]

    Rep. Lauren Boebert, at CPAC: “Don’t come knocking on my door with your ‘Fauci ouchie.’ You leave us the hell alone.”

    Rep. Jason Smith, on Twitter: “The Biden administration wants to knock down your door KGB-style to force people to get vaccinated. We must oppose forced vaccination!”

    Rep. Madison Cawthorn, at CPAC talking to a conspiracy theory network […]: “Think about what [Biden encouraging people to go door-to-door to help get people vaccinated] could be used for. They could then go door-to-door to take your guns. They could then go door-to-door to take your Bibles.” […]

    Rep. Chip Roy, to Tucker Carlson: “There’s a sheriff in one of the counties I represent in Texas, who just told a crowd, if any of these vaccine feds come up to your property, you kick them off and I’ll be there to defend you and back you up.”

    Senator Marsha Blackburn, tweeting: “Big Government in control — Joe Biden is sending agents to your door to compel vaccinations.”

    Senator Roger Marshall, running his fucking mouth: “Every time Jen Psaki opens her mouth or Dr. Fauci opens his mouth, 10,000 more people say I’m never going to take the vaccine.”

    And so on and so forth.

    And of course, a lot of people are talking about the congresswoman from Crossfit, Marjorie Taylor Greene, who was suspended from Twitter temporarily this week for her all her clownass lies. She had tweeted that COVID-19 is “not dangerous for non-obese people and those under 65.” She lied and said there have been SIX THOUSAND “vax-related deaths.” Then yesterday, during a press conference she called to bellyache about her Twitter suspension — she called Twitter “communist,” because she knows what words mean — Greene was asked if she herself was vaccinated, and she accused the reporter of violating her HIPAA rights.

    […] As the New York Times notes, Monday also featured Laura Ingraham telling her viewers that Democrats wanted to “de-platform, cancel, defame or eliminate inconvenient opinions regarding their COVID response.” She said pro-vaccine, pro-science, anti-death people want to “frighten or pressure children, again, who face virtually no risk of serious illness.” She wondered aloud if the vaccines even work, considering how all those Texas Democrats tested positive. (It’s worth noting that their symptoms are all negligible — thanks, vaccine! — and that they only likely know about their infections because they, as lawmakers, take rapid tests often. Also there’s that thing about how 99.5 percent of COVID deaths right now are among the unvaccinated, per Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, and 97.5 percent of hospitalizations are likewise, per CDC Director Rochelle Walensky.)

    […] Tucker, that same night:

    “We’re not saying there is no benefit to the vaccine — there may well be profound benefits to the vaccine.” He acknowledged that “various vaccines seem to lower the effects of the disease, make it less severe on people,” but he also brought up the Texas cases, saying, “It makes you wonder, how effective are those drugs anyway?”

    Also just asking questions! He also on Monday said the CDC director is a liar when she calls this a “pandemic of the unvaccinated.”

    What’s coming out of the Hannity-hole ever since he spoke good words for 30 whole seconds? Well, yesterday he praised shitty doctor Rand Paul, who brags about staying unvaccinated because he’s had COVID, therefore he’s just pretty sure he has all the antibodies he’ll ever need.

    Matthew Gertz over at Media Matters collected some screenshots from Fox News’s evening festivities this week. This is what your Republican Nana is seeing on the TV if she’s got Fox News on mute because she likes to mute the TV at dinnertime: [available at the link]

    Wonkette link

  148. says

    From the Guardian world liveblog nighttime summary:

    The Delta coronavirus variant is expected to become dominant globally within months, the World Health Organization has warned as 13 further territories detected cases. The highly contagious strain has now been discovered in 124 territories.

    As part of a US nationwide response to the threat posed by the more contagious Delta coronavirus variant, New York City will require Covid vaccinations or weekly tests for workers at city-run hospitals and clinics from 2 August, the mayor Bill de Blasio said.

    More than 45,000 coronavirus patients across India have suffered from the deadly “black fungus” which has followed the virus’s spread in the last two months, the health ministry said.

    The UK has recorded 44,104 new coronavirus cases, and 73 further deaths, according to the latest update to the government’s dashboard. The total number of new cases over the past week is up 35.8% on the total for the previous seven days, and deaths are up 59.8% week on week.

    The number of Covid-19 patients admitted to hospital in England has reached its highest level for nearly five months, with 752 admissions were reported on 19 July. This is a rise of 21% on the previous week, and the highest daily number since 25 February.

    Thousands of people demonstrated on Wednesday in Athens and other Greek cities against plans to make Covid-19 vaccinations mandatory for all health workers, with police using tear gas and water cannon to disperse some protesters.

  149. blf says

    As multiple previous comments in this new thread, and in the previous edition of the thread, have said, here in France, starting early-August, a “Health Pass” — proof of full vaccination, immunity, or a recent negative test — would become mandatory for quite a range of activities, including going to a bar, café, or restaurant (activities very much a part of French life!). President Macron’s clearly stated intention was to encourage people to get vaccinated — at the time, only c.40% were fully-vaccinated and the daily rate of vaccinations was dropping whilst Delta cases were increasingly rapidly — which worked, about one million people signed up for vaccinations within a day, and somewhere around four million in total since. (All figures from memory.) Some other measures were also announced (e.g., mandatory vaccination for healthcare workers).

    As might be expected, there were protests. The initial protests were a flop (c.22,000 people, total, nationwide); and, initially, it was mostly just hardcore anti-vaxxers and teh nazis who were objecting. Last Saturday, however, were additional protests, with (again, from memory!) c.180,000 nationally, including a substantial number in Paris. This time around, they were joined by “teh far left” (who seem to be objecting, based on a few quick skims of some of their nonsense, to the profits the vaccine companies are making (combined with a much more serious point about vaccines not being readily available in most of the world)). Teh nazis are screaming about freedom and yellow stars and so on. As far as I am currently aware, perhaps only the point about vaccine unavailability in much of the world has significant merit, albeit that problem has nothing whatsoever to do with the Health Pass.

    What startled me was there was a protest march in the Mediterranean seaside village where I live; that’s a bit unusual to begin with, but it was the second largest I can ever remember seeing in the village — my own estimate is over 100 peope (all maskless), and possibly close to 200. (For comparison, the biggest ever was after the Charlie Hebdo murders, when the entire esplanade was filled with marchers, perhaps an order of magnitude bigger that the anti-Health Pass nutters march.) Based on the mostly illegible signs I saw (and the chanting), this group had a noticeable nazi presence (not too surprising as, sadly, this is le penazi territory, albeit fortunately none are in power in the immediate area). I gave then the fieriest glare I could muster behind a mask after just finishing a nice rum.

    Currently, c.45% nationwide are fully-vaccinated (but only c.35% in my immediate area!), Delta is now roughly 90% of all new cases (which I presume are almost entirely in the vaccinated). Daily cases have soared from around 3,000 to 20,000 over the space of about two weeks; fortunately, ICU occupancy is still low. The Big Shock I had this morning when glancing through the figures was R in my area is now well over 2 (France as-a-whole is not quite 2), and continuing to increase, with an incidence rate of over 170 per 100,000 people (about 90 nationwide).

    I myself am fully equipped with magnetic microchips, which in my case, have also attracted kamikaze (or at least erratically piloted) pigeons. And despite the heat, I am wearing a mask indoors and in crowded situations, washing hands, etc., and still rather nervous about not being socially distanced when there is no obvious reason not to be.

  150. blf says

    Minor follow-up to @191: As noted in Conspiracy theories fuel French opposition to Covid-19 ‘health pass’, a very recent poll indicates c.60% approve of the Health Pass measures. The article notes the loonytarians were also protesting.

    And I (unsurprisingly) did get a number wrong, it was c.114,000 (not 180,000) who protested nationwide last Saturday with c.18,000 in Paris (roughly as many people who protested nationwide the previous week). Sorry (maybe a side-effect of low-lying pigeons?)!

  151. blf says

    Apparently, at the farce known as the Tokyo Olympic Superspread, their “official” “social media” propaganda were instructed to not shown images of people taking the knee. The Grauniad found out (please support the Grauniad if you can!), and the powers-that-superspread caved, Tokyo 2020 U-turn allows social media teams to show athletes taking the knee:

    […]
    The International Olympic Committee and Tokyo 2020 organisers have performed a U-turn over their stance to stop their social media teams from posting pictures of athletes taking the knee at these Olympic Games.

    The decision comes after the Guardian revealed they had issued a diktat against showing such images just hours before Team GB’s women’s first football match against Chile on Wednesday.

    On the first day of competition there was not a single shot of an athlete taking a knee on the official Tokyo 2020 live blog, Facebook and Twitter pages or Instagram. That was despite United States and Sweden players, as well as those from New Zealand, all taking a knee in protest against racism.

    An insider told the Guardian they found the IOC’s stance odd given the organisation celebrates iconic pictures of protest — including Tommie Smith and John Carlos raising their fists to protest against the unfair treatment of black people in the United States at the 1968 Olympics.

    […]

    Athletes at these Games are allowed to protest after the IOC relaxed Rule 50, which had previously forbidden athletes to make any kind of “demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas”.

    Peaceful protest is now allowed on the field of play, provided it is done without disruption and with respect for fellow competitors. However, sanctions are still threatened for any protests made on the medal podium.

    […]

    Yet —”the IOC […] celebrates iconic pictures of protest”, e.g., Tommie Smith and John Carlos on the medal podium during the 1968 games, but “sanctions are still threatened for any protests made on the medal podium” — despite relaxing rule 50.

  152. blf says

    And another hair furor scam, Magacoin: pro-Trump cryptocurrency attracts over 1,000 people to sign up:

    Magacoin bills itself as the ‘digital currency for the MAGA community’[] but data from the site shows most of the cryptocurrency is allocated to its self-style creator

    More than 1,000 people have so far signed up to the pro-Trump cryptocurrency magacoin, including conservative media personalities and Republican figures, the Guardian can reveal.

    The news comes after poor security configuration in a website associated with magacoin exposed the email addresses, passwords, cryptocurrency wallet addresses and IP addresses of users who have bought in to what its promoters describe as the “digital currency for the MAGA community”.[]

    The data also reveals that the lion’s share of the cryptocurrency so far produced has been allocated to the self-described creator of magacoin, a pro-Trump consultant who owns an LLC associated with the cryptocurrency, and a Super Pac associated with the same consultant.

    The information, provided to the Guardian by a self-described hacktivist, unveils the reality around the cryptocurrency whose creators say it is made by America First Conservatives out of frustration with ‘Losing the Election’ and a desire to fight back by supporting MAGA candidates.

    [… lots of details, including another set teh besteringest peoples who congeal around hair furor & add layers of yet more slime…]

      † Not set in eejit quotes since “[designed] for the MAGA community” does seem an apt description of a scam with poor security, run by shysters, prompted by the pompous who mostly (see the article) have “invested” in the scam the scam’s own “free gifts”. Not to mention the scam claims to be a crypto-“currency”, which themselves are planet-endangering scams (the amount of electrical power being wasted world-wide to “mine” these scams is phenomenal, and very Very probably contributing to the Global Climate Catastrophe).

  153. says

    CNN – “Myanmar doctors in hiding and hunted by the junta as Covid crisis ravages the country”:

    A severe Covid-19 wave is devastating Myanmar — a country already on its knees following February’s military coup — with people queuing for hours for oxygen in major cities and the seriously ill dying at home because they are too scared to visit understaffed, ill-equipped hospitals.

    Images from the biggest city, Yangon, show families of the sick waiting at oxygen plants in the hopes of refilling tanks, crematoriums packed with mourners and coffins, and funeral workers and volunteers in white hazmat suits working non-stop at cemeteries to bury rows of shrouded bodies.

    During months of bloody political turmoil, Myanmar’s security forces have killed more than 900 people, including shooting protesters dead in the streets, and laid siege to entire villages. Thousands have been detained in the ongoing crackdown, with widespread reports of torture.

    Civil society has been eroded and the already-vulnerable health care system has collapsed. Doctors and other health workers, many of whom went on strike to protest the coup, have been forced into hiding to escape attacks and arrest from junta forces.

    As Myanmar now faces its worst Covid-19 outbreak, doctors and volunteers who spoke to CNN accuse the military of using the pandemic as a weapon against the people. They said the military has restricted critical oxygen sales to the public and refused sick patients at military-run hospitals. Covid-19 outbreaks have also reached prisons, including the main jail, Insein, housing anti-coup protesters.

    Terrified residents are choosing to self-treat at home, doctors say. When they do go to hospital they are often turned away as the facilities are running out of oxygen, treatments and beds, and there’s not enough staff to treat patients, they said.

    On Wednesday, the military-controlled health ministry reported 6,093 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total confirmed to 246,663. There were also 247 reported fatalities, with the confirmed death toll from Covid-19 5,814. But doctors and volunteer groups say those numbers are woefully under-reported. A once-promising vaccine program has crumbled under junta rule, and minimal testing, a lack of official data, and widespread public distrust of the military means no one has a clear idea of the extent of the crisis.

    “This is just the tip of the iceberg,” said one doctor who did not want to be identified for fear of reprisals. “We are seeing patients deteriorating and people dying everyday.”

    Joy Singhal, head of the Myanmar delegation of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said the “rapid rise of Covid-19 in Myanmar is deeply concerning and in recent days around a third of people tested are positive.”

    “This rise of cases has placed the entire health system under huge strain,” he said. “We urgently need greater levels of testing, contact tracing and vaccinations in all areas of the country.”

    In the absence of a functioning medical system or official national Covid-19 plan, and with a public distrustful of anything linked to the military junta, a network of underground doctors and volunteer groups are trying to plug the gaps….

    More atl.

  154. says

    Guardian – “Eric Clapton refuses to play venues that require proof of vaccination”:

    Eric Clapton has said he will not perform at any venues that require attendees to show proof of vaccination.

    In response to the government announcement that vaccination passports will be required to access nightclubs and venues by the end of September, the musician has issued a statement saying he would not play “any stage where there is a discriminated audience present.

    “Unless there is provision made for all people to attend, I reserve the right to cancel the show.”

    Clapton shared the statement via the Telegram account of Italian architect and Covid sceptic Robin Monotti. It was accompanied by a link to Clapton’s anti-lockdown collaboration with Van Morrison, Stand and Deliver, in which they sing: “Do you wanna be a free man / Or do you wanna be a slave?”

    …Clapton said he had found common ground with Morrison, whose lyrics “echoed in my heart”. After releasing Stand and Deliver, Clapton said he was “immediately regaled with contempt and scorn”….

    Well done, contemptuous scorners. (Here again – the one-star review of Morrison’s latest album.)

  155. says

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

    From there:

    Indian authorities raid prominent newspaper after critical Covid coverage

    Indian tax authorities have raided a prominent newspaper and a TV channel which have been critical of the government’s handling of the pandemic, triggering accusations of intimidation.

    AFP reports that Bhaskar, which has a readership of millions, had carried a series of reports on the devastation caused by the pandemic in April and May and criticised the government’s management of the crisis.

    The daily said on its website in response to the raids that in the last six months it had sought to “put the real situation in front of the country”. It said: “Be it the matter of dead bodies in the Ganges or … hiding deaths due to corona, Bhaskar showed fearless journalism.”

    Bhaskar’s editor, Om Gaur, wrote an op-ed in the New York Times last month saying the bodies in the Ganges were symbolic of the “failures and deceptions” of Narendra Modi’s administration. He also wrote:

    Uttar Pradesh has been governed by the Bharatiya Janata party of prime minister Narendra Modi since March 2017, under chief minister Yogi Adityanath, a Hindu monk turned politician. Mr Adityanath’s response in April to grave shortages of oxygen, ventilators and beds in intensive care units throughout the state and to the images of overcrowded cemeteries and crematories was to issue denials and threats. He directed state officials to invoke antiterrorism laws against and seize property from people he accused of spreading rumours.

    Brijesh Mishra, the editor-in-chief of Bharat Samachar, said the raids were harassment. “We are not afraid of these raids … we stand by the truth and the 240 million people of Uttar Pradesh,” he was quoted as saying in Hindi on their website.

    India ranks 142nd out of 180 countries on Reporters Without Borders’ 2021 press freedom index.

    Ashok Gehlot, the chief minister of the northern state of Rajasthan, said the raids were a brazen attempt to suppress the media. “Modi government cannot tolerate even an iota of its criticism,” Gehlot, who is from the opposition Congress party, wrote on Twitter.

    Delhi’s chief minister, Arvind Kejriwal, tweeted that the raids were “an attempt to scare the media”.

    There was no official comment from authorities on the raids, but local media quoted unnamed tax officials as saying they had “conclusive evidence of fraud”.

    Their morning summary:

    Angela Merkel has urged Germans to get vaccinated as cases in the country rise, telling the nation: “The more we are vaccinated, the freer we will be.”

    Olympic Czech beach volleyball player Marketa Nausch-Slukova and Netherlands taekwondo competitor Reshmie Oogink have reportedly tested positive for Covid-19.

    Tokyo has reported coronavirus cases at a six-month high on the eve of the opening of the Olympic Games.

    The UK business secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, has said a “very narrow” list of sectors whose workers will be exempt from self-isolation rules will be published on Thursday as “pingdemic” shortages grow across the country.

    Kwarteng also said this morning that he was “very concerned” about the shortages on supermarket shelves and that a list of critical workers eligible for less strict isolation rules would be created very soon.

    Australia’s prime minister, Scott Morrison, has apologised for the country’s slow vaccine rollout, during which half the population plunged into lockdown after an outbreak of the Delta variant.

    China has rejected a World Health Organization plan for a second phase of an investigation into the origin of the coronavirus, which includes the hypothesis it could have escaped from a Chinese laboratory.

  156. says

    Guardian – “YouTube pulls Jair Bolsonaro videos for Covid-19 misinformation”:

    YouTube has removed videos from Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s channel for spreading misinformation about the coronavirus outbreak, becoming the latest tech giant to pull his statements about the pandemic.

    YouTube said in a press release the decision was taken “after careful review” and without consideration for Bolsonaro’s job or political ideology….

    “Our rules do not allow content that states that hydroxychloroquine and/or ivermectin are effective in treating or preventing Covid-19, that states there is a cure for the disease, or says that masks do not work to prevent the spread of the virus,” YouTube said in a statement.

    Bolsonaro’s YouTube channel plays host to his weekly national addresses, which are folksy, musical events in which he invites on ministers, takes questions from viewers and blasts his enemies.

    During the chats, which also go out on his Facebook page, he regularly expounds on his doubts about the severity of the virus, the foolishness of stay-at-home measures and the wonders of unproven drugs like hydroxychloroquine.

  157. birgerjohansson says

    Trigger warning.
    Christian fundies can be kooks, but their opposite numbers in the islamic world really take things to eleven.
    Most muslims do NOT live under strict sharia law, nor would they want to, if their imams were honest telling them about what their scripure dictates!
    -David Wood is a Christian apologist that sometimes can go over the top, but is scrupulously honest when reporting aspects of islamic scripture.
    This time, he caught a social media post by an imam living in California who declared his theological support for offensive jihad; subjugating Christians (and presumably jews), and -if they refuse to pay the jizya (tax for non-muslims) violently subjugate them and taking their women and children as slaves.
    When Wood confronted him, he denied writing the post.
    But later in an online debate, he made it clear that he interpreted scripture as advocating the subjugation of Christians and the taking of slaves.
    (when non-muslims do not pay the Jizya –[not-being-muslim tax] the community has the right to consficate the men’s property [women and children] in lieu of cash)
    https://youtu.be/RKDnm5XgIgw

  158. birgerjohansson says

    Next video -the empire of stupid strikes back: ‘What Would Happen to David Wood under Islamic Law?’
    David Wood: “After my recent video about the deception of Shaykh Uthman ibn Farooq, our friend Mansur said that, under Islamic Law, I must be executed. Interestingly, Mansur claims that I must be executed EVEN IF I REPENT!”
    https://youtu.be/4Hr5-ZlJ__Y

  159. birgerjohansson says

    Third video. It is nice to find someone who does not sugarcoat what scripture says.
    Basically, Sharia is what hardcore Christans have wanted for themselves since the Inquisition was disbanded.
    “Honest Muslim Explains Sharia Blasphemy Laws https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gzbf0t2TJvU

  160. birgerjohansson says

    Here is the last post about dawah and taqiyya. The latter word means under some specific circumstances muslims may deceive non-believers.
    Since muslims in America are protected by the First Amendment, this muslim scholar states that sheikh Uthman may not lie to deceive the unbeleivers about the consequences of sharia, and he may certainly not lie to other muslims.
    A honest answer, but -by Ctulhu’s scrotal tentacles- an imam that lives by this rule while working in a western country is NOT going to be popular.
    ”Honest Muslim Explains Taqiyya”
    https://youtu.be/_aQiHJOiuR8

  161. birgerjohansson says

    Lynna,
    ‘the “culture of lawlessness” surrounding the former president keeps getting worse’
    He could be writing about the government of BoJo the incompetent.

  162. says

    Guardian – “China floods: death toll climbs as questions raised over preparedness”:

    The official death toll from central China’s devastating floods has risen to 33, as the public began to ask questions about the readiness of authorities for the disaster.

    Cleanup efforts were under way in Henan province and the capital city Zhengzhou on Thursday, after a record breaking rain storm flooded the city’s streets and subway, damaged dams and reservoirs, collapsed roads, cut power to at least one hospital and was linked to a massive explosion at a factory in Dengfeng city.

    Authorities said 200,000 people were displaced by the floods and more than three million people were affected. They also reported that eight people are still missing.

    Heavy rain was forecast to continue this week, driven in part by a strengthening typhoon east of Taiwan. In Guangdong, in southern China, 13 construction workers were killed when they were trapped in a flooded tunnel. Thousands of rescuers were sent in to assist northern Henan, where dozens of counties were hit by flooding on Wednesday night and Thursday, with reports of overflowing reservoirs, submerged roads, and cars and trucks being washed away.

    The Henan disaster has prompted public scrutiny over the preparedness of authorities, in particular the apparently inaccurate weather forecasts and the confusing disaster alert system. Many also questioned the decision to keep the subway operating throughout the deluge.

    At least 12 of the deaths occurred on the subway, where about 1,000 people were reportedly trapped in stations and carriages after water filled the tunnels. Alarming footage showed people clinging to handrails in chest-high water.

    Concerns had been raised about the safety of the subway system – which opened its first line in 2013 – the decision to keep it operating at peak hour when the rain was at its heaviest, and the transparency of officials. Online, commenters were divided, but included substantial criticism of the response.

    “Why didn’t you close the subway in advance when it was raining so heavily,” asked one.

    “I only see loads from Mr and Ms Hindsight,” said another in response to the ministry’s statement. “We can’t control the flood, but they should have suspended the operation when numerous alerts were released.”

    A widely shared WeChat article noted early contradictory statements from local state media, including that no passengers were in danger, while at the same time footage – later blocked from China’s internet – was being shared of dead bodies at Shakoulu station, including by the national state media outlet, Xinhua.

    The WeChat article also noted premature declarations that the rescue mission was complete, while trapped passengers continued to post about their predicament. The article – which also questioned whether it was a man-made disaster linked to the blasting of a dam late Tuesday near the city of Luoyang – was later censored for “violating regulations”, according to a Twitter user, Matt Knight, who collected online posts.

    Knight noted multiple examples of the stark differences between some posts by state media and authorities, which emphasised rescue efforts and heartwarming community acts, and those shared by the public.

    Some worry that given the scale of the damage, the post-disaster reconstruction will be particularly challenging for one of the most populous provinces in China. Zhengzhou alone is home to 12 million people….

  163. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    Public anger at government measures to curb the spread of Covid, which some people say are an attack on their liberty, has given the Yellow Vest protest movement fresh momentum, Reuters reports.

    Last weekend, police estimated that 100,000 people joined protests against the measures – some of them under the banner of the Yellow Vests. Another round of protests is planned for this weekend.

    An internal interior ministry report, seen by Reuters, described last week’s protests as “exceptional in their scale,” and warned further large protests were likely.

    Jerome Rodrigues, one of the movement’s best-known figures who lost an eye when he was hit with a projectile at a protest two years ago, said the latest protests had attracted people beyond the usual Yellow Vest faithful.

    “I’ve seen a lot of first-time protesters,” Rodrigues, who wears a prosthetic eye, said. “Healthcare workers, restaurant owners too, all kinds of people, children. If there’s one thing that can unite people today, it’s anger.”

    Macron’s administration has submitted controversial proposed legislation to parliament which will stop people entering restaurants and bars without a “health pass”, showing they are vaccinated, have had a recent negative test, or have immunity from Covid-19. Opponents say the state is, de facto, forcing people to get jabbed.

    Mohamed Boukifa, a 40-year-old baker, joined Rodrigues at a Yellow Vest demonstration in Paris on Wednesday against the health pass. He said he had followed the Yellow Vests over social media, but until now had never joined a demonstration.

    “I’m not here because I’m against the vaccine” he said. “I’m here to defend our freedoms. We cannot be forced to get vaccinated.” He said he had not had the jab, because he was worried about possible side effects.

  164. says

    New episode of Straight White American Jesus – “Biblical Commas? On Controlling Textual, National, and Physical Bodies”:

    Last weekend theologian and former head of the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood [ridiculous – SC] Owen Strachan tweeted that taking away even one comma from the Bible would demean it. This let to a Twitter storm and many folks pointed out the misguidedness of attributing things like commas to the original composition of the biblical texts. Brad digs deeper into this controversy to show how Strachan’s approach to the biblical textual body lines up with his complementarian theology and his White Christian nationalist approach to social justice and history. Strachan’s comments on ‘biblical commas’ are easily debunked. There is no historical case for them. The deeper question is what such rhetoric does for him and other biblical literalists. Strachan is clearly someone who wants to control borders and bodies. His theology of gender, marriage, and family is based on a strict patriarchal order. His new book resists any examination of the American social body’s structuring, labeling “Whiteness” an imaginary category. Read in this context, the “biblical comma” tweets reflect a desire to put clear borders and boundaries around the biblical text just as he has sought to do with marriage, family, and the nation. For him, the Bible is scary if it offers permeable categories and ambiguity; complex texts and difficult histories. Instead, a fortified virginal text protected from any intrusion. A wall built around Scripture in order to make it–or keep–it sacred. This, as a whole, is a theology of fear.

  165. birgerjohansson says

    SC @ 206
    To show that the OT has been retconned from here to infinity, read
    The Memoirs of God (Smith).
    För the NT, pick up any book by Bart Ehrman.
    Strachan is just another charlatan babbling about how the Bible is inerrant (which is what the muslims claim about the koran, BTW).

  166. blf says

    Follow-up of sorts to SC@205… Until the Reuters report (Hands off my natural immunity: French protest against COVID health pass) I hadn’t seen the so-called “yellow vest” eejits involved in the anti-Health Pass protests. It doesn’t surprise me, that is about as fake of a “popular movment” as possible. It started as a protest by the trucking industry against fuel taxes, and then mushroomed into a hodgepodge of lunatics from all the dark corners of socialpolitical non-thought. So having anti-vaxxers, etc., glued on isn’t much of a surprise.

    As per @192, the Health Pass measures are notably popular (c.60% approve).

  167. says

    With the GOP stymying an infrastructure debate, what happens now?

    Senate Dems needed 10 Republican votes to advance a bipartisan infrastructure framework. They got zero. This leaves us with three key questions.

    It was four weeks ago when 10 senators — five Republicans and five Democrats — announced a breakthrough agreement with the White House on infrastructure. There were still details to work through, but the framework, which followed months of negotiations, was finally in place. […]

    With the basic outline of the breakthrough compromise ostensibly complete, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) scheduled a procedural vote yesterday — not on final passage of a compete piece of legislation, but to move the debate to the next stage. Democrats needed at least 10 Republican votes; they ended up with zero.

    Republicans voted Wednesday to block the Senate from beginning debate on an infrastructure proposal, saying they wanted more time to finalize the details of the agreement…. The procedural motion failed 49-51, with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer switching his vote to “no” at the end to preserve his option to call the same vote on another day. The motion needed 60 to succeed.

    As the Senate’s official roll call shows, the parties were evenly divided, with no members breaking partisan ranks.

    This leads to three questions. The first, of course, is what happens now. […] a bipartisan group of 22 senators — 10 Republicans, 11 Democrats, and one independent who caucuses with Democrats — issued a statement yesterday vowing to move forward with their negotiations on a $579 billion infrastructure package.

    The group, led in large part by Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) claimed in the statement that members “have made significant progress and are close to a final agreement.” Portman specifically told Democratic leaders that he believes the Senate should be able to vote on the not-yet-ready compromise on Monday.

    Which leads us to the second question: Is this likely to work out? If these 22 senators reach an agreement — and there’s no guarantee that they will — it would be important, but not determinative. The package would still need 60 votes in the Senate to advance, which would offer proponents no margin for error, and it would also still need support from House Democrats.

    […] What happens if the bipartisan efforts fail? In theory, the obvious solution is to simply take the infrastructure framework, add it to a reconciliation package, and pass the whole thing with a vote that Republicans wouldn’t be able to block.

    That would almost certainly be the most straightforward and effective solution, but that would also force Democrats into a no-margin-for-error legislative dynamic. If just one member of the Senate Democratic conference — say, a certain someone from West Virginia, for example — were to balk, the entire infrastructure initiative would fail catastrophically.

  168. blf says

    Tommy Robinson[Stephen Yaxley-Lennon] loses libel case brought by Syrian schoolboy:

    […]
    The English Defence League founder […] was sued by Jamal Hijazi after an incident in a school playground in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, in October 2018.

    Shortly after the video of the incident went viral, Robinson falsely claimed in Facebook videos viewed by nearly 1 million people that Hijazi was not innocent and he violently attacks young English girls in his school.

    He also claimed Hijazi, now 18, beat a girl black and blue and threatened to stab another boy at his school, allegations the teenager denies.

    In a high court judgment on Thursday, Mr Justice Matthew Nicklin said the consequences of Robinson’s falsehoods had been “particularly severe” for Hijazi, to whom he awarded £100,000 [c.137,500 USD] in damages.

    The judge said Robinson had made Hijazi out to be “a violent aggressor” in the playground incident when he was in fact the victim.

    The activist used language “calculated to inflame the situation”, Nicklin said, ultimately causing Hijazi to abandon his education and forcing his family to flee their home.

    The teenager received death threats after becoming a target for the far right. […]

    Robinson, who represented himself during the four-day trial, argued his comments were substantially true, claiming to have “uncovered dozens of accounts of aggressive, abusive and deceitful behaviour” by Hijazi.

    However, the judge ruled Robinson had failed to prove each of his seven claims and that “in reality … his evidence fell woefully short”.

    The judgment leaves Robinson, who has previously been financially supported by right-leaning groups in the US, facing a heavy monetary penalty at a time when he claims to be bankrupt.

    Robinson said he was gobsmacked by the costs Hijazi’s lawyers were claiming, which he said included £70,000 for taking witness statements. He added: I’ve not got any money. I’m bankrupt. I’ve struggled hugely with my own issues these last 12 months … I ain’t got it [cries the fraud & bigot who forced a child to abandon their education, receive death threats, and move home …]

  169. says

    One year later, Ted Cruz haunted by ridiculous COVID prediction

    A year ago today, Cruz said state and local Democrats were effectively engaging in a sociopathic election scam. He was tragically, spectacularly wrong.

    It was exactly one year ago today when Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) appeared on camera and made a bold prediction about the coronavirus pandemic.

    “If it ends up that Biden wins in November — I hope he doesn’t, I don’t think he will — but if he does, I guarantee you the week after the election, suddenly all those Democratic governors, all those Democratic mayors, will say, ‘Everything’s magically better. Go back to work. Go back to school. Suddenly all the problems are solved.’ You won’t to have to wait for Biden to be sworn in. All they’ll need is Election Day and suddenly their willingness to just destroy people’s lives and livelihoods, they will have accomplished their task. That’s wrong. It’s cynical. And we shouldn’t be a part of it.”

    […] Trump spent much of the summer and fall pushing a nearly identical line, confident in his belief that state and local officials were only pretending to care about limiting the spread of a deadly virus.

    Sure, those rascally Democrats and public-health officials said their mitigation efforts were intended to save lives and prevent systemic breakdowns at hospitals, but the Republican president and his allies knew better. They knew it was all just an elaborate ruse, motivated entirely by the 2020 campaign.

    A year ago today, however, Cruz went further than most. As far as the GOP senator was concerned, Democrats were not simply pretending to care about the spread of COVID-19, they also were “willing” to “destroy people’s lives and livelihoods” in order to make Trump look bad.

    Or put another way, Cruz effectively saw Democratic officials at the state and local level as engaging in a sociopathic election-season scam, which would all be revealed the moment Joe Biden became the president-elect.

    The Texan “guaranteed” it.

    As we discussed, it’s impossible to say how much real-world harm the senator did with rhetoric like this. We’ll never know how many Americans heard such talk, assumed the Republican was right, believed the pandemic was more of a political scheme than public-health crisis, and failed to take necessary precautions.

    What’s obvious, however, is that Ted Cruz was tragically, spectacularly wrong. As Joe Biden prepared to assume the presidency, the United States struggled with the brutal and deadly effects of the COVID crisis — no one said, “Everything’s magically better” — and state and local officials continue now to deal dangerous developments.

    By all appearances, it’s unrealistic to think the senator will express any regrets for slandering public officials and peddling such odious garbage during a crisis. If, however, he’s still capable of shame, now would be an excellent time for some.

  170. says

    What Republicans hope to accomplish with their own Jan. 6 probe

    House Republicans say they’ll have their own Jan. 6 “investigation.” Its apparent goal: Find a way to blame the attack on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

    A couple of weeks ago, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) peddled his usual foolish line about the insurrectionist attack on the Capitol, arguing that the Jan. 6 riot was largely a “peaceful protest.” The Wisconsin Republican added, however, “I’m doing my own investigation to really accurately recreate what happened on January 6th.”

    […] House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) […] said his Republican conference would have its own investigation, too.

    […] Given the circumstances, “investigation” is probably a generous choice of words. The congressionally approved special select committee, which is proceeding with its official probe, will have dedicated staff and subpoena power. The House GOP’s side exercise will apparently be little more than an unfortunate partisan stunt.

    […] House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) issued a rather unhinged statement insisting that Pelosi is afraid of the American people finding out the truth that her failed leadership and the gross mismanagement of the U.S. Capitol led to the tragic events that day.”

    In case this was too subtle, McCarthy appeared on Fox News last night and suggested the House Speaker may have made “a decision” not to have the National Guard protecting the Capitol on Jan. 6.

    So let’s take stock. Earlier this year, a violent mob, incited by Donald Trump, tried to prevent the certification of an American election. It was, by any measure, the most serious attack on the U.S. Capitol, the citadel of our government, in more than two centuries.

    Republican leaders rejected an independent commission to investigate the assault. Republican leaders then opposed the creation of a congressional select committee to investigate the assault. Republican leaders then tried to add unserious Trump sycophants, one of whom may be a material witness in the investigation, to the investigatory panel.

    And now Republican leaders, thwarted in their effort to cover up the former president’s wrongdoing, are gearing up to blame House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for the Jan. 6 riot.

    I realize that some of the coverage of these developments is stressing the idea that “both parties have attacked the other as insincere,” but only one of those parties has a legitimate case to make.

  171. says

    If there’s any lesson to be drawn from the saga of Matthew Heimbach, it’s this: You can never take a neo-Nazi at his word.

    Heimbach, the erstwhile leader of the extremist Traditionalist Worker Party (TWP) and one of the co-organizers of the deadly 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, has spent the past year or so trying convince the public that he had renounced his racist ways and was now on the side of the angels. But then this week, he again reversed course, giving an interview to Newsy in which he once again embraced anti-Semitic and bigoted sentiments, and announced his intention to start his old group back up again.

    “These people have names and addresses,” Heimbach told Newsy, referencing corporate executives and “global elites” whom he blames for economic and environmental problems. “Their kids have names and addresses, and the capitalist class, by hook or by crook, has to be liquidated. You know that it’s called class war for a reason. … Any violence the proletariat brings is simply in self-defense.”

    Heimbach told reporter Mark Greenblatt that he intends to revive TWP as soon as this coming weekend, saying it would be a “nationalist Bolshevik” group that supposedly “takes inspiration from Marxism and China and targets global elites.”

    Heimbach made clear that he generally supports political violence against “global elites,” even if he fell short of directly endorsing assassination. An exchange that Heimbach had with Greenblatt made this clear:

    Heimbach: George W. Bush should go on trial. Barack Obama should go on trial. Donald Trump should go on trial. Joe Biden should go on trial.

    Newsy: When the system doesn’t arrest or put these people on trial?

    Heimbach: Names and addresses. And I will not be—I mean, I’m not a soldier. I will not be ordering anyone to do anything. But I will not condemn revolutionaries that, you know, stand in their own self-defense.

    Newsy: Matt, where do you draw the line? Is it OK to kill the president?

    Heimbach: I’m going to plead the fifth on that one.

    Newsy: But pleading the fifth is when you want to not incriminate yourself, you don’t just…?

    Heimbach: Oh, you got it. You got it. But I’m I’m not touching that one.

    Newsy: But why not just say, no, that’s not OK?

    Heimbach: Well, I’m not a liar.

    In the spring of 2020, Heimbach told the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Hatewatch that he had renounced white nationalism.

    […] But he was virulently opposed to efforts to remove fascist voices from social media or to encourage law enforcement to crack down on their terrorism, saying “we cannot end the growth of white nationalist violence by deplatforming, mass arrests, and government overreaction.”

    […] Heimbach claimed that was now sober and devoid of racist intentions, “no longer dwelling on Black and white but the ‘green’ that separates us.”

    […] Previous claims to honesty notwithstanding, Heimbach’s history is replete with bigoted violence and double-dealing. In 2017, he was charged with assaulting a Black protester at a 2016 Donald Trump rally, to which he later pleaded guilty and was placed on probation.

    However, he violated that probation in 2018 when he became embroiled in a domestic violence situation at the home of his longtime TWP cohort, Matt Parrott, whose stepdaughter Heimbach was married to at the time. Parrot caught Heimbach in a tryst with his then-wife, and Heimbach reportedly assaulted Parrot in the ensuing chaos. The interpersonal drama—which came to be known as “Night of the Wrong Wives” among internet wags—caused TWP to break apart.

    […] Heimbach, moreover, showed no recognition of having caused harm or, for that matter, of even being ideologically wrong—suggested by his recent turn towards National Bolshevism, which is simply another brand of neo-Nazism in a Third Positionist guise.

    […] “I don’t think they’ve left the movement, but I do think that they realize that the movement, as it has existed, is a dead end, and that they are trying to create a new kind of movement,” Emily Gorcenski, an activist and former Charlottesville resident, told Hatewatch.

    More worrisome is what a relaunch of TWP under a Third Positionist guise might look like in its effects on public discourse and political violence, especially given Heimbach’s history of successfully building networks with neo-Nazis and other extremists, both in the United States and internationally.

    “What Heimbach is doing is, he’s lighting a match and he’s handing the matchbook to somebody else,” Heidi Beirich, co-founder of the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism, told Newsy.

    “He’s been in this movement for a long time. There may be somebody out there who picks up this idea. They’re going to hear this rhetoric and the scary thing is that somebody might act on it.”

    Link

  172. says

    Key member of bishops’ group that wanted to deny Biden communion resigns after Grindr use exposed

    Masturbation is still a big no-no, according to the Catholic Church. The catechism calls it “an intrinsically and gravely disordered action.” But it’s only a mortal sin if you’re doing it right. For those of you who weren’t raised Catholic, you should know you should know that dying in a state of mortal sin is a pretty big deal.

    According to the great doctors of the Catholic Church, including St. Augustine of Hippo and St. Thomas Aquinas, if you happen to go udders up in such a state you’re—and I believe this is a direct quote, translated from the original Latin—“fucked sideways.”

    Similarly, the Catholic Church deems homosexual acts as “intrinsically disordered.” And while I haven’t participated in homosexual acts, I can’t imagine why they’d be any less tidy than heterosexual acts. It’s not like I’ve ever arranged my Hummel figurines in neat, OCD-friendly rows while having sex. And, yes, I know that’s oversharing. I mean, why should you care about my Hummels?

    All of this is to say that if you’re a prominent U.S. Catholic who’s sitting in judgment over other U.S. Catholics, it might be a good idea to lock down your Grindr account.

    The Washington Post:

    The top administrator of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops resigned after a Catholic media site told the conference it had access to cellphone data that appeared to show he was a regular user of Grindr, the queer dating app, and frequented gay bars. […]

    Monsignor Jeffrey Burrill has since last fall been the general secretary of the USCCB, a position that coordinates all administrative work and planning for the conference, which is the country’s network for Catholic bishops. As a priest, he takes a vow of celibacy. Catholic teaching opposes sexual activity outside heterosexual marriage.

    If the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops rings a bell, that’s probably because of this:

    The Roman Catholic bishops of the United States, flouting a warning from the Vatican, have overwhelmingly voted to draft guidance on the sacrament of the Eucharist, advancing a push by conservative bishops to deny President Biden communion because of his support of abortion rights.

    The decision, made public on Friday afternoon, is aimed at the nation’s second Catholic president, perhaps the most religiously observant commander in chief since Jimmy Carter, and exposes bitter divisions in American Catholicism. It capped three days of contentious debate at a virtual June meeting of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The measure was approved by a vote of 73 percent in favor and 24 percent opposed.

    In fact, none other than Msgr. Burrill himself announced the vote tally calling for the pooh-poohing of our president.

    Awkward.

    More from The Post:

    The resignation stemmed from reporting in the Pillar, an online newsletter that reports on the Catholic Church. Tuesday afternoon, after Burrill’s resignation became public, the Pillar reported that it had obtained information based on the data Grindr collects from its users, and hired an independent firm to authenticate it.

    According to The Pillar, “A mobile device correlated to Burrill emitted app data signals from the location-based hookup app Grindr on a near-daily basis during parts of 2018, 2019, and 2020—at both his USCCB office and his USCCB-owned residence, as well as during USCCB meetings and events in other cities. … The data obtained and analyzed by The Pillar conveys mobile app date signals during two 26-week periods, the first in 2018 and the second in 2019 and 2020. […]

    Okay, so I’ve had a bit of a bone to pick with the Roman Catholic Church ever since they assigned an abusive priest to our parish when I was in grade school. He’d offended before arriving at our parish, so I can only assume they did it on purpose. This all came out years after the fact, of course.

    Also, if all masturbators are in a state of mortal sin, I imagine I should have several Costco-sized pallets full of Jergens Lotion FedEx’d to hell before I shuffle off this mortal coil. I assume there’ll be lots of takers, and my forward-thinking will surely make me the Duke of Hades. And I bet I’ll be able to gouge Burrill at the underworld bookstore after Satan disables all his apps, leaving him with naught but dog-eared copies of 1950s men’s fitness magazines.

    In the meantime, I’ll be supping on sweet, sweet schadenfreude as this story unfolds.

  173. tomh says

    Brennan Center:
    Voting Laws Roundup: July 2021
    July 22, 2021

    As many state legislatures conclude their regular sessions, the full impact of efforts to suppress the vote in 2021 is coming into view.

    Between January 1 and July 14, 2021,at least 18 states enacted 30 laws that restrict access to the vote. These laws make mail voting and early voting more difficult, impose harsher voter ID requirements, and make faulty voter purges more likely, among other things. More than 400 bills with provisions that restrict voting access have been introduced in 49 states in the 2021 legislative sessions.
    […]

    This wave of restrictions on voting — the most aggressive we have seen in more than a decade of tracking state voting laws — is in large part motivated by false and often racist allegations about voter fraud.
    […]

    There may be more new state voting laws still to come this year….Texas lawmakers in particular appear poised to enact additional restrictive voting legislation this year. During the 30-day special session that began in Austin on July 8, state lawmakers introduced a slew of restrictive voting proposals, including two omnibus bills containing numerous anti-voter provisions.
    […]

    At the same time, at least 25 states enacted 54 laws with provisions to expand voting access. These laws expand access to early and mail voting, make voter registration easier, and restore voting rights to Americans with past convictions, among other measures. Many of the states in which voting is already comparatively more accessible are the same as those enacting policies to further strengthen voting access, deepening a national divide such that the promise of the right to vote depends increasingly on where Americans happen to live….

    Details and maps at the link

  174. says

    Awww. They are losing money. So sad.

    The Matt Gaetz-Marjorie Taylor Greene Fundraising Tour Is Actually a Cash Fire

    At the height of the controversy surrounding Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and the revelations that he’s under investigation for sex trafficking, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) bet big on a nationwide joint fundraising tour with her embattled colleague. But new campaign filings show that not only did the gamble not pay off, but that the much-maligned Republicans actually spent four times as much as they raised.

    Greene, the House GOP’s top fundraiser, is now faced with a decision: She can continue to join forces with her beleaguered ally at the expense of her campaign war chest, or she can cut bait and let Gaetz fend for himself.

    Since Gaetz and Greene kicked off their joint fundraising committee with a May 7 event at The Villages in central Florida, their campaigns and joint fundraising committee have posted a combined loss of $342,000. And according to recent filings with the Federal Election Commission, that joint fundraising effort, “Put America First,” reported only $59,345.54 in contributions.

    That sort of meager haul would be fine for a dinner or one-time event, but Gaetz and Greene have repeatedly held high-profile events and spent a whopping $287,036.19 to hold them—meaning they’re in the hole by more than $225,000.

    Both Gaetz and Greene contributed $150,000 apiece from their own campaigns to the joint fundraising committee. And they’ve raised money almost entirely from small-dollar donors. Only four people gave $500 or more to the shared committee. But their campaign tour of some of the most Trump-friendly areas in the nation has been inordinately expensive.

    In fact, the big winner from the Gaetz and Greene barnstorming appears to be Gaetz’s PR firm.

    The Logan Circle Group, which the campaign hired in early April, made off with more than a million dollars in the second quarter of 2021. While the majority of that money came from Gaetz—$825,000 over the course of one month—the firm nudged past the million-dollar mark with the $250,000 it received from Put America First. Those payments, nearly 90 percent of the committee’s total budget, were for “event production and management,” according to FEC filings. […]

    Are they scamming themselves … and not just scamming trumpian cult followers?

  175. blf says

    Right-Wing Broadcaster Stew Peters Again Says Dr Anthony Fauci Should Be Executed:

    [… qAnonsense conspiracy loon DeAnna] Lorraine and Peters were outraged by the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendation that all students and staff, regardless of vaccination status, wear masks when schools open in the coming weeks. While Lorraine bizarrely declared that masks are a sexual fetish and accused parents of child abuse for having their children wear them, Peters ranted that vaccines are a poison bioweapon before calling for Dr Anthony Fauci’s execution.

    No matter if you’ve been poisoned or not by the intentionally engineered bioweapon that is meant to kill, maim, and destroy, [I don’t think he means hair furor] Peters said. This is not a vaccine [maybe he does?].

    […]

    Peters then dismissed the contentious exchange between Sen Rand Paul and Fauci that took place during a hearing on Capitol Hill Tuesday, claiming that Paul was just posturing for the purpose of raising campaign donations, and repeated his call for Fauci to be executed.

    He’s trying to make money, [which totally explains why Paul is anti-mask] Peters said. If you really want to grill the guy, how about this? How about demand a criminal investigation, indict this guy on charges of crimes against humanity, and send him to the gallows? That’s what you should do. [note the absence of, e.g., a trial in that “plan”]

    Peters them complained that sane parents such as himself are being pressured to harm their children.

    They’re trying to push you to go inject graphene oxide in your kid — a toxic substance, a poison — because you don’t want your kid masked, he griped. So, you either suffocate them or subject them to this weird sexual fetish, this bondage type display of subservience, or you go ahead and go poison the hell out of them and just maim them or permanently disable them or kill them [or let them die from a preventable infection].

    I’d not heard that “graphene oxide” assertion before. Apparently, it’s one of the latest fads being pushed by the hardcore anti-vaxxers, which is so silly even Forbes does the snark, Graphene Oxide In Pfizer Covid-19 Vaccines? Here Are The Latest Unsupported Claims:

    The Covid-19 vaccines are not like those Monday morning surprise dishes at your local restaurant. They aren’t like some of those less regulated dietary supplements that may secretly contain Viagra or steroids either. No, Covid-19 vaccines should not have unexpected ingredients. To make sure people know what they are getting, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has posted an ingredient list for the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine on its website. So, has the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

    Yet, there are now claims circulating that the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine is around 99% graphene oxide. This despite the fact that graphene oxide does not appear on either the FDA or CDC list. For example, an Instagram post included the following statement: 99% Graphene Oxide in Pfizer V4X? Spanish scientists obtain vial of Pfizer v4xin3 and find that 98-99%. In this case, “V4X” presumably is shorthand for “vaccine” rather than “vagina for your ex.”

    [… T]he post indicated that graphene oxide, is toxic to the human body and causes a number of problems. A video accompanying the post featured someone named “Dr Jane Ruby.” Ruby advanced claims that over 99% of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine consists of graphene oxide and that There’s no other reason for this to be in here except to murder people. [Yes, I trip over people dying from the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine everyday — including myself — and I’m also seeing penguins eating cheese flying around my pigeon-proof hat, obviously delirious from the pints of beer and vaccine…]

    Murder people? The Covid-19 vaccine is being used to murder people? You can’t just slip in the word “murder” without offering more explanation or evidence. Imagine telling someone, “I had a great dinner with you, except for when you tried to murder me” or “my boss is OK, except for the whole murder thing.”

    Apparently, “Ruby has doctorate in psychology not medicine.”

    […]
    The post mentioned Spanish scientists without specifying their qualifications or presenting their data for the scientific community to review. Beware of anyone offering the word “scientists” without much more details on why anyone should believe them. If you had a basketball game that you had to win, would you rely on a stranger telling you that she has assembled a bunch of “players”? There would be no guarantee of how well they could actually play basketball. In fact, it could be just a bunch of people not interested in monogamy, which won’t help you win the basketball game.

    […]

    “Spanish lab” may sound official but is meaningless without more details and clarification. The word “lab” is vague and could refer to a lot of different things, including a dog. A Labrador Retriever in Spain testing vaccines would have very different implications. […]

    I would be more inclined to take the word — or even the bark — of a Spanish dog than an anti-vaxxer, loonytarian, or penguin who doesn’t eat cheese.

    [… V]accines are a lot more highly regulated than things like dietary supplements and various foods and beverages. Imagine what would happen if Pfizer were to not include a key ingredient, especially one that comprised 99% of the vaccine, on the ingredient lists submitted to the FDA and CDC. Such an omission could put Pfizer at major legal risk and jeopardize their entire business. The FDA also conducts periodic evaluations of the manufacturing processes involved in producing the vaccines. So slipping in an undeclared ingredient wouldn’t be that easy? Besides, what would be the purpose? Murder?

    […]

    Graphene oxide (GO) is a real substance. I have no idea at what level it is toxic (“the dose makes the poison”, so at some level it will become toxic). Apparently, it has “broad spectrum antiviral activity that includes pseudorabies virus (PRV), porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV), and herpes simplex virus-1 (HSV‐1)” (Could graphene oxide nanosheets be an effective SARS-CoV-2 antiviral in PPE?, May 2021). Whether or not these recent reports and the bonkers recent assertions are linked, I have no idea — but it is tempting to speculate an overheated conspiratorial anti-vaxx imagination did, somehow, draw the “conclusion” that because GO is intriguing, it “must” be what the vaccine is made entirely of!

  176. blf says

    From the Grauniad’s current States political live blog:

    The House of Representatives just passed legislation increasing the number of Afghan interpreters who have helped US troops to immigrate to the United States.

    [… F]from The New York Times’ Luke Broadwater:

    Under the legislation, applicants would no longer have to provide a sworn statement that they faced a specific threat or proof that they held a “sensitive and trusted” job. Instead, the measure would in effect stipulate that any Afghan who helped the US government by definition faces retribution, and should be able to apply for a visa.

  177. says

    From the Guardian US-politics liveblog (linked @ #221):

    Democrats criticize inquiry into Brett Kavanaugh in new letter

    A number of Senate Democrats are questioning the FBI’s handling of tips into Brett Kavanaugh during the now Supreme Court justice’s confirmation process. Per The New York Times:

    Nearly three years after Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh’s tumultuous confirmation to the Supreme Court, the F.B.I. has disclosed more details about its efforts to review the justice’s background, leading a group of Senate Democrats to question the thoroughness of the vetting and conclude that it was shaped largely by the Trump White House.

    In a letter dated June 30 to two Democratic senators, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and Chris Coons of Delaware, an F.B.I. assistant director, Jill C. Tyson, said that the most “relevant” of the 4,500 tips the agency received during an investigation into Mr. Kavanaugh’s past were referred to White House lawyers in the Trump administration [!!!], whose handling of them remains unclear.

    The letter left uncertain whether the F.B.I. itself followed up on the most compelling leads. The agency was conducting a background check rather than a criminal investigation, meaning that “the authorities, policies, and procedures used to investigate criminal matters did not apply,” the letter said.

    Here’s the letter from the senators to the FBI. Here’s a statement from Whitehouse’s office on the letter:

    Washington, DC – Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Chris Coons (D-DE), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), and Cory Booker (D-NJ) wrote to FBI Director Christopher Wray last evening requesting additional information on the FBI’s 2018 supplemental background investigation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. The senators’ request follows a letter from the Bureau to Whitehouse and Coons revealing new details on the Kavanaugh background investigation, including that the FBI gathered over 4,500 tips in relation to the investigation without any apparent further action by FBI investigators. The Bureau also confirmed that tips from the tip line were instead provided to the Trump White House Counsel’s office, where their fate is unknown.

  178. says

    Pressure:

    The NFL just informed clubs that if a game cannot be rescheduled during the 18-week season in 2021 due to a COVID outbreak among unvaccinated players, the team with the outbreak will FORFEIT and be credited with a loss for playoff seeding, per sources.

    Massive implications.

    Here’s more from today’s memo, which also says the team responsible for a canceled game because of an outbreak among unvaccinated players/staff will be responsible for financial losses and subject to potential discipline from the commissioner. Wow….

    And the biggest penalty of all for players:

    “If a game is cancelled and cannot be rescheduled within the current 18-week scheduled due to a Covid outbreak, neither team’s players will receive their weekly paragraph 5 salary.”

    You read that right: NOBODY GETS PAID.

    More atl.

  179. says

    Somewhat related to part of blf’s #220 – NBC – “Anti-vaccine groups changing into ‘dance parties’ on Facebook to avoid detection”:

    Some anti-vaccination groups on Facebook are changing their names to euphemisms like “Dance Party” or “Dinner Party,” and using code words to fit those themes in order to skirt bans from Facebook, as the company attempts to crack down on misinformation about Covid-19 vaccines.

    The groups, which are largely private and unsearchable but retain large user bases accrued during the years Facebook permitted anti-vaccination content, also swap out language to fit the new themes and provide code legends, according to screenshots provided to NBC News by multiple members of the groups.

    One major “dance party” group has more than 40,000 followers and has stopped allowing new users amid public scrutiny. The backup group for “Dance Party,” known as “Dinner Party” and created by the same moderators, has more than 20,000 followers.

    Other anti-vaccine influencers on Instagram use similar language swaps, such as referring to vaccinated people as “swimmers” and the act of vaccination as joining a “swim club.”

    Beating Facebook’s moderation system “feels like a badge of honor,” the administrator wrote, followed by a crying-laughing emoji. At the end of the post, the administrator reminded users to stay away from “unapproved words,” and pointed them to a code legend on the side of the page.

    Using code words to evade bans is not new among the anti-vaccine community, and it borrows from a playbook used for years by extremists on Facebook and elsewhere. The practice leans heavily on “leetspeak,” or modified language used by coders and gamers that frequently replaced letters in words for numbers or symbols during online discussions.

    “Vaccine activists have been participating in leetspeak for as long as the internet has been around,” said Joan Donovan, research director at Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy. “This is part of the culture of anti-vaccination activists.”

    Group members have incorporated a range of coded language to mask their discussions, many of which perpetuate debunked theories about the vaccines. “Danced” or “drank beer” mean “got the vaccine.” References to “Pfizer” generally use the terms “pizza” or “Pizza King,” and Moderna is referred to as “Moana.” Users generally play around with unofficial language about dancing to create more coded language.

    For example, one group member said her husband had become sick after going on a “cross country trip where we spent 2 nights with dancers,” referring to two people who had just been vaccinated.

    “He believes that by being around those who have danced the glitter caused the shingles reactivation,” the group member wrote. The glitter, in this case, refers to “vaccine shedding,” a false theory among anti-vaccine activists that claims people who have been vaccinated are somehow “shedding” their vaccine onto the unvaccinated, and causing them to become sick with a litany of illnesses.

    The use of coded language underscores the challenge Facebook has in containing anti-vaccine sentiment that built up for years on the social network and other digital platforms. Facebook began to crack down on vaccine misinformation in 2019 and pledged in 2020 to take swift action against Covid misinformation

    Other extremist groups have been found to use coded language in an effort to avoid detection. The anti-government boogaloo movement derives much of its iconography from alternative names used to preventively skirt Facebook bans. The group’s members wear Hawaiian shirts and patches depicting igloos because some of the largest boogaloo Facebook groups changed their names to “Big Luau” and “Big Igloo” in advance of the group’s expulsion from Facebook.

    Donovan said extremist groups change their names to banal or unoffensive-sounding names during increased public scrutiny in an effort to retain the audience they’ve built up.

    “After Charlottesville, white supremacists were scrambling to change the names of their groups to things like Muslims for Peace. In doing so, they’re obviously participating in ban-evasion, but they’re learning to work better together,” she said, referring to the deadly 2017 Unite the Right rally in Virginia. “There’s a network effect there where people are imagining themselves as being persecuted and having access to some secret knowledge.”

  180. says

    Thursday just in: +661K doses reported administered over yesterday’s total. Includes 397K newly vaccinated. Continuing to see many states with higher case rates have increases in people initiating vaccination, relative to the rest of the US. Never [too] late to build immunity!”

  181. says

    Sen. Whitehouse’s Twitter thread re #222:

    This long-delayed answer confirms how badly we were spun by Director Wray and the FBI in the Kavanaugh background investigation and hearing.

    It confirms my suspicions that the “tip line” was not real and that FBI tip line procedures were not followed. There are FBI tip line procedures. They were not followed.

    So when Wray said they followed procedures, he meant the “procedure” of doing whatever Trump White House Counsel told them to do. That’s misleading as hell.

    I charged that the “tip line” was really a tip dump, with all the tips going straight into the dumpster without investigation. In fact it was a tip dump where all the tips went straight to White House Counsel without investigation. Same difference. [It’s worse!]

    No wonder so many witnesses were so frustrated when they tried to bring evidence forward. I’ve heard tales that even FBI agents not in on the scam sent info to the “tip line.” That must feel like a burn.

    Victims don’t always get redress, but their serious allegations deserve serious investigation, not a “tip line” garbage chute to a White House Counsel desperate to cover up the facts.

  182. says

    Kevin McCarthy’s misguided decisions keep piling up

    Kevin McCarthy has made quite a few decisions related to the 2020 elections and the Jan. 6 attack. They’ve all been wrong.

    House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) appeared on Fox News last night and described the kind of investigation he wanted to see into the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. “When we had a 9/11 Commission, they didn’t look at just what happened on 9/11. They looked at what built up to 9/11,” the GOP leader said. “That’s what we requested.”

    In other words, McCarthy expected viewers to believe he “requested” a 9/11 Commission-style investigation into January’s insurrectionist riot — which is amazing given that Democrats agreed to a 9/11 Commission-style investigation, right before McCarthy killed the idea.

    Watching the clip, I found myself thinking about a column the Washington Post’s Michael Gerson, a former George W. Bush speechwriter, wrote in February, when he described McCarthy as “the United States’ most disgraceful political leader.”

    Seldom has a political figure misunderstood his country and its challenges more comprehensively than McCarthy. […]

    [November 6] McCarthy appeared on Fox News and falsely insisted that Trump had won the 2020 presidential election. “Everyone who’s listening, do not be quiet,” the Republican told Fox News viewers. “We cannot allow this to happen before our very eyes.”

    On Dec. 11, McCarthy signed his name to a ridiculous legal brief, asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn election results for no reason.

    On Jan. 6, after the pro-Trump mob assaulted the Capitol, two-thirds of the House Republican conference voted against certifying President Biden’s victory. McCarthy, the would-be House Speaker, sided with his right-wing colleagues against democracy.

    On Jan. 13, McCarthy conceded that Trump “bears responsibility” for the attack on the Capitol — a position the Minority Leader espoused while pleading with members not to hold Trump responsible. […] soon after contradicted his own position.

    Also on Jan. 13, McCarthy endorsed “a fact-finding mission” related to the attack on the Capitol. He later abandoned this position, too.

    On Jan. 28, McCarthy humiliated himself by traveling to Mar-a-Lago to effectively kiss Trump’s ring.

    On March 28, McCarthy claimed he was not involved in efforts to overturn the election. CNN reported at the time that the Republican’s defense “flies in the face of reality.”

    On April 25, McCarthy tried to defend Trump’s Jan. 6 conduct with assertions that were literally unbelievable and contradicted his own earlier observations.

    On May 18, McCarthy announced his opposition to the Jan. 6 commission, despite the fact that House Democrats had already accepted his demands and reached a compromise agreement with McCarthy’s own point-person.

    On June 25, McCarthy began a public-relations campaign against a bipartisan special select committee investigating the attack on the Capitol. The p.r. effort was based entirely on absurd and misleading claims.

    On July 19, McCarthy chose five Republicans to serve on the select committee, three of whom voted against certifying the 2020 election results. The motivations behind the misguided selections were unsubtle: the GOP leader picked members who had no intention of participating in a serious and objective investigation.

    On July 21, when two of his picks were rejected — one is a potential witness, another publicly denounced the investigation he ostensibly was supposed to be part of — McCarthy announced a partisan boycott of the process he was opposed to anyway. He soon after said he was launching his own investigation, which will apparently focus on trying to blame House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for the attack.

    Leaders in difficult positions are bound to make occasional missteps, but the House Republican leader has an uninterrupted record of getting every aspect of the post-election crisis wrong.

  183. says

    Missouri Supreme Court rules in favor of Medicaid expansion

    Good news.

    The Missouri Supreme Court on Thursday ruled in favor of supporters of Medicaid expansion in the state, overturning a lower court ruling that had blocked it.

    The unanimous ruling was quickly praised by supporters of Medicaid expansion, who said it would mean that expansion can finally go forward in the state after a long battle.

    “As a result of the Supreme Court’s ruling, Missourians across the state will finally be able to realize the health and economic benefits of Medicaid expansion,” the Missouri Budget Project said in a statement. “State after state has shown that in addition to providing insurance to those eligible, expansion is a fiscal and economic boon to state economies and budgets.”

    An estimated 275,000 people in Missouri could gain coverage under the expansion of Medicaid’s eligibility.

    Voters passed a ballot question last year approving the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, but GOP Gov. Mike Parson said in May he would not implement it after Republicans in the state legislature declined to provide funding for it.

    Supporters then sued to seek implementation. A[…]

    Missouri would be the 38th state to expand Medicaid, with 12 states still holding out.

  184. says

    Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s lawyers say the new revelations show the FBI investigation into Justice Kavanaugh was a sham.

    ‘Not only did the FBI refuse to interview Dr. Ford or the corroborators….it failed to act on the over 4,500 tips it received about then-nominee Kavanaugh’.

    Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) says the FBI ran a ‘fake tip line that never got properly reviewed, that was presumably not even conducted in good faith’.”

  185. says

    There’s been a shooting in DC, near the restaurant Le Diplomate.

    #Breaking @DCPoliceDept confirm 2 adult males shot, both are conscious and breathing, 1 male shot in the arm 1 shot in the chest.

    #Breaking per @MikevWUSA law enforcement sources
    Shooting appears to be TARGETED, not random
    Call initially came in of someone shooting at another person, chasing after them
    LOOKOUT for black sedan which fled the scene”

    Jim Acosta from CNN has video from nearby – you can hear the shots.

  186. says

    I was inside Mexicue [DC restaurant where one person was shot] tonight when this happened. I am safe. But I thought I was going to die. It was the scariest moment of my life. Every day people feel the way I did, texting my parents that I love them. I’ve never been angrier at my country for allowing this shit to go on.”

  187. tomh says

    WaPo:
    Mississippi asks Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade in upcoming case

    By Robert Barnes
    July 22, 2021

    Mississippi is asking the Supreme Court to overrule Roe v. Wade in order to uphold the state’s restrictions on abortion access, and to renounce the court’s landmark holding a half-century ago that the Constitution protects a woman’s right to obtain an abortion.

    The state’s bold request is in a brief filed Thursday that seeks to persuade the court it should approve a law that would ban most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, far earlier than now allowed…

    Mississippi’s Republican attorney general, Lynn Fitch, said in the filing that the court should junk its 1973 ruling in Roe and a subsequent 1992 endorsement of abortion rights in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. That decision said states may not place an undue burden on a woman’s right to choose an abortion before fetal viability, which is generally thought to be after 24 weeks or later….

    …the brief emphasizes the potential presented in the case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the most direct challenge to abortion rights at the Supreme Court in decades.

    Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said Mississippi was employing an “extreme and regressive strategy” with a goal of outlawing abortion not just in the state, but also across the country.

    “If Roe falls, half the states in the country are poised to ban abortion entirely, Northup said in a statement. “Women of child-bearing age in the U.S. have never known a world in which they don’t have this basic right, and we will keep fighting to make sure they never will.”

    Northup’s organization represents the Jackson, Miss., organization, the state’s only abortion clinic. Its brief is due at the Supreme Court in September….

    The Supreme Court is likely to hear arguments in November or December. A decision next year would come amid midterm congressional elections.

  188. tomh says

    Followup to #235
    A NYT analysis shows that ten states have passed so-called trigger laws, which would automatically ban all abortions when Roe is overturned. Twelve more are considered highly likely to pass new abortion bans once Roe is gone.

  189. lumipuna says

    Some general thoughts on Covid-19 and vaccination:

    Over the last couple months, I’ve seen countless mentions in US media and social media of the reports that vast majority (some 98-99 %) of people dying of Covid-19 in US are unvaccinated (implicitly, by their own choice at this point). This figure usually isn’t contrasted with how many US people actually are unvaccinated, though I gather it’s much less than half in high risk adults (ie. the people who usually die from from Covid-19).

    Obviously, this topic wasn’t relevant earlier in the spring, when not all adults (or even all high risk adults) had access to vaccination yet. Presumably, when the vaccination campaign started, 100 % of people dying from Covid-19 were unvaccinated.

    Now, in this article I saw:

    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/jul/22/us-coronavirus-covid-unvaccinated-hospital-rates-vaccines

    At least 99% of those in the US who died of coronavirus in the last six months had not been vaccinated, Dr Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has said.

    Why last six months? AFAIK, the people who died during this period mostly died in January/February, when deaths were still very high and vaccination was scarce. It’s not very representative of the current US situation, I think. Presumably, great majority of deaths are still in unvaccinated people, but not as much as 99 %.

    In general, these figures do show that vaccination is highly effective in preventing deaths. Especially if it is true that high risk people do have a really high vaccination rate, higher than the general adult population. Recently, some report from UK allegedly claimed that slightly over half of the deaths in some study were in fact vaccinated people. This bit has been doing rounds as anti-vaccine propaganda, and it does seem somewhat odd to me. Then again, perhaps nearly all high risk people in UK are vaccinated?

    In US, it’s probably less than “nearly all”, since I gather that many older Americans are politically aligned with the Covid-19 party. This would explain the relatively large number of unvaccinated people who are still dying from the disease. Apparently in UK, people’s vaccine uptake depends mainly on being young vs. old, whereas in US it often falls along party lines.

  190. says

    Fintan O’Toole in the Guardian – “Why is the Northern Ireland protocol still an issue? Actions have consequences”:

    …You can’t bake your “oven-ready” Brexit deal and then remove one of the main ingredients from the final dish. The EU has far better things to be doing than making a return trip to the hellish tedium of Brexternity. But for Frost and Johnson, impossible is nothing. Performative belligerence is not bounded by the limits of what can be achieved. Its main function, indeed, is the denial of reality….

  191. says

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

    From their morning summary:

    Indonesia has reported a record 1,566 Covid deaths – the country’s highest daily toll to date. It also recorded 49,071 new coronavirus infections.

    The Philippines is to suspend travel from Malaysia and Thailand and tighten coronavirus restrictions in Manila – including banning children from going out – in a bid to prevent Delta’s spread.

    Malaysia’s health ministry today reported 15,573 new coronavirus cases – the country’s highest daily cases since the start of the pandemic. The latest figure brings the total number of cases for Malaysia to 980,941.

    As the Olympic Games kicked off today, Tokyo reported 1,359 new Covid cases as the city battles a wave of infection. It comes after the city yesterday reported 1,979 cases – its highest number of cases since January….

  192. KG says

    Then again, perhaps nearly all high risk people in UK are vaccinated? – lumipuna@237

    Yes, they are. The vaccination programme is about the only thing the UK has got more or less right. It has worked systematically through the population from higher to lower risk, and take-up was high, especially in the highest-risk groups. Here’s a brief article from last month.

  193. says

    Guardian – “Belarus NGOs condemn government crackdown after ‘black week’ of raids”:

    The government of Belarus has launched a broad crackdown on civil society, launching raids and arrests on dozens of organisations in what has been described as a “black week” for the country’s NGOs.

    The raids, which began last week, have touched all corners of civil society, from groups that campaign for political prisoners’ rights to those that crowdfund medical care and have helped medics in the fight against coronavirus.

    The pressure follow mass arrests of opposition politicians and the closure and harassment of much of the country’s independent media, as longtime leader Alexander Lukashenko seeks to stamp out even apolitical efforts by Belarusians to self-organise.

    “It’s a total purge of civil society,” said Marina Vorobei, the founder of Freeunion[dot]online, an online platform for public unions and initiatives that helps with self-organisation and provides tools for secure networking and remote work. “NGOs have always been under pressure in Belarus … but these raids, this wave of arrests and seizures have never been seen by the non-profit sector.”

    On Thursday Lukashenko vowed that the raids on NGOs would continue, calling them “bandits and foreign agents”. “A mopping-up operation is going on,” Lukashenko said. “Do you think it’s easy? There are thousands of our people working for them, and their brains are distorted and brainwashed with foreign money.”…

  194. says

    From yesterday’s DN! headlines:

    WHO: Global COVID Cases Jumped 12% Over Past Week

    The World Health Organization says the number of new COVID cases jumped 12% across the globe last week as the highly contagious Delta variant continues to spread….

    Opioid Crisis: States Reach $26 Billion Settlement with J&J and Drug Distributors

    The nation’s three largest drug distributors and pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson have agreed to pay states $26 billion to settle thousands of lawsuits over their role in the opioid crisis. A bipartisan group of state attorneys general announced the agreement on Wednesday. At least two states — Washington and West Virginia — have already signaled they will not sign on to the settlement. As part of the agreement, the companies do not have to acknowledge wrongdoing for their role in the crisis, which has killed over 500,000 people since 1999.

    Four Colombian Mercenaries Tied to Moïse Assassination Were Trained at Fort Benning in U.S.

    The Pentagon has confirmed four of the Colombian mercenaries accused of assassinating Haitian President Jovenel Moïse once received U.S. military training at Fort Benning in Georgia while they were members of the Colombian armed forces. Formerly known as the School of the Americas, the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation at Fort Benning has been used for decades to train Latin American soldiers in combat, counterinsurgency and counternarcotics. Critics have long described the training center as the “School of the Assassins.”

    Argentina Issues Gender-Neutral ID Cards in First for Latin America

    Argentina has become the first country in Latin America to allow gender nonconforming citizens to use the gender-neutral “X” marker on their passports and national ID documents. Argentine President Alberto Fernández spoke at a ceremony Wednesday where the first nonbinary ID cards were issued.

    President Alberto Fernández: “We have the need to open our heads to realize there are other ways to love and be loved, and there are other identities apart from the identity of a man or a woman, and they should be respected. And they’ve always existed, only that in other times they were hidden.”

    Federal Courts Block Anti-Trans Laws in Arkansas and West Virginia

    Here in the United States, federal courts have temporarily blocked an Arkansas law banning gender confirming healthcare for transgender youth, as well as a West Virginia law banning trans student athletes. The ruling in the West Virginia case came after an 11-year-old trans student named Becky Pepper-Jackson sued the state after she was barred from trying out for the girls cross country team at her middle school. In a statement on Wednesday, Becky said, “It hurt that the State of West Virginia would try to block me from pursuing my dreams. I just want to play.”

    Israel Asks U.S. States to Probe Ben & Jerry’s for Violating Anti-BDS Laws

    The Israeli government is launching a legal attack against Ben and Jerry’s over the company’s plan to stop selling ice cream in illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank as well as in occupied East Jerusalem. Israel’s ambassador to the United States has asked 35 U.S. governors to enforce state laws which make it a crime to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, or BDS. Meanwhile, Republican Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma has called on his state to block the sale of Ben and Jerry’s, claiming the company’s new policy violates Oklahoma’s anti-BDS law. Ben & Jerry’s has said that continuing to sell ice cream in the settlements would be “inconsistent with our values.”

    [AFAIK, these laws, while entirely dubious, don’t criminalize support for BDS, which would be blatantly unconstitutional.]

    Report: Government Informants Played Key Roles in Plot to Kidnap Michigan Governor

    BuzzFeed has revealed confidential government informants played a critical role in the foiled plot to kidnap and take hostage Michigan’s Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer last year. Authorities have arrested 14 men in what prosecutors described as a “deeply disturbing” plot. The government’s case relied on the work of at least 12 confidential informants, including many under the direction of the FBI. BuzzFeed reports the informants had a “hand in nearly every aspect of the alleged plot, starting with its inception. The extent of their involvement raises questions as to whether there would have even been a conspiracy without them.” All of the 14 men who have been arrested have pleaded not guilty.

    Texas Starts Jailing Immigrants on State Charges After Crossing U.S. Border [headline needs work]

    The state of Texas has begun jailing immigrants who cross the U.S. border by charging them with state crimes such as trespassing as part of a new anti-immigrant push by Republican Governor Greg Abbott. On Wednesday, Texas authorities announced three immigrants have been jailed so far in the town of Dilley, but the number of arrests is expected to soar in coming weeks.

    Biden Taps Leading Antitrust Attorney to Key DOJ Post

    President Biden has announced plans to nominate one of the nation’s leading antitrust attorneys, Jonathan Kanter, to lead the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division. Senator Elizabeth Warren praised the decision, saying it was “tremendous news for workers and consumers.” Since taking office, Biden has tapped three leading critics of Big Tech to top positions: Kanter at the DOJ, Lina Khan to head the Federal Trade Commission and Tim Wu at the National Economic Council.

    Head of U.N. Climate Talks: Nations “Must Consign Coal Power to History”

    The president of the upcoming U.N. climate talks in the United Kingdom has urged nations to ban the burning of coal as part of an effort to reduce carbon emissions. Alok Sharma spoke to the journalism collaboration Covering Climate Now.

    Alok Sharma: “I’ve been very clear that I want COP 26 to be the COP where we consign coal power to history. And actually, we are seeing some movements. I mean, if I talk about the U.K.’s own journey when it comes to coal power, you know, back in 2012, less than 10 years ago, 40% of our electricity was coming from coal; we are now at less than 2%. We brought forward the date to 2024 by which we will be coal-free in our electricity mix.”

    The U.K. will host the next U.N. climate conference in November in Glasgow, Scotland.

    3 Die in Iran Protests Sparked by Historic Drought

    In southwestern Iran, at least three people have died in protests sparked by a massive water shortage. Protesters have taken to the streets for the past seven days. Iran is facing its worst drought in 50 years amid soaring summer temperatures.

    Toronto Police Arrest 26 While Evicting Unhoused Residents at Encampment

    In Canada, police in Toronto arrested 26 people Wednesday as authorities forcibly evicted unhoused residents living in an encampment near Lamport Stadium. According to the Encampment Support Network, several people who were trying to stop the evictions were hospitalized with injuries.

  195. blf says

    Recently, in the This cannot end well, Tennessee thread here at FtB, poopyhead took Tennessee’s thugs (Republicans) to task for effectively prohibiting all (adolescent) vaccination outreach programmes, and almost abolishing the state’s Dept of Health. Unsurprisingly, there is a wider push by the thugs to severely limit what each individual state’s Dept of Health can do, Republican bid to limit health officials could cause ‘preventable tragedies’ — experts (Grauniad edits in {curly braces}):

    At least nine states have considered emergency power limitation legislation proposed by conservative organization Alec

    Republican lawmakers across more than a dozen states are working to limit the powers of local health departments in ways experts say is likely to lead to “preventable tragedies” during disease outbreaks, including the Covid-19 pandemic.

    The attempts to limit the emergency powers of public health agencies comes alongside harassment of individual public health workers, renewed concern about the spread of the highly transmissible Covid-19 Delta variant, and a flagging US vaccination campaign.

    “The supposed rationale is that a lot happened during Covid. People didn’t like being restricted so much,” said Lori Tremmel Freeman, CEO at the National Association of County and City Health Officials (Naccho).

    “But if these laws and pieces of legislation stand beyond the pandemic we have a big problem,” she said. “They basically handcuff health officials from being able to use century-long mitigation measures.”

    Montana barred local health authorities from quarantining people suspected of being exposed to or infected with a contagious disease. That ends an infection control measure used since at least the plague, known as the “Black Death”, hit Italian cities in the 14th century.

    North Dakota banned state health authorities from requiring a face covering for any reason, a measure that could impact diseases such as tuberculosis. Florida gave the governor sweeping power to invalidate any local emergency order. Kansas removed the governor’s ability to close businesses during a public health emergency.

    Together, at least 15 states are considering new limits to local public health authorities’ power in ways likely to diminish local expertise, the ability to locally tailor restrictions and lead to more politicized responses.

    […]

    “I can safely say I have not in my experience seen the assault on public health officials, and threats and worse across the country, and I’ve never seen this wholesale attack on public health authority … in the context of emergency response,” [national director of the Network for Public Health Law, Donna] Levin said.

    Lawmakers across at least nine states have zeroed in on the emergency powers of health departments to limit how people gather in places such as churches, schools and businesses. Conservative model legislation has described these limitations as orders that infringe on the rights of private parties [very loonytarian!].

    Many of the limits on public health measures have also come with the imprimatur of one of the most powerful and well-financed conservative legislative machines in the country — the American Legislative Exchange Council (Alec).

    At least nine states have considered emergency power limitation legislation proposed by Alec that could directly limit public health response, a report by Naccho found. Those states — Arizona, Idaho, Kentucky, Montana, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Utah, Virginia and Washington — lean conservative or purple.

    Alec began circulating model legislation related to Covid-19 as early as last April. The emergency powers legislation was first published in 2020 December. Since then, experts said attempts to limit the emergency powers of health departments have become more concerted and widespread as the pandemic has marched on, with states such as Missouri curtailing the emergency powers of health departments in June.

    [… details about Alec…]

    Alec’s primary model for consolidating power in state capitals is through “pre-emption”, or banning any locality except the state from legislating on an issue. Alec has used this strategy across issues as wide-ranging as workers’ rights to environmental protections.

    “This is an organization that is all about consolidating power in the state, particularly in conservative states,” said Kim Haddow, a strategic consultant for the Local Solutions Support Center (LSSC), a group that works to maintain the democratic rights of cities, counties and other municipalities.

    That, Haddow said, allows Alec to deal directly with state legislators who tend to be “disproportionately representative of white, rural areas”, rather than thousands of localities. Pre-emption also denies urban centers, which tend to be more racially diverse and lean Democratic, the ability to enact progressive reform.

    “Around the pandemic, {Alec} took advantage and exploited the ability to take away more local power,” said Haddow. “People are saying why vote” if states constantly pre-empt local legislation, she said. “Well, why indeed?”

    Missouri is one of the states working to limit the power of public health authorities. In June, its Republican governor, Mike Parson, signed legislation to limit public health orders to 30 days in a statewide emergency, and 21 days when there is no state declaration. A local governing body then has to vote to renew such restrictions.

    Parson was a speaker at Alec’s 2020 conference, which was forced to go digital after Florida, where they planned to hold the in-person conference, became the center of an outbreak.

    “There is a longstanding discomfort with public health at its core, but Covid-19 has been immediately politicized in a way other health issues weren’t,” said Dr Elvin Geng, an infectious disease expert at Washington University in St Louis, Missouri.

    Missouri is also among states now experiencing the most significant outbreak of Covid-19 since spring 2021, when a fast-moving vaccination campaign and social distancing led to the lowest rates of new infections since the pandemic began.

    […]

    “Local control is critical because epidemics are heterogenous in severity and timing,” said Geng. Missouri is currently experiencing one of the worst Covid-19 outbreaks in the nation.

    [… Missouri] ranks last in public health funding, and spent just $7 a person on public health measures in 2020, an analysis by the State Health Access Data and Assistance Center, a state-focused health research center found.

    “Health and guidance and orders were not seen for what they were,” said Tremmel Freeman [Naccho’s CEO], “which was trying to protect the health and wellbeing of the community.”

    For some rare good news about Missouri, see Lynna@230.

  196. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    Australia’s most populous state declares ‘national emergency’ over Covid outbreak

    Naaman Zhou

    Australia’s most populous state has declared a “national emergency” as it struggles to contain a record-breaking surge of the Delta variant of Covid-19 amid a lockdown affecting half the country.

    The state of New South Wales announced 136 new locally-acquired cases of Covid-19 on Friday, with continued community transmission among essential workers, including in supermarkets and pharmacies.

    More than a year after the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, NSW has broken records for daily case numbers on consecutive days, and the city of Sydney is under the strictest lockdown measures it has ever experienced.

    More than 13 million Australians – approximately half the country’s population – are currently under some form of lockdown or restriction, including the states of Victoria and South Australia.

  197. johnson catman says

    re blf @244: The republicans in the US are determined to kill as many people as possible in the name of “freedumb” at the expense of public health. My greatest hope is that the majority of those killed will be individuals who vote for republicans. Unfortunately, there are bound to be people killed who disagree with those “freedumb” principles.

  198. blf says

    Via la France! Here’s an amusing (since, in this case, no-one was hurt, fortunately) way to obtain cafe, French drivers pull over to grab coffee after capsule spill (possibly paywalled):

    Drivers in eastern France got a surprise coffee fix on Friday after hundreds of capsules scattered onto a highway in a traffic accident, prompting quick pullovers by people who snatched up as many boxes as they could.

    A truck carrying the capsules was involved in an accident after swerving to avoid vehicles that were stopped to wait for riders in the Tour d’Alsace bicycle race to pass near Sierentz, a town near the German border, south of Mulhouse.

    “He managed to avoid them but it forced open the entire right side of his trailer, spreading out Nespresso capsules over 400 to 500 metres,” said Eric Chevallier, head of the regional highway patrol division.

    […]

    A video from a passing driver, tweeted by Info Traffic Alsace, showed more than a dozen cars parked on the emergency lane as passengers seized the chance to load up with armfuls of boxes.

    “It didn’t last too long because afterwards we arrived at the scene. I think people saw they were Nespresso capsules, and given their price they said ‘let’s help ourselves’,” Chevallier said.

    Nobody was hurt and no fines were issued, he said.

    I’m not very keen on paying Nestlé anything, and have been boycotting them since the last millennium. So I’m not at all bothered by them not getting paid in these circumstances. I am bothered that these were capsules, which don’t seem environmentally friendly, albeit the issue is complex (e.g., Turns out coffee pods are actually pretty good for the environment (2019); and The good, the bad and the ugly: sustainability at Nespresso (2015, “The single-serve coffee maker supports growers, but also creates a lot of waste. Its story illustrates the power and limitations of corporate sustainability programs”)).

  199. says

    From today’s DN! headlines:

    Tokyo Olympics Kick Off Amid COVID Surge, Protests; Italy Unveils New Pass for Vaccinated People

    As the opening ceremony for the Summer Olympics kicked off in Tokyo today in a mostly empty stadium, COVID-19 cases linked to the games rose to 110. Thirteen athletes are among the positive cases. The majority of Tokyo residents opposed the Olympics going ahead amid a surge of coronavirus infections. We’ll have more on this after headlines.

    In other coronavirus news, Italy has introduced a “green pass,” which restricts entry to stadiums, museums, theaters, indoor restaurants and other social gathering places to only vaccinated people.

    Missouri Hospital Worker Warns COVID Surge Will Get Worse; 20% of L.A.’s Cases Are Vaccinated People

    Here in the U.S., Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky warned the country is at another “pivotal moment” in the pandemic, urging unvaccinated people yet again to get inoculated to protect themselves and their communities. Hospitals in areas with the largest spikes in cases are warning things are likely to get much worse….

    Meanwhile, in California, Los Angeles officials said 20% of new cases are now being reported in vaccinated people as the Delta variant has taken hold….

    U.S. Imposes New Cuba Sanctions as 400+ Noted Activists, Political Figures Call for End to Embargo

    The Biden administration has imposed new sanctions on Cuba’s defense minister and the Interior Ministry, with President Biden warning, “This is just the beginning.” The move comes in response to recent anti-government protests denouncing the economic crisis during the pandemic and reports of government repression. People have been scrambling to cope amid shortages of medicine, food and other resources largely due to catastrophic U.S. sanctions. Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez denounced the sanctions as “unfounded and slanderous” and said the U.S. should enforce such measures on itself instead “because of daily acts of police repression and brutality.” This comes as over 400 politicians, intellectuals, clergy members, artists, activists and former heads of state are calling on Biden to immediately lift the 243 sanctions the Trump administration imposed on Cuba. The group — which includes former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Noam Chomsky and Cornel West — printed a full-page ad in today’s New York Times headlined “Let Cuba Live.”

    Rep. Hank Johnson, Prominent Black Voting Rights Advocates Arrested at Pro-Democracy Demonstration

    Congressmember and Congressional Black Caucus Whip Hank Johnson was arrested Thursday alongside prominent African American voting rights advocates as they protested ongoing attacks on democracy in front of a Senate building….

    Indian Farmworkers Renew Protests Against Neoliberal Agricultural Reforms

    In India, over 200 farmers launched a sit-in and led a protest near the Parliament in New Delhi Thursday marking some eight months of resistance against three pro-corporate agricultural laws enacted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Farmers are continuing to pressure Modi’s government to repeal the laws, which deregulate agricultural markets and roll back key labor and income protections. Millions of farmers and opponents of the reforms have staged multiple strikes across India since at least last November. Agriculture is the leading source of income for more than half of India’s 1.3 billion population.

    South Africa Updates Death Toll from Unrest to at Least 337 People

    In South Africa, the death toll in recent anti-government protests has risen to at least 337 people. Thousands of others have been arrested. The demonstrations erupted after former President Jacob Zuma began his 15-month jail sentence for refusing to testify in a corruption probe. They’ve since focused on grinding poverty and record levels of unemployment, exacerbated by the pandemic.

    20 Refugees Likely Dead After Mediterranean Shipwreck

    At least 20 refugees are presumed to have drowned off the coast of Libya in the Mediterranean Sea Wednesday. This week alone, the Libyan Coast Guard has intercepted seven vessels and apprehended hundreds of refugees, including children, as they attempted to reach Europe for safety. Amnesty International reports that in the first half of this year, over 7,000 refugees have been apprehended and forcibly returned to prison camps in Libya. Meanwhile, the number of refugees who have died while attempting to reach European soil by sea has more than doubled compared to the first six months of 2020. So far this year, over 1,100 people have perished.

    U.S. Launches Airstrikes in Afghanistan; House Votes to Issue More Special Visas for Afghans

    The Pentagon said it launched overnight airstrikes against Taliban targets in Kandahar, Afghanistan, Thursday. U.S. officials say they will continue to conduct airstrikes until they complete their withdrawal at the end of August, and that most of the recent strikes in Afghanistan came from unmanned drones.

    In related news, the U.S. House overwhelmingly passed a bill Thursday to provide 8,000 more special visas for Afghans who worked as interpreters, contractors and security personnel for the U.S. during its occupation. The visas will also cover their families.

    House Cmte. Considers AOC’s Public Banking Proposal to Democratize Financial Services

    The House Committee on Financial Services held one of its first hearings on public banking this week. New York Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who last year introduced the Public Banking Act with Congressmember Rashida Tlaib, said public banks would help support local economies and infrastructure, and help combat inequality and structural racism in the banking industry. But most states and cities have to rely on commercial banks because there is no public option….

    UNESCO Refrains from Listing Great Barrier Reef as “In Danger” Despite Major Climate-Induced Damage

    UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee has decided not to designate Australia’s Great Barrier Reef as being “in danger.” Australia had been feverishly lobbying to avoid the label, which would have meant the site is at risk of losing its World Heritage status. Extreme ocean temperatures due to the climate crisis have caused the reef to degrade, including extensive coral bleaching. UNESCO’s decision will be reconsidered in 2022.

  200. blf says

    The French anti-Health Pass protestors will be back this weekend. According to Health passport protesters back on the streets of Paris this weekend (possibly paywalled), at least in Paris, the protests will actually be “yellow vest” (see @212), and are “expected to be small by French standards”.

    However, “following President Emmanuel Macron’s TV address on July 12th, nearly six million people have booked vaccine appointments. More than 300,000 appointments have been made every day over the past week.”

  201. blf says

    US prosperity weakened by COVID-19, mass shootings, report finds:

    […]
    The COVID-19 crisis has weakened prosperity in the United States, but even before the pandemic, mass shootings, elevated obesity levels and mental health issues had taken their toll on Americans’ quality of life, a report by the Legatum Institute published Thursday showed.

    The US remains one of the most prosperous countries in the world, ranking 18 out of 167 nations, the conservative-leaning, London-based think-tank said in its 2021 United States Prosperity Index.

    The index, which Legatum publishes annually, measures US prosperity using 11 pillars: safety and security, personal freedom, governance, social capital, business environment, infrastructure, economic quality, living conditions, health, education and natural environment.

    But while prosperity in the US has been on the rise for more than a decade, it remains unevenly distributed, Legatum’s report found. And “even before the pandemic, other factors were acting as a brake on progress”, Legatum’s Director of Policy Stephen Brien wrote, citing “increases in suicides, drug overdose deaths and poor self-reported mental health” that have led the US to slide in the index’s health ranking.

    In addition, “the rise in mass killings and injuries over the past decade has devastated many communities” and led to a worsening ranking in the index’s safety and security pillar.

    “The United States ranks 122nd globally for mass killings and injuries (including terrorism), just below Eritrea and just above Iran,” the report found, pointing out that “more than half of the 50 states have been subject to at least one mass shooting in every year since 2013”.

    […]

    The rate of homelessness increased by 2.2 percent between 2019 and 2020, the report found, citing data from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. By 2020, 18 Americans out of every 10,000 were homeless — the equivalent of 550,000 people or roughly the entire population of the state of Wyoming.

    […]

  202. says

    SC @238: “Performative belligerence is not bounded by the limits of what can be achieved. Its main function, indeed, is the denial of reality….” Quite right. That description, which was applied to some U.K. politicians, is so apt for some doofuses in the USA. “Performative belligerence” aptly describes Jim Jordan, Matt Gaetz, Marjorie Taylor Greene and so many others. I am reminded of congressman Eric Swalwell comparing some of his Republican colleagues to World Wrestling Federation (WWF) stars who are good at faking a fight, and good at bombast. It’s all show, with very little substance.

    Unfortunately, other people take their performative belligerence seriously, and then you end up with insurrectionists attacking the Capitol.

    Like Liz Cheney said to Jim Jordan, “You fucking did this.”

  203. says

    SQB @254, we don’t embed YouTube videos in this thread. Too many embedded videos can make the thread too slow to load. Next time, please include a YouTube link that is encased in the usual html brackets defining a link.

  204. tomh says

    Axios:
    Alabama governor: “It’s time to start blaming the unvaccinated folks”
    Kierra Frazier
    3 hours ago

    A frustrated Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) told reporters Thursday that “it’s time to start blaming the unvaccinated folks, not the regular folks” for the state’s continued surge in new COVID-19 cases.

    Alabama has reported nearly 8,000 new cases of COVID-19 over the past week. It’s one of the few states in the country with fewer than 40% of residents fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

    “Let’s be crystal clear about this issue. And media, I want you to start reporting the facts,” Ivey said. “The new cases of COVID are because of unvaccinated folks.”

    “Almost 100% of the new hospitalizations are with unvaccinated folks. And the deaths are certainly occurring with the unvaccinated folks. These folks are choosing a horrible lifestyle of self-inflicted pain,” she continued.

    “Folks are supposed to have common sense. But it’s time to start blaming the unvaccinated folks, not the vaccinated folks. It’s the unvaccinated folks that are letting us down. I’ve done all I know how to do. I can encourage you to do something but I can’t make you take care of yourself.”

  205. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    Greek authorities have turned to the leaders of the country’s Orthodox Church to urge those hesitant to get the vaccine to get jabbed.

    The New York Times reports that health minister Vassilis Kikilias and the government’s chief epidemiologist, Sotiris Tsiodras, have also visited the church’s Holy Synod to ask Archbishop Ieronymos to censure vaccine-sceptic priests.

    After the visit, the church sent a message to its clergy this week saying vaccination against Covid is “the greatest act of responsibility toward one’s fellow human being” and casting the jab as “a gift from God”.

    Some clerics have been using sermons to bolster vaccine hesitancy, the NYT reports, and others have warned inoculated churchgoers would be denied holy communion.

    One priest in Halkidiki, northern Greece, has reportedly banned vaccinated and masked worshipers from attending his services, while another in nearby Thessaloniki told his faithful not to get the vaccine and to defy Covid curbs.

    Only 44% of Greece’s nearly 11 million citizens are fully vaccinated, with healthcare workers to be required to get the shots. Businesses are reportedly to be given the choice state whether or not they would host only vaccinated customers, with the reward being that they could operate at a higher capacity.

  206. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    Two hospitals in Florida reportedly have more Covid than at any point during the pandemic.

    The New York Times reports that more than 140 people at two University of Florida hospitals in Jacksonville are admitted with the virus, a tenfold increase over five weeks — and the highest number of Covid patients so far at any one time.

    Last month, the number of Covid-19 patients was down to 14 in total. “It’s very frustrating,” said Dr Leon Haley, the chief executive of UF Health Jacksonville, told the NYT. “Each day we continue to go up. There’s no sense of when things are going to curtail themselves. People are stretched thin.”

    He added: “If we were able to get more people vaccinated earlier than this … We probably wouldn’t be here.”

  207. says

    Vice – “Breast Cancer Patient Attacked by Violent Anti-Mask Protest Outside Clinic”:

    A breast cancer patient says she was sprayed with bear mace, physically assaulted, and verbally abused outside a cancer treatment center in West Hollywood, Los Angeles by far-right activists who were angry over the clinic’s mandatory mask policy.

    Dozens of anti-maskers holding signs with anti-vaxx and QAnon-adjacent conspiracy theories amassed on the sidewalk by the Cedars-Sinai Breast Health Services building on Thursday afternoon, and harassed patients and doctors.

    In one exchange captured by local videographer Vishal Singh, a woman who has since publicly identified herself as Kate Burns, a cancer patient, approached the protesters and told them to leave.

    “I get treated here, get the fuck away,” Burns said.

    One protester, who was filming the scene on his phone, asked her why she was so angry, as a man holding a cardboard sign saying “End the Censorship of Vaccine Risks” smirked.

    “Because I’ve just gone through fucking breast cancer,” Burns said. “And you motherfuckers are here.”

    “That has nothing to do with you,” one man replied. “We’re trying to help.”

    “You are protesting a breast cancer fucking center. It has everything to do with me and my community,” Burns said. “Do you know anything about chemotherapy? Do you know what happens to the immune system?”

    Protesters then ask her if she’s familiar with the Civil Rights Act. “Get on the right side of history,” one man says. “You’ve got a lot of anger you need to release. It’s a very dangerous emotion.”

    Tensions continued to rise as more far-right, anti-maskers arrived on the scene. A small group of anti-fascists also arrived, and got into altercations with the far-right. A woman holding a megaphone shoved Burns, and then punched her several times. Burns said, on social media, that the woman hit her in the chest and struck her scars.

    Thursday was the second time that anti-maskers had targeted that particular breast cancer clinic over its mask policy. The ugly scenes and casual political violence that unfolded there on both occasions have become troublingly common across the U.S.

    California in particular has emerged as a hotspot for that type of activity. Just last weekend, Proud Boy associates joined far-right conspiracy theorists outside Wi Spa in LA’s Korea Town, as part of an ongoing protest against the spa’s nondiscrimination policy of accommodating the needs of transgender guests. Reporters at the scene of the spa were assaulted, dozens were arrested, and police later located weapons scattered across the site including knives, pepper spray and stun guns. A protest at the same location earlier this month resulted in two stabbings….

  208. blf says

    lumipuna@257, “what’s the HTML code […] for a video link?”

    Exactly the same as any other link: <a href="URL">text (e.g., title)</a>

    Under some conditions the “raw” URL can be used, but I don’t recommend it. E.g., for videos (e.g., Youtube), the URLs are meaningless, and is also (one of) the ways the video itself can be embedded.

  209. says

    A mask is an aerosol filter. It takes an act of political imagination to make it anything else.

    Something has been tugging at my mind for a bit, it was the timing of Trump’s references to bleach and UV. I think he got a talk on disinfectants and I’m still trying to figure out the impulse that led to him thinking they could be used internally.

  210. says

    Re: SC 262
    “You’ve got a lot of anger you need to release. It’s a very dangerous emotion.”
    The cancer survivor was clearly expressing justified anger in a controlled manner, and the mask paranoid person just ignored the content of the anger and attacked the anger.

    They can’t deal with justified anger. They have to be the ones controlling the anger. My parents are the same. Anger for them, not for me. Instead of engaging with my anger after a lifetime of responding to theirs they tried to get me to post more nice things on facebook.

    We can win this.

  211. says

    AP – “AP-NORC poll: Most unvaccinated Americans don’t want shots”:

    Most Americans who haven’t been vaccinated against COVID-19 say they are unlikely to get the shots and doubt they would work against the aggressive delta variant despite evidence they do, according to a new poll that underscores the challenges facing public health officials amid soaring infections in some states.

    Among American adults who have not yet received a vaccine, 35% say they probably will not, and 45% say they definitely will not, according to a poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Just 3% say they definitely will get the shots, though another 16% say they probably will.

    What’s more, 64% of unvaccinated Americans have little to no confidence the shots are effective against variants — including the delta variant that officials say is responsible for 83% of new cases in the U.S. — despite evidence that they offer strong protection. In contrast, 86% of those who have already been vaccinated have at least some confidence that the vaccines will work.

    That means “that there will be more preventable cases, more preventable hospitalizations and more preventable deaths,” said Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease specialist at Johns Hopkins University.

    “We always knew some proportion of the population would be difficult to persuade no matter what the data showed, (and) a lot of people are beyond persuasion,” said Adalja. He echoed Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky in calling the current surge “a pandemic of the unvaccinated” because nearly all hospital admissions and deaths have been among those who weren’t immunized.

    The AP-NORC survey was conducted before several Republicans and conservative cable news personalities this week urged people to get vaccinated after months of stoking hesitancy. That effort comes as COVID-19 cases nearly tripled in the U.S. over the past two weeks.

    Nationally, 56.4% of all Americans, including children, have received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to the CDC. And White House officials said Thursday that vaccinations are beginning to increase in some states where rates are lagging behind and COVID-19 cases are rising, including in Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Missouri and Nevada.

    Still, just over 40% of Louisiana’s population has received at least one dose, and the state reported 5,388 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday — the third-highest single-day figure since the pandemic began. Hospitalizations also rose steeply in the last month.

    And overall, Republicans are far more likely than Democrats to say they have not been vaccinated and definitely or probably won’t be, 43% to 10%. Views are also divided along age and education lines: Thirty-seven percent of those under age 45 say they haven’t and likely won’t get the shots, compared with just 16% of those older. And those without college degrees are more likely than those with them to say they aren’t and won’t be vaccinated, 30% to 18%.

    …A large majority of Americans, 66%, continue to approve of how Biden is handling the pandemic — higher than Biden’s overall approval rating of 59%.

    The AP-NORC poll of 1,308 adults was conducted July 15-19 using a sample drawn from NORC’s probability-based AmeriSpeak Panel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.

  212. blf says

    Re Brony@264, On the possible source of hair furor’s bleach (actually, disinfectant) and UV crackpot ideas, Leader behind bleach ‘miracle cure’ claims Trump consumed his product (June 2021):

    […]
    The leader of a spurious church which peddled industrial bleach as a “miracle cure” for Covid-19 is claiming that he provided Donald Trump with the product in the White House shortly before the former president made his notorious remarks about using “disinfectant” to treat the disease.

    Mark Grenon, the self-styled “archbishop” of the Genesis II “church”, has given an interview from his prison cell in Colombia as he awaits extradition to the US to face criminal charges that he fraudulently sold bleach as a Covid cure. In the 90-minute interview he effectively presents himself as the source of Trump’s fixation with the healing powers of disinfectant.

    […]

    Grenon had previously revealed that he had written to Trump in the White House in the days leading up to the disinfectant episode, urging him to promote the healing powers of chlorine dioxide. But in the new interview Grenon goes considerably further, claiming that the bleach, which carries serious health warnings from federal agencies, was actually put into the hands of the then president who consumed it.

    […]

    Why Trump suddenly embraced bleach as a possible Covid treatment has remained one of the mysteries of his presidency. Now Grenon claims that it was his product, marketed as Miracle Mineral Solution or “MMS”, that lay behind it.

    […]

    The US Food and Drug Administration has made it clear that drinking MMS is the same as drinking bleach. It warns that consumption can cause severe vomiting, diarrhea and low-blood pressure that can be life-threatening.

    The FDA describes MMS as a “powerful bleach typically used for industrial water treatment or bleaching textiles, pulp and paper”.

    In the video, Grenon repeats false claims that chlorine dioxide solution cures Covid. We tried it with Covid — six drops every two hours for the first and second day. Boom! Gone, negative. You’re feeling great from feeling like you’re going to die — it works great, he says.

    Use of bleach as a miracle cure has proliferated across Latin America during the pandemic. Fiona O’Leary, a campaigner against pseudoscience, told the Guardian that MMS peddlers were using Trump’s comments on disinfectant as a marketing tool.

    […]

    There’s no compelling reason to believe Grenon — e.g., it seems rather unlikely security would let bottles of a mysterious substance into the Wacko House.

    Politico thinks it was a case of hair furor misunderstanding what he was told just before the briefing, It’s been exactly one year since Trump suggested injecting bleach. We’ve never been the same (April 2021):

    […] The Covid task force had met earlier that day — as usual, without Trump — to discuss the most recent findings, including the effects of light and humidity on how the virus spreads. Trump was briefed by a small group of aides. But it was clear to some aides that he hadn’t processed all the details before he left to speak to the press.

    “A few of us actually tried to stop it in the West Wing hallway,” said one former senior Trump White House official. “I actually argued that President Trump wouldn’t have the time to absorb it and understand it. But I lost, and it went how it did.”

  213. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 262

    “You’ve got a lot of anger you need to release. It’s a very dangerous emotion.”

    It’s a common tactic on the right to cast their opponents as being “angry” or “hysterical” while they are coming to their position out of calm reason or even happiness and optimism. (Of course, on the other hand, their anger is completely justifiable.)

  214. blf says

    Angry Brazilians dress as reptiles for their Covid jabs to mock Bolsonaro:

    […]
    Last year [alleged-president Jair] Bolsonaro, who has disrupted vaccination efforts by buying insufficient vaccines and refusing to get one himself, claimed sarcastically that Pfizer’s shot might turn recipients into alligators. In response to that notorious remark, pro-science opponents, furious at Bolsonaro’s denialist conduct, have been getting vaccinated clad as different kinds of reptiles.

    Most come as the jacaré: the scaly alligator native to several parts of Brazil, including the Amazon, a region which has come under growing attack from illegal loggers and miners since Bolsonaro took office in 2019.

    “My costume was a way of expressing my horror,” said Leila Fernandes, a 60-year-old educator from the city of Fortaleza whose crocodilian onesie was designed to reflect her fury at Bolsonaro’s “abhorrent” handling of the Covid epidemic, sabotage of containment measures and promotion of ineffective remedies.

    “I lost my mother-in-law, the husband of my niece and several close friends. You’ll struggle to find a family that hasn’t lost a loved one,” Fernandes said. “We cannot forget what this president fellow has done … So many Brazilians have been buried who could have escaped death but died because of the president’s impositions.”

    […]

    I suppose in the States the equivalent would be wearing a bottle of bleach with a genuine Acme UV enema machine.

  215. says

    SC @234, my daughter was within about 100 yards when this happened on July 21:

    […] in East Harlem, a 53-year-old innocent bystander was grazed in the back when gunfire erupted on Lexington Avenue and 126th Street around 4 p.m., as she walked to a friend’s house, according to cops and police sources.

    The shooter or shooters were settling a score that did not involve the victim, and fled, cops said.

    The victim was listed in stable condition.

    Link

    My daughter was not injured. That was way too close.

  216. says

    SC @271, right. I’m not over the scare yet and I wasn’t even there. My daughter used an SUV for cover. I just can’t imagine.

  217. says

    There’s no shortage of problems surrounding Arizona Republicans’ utterly ridiculous “audit” of the 2020 presidential election, but among them is the realization that Trumpified Republicans would inevitably want to export this absurd scheme elsewhere.

    As Charlie Sykes put it last month, “We can roll our eyes and treat the Arizona audit as a joke, but a clown with a flamethrower still has a flamethrower, and the danger of this is spreading from state to state.”

    It’s against this backdrop that a Republican state legislator in Texas introduced a measure this week to approve a “forensic audit” of the Lone Star State’s 2020 election results. The plan, however, comes with a twist. NBC News reported:

    The Texas Voter Confidence Act, filed by GOP Rep. Steve Toth, would authorize the governor, the lieutenant governor and the speaker of the House — all of whom are Republicans — to select an independent third party to conduct the election audit. The review would focus on the votes cast in Texas’ 13 counties with populations over 415,000.

    That second sentence stood out as especially notable. Texas Republicans had a perfectly fine election cycle in 2020 — Donald Trump carried the state, for example, and Sen. John Cornyn (R) won re-election with relative ease — but President Biden did quite well in the Lone Star State’s biggest cities, winning in areas such as Houston, Austin, and San Antonio.

    Under Steve Toth’s proposal, there would be increased scrutiny of the results, but only in areas where Republicans didn’t like the results. (Why stop at the top 13 counties? Perhaps because Texas’ 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th, and 20th largest counties voted for Donald Trump.)

    Defending his plan, the GOP legislator wrote this week, “We need a forensic audit to uncover all the voter fraud.” Of course, in reality, neither Toth nor his allies have uncovered any meaningful evidence of voter fraud that would justify the need for a “forensic audit.” […]

    Toth told the Washington Post this week that he’d support a statewide effort, he also argued the undertaking would be too expensive and time-consuming. Asked if he would consider including some smaller counties in the election review, Toth replied, “What’s the point? I mean, all the small counties are red.”

    I believe that’s known as saying the quiet part loud.

    The proposed exercise isn’t about “election integrity.” It’s about the Republican effort to characterize election results in “red” areas as inherently valid and election results in “blue” areas as inherently suspect. […]

    Link

  218. says

    Another Republican leaves the party:

    Former New Jersey Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, who served alongside former Gov. Chris Christie (R) and who served as the GOP’s gubernatorial nominee just four years ago, has given up on the Republican Party altogether. Guadagno, who was a registered Republican for 30 years, is now registered as an unaffiliated voter.

    New Jersey Globe link

  219. says

    Republican leaders struggle to keep their vaccine story straight

    House GOP leaders called a press conference “to discuss the need for individuals to get vaccinated.” Unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way.

    […] In May, while trying to condemn anti-Semitic hate crimes, House GOP leaders ended up complaining about Democrats.

    A month later, during a debate over Confederate statues on Capitol Hill, House Republicans focused less on making arguments and more on complaining about Democrats.

    Yesterday, meanwhile, House GOP leaders announced plans for a Capitol Hill press conference “to discuss the need for individuals to get vaccinated.” The New York Times reported on what transpired at the event itself.

    House Republican leaders and doctors gathered Thursday morning for a news conference ostensibly to urge Americans to get vaccinated against the coronavirus amid rising infections across the United States, but they used the event to attack Democrats who they said, without proof, had dissembled about the origins of the virus.

    This really should’ve been an easy one. If the point of the press conference was “to discuss the need for individuals to get vaccinated,” all congressional Republicans had to do was encourage the public to do the smart and responsible thing. […] it’s a message the GOP’s voters definitely need to hear.

    But as the Times’ report noted, House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) and House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) — the second and third-ranking House Republicans — “instead blasted Democrats for what they called a cover-up on behalf of the Chinese Communist Party.”

    GOP officials eventually addressed vaccinations, but “only when pressed by reporters.” The report added, “Republicans who attended, many of whom represent constituencies that have refused to get the vaccine, could not seem to bring themselves to hammer home the importance of” getting vaccinated.

    At one point, Scalise was willing to say, “I would encourage people to get the vaccine,” only to have Rep. Greg Murphy (R-N.C.) add soon after, “This vaccine is a medicine, and just like with any other medicines, there are side effects and this is a personal decision.”

    At the same press conference, Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-Texas), the controversial former White House physician, tried to chide reporters, saying journalists have a responsibility to ask congressional Democrats whether they’ve been vaccinated or not. What the Texan apparently didn’t realize is that Dems have already been asked — and 100% of them are already vaccinated.

    It was against this backdrop that NBC News’ Jonathan Allen wrote yesterday, “As the delta variant of the coronavirus courses through the American bloodstream, the Republican Party can’t make up its mind about vaccines.”

    Given the seriousness of the public-health crisis, it’s an impossible dynamic to defend.

  220. says

    Poll: Most in GOP see voting as a ‘privilege’ that can be limited

    Democrats and Republicans aren’t simply engaged in a debate over voting rights. There’s a deeper question about whether the fundamental right even exists.

    When it comes to Americans’ ability to cast a ballot in free elections, there is at least some consensus. The newest Pew Research Center survey found that 94% — including 95% of both Republicans and Democrats — agree it’s important that legally qualified Americans be able to vote. […]

    The trouble is the consensus breaks down soon after.

    […] a new Pew Research Center survey finds that a majority of Americans (57%) say voting is “a fundamental right for every adult U.S. citizen and should not be restricted in any way.” Fewer (42%) express the view that “voting is a privilege that comes with responsibilities and can be limited if adult U.S. citizens don’t meet some requirements.”

    […] the partisan and ideological divisions are enormous.

    By a nearly four-to-one margin, Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents see voting as a fundamental right that should not be restricted. By a two-to-one margin, Republicans and Republican-leaning independents see voting as a privilege that can be limited.

    […] To the extent that this might be persuasive, the U.S. Constitution specifically refers to “the right of citizens of the United States to vote.” At no point does the text refer to voting as a “privilege.” […]

  221. says

    Follow-up to SC’s comments 223, 228 and 231.

    Why the new revelations about the FBI’s Kavanaugh inquiry matter

    […] The Washington Post’s Ruth Marcus, who called the FBI review “laughable,” made a compelling case against an incomplete process:

    What did then-White House Counsel Donald McGahn do with the “relevant tips?” That, we do know: not a damn thing. McGahn had no interest in discovering what his handpicked nominee had done, or not done. He had every interest in ensuring that Kavanaugh be confirmed, facts be damned. If there was any follow-up within the FBI itself, there’s no indication of that. And that is the outrage here. The FBI’s investigation into sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh wasn’t designed to uncover the truth.

    Donald Trump recently said, in reference to Kavanaugh, “I saved his life. He wouldn’t even be in a law firm. Who would have had him? Nobody. Totally disgraced. Only I saved him…. I saved his life, and I saved his career.”

    It was a curious quote, which is now seen in a new light.

  222. says

    How Trump’s PAC is misleading its unsuspecting donors (again)

    The problem is not just that Trump’s PAC is deceiving its donors about where its money is going. The problem is that his PAC is doing this again.

    The name of Donald Trump’s leadership PAC is intended to capture its purpose: Save America. In other words, the public is supposed to believe that the former president isn’t just raising money through his political action committee, the entity is also a vessel through which the Republican is rescuing the United States.

    To that end, the group has repeatedly reached out to donors, claiming that Trump is actually working to protect their vote. One recent online ad said, “We need you to join the fight to SECURE OUR ELECTIONS!”

    Of course, in political fundraising, “join the fight” is a pleasant euphemism for “send money.”

    The former president’s diehard followers have done exactly that, though as the Washington Post reported, the money Team Trump has received isn’t financing any fights related to securing any elections.

    Former president Donald Trump’s political PAC raised about $75 million in the first half of this year as he trumpeted the false notion that the 2020 election was stolen from him, but the group has not devoted funds to help finance the ongoing ballot review in Arizona or to push for similar endeavors in other states, according to people familiar with the finances.

    […] If Trump’s PAC raised roughly $75 million in the first six months of the year, where’s all that money going?

    According to the Post’s report, the Save America leadership PAC has paid for “some of the former president’s travel, legal costs and staff, along with other expenses.”

    Much of the money, meanwhile, is just sitting in the bank, presumably to pay for Trump’s future travel, legal costs and staff, along with other expenses.

    If this sounds vaguely familiar, there’s a good reason for that. In December, about a month after Election Day 2020, Politico ran this memorable report:

    […] Trump has been on a relentless, misleading and highly lucrative fundraising drive since losing reelection, telling supporters that they can help overturn the results if they donate while directing the bulk of the cash to his newest political group instead of the entities fighting in court.

    […] contributors’ money wasn’t going toward pointless recounts, silly audits, and hapless lawsuits. Rather, most of the funds went to the Save America PAC — derided by campaign-finance experts as “essentially a type of slush fund, with few restrictions on how the money they raise can be spent.”

    […] it was effectively a scam.

    That was unfolding while Trump was in office. Now that he’s out of office, he’s doing the same thing, pulling the same trick on his followers twice.

    […] the moment Trump stops lying about his defeat is the moment this lucrative cash cow disappears. […]

    […] the former president is little more than a con man, peddling nonsense because he sees his followers as fools and suckers.

    […] regardless of Trump’s true beliefs, his apparent priority is making sure his followers keep sending him their money. The scheme is working — again.

  223. blf says

    The Onion:

    ● Bat-Wielding Jim Jordan Bursts Through Capitol Window Demanding To Be Allowed Onto January 6 Committee:

    Shoving down barriers, sprinting up the steps, and smashing his fist through a thick pane of glass, bat-wielding Representative Jim Jordan (R-OH) burst through a Capitol window Thursday and demanded to be allowed onto a committee investigating the events of January 6th. “The January 6th committee was stolen,” yelled Jordan, while he and other representatives, including Rep Jim Banks (R-IND), stormed through the House chamber, scribbling graffiti on statues, pepper-spraying police officers, and smearing his feces on the walls of Congress. […]

    ● Republicans Worried Blind Worship Of Trump Overriding Traditional Values Like Blind Worship Of Reagan:

    Unsettled by the direction in which their party appeared to be headed, a small group of Republicans expressed concern Monday that blind worship of former President Donald Trump had begun to erode more traditional GOP values, such as the blind worship of former President Ronald Reagan. “It’s deeply troubling to me that the Republican Party has devolved into little more than a cult of personality fixated on someone other than Ronald Reagan,” said Rep Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), who observed that the lionization of a man who over the past four years made life worse for millions of Americans was a dangerous distraction from the lionization of a man who did the same thing but in the 1980s. […]

  224. says

    TN Resumes Most Vaccine Outreach Halted After GOP Hysteria Over Ads Aimed At Kids

    Tennessee is restarting vaccine outreach efforts it halted earlier this month due to a wave of conservative hysteria, but the state is keeping in place a policy against outreach aimed solely at children, the state’s health commissioner said Friday.

    COVID-19 vaccine events at schools, which had been paused, will resume, Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey said in a press conference. And outreach promoting child vaccinations will resume as well, but with an emphasis on parental decision-making.

    Okay. Good news, sort of. Republicans did something extremely stupid, counterproductive and dangerous. They got a shit-ton of pushback, so they changed their minds a little bit. Activism works, but Republicans are still roadblocks in the way.

    […] The “mature-minor” doctrine, which states that teens 14 and older don’t necessarily need parental permission to be vaccinated, still governs the state’s Department of Health and other health providers in the state, Piercey said.

    Piercey said the politician who in large part led an outrage campaign against the health department over vaccine outreach to kids, State Sen. Kerry Roberts (R), was on board with that point, as was Gov. Bill Lee (R).

    “We do recognize there are some very unique situations where there are older teenagers that might be in social situations that don’t allow them to have parents come in with them for one reason or the other, so we will be able to continue serving them under the mature-minor doctrine,” Piercey said, after referring to herself as well as the senator and the governor.

    However, the state official who was fired after simply restating that longstanding doctrine in a memo, prompting outrage from legislature Republicans, remains out of a job. Piercey said she wouldn’t comment on the firing of Dr. Michelle Fiscus, previously Tennessee’s top vaccine authority.

    […] The pause on vaccine outreach aimed at young people worried public health experts, who were concerned not only about COVID-19 but also other transmissible diseases among children — as well as the adults those kids can infect if they aren’t immunized.

    […] “And while it was never the intention of the department to target minors, and the department felt that we were educating, over the course of several conversations — not only in that committee hearing but afterwards — it became pretty apparent that the legislators felt that we were targeting children in those marketing materials.”

  225. says

    Follow-up to comment 283.

    Posted by readers of the article:

    Whiplash due to backlash. People getting sick and dying of a preventable illness is a bad look.
    ——————–
    Even Grim Reaper McConnell says people should get vaccinated.
    Who listens to Mitch McConnell? Certainly not the Trump Cult. The Boss tells them Mitch is a traitor for not supporting the theft of the election by the Orange Menace.
    ————————-
    Nobody has been making much noise about what the financial burden is of getting as horribly sick as this. Many of the folks who are refusing the vax are those who are least able to pay for weeks and weeks of intensive care. Seems like that would also be a good strategy to coax a few over to the vaccinated side.

  226. says

    Update! – Tennessean – “Tennessee to restart nearly all vaccine outreach paused amid GOP pressure, says health commissioner”:

    The Tennessee state government will resume all forms of vaccine outreach, with the narrow exception of social media posts aimed specifically at children, after halting many forms of advocacy this month in response to conservative pressure, the state’s top health official said Friday.

    Tennessee also faces a new “surge” of coronavirus that shows no signs of slowing, and deaths from the virus are expected to spike in coming weeks, the health official warned.

    Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey said the Tennessee Department of Health will restart outreach efforts recommending vaccines for children and once again hold events on school property offering the COVID-19 vaccine, including some next week. Department staff are no longer instructed to strip the agency logo from public-facing vaccine information, she said.

    “Nothing has been stopped permanently,” Piercey said during a press briefing. “We put a pause on many things, and then we have resumed all of those.”

    Piercey said her agency will also, in rare circumstances, provide the COVID-19 vaccine to minors without the permission of their parents. This statement is a contradiction to an announcement made this week by conservative lawmakers, who said Piercey agreed in a private meeting to stop this practice.

    The Tennessee Department of Health drew nationwide attention this month after exclusive reporting by The Tennessean revealed the agency had dramatically scaled back efforts to promote the coronavirus vaccine to minors. The changes came after conservative state lawmakers lambasted the agency for gently recommending the vaccine to minors and proposed dissolving the entire agency to make the outreach stop.

    In the wake of lawmakers’ wrath, the health department started quietly making changes, according to a series of internal documents obtained by The Tennessean. It deleted some pro-vaccine Facebook and Twitter posts that triggered lawmakers and instructed employees to stop all vaccine-related social media posts aimed at teenagers and not to hold any vaccination events focused on teens or on school property.

    Days later, agency staff were told to stop all vaccine outreach to adolescents or about adolescent vaccines for all diseases, not just the coronavirus. Agency employees were told to remove the health department logo from vaccine information given to the public. The agency also fired its top vaccine official, Michelle Fiscus, and postponed an online immunization summit for medical professionals.

    These changes, which took effect just as the coronavirus began to spread again in Tennessee, brought heavy attention to the state. The rollback was criticized by both state and national political figures,…

    Piercey, who was vacationing in Greece during much of the controversy but has since returned to Tennessee, stressed on Friday that the agency never stopped providing vaccines, and only reduced its “communications and marketing” related to vaccinations.

    This outreach was “paused” to give the agency time to ensure its message was aimed not at minors but at their parents, who are the “best decision makers” when it comes to vaccination of minors, Piercey said.

    “The reason that we paused is because we wanted to leave no room for interpretation about where we are shooting,” Piercey said. “And we are shooting to get the message to parents. And there was a perception that we were marketing to children and that totally was against our view about the importance of parental authority.”

    When asked why — if the goal was purely to avoid messaging to minors — staff were told to remove the agency’s logo from any vaccine documents it gives to the public, Piercey said the department needed time to ensure the documents met its new standard.

    “We just wanted to be extra cautious in the short-term to make sure everything that had our logo on it was messaged appropriately, just as we intended to,” Piercey said. “Now that we have assured that, we are putting our logo back on things.”…

    LOL, sure.

  227. says

    Friday just in: +600K doses reported administered over yesterday’s total, incl. 363K newly vaccinated. In the past 7 days, 2.15M reported newly vaccinated, vs. 1.88M the 7 days prior (+14%). The delta variant is highly contagious and circulating across the US. Get vaccinated!”

  228. says

    Diane Yentel:

    Of course he should. The CDC eviction moratorium is a necessary public health measure to lessen spread of/deaths from COVID-19. The need clearly remains as Delta surges & 6m renter households remain behind on rent & at risk of eviction when moratorium expires.

    She was responding to this post from Jeff Stein:

    Mark Zandi, an economist influential with WH, tells me Biden should extend eviction moratorium set to expire this month amid delta and struggles of rental aid program. “They can’t get the money out.” +6 million renters at risk, Zandi says

    WH has given no sign it’s open to this.

  229. says

    Follow-up to comment 289.

    Commentary:

    […] About 6 million renters face eviction at the end of the month. One analyst, Paul Williams, a fellow at the Jain Family Institute, estimates that about 80% of those households are in counties with rapid delta variant COVID-19 surges.

    The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has been tracking economic insecurity during the pandemic, and finds that about 11.4 million renters are behind on rent. The administration has extended the moratorium on mortgage foreclosures.

    At the same time, unemployment has stagnated while a couple dozen states have either cut off or will cut off boosted unemployment insurance (UI) before the Sept. 6 expiration of the program. In the 12 states that cut federal UI in the first half of June, unemployment has not decreased as lawmakers insisted it would. “Certainly there was no immediate boost to employment during the 2-3 weeks following the expiration of the pandemic UI benefits,” Arindrajit Dube, an economics professor at University of Massachusetts Amherst, has found. […]

    Link

  230. says

    Republicans say agreement is close. Except for transit. And broadband. And stealing COVID funds

    The Senate has left for the week, or at least has recessed, another week in which the bipartisan infrastructure negotiations once again produced nothing. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer had some luck in kickstarting the group by holding a procedural vote that would have set a schedule for consideration of an eventual, actual bill. Despite the fact that Republicans say they’ll have something as early as Monday, they filibustered starting the official Senate clock on the bill.

    It’s been about delaying this process from the time President Joe Biden announced his big economic goals of investment in both hard and human infrastructure back in April. They’ve been ostensibly working on their own and bipartisan infrastructure proposals since then—starting with West Virginia Republican Sen. Shelley Moore Capito’s direct talks with Biden, then through this gang that reached an agreement with Biden on June 24. Despite the weeks and weeks of supposed work on this, on Thursday the lead Republicans said “not so fast.” […]

    Transit. It’s only an essential, core part of what we like to call “transportation.” Portman says Democrats are “not being reasonable.” Apparently that’s because Democrats want to adhere to existing law under it that says the federal gas tax-funded Highway Trust Fund has to be split 80% for highways and 20% for transit. Republicans want to renege on that, arguing that transit systems already got COVID-19 funding (to make up for lost revenue from the pandemic) and shouldn’t get more from this bill. […]

    what this is is another manufactured excuse from Republicans to keep on dragging this thing out. They are also arguing about “broadband, Davis-Bacon requirements, and rescinding unspent COVID funds” according to an aide. So, pretty much all of it? Even if there is a weekend miracle and the gang produces something on Monday, there’s no guarantee at all that there will be 10 Republicans interested in voting even to start talking about it next week. If they were that close, they would have agreed to starting the process on Wednesday. […]

  231. says

    Earlier this week, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene earned a 12-hour timeout from Twitter after posting some now-deleted (by the company, not by Greene) vaccine disinformation. However, Greene was back by Thursday morning with this post on the topic.

    STOP MASKING CHILDREN!!!

    As an illustration of what Greene is all about, the tweet could not be more succinct. Because it came one day after this NBC News article, one of several discussing the sad death of 5-year-old Wyatt Gibson. Wyatt died “in his mother’s arms” after coming down with COVID-19. At 5, the virus caused the young boy to have a stroke. Wyatt’s family said they have “been so careful” throughout the pandemic. It’s not clear if the other members of the family were all vaccinated, but it’s certain that Wyatt was not. Children under 12 can’t get vaccinated at this point. Masks and social distancing are the only protection they have.

    Wyatt lived in Marjorie Taylor Greene’s district. Of the 435 congressional districts, Greene’s is number 427 when it comes to getting vaccinated. Greene was almost certainly aware of Wyatt’s death when she posted her tweet. Earlier in the week she laughed over the idea that she had any responsibility to protect the people of Georgia. “You crack me up,” she to a reporter asking about the issue. “You know what? I think people’s responsibility is their own.”

    The Washington Post writes, “It is not directly Greene’s fault that the boy died.” Which raises the question: Why the hell not? […]

  232. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    The state of Florida has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to allow a lower-court decision to take effect that said the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) could not enforce its coronavirus cruise ship rules in the state.

    The ruling had been blocked by a U.S. appeals court, Reuters reports.

    Florida asked the Supreme Court to lift the appeals court order warning without action. “Florida is all but guaranteed to lose yet another summer cruise season while the CDC pursues its appeal,” the state said in its filing to the Supreme Court.

  233. says

    Inbox: St. Louis city and county to reinstate their mask mandate for all indoor public places, starting Monday”

    (Why is there always a lag time with these things? Why can’t it start tomorrow?)

  234. says

    What Hair Furor said earlier about COVID-19, a summary:

    “It will go away.” (3/6/2020

    “It’s going to go away.” (3/12/2020
    )
    “It will go away, and we’re going to have a great victory.” (3/30/2020)

    “It’s going to go away, hopefully at the end of the month. And, if not, hopefully it will be soon after that.” (3/31/2020)

    “I didn’t say a date. I said ‘it’s going away,’ and it is going away.” (4/5/2020)

    “It’ll go away—at some point, it’ll go away.” (5/15/2020)

    “I will be right eventually. I said, ‘It’s going to disappear.’ I’ll say it again.” (4/19/2020)

    “It’s going to go away.” (8/30/2020)

    “It’s going to disappear; it is disappearing.” (10/10/2020)

    “It is going away; it’s rounding the turn.” (10/24/2020)

    Commentary:

    […] Ted Cruz wasn’t the only one making the prediction that COVID-19 would suddenly fade from view after the election. [See comment 215] As Forbes reported back in May 2020, Eric Trump had already made the claim that “After November 3 coronavirus will magically all of a sudden go away and disappear and everybody will be able to reopen.” […]

    And of course, [Trump] also said “Covid, Covid, Covid, Covid, Covid, Covid. A plane goes down. Five hundred people dead, they don’t talk about it. Covid, Covid, Covid, Covid. By the way, on November 4, you won’t hear about it anymore,” […]

    That claim that the virus would magically vanish after the election was another way of downplaying the pandemic and passing the whole thing off as a kind of fraud. What the right was maintaining was that the whole reaction to COVID-19 was exaggerated simply to sway voters in the election. It wasn’t a theory that made sense—but it’s not as if anything on the right has to meet high standards. However, it was a prediction that cost lives.

    As the Idaho Statesmen notes, some people were foolish enough to take Republicans seriously. “Before I came down with the virus, I was one of those jackasses who thought the virus would disappear the day after the election. I was one of those conspiracy theorists,” said a 63-year-old man from Boise. Instead, he now gets a lifetime of requiring supplemental oxygen after COVID-19 caused long-term damage. […]

    Link

  235. says

    The idea that the right can be motivated by driving a wedge between them and scientific or medical experts isn’t new. See George Wallace sneering about “pointy-head college professors” or Richard Nixon calling Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau “a pompous egghead” or Spiro Agnew making more than one reference to “an effete corps of impudent snobs who characterize themselves as intellectuals.” There is an unbroken bridge from the John Birch Society shouting about fluoride in the water as a Communist plot to QAnon supporters looking for the tunnels connecting pizza parlors and Hollow Earth.

    Whole generations of Republicans have been raised in a proud anti-learning tradition, one that is bolstered by an even longer history of fostering racist and antisemitic conspiracy theories. That Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene was seriously spreading the idea of “Jewish space lasers” wasn’t some momentary collision of random neurons wandering in the dark. It was actually Greene repeating a long and elaborate theory that involved former California Gov. Jerry Brown, PG & E, a solar energy company, secret space launches, and, of course, and financial firm Rothschild & Co. that had been kicking around in right-wing land for some time.

    For decades, Republicans have favored the mushroom philosophy: keep their base in the dark and feed them bullshit. But with the coming of Trump, the brain blender dial got turned up to “”puree. The guy who “loves the poorly educated” rediscovered the Goebbels principle: Big lies are better. “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.” That principle turns out to be so effective that the right has even used it to spread lies about the COVID-19 vaccine by attributing fake quotes to Hermann Goering.

    But there is a conundrum. When you’ve taught your base to believe nothing but the crankiest of crank conspiracies, how do you get them to listen when you need them?

    […] All along the tattered rightward edge of what was the “alt right” just a period of months ago, people from high school drop-out bar owners to college drop-out real estate scammers have discovered that all they had to do to pocket millions from a party already tumbling through the void was to do exactly what Vladimir Putin had taught them: Get on social media and confirm every racist, xenophobic, anti-intellectual position that had been minted from the Know Nothings to date.

    […] What Russia did in 2016 was nothing more than putting a modest military budget behind a digital crowbar that could open the nation along lines of weakness. It knew where to find those lines because Republicans drew big circles around them every election cycle. Russia didn’t create a million bots to spread a ridiculous message that the system was unfair to white people and overly generous to Black people by coincidence. They just took the script Republicans had been selling for years. Once you can believe six impossible things before breakfast, there really is no limit.

    […] Republicans have made a blatant and so far successful effort to cripple the election system in America. They’ve demonstrated that they can turn out record numbers in support of an agenda that left a million people dead. And they’ve turned mumble-mumble racism into an overt, out-and-proud bigotry that has touched the hearts of millions of America’s most downtrodden: middle class white people.

    […] in the last week, Republicans have noticed that the up = down machine has put them in a position where 90% of the people dying from COVID-19 are their people. That’s because 90% of Democrats are already vaccinated and 99.5% of those dying are unvaccinated. Who are those unvaccinated? Oh, right, the Republican base that’s been taught scientists, doctors, and experts can’t be trusted.

    Over the course of that week, Republicans who still think of themselves as party leaders have begun to get louder about suggesting to their followers that maybe, just maybe, taking five minutes out of their day to not die would be a good thing. And this is the kind of response they’re getting. [video available at the link, or view the video on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Phil_Lewis_/status/1418210466656972808 ]

    […] For Republicans who ever actually cared about the traditional Republican agenda, eh. That’s all gone. For those who care about nothing but their own personal power, they’re out of luck as well. Just ask former Rep. Scott Tipton. Tipton was a conservative Republican who checked all the boxes. He voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act. He frequently angered environmental groups with a push to privatize public lands. He was solidly against reproductive rights as well as gay marriage, supported by wads of cash from the oil and gas industry, and he easily won election for 10 years. Then Tipton was knocked out of his primary by a woman who claimed to have inside knowledge about Hillary Clinton’s upcoming arrest as well as secret documents that would reveal the QAnon truth about the pizza-ordering cannibals in Congress.

    Marjorie Taylor Greene didn’t step into a seat that was formerly held by a Democrat. She ousted Rep. Tom Graves, who had one of the most conservative ratings in the House. Cawthorn took over Mark Meadows’ former seat in a district freshly gerrymandered to make it super Republican safe, but in doing so Cawthorn actually defeated well-funded conservative businesswoman Lynda Bennett, who was the choice of not just Republicans in the state party but also endorsed by Donald Trump. It’s easy to say that Cawthorn won in spite of posting an Instagram photo celebrating his visit to Adolf Hitler’s vacation residence while explaining that a visit to see “the Führer’s” home was on “my bucket list.” But a more truthful framing would be that Cawthorn won because of his unabashed adoption of white supremacist positions.

    […] And the media outlets that Republicans were counting on to keep the base in line have discovered that it’s even more lucrative to feed them to the volcano god who pays Tucker Carlson’s bills.

    The new Republican Party demands that America explicitly cover up slavery, Jim Crow, and every expression of racism. […] In the last few years, Republicans have already tried to revive the idea that Joseph McCarthy was a hero. Don’t worry—they’re also holding pedestals open for George Wallace and Strom Thurmond.

    […]. If there was anyone who still cared about “traditional conservative values,” they can forget it. And if all they care about is their personal power, they won’t have that either. There’s always another Boebert in the weeds.

    Link

  236. says

    Good news posted by NBC News:

    Homeowners with certain government-backed mortgages could get their monthly payments reduced by 25 percent if they are still struggling to make payments, the White House said on Friday as part of efforts to help keep people housed amid the pandemic.

    Good news posted by The Washington Post:

    President Biden on Thursday signed a measure supporting service programs for crime victims, hailing the legislation as providing survivors “the help they need to put their lives back together and move toward healing and toward justice.” … The measure will provide new revenue streams for the Crime Victims Fund and will increase funding for state victim compensation programs, which can help victims cover the cost of counseling and medical bills, temporary housing and other expenses.

    Good news post by The Tennessean:

    Forty-two years after the bust of Confederate General and early Ku Klux Klan leader Nathan Bedford Forrest was installed in the Tennessee Capitol, the statue of the former slave trader was removed from the building Friday, loaded onto a truck and driven away.

  237. says

    New New Books in History episode – “Devil’s Historians: How Modern Extremists Abuse the Medieval Past”:

    In The Devil’s Historians: How Modern Extremists Abuse the Medieval Past (University of Toronto Press, 2020), Amy S. Kaufman and Paul B. Sturtevant examine the many ways in which the medieval past has been manipulated to promote discrimination, oppression, and murder. Tracing the fetish for “medieval times” behind toxic ideologies like nationalism, antisemitism, Islamophobia, misogyny, and white supremacy, Kaufman and Sturtevant show us how the Middle Ages have been twisted for political purposes in every century that followed. The Devil’s Historians casts aside the myth of an oppressive, patriarchal medieval monoculture and reveals a medieval world not often shown in popular culture: one that is diverse, thriving, courageous, compelling, and complex.

    This touches on so many interesting topics it’s almost overwhelming.

  238. says

    New Decoding the Gurus episode – “Carl Sagan: My God, it’s full of stars”:

    In the second instalment of the personal gurus season we take a look at Matt’s childhood science guru: the famed astronomer and science communicator Carl Sagan.

    Sagan’s regarded as an intellectual hero amongst skeptics and supporters of science but is the admiration warranted or is this a halo effect enhanced by youthful innocence and the distorting mists of time? Was Matt’s first science crush justified? Is Carl as ‘right on’ as popular sentiment suggests? Join us as we struggle to peer into the vast abyss, stare deep into the heart of the guru constellation, and uncover the truth. It’s time to take a long hard look at a small sliver of our demon haunted, pale blue dot.

    Along the way we address the burning issues including: whether Carl Sagan is actually a woke cuck, how Chris feels about chimpanzees in lipstick, if humility might actually be a good thing, and whether the universe was actually created for rocks.

    So join us as we return to a simpler time, when scientists wore turtleneck sweaters, ill advised tweets were not yet possible, and gurus were REAL gurus.

    Also featured in this week’s episode: Weinstein Watch, Viewer Feedback, the Next Guru Announcement, and an illustration of how to provide an even tempered & measured response to critical feedback.

  239. says

    Good News: Voting Rights Roundup: Louisiana GOP fails to override Democratic vetoes of voting restriction bills

    Louisiana Republicans have narrowly failed to override any of Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards’ vetoes in the legislature’s first-ever override session since the adoption of Louisiana’s current constitution in 1974. Republicans had been trying to undo Edwards’ vetoes of bills addressing several topics, including two that would have added voter ID requirements for absentee voting and banned private grants from philanthropic groups seeking to remedy the underfunding of election administration.

    […] not only did GOP leaders fail to convince a sufficient number of Democrats or independents in the House to side with them, they were unable to even get their whole caucus to show up to override the vetoes in the upper chamber. (Overrides in Louisiana require a two-thirds vote of all members, not just those present.)

    The failure of these override attempts is a small yet encouraging sign that Republicans might not have the votes to override Edwards’ likely vetoes of their forthcoming congressional and legislative maps, which are all but certain to be partisan gerrymanders that favor the GOP, as the current maps are. Given the higher stakes involved, however, the fate of any redistricting vetoes is very much an open question.

    Good news from Massachusetts:

    Massachusetts’ Democratic-run legislature has passed a bill to extend pandemic-era voting access measures through mid-December so that they’ll remain in place for upcoming local elections (such as Boston’s mayoral contest) while lawmakers decide whether to make them permanent. The provisions in question include expanded early voting and no-excuse mail voting.

    Meanwhile, state Senate Democrats passed a separate bill in a committee that would permanently adopt those reforms along with same-day voter registration. That bill also aims to improve voting access for incarcerated people who still retain their voting rights, along with some other smaller measures.

    Good news from New York:

    Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed several voting and election reform bills, including one bill that will permanently allow voters to request absentee ballots online. Another measure takes steps to strengthen the existing process allowing absentee ballots to count so long as they are postmarked by Election Day and received up to a few days later.

  240. says

    The Biden Administration Just Canceled More Border Wall Contracts

    On Friday, the Biden administration canceled two border wall contracts along 31 miles of the Rio Grande in South Texas—continuing the process it began this spring of dismantling one of the Trump administration’s signature initiatives.

    The two contracts had previously been funded in 2020, but Biden’s Department of Homeland Security announced on Friday that they are “not necessary to address any life, safety, environmental, or other remediation requirements.”

    The Trump administration had planned to spend about $15 billion to construct a border wall along the Southwest border of the US […]

    The contracts canceled on Friday were the first to be terminated under a plan announced by the Department of Homeland Security in June to divert the billions of dollars allocated for the border wall to other priorities. The Department is legally required to use the funds—which were already appropriated by Congress—for projects on the border. So DHS announced last month that the money would be used to address environmental damage at the border, including soil erosion in Southern California and structural concerns on levees meant to prevent flooding near the Rio Grande.

    On his first day in office in January, Biden paused construction of the wall and announced a review of all the funds that had been appropriated for construction, calling the project “a waste of money that diverts attention from genuine threats to our homeland security.”

    About $10 billion of the funds for Trump’s border wall had been set to come from the Department of Defense, diverted from military projects. The Biden administration terminated the remainder of these contracts in April. DHS said in its Friday announcement that it would continue to review the paused border projects that had been set to come from Homeland Security funds. It also urged the administration “to call on Congress to cancel remaining border wall funding and instead fund smarter border security measures.”

  241. says

    Woman Who Doesn’t Actually Hate Workers To Lead National Labor Relations Board

    Jennifer Abruzzo was sworn in as the general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

    […] the Senate confirmed Abruzzo as the NLRB’s top lawyer, 51-50, with Kamala casting the tie-breaking vote […]

    This one was a straight party-line vote, with the ever-milquetoast Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski toeing the Republican line. Richard Burr flipped out during Abruzzo’s hearing in front of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee because Abruzzo is a decent human being who champions workers’ rights.

    Abruzzo is an NLRB veteran who has worked for the organization for more than two decades, as deputy assistant general counsel, deputy regional attorney in Miami, supervisory field attorney, field attorney, and acting general counsel. Before Biden appointed her to his transition team for labor agencies, she was working for the Communication Workers for America (CWA).

    […] Trump-appointed NLRB chief Peter Robb was supposed to stay in his seat until November, but the Biden administration was not having it. Getting rid of Rob was apparently a top priority for Biden, who fired Robb on Inauguration Day.

    […] The NLRB’s general counsel has a lot of influence over federal labor policy and it’s great to see someone who is actually on the side of labor in this role! In her position, Abruzzo will select which cases to investigate and prosecute, and supervises all of the NLRB field offices around the country.

    Abruzzo will be working closely with Seema Nanda, an Indian-American woman who was confirmed earlier this month as the Department of Labor’s Solicitor. […]

  242. says

    A little while ago I stumbled into some information about court jesters that made possibilities about “clown society” and tourette syndrome more clear. I posted a blog because I couldn’t find this link at the time. This video explained about “licensed fools” and “natural fools”. A natural fool in the medieval sense doesn’t sound that bad.

    https://youtu.be/tkLZYEIslWM

  243. KG says

    To my surprise, the last few days have seen a fall in confirmed UK Covid-19 cases (relative to a week ago), although hospital admissions and deaths have continued to rise. This could be due some combination of the end of Euro2020, schools closing for summer (although it’s rather soon for that in most cases), the sheer number of people “pinged” by the NHS app warning people they have been in close contact with an infected peson and should self-isolate, people being more cautious because of the news of rising numbers, and the rising proportion of people with antibodies, either from infection or vaccination. We’ll see if the trend continues after the removal of almost all restrictions in England, and many elsewhere in the UK. Good news as far as it goes, anyway.

  244. says

    It’s the 21st century. Let female athletes wear what they want.

    Washington Post link

    […] for years, the women of the Norwegian beach handball team have politely protested the . . . oh . . . what’s the word . . .
    Sexist?
    Idiotic?
    Retrograde?
    . . . requirement that they compete while wearing tiny bikini bottoms. Their protests produced no changes from the European handball authorities. […] So the women from Norway elected to make their own change. They decided for themselves to wear shorts.

    Men play beach handball in shorts: proof that it can be done.

    The sachems of the European Handball Federation were scandalized. Women dressing themselves? What next?! The athletes were promptly fined.

    You did not read that wrong. In the year 2021, an organization led by people named Michael and Martin ordered a group of young women to pay fines for declining to compete in wedgie-making lycra panties.

    […] The one constant is that women are not deemed capable of deciding for themselves what to wear, within the bounds of fair competition. […]

    Instructively, while the Norwegians were being docked for choosing mid-thigh shorts, a track-and-field official in England was scolding the Welsh Paralympian Olivia Breen for wearing too-brief briefs. “We are living in 2021, not the 18th century,” Breen protested, adding, “It made me question whether a male competitor would be similarly criticized.“

    We all know the answer to that. Though most sports regulate the clothing of competitors — they’re called “uniforms” because they’re the same for everyone — we are accustomed to seeing male athletes customize their kit. […]

    No great imagination is needed to see where the handball honchos are coming from. Their rather obscure sport is a close cousin to beach volleyball, which made its official Olympic debut in 1996 in Atlanta and immediately caught the male gaze with its bikini-clad female athletes. No doubt, promoters of handball would like to experience a similar jolt to their TV ratings, ticket sales and merchandise sponsorships.

    But the handball authorities are learning the wrong lesson. To grow the popularity of beach volleyball, the ruling federation of that sport has empowered women with more uniform choices, not fewer. Women are free to continue wearing two-piece uniforms with minimal briefs. […]

    But guidelines also allow for long-sleeved uniforms preferred by some Muslim athletes and an assortment of styles in between. Most important, the rules say only that the two players that make up a team should agree on which uniform to wear for any given game.

    Choice of uniforms not only respects the integrity of athletes. It also allows an outdoor sport to go global, unhampered by changes in cultures and climates. The preferred uniform in Malibu and Redondo Beach, Calif., may not work in Iceland or Egypt.

    […] The only essential ingredient of sports is the athletes. Everything else is infrastructure. Michael Wiederer, president of the European Handball Federation, should be asking athletes what he can do to enhance their skills and highlight their talents — not orchestrating the coverage of their glutes.

  245. says

    Eric Lach, writing for The New Yorker:

    On Wednesday afternoon, Mark Levine, the New York City Council member and likely the next Manhattan borough president, met me on a busy corner of Broadway, a few blocks from his apartment, in Washington Heights. […] “I’d say there’s now fifty per cent mask wearing in bodegas, on a good day,” he said. This, for Levine, was bad news.

    […] Last weekend, Levine posted something that he knew would bum people out. “Cases are rising in NYC (up 2x+ in past 2 weeks), driven by delta,” he tweeted, referring to the new coronavirus variant. “Indoor mask use in NYC is falling—in delis, stores, subways, movie theaters etc. We need to reverse this trend. It’s time to renew the indoor mask mandate, including for those who are vax’d.” […]

    “[…] the real world is messier. Viruses evolve. People are complicated. And, unfortunately, public health is a collective struggle. And the continual evolution of the virus, and the challenge in bringing everyone in our society along, means this isn’t over yet.”

    […] I asked Levine whether his call for a mask mandate was about stopping infections or about readopting a symbol of vigilance against the virus. He suggested that it was a bit of both. “The honor system was never going to work,” he said. “All of us wear masks or none of us wear masks. The idea that we’re going to ask supermarket staff to sort out who is and isn’t vaccinated is completely unrealistic.”

    Levine said he welcomed an announcement that de Blasio made on Wednesday, that public hospital workers would be required to be vaccinated or undergo weekly testing. But he called it a “pretty mild first step.” City data suggests that as little as sixty per cent of the city’s education employees are vaccinated. For the N.Y.P.D., the number is under fifty per cent. Levine wants to see the city “set the standard,” and require that more of its employees be vaccinated. “Hopefully, private employers will follow suit,” he said. […] Levine thinks that the vaccination numbers won’t rise again until remaining unvaccinated becomes much more inconvenient. “We’re vaccinating only about five thousand or at most ten thousand people a day in New York City,” he said, referring to people receiving their first dose of vaccine. “At that pace, you’re talking more than a year to get everyone vaccinated. And that doesn’t count kids.”

    “[…] what this pandemic has taught us, again and again and again, is that you can take relatively modest actions now, or you’re going to be forced to take more difficult steps down the road.”

  246. says

    […] when a unified, systematic, collective effort by Donald Trump and the Republican Party to minimize the worst global pandemic to strike this country in over a century led to a huge percentage of Americans refusing to accept a vaccine, was that the Republicans’ fault? When the entire right-wing media apparatus devoted the last year and a half to pooh-poohing the virus, belittling masks, and rejecting social distancing measures, and then denying the efficacy of vaccines; when they allowed ridiculous conspiracy theories to flourish in the face of dire medical warnings, leading to dismal vaccination rates in GOP-dominated states; and when millions of Republican voters who paid attention to all that propaganda now find themselves under siege by a new variant of the same virus, spreading like wildfire among these same vaccine “skeptics,” might that possibly have been Republicans’ fault?

    No. It’s—get this—White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki’s fault! And more than that, it’s Joe Biden’s fault!

    As reported by The New York Times, Republicans everywhere are now flailing mightily in an effort to point their fingers to blame the new surge in delta variant COVID-19 infections on anything and anyone except themselves. As Jonathan Weisman and Sheryl Gay Stolberg write, “Amid a widening partisan divide over coronavirus vaccination, most Republicans have either stoked or ignored the flood of misinformation reaching their constituents and instead focused their message about the vaccine on disparaging President Biden, characterizing his drive to inoculate Americans as politically motivated and heavy-handed.”

    Meanwhile, the highly contagious delta variant of the virus is disproportionately hitting the least-vaccinated, most Republican states with a vengeance. As reported by Business Insider:

    [T]the variant isn’t hitting all states equally. Delta cases have risen primarily in states with low vaccination rates, which for the most part are heavily Republican — “red” states such as Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri, and Wyoming. Overall, these states have seen higher upticks in daily cases and hospitalizations than “blue” states that voted Democratic in the 2020 election.

    Let’s be clear on something: Variants to the COVID-19 virus are caused by allowing the virus to continue spreading among the unvaccinated, giving it more time and opportunity to mutate. The more unvaccinated people there are, the better the chance of a variant developing and spreading. That’s what led to this delta variant that’s now ravaging the vaccine-refusing Republican population in this country. In simpler terms, Republican intransigence and political pandering created and abetted the conditions that led to the spread of the delta variant and encouraged an environment that allowed it to flourish. And now that it’s disproportionately killing “their” people, in red-leaning states, Republican elected officials are desperately seeking—once again—to avoid the blame.

    From the Times’ Weisman and Stolberg:

    On Tuesday, Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the No. 2 House Republican who said he had received his first Pfizer vaccine shot only on Sunday, blamed the hesitance on Mr. Biden and his criticism of Donald J. Trump’s vaccine drive last year. Senator Tommy Tuberville, Republican of Alabama, said skeptics would not get their shots until “this administration acknowledges the efforts of the last one.”

    And Senator Roger Marshall of Kansas pointed the finger at the White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci.

    “Every time Jen Psaki opens her mouth or Dr. Fauci opens his mouth,” he said, “10,000 more people say I’m never going to take the vaccine.”

    What crap. Rep. Scalise waits until July 2021 to get a vaccine and blames that … on Biden? Hey Steve, Trump and his wife got their vaccinations in January! What, you didn’t know that? What kind of “representative” are you?

    And Sen. Marshall blames this new COVID-19 variant scourge on Anthony Fauci? Someone who spent the entire pandemic trying to convince people to wear masks and get the vaccines when they became available? And Psaki is somehow contributing to this by encouraging people, at every opportunity over the past five months, to get vaccinated?

    Newly elected wingnut Sen. Tuberville says that Republicans won’t get vaccinated until Biden “acknowledges the efforts” Trump supposedly made. What efforts, exactly? The “efforts” that resulted in literally hundreds of thousands of needless deaths, as a result of a year’s worth of COVID-19 disinformation by Trump and the Republican Party?

    You’ve gotta be fucking kidding me. This variant and its spread is your fault, Republicans. You created it, you fostered it, you encouraged it, and the people dying as a result of it are dying because of you.

    No one else: you.

    As the Times article notes, the Kaiser Family Foundation reports that 86% of Democrats had received their first shots as of the end of June, compared with 52% of Republicans. Why? Because of this kind of garbage that the GOP has been peddling:

    Some elected Republicans are the ones spreading the falsehoods. Representative Jason Smith of Missouri, a Senate candidate, warned on Twitter of “KGB-style” agents knocking on the doors of unvaccinated Americans — a reference to Mr. Biden’s door-to-door vaccine outreach campaign.

    And check out the fearmongering that Missouri’s insurrectionist-loving Republican senator has been spewing:

    The Biden Administration apparently wants to bring Beijing-style surveillance to the United States – reading people’s text messages, going “door to door.” One word: NO

    “Beijing-style surveillance,” huh? No wonder Republicans aren’t getting their vaccines! Better dead than Red, right?

    Now we see Trump mouthpieces like Sean Hannity and other Fox News anchors who spent the pandemic denying the seriousness of the virus suddenly coming out as super pro-vaccine. It’s a little too late for redemption, boys, particularly as your primetime colleagues Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham still seem to regard vaccine disinformation as critical to their careers. […]

    Republicans walked straight into a buzzsaw with their eyes wide open. They cannot say it’s anyone’s fault but their own.

    They certainly shouldn’t try to blame Democrats for their lethal choices. It’s just insulting.

    Link

  247. says

    “Among the unvaccinated in the United States, covid cases are once again on the rise, due to the highly-infectious ‘Delta variant.’ The rising cases are being fueled by vaccine hesitancy, which itself is being fueled by a dangerous pathogen scientists are calling the Republican party.”
    —Stephen Colbert

    Conservative talk radio show host Phil Valentine has been hospitalized with COVID and is “fighting for his life,” according to his family. After expressing concerns about COVID vaccines, he now plans to “vigorously advocate” for them, they said.

    On Thursday, Phil Valentine’s brother Mark Valentine released a statement on behalf of the family reading: “Phil contracted the Covid virus a little over a week ago & has since been hospitalized & is in very serious condition, suffering from Covid Pneumonia and the attendant side effects.”

    […] Phil Valentine has been publicly skeptical about all adults receiving the COVID vaccine. In his latest Facebook post on July 16, he questioned the safety of vaccines. […]

    Newsweek link

  248. says

    National Guard cancels trainings after Congress fails to reimburse for Capitol riot deployment

    The National Guard is canceling trainings after Congress failed to reimburse the force for its months-long deployment at the U.S. Capitol following the Jan. 6 insurrection.

    National Guard Bureau spokesman Wayne Hall told The Hill that six events from the Nebraska National Guard have been canceled to save money because Congress has still not reimbursed the branch for its deployment.

    The events canceled in August and September include a marksmanship sustainment exercise, a company commander and first sergeants pre-command course, a commander’s training synchronization workshop, a commander’s unit status report, small arms familiarization school, and National Guard endurance team time trials.

    […] There will likely be more things that would be canceled if the funding is not restored,” Hall stated.

    Officials with the National Guard have warned Congress on multiple occasions that trainings and the branches’ readiness would be negatively impacted if the National Guard wasn’t reimbursed the $521 million used during its deployment in Washington, D.C.

    […] National Guard members from every state and territory protected the Capitol for months after a group of Trump supporters breached Capitol security on Jan. 6. in an effort to stop the certification of the 2020 election results.

    The long stay came with a big bill that Congress will not pay up until a deal is reached on emergency appropriations between lawmakers.

    […] Canceling events has saved the National Guard money on meal costs, travel and lodging.

    […] A bipartisan letter from 70 lawmakers urged House and Senate leadership to get a deal done quickly in order to repay the National Guard.

  249. says

    Arizona secretary of state to Trump before rally: ‘Take your loss and accept it and move on’

    Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D) said that her message to former President Trump before his visit on Saturday is to “take your loss and accept it and move on,” referring to the ongoing partisan audit of the 2020 election results.

    Trump is heading to Phoenix on Saturday for a “Rally to Save Our Elections!” event hosted by the conservative group Turning Point Action. He is likely to touch on his baseless claims that widespread voter fraud occurred during last year’s election.

    “How dangerous is it for Donald Trump to be coming to your state tomorrow, do you think?” CNN’s Jim Acosta asked Hobbs on “The Situation Room” on Friday.

    “Well, it is dangerous. I’m glad you pointed that out. But the bottom line is it doesn’t matter what he says or does. Nothing is going to change the outcome of the 2020 election. But it also doesn’t change how dangerous this is,” said Hobbs, who is running in Arizona’s 2022 gubernatorial race.

    “The bottom line is that Arizonians are tired of being led by conspiracy theorists. They don’t support this fake audit, and they’re ready for leaders who are going to put those partisan games aside and deal with real issues,” Hobbs continued. […]

  250. says

    Bad news from Iowa:

    […] The Des Moines Register reports that the Iowa State Board of Health is so lacking in members that it’s unable to even achieve a quorum to meet. The board is officially 11-members strong, but currently sits at just 4 members — insufficient to even call a meeting to order. The board is supposed to be made up “a mix of medical and public health professionals, substance-abuse treatment experts and members of the general public” to advise Iowa’s governor and lawmakers on public health issues.

    Terms are 3 years, and the governor is supposed to appoint replacements as terms end or resignations occur. But when terms expired at the end of June, Gov. Reynolds apparently couldn’t be bothered to bestir herself to have actual appointees ready to go for this 100% predictable and planned occurrence, and instead has let the board languish.

    And so it occurred on July 14th that the State Board of Health was supposed to hold an official meeting, only to discover that it did not have even enough members on its roster to even call a quorum, let alone conduct any official business. That’s a good look as we’re looking at the rise in COVID cases here in the state, where our rate of new COVID cases has more than doubled in the past 2 weeks, and tripled from this time a month ago.

    So…why is the Kim Reaper [Governor Kim Reynolds] doing this? I mean, other than the fact that she’s proven to be an incompetent psychopathic Trump-humper?

    Iowa law requires that the board be bipartisan, and on such panels no political party can have a more than “plus one” majority of membership. The current makeup of the board? 3 Republicans and 1 Independent and exactly zero Democrats.

    So, if I had to guess, the reason behind this is because 1) Kimmie doesn’t want a board to meet that might tell her things that go against her existing COVID strategy, which is pretty much doing nothing at all, or 2) She can’t stomach actually appointing Democrats to a critical state panel, even when state law mandates the political makeup of said panel, or 3) Kim is delaying while she scours the state for anti-vax, anti-mask Democrats she can put on the board. Or, I guess there’s a fourth possibility, that’s she’s just plain incompetent at her job, but I guess that doesn’t preclude the other options also being true.

    Meanwhile, the Iowa Department of Public Health has been lacking a Director since the last one retired A YEAR AGO in July 2020. In the interim, the state’s Department of Human Services Director has been doing double duty, serving both in her existing position while ALSO serving as interim Director for the Iowa Department of Public Health. Again, gosh, that sounds like a brilliant idea during a global pandemic — let’s make overseeing the department tasked with the health of Iowans a part-time job!

    Just in case you’re wondering, Kim Reynolds is up for reelection in 2022.

    Link

  251. says

    Dr. Tufeckci, writing for The New York Times:

    Globally, the Covid-19 pandemic is a threat because of scarcity of vaccines, with the highly transmissible Delta variant threatening millions around the world who can’t get vaccinated.

    In the United States, the threat is dysfunction, with unwanted vaccines ready to expire on the shelves as desperate people around the world die for lack of them. […]

    Certainly the severe consequences will fall mostly on the unvaccinated. But the dysfunction affects all Americans.

    To start with, not everyone is unvaccinated by choice. Children under 12 are not eligible to get the shots — that’s about 50 million young people. Plus, the immunocompromised may not respond as well to vaccines, which is at least about five million more people.

    Then there’s the risk that, especially over time, the elderly, whose immune systems are not as robust, may lose some of their vaccine protection — as occurs with other illnesses, and as we’ve seen with Covid, to some extent, in Britain and Israel.

    […] Delta seems to be able to evade some immunity, so, compared to earlier variants, vaccinated or previously infected people are more likely to have infections break through their immunity, even ones leading to mild or moderate symptoms, which means they may be more likely to transmit onward, too. Thus even the vaccinated may pose a danger to unvaccinated children or vulnerable co-workers.

    […] About 34 percent of Americans over the age of 12 and about 44 percent of the entire U.S. population haven’t been vaccinated at all. Some of those may have had Covid, so they have some level of protection, but that is not as good as being fully vaccinated, especially against Delta.

    Even an optimistic projection leaves tens of millions of unvaccinated people exposed to higher risks of hospitalization and death from Covid.

    Already, we are seeing rises in hospitalizations and deaths, almost entirely among the unvaccinated, and the Delta surge has just begun. Based on what we’ve seen elsewhere, we can expect it to rapidly accelerate and wash over the country fairly quickly.

    The most important thing we can do now is to increase vaccination coverage.

    One important step would be to implement and broaden vaccine mandates. There’s plenty of precedent for mandating vaccines in health care, the military and schools, so it wouldn’t be some novel step to do so for one of the safest vaccines we’ve ever had.

    […] Kentucky legally requires everyone working at a long-term care facility to be vaccinated against the flu and pneumococcal disease, unless they have a medical or religious exemption. Mandates for Covid vaccines, too, should be issued, especially for people who work with high risk or vulnerable populations — children, the elderly, the incarcerated and those in medical settings — and possibly for employees in workplaces where large numbers of people congregate indoors. […]

    A staggering 40 percent of workers at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities remain unvaccinated. This is terrible, considering that the elderly, even if vaccinated, would be expected to have more breakthrough infections.

    People may have a right to take their chances with an infection but not to risk transmitting the virus to vulnerable others.

    […] Almost 90 percent of Americans 65 or older have received a vaccine. Since many of them are Republicans and heavy consumers of misinformation, this demonstrates that the harsh reality of the risk calculation can, under the right circumstances, cut through the misinformation. Delta’s terrible effects may provide that tragic tipping point for more.

    […] In New York City, about 20,000 people who were offered a free weekly MetroCard or train ticket got vaccinated at pop-up clinics in subway and train stations. We can try versions of this in neighborhoods, shopping malls, supermarkets and workplaces as much as possible. It’s fine to offer incentives, but it might help just to have health care workers present to answer questions.

    […] Teachers and other staff members who work with kids younger than 12 should be subject to vaccine mandates, just like those who work with the elderly. We should also increase the use of rapid tests in schools, to try to catch outbreaks early.

    […] A sensible school policy would be to mandate masks for all elementary school children, at least until a vaccine becomes available to them, and tie it to local infection and vaccination rates for those 12 and over. Parents who can vaccinate their kids are less at the mercy of everyone else’s choices, making mandates less crucial.

    […] The acute phase of this pandemic is far from over. Our moral obligation is to make vaccines available for as many people as possible and as fast as possible and to do everything we can to save the lives and health of people who don’t yet have that protection.

    Link

  252. blf says

    A vaccination centre has been attacked in the States, Tennessee woman accused of driving through clinic, shouting no vaccine […]. Fortunately, no-one was hurt.

    Here in France, the anti-Health Pass nutcakes were back protesting yesterday, about 160,000 total nationwide, with some violence in Paris. That violence was unsurprisingly since the “yellow vest” loons and loonytarians are now involved. They are not at all peaceful (albeit it’s presumably only a minority that actually riot & loot), and rather remind me the State’s magacreeps, as an angry easily-misled unfocused mob. (There was another march here in the village, but I didn’t see it; encouragingly, I did hear some booing.) In extremely good news, just over 50% of eligible people are now fully-vaccinated, and polls consistently show a majority of support for the Health Pass.

  253. says

    Officials with the National Guard have warned Congress on multiple occasions that trainings and the branches’ readiness would be negatively impacted if the National Guard wasn’t reimbursed the $521 million used during its deployment in Washington, D.C.

    Isn’t that a bit like the police telling the bank robber: “If you don’t pay the fine, maybe next time you rob a bank we just won’t show up at all”? They do realize that Republican representatives weren’t just innocent lambs caught in the middle, right?

  254. blf says

    Here is why we are boycotting the UN Food Systems Summit:

    Social movements and scientists are staying out of the UN summit because it represents big agribusiness interests.

    In September this year, the United Nations will host a Global Food Systems Summit in New York. The organisers of this summit are pitching it as a crucial debate of the decade which is to define the future of agriculture. They aim to bring together various stakeholders across sectors who play a role in the global food system.

    Yet, the organised peasant and indigenous movements from Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas that collectively represent most of the world’s small-scale food producers have called for a total boycott of this summit. In April this year, scores of scientists, researchers, faculty members, and educators who work in agriculture and food systems, also issued an open call to boycott the event.

    […]

    A handful of transnational companies dominate the current global food and commodity trade. For instance, just two firms — Dow Dupont and Monsanto-Bayer Crop Science — hold a 53 percent market share in the seed industry. Merely three firms own 70 percent of the global agrochemical industry that manufactures and sells chemicals and pesticides used on crops. This corporate concentration is also evident in the livestock breeding sector, animal pharmaceutical industry, farming machinery, commodity trade and so forth.

    Therefore, from the sowing of seeds and growing of crops to the processing, distribution, and consumption of food, transnational agribusinesses control and decide everything. Most of these corporations are now entering into partnerships with Big Tech firms to digitalise the global food system to cement their dominance.

    But here is what is striking about these giant corporations. Despite their control over nearly 75 percent of the world’s food production-related natural resources, they can barely feed a third of the global population. Furthermore, they are responsible for most of the $400bn worth of food lost annually and for the emission of large amounts of greenhouse gases.

    By contrast, we — the small-scale farmers, fisherfolk, farmworkers, peasants, pastoralists and Indigenous people — with barely a quarter of the world’s food-production-related natural resources to our name and often neglected in public policies — continue to provide about 70 percent of the world’s food. Our web of local small-scale food producers stepped up in every corner of the world when the industrial food supply chain crumbled under the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Yet, when it comes to defining the future of our food system, guess who gets invited by the UN to conceive and construct the plan, principles and content of the global summit. It is big agribusinesses!

    [… many more details, claims, etc…]

    There is no denying that the global food system has to undergo a radical change. The COVID-19 pandemic and the logistical bottleneck that several countries faced after its outbreak only accelerated that demand for a systemic overhaul.

    Twenty-five years ago, at the 1996 World Food Summit, social movements insisted that food systems built around the idea of food sovereignty offer a pathway to a better, healthier future. Food sovereignty is the right of people to determine their food and agricultural systems. It addresses the people’s most urgent and pressing need: to have healthy, nutritious and climatically appropriate food grown in their locality or neighbourhood.

    [… convoluted history & shenanigans…]

    [… W]e will not remain silent in the face of this flagrant attempt to decide our lives and livelihoods without our participation. We will boycott the UN Food Systems Summit 2021 and join the people’s counter-summit, which will start on July 25. There, we — small-scale food producers and Indigenous people — will reaffirm our solidarity and food sovereignty principles that are rooted in our territories and our way of life.

  255. blf says

    ‘Littering is a growing global problem’: Meet Japan’s Rubbish Collecting Samurai:

    Japan has a new social media sensation: the street performance group “Gomi Hiroi Samurai” (Litter Collecting Samurai), a group of environmentally conscious individuals who pick up rubbish in Tokyo’s streets while performing as Samurai. From back alleys to crowded streets, they leave no stone unturned.

    The group has been giving performances in Tokyo for the past thirteen years, but since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, they have also been sharing their skills on social media through entertaining and educational content. […]

    FRANCE 24 Observers talked to Nakagawara, the manager of the “Gomi Hiroi Samurai”.

    Littering is a growing global problem. Even though Japan is known for being clean, there is still litter in the streets. So that’s why we decided to get rid of litter in Tokyo through our performances. We hope that our performances can help clean the streets, raise awareness about the problem, while bringing lots of joy to people as well.

    After watching our performances, we have heard people say “I used to litter, but after watching Gomi Picking Samurai, I stopped” or “I started picking up litter because of the Gomi Picking Samurai video! I started to pick up rubbish because of the video”. This makes us very happy.

    […]

    The amount of litter in our streets has risen since the beginning of the pandemic because over the past year, people have been using more disposable items due to safety and hygiene fears. We have found tons of disposable masks in the streets. More recently, we have also found lots of alcohol cans and bottles as more and more people drink on the streets.

    People from all over the world — not [only(?)] in Japan — have responded to our videos. They have been commenting on our posts, saying that they want us to help clean the streets in their countries too, especially with all the trash at the moment.

    The performance group’s motto is to not punish the perpetrator, but their vice — which is good news for those who find themselves next to a wayward piece of litter in the group’s presence.

    […]

    An example video (with English subtitles), ゴミ拾い侍 Trash picking SAMURAI.

  256. says

    Pelosi Appoints Kinzinger To Jan. 6 Committee

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on Sunday announced the appointment of Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) to the House select committee investigating the events of Jan. 6, days after Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) withdrew all five of the Republicans he chose for the panel.

    “It is imperative that we get to the truth of that day and ensure that such an attack can never again happen. That is why we established the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol, which is bipartisan,” Pelosi said. “Today, I am announcing the appointment of Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger, an Air Force veteran and Lieutenant Colonel in the Air National Guard, to serve on the Select Committee. He brings great patriotism to the Committee’s mission: to find the facts and protect our Democracy.”

    In a statement issued Sunday, Kinzinger said he has “humbly accepted” his appointment to the select committee.

    “Today, I was asked by the Speaker to serve on the House Select Committee to Investigate January 6th and I humbly accepted,” Kinzinger said. “I will work diligently to ensure we get to the truth and hold those responsible for the attack fully accountable.”

    […] Kinzinger joins Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) as the only Republicans on the select committee. Both Kinzinger and Cheney are vocal critics of former President Trump who voted to impeach him for “incitement of insurrection” and were the only Republicans that voted to approve the measure that set up the select committee.

    […] The select committee is scheduled to hold its first hearing on Tuesday, which will include testimony from police officers who defended the Capitol on Jan. 6.

  257. blf says

    The Mars helicopter Ingenuity has successfully completed its 10th flight, in the process setting a new altitude record (12 metres), and navigating with the most waypoints en route (10). The flight was to survey the Raised Ridges feature (including an attempt to create some stereoscopic images), which is an area of interest to the rover science team. It’s not yet clear if the Perseverance rover will go to Raised Ridges, my current understanding is there are some scheduling problems. As a result of this latest flight, Ingenuity has now flown a total distance of just over 1.6km, i.e., one mile (and has flown twice as many flights as originally planned).

  258. says

    Follow-up to comment 320.

    Posted by readers of the article:

    [In response to Nancy Pelosi’s use of “antics” to describe Republican leaders actions and words regarding the select committee] This distills the current R party down to their essence – a bunch of middle school class clowns, acting out in pursuit of affirmation from their hero, a sociopathic man-toddler.
    ——————
    This is going to be epic. These two Republicans will be the STFU caucus; batting down each crazed position raised by the Trump cultists.
    ———————
    Perhaps Dems and Libs need to start spreading the meme that the only reason that former guy, the two-time loser, thinks he’s still the president is due to COVID-induced brain damage.
    ——————–
    Excellent. Pelosi beats them at their game again. And Kinzinger is a worthy choice.

  259. blf says

    Over a million young orphans are the hidden victims of the Covid-19 pandemic:

    […]
    As the majority of Covid-19 deaths occur in older populations, most of the world’s attention has been focussed on adults. However, as this new study in The Lancet [Global minimum estimates of children affected by COVID-19-associated orphanhood and deaths of caregivers: a modelling study (PDF)] points out, the tragic result of high adult morbidity is that many children have lost their parents, grandparents or primary caregivers to Covid-19.

    Around the world, a total of 1.5 million children lost either a parent, a grandparent who helped care for them or some other relative responsible for their care since March 2021. Of these children, over a million were orphaned of their parents.

    “Orphanhood and caregiver deaths are a hidden pandemic resulting from Covid-19-associated deaths. Globally, from March&nbsp1, 2020, to April 30, 2021, we estimate 1,134,000 children experienced the death of primary caregivers, including at least one parent or custodial grandparent,” says the research team in The Lancet.

    “1,562,000 children experienced the death of at least one primary or secondary caregiver. These children are the tragic overlooked consequence of the more than 3 million Covid-19-associated deaths by April 30, 2021,” says the report.

    The researchers explain how public health responses to the pandemic, such as lockdowns and school closures, have also severely reduced the capacity of established child protection systems and services to provide much-needed child safety interventions and support. In poorer countries, it can even be difficult to establish a child has been orphaned.

    […]

    “For every two Covid-19 deaths worldwide, one child is left behind to face the death of a parent or caregiver,” said CDC’s Susan Hillis, who led the study. “The number of Covid-19 orphans will increase as the pandemic progresses. There is an urgent need to prioritise these children and support them for many years into the future.”

    “We need to respond fast because every 12 seconds a child loses their caregiver to Covid-19,” added study co-author Lucie Cluver of Oxford University.

    [… more details, including recommendations and calls for action from UNICEF, Save the Children, etc…]

  260. says

    The Republican governor of Arkansas on Sunday said resistance to the coronavirus vaccine “has hardened” in some areas of the state, blaming the hesitancy on “false information” and “myths.”

    “I don’t know if I underestimated it, but, certainly, the resistance has hardened in certain elements, and is simply false information,” Gov. Asa Hutchinson said in an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

    “It is myths. As I go into these town hall meetings, someone said: Don’t call it a vaccine. Call it a bioweapon. And they talk about mind control,” Hutchinson said. “Well, those are obviously erroneous. Other members of the community correct that.”

    […] Unvaccinated people make up the vast majority of current hospitalizations and deaths due to coronavirus, with people who haven’t been inoculated accounting for an estimated 97 percent of hospital cases.

    Hutchinson called it “a pivotal moment” for the state with the school year nearing. The governor said he’s been holding town hall meetings on the importance of getting vaccinated, which he argued has spurred an increase in vaccinations.

    “What’s holding us back is a low vaccination rate. We’re doing all that we can,” Hutchinson said. “And I made the decision that it’s really not what the government can tell you to do, but it is the community and their engagement and citizens talking to other citizens and trusted advisers, whether it’s medical community or whether it’s employers. Those are key.” […]

    Link

  261. blf says

    Oops, we’ve have to be sneakier next time (or just abolish the press), Michigan Republicans will return Covid relief funds used to pay own bonuses (Grauniad edits in {curly braces}):

    […]
    Elected Republican officials in a conservative Michigan county who gave themselves bonuses totalling $65,000 with federal Covid-19 relief funds said they would return the money — following days of criticism.

    The Shiawassee county commissioners acted after a prosecutor said the payments were illegal, the Argus-Press reported.

    The Michigan state constitution bars additional compensation for elected officials “after services had already been rendered”, prosecutor Scott Koerner said.

    The commissioners voted on 15 July to award themselves $65,000 as part of a plan to give $557,000 to 250 county employees as “hazard pay”[] for dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.

    The smallest amounts for recipients were $1,000 to $2,000. But the chairman of the county board, Jeremy Root, got $25,000. Two commissioners received $10,000 each, while four received $5,000 each.

    […]

    The commissioners awarded money to other elected officials, including the prosecutor, the sheriff and the county clerk — all Republicans too. They also said they would give it back.

    Since these payments were made, confusion about the nature of these funds has run rampant, a statement said.

    {We} deeply regret that this gesture has been misinterpreted, and have unanimously decided to voluntarily return the funds to the county, pending additional guidance from the state of Michigan.

    One commissioner, Marlene Webster, insisted she had no idea she had voted to pay herself. She returned the money last week, posting a copy of the check on Facebook. She criticized the latest statement, saying there was no misinterpretation.

    Kudos to Ms Webster for calling bullshite on that absurd statement, albeit the claim (whether or not it’s true) she didn’t know what she was voting on isn’t exactly a stellar recommendation.

    […]
    Two Michigan congressmen, a Democrat and a Republican, said federal virus aid was not intended to reward elected officials.

    A judge set a hearing for Monday in a lawsuit aimed at rescinding bonuses for the officials, filed before the latest action.

      † Not set in eejit quotes because it seems very plausible at least some of the (non-elected) county employees were — and quite possibly still are — in a hazardous situation. I presume few-to-none, however, got a bonus of the sizes the commissionersthieves awarded themselves.

  262. says

    Aaron Rupar:

    Trump’s introduction at the “Rally to Protect Our Elections” in Phoenix is beyond parody.

    https://twitter.com/atrupar

    Video is available at the link.

    Also from Aaron Rupar:

    The insurrection committee [select committee to investigate] is bipartisan but Republicans will say it’s not because no insurrectionists are on it.

    blf @325, I’m glad those doofuses got caught, and that they were thoroughly shamed.

  263. says

    Daniel Dale, and various contributors to Daniel Dale’s thread:

    There is so much mis/disinformation being said by the former President of the United States to this full capacity crowd that I simply cannot keep up on the fact checks.
    ——————-
    Trump is now repeating the false and debunked claim that there were 74k mail-in ballots counted that had no clear record of being sent to voters. Audit team leader Doug Logan started this with a false claim in a Senate hearing a week and a half ago.
    —————–
    In short, once more, these were in-person early votes the Cyber Ninjas man wrongly described as mystery mail-in votes.
    ———————-
    The president was on national TV and gave parents wrong info about how much money they’ll be getting from the government. Giving people the actual facts after that kind of error is basic service reporting that has nothing to do with Trump

  264. says

    ‘Audit director’ blocked from entry after data he shared “very closely” matches official tally

    LOL, that headline is perfect.

    In Arizona, a GOP civil war is brewing because the GOP person in charge, who possibly has some shred of decency left, saw the results were the same as the offical tally, and sent what he was seeing to outside experts to confirm.

    […] Basically, the guy in charge who is the Republican former Secretary of State of AZ, Ken Bennett passed the data from the ‘audit’ to experts to look over it and it tracked “very closely” to the Maricopa Co. official tally, because of course. His efforts to confirm these results have in turn resulted in Karen Fann (who is the Republican AZ Senate president and originator of this whole debacle) apparently banning him from the building where the audit is taking place. […]

    Ryan Randazzo, a reporter for the Arizona Republic, summed up the situation in a Friday evening tweet: “The liaison for the Arizona election audit gave some data to outside experts who want to check the Cyber Ninjas’ work, and then he was locked out of the audit. Also it looks like the ninjas miscounted and the roof on the budget building is leaking.”

    […]

  265. says

    Anti-vax, anti-mask, COVID mocking Maine legislator has COVID-19, and he doesn’t sound too good

    Another one bites the dust. From the Bangor Daily News:

    Rep. Chris Johansen, a Republican legislator from Monticello who has been an outspoken opponent of coronavirus restrictions, has reportedly contracted COVID-19.

    In a recording shared by Mainer News contributor Crash Barry, a man alleged to be Johansen said, “Listen up, I’ve got COVID and I’m really, really sick and I just don’t have time to talk to you today.”

    Strange. He had plenty of time to talk last year:

    Chris Johansen has been an outspoken opponent of state-mandated coronavirus restrictions and has organized multiple protests. In April 2020, he organized a protest in front of the Blaine House asking Democratic Gov. Janet Mills to reopen the state’s economy, as well as downplaying the damage that the spread of COVID-19 would have on communities across the country.

    Johansen’s wife has also reportedly been infected and as of July 21 was spending her third day in the hospital, according to the report. Neither she nor her husband have been vaccinated. Both had reportedly shared posts on Facebook mocking the vaccine and downplaying the seriousness of the pandemic.

    The GOP lawmaker’s wife, Cindy Johansen, confirmed her COVID-19 diagnosis separately in a Facebook post. In the post, she claims to have passed out in her garage and that her “legs were like rubber” at one point. She is considered to be at higher risk for hospitalization with COVID due to her asthma.

    Johansen was a particularly vehement opponent of masking. Not only was he one of seven Republicans in the Maine House who refused to wear a mask, he even suggested he might try to sue to prevent Maine’s Democratic House speaker from enforcing the mask rule.

    […] thus far the only confirmation that Johansen himself has COVID is limited to the report by Mr. Barry of the Mainer, who Tweeted the following snippet of a phone call that purportedly features Johansen’s voice: [video is available at the link]
    […]

  266. says

    Wonkette:

    This week, 34-year-old Stephen Harmon, a member of the Hillsong megachurch and graduate of Hillsong college, died from COVID-19. Just a little over a month earlier, he had been mocking vaccinated people and the vaccine, tweeting “I got 99 problems but a vax ain’t one.” And even as he lay dying in the hospital, he swore that if he recovered he still would not get a vaccine. Even as he lay dying, he mocked efforts to encourage vaccination, tweeting “Biden’s door to door vaccine ‘surveyors’ really should be called JaCovid Witnesses. #keepmovingdork.”

    Following the news of his death, Hillsong founder Brian Houston tweeted out his condolences. “Ben has just passed on to us the devastating news that our beloved friend, Stephen Harmon has passed away from Covid. Heartbreaking.”

    You likely know of Hillsong as the wannabe-hip gay-hating church where Justin Bieber was baptized by a guy who was later accused of sexual assault by his nanny. Or the church that made your last “Parks and Rec”rewatch feel a little awkward after you found out about Chris Pratt’s membership in it.

    While Houston described Harmon’s death as “heartbreaking,” he didn’t seem to think it was heartbreaking enough to push his other congregants to get vaccinated, calling it a “personal decision.”

    Via NBC:

    “As a church, our focus is on the spiritual well-being of the people in each of our local communities. On any medical issue, we strongly encourage those in our church to follow the guidance of their doctors,” Houston said in a statement to KCBS-TV. “While many of our staff, leadership and congregation have already received the Covid vaccine, we recognize this is a personal decision for each individual to make with the counsel of medical professionals.

    Except it’s not. Those who don’t get the vaccine are making a decision that affects more than just themselves, so it is our business. The Delta variant is spreading through these people and the more it spreads the more it mutates, until at some point the vaccines that we were responsible enough to get don’t work anymore. And contributing to possible deaths in this way does not seem like a particularly Christlike thing to do.

    You know what’s a personal decision between an individual and their doctor? Abortion, which the very holy Brian Houston vehemently opposes. Also a personal decision? Getting married to a person of the same sex! Houston opposes that, too and fought against the legalization of same-sex marriage in Australia. He would also not allow an LGBTQ person to have a position of leadership in his church.

    Via Houston’s “Do I Love Gay People?” essay:

    Everyone is welcome at Hillsong church except for known predators, those who are disruptive, or those who have adversarial agendas.

    So if you are gay, are you welcome at Hillsong Church? Of course! You are welcome to attend, worship with us, and participate as a congregation member with the assurance that you are personally included and accepted within our community. But (this is where it gets vexing), can you take an active leadership role? No.

    This won’t make everyone happy and to some, this stance may even be seen as hypocritical. We are a gay welcoming church but we are not a church that affirms a gay lifestyle.

    So … just to be clear — Houston’s policy against LGBTQ people is more strict than his policy on vaccines. It’s too intrusive to ask people if they’ve been vaccinated or to encourage parishioners to get vaccinated, but it’s not too intrusive to tell people not to get abortions or marry the person they love. Is that how it works?

    This guy has an actual chance to influence people in his church, to save the lives of those in it, and he does not care enough about them to even try. How very holy of him.

    Link

  267. says

    @Lynna (310)

    Conservative talk radio show host Phil Valentine has been hospitalized with COVID and is “fighting for his life,” according to his family. After expressing concerns about COVID vaccines, he now plans to “vigorously advocate” for them, they said.

    It Could Happen To You is both a 1994 romantic comedy starring Nicholas Cage and Bridget Fonda, and the reason for conservatives to start caring.

  268. blf says

    Here in France, the requirement for a Health Pass (app or paper) proving full vaccination, recent negative test, or immunity, to visit restaurants, cafés, travel on long-distance trains, etc., starting 1st August passed in Parliament early this morning. Apparently, the enabling legislation passed almost-exactly as President Macron proposed, with the two main changes being it expires on 15th November (unless renewed by a vote in Parliament), and the penalties for venues not properly checking are now civil (including possible closure) instead of criminal (a steep fine and possible jail). In addition, apparently all healthcare workers must be vaccinated (by 15th September), or face possible suspension (but will not be fired).

    I liked this quip from Macron, as quoted in French parliament approves law requiring restaurant Covid pass, vaccine rules, about the “yellow vest” anti-vax & nazi protestors:

    [… Macron] criticized “people who are in the business of irrational, sometimes cynical, manipulative mobilisation” against vaccination. Among those organising the protests have been far-right politicians and extremist members of France’s yellow vest movement tapping into anger at Macron’s government.

    Macron was very clear — saying so explicitly — when the measures were announced it was to encourage people to get vaccinated. At the time, vaccination rates were dropping, and only around 40% of the eligible people had been fully-vaccinated. Since the announcement, multiple millions have made appointments (about one million on the first day alone), and now just over 50% are fully-vaccinated. Sadly, cases are now running at over 20,000 per day, essentially all Delta and essentially all in the unvaccinated, a level which is roughly an order-of-magnitude higher than a month ago. ICU occupancy is still low but is starting to uptick. In my general area, the incident rate is almost 360 cases per 100,000 people, and the entire S.France area (Mediterranean coast, etc.), is the current “hot spot”, with several localities imposing new restrictions (generally mandatory mask-wearing, as far as I know).

  269. John Morales says

    Here in Oz: Government agrees to new rules for politicians and staffers following review of parliamentary workplace

    A one-hour, face-to-face training session on sexual harassment for politicians will be mandatory for government ministers, while a “name and shame” list of non-attendees will be considered for other members.

    But there will be few other consequences for politicians outside the Cabinet who decide not to show.

    The training is one of several recommendations the government has agreed to following a review of the parliamentary workplace ordered after former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins made public allegations she had been raped by a colleague in a minister’s office at Parliament House.

    Ms Foster’s review found there had been 38 complaints related to the conduct of parliamentarians made by Parliament House staff since July 2017.

  270. blf says

    The secrets of Seville cathedral’s banquet set in stone:

    Painstaking research deciphers carvings of religious bounty dating back almost five centuries

    For almost 500 years, the arch that connects the largest Gothic cathedral in the world with its Renaissance sacristy has offered visitors a sumptuous, if little glimpsed — and even less studied — vision of religious bounty.

    The 68 beautifully carved plates of food that adorn the archway in Seville’s cathedral offer rather more than bread and wine.

    There are pigs’ trotters and wild strawberries, aubergines, clams and oysters. There are peaches, radishes, a skinned hare with a knife by its side, a squirrel served on a bed of hazelnuts and a plate of lemons across which a small snake slithers. There are also cakes and biscuits and, more exotically, a dish of peppers newly imported from Mexico, which had fallen to Hernán Cortés and his men just over a decade before the carvers set to work.

    The plates, which are all too often obscured when the huge wooden doors of the sacristy are open, are the subject of a new book by a Spanish art historian who has spent the past 11 years trying to unpick the secrets and meanings of the cathedral’s stone buffet.

    […]

    The peppers, which Rodríguez had taken for strawberries until one of the botanists he consulted set him straight, are the only crop from the Americas.

    “There aren’t more foods from there because it was still early days,” he said. “At that time, corn was mainly used as animal feed, and the potato hadn’t arrived in Spain because the conquest of Peru took place in the 1530s, so the ships from Peru were only beginning to arrive.” [The arch was carved in 1533–1535]

    […]

    Rodríguez is delighted with the fruit of more than a decade’s research, and keen to stress that he owes a huge debt to the botanists, zoologists and other experts he consulted on his physical and intellectual travels.

    “I couldn’t have written the book if it wasn’t for the decades of work by researchers who have helped us understand food in a cultural context,” he said.

    “All I would have seen was a load of plates. When I started looking at the arch, I saw a window on to the 16th century, but I wasn’t quite sure what was on the other side.”

    There’s a set of images at the link. Even without the captions, it’s easy to tell what is carved, they are quite well done and largely obvious. Sadly, there isn’t an image of the peppers — and I haven’t been able to locate one (or indeed, many images at all of the archway or the cravings).

  271. John Morales says

    blf,

    Thank you, innumerate France24 reporter. Geesh…

    Heh. Glad you snarked about it, I don’t dare to any more on this thread (too noxious, I’m told).

    Yes, it’s a magnitude rather than a temperature, so each degree C is 9/5 of a degree F, so 2 degrees C is 18/5 degrees F, so 3.6 degrees F.

    Still, we in Oz are very much part of the problem:
    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/jul/25/plans-of-four-g20-states-are-threat-to-global-climate-pledge-warn-scientists

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-07-26/carbon-tax-has-come-back-to-haunt-the-government/100322396

    (We keep electing our equivalent of the USA’s Republicans :| )

  272. says

    Also, **some text** should yield bold: some text, *some text* should yield italics: some text, > some text on a new line should yield a block quote:

    some text

    The asterisks can be replaced by underscores as well, but only if done on both sides.

    The monospaced text above is done with backticks: `some text` yields some text.

  273. blf says

    Re @336, They™ have since corrected it, and the text now reads “3.6 degrees Fahrenheit”, which is an improvement (albeit implies a, um, degree (sorry!) of precision not present in the 2 degrees Celsius of the IPCC report). Still “innumerate” (using a broad definition), but not as glaringly so…

  274. says

    Why Democrats can’t ‘out-organize’ voter-suppression policies

    The solution to an anti-election crusade isn’t some undefined organizing campaign; the solution is federal voting rights legislation.

    President Joe Biden and his team have said all the right things about protecting voting rights, but it’s not altogether clear if the White House has a detailed plan. It’s one thing to get the principles right, it’s something else to follow through with policy.

    It was against this backdrop that the New York Times reported last week:

    Ultimately, the advocates fear that the Biden administration … has largely accepted the Republican restrictions as baked in, and is now dedicating more of its effort to juicing Democratic turnout. In private calls with voting rights groups and civil rights leaders, White House officials and close allies of the president have expressed confidence that it is possible to “out-organize voter suppression,” according to multiple people familiar with the conversations.

    In practical terms, the apparent idea behind Democrats “out-organizing voter suppression” involves overcoming Republican-imposed hurdles through doing the hard work of registering, motivating, and turning out Democratic voters, effectively circumventing the obstacles GOP officials are putting between voters and their own democracy.

    This is not a good plan.

    Right off the bat, it’s important to emphasize that voter suppression is wrong. For Democrats […] to tolerate it because they believe Republican schemes can be overcome through hard work is a mistake.

    But that’s just the start. The purported White House approach is also based on a series of dubious assumptions. For example, it’s impossible to “out-organize” partisan gerrymandering. For that matter, with Republican officials in some states concocting plans in which local election results can be overturned through new GOP-imposed election-administration laws, there’s no “organizing” solution that would help.

    What’s more, let’s not forget that the Republicans’ anti-election campaign isn’t based on temporary fixes: these are new, permanent, state-level laws that will remain on the books indefinitely. […]

    Politico published a related report this morning, adding, “Interviews with more than three dozen Democratic elected officials, party operatives and voting rights activists across the country reveal growing concern — bordering on alarm — about the potential impact in 2022 of the raft of new laws passed by Republican legislatures, particularly in some of the nation’s most competitive battleground states.”

    The solution isn’t some undefined organizing campaign; the solution is federal voting rights legislation.

  275. says

    Via Lawyers, Guns, and Money there is a discussion about the psychology of grifters and marks.
    https://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2021/07/on-cooling-the-right-wing-marks-out

    “Harrington argues that the key here is to employ “coolers,” who in this context means trusted high status authority figures from the marks’ own community. (Think Fox News personalities etc.). People from outside the community can play a part by praising and encouraging the coolers to do this work, since outsiders can’t do any effective cooling themselves, given that the very existence of the outsiders reminds the marks that they’ve been conned.”
    I picked up on this phenomena while dealing with the manosphere and thought of it as “taking advantage of ones in-group psychological advantages”.

  276. says

    More infighting in the Republican Party, schadenfreude moment: Though Republican leaders are desperately trying to recruit Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) to run for the Senate next year, Donald Trump traveled to his home state over the weekend and trashed the governor, telling conservatives Ducey “doesn’t do a damn thing.” Information is from Business Insider.

  277. says

    ‘The people of Laredo won’: Community celebrates termination of two border wall contracts

    […] the agreements were for 31 miles of border barrier in South Texas’ Laredo and Webb counties totaling over $500 million in taxpayer funds […]

    “THE BORDER WALL IN LAREDO IS DEAD,” the #NoBorderWall Coalition declared in a tweet following the announcement. “An epic David vs. Goliath Battle. The people of Laredo won!”

    While the Biden administration had in June announced that it would be returning more than $2 billion that the previous administration had swindled from military funds for its stupid and racist wall, the two soon-to-be-cancelled contracts “were funded with DHS fiscal year 2020 appropriations,” CNN reported.

    “The contracts worth $564M—more than $18M per mile—would have destroyed the city landmarks of Las Palmas Nature Trail and Riverbend, parts of Laredo College, the downtown Tres Laredos Park, small businesses, private homes, family ranches, and many other iconic river sites,” #NoBorderWall Coalition continued. Environmental activists had previously called the damage inflicted by this stupid project, “incalculable.”

    […] Ecstatic community leaders told Border Report that they hoped that two other contracts negotiated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the region also end up on the chopping block. Advocates said those contracts total $484 million and would “destroy an additional 40 river miles that extend from the Colombia International Bridge to El Pico Rd, as well as the northern reach of Zapata County and historic San Ygnacio.”

    “[…] our organization, our people would not accept it. It was so counter to our way of life and to what we live every day. There is no disaster. There is no danger.” […]

    “We continue to call on @POTUS to terminate remaining construction contracts across the border region, and we demand that @DHSgov rescind its waivers issued under the REAL ID Act. We also urge officials to prioritize remediation of border ecosystems damaged by wall construction,” #NoBorderWall Coalition continued. […]

  278. says

    Republicans don’t want to have a bipartisan infrastructure bill after all

    […]
    [Republican] arguments, according to Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Pat Toomey, are that transit got plenty of COVID-19 relief money. “Nobody’s talking about cutting transit,” Toomey said Sunday. “The question is, how many tens of billions of dollars on top of the huge increase that they have already gotten is sufficient? And that’s where there is a little disagreement.”

    That funding was to keep transit programs afloat during the pandemic, allowing them to essentially survive. New funding is necessary for public transit to meet future requirements. That’s where House Transportation Committee Chair Peter DeFazio—an Oregon Democrat—and 30 of his committee members come in. They’ve warned the Senate in a letter that they won’t accept less than the $715 billion in the infrastructure bill, which they have already passed.

    Public transportation groups agree. “The historical share for public transit from the Highway Trust Fund is 20%,” Paul Skoutelas, president of the American Public Transportation Association, said Sunday. “It is the absolute minimum acceptable level to help sustain our nation’s public transportation systems. It is imperative that we make robust, forward looking investments to modernize and expand public transit that will assist in our economic recovery from the COVID pandemic and get Americans back to work.”

    As of Monday morning, Republicans are rejecting that global offer from Democrats, saying it “goes against” what had already been agreed to, but since anything they’ve already agreed to hasn’t been released to the public (if it has even been written down anywhere), no one outside the negotiations has any way of verifying that. A Republican source told Punchbowl News: “The ‘global offer’ we received from the White House and Chuck Schumer was discouraging since it attempts to reopen numerous issues the bipartisan group had already agreed to.”

    In other words, when [Republican Senator Susan] Collins said last Wednesday that they “are making tremendous progress, and I hope that the majority leader will reconsider and just delay the vote until Monday,” she was lying. Republicans insisted they had to have a bill before they could vote, even though last week’s vote was purely procedural, an agreement that eventually there would be a bill to consider on the floor. Collins insisted that they could have that much by Monday—today. They don’t. Surprise, surprise.a,/ba.

  279. says

    Follow-up to comment 346.

    Posted by readers of the article:

    As many of us know (and I’m sure you are among those who know), the undemocratic nature of the U.S. Senate is very evident in the current situation. The 50 Republican Senators represent about 43% of the U.S. population. The 48 Democratic and 2 independent Senators represent about 57% of the U.S. population. Ideally, we would have at most 43 Republican Senators, 55 Democratic Senators, and the two independents. But we don’t, because each state is “equal” in the Senate. Piling the filibuster on top of that just makes things even worse.
    ———————–
    Of course the filibuster needs to be ended. And at least 50 Senators (plus the Senate President) need to vote to end it. Manchin and Sinema want to keep the filibuster. There might not be a solution until after the 2022 election, which is a very grim prospect.

  280. says

    Donald Trump is ‘An American War Criminal in His Own Country’ ~ Carl Bernstein on CNN

    For the past six months Donald Trump has persisted with his reckless and inflammatory “Big Lie” rhetoric that the 2020 presidential election was “rigged” and “stolen” from him. That egomaniacal blather led directly to the January 6th insurrection in Washington, D.C. And it continues to this day with Trump’s most recent cult rally in Phoenix, Arizona, where he spent nearly all of his 90+ minutes ranting about the last election.

    However, Trump’s phony election fraud fetish only scratches the surface of his danger and dementia. On Sunday’s Reliable Sources on CNN, famed Watergate reporter, Carl Bernstein, delivered a convincing argument for changing the context with which we view Trump. His self-serving distortions of reality are not merely examples of his narcissistic thirst for adoration and power. They represent a much more serious breach of societal norms and international law. Bernstein began by noting that “What we’re talking about is a kind of delusional madness.” Then he elaborated saying that…

    “I think when we’re talking about Trump’s crimes as an American war criminal in his own country, that he has perpetrated upon our people, including the tens of thousands who died because of his homicidal negligence in the pandemic, putting his own electoral interests above the health of our people as they were slaughtered in this pandemic.

    “Looking at his actions in terms of fomenting a coup to hold on to office, in which the head of the American military, the Joint Chiefs of Staff [Gen. Mark Milley], has now compared Trump – not the press, not reporters comparing Trump to Hitler – but rather the head of the American military, comparing him and his movement to Brownshirts, to the Reichstag fire. This is a huge wake up call to this country.”

    […]

    Video is available at the link.

    Steven Beschloss:

    We are living in a country in which tens of millions are continuing participants in a death cult committed to a sociopathic conman and criminal who occupied the White House to enrich himself and feed his broken ego.

    More commentary:

    […] the liability of the conservative, Trump-fluffing media cannot be ignored. First, and still foremost, is Fox News, where Trump’s lies are not just tolerated, they are supported by a roster of anchors, contributors, and guests, who are almost uniformly devotees of the Cult of Trump. […] They believe that President Biden is a communist. They believe that Trump won the election. In short, they are hopelessly bonkers. And they are spreading that sickness to their viewers.

    It is crucial that the nation recognize just how detrimental Trump has been to America, and will continue to be if the American people don’t hold him accountable. That means our legal institutions need to step up and charge him for the crimes he’s committed. Unless they do it will just be setting the precedented for the next aspiring dictator to take over where Trump left off. Bernstein and Beschloss are saying exactly the right things. But if we do nothing in response, the American experiment will end in failure.

  281. says

    Wonkette:

    It’s shaping up to be a Hot Router Summer in Wingnuttistan after King Wing [Trump] learned a new word. Here he is trying it out 11 times in 36 seconds at a rally this weekend in Phoenix, Arizona.

    The county has, for whatever reason, refused to produce the network ROUTERS. We want the ROUTERS, sonny. Wendy, we gotta get those ROUTERS, please. ROUTERS! Come on, Kelly, we can get those ROUTERS. Those ROUTERS, you know what? It was so beyond the ROUTERS, there’s so many fraudulent votes without the ROUTERS. But if you got those ROUTERS, what that will show! And they don’t want to give up the ROUTERS. They don’t want to give ’em. They are fighting like hell. Why are these commissioners fighting not to give the ROUTERS? How simple could it be? That will tell the truth.

    […]

    As Salon’s Zachary Petrizzo points out, this is probably “a reference to a MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell conspiracy theory which alleges the ‘routers’ of Dominion voting machines were connected to the Internet on election night and thus now need to be examined.” Despite the county board of elections’ repeated insistence that none of the voting machines were connected to the internet so the ROUTERS will show nothing relevant to election night […]

    But Trump is right about one thing: Maricopa County has indeed refused to hand over its ROUTERS in response to demands from Republican legislators. After being forced to toss out $2.8 million of voting machines after handing them over to be irretrievably compromised by the team of Cyber Ninjas Arizona Republicans hired to conduct its fraudit, the county is loath to waste another $6 million in service of this sham investigation, which is how much it would cost to replace the ROUTERS, according to County Board Chair Jack Sellers.

    Maricopa Sheriff Paul Penzone, whose department’s internet traffic travels those same routers, called the demand to turn them over to the Cyber Ninja’s “mind-numbingly reckless,” complaining that the Republican legislators hadn’t even consulted his team before demanding the machines be turned over to a private contractor.

    “If you’re making decisions that affect law enforcement, have the courtesy to at least hear from us,” he told the local NBC affiliate.

    There’s also the small matter of exposing the structure of the county’s entire network to hackers by making the ROUTERS and their contents a matter of public record.

    […] “We have to hold these people accountable,” Trump said, warming to his perfidious Republicans theme. “Hopefully — and I say this, and I have confidence in it — hopefully, your attorney general, Mark Brnovich … will take this incredible information given by these incredible warriors and patriots, and he’s going to take it and he’s going to do what everybody knows needs to be done.”

    He also took the opportunity to shit on Ducey, whom “old crow” Mitch McConnell had wanted to conscript to run against Mark Kelly, until Trump torpedoed the idea. Because why on earth would you want a guy with universal name recognition who has already won statewide running for office when you could have some rando created in a test tube by Peter Thiel, right?

    But if the Republicans want to eat their own in a magnificent ouroboros shitshow, who are we to complain, right?

    Link

  282. says

    As far as Kevin McCarthy is concerned, Adam Kinzinger and Liz Cheney are “Pelosi Republicans.” It serves as a reminder of the GOP’s post-policy problem.

    House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) attended a White House event this morning honoring the anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, but while he was there, the Republican chatted with reporters about his ongoing frustrations with Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), both of whom have agreed to serve on the Jan. 6 special select committee.

    McCarthy was non-committal on whether he’ll follow through on his threats to punish his own members, and he couldn’t even recall the last time he’d spoken with Cheney or Kinzinger. Toward the end of his brief Q&A, the GOP leader said: “Never in the history of America has a Speaker picked the other side, so they can predetermine what comes out.”

    […] his description of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) work isn’t quite right.

    First, Pelosi offered Republicans an independent commission with an equal number of members from both parties. McCarthy refused. Second, Pelosi invited McCarthy to choose five House GOP members for the special select committee.

    The minority leader responded with “malicious” choices who were clearly uninterested in taking the process seriously. Pelosi rejected two of the five selections — prompting McCarthy to boycott the investigation altogether — but she selected two Republicans to serve on the panel, bolstering its bipartisanship.

    If Pelosi were only interested in “predetermining” the investigation’s outcome, she would’ve stacked the committee with far-left firebrands, not two Republicans — including one who, up until recently, served as a member of the House GOP leadership.

    McCarthy nevertheless followed up this morning by calling Cheney and Kinzinger “Pelosi Republicans.”

    The New York Times’ Jonathan Martin noted soon after, “None of this surprising, but past party schisms had at least some grounding in policy differences…. This has nothing to do with any policy issue.”

    […] In this instance, McCarthy starts with two questions: “Are members loyal to Donald Trump?” and “Are members willing to help cover up what transpired during the insurrectionist riot on Jan. 6?”

    If the answer to the questions is “yes,” then members remain Republicans in good standing. If “no,” they’re partisan apostates.

    For the record, Illinois’ Adam Kinzinger voted with Trump’s position more than 90% of the time. Wyoming’s Liz Cheney voted with the former president roughly 93% of the time.

    In a party that cares about the substance of governing, these two would be considered conservative Republicans. In Kevin McCarthy’s GOP, they’re “Pelosi Republicans.”

  283. says

    Josh Marshall: Trump: RINO, RINO, RINO

    Ex-President Trump says any Republican who signs on to the bipartisan infrastructure deal is a RINO.

    “Senate Republicans are being absolutely savaged by Democrats on the so-called “bipartisan” infrastructure bill. Mitch McConnell and his small group of RINOs wants nothing more than to get a deal done at any cost to prove that he can work with the Radical Left Democrats. It is so important to him that he is agreeing to almost anything. Don’t do the infrastructure deal, wait until after we get proper election results in 2022 or otherwise, and regain a strong negotiating stance. Republicans, don’t let the Radical Left play you for weak fools and losers!”

    Blah blah blah. Whatever. I don’t know how much impact this will have on the infrastructure deal. As I’ve argued earlier, the Dems approach to this seems, rightly, that they want Republicans to join but will move along without them. What this signals more is Trump’s role in the 2022 midterm.

    Trump will not only intervene to push his issues to the forefront and maintain his own dominance of the GOP. He’ll also intervene just to undermine any potential rival power centers in the party.

  284. says

    Say, what now?

    GOP Guv Candidate Investigated For Fatal Crash After Driving For Miles With Motorcycle Stuck To Car

    A Pennsylvania Republican running for governor was reportedly seen driving for several miles with a motorcycle stuck to the front of his vehicle after a fatal crash, according to the Associated Press and the Philadelphia Inquirer.

    Charlie Gerow, a Republican running for Pennsylvania governor, is under investigation for his role in the car accident. A person told the AP that he witnessed a car driving with a motorcycle attached to the front of the car after the accident, moving at a high speed. The crash prompted the Pennsylvania Turnpike in Chester County to be shut down for several hours. Gerow has maintained that he was not the “cause” of the fatal accident.

    Gerow, who also serves as the first vice chair of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) and the American Conservative Union, on Friday said that he is cooperating with a police investigation into the incident.

    Gerow’s spokesperson, Kevin Harley, confirmed to the Inquirer that Gerow was the driver and is currently “cooperating fully with the investigation and will continue to do so.” […]

    Pennsylvania State Police confirmed to local media that the crash involving Gerow happened on Wednesday night on the turnpike in an area that runs through Tredyffrin Township. In a news release, police said the turnpike was closed for seven hours after the accident in the westbound lanes in Chester County, according to the AP.

    […] Nicholas Forgette, a highway construction worker who was working on the turnpike Wednesday evening, told the Inquirer on Friday that he was on the opposite side of the highway as he witnessed Gerow’s car pass by with a motorcycle wedged into the grill of his car.

    Forgette said he noticed sparks coming off the car that was traveling at high speed, which put him and other members of his construction crew in a state of “disbelief.”

    “That is not something you see every day. It was a big motorcycle, too. There were a bunch of sparks. And it was very loud,” Forgette told the Inquirer.

    Forgette added that Gerow was pulled over by state police several miles from where he first saw him. Forgette told the Inquirer that he recalls seeing Gerow sitting on a guardrail, lacking facial expressions and appearing “kind of disconnected.”

    Forgette recounted seeing the motorcycle on Gerow’s car “sitting upright, with the side stuck into the front of the car.”

  285. says

    Follow-up to comment 352.

    Some background on Gerow:

    Charles R. Gerow, is an American strategic communications professional. Gerow is the CEO of Quantum Communications, a Harrisburg-based public relations and public affairs firm. In 2010, Politics Magazine named him one of the most influential Republicans in Pennsylvania. Gerow holds a J.D. degree from Villanova University School of Law and has been a Pennsylvania attorney for over 40 years. Gerow began his career on the campaign staff of President Ronald Reagan and continued to do political work […]

  286. says

    NBC News:

    The Department of Veterans Affairs announced Monday that all medical facility employees will be required to be vaccinated against Covid-19, becoming the first federal agency to issue a mandate.

    A related story from NBC News:

    California will require state employees and all health care workers to show proof of Covid-19 vaccination or get tested weekly as officials aim to slow rising coronavirus infections, mostly among the unvaccinated.

    Also related:

    Health care employers should mandate vaccinations for all their workers, a coalition of leading medical groups said Monday, as cases of Covid-19 continue to spike across the nation.

  287. says

    Washington Post:

    President Biden said Monday that long-term symptoms of covid-19 could be considered a disability under federal civil rights laws, an announcement timed to coincide with the 31st anniversary of the landmark Americans With Disabilities Act.

    Good move by Biden.

  288. says

    NBC News:

    The identification of a 98th victim in the collapse of Champlain Towers South in Surfside, Florida, brought the painstaking process of searching for missing people to a close Monday.

  289. says

    Reuters:

    A new worldwide wave of COVID-19. Natural disasters in China and Germany. A cyber attack targeting key South African ports. Events have conspired to drive global supply chains towards breaking point, threatening the fragile flow of raw materials, parts and consumer goods, according to companies, economists and shipping specialists.

  290. says

    There’s more to the charges against Trump confidant Tom Barrack, a newly unsealed document reveals.

    As flagged by lawyer and blogger Luppe Luppen, Brooklyn federal prosecutors accused UAE businessman Rashid Al-Malik in a 2019 complaint of acting as an agent of a foreign government.

    But the complaint and an attached affidavit by an FBI agent reveals more detail about the federal government’s investigation into the alleged influence operation, which saw Barrack arrested last week in Los Angeles. […]

    The complain places Al-Malik as the main conduit for not only an Emirati influence campaign, but a Saudi one as well. Prosecutors allege that much of this occurred via an unnamed U.S. Person 1, who appears to match Barrack’s description as “a friend” to then-candidate Donald Trump and an “adviser and surrogate for the Campaign” who “continued to advise senior U.S. government officials with respect to Middle East policy” after the 2016 election.

    In the affidavit, an FBI agent alleges that Al-Malik worked with the person who matches Barrack’s description and a senior Trump campaign official in May 2016 to push UAE and Saudi influence.

    At that time, the group was allegedly trying to arrange a meeting between unnamed UAE officials and Trump after the person who appears to be Barrack travelled to Abu Dhabi with Al-Malik.

    “I am in Abu Dhabi with [UAE Official 1]. Call if u can,” wrote the person who matches Barrack’s description to an unnamed senior Trump campaign official on May 1.

    That allegedly progressed throughout the month. On May 4, the person who matches Barrack’s description purportedly wrote to Al-Malik saying, “Tell [the senior UAE government official] to [p]ack his bags. [The Candidate] is the man.” Trump became the presumptive GOP nominee that same day.

    By that point, the charging document says, the person who is likely Barrack was back in the U.S., and met with senior Trump campaign officials in New York City that same day.

    […] The timing of the complaint itself lines up with at least one development in Barrack’s case.

    Prosecutors accused Barrack of lying to FBI agents during a June 20, 2019 meeting.

    Al-Malik was charged five days later, according to the filing. Prosecutors separately alleged in a filing last week that Al-Malik fled the U.S. in April 2018, after an interview with law enforcement. […]

    Link

  291. says

    Fox hosts scold Cori Bush for hiring security but utter not single word to those who threatened her

    Rep. Cori Bush, of Missouri, sent screenshot after screenshot of racist, threatening, and vile messages she’s received before and after being elected to Congress in 2020. They were the kind of messages that would make even a critic of Bush flinch, but Fox News responded to the posts not with empathy but with actual criticism about what she’s spent on security. The conservative hosts of course made no mention of why she needs security. “Cori Bush represents St. Louis Missouri in Congress. She wants to defund the police,” Sunday Night in America host Trey Gowdy said. “Well, let me be more precise. She wants to defund your police but not her police.

    “She spent nearly $70,000 on her own personal security last year. I don’t know about your city or state, but $70,000 would get you your own personal police officer in South Carolina 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Gowdy added. “Cori Bush tells us she is progressive, the better word might be hypocritical.” […]

    “You’re going to get yourself murdered if you keep running off that big old gorilla mouth,” the unnamed writer penned. “You ever see what you look like when you are spewing that s–t? You need to be put into a f–king cage at the zoo. Instead of police reform, how about N—-r reform. As they say in the country, “The only good n—-r is a dead n—-r.” In another message, the congresswoman was called a “bed-wench” and “porch monkey n—-r.” And in yet another of the inhumane messages, someone wrote: “i hope somebody defuses your head from your body.” […]

    While the disgusting messages prompted Democratic legislators like Sen. Cory Booker and Rep. Jamaal Bowman to issue statements of support for Bush, Republicans instead criticized Bush for feeling the need to protect herself and her staff. And they often relied on their misinterpretation of the defund-the-police-movement to do so, […] “Hit pieces make it seem as though defund means abolish. It actually means to reallocate SOME funds to better community services.” […]

  292. says

    What?

    Trump Claims for Himself the Exclusive ‘Right to Destroy’ America

    Throughout his single term as “president,” and his subsequent habitation of loserville, Donald Trump has demonstrated an impressive ability to make a total and complete arse of himself. Some of the highlights include his belief that stealth fighters are actually invisible, his claims that windmills cause cancer, his proposal to nuke hurricanes, his praise for how George Washington’s Army took over airports, and his advocacy of injecting bleach to cure COVID.

    It may be going too far to suggest that his latest hysterical outburst surpasses any of those beauties, but it is at least in the same league. At his recent cult rally and coronavirus super-spreader in Phoenix, Arizona, Trump told his enrapt disciples that…

    “Our country is being destroyed by people who have no right to destroy it. People that won an election illegally, people that should not have been elected. They lost in a landslide.” [Video available at the link]

    Let’s begin at the end of that vacuous verbosity. The only one who lost in a landslide was Trump himself. And despite months of hyperventilating, he still hasn’t presented a shred of evidence of any “illegal” election activity. He’s been peddling his inflammatory “Big Lie” rhetoric months without any concern for the violence that it has caused and will likely cause in the future.

    However, what truly deserves recognition for downright idiocy is Trump’s assertion that the people who he, in his egomaniacal delirium, alleges are destroying the country have “no right” to do so. That implies that there are people who do have that right. And of course, in his cartoon brain, that means him. To his credit, he already made a pretty good attempt at it.

    […] “It wasn’t until Trump left office that…we learned how much worse it really was. How close the country came to the brink, not only of chaos but of democracy falling.” [Video available at the link]

    In addition to the above, Trump dropped a few other Loony Tunes this week. For instance, he still thinks that he can be returned to his throne this year:

    “The Radical Left Democrat Communist Party rigged and stole the 2020 election. The time to act is not in 2022, or in 2024, the time is right now here in Arizona. We don’t have the luxury to sit back and wait for the next election” […]

    Trump called the New Green Deal, “New Green Bullsh*t.” He’s so presidenty. […]

  293. blf says

    France’s Protestant church marks first wedding of same-sex pastors:

    France’s Protestant church has celebrated its first wedding of same-sex pastors, authorities said Monday, six years after gay clergy first won the right to marry.

    Emeline Daude and Agnes Kauffmann, both in their early thirties, tied the knot in the southern city of Montpellier on Saturday, they said.

    “It’s a step for the church,” Kauffmann, who like her wife is undergoing the probationary period for pastors required by the United Protestant Church of France (EPUdF), told AFP.

    […]

    “We’re getting there, step by step,” said pastor Jean-Francois Breyne who presided over Saturday’s ceremony. “There’s a big symbolic dimension,” he told AFP.

    Around 30 of the world’s Protestant churches allow same-sex marriages of their clergy, according to [EPUdF spokesman Daniel] Cassou.

    […]