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. says

    CNN – “Staff at a Florida hospital say they are hearing panic, fear and regret from unvaccinated Covid-19 patients”:

    Health care workers at Jacksonville’s Baptist Medical Center in Florida are hearing panic, fear and regret from many of their patients as an increasing number are admitted for Covid-19 complications — and as many need to be put on ventilators.

    “We’re getting ready to intubate the patient, which means putting them on a ventilator, and they said, ‘If I get the vaccine now, could I not go on the ventilator?’ So, they’re begging for it,” chief nursing officer Tammy Daniel told CNN. “They’re desperate because they are gasping for air, they can’t breathe, they are scared, they feel like they’re going to pass away. ”

    But by then, they are too late for a vaccine to stop their infection.

    Baptist Medical Center has seen its Covid-19 patient numbers multiplying every day, Daniel said. “We can’t open up beds fast enough to meet the demand,” she said.

    Florida is one of the 32 states to see an average number of new cases over the last seven days increase by more than 50% from the week before, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. But it is one of only two states in which every county in the state is listed as having high Covid-19 transmission.

    The surge is overwhelming Baptist Medical Center, where 389 patients are being treated for Covid-19 — an increase of about 50% from a week ago. Of the new patients, 83 are on ventilators, fighting to survive.

    More than 99% of those patients aren’t vaccinated and the average age is around 50, said Michael Mayo, CEO of Baptist Health.

    Dr. Michelle Aquino said many of the patients getting very sick are young.

    Last week, she admitted a 19-year-old and a 25-year-old for Covid-19, both perfectly healthy before their infections, she said.

    “So, you’re seeing these healthy people walking around saying I don’t need a vaccine, I’m fine if I get Covid I’ll be fine and that’s not true. With the Delta variant we have really seeing that is not true,” Aquino said.

    Some patients said they were more concerned about the vaccines than the disease. Now they say they regret not getting the vaccine sooner….

  2. blf says

    Donations to RNLI rise 3,000% after Farage’s migrant criticism:

    UK[] lifeboat charity raises £200,000 in single day after CEO hits out at Nigel Farage’s taxi service claim

    The Royal National Lifeboat Institution has raised more than £200,000 in a single day after defending its work rescuing migrants at risk of drowning in the Channel, while volunteering inquiries have almost quadrupled.

    The RNLI said it had been inundated with donations and messages of support since its chief executive hit out at Nigel Farage’s claim that it was running a migrant taxi service.

    In an interview with the Guardian, Mark Dowie, the chief executive of the RNLI, said it was the charity’s moral and legal duty to rescue migrants in danger in the sea, and that he was very proud of its humanitarian work.

    The RNLI, which runs the UK’s network of volunteer lifeboats, said it received £200,000 in charitable donations on Wednesday — around 30 times its normal average of £6,000–£7,000 per day. During the same period, there was a 270% increase in people viewing volunteering opportunities on its website.

    Jayne George, the RNLI fundraising director, said the donations had come from a mixture of one-off payments, new supporters and people increasing their regular contribution.

    She said: “We are overwhelmed with the huge level of support we have received in the last couple of days. This was never a fundraising campaign — we simply wanted to tell the story of our crews and make it clear that our charity exists to save lives at sea. Our mission is to save every one. Our supporters’ kindness means so much to us. Without them we could not save lives at sea; every one is a lifesaver.”

    […]

    Nigel Farage appeared on GB News on Wednesday night and stood by his suggestion that the RNLI was being used as a taxi service for illegal trafficking gangs.

    He said he had massive admiration for the organisation but he believed it was doing the wrong thing by rescuing migrants, and that this was leading to division in coastal communities.

    Labour’s deputy leader, Angela Rayner, tweeted: “I’d like to see Nigel Farage putting his life at risk to save others rather than being a rent-a-gob on TV, but I won’t hold my breath.

    “It is not patriotic to want people fleeing war, persecution and violence to drown in the sea off the coast of Britain. In fact, it is fundamentally un-British, given we were integral to the drafting and signing of the UN Convention on Refugees.” [that convention just turned 70 years old …]

      † The RNLI also operates in Ireland (the Republic) as well as the UK. It is same RNLI (not a separate organisation) and uses the name RNLI. From the Irish Lifeboats site:

    In the March 1926 issue of The Lifeboat Journal, an article on the roll out of motor lifeboats reads: ‘This work in Ireland has not been affected by the political changes and the setting up of an Irish Free State Government with the status of a Dominion. At the express wish of this Government the Institution is continuing to maintain the Service in the Free State as well as in Northern Ireland.’

  3. blf says

    On the previous page of this thread, it was asserted without evidence When a new page is created (after 500 comments), new comments no longer show up on the ‘recent comments’ tab on the sidebar.

    Quick glance at that sidebar… Nope. Wrong again.

    What really happens was worked out years ago and described in both this series of poppyhead threads, and in other thread(s?) by other blogger(s?) here at FtB. What actually happens is N days after a new thread is created, new comments in that thread stop showing up in the sidebar. It has nothing to do with the number of comments or comment-pages, just the elapsed time since the creation of the thread. (N is either 14 or 21, I don’t specifically recall now, and cannot be bothered to look up the beforementioned description(s).)

  4. blf says

    Yet more on the France→England quarantine requirement (see, e.g., @500(previous page)), from the Grauniad’s current pandemic live blog:

    France’s Indian ocean territory of La Réunion will be put into a partial lockdown at the weekend due to a surge in Covid-19 infections.

    AFP reports that there is growing concern among officials in Paris over the infection rates in France’s overseas territories in the Caribbean, Indian Ocean and the Pacific where vaccination uptake is far lower than the mainland average.

    La Réunion will from Saturday for the next two weeks go into partial lockdown, with movement only allowed 10km from people’s home in the daytime […]

    The situation on La Réunion is being particularly closely watched after Britain said it was the main reason why travellers from France — unlike all other [of England’s] non-red list destinations — were still being obliged to quarantine for 10 days on arrival in the country.

    Foreign secretary Dominic Raab told the BBC that this was due to the prevalence of the Beta variant on La Réunion, which is off Madagascar and over 9,000km from Paris. “It’s not the distance that matters, it’s the ease of travel between different component parts of any individual country,” he explained.

    A spokesman for Brittany Ferries, which runs ferries across the Channel, however said this logic is “like France hammering British holidaymakers due to a Covid outbreak on the Falkland Islands.”
    […]

    In France overall (which means both mainland and the overseas departments), just shy of 60% have now been fully-vaccinated.

  5. says

    From blf’s #2:

    Labour’s deputy leader, Angela Rayner, tweeted: “I’d like to see Nigel Farage putting his life at risk to save others rather than being a rent-a-gob on TV, but I won’t hold my breath….”

    Hee. (Also, still funny.)

    He said he had “massive admiration” for the organisation but he believed it was “doing the wrong thing” by rescuing migrants, and that this was leading to “division in coastal communities”.

    Related to this, I recommend the Sicily episode of the Stanley Tucci series Searching for Italy. (I had to fast-forward through a number of non-vegan parts, but the whole series is lovely.)

  6. says

    Follow-up to comment 491.

    About booster shots, Josh Marshall had this to say:

    Yesterday, Albert Bourla, the CEO of Pfizer, went on CNBC to discuss a new study which suggests that the Pfizer vaccine’s efficacy drops from about 96% against hospitalization to about 84% after six months [corrects the 88% I posted in comment 491]. Bourla said that these results match with data emerging out of Israel. “We have seen also data from Israel that there is a waning of immunity and that starts impacting what used to be what was 100% against hospitalization. Now, after the six month period, is becoming low 90s and mid-to-high 80s.”

    The good news, says Bourla, is that this can be solved with a booster shot. This all sounds plausible and it’s good news inasmuch as people can get booster shots and get back to higher levels of protection. But the study is funded by Pfizer and remember that Pfizer is currently in a tussle with the CDC and the FDA over whether booster shots are actually necessary. A few weeks ago Pfizer announced it was moving ahead with seeking authorization for a third shot and the CDC and FDA, quite curtly, issued a joint statement saying, in so many words, not your call.

    One way to look at this is that Pfizer has a multi-billion dollar incentive to create a market for third shots. (Here we’re talking about a third dose of the same vaccine.) […] But that doesn’t mean that boosters aren’t a good idea – at least for some people or perhaps at some point. The real issue is we need some impartial arbiter to sort this issue out. We can’t be led around in our COVID control strategies by a private company which stands to make billions or tens of billions of dollars based on the decision being made in a certain way.

    […] the level of antibodies in your blood isn’t the only measure of your current immunity. I’m not in a position to evaluate the actual study. But my zero-technical-expertise read was that the study itself seems more equivocal than what Bourla suggests. Here’s one key sentence from the discussion portion fo the study: “Efficacy peaked at 96.2% during the interval from 7 days to 2 months post-dose 2, and declined gradually to 83.7% from 4 months post-dose 2 to the data cut-off, an average decline of ~6% every 2 months. Ongoing follow-up is needed to understand persistence of the vaccine effect over time, the need for booster dosing, and timing of such a dose.”

    https://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/a-helluva-spot

  7. says

    Follow-up to SC’s comment #1.

    Florida officials defy DeSantis as infections spike

    Local officials across Florida are bucking Gov. Ron DeSantis and his anti-mandate coronavirus strategy as infections soar in the state and nation. They’re imposing vaccine and mask requirements for government workers and even declaring states of emergency. In a sign of how worrisome the new Covid-19 surge is, Disney World is ordering all guests over 2-years-old to wear masks indoors at its Florida theme park, regardless of vaccination status.

    [On Tuesday] Florida reported over 16,000 new cases — the highest one-day total since mid-January when the vaccine was not widely available. The local mandates also came as DeSantis reiterated that the state will resist any pandemic-related regulations, even as it remains one of the worst hotspots in America.

    “It is very important that we say unequivocally ‘no’ to lockdowns, no to school closures, no to restrictions and no to mandates,” DeSantis said Wednesday night in Salt Lake City, where he was the keynote speaker at a conference hosted by the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council. [Aiyiyiyi, all the best people in one place in Utah … telling each other lies and plotting to promote anti-science legislation.]

    The current fight mirrors the clash between DeSantis and local officials that consumed Florida during the pandemic last year, but with a new deadly twist: People continue to resist vaccinations even as the highly infectious Delta Covid variant sweeps through America.

    […] the current infection crisis threatens to derail DeSantis’ successes ahead of his 2022 reelection campaign and possible bid for president in 2024. Already, Rep. Charlie Crist (D-Fla.) and Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, the two biggest-name Democrats running to challenge DeSantis in 2022, have used Florida’s recent surge to hammer the governor. Crist criticized DeSantis this week for sending a fundraising email focused on claims he would “hold Fauci accountable” while Fried said she will begin hosting regular briefings to update the public on Covid and vaccination rates in the state.

    And with no state-level policy response to the recent infection spike, local government officials are rushing to fill the void.

    Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings, husband to Democratic U.S. Senate candidate and Rep. Val Demings, has declared a state of emergency and is requiring the county’s 4,200 nonunion workers to get vaccinated by the end of September. Leon County announced it’s also imposing a vaccine requirement for county workers. Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava mandated masks at all county facilities. And in Broward County, school board officials are keeping in place mask mandates for students in the next school year despite DeSantis’ vocal opposition.

    […] The cascade of new local Covid-19 regulations comes months after lawmakers approved a DeSantis-championed law that now allows the governor or GOP-dominated legislature to invalidate local orders, including those tied to the pandemic, if they decide the order “unnecessarily restricts a constitutional right, fundamental liberty, or statutory right.”

    […] The schools issue has the potential to be the most contentious. Last week, 6,999 children under the age of 12 contracted Covid-19 in Florida, which was nearly 10 percent of the 73,199 new cases across the state last week, according to the Florida Department of Health, which no longer does daily reporting.

    […] “We are all elected to protect students and employees,” Broward board member Sarah Leonardi said. “It’s my feeling that just because the governor doesn’t want to act in the best interest of his constituents, that does not absolve us from our responsibility.”

    But DeSantis has steadfastly maintained that schools should not require students to wear masks, saying at a press conference last week that “we’re not doing that in Florida. OK? We need our kids to breathe.” […]

    DeSantis is a danger to the children of Florida.

  8. says

    Wonkette:

    Members of the US House of Representatives Thomas Massie, Marjorie Taylor Greene, and […] Ralph Norman […] are suing Nancy Pelosi for “masks.”

    Any lawsuit that Thomas Massie and Mad Marge file against Nancy Pelosi is guaranteed to be hilarious. And this one might actually be even better than I had hoped.

    […] This is one of the dumbest things I’ve ever seen.

    This week, the thick three filed suit in DC federal court against Pelosi, House Sergeant at Arms William Walker, and Chief House Administrative Officer Catherine Szpindor, who, “chose to fine Plaintiffs through an imminent reduction in their compensation” because they flouted the rule mandating masks on the House floor.

    You see, according to Massie, Marjie, and Norman, they can’t be required to wear masks! Because fReE sPeEcH!!!1!

    “Plaintiffs, all of whom are members of Congress belonging to the minority party, engaged in the symbolic speech of not wearing a mask on the Congressional floor in defiance of the majority party’s compelled symbolic speech rule.”

    According to the three congresspeople,

    Wearing a mask conveys a particularized message: namely, that mandatory face coverings are medically and scientifically necessary to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, that these intrusions on bodily integrity are necessary and essential, that informed consent and civil liberties are to be suppressed in favor of government’s decisions regarding public health, and that individuals cannot be given the choice to make their own decisions regarding their facial attire and medical choices.

    Not to harsh their mellow, but shut the fuck up. Your “symbolic speech” is literally breathing germs all over errrrrebody!

    Being forced to wear a mask, under these circumstances, involved both compelled statements of fact and opinion, all of which were embodied in the symbolic speech in question.

    (It didn’t.)

    The masking requirement was an attempt to prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, medicine, and science, despite a deep divide over these issues of opinion.

    I’m not a doctor or a scientist, so I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure that’s not how science works.

    But, you see, we’ve got things all wrong. Because Republicans are the party of medical freedom of choice!

    The reason for Plaintiffs proceeding to the floor without masks was to engage in symbolic protest speech. This protest speech was a protest against the double standard being enforced by Defendants, the well-founded beliefs shared by Plaintiffs that mask wearing is not scientifically based, that mask wearing is not necessary for the vaccinated or naturally immune, that mask wearing is merely political theater, that one’s bodily integrity should be free from government control, that individuals should have the liberty to choose what they wear on their face, and that individuals should be free to make their own medical decisions.

    One more time, for the cheap seats in the back, these right-wing Republicans said:

    one’s bodily integrity should be free from government control [and] individuals should be free to make their own medical decisions.

    So, umm, about my uterus and your trans healthcare bans …

    […] One of my favorite parts is when they argue that wearing white is the same as refusing to wear a mask.

    In other contexts, symbolic speech has been embraced on the House floor by members of the majority party, particularly where it does not disrupt the proceedings of the House, as the following images of members of the House reveal:

    [photo available at the link]

    Yes, folks. Great point. Women wearing suffragette white to the State of the Union is EXACTLY THE SAME THING as willfully spreading a deadly disease!

    If Democrats get to wear white suits, then Republicans get to show their support for COVID by giving it to everyone else!

    […] The First Amendment claim is based on the [completely batshit] idea that public health measures like mask mandates are … unconstitutional restrictions on free speech. You see, Massie, Marge, and Norman can’t be forced to engage in the symbolic speech of being against COVID! It is very important to these congresspeople that everyone knows they are pro-COVID!

    The rest of the claims are just as dumb, though this might actually be the first case about the 27th Amendment I’ve ever seen! The 27th Amendment is about how Congress can’t change Congress’s salary until a new Congress is sworn in. And according to our legal geniuses over here, “A fine that is deducted from pay is a decrease in compensation.”

    Nope! It’s not. It’s a fine.

    And the Article I claims are just as amazing as the rest. Included in Article I, Section 5 is a clause that says “Each House may […] punish its members for disorderly behavior.”

    “But,” you might be thinking, “doesn’t that actually support the other side?”

    Yes. Yes it does. But in the sad little minds of the QAnon caucus, it means that these assholes can’t be punished, because they don’t think their conduct was disorderly! […]

    They also think their Article I rights were violated. (They weren’t.) Article I, Section 6 says “The Senators and Representatives shall receive a Compensation for their Services, to be ascertained by Law, and paid out of the Treasury of the United States.” And they think that, because the resolution mandating masks wasn’t “law,” they can’t be fined.

    That’s not how this works.

    […] So yeah. In this unending hellscape we live in, this is a real lawsuit that was filed in federal court by sitting members of Congress.

    These are the people writing our laws. […]

    Here’s the complaint. It really is a work of art. [available at the link]

    Link

  9. says

    Guardian (support them if you can!) – “‘A nightmare scenario’: how an anti-trans Instagram post led to violence in the streets”:

    On 24 June, a woman claimed on Instagram that a Korean spa in Los Angeles had allowed a “man” to expose himself to women and girls in the women’s section.

    The unsubstantiated allegations about Wi Spa in LA’s Koreatown neighborhood quickly spread from social media to rightwing forums to far-right news sites to Fox News, and were distorted by anti-transgender groups across multiple countries.

    The massive media attention resulted in two weekends of chaotic rallies in LA this month, in which anti-trans and trans-rights protesters fought in the streets, and women carrying “protect female spaces” signs paraded alongside members of the far-right Proud Boys. Trans counter-protesters and their supporters described being Maced, stabbed and chased by rightwing demonstrators, as well as injured by police.

    The episode, experts said, offered a case study in how viral misinformation can result in violence, and provided clear evidence of the links between anti-trans and far-right movements, including QAnon conspiracy theorists, who believe that a cabal of elite pedophiles is manipulating the American government.

    The events also highlighted the abuse that trans people face, even in one of America’s most queer-friendly cities, with multiple trans women telling the Guardian about the violence and harassment they experienced both in the streets and on social media for attending the counter-protests.

    “You think LA is so progressive for trans rights,” said Khloe Rios-Wyatt, a local trans organizer. “But clearly, we haven’t really acquired the protections necessary for our community. We continue to be harassed and assaulted just for being transgender in a public space.”

    In one week, Fox discussed Wi Spa in six segments, said Brennan Suen, LGBTQ program director at Media Matters, which tracks rightwing media. The host Tucker Carlson repeated, without evidence, that a “man” was naked in the “female kids section” of the spa. Another host warned that what happened at Wi Spa will occur “all across the land”.

    “It fits this very specific formula where Fox seizes on a local story and blows it up,” said Suen, whose research found that Fox had run 86 segments on trans people in Biden’s first two months in office.

    “Those who oppose trans people have tried a lot of different tactics in order to make us seem scary,” said Julia Serano, a trans author and feminist activist. Serano has recently documented how the contemporary “moral panic” against trans people has deep roots in multiple conservative movements that historically spread baseless claims about threats to women and children. That includes segregationists (who argued that integrating bathrooms would endanger white women), and anti-gay activists (who claimed that passing gay rights would allow “homosexuals” and “child molesters” to “recruit” children).

    The anti-trans protesters marching towards Wi Spa on 17 July chanted, “Save our children”, a slogan taken up by QAnon conspiracy theorists, and carried signs demanding “Arrest all the pedos”.

    There has been a recent rise in false accusations of grooming and pedophilia against trans people, Serano said, noting the growing overlap between anti-trans groups and the QAnon conspiracy narrative about a cabal of powerful leftwing pedophiles: “It’s like they are trying to lay the foundation for just smearing all trans people as child sexual predators.” Research has repeatedly found no evidence that laws mandating trans-inclusive bathrooms and locker rooms lead to violence.

    Over the past four years, conspiracy theories about pedophilia have repeatedly resulted in violence,…

    Much, much more at the link.

  10. says

    BBC – “Covid: Stalled Russian vaccines cause global anger”:

    Countries across the globe say they’ve been let down by broken promises and stalled deliveries of Russia’s Sputnik V Covid vaccine.

    Scores of countries enlisted Russia’s help through deals to buy millions of doses of Sputnik V, unveiled last year as the world’s first Covid jab.

    Earlier this year, the head of the state-run Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) – responsible for marketing the vaccine abroad – said Russia had the “capacity to provide the vaccine to 700 million people outside Russia” in 2021.

    Yet as of July, many countries, including developing nations, have reported receiving only a fraction of the doses for which they’ve paid.

    What’s gone wrong?

    Despite ambitious plans to roll out Sputnik V across the world, Russia is finding it difficult to produce enough for its own citizens.

    This is despite only 15% of Russians – wary of new drugs and government programmes – having one shot of the vaccine by the end of June.

    According to Reuters, there’s been an increase in domestic demand after some regions made the vaccine compulsory for public-facing professions. Moscow says this, coupled with storage problems, has led to shortages.

    As far as foreign customers go, the Kremlin pledged this week that it would resolve difficulties with its overseas customers, but its immediate priority was to satisfy domestic demand….

    Much more atl.

  11. says

    Brian Mier, teleSUR:

    Brazilian academic Adriana Dias was researching the rise of neonazism in Brazil and found that in 2004, Congressman Jair Bolsonaro published messages on 3 neo-nazi websites, proclaiming, “you are the reason my mandate exists.”

    Remember all the hacks, even self-proclaimed marxists, who went out of the way to tell us that Bolsonaro wasn’t really a fascist during the 2018 election season? I do.

    You even had a member of Jacobin Brazil’s editorial board accusing leftists of being “hysterical” for calling Bolsonaro a fascist during the 2018 election season.

    Here’s an article about it from the Intercept Brazil (in Portuguese): “Pesquisadora encontra carta de Bolsonaro publicada em sites neonazistas em 2004.”

    It makes passing note of this meeting – “Bolsonaro meets with German far-right figurehead.” He met last week with Beatrix von Storch of AfD. She called Brazil – along with the US and Russia – a “strategic partner” with whom they want to “shape the future.” More at the link. (The article claims that AfD “supported” the January 6th attack, but that’s incorrect. I’m assuming the quotes are accurate, but I don’t read the languages.)

  12. says

    Pres. Biden: “The Delta variant is different than what we’ve dealt with previously. It’s highly transmissible and causing a new wave of cases. But here’s the good news: we have the power to stop it. Get vaccinated — and let’s defeat this virus once and for all.”

  13. Trickster Goddess says

    Winnipeg Catholic priest accuses residential school survivors of lying about abuse for money

    The statements were made over weeks of services at St. Emile Roman Catholic Church in Winnipeg, and were included in videos on its Facebook page.

    During a July 10 mass Father Rhéal Forest — who was temporarily placed at St. Emile while the parish’s regular pastor, Father Gerry Sembrano, was on vacation — said residential school survivors lied about being sexually abused so they would receive more money during the settlement process with the federal government.

    “If they wanted extra money, from the money that was given to them, they had to lie sometimes — lie that they were abused sexually and, oop, another $50,000,” Forest said.

    “It’s kind of hard if you’re poor not to lie,” he continued, adding that all of the Indigenous people he knew during his 22 years working up north liked residential schools.

    Forest acknowledged that a few had bad treatment, but said some of that was due not to nuns and priests but rather night watchmen.

    […]
    In another mass, Forest described passing by another local church that had been vandalized with the words “Save the children.”

    He said he’d like to scare off vandals with a shotgun blast and shoot them if they didn’t run away.

    “As I’m passing by, thoughts of anger. If I had a shotgun at night and I’d see them, I’d go, ‘Boom!’ just to scare them and if they don’t run away, I’ll shoot them,” Forest said in the July 18 sermon, laughing.

  14. Trickster Goddess says

    Out of the $79 million the Catholic Church agreed to pay in compensation, they wormed their way out paying more than $35 million of it. During the period since the agreement they have spent $300 million on cathedral and church construction and renovations in Canada.

    Millions meant for residential school survivors spent on Catholic Church lawyers, administration: documents

    The Roman Catholic Church spent millions of dollars that were supposed to go to residential school survivors on lawyers, administration, a private fundraising company and unapproved loans, according to documents obtained by CBC News.

    The documents include a host of other revelations. They appear to contradict the Catholic Church’s public claims about money paid to survivors.

    “There are also a large number of serious accounting discrepancies that are alarming to Canada,” states one document, a 53-page federal government “factum” summarizing the evidence in a 2015 court matter.

    None of the other churches involved in the landmark Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement of 2005 — Anglican, United and Presbyterian — engaged in any of these practices. They all paid the full amounts agreed to years ago without incident.

    The Catholic Church never ended up having to legally justify its activity. On the eve of the 2015 hearing on the matter, Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Neil Gabrielson approved the church’s controversial buyout proposal, and the case was closed.

    […]The opening paragraph of the factum states that the Catholic Church “has breached its obligations in the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement.”

    Aside from a failed $25-million fundraising campaign, the church was required to pay $29 million in cash with strict criteria for its use. The church was also allowed to meet its final $25-million commitment with “in-kind services.”

    The factum, written by federal lawyers Alexander Gay and Anne McConville, listed the following expenses and deductions claimed by the church. Many of these details are also listed in the transcribed cross-examination of the Catholic Church’s accountant, also obtained by CBC News.

    For the $29-million cash payment:

    — $2.7 million was paid to lawyers for legal work and unapproved “representation” unrelated to the compensation agreement. Two of the law firms receiving a total of 80 per cent of this money also had lawyers on the board of the national Catholic corporation that approved the expenses. One of those lawyers billed for legal and consulting expenses for attending the same events.
    — $2.3 million was spent on administration costs. Although no other Christian churches claimed administration expenses, the Catholic agreement allowed for the federal government to reimburse “reasonable” claims. The government agreed to pay $1 million of this amount.
    — $1.6 million was claimed for donations made outside the approval process to projects with a “First Nations” component. No explanation or invoices are supplied as evidence.
    — The church deducted more than $8 million for amounts paid to survivors before the 2005 settlement agreement was reached. This appears permissible in the agreement, but it has not been mentioned publicly by church officials when asked about the $29 million.
    — The Catholic Church did not file annual financial statements to the government as required until 2012, five years into the agreement.

    For the $25 million of in-kind services:

    — The Catholic Church accountant testifies that $25 million worth of services were provided, “even though he has not audited these records and accounts, has no basis on which to value these services, and relies only on minutes of meetings” supplied by Catholic officials.

    For the $25-million fundraising campaign that netted $3.9 million:

    — The church accountant testified that many of the donations had a “string attached,” telling him where to put the money, contrary to the agreement. “Somebody will pay $50,000 and say, well, $40,000 of this has to be distributed back to this project,” the accountant testified.
    — $1.8 million was loaned from the $29-million cash account to the Catholic Church’s fundraising arm and the private company contracted. Roughly $1.3 million of that was never repaid. The church had agreed the funds should remain separate and did not obtain federal government approval to take this action.

    See also:

    Legal misstep lets Catholic Church off hook for residential schools compensation (April 2016)

    A miscommunication by a federal lawyer allowed the Catholic Church to renege on its obligation to try to raise $25-million to pay for healing programs for the survivors of Indian residential schools.

    Of that amount, the Church raised only $3.7-million, and a financial statement suggests less than $2.2-million of that was actually donated to help former students cope with the trauma inflicted by the residential schools.

    ‘Where is their soul?’: Inside the failed push to make Catholic Church pay for its residential school abuses

    As Catholic Church balked at paying residential school settlement, Quebec nuns sold nearly $25M in real estate

  15. KG says

    blf@4,
    While I understand the annoyance in France about the country being regarded as a hotbed of Covid-19 beta variant because there’s a lot of it in Réunion, it could be seen as a consequence of the bizarre French insistence that various distant parts of the world are in fact parts of France.

  16. says

    Here’s a link to the July 30 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    From there:

    China’s successful handling of the coronavirus pandemic could be under threat as he Delta variant causes its worst outbreak in months.

    A coronavirus cluster that emerged in the Chinese city of Nanjing has now reached five provinces and Beijing, forcing lockdowns on hundreds of thousands of people as authorities scramble to control Delta’s spread.

    AFP reports:

    China has previously boasted of its success in snuffing out the pandemic within its borders after imposing the world’s first virus lockdown in early 2020 as Covid-19 seeped out of Wuhan in the centre of the country.

    But an outbreak this month driven by the fast-spreading Delta variant has thrown that record into jeopardy since it broke out at Nanjing airport in eastern Jiangsu province.

    The city reported a total of 184 local coronavirus cases Friday, after nine cleaners at Nanjing Lukou International Airport tested positive on July 20. At least 206 infections nationwide have been linked to the Nanjing cluster, which officials have confirmed as the highly transmissible Delta variant.

  17. John Morales says

    In Australian news: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-07-30/federal-government-to-fight-sacred-site-charges/100337754

    The Attorney-General has intervened in a court battle over alleged sacred site damage in Kakadu National Park, arguing the Commonwealth is not bound by protections enshrined in Northern Territory law.

    A letter written by federal Attorney-General Michaelia Cash, released on Friday, directs Parks Australia to plead not guilty over the alleged illegal construction of a walking track to the top pools of Gunlom Falls.

  18. says

    Amanda Knox:

    Does my name belong to me? My face? What about my life? My story? Why does my name refer to events I had no hand in? I return to these questions because others continue to profit off my name, face, & story without my consent. Most recently, the film #STILLWATER.

    / a thread…

  19. says

    KVVU – “‘I should have gotten the damn vaccine’: Las Vegas father of 5 dies from COVID-19”:

    Two weeks ago, life was great for Jessica DuPreez. She was on vacation in San Diego with her fiancé Michael Freedy, (better known as Big Mike at the M Resort where he worked), and their five kids ages 17, 10, 7, 6 and 17 months.

    Shortly after their vacation, Freedy went to the hospital for what he thought was a severe sunburn. He tested positive for COVID-19.

    Thursday morning, Freedy died with DuPreez by his side.

    “He is only 39. Our babies now don’t have a dad. You can’t say I am young and it won’t affect me because it will,” DuPreez said.

    Freedy was not vaccinated for COVID-19.

    “We wanted to wait just one year from the release to see what effects people had, but there was never any intention to not get it,” DuPreez said. That is a decision she said she will always regret and has now gotten the shot along with their oldest child.

    Freedy sent her a text message while in the hospital it said, ““I should have gotten the damn vaccine.”…

  20. says

    TPM – “Subpoena Jim Jordan.”

    Josh Marshall transcribed Jordan’s bumbling response to simple questions from Taylor Popielarz (video at the link):

    INTERVIEWER: Yes or no, did you speak with President Trump on January 6th?

    JORDAN: Yeah i mean I speak … i spoke with the president last week. I speak with the President all the time. I spoke with him on January 6th. I mean i talk with President Trump all the time. And that’s, that’s … I don’t think that’s unusual. I would expect members of Congress to talk with the President of the United States when they’re trying to get done the things they told the voters in their district to do. I’m actually kind of amazed sometimes that people keep asking this question. Of course … I talk to the President all the time. I talked … like I said, I talked with him last week.

    INTERVIEWER: On January 6th did you speak with him before, during or after the Capitol was attacked?

    JORDAN: Ahhh i’d have to go … I’d I I … i spoke with him that day after … i think after … i don’t know if i spoke with him in the morning or not. I just don’t know. i’d have to go back and …. I mean i don’t, I don’t I don’t know … ahhh … that … when those conversations happened. But what I know is that I spoke with him all the time.

  21. says

    From today’s DN! headlines:

    Biden Announces New Federal COVID Mandates

    President Biden has announced new requirements for civilian federal employees amid the surge in Covid-19 cases from the rapidly spreading Delta variant.

    President Joe Biden: “Every federal government employee will be asked to attest to their vaccination status. Anyone who does not attest, or is not vaccinated, will be required to mask no matter where they work, test one or two times a week to see if they’ve acquired COVID, socially distance and generally will not be allowed to travel for work.”

    Biden also directed the Pentagon to work towards a vaccine mandate for all military members, and called on states and local governments to use federal funding they received to offer a $100 incentive for vaccinations. New York City is launching that initiative today. Meanwhile Washington D.C. is the latest area to reinstate an indoor mask mandate for all.

    CDC Finds Delta Variant Just as Transmissible in Breakthrough Infections, More Contagious Than Flu

    According to an internal CDC report, infections of the Delta variant could be just as transmissible from breakthrough infections in vaccinated people as from the unvaccinated, and could be more severe — with each infected person able to infect 8 to 9 others. The document also said the delta variant is as contagious as chicken pox and more contagious than the viruses that cause the common cold, the seasonal flu and other easily transmitted illnesses.

    House Weighing Bill to Extend Eviction Moratorium Hours Before Expiration

    The House is expected to consider a bill today which would extend a nationwide moratorium on evictions, set to expire Saturday, as nearly 12 million people in the U.S. are behind on rent. On Thursday, Biden urged Congress to find a way to extend the ban since the CDC is no longer able to do so as a result of a Supreme Court ruling last month.

    Half of Burma Could Contract COVID, Pakistan Enacts New Restrictions, Haiti Hospitals Overwhelmed

    Britain’s U.N. ambassador has warned that half of Burma’s population of 54 million could contract COVID-19 in the next two weeks amid the ongoing turmoil following a military coup in February. Pakistan is enacting an air travel ban for anyone who cannot provide a vaccine certificate. It is also mandating all public sector workers get vaccinated, as well as public transport and retail staff, and teachers and students 18 and older. Meanwhile record cases have been reported across Japan and in Tokyo this week, as the Olympics continue.

    Israel said it will be offering booster shots of the Pfizer vaccine to people over 60, the first country to do so. This despite less than 10% of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories having been fully vaccinated. The European Union pulled ahead of the US this week in its rate of vaccination after a slow rollout earlier in the year. In July, the EU has given shots at four times the pace of the US.

    In Haiti, health workers say hospitals are becoming overwhelmed due to a surge in cases as the country grapples with a worsening economic and political crisis in the wake of the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse….

    Congress Passes Emergency Funding Bill for Capitol Security, Resettlement of Afghan Interpreters

    Both the House and Senate passed a $2.1 billion emergency spending package for Capitol security, in response to a funding crisis incurred by the January 6 insurrection. The measure also includes funds for resettling Afghans who worked with U.S. forces during the occupation of their country. The first evacuation flight for Afghan interpreters and others arrived at Washington Dulles Airport earlier this morning.

    U.S. Will Return 17,000 Looted Archaeological Treasures to Iraq

    The United States is returning some 17,000 archaeological treasures to Iraq that were looted during the decades of war and U.S. occupation. Some of the artifacts date back 4,000 years. Baghdad’s culture minister praised the move as an unprecedented restitution.

    Israeli Soldiers Kill 20-Year-Old Palestinian at Funeral for Slain 12-Year-Old

    In the occupied West Bank, Israeli forces shot dead a Palestinian man at a protest that took place during the funeral of a 12-year-old Palestinian boy killed by Israel just one day earlier. 20-year-old Shawkat Khalid Awad reportedly died from gunshot wounds to the head and the stomach. Israeli forces also fired tear gas, rubber-coated bullets and stun grenades at the mourners.

    First Protester Tried Under Hong Kong’s National Security Law Receives 9 Years

    In Hong Kong, the first protester to be tried under a sweeping national security law was sentenced to 9 years for inciting terrorism and secessionism. Tong Ying-kit was arrested in 2020 while riding a motorbike and flying a flag with the slogan “liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times.” Over 100 people have been arrested under the legislation following months of massive mobilizations in 2019.

    Greenland Lost Enough Ice in One Day to Cover Florida in Two Inches of Water

    In climate news, researchers found Greenland lost 8.5 billion tons of surface mass due to ice melting over just one day this week — an event that’s only happened three times in the last decade. That melt is large enough to cover the entire state of Florida in at least two inches of water.

    Ex-Archbishop of D.C. Theodore McCarrick Charged With Sexual Assault of a Minor

    A Massachusetts court has charged Theodore McCarrick, the former archbishop of Washington, D.C. with sexually assaulting a 16-year-old boy during a wedding reception in 1974. 91-year-old McCarrick, who was defrocked in 2019, is the highest-ranking Catholic official in the U.S. to face criminal charges for sex crimes. Massachusetts law stops the clock on the statute of limitations if someone accused of a crime leaves the state.

    Rep. Cori Bush Unveils Bill to Protect Rights of Unhoused People

    Missouri Congressmember Cori Bush has introduced the Unhoused Bill of Rights. The bill would protect the human rights of unhoused people, including freedom from harassment by law enforcement. It would also work to permanently end the unhoused crisis by 2025 through increasing affordable housing, universal housing vouchers, and ensuring funding of essential social services and housing programs. This is Congressmember Bush.

    Rep. Cori Bush: ‘’I sit here today as a formerly unhoused Congressmember. I am outraged. There is no reason we can fund wars and weapons but we can’t provide universal housing and healthcare. The urgency of this crisis has never been clearer, as the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed just how many of our neighbors live one missed paycheck away from becoming unhoused.”

    Alabama Coal Miners Bring Strike to BlackRock Offices in NYC

    Hundreds of striking Alabama coal miners traveled to New York City this week and held a protest in front of the offices of hedge fund BlackRock, the largest shareholder of Warrior Met Coal. Over 1,000 members of the United Mine Workers of America have been on strike since April 1 after rejecting a new contract that refused to restore their full pay, after miners took a pay cut in 2016 to help keep the company afloat.

  22. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    US president Joe Biden faces significant opposition to his plan to require US federal workers to get vaccinated or undergo regular testing.

    The Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, which represents more than 26,000 federal officers, said that requiring vaccinations represents an infringement on civil rights, the Washington Post reports.

    “There will be a lot of pushback. It’s going to be an avalanche,” president Larry Cosme said.

    Meanwhile, the American Postal Workers Union said: “While the APWU leadership continues to encourage postal workers to voluntarily get vaccinated, it is not the role of the federal government to mandate vaccinations for the employees we represent.”

    The American Federation of Teachers, which represents almost 200,000 health-care workers who could be affected by vaccination mandates in places such as California, said, according to the Washington Post:

    In order for everyone to feel safe and welcome in their workplaces, vaccinations must be negotiated between employers and workers, not coerced. We believe strongly that everyone should get vaccinated unless they have a medical or religious exception, and that this should be a mandatory subject of negotiation for employers to keep their employees safe and build trust.

    But healthcare professionals are concerned that mandating vaccines outside contract negotiation will only result in more people leaving the bedside at a time when staffing levels are already low from the trauma of the past year.

    However, the proposal commands the support of other unions such as the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, which represents about 25,000 federal workers at agencies such as NASA.

    “We’re in the middle of a pandemic, over 600,000 people are dead, and we don’t want any more of our members dying,” said Paul Shearon, the union’s president, according to the Washington Post.

  23. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 25

    Shortly after their vacation, Freedy went to the hospital for what he thought was a severe sunburn. He tested positive for COVID-19.

    Sadly, it’s those sort of stories that the anti-vaxxers and COVID-deniers leap upon: “Oh! How do he go from having sunburn to suddenly having COVID?! Since when does sunburn cause COVID??? They’re just declaring any ailment to be COVID so BIG PHARMA and the hospitals can kill people on ventilators and then collect the insurance!”

  24. says

    DOJ notes: Trump told DOJ officials ‘just say that the election was corrupt + leave the rest to me’; rejected DOJ debunkings of specific claims with, ‘Ok fine — but what about the others?’; said, ‘You guys may not be following the internet the way I do’.”

    NYT link atl.

  25. says

    SC @26, Jim Jordan tried to dodge and dance around the question, but he failed. Yes, he did talk to Trump on January 6. Yes, he knows there was something wrong with that conversation, as you can tell by his bumblefuck method of trying to dodge the question.

  26. says

    Follow-up to SC @32.

    Trump urged DOJ officials to call election corrupt ‘and leave the rest to me’

    […] Trump pressured top officials in the Department of Justice (DOJ) to call the 2020 presidential election results corrupt, according to documents released by the House Oversight and Reform Committee.

    The documents are notes from former acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen’s deputy, Richard Donoghue, that were allegedly taken during a call between Trump, Rosen and Donoghue on Dec. 27.

    Donoghue wrote that he told Trump during the call that the Justice Department could not change the outcome of the election, with Trump allegedly replying he understood that. […]

    Other members of Congress mentioned during the call were Republican Reps. Jim Jordon (Ohio) and Scott Perry (Pa.), according to The New York Times. [Jim Jordan again!]

    […] Donoghue reportedly told Trump during the call that the DOJ had conducted “dozens of investigations, hundreds of interviews” and no widespread voter fraud was found.

    Trump still allegedly asserted in the call that the elections in Georgia, Nevada, Michigan and Arizona were “corrupted.”

    Trump then reportedly said no one trusted the FBI and the DOJ’s “inactions” had made people “angry,” according to the notes.

    “You guys may not be following the internet the way I do,” Trump said, according to the notes of the call. “People want me to replace DOJ leadership.” [So Trump also threatened Rosen and others with loss of their jobs. And Trump being Trump, he could always find more garbage on the internet.]

    Donoghue’s notes said he told Trump he could replace leadership but it “won’t change the dept’s position.”

    “We are not in a position based on the evidence. We can only act on the actual evidence developed,” Rosen and Donoghue said during the call, according to the notes seen by the Times.

    The documents were released after Biden told the DOJ they could give unrestricted testimony to congressional investigators who are looking into Trump’s efforts to overturn the election, the Times noted.

  27. says

    Follow-up to comments 32 and 34.

    Commentary from Steve Benen:

    […] According to the reporting, the then-president would routinely reach out to the nation’s top law enforcement official, share rumors of dubious election improprieties he’d heard about, and then ask the acting A.G. what the Justice Department was prepared to do in response.

    The article described a ridiculous governing dynamic in which a corrupt president, desperate to keep power he hadn’t earned, treated federal law enforcement as if it were a private law firm the Republican kept on retainer.

    […] In case this isn’t painfully obvious, Trump may be out of office, but these revelations are arguably Watergate-level in their scope. A sitting American president privately urged the Justice Department to lie about the imaginary corruption of a national election, as part of a scheme to hold onto illegitimate power.

    “I would like you to do us a favor, though,” was a line that came to define Trump’s corruption of the presidency. “Just say that the election was corrupt [and] leave the rest to me” is vastly worse.

    Link

    I’m wondering if Trump cult followers like Jim Jordon, Lindsey Graham and Kevin McCarthy are feeling like they made the wrong bet when they assumed that no more damning information would come out about Trump’s time in office.

  28. says

    The latest national Monmouth poll reveals strong public support for President Biden’s domestic agenda, including 70% backing for the White House’s infrastructure package.
    Link

  29. says

    Josh Marshall:

    […] As I’ve been saying for some time, the problem with our policy is that we are not doing enough to place the burden of non-vaccination squarely on the voluntarily unvaccinated. That is both the most equitable and the most effective approach. […] we can see that public authorities’ effort to work around the problem of the irresponsibility of the unvaccinated actually manages to bring them into a sort of public contempt. The science clearly has changed with the Delta variant. It’s much more transmissible. But the problem remains that Delta is spreading like wildfire among the unvaccinated and it’s lapping up onto the shores on vaccinated America.

    So just as we’ve gotten the balance off by having the vaccinated shoulder the burden created by the unvaccinated, we now have public health authorities bringing their own authority into contempt because of too aggressive coddling of the unvaccinated. So now they’re picking up the burden for the unvaccinated too – not at the cost of daily inconveniences but at the cost of their public authority. We all suffer for that.

    We need to be placing the burdens on non-vaccination on the unvaccinated. And we need to be clear with the public that the problem is the non-vaccinated. They’re at fault. They’re to blame. And even more, the public influencers, celebrities and political actors who’ve driven resistance to vaccination are to blame.

    https://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/yep-we-need-more-blame

  30. says

    Oh, that’s really sad. Cry me a river.

    MyPillow Guy Lindell Is pulling ads from Fox after the network rejected his “Cyber Symposium.”

    One of Fox News’ biggest advertisers says he is ditching the network because they won’t advertise an event that will rehash old nonsense about the 2020 election.

    […] “They have refused to run that commercial for our country,” he added, referring to a spot promoting a “cyber symposium” he’s planning to host in Sioux Falls next month.

    That event, like others Lindell has hosted, will purportedly show (again) that hinky election machines stole Donald Trump’s second term from him. (Both Fox News and Lindell are facing lawsuits from Dominion Voting Systems.)

    A Fox News spokesperson said in a statement, “It’s unfortunate Mr. Lindell has chosen to pause his commercial time on FOX News given the level of success he’s experienced in building his brand through advertising on the number one cable news network.”

    […] “I am pulling everything!” Lindell told Salon […]

    […] What will happen as a result of this cyber symposium? According to Lindell, the Supreme Court will come to its senses and decide, unanimously, to make Trump president again.

    Link

    Lindell spent almost $50 million on Fox News ads last year. So far this year, he has spent about $19 million.

  31. says

    Yikes. How much cognitive dissonance is rattling around in Stefanik’s brain?

    In Single Tweet, Stefanik Celebrates Medicare And Medicaid, Rejects ‘Socialist’ Healthcare

    Friday is the 56th anniversary of Medicare and Medicaid, and the third-ranking Republican in the House of Representatives, Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), weighed in with a doozy of a take.

    Today’s Anniversary of Medicare & Medicaid reminds us to reflect on the critical role these programs have played to protect the healthcare of millions of families. To safeguard our future, we must reject Socialist healthcare schemes.

    Ted Lieu:

    I agree with @EliseStefanik, we should reject socialist healthcare schemes and support Medicare for all.

  32. says

    Follow-up to comment 38.

    Posted by readers of the article:

    It’s a form of Mutually Assured Destruction. Or maybe a form of Mexican Standoff. Either one works for me.
    ———————
    The internecine warfare amongst RepubliQan MAGAts makes me happy.
    ——————–
    A Cyber Symposium produced by a pillow salesman.

    Kind of like techno-dolt Rudy Giuliani being in charge of U.S. Cyber Security.
    ————————
    The pressure of that looming August 13th deadline is showing.
    ———————-
    Lindell pushed it to September now, date TBD
    ————————–
    One wonders if Lindell and Lin Woods will be roommates at the State Home for the Criminally Bewildered.

    You know that Fox would have aired ads for that bogus “cyber symposium” if Dominion had not sued them for airing lies about voting machines.

  33. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    The depiction of French president Emmanuel Macron dressed like Adolf Hitler, including a toothbrush moustache, has tested the government’s appetite for satire, after the Charlie Hebdo magazine was robustly defended for publishing controversial caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad.

    But it appears Macron does not have the stomach for such implicit criticism, as his lawyers and political party have filed legal complaints alleging that the depictions displayed on billboards paid for by the owner of a French street advertising business were a public insult. This has risked opening the door to hypocrisy.

    Michel-Ange Flori decided to use some of his billboards in his home region of the south of France for what he called an exercise in political satire. He said the consensus in his country was on the side of Charlie Hebdo.

    “But when it is a matter of making fun of the president by depicting him as a dictator, then it becomes blasphemy, then it is unacceptable,” he said in an interview with Reuters, mimicking his critics. Flori said he has been contacted by police acting on the legal complaint.

    In October, Macron honoured school teacher Samuel Paty, who was killed by a Chechen teenager who wanted to avenge Paty’s use of the Charlie Hebdo cartoons in a class on freedom of expression. “We will not give up on cartoons and drawings, even if others back down,” Macron said.

    Flori put up the Macron billboards – which also carry the phrase “Obey, get vaccinated” – in response to a law adopted by parliament this month barring people from some public venues unless they are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 or can show a fresh negative test.

    Some of Macron’s opponents say the rules trample on civil liberties and accuse the president of acting like a dictator, particularly since the vaccines have not received full approval due to an absence of long-term safety data, but the administration argues that it needs to encourage greater vaccination rates to protect public health.

    “I did not expect this at all. That the president would file a complaint against a French citizen,” Flori said. “I caricature,” he said. “People may or may not like it but it is all the same, caricature will remain caricature.”

    The billboards are stupid, as is Macron’s reaction.

  34. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Trump tax returns must be released by IRS to Congress, DOJ says

    The income tax returns of former President Donald Trump must be released by the IRS to Congress, the Department of Justice said Friday.
    The DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel said that Congress had made a legitimate request to see Trump’s tax returns.
    The income tax returns of former President Donald Trump must be released by the IRS to Congress, the Department of Justice said Friday.
    The DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel said in an opinion that the House Ways and Means Committee had made a request with a legitimate legislative purpose to see Trump’s tax returns.
    “The Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee has invoked sufficient reasons for requesting the former President’s tax information,” the opinion said.
    As a result, under federal law, “Treasury must furnish the information to the Committee,” the opinion said.
    The decision comes more than a year after the U.S. Supreme Court said that Trump’s tax returns and other financial records had to be turned over by his longtime accountants to Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., because of a subpoena issued as part of Vance’s criminal probe of the Trump Organization.
    Trump broke decades of precedent as both a presidential candidate and occupant of the White House by refusing to voluntarily release his income tax returns.
    The opinion Friday by the DOJ’s legal counsel office came in response to a long-standing effort by Congress to obtain Trump’s returns.
    The opinion noted that the tax committees of Congress, while having a “broad right to receive tax information” from the Treasury Department, “cannot compel the Executive Branch to disclose such information without satisfying the constitutional requirement that the information could serve a legitimate legislative purpose.”

  35. says

    Garland Threatens To Sue TX Guv Over Order Against Driving Undocumented People

    Attorney General Merrick Garland on Thursday threatened the governor of Texas with legal action over a new order from the governor’s office prohibiting non-law enforcement officers from driving undocumented people anywhere.

    “The Order violates federal law in numerous respects, and Texas cannot lawfully enforce the Executive order against any federal official private parties working with the United States,” Garland wrote to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R).

    If Abbott does not rescind the order, Garland concluded, “the United States intends to pursue all appropriate legal remedies to ensure that Texas does not interfere with the functions of the federal government.”

    Abbott’s order prohibited anyone except federal, state or local law enforcement from providing ground transportation “to a group of migrants who have been detained by CBP for crossing the border illegally or who would have been subject to expulsion under the Title 42 order.” […]

    Abbott directed state troopers to “stop any vehicle upon reasonable suspicion of a violation of paragraph 1, and to reroute such a vehicle back to its point of origin or a port of entry if a violation is confirmed.” The order authorized state law enforcement to impound vehicles that violated its first two paragraphs.

    The governor said he was issuing the order in light of the pandemic, but as local media noted, Abbott has prohibited mask mandates in the state, even in schools, and Texas has vaccinated less of its population than most other states in the nation.

    Immigration advocates criticizing the order said it would only heighten chaos at migrant shelters, and that it would encourage racial profiling from law enforcement.

    Multiple non-law-enforcement actors, including non-profits, state health authorities and others help undocumented people move around Texas and the nation after they initially cross the border, as they await court dates.

    Garland said the order would endanger law enforcement, exacerbate crowding in shelters and interfere with with court dates for undocumented people. He cited several paragraphs of legal precedent.

    “Texas cannot lawfully enforce the Executive Order against any federal official or private parties working with the United States,” he wrote, adding later that “Texas cannot regulate the operations of private parties performing tasks on behalf of the United States.”

    “Moreover,” he added, “Texas has no authority to interfere with the United States’ ‘broad, undoubted power over the subject of immigration’ by impairing the United States’ release of individuals and the ability of those individuals to comply with federal immigration law.”

    In short, Garland concluded before issuing his threat of legal action, “the Order is contrary to federal law and cannot be enforced.”

  36. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    Dr Anthony Fauci said granting full approval for Covid-19 vaccines could spur Americans who haven’t had the jab to get it.

    The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases told Reuters that formal approval by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) could also give doctors the ability to prescribe a third shot of the vaccine to people with weakened immune systems.

    Currently the Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson doses are authorised on an emergency use basis.

    Fauci, who is also the chief medical adviser to Joe Biden said it could reduce fears about the safety of the jabs, and make local officials more comfortable with vaccination plans.

    “Given what we’ve been through now and the number of months that have gone by since the (emergency use authorisation), I would hope that within the very reasonable period of time in the future we’ll see that. I hope as we get into the middle of August that we’re almost there,” Fauci said.

    More than 163 million people in the United States, or nearly half of the population, have been fully vaccinated against the virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  37. says

    Vice – “Anti-Vaxxers Are Building Their Own Craigslist to Get Away From the Vaccinated”:

    With nearly 70 percent of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated and the country opening up, members of the anti-vaxxer/lockdown movement are increasingly finding themselves having no choice but to deal with a pro-vaccine society. So what are anti-lockdown zealots supposed to do?

    For a start, they can create their own microsociety where “freedom-loving Canadians” can plan meetups, find dates, and buy and sell goods and services on a clunky website, a Craigslist for anti-vaxxers, if you will.

    That’s what one activist is trying to do with Freedom Pages—a “directory for freedom-loving Canadians,” your one-stop shop for all your anti-lockdown needs.

    “We have dedicated this site to Freedom Lovers—people who don’t agree with the unlawful medical tyranny in Canada,” the site’s founder wrote on Telegram earlier this month. “Therefore, everything you find on our site is intended to be mask-free, vax-free, and fear-free.”

    Freedom Pages grew out of a collection of Telegram pages that listed regional vaccine-free and mask-free services and employment. Now, they’ve expanded to dating, housing, events, and more. The listings on Freedom Pages are, well, probably what you think. Holistic healers and vague “wellness” products punctuate the site but some go a step further. Here you can hire anti-mask mechanics, a man who will teach specialized Russian martial arts only to the unvaccinated, or a vaccine-free daycare. There are also a few ads offering employment to anti-maskers.

    “Un mask’d and unvax’d semi-retired Social Worker offering non-medical support and companionship for elders of varying capacities,” reads one listing.

    The dating section features ads like “Scarborough Vac Free Male Looking for love” and “Redpilled English Bloke Mid 40’s.” One woman’s bio simply reads “vax free. Prefer the same in you.”

    The pages also feature ads that have far-right tones….

    More atl.

  38. says

    Akira MacKenzie @ #29, I had the same concern. :(

    One possibly significant twist is that DuPreez said they were waiting to see how the vaccines shook out but were planning to get vaccinated eventually (and she and her eligible child now have). Now, their decision-making is nutty: they were planning to wait a year after the vaccines became available, they carried on normally even though they were unvaccinated, no one in the family used sunscreen, etc. But I saw a chart this morning that suggested that around 10-15% of people in the US have adopted a “wait and see” attitude toward the vaccines. That’s a fairly significant chunk of people who could potentially be reachable and maybe spurred to action by stories like this.

  39. Rob Grigjanis says

    SQB @49: It’s been a tough football month for Netherlands men and women, England men, and GB women. Hoping Canada can kick some USA arse on Monday.

  40. John Morales says

    In Australian news: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-07-31/police-cut-off-access-to-sydney-to-stop-lockdown-protest/100339936

    It was a far cry from the wild scenes of last weekend.

    Instead of corralling large crowds, the police horses today munched on grass in Sydney’s Hyde Park.

    After last weekend’s anti-lockdown protests saw thousands of people descend on the CBD, fears of a repeat fizzled this afternoon.

    By 1:00pm, the ABC had been unable to identify a single demonstrator at several central locations.

    […]

    While people were allowed to walk through the iconic lawns, large groups were stopped and asked where they are going as a precaution.

    […]

    A woman who didn’t want to be identified said she was pleased to see a large police presence.

    “It’s really great to see officers keeping the city safe — we all need to stay home and get this virus under control,” she said.

    “Now is not the time to protest when people are dying from the Delta strain.

    “I just want life to go back to normal and protesting will only cause the virus to spread.”

  41. says

    State Department aide appointed by Trump stormed the Capitol, beat police with a riot shield, FBI says.

    Washington Post link

    A political appointee of President Donald Trump has been arrested on charges that he stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 and assaulted an officer with a weapon, marking the first arrest of a Trump administration official in connection with the insurrection.

    Federico Guillermo Klein, a former State Department official, made an initial appearance by teleconference on Friday before U.S. Magistrate Zia M. Faruqui in Washington, where prosecutors said they would seek to jail him pending trial at a hearing next Wednesday.

    The court papers obtained by The Washington Post detail Klein’s alleged conduct throughout the siege of the Capitol, tracing his apparent movements and actions from using a police shield to try to pry a door open, to calling for reinforcements from the crowd, […]

    Klein’s arrest is the most direct link yet between the Trump administration and the rioters, despite attempts by some conservatives to dissociate the insurrection from the former president. Many of the 300-plus people who have been charged in connection with the insurrection have described themselves as Trump supporters, while some have ties to extremist groups like the Proud Boys, which Canada has designated a terrorist group, and the Oath Keepers.

    […] Klein had a top-secret security clearance that was renewed in 2019, the FBI said. A LinkedIn profile the FBI identified as Klein’s also lists a top-secret security clearance and shows that Klein has been politically active in the Republican Party since at least 2008, when he began volunteering for political campaigns. Before joining the State Department in 2017, Klein worked for the Trump campaign […]

    […] After the insurrection, Klein continued working in the State Department until Jan. 19, when he resigned the day before President Biden’s inauguration, per the complaint. […]

  42. says

    Good news:

    President Joe Biden announced Friday plans to nominate Khizr Khan, who famously criticized Donald Trump for his disparaging remarks on Muslim-Americans during the 2016 Democratic National Convention, to a post with the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

    Khan’s son, Humayun Khan, was an Army captain killed in 2004 while serving in Iraq. Khizr Khan gave one of the most memorable speeches of the 2016 conventions, along with his wife, Ghazala, in which he questioned whether Trump, then the Republican presidential nominee, had ever read the Constitution. Khan pulled his own pocket-sized copy out of his suit jacket for emphasis — and said Trump had “sacrificed nothing and no one.”

    After that, Trump frequently lashed out at the Khans, which they shrugged off as “proof of his ignorance and arrogance.” […]

  43. says

    Update on some of the statements and activities of Trump’s bonkers lawyers:

    The attorney to both the JonBenet Ramsey family and Trump’s bid to overturn the results of the 2020 election faces threats to his existence as a lawyer, as a state bar investigation and a federal judge both hold inquiries into Lin Wood’s role in spreading bonkers myths about the 2020 election.

    “I believe as a matter of faith that President Trump is anointed by God to lead our country in these extraordinary times,” Wood wrote in a Telegram message posted last week.

    In another, Wood referred to the Georgia state bar association as a “communist organization.” He also accused Fox News host Sean Hannity of betting him in November 2020 that Trump had actually lost the election — a proposal that he said ended their purported twenty-year friendship.

    “God has separated the wheat from the chaff,” Wood wrote.

    The messages come as Wood faces inquiries from the Georgia bar, where he is an attorney, and from a Detroit federal judge who is weighing whether to sanction the onetime celebrity attorney for his role in unleashing the “Kraken” lawsuits that sought to overturn the results of last year’s election.

    The lawsuit in question, filed in federal court in Detroit, was one of several legal efforts by those who regarded the outcome of the 2020 election as the product of an international communist conspiracy.

    Wood was helped in the Kraken by Sidney Powell, who gave a famous November 2020 press conference in which she accused dead Venezuelan communist leader Hugo Chavez of masterminding the plot.

    Now, Wood is accusing those seeking to end his legal career of being communists themselves. It’s not clear if they’re acting at Chavez’s direction.

    […] Wood has accused the Georgia bar over the past few days of being a communist front.

    “Guess the GA Bar is not interested in learning the TRUTH,” he wrote on Thursday. “Communist organizations have little or no interest in exposing TRUTH.”

    “I spent much of the day dealing with my attorney as we prepare to deal with the continued smear attacks being waged by the State Bar of Georgia,” Wood wrote on Telegram on Tuesday. “These frivolous attacks by the enemy are intended to distract and burden me.” […]

    Link

  44. tomh says

    Women seeking medication abortions face increasing state restrictions as FDA weighs action
    July 31, 2021
    By Rebecca Shabad

    WASHINGTON — … In an effort to expand access [to abortion medication], the Food and Drug Administration temporarily eased long-standing in-person dispensing requirements for mifepristone — first in July 2020 in response to a court order that was later reversed by the Supreme Court, and again in April — so that women could order the pills by mail for the duration of the pandemic.

    The agency’s move, along with the explosive growth in telehealth services and increase in self-managed medication abortions, sparked a flurry of legislative activity in Ohio and other Republican-led states. They further limited access to the pills, adding to restrictions on their use already in place in dozens of states around the nation.

    This year alone, a half dozen states have passed laws targeting medication-induced abortion, according to Elizabeth Nash, state director for the Guttmacher Institute, an abortion rights group, and several others are advancing legislation. Arkansas, Arizona and Oklahoma enacted laws banning the mailing of mifepristone for abortions. Montana approved a measure effectively banning telehealth services for such abortions, as did Ohio, whose law is being challenged by Planned Parenthood in court.

    Indiana passed legislation mandating that a patient take the first dose in the presence of a physician. The law also says abortion providers must tell patients that medication abortions can be reversed with progesterone — a claim the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says is unsupported by science. That law is also being challenged by Planned Parenthood and other advocacy groups

    The Texas Legislature, which passed a fetal “heartbeat bill” in May, is now expected to consider a bill to limit medication abortions once it reconvenes with a quorum for its special session. That measure also would ban the mailing of abortion pills and require doctors to examine a woman in person and ensure she’s no more than seven weeks pregnant before prescribing the medication.

    Some of the recently passed measures also require women seeking medication abortions to receive pregnancy tests, ultrasounds and counseling. Meanwhile, about 20 states have laws preventing telehealth appointments for abortion pill prescriptions, and more than 30 restrict the health care providers who can write them, requiring they be doctors rather than physician assistants or nurses.

    Oklahoma state Sen. Julie Daniels, who authored the medical abortion legislation, said …“The abortion industry is pushing the federal government to abandon those safeguards and for the FDA to cease to monitor or regulate the use within the state…”

    The Susan B. Anthony List, an anti-abortion group, has been working with Republicans at the state level to craft these laws. Sue Liebel, the group’s state policy director, said that her organization has been monitoring the “meteoric rise” of what she termed “chemical abortions.”

    “…The pandemic itself gave the abortion industry an opportunity to try to move into that telemedicine space, and that’s where we’ve really been on the offense and the defense ever since,” she said.

    Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood offers abortion pills through telehealth appointments in about 20 heavily Democratic states where it’s legal to do so and says there’s no medical reason to require prescriptions be given in person.

    Under the Biden administration, the FDA is reviewing whether to permanently lift the in-person dispensing requirement for the bills, which it could decide by December. But that move would have little impact on access for women in a huge swath of the nation because of the state-level statutory restrictions, advocates say.

    “If a state law said that mifepristone must be dispensed and ingested in a physician’s office, then, you know, for all practical purposes, the FDA’s revised regulations would not make a difference for patients in those states,” said American Civil Liberties Union attorney Julia Kaye, who is involved in lawsuits challenging the FDA requirements.

  45. says

    Marco Rubio Sets New Olympic Record For Self-Owns

    Sen. Marco Rubio fancies himself quite the internet smart fellow. He tweets Bible verses, to prove his piety, and dabbles in light shitposting, too. Other than trying to undo voting rights, trolling is all Republicans do anymore.

    […] Mar’co is just not good at it. In a run of tweets Thursday and Friday, he tried to mock Democrats’ reactions to the COVID pandemic, but mostly just made himself look stupider and stupider.

    Rubio no doubt thought he’d really caught Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin in some “embarrassing COVID theatre” Thursday, because just look at the crazy Democrat, who’s vaccinated but wearing not only a face mask, but also a face shield, if you can believe it, what a virtue-signaling dork! […]

    Our @SecDef is vaccinated

    But he arrives in the Philippines wearing a mask AND a face shield

    Embarrassing COVID theatre

    It’s a haiku! Oh, what’s that, Politico Defense Editor Dave Brown?

    From the embassy: “The Philippine government has mandated that everyone must wear full-coverage face shields together with face masks while in public places. Local governments continue to implement additional requirements to slow the virus’ spread”

    Now, Rubio could’ve replied with an aw-shucks “My bad! Thoughts and prayers!” and that would have been the end of it. He might even have asked a staffer to check whether Brown was right. (He is; the US Embassy in the Philippines says that).

    Is COVID bad in the Philippines? Business Insider thought to Google that, and then some:

    Reuters reported Tuesday that the Philippines recorded its highest single-day increase in COVID-19 cases in more than six weeks. The country has the second-highest number of COVID-19 cases in Southeast Asia, after Indonesia, according to The New York Times.

    Rubio’s home state of Florida is dealing with its own COVID-19 surge. The state leads the US in COVID-19 cases, and has the highest number of residents hospitalized with COVID-19 per capita, according to data compiled by the Times. It also has the second-highest number of COVID-19 cases per capita, after Louisiana.

    Rather than acknowledge that COVID is indeed a serious concern at home or away, Rubio was back with another GOTCHA , Friday morning. Oh yeah, reporter guy, you say Austin was simply following the local regulations? HA! Look at him going around without a face shield ALL OVER the Philippines, hurr-hurr!

    To underline the gross hypocrisy, Rubio wrote, “I guess the face shield mandate was lifted shortly after he landed” [photos available at the link]

    Bit of a problem with Rubio’s analysis, however: In the photo on the left, Austin is wearing the mask and face shield while meeting Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, as are two others in the picture. Duterte himself isn’t, because when it comes to his own pandemic rules, he’s Donald Trump.

    The second photo is a montage of three other images from Austin’s trip, so we’ll look a bit closer.

    Now, it’s true that in the image on the left, Austin is in the Philippines and not wearing a face shield as he poses with Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana. Why not?

    Snopes notes that moments before the photo, both men were wearing face shields, which they removed for the photo op. [video and screenshot available at the link]

    In the other two photos, the main reason Austin ignores the Philippines’ face shield mandate has a lot to do with his not being in the Philippines.

    The upper right image is from Vietnam, where Austin was greeted by Defense Minister Phan Van Giang, and the lower right pic shows Austin signing a guest book at the Defense Ministry in freaking Singapore, with Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen. Both visits took place Thursday before Austin traveled on to Manila.

    Was Rubio perhaps horrified at realizing he’d conflated three wholly different Southeast Asian nations? Or worried about looking racist as fuck for acting like all Asians look alike?

    Heck no! Marco Rubio learned one very important thing from the man he once derided as a “con artist”: Never back down or apologize.

    So in another Friday tweet, Rubio pretended he’d sprung a clever trap on Democrats and the liberal media, Ha! Ha! The real fool here is not Marco Rubio, but lazy reporters who failed to investigate the real facts!

    We like the part where Rubio never even acknowledges he got two entire countries wrong (and probably knew he was lying anyway). Instead, he added a photo of US Chargé d’Affaires John C. Law, not wearing a face shield as Austin arrived in Manila, so why are you people still mocking Marco Rubio?

    If SecDef was just following local face shield mandate, a real news outlet would cover how our chargé & Filipino leaders ignore it […]

    The problem here- -aside from CNN being wrong- -is that they desperately cater to the far left to remain relevant

    It’s a hell of an evolution of Rubioid logic: Thursday, the scandal was that Lloyd Austin was embarrassing for ostentatiously wearing far more protection than he needed. So much pandemic theater!

    25 hours later, the scandal was that lazy reporters were mocking Rubio instead of asking why one US diplomat and (some of) Austin’s Filipino hosts weren’t doing that very pandemic theater. And how about those hypocrites in Vietnam and Singapore, too? […]

  46. says

    People fleeing Afghanistan:

    Haji Sakhi decided to flee Afghanistan the night he saw two Taliban members drag a young woman from her home and lash her on the sidewalk. Terrified for his three daughters, he crammed his family into a car the next morning and barreled down winding dirt roads into Pakistan.

    That was more than 20 years ago. They returned to Kabul, the capital, nearly a decade later after the U.S.-led invasion toppled the Taliban regime. But now, with the Taliban sweeping across parts of the country as American forces withdraw, Mr. Sakhi, 68, fears a return of the violence he witnessed that night. This time, he says, his family is not waiting so long to leave.

    “I’m not scared of leaving belongings behind, I’m not scared of starting everything from scratch,” said Mr. Sakhi, who recently applied for Turkish visas for himself, his wife, their three daughters and one son. “What I’m scared of is the Taliban.”

    Across Afghanistan, a mass exodus is unfolding as the Taliban press on in their brutal military campaign, which has captured more than half the country’s 400-odd districts, according to some assessments. And with that, fears of a harsh return to extremist rule or a bloody civil war between ethnically aligned militias have taken hold.

    So far this year around 330,000 Afghans have been displaced, more than half of them fleeing their homes since the United States began its withdrawal in May, according to the United Nations.

    Many have flooded into makeshift tent camps or crowded into relatives’ homes in cities, the last islands of government control in many provinces. Thousands more are trying to secure passports and visas to leave the country altogether. Others have crammed into smugglers’ pickup trucks in a desperate bid to slip illegally over the border.

    In recent weeks, the number of Afghans crossing the border illegally shot up around 30 to 40 percent compared to the period before international troops began withdrawing in May, according to the International Organization for Migration. At least 30,000 people are now fleeing every week.

    The sudden flight is an early sign of a looming refugee crisis, aid agencies warn, and has raised alarms in neighboring countries and Europe that the violence that has escalated since the start of the withdrawal is already spilling across the country’s borders.

    […] Afghans currently account for one of the world’s largest populations of refugees and asylum seekers — around 3 million people — and represents the second highest number of asylum claims in Europe, after Syria.

    […] the new outpouring of Afghans comes as attitudes toward migrants have hardened around the world.

    After forging a repatriation deal in 2016 to stem migration from war-afflicted countries, Europe has deported tens of thousands of Afghan migrants. Hundreds of thousands more are being forced back by Turkey as well as by neighboring Pakistan and Iran, which together host around 90 percent of displaced Afghans worldwide and have deported a record number of Afghans in recent years.

    Coronavirus restrictions have also made legal and illegal migration more difficult, as countries closed their borders and scaled back refugee programs, pushing thousands of migrants to travel to Europe along more dangerous routes. […]

    NY Times link

  47. says

    Montana Anti-Vaxx Law: ‘Religious Exemption’ For Masks But Not For ‘Not Letting Kids Die In Your Own Home’

    Last night, being an employer domiciled in the state of Montana, I received an email from the state Department of Labor. It was a link to Frequently Asked Questions about HB 702, signed into law this spring by Gov. Greg Gianforte, banning “discrimination” against unvaccinated people in public accommodation (your hotels, restaurants, public facing businesses) and employment (all employers). It is, not hilariously, part of Montana’s “Human Rights Act,” which does not bar discrimination based on sexual orientation or against trans children, but now protects a class of people who ain’t wanna get vaccinated, whether against COVID-19 or the measles.

    Well, being both an employer of people and a reader of things, I read that FAQ. And while I was aware this bill had been passed and signed into law, there were so very many batshit things introduced in our biennial legislative session, there was literally no way to keep track of them. [more info on the bills at the link]

    And reading that FAQ, I noticed something: While an employer — including a hospital or other healthcare facility — cannot “discriminate” against the new protected class of “unvaccinated people,” it can require those folks to wear masks, if they require everyone to wear masks, and as long as they have an exemption for “sincerely held religious beliefs.” You know, all those sincerely held religious beliefs against wearing a piece of cloth on your face holes so you don’t breathe germs on sick people, during a global pandemic.

    And this was the GOOD version of the bill; it added an exemption for nursing homes and let schools continue to require a TB test.

    When my husband fetched me from California as his war bride coming up on seven years ago now, I knew going in I was moving to a red state. But we were both under the impression it was a different kind of red: less Jesus-y, more libertarian-ish, with a labor background, a good state Constitution (Robyn frequently points out it’s the only state in the nation that doesn’t have “at will employment”), and a cadre of sportsmen (hunters and fishermen) who make damn sure we keep public access to our magnificent open space.

    But then Donald Trump happened, and Montana’s usual folkways — red in the lege, with a Democratic governor to keep the lid on the crazy — were no longer operative. Just about the first thing Gianforte did was do away with Gov. Steve Bullock’s mask mandate — but, he generously allowed, schools could keep them. Almost immediately, the (Republican) superintendent of schools “strongly recommended” schools make masks “voluntary.” And somewhere in that legislative session, the lege recommended that any schools that kept their mask requirements be cut off from the state’s $382 million share of $30 billion in school capital improvements (like, say, improved ventilation) funded by Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan. […]

    Now, our governor’s been talking out all sides of his mouth. After the CDC got whomped back to its senses and recommended everyone wear masks indoors again because fuckers in red states won’t take “personal responsibility,” our governor explained “nah.” Instead, he “encouraged” everyone to get a “safe and effective vaccine.” […]

    So to recap: As an employer or a business or a hospital, you can’t require a vaccine, but you can require a mask, unless someone “sincerely” doesn’t want to wear it. But here’s the kicker I discovered last night: While the lege made damn sure to include an exemption for “sincerely held religious beliefs” about wearing a mask, they did not include an exemption for employment that occurs in one’s own home.

    Yes, Montana’s “small government” Republicans have mandated by law that I cannot refuse to hire unvaccinated people to work in my home, or I will be in violation of the state’s human rights law.

    And that’s when I started yelling at my neighbor on Twitter. (I yelled at Greg Gianforte some first, but he was smart enough to ignore me.)

    […] We live across the street from each other, and I’m not trying to be an obstreperous neighbor. I like his wife, I adore his daughter, his granddaughter and my daughter are friends. But ever since he responded to my polite question “what can we do about this” by asking how a red flag law, shot down in the previous session by Montana’s lege, would have helped, I have no longer run out to the fence to do friendly neighbor chit-chat when they walk by. I was flabbergasted. “Would a red flag law have prevented this?” It would take away his guns after he threatened to murder my five-year-old daughter. […]

    Sen. Greg Hertz did not know what was in the bill he voted for […]

    I asked our Jamie to read the bill and see if I was missing something. My state senator was assuring me it didn’t apply to private employment. Jamie is a lawyer, formerly of the ACLU. She assured me I was not. “And obviously you already know this but that entire bill is fucking insane,” she further explained. […]

    Hertz replied: “Hiring babysitters, adult care providers, plumber, electrician, etc to do work in your home does fall under employee and employer relationship.” (I assumed he meant “does not” fall under employer relationship, but who can say?)

    Unfortunately, I would not shut up: “[…] this is an oversight in the bill as drafted and signed into law. and it should be fixed.”

    A couple hours later, presumably after a nice supper and actually looking up the text of the law he passed and the governor signed, since he’d previously told me it only applied to public accommodation, he replied, “It is not an oversight. If you are an employer you cannot discriminate. States have different laws as does the federal government for certain size employers.”

    And then he, having claimed it wouldn’t apply to me and then read his own bill, went on the offensive and called me a bigot, asking, “So you want to be selective on what and who you can discriminate against.”

    Well now, neighbor. People of a different race from me, or even a different religion, are neither lethal nor contagious. Refusal to get an available vaccine for a deadly disease that is killing more children now … is both!

    My friendly neighbor explained what’s the big deal, […] He left it with this showstopper: “OMG let me know when pigs start to fly in the neighborhood.”

    OMG let me know when you HAVE A LAWYER READ YOUR BILLS BEFORE YOU FUCKING PASS THEM […]

    And that’s when I went to bed, and then GOT OUT of bed because I was SO FUCKING MAD and went down to the dining room where my laptop was and MIC DROPPED this ABSOLUTE FACT:

    but one last thing. the bill says you can require masks in lieu of vaccinations, with an exemption for “deeply held religious beliefs.” (Against wearing masks!) But there’s no exemption for my deeply held religious belief against letting my children die of a contagious disease.

    […]

  48. says

    Trump’s COVID-19 testing czar warns the unvaccinated: ‘You’re going to get the delta variant’

    Honestly, I’d forgotten that Donald Trump had a COVID-19 testing czar. It doesn’t seem like his bag. At all. I could maybe see a hydroxychloroquine czar or a nougat czar or a “where’s the closest McDonald’s?” czar, but a testing czar? For the guy who publicly and bitterly complained that we were doing too many tests? […]

    But hey, former COVID-19 testing czar Adm. Brett Giroir did work for Donald Trump, so maybe—just maybe—when he says scary-as-all-fuck things like this, the more Trumpily inclined among us will at the very least deign to listen.

    Giroir appeared on CNN’s Cuomo Prime Time Friday to launch a big, bright warning flare into the faces of the vaccine-hesitant among us. What he said was frightening, even for those of us who are vaccinated. As for the unvaccinated? […]

    GIROIR: “The message I would say is, if you are not vaccinated and if you have not had COVID before, you’re going to get the delta variant. On average, one person will transmit this to nine people, unlike the original virus, which got transmitted to two or three. It’s about as contagious as chickenpox, and we see what happened even among vaccinated people. And let me just say, I’m very concerned about those with natural immunity. Natural immunity is real, it provides protection, but there’s more and more accumulating evidence that that immunity wanes and it’s not so good against delta, so I’m very concerned and I do support the recommendations that even if you had COVID you need to get vaccinated as well.”

    After Chris Cuomo noted that he’s heard several people say things along the lines of “I’ve already had COVID-19, I’m good,” Giroir reiterated that natural immunity is by no means sufficient protection against a vicious mutated strain like delta.

    GIROIR: “Based on the laboratory data and looking at people over time, I would be very concerned that natural immunity, particularly against delta, wanes. Remember, we have to get vaccinated against flu every year, not because our immunity is so bad, but because the virus changes, and delta is a whole new ballgame. It is a changed virus that is very dangerous and very deadly. We can end this all by getting vaccinated. If everyone got vaccinated, we could put this to the end, but until that happens, we’re going to be battling again, just like we did last summer. In fact, the number of cases we have now are more than we had last summer, which is unbelievable to me.”

    […] The unvaccinated fall into two general categories. Some don’t fear the virus like they should, and some fear the vaccine more than is reasonable. My own sister is in both categories, and I fear she’ll discover her error sooner rather than later. She recently scolded me over my supposed “fear-based obsession” regarding COVID-19. The conversation sort of went off the rails after that.

    I’m an admittedly cautious person […] with regard to COVID-19, I’ve taken all the usual precautions and then some.

    Hopefully, people like my sister will make it through without any acute or chronic health issues. But it’s not looking good, for them or the rest of us. The best we can do is keep banging the drum, especially when unlikely characters like Trump administration officials are keeping the beat right along with us […]

  49. says

    Utility companies want everyone to believe the climate crisis caught them completely by surprise

    There needs to be a word. A word that combines frustrating, terrifying, and infuriating. A word for a story that contains information that lets you know that the people who are not just riding on the bus, but steering it toward a cliff, have absolutely no plans for what comes next even as the front wheels leave the ground.

    [[An] article from The New York Times starts off describing a specific incident that’s frightening enough, but also strangely heartening. Homeowners in Oregon have been calling their local utility, not to complain about their power being down, but to ask that their power be turned off. That’s because they were concerned that a coming storm might knock down their lines and trigger more fires in what’s already one of the worst fire seasons. Truthfully, being willing to sit at home in the dark, even with the miserable weather that’s swept over much of the Northwest this summer, in order to protect forests and neighbors, seems like the mark of pretty good citizens.

    But behind that incident is an astounding admission—utility companies are utterly unprepared for situations like the one behind the fires in Oregon.

    In fact, it’s far worse.

    Nationwide, electric utilities, grid operators and regulators have struggled to adequately prepare for the hazards of global warming, like storm surges that can knock out substations and heat waves that can cause power plants to falter, with many expecting that the biggest threats will not materialize for decades to come.

    […] The Times quotes an energy expert from Texas as saying, “It’s fair to say there was this widespread assumption that the impacts of climate change and extreme weather would unfold more gradually, and there would be more time to prepare.”

    On the one hand, it’s exasperating that the people who are right in the middle of this issue would claim that they didn’t know what was going on, and behave as though they could just sit back for decades before taking steps to address the climate crisis. […] they knew what was happening, all the way back into the 1980s. […] They took steps to start dozens of fake “institutes” denying climate change. They took steps to fund anyone they could find who would author a paper claiming manmade climate change wasn’t happening. […] They took steps to stuff the campaign coffers of Republican candidates full of cash […]

    They weren’t ignorant. Just evil. […]

    […] when reporting on the crisis, every use of “over the next 50 years” becomes a soft, soft pillow telling readers to relax: This is all far away. Nothing to concern you at the moment. And now, let’s turn to sports.

    […] a failure to deliver the message that things are going to be hotter, drier, colder, wetter, less predictable, more extreme, and increasingly more difficult every day is failing the public. American forests are burning now. The rainforests of the Amazon Basin are going away now. The western United States is in a water crisis now. Oceans are rising now. Storms are worse now. Arctic ice is vanishing now. The climate crisis is creating whole new forms of weather right now.

    It’s not coming soon. It’s not imminent. […] It’s already here. What happens every day from here on is that we decide how bad it’s going to get.

    And one things that’s really clear: This is unacceptable.

    With rare exceptions, most electricity providers nationwide still don’t conduct detailed climate studies that would help them understand all the ways that increased heat, drought, wildfires or flooding can ravage their power grids, researchers have found.

    Why not? Because no one makes them do it. No one punishes them for failure. In fact, as Texas’s recent grid failure vividly illustrates, being unprepared and leaving Americans without energy can be extremely lucrative. While 170 Texans were dying in a blackout over the winter, this is how the utilities described it.

    This week is like hitting the jackpot with some of these incredible prices,” [Comstock Resources chief financial officer Roland Burns] said. “Frankly, we were able to sell at super premium prices for a material amount of production.”

    That has to end. People need to understand that the climate crisis isn’t something far away. Media needs to stop reporting it as if it’s something far away. And everyone needs to understand that when utilities claim they thought it was something far away … they’re just spewing dangerous bullshit.

  50. says

    Proud Boys come creeping back out of the woodwork, one hijacked local event at a time

    While you might get the impression that the Proud Boys largely vanished from the public radar in the weeks following the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection in which they played a central role, the reality is that the proto-fascist street-thug organization has been popping up all over recently—but operating on a purely local level, consistently hijacking causes and events organized by local activists and communities.

    This appears to be their latest strategy, as imprisoned Proud Boy Ethan Nordean had suggested in his pre-arrest Telegram chats: Namely, to scale down their operations and spread their recruitment by focusing on local issues. Over the past several weeks, as Tess Owen observes at VICE, they appear to be enacting it in places like Nashua, New Hampshire; Miami and Tampa, Florida; and Salem, Oregon.

    […] In Miami, for instance, Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio turned up uninvited with several cohorts, offering “support” for a protest by the Cuban-American community backing dissidents in Cuba. […]

    In Nashua Proud Boys turned up at school board meetings, masked and wearing their uniform shirts, to protest “critical race theory” in local schools. […]

    Nordean’s pre-arrest chats with his fellow Proud Boys about how to proceed after Jan. 6 promised this kind of strategy. “I’m gunna press on with some smart level headed non emotional guys and create a game plan for how to approach this year, we aren’t gunna stop getting involved in the community, especially with the momentum we have,” Nordean wrote.

    […] This is consistent with Proud Boys’ proclaimed self-image as just normal American guys, their belief right up to Jan. 6 that the police were on their side, and their ongoing denials of being racist or extremist. The localized issues are often the same right-wing grievances being ginned up nightly on Fox News, as with critical race theory in New Hampshire schools. The common thread among the issues being hijacked by Proud Boys is that they are congenial to (if not fueled by) conspiracism, and primarily revolve around concocted enemies.

    The first post-insurrection Proud Boys event of note was an early-May rally at a city park in Salem, Oregon, at which journalists were threatened and ejected and guns were on broad display. It was also notable for the remarkable absence of any kind of police presence. However, another Proud Boys event held in Oregon City on June 15 was shut down by police when they declared it a riot.

    Most of the Proud Boys’ reappearances have occurred over the past month:

    July 3, Buhl, Idaho: A Proud Boys float, featuring uniformed marchers walking alongside, was among the 100 or so entries for the town’s annual Sagebrush Days parade. The polo shirt-wearing Proud Boys carried both an American flag and a black flag emblazoned with the organization’s logo.

    […] July 10, Tallahassee, Florida: A group of about 100 protesters that included a large number of Proud Boys rallied on the lawn of the Historic Capitol Museum to demand the government release the Jan. 6 insurrectionists. […]

    July 17, Los Angeles, California: A crew of black-clad Proud Boys descended upon the scene outside Wi Spa, which had attracted a crowd of protesters and counter-protesters in a dispute over the business’ policies regarding transgender members. […] a handful of fights turned into an outright street brawl. Police clashed mostly with left-wing protesters, using batons and riot munitions, and the scene was declared a riot and cleared.

    July 19, Red Bluff, California: A number of Proud Boys showed up to rally outside a court hearing for a local tavern owner facing assault charges, reportedly flashing white-supremacist hand gestures. The tavern, the Palomino Room, has become “kind of a Mecca for right wing extremism, given the owner’s outspoken views regarding those awful, oppressive mask mandates,” reported the local news outlet. […]

    […] July 26, Tampa, Florida: An anti-COVID-19-restriction rally, billing itself as a “Worldwide Freedom Rally,” attracted a large contingent of Proud Boys supporting the cause. Some of them carried yellow “Don’t Tread On Me” Gadsden banners, as well as signs declaring that “Trump won,” and demanding the government “free political prisoners”—that is, the Jan. 6 insurrectionists.

    […] One of the more insidious aspects of the Proud Boys’ strategy is how it manipulates small-town environments to insinuate themselves within them, and once there, how it divides and creates turmoil within those communities where little existed previously. […]

    The list of events taken over or influenced by Proud Boys’ members is long. I snipped most of it.

  51. says

    Cori Bush Slept On The Capitol Steps Last Night To Keep People In Their Homes

    The eviction moratorium expires tonight at midnight.

    Yesterday, House Democrats tried to extend the moratorium by unanimous consent, but not a single Republican would vote for it. The House is now set to go on a six-week recess, meaning that there will be no recourse for over a month.

    Cori Bush, however, is not giving up just yet. The Missouri congresswoman literally slept on the Capitol steps last night to protest the fact that the eviction moratorium was not extended, meaning that millions of people are going to find themselves at risk of being kicked out of their homes — at a time when the Delta variant is on an upswing […] Her goal? To get an actual vote on the moratorium by midnight tonight.

    While surely Bush, like anyone, would enjoy a lovely vacation, this issue is both important and personal to her. She has actually been evicted. She has actually lived out of her car. She knows what it’s like and she doesn’t want anyone else to have to go through that. This is actually why it’s important to have people of all backgrounds in Congress. […]

    In a letter to her colleagues, Bush wrote:

    As elected representatives, we have a solemn obligation to protect the health and safety of our constituents, using every tool at our disposal. We cannot in good conscience leave for August recess until the federal eviction moratorium has been extended. We must do everything possible to protect the nearly 6.2 million households at risk of eviction.

    I’m urging you to please hear me out on this issue because as a formerly unhoused Congresswoman, I have been evicted three times myself. I know what it’s like to be forced to live in my car with my two children. Now that I am a member of Congress, I refuse to stand by while millions of people are vulnerable to experiencing that same trauma that I did.

    I remember what it was like for us to live out of my car. I think about how society wanted me to believe that being unhoused was my fault. We have a deeply rooted misconception in our country that unhoused people have done something to deserve their conditions ─ when the reality is that unhoused people are living the consequences of our government’s failure to secure the basic necessities people need to survive. In the wealthiest country in the world—no one deserves to be unhoused.

    I commend Chairwoman Waters for her strong leadership on this issue, and fully support H.R. 4791, the Protecting Renters from Evictions Act of 2021, which would extend the CDC eviction moratorium through December 31, 2021. In the interest of saving as many lives as possible right now, I am also prepared to support legislation that keeps this protection in place through October. I urge all of my Democratic colleagues in the House to support this effort too.

    After tweeting about her plans, Bush was joined in her protest by supporters and several Democratic colleagues, including Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Elizabeth Warren. I don’t think Warren stayed the night, but she’s in her 70s so I think it’s just fine that she is supporting this in other ways, as is Maxine Waters who has been the one leading the charge since the beginning, and who we also probably don’t need sleeping on any stairs. […]

    We kick 6 million people out of their homes, it’s going to be harder for them to find a job that pays them enough to live anywhere or continue going to their regular job. It’s going to be difficult for them rent another apartment or home because if you don’t have a job and you don’t have a good reference from your previous landlord, no one is going to let you move in. Extending the moratorium isn’t just about helping people and being kind, it’s that ending it will be chaos. […]

    There are 17 million empty homes in the United States and half the country can’t afford to live anywhere because the rent is too damn high and the wages are too damn low. Something’s gotta give. And it’s good to see that so many of our elected representatives are really, really fucking trying with this one.

  52. raven says

    2 arrested after confrontation in front of Salem Planned Parenthood
    Oregon News Oregonian/OregonLive By Saphara Harrell, Salem Reporter
    SALEM — Police arrested two men during a Tuesday evening protest in front of Planned Parenthood in northeast Salem.
    The arrests followed a confrontation where people protesting against abortion and counter-demonstrators clashed and maced each other, Salem police said.
    Ricky Dale Clark, 64, of Beaverton, was arrested on suspicion of third-degree assault, second-degree disorderly conduct, riot and resisting arrest. Shawn Christopher Alyn Davidson, 30, of Salem, was arrested on suspicion of second-degree disorderly conduct.

    The clash took place at a Church at Planned Parenthood event outside the health clinic. The church’s website describes the group’s services outside clinics as “a worship service outside the gates of Hell.”

    In Salem, the group has been holding regular Tuesday evening services outside the Planned Parenthood clinic for months, according to its Facebook page. The July 13 event billed two pastors as guest speakers – Greg Locke and Ken Peters.

    In a news release Wednesday afternoon, Salem police described the order of events.

    The release said around 6 p.m. between 50 and 70 people attended a protest billed as “The Church at Planned Parenthood.” About 20 of those attending wore Proud Boys clothing and acted as “security,” carrying guns, bats and body armor, police said.

    Proud Boys are a far-right group that’s been involved in street brawls in Salem and around the U.S. and were this year labeled a terrorist organization in Canada.

    Twenty minutes later, about 40 counter-protesters arrived carrying bats, paintball guns and armor, police said.

    “An initial scuffle between opposing groups occurred early on, yet (mobile response team) officers were able to intervene to separate those involved. As the team became outnumbered, an emergency request for additional law enforcement resources was issued,” it said.

    Marion County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded.

    Officers got in between the groups, the release said.

    Police said individuals from each side refused to obey officers’ orders and continued clashing and maced each other and the officers.

    The release said police used “crowd control munitions” and a “loud distraction device” to stop the physical assaults.

    In a Facebook post, Locke described Tuesday night’s protest a “mini-war” in the streets.

    In a video posted shortly before the event, Locke said that pastors had arrived to find Proud Boys there to provide security because they’d heard of a planned counterdemonstration. Locke asked supporters to pray for protection.

    “Proud Boys and antifa have already been clashing,” Locke said. He said antifascist protesters were “trying to overshadow what we’re trying to do here.”

    Salem resident Joe Smothers, who’s regularly attended counter-protests at the clinic, livestreamed Tuesday’s event on Facebook.

    He said the Church of Planned Parenthood protests every second Tuesday and counter protesters stand on the opposite side of the road playing music.

    In a Facebook post, Smothers said Proud Boys began focusing on counter-protesters after police arrived Tuesday.

    “The proud boys tackled one person to the ground,” he wrote, saying multiple Proud Boys were attacking one person.

    Police said they will conduct follow-up investigations because arrests are often impractical during “dynamic situations.”

    This is a followup to Lynna at #61.
    Yeah, the Pathetic Boys are showing up everywhere they can.
    There seem to be quite a few of them in Oregon.
    I’m dubious about a so called church service that requires armed terrorists with guns, clubs, and chemical weapons.

    The Salem police have a history of doing more or less nothing when they show up in Salem. I don’t know if that is because they can’t or because they are sympathetic. The Oregon State Capitol building was attacked by right wingnut thugs before the US Capitol building and the local police didn’t do a whole lot that time either.

  53. says

    Ron DeSantis is leading Florida into utter destruction while COVID-19 cases spike to record level

    Two days after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order preventing schools from requiring students to wear masks, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released data showing the state broke records with 21,683 new cases of the virus in one day. In just two days, the number of new cases spiked from 17,093 to more than 21,000, beating a peak of 19,334 new cases reported on Jan. 7, 2021 in Florida, The Associated Press reported. “The state has become the new national epicenter for the virus, accounting for around a fifth of all new cases in the U.S. as the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus continues to spread,” Associated Press writer Mike Schneider penned on Saturday.

    The new figures tracked on Friday and released on Saturday follow the governor’s outright rejection of expert advice throughout the pandemic. “The federal government has no right to tell parents that in order for their kids to attend school in person, they must be forced to wear a mask all day, every day,” DeSantis said in a news release on Friday. “Many Florida schoolchildren have suffered under forced masking policies, and it is prudent to protect the ability of parents to make decisions regarding the wearing of masks by their children.” […]

    This is not good. FL is now in uncharted territory with 21.7K new cases reported today (the largest single day number of new cases). 108 new deaths. This wave is now larger than all previous waves. 10,187 hospitalized (83% of its all-time pandemic high). Time to change gears: [chart available here: https://twitter.com/TomBossert/status/1421551063300194305 by Thomas P. Bossert] Too late in FL to mitigate meaningfully. FL has 2,038 in ICUs. FL needs to position to deal w/ the potential of 3-4 weeks of overwhelmed healthcare systems: plan for hospital surge, especially pediatric capacity. Neighboring states are strained & soon might not be able to help.

    DeSantis held a roundtable on Monday at the state Capitol to spread more anti-mask rhetoric, with teachers left out of the conversation, according to an account spokeswoman Taryn Fenske gave the Tallahassee Democrat. “With the recent uptick in discussion around mask mandates in schools this upcoming academic year, and indications that the federal government might advise masking children as young as 3 years old, Governor DeSantis wanted to exchange perspectives on this topic with experts like Dr. (Jay) Bhattacharya and other medical professionals, as well as a concerned parent, student, and school administrator,” Fenske said. Bhattacharya, a Stanford University professor, has spoken on numerous roundtable panels addressing the pandemic, including one YouTube removed for “misinformation” in March because the doctor said schools should open “with no restrictions,” the Tallahassee Democrat reported.

    Bhattacharya said during the recent roundtable: “I don’t think the Delta variant changes the calculus or the evidence in any fundamental way. [blatant lie] Masks do actually cause some harm to children, developmentally.” Mark McDonald, a clinical psychiatrist who spoke during the panel discussion via Zoom, said: “Masking children is child abuse. Children are being harmed by mask mandates. There is no scientific evidence that masks work. “The masks are nothing more than a symbol of fear and anxiety.”

    Yikes! A whole string of lies and misinformation. No wonder YouTube removed some of Bhattacharya’s blathering.

    The dangerous rhetoric flies in the face of actual expert advice. After earlier releasing guidance that vaccinated people could forego masks, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reversed course on Tuesday, recommending even vaccinated people wear masks indoors. That includes all teachers, staff, students, and school visitors. The agency wrote: “Infections happen in only a small proportion of people who are fully vaccinated, even with the Delta variant. However, preliminary evidence suggests that fully vaccinated people who do become infected with the Delta variant can spread the virus to others.” Following the new recommendations, Disney World in Orlando and other theme parks in Florida changed their mask policies, again requiring visitors to wear masks indoors and in “enclosed transportation” regardless of vaccination status.

    “There is no higher risk area in the United States than we’re seeing here,” infectious disease expert Aileen Marty, of Florida International University, told CBS Miami. “The numbers that we’re seeing are unbelievable, just unbelievably frightening.” Florida Rep. Carlos Smith tweeted: “JUST IN: Florida reports worst day ever for new COVID cases since the beginning of the pandemic with 21,683 cases. Exactly ZERO state mitigation efforts exist + @GovRonDeSantis signed a law banning local COVID restrictions. It didn’t have to be this way.” […]

    More at the link, including the full text of DeSantis’ disastrous executive order.

    See also:
    https://twitter.com/keithboykin/status/1421611666249330690

  54. says

    Former RNC Chair Michael Steele merrily rips into Jim Jordan’s selective Jan. 6 amnesia

    You’ll have fun watching this—but not nearly as much fun as Michael Steele had recording it, apparently.

    Steele, a former GOP state lieutenant governor and one-time head of the Republican National Committee, is now an anti-Trump apostate and member of The Lincoln Project, which exists almost solely to get under Former Guy’s paper-thin skin […] Whatever else you want to say about him (he was the fucking Republican National Committee chair, FFS!), he drew the line at endorsing the misrule of a screaming […] yam whose appreciation for our grand American experiment is strictly limited to intermittent flag-humping episodes.

    Not only does Steele have little patience for the ocher abomination, he’s done listening to the baby-man’s toadies as well.

    Enter Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, the jacketless jackass and problematic ex-wrestling coach who’s never seen a rock too slimy for him to slither underneath. […] [I snipped several video clips of Jordon talking like he had the “meth sweats”]

    Needless to say, there was plenty to mock here, and Steele—with a Mike’s Hard Lemonade in hand (yes, really)—was up to the task, appearing on the Lincoln Project’s Breakdown with Tara Setmayer. [video available at the link]

    STEELE: “I can tell you the time, the place, the date of every conversation I’ve ever had with every president of this country, period, going back to Bill Clinton. I can tell you where I was. I can tell you what was said. This son of a [B-word] is sitting up there acting like, ‘Well, I don’t know if it was before, I don’t know if it was after. Oh, lordy Jesus, I don’t remember. I gotta look at my notes.’

    You know, [B-word], what time you called the president, and you know what you said. You’re a grown-ass man. Stop acting like you’re 10 years old and you got caught masturbating by your mama. Stop that.”

    And here’s the full Steele interview, complete with boozy drinks—and a lengthy comparison of Donald Trump and Steele’s bottle of Mike’s. The discussion of Jordan’s stammering starts at about an hour and 12 minutes in. [video available at the link]

    That was fun, though using gendered slurs is never okay, even when mocking a yawning asshole like Jordan.

    Jim Jordan appears to have a perpetual case of amnesia—at least with respect to things he wants to hide. And (allegedly) supporting an active insurrection just happens to be one of those things. […]

  55. says

    McCarthy jokes it’ll be hard not to ‘hit’ Pelosi with gavel if he is Speaker

    Yeah, that’s not funny.

    House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) joked over the weekend that it would be hard for him not to hit Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calf.) with a gavel if the GOP wins control of the lower chamber in next year’s midterm elections.

    At a dinner on Saturday evening, members of Tennessee’s Republican congressional delegation gave McCarthy an oversized gavel with the words “Fire Pelosi” on it.

    “It will be hard not to hit her with it but I will bang it down,” McCarthy reportedly joked, according to Washington Post reporter Michael Scherer. […]

    See also:
    https://twitter.com/hakeemjeffries/status/1421848900680491013
    Hakeem Jeffries

    https://twitter.com/tedlieu/status/1421665150336081924
    Ted Lieu

    https://twitter.com/RepDebDingell/status/1421660460554797060

    https://twitter.com/davidcicilline/status/1421659758239653891

  56. says

    Fauci says ‘things are going to get worse’ as delta variant pushes surge

    […] “We are seeing an outbreak of the unvaccinated,” Fauci said, repeating the oft-stated assessment that health experts and lawmakers have made of the latest surge.

    He stressed that although breakthrough cases among vaccinated individuals are being seen, they are to be expected, as no vaccine is 100 percent effective.

    “We’re looking not, I believe, to lock down, but we’re looking to some pain and suffering in the future because we’re seeing the cases go up, which is the reason why we keep saying over and over again, ‘The solution to this is get vaccinated, and this would not be happening,'” Fauci said.

  57. blf says

    Stumbled across this opinion column in the (Arkansas) Fort Smith Times Record, with some nice snarking, Hutchinson agrees with Fauci as Arkansas’ COVID cases rise (the name of the link is rather at odds with the title and contents of the column, nonetheless, the link is correct (albeit may be EU-specific?)):

    [… O]ne might joke that Gov Hutchinson’s stature among fellow Republicans, not to mention his political future, was demolished last Sunday when he was praised by none other than Dr Anthony Fauci. Yes, the Fauci of social distancing and hand washing and masking and vaccines — surely a socialist, Fauci, possibly even a communist. Or, Antifa?

    “(I)t’s very heartening and positive to hear people like Governor Asa Hutchinson … go out there in their own state and say, hey, let’s get vaccinated, because that’s really the solution to this,” Fauci said.

    It gets worse: A few days earlier, Jeff Zients, President Biden’s coronavirus coordinator, was quoted (in The Washington Post, of all places) praising Hutchinson as being “especially passionate” about urging his constituents to vaccinate.

    In contrast: The essay published the other day, in the statewide newspaper, by the woman widely viewed as Hutchinson’s presumptive successor, who was not at all passionate about vaccination even as she acknowledged that she and her family had taken the needle. There should be no government mandates for masks or anything else, she wrote, especially the vaccine. (Mandates for vaccines such as polio, measles, mumps, etc. are presumably okay with her, the mother of three, and whose father, a Hutchinson predecessor, made it much easier for kiddies to be vaccinated against polio, measles, mumps, etc.) Her decision to take the coronavirus vaccine after discussing it with a doctor whose name is not Fauci, she wrote, adding: “I was also reassured that President Trump and his family were vaccinated. If getting vaccinated was safe enough for them, I felt it is safe enough for me.”[] Whether she is also taking Trump’s hydroxychloroquine supplements she did not say.

    And this, also from the former Trump aide: Arkansas has one of the nation’s lowest vaccination rates because Biden and his vice president aren’t giving her old boss the credit he deserves for the vaccine that fights the virus he said would magically disappear 18 months ago. You can follow that logic, surely. […]

    Decide for yourself whether it’s funny that the once and forever Trumper and the head of her party are sometimes at odds with one another and sometimes with the dreaded Fauci. And sometimes not, even when they say they are. As when the gubernatorial candidate sneers at Dr Fauci and the ‘because science says so’ crowd of arrogant, condescending politicians and bureaucrats whose mandates and shutdowns … have inflicted incalculable harm on our people and economy. (And you thought it was the virus.) And, she adds, it was politicians and TV “experts” who spooked Americans away from the vaccines (especially those who watch the cable “news” network that until recently employed her and on which she still frequently opines, and which showcases “anchors” who are vaccine skeptics — or pretend to be).

    […]

    The woman who shall not be named was one of hair furor’s Wacko House press secretaries, and (as one of many examples) said I can definitively say the president is not a liar, and I think it’s frankly insulting that question would be asked. The Grauniad’s article about her bizarre column explains, “In an opinion piece for the Arkansas Democrat Chronicle, headlined ‘The reasoning behind getting vaccinated’, she mostly used her platform to criticise Democrats and Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to Joe Biden.” She repeatedly referred to the Covid-19 vaccines as the [hair furor] vaccine.

      † Not set in eejit quotes because the decision reached is sensible, and the (claimed) reasoning used to get there is understandable, albeit frustrating. Trust hair furor but not Dr Fauci? Geesh… and nice snark about taking hydroxychloroquine.

  58. says

    Excerpt from the much longer “reflection” titled “Letter from a Region in my Mind” by James Baldwin, (written in 1962 and recently reprinted by The New Yorker):

    […] When I watched all the children, their copper, brown, and beige faces staring up at me as I taught Sunday school, I felt that I was committing a crime in talking about the gentle Jesus, in telling them to reconcile themselves to their misery on earth in order to gain the crown of eternal life. Were only Negroes to gain this crown? Was Heaven, then, to be merely another ghetto? Perhaps I might have been able to reconcile myself even to this if I had been able to believe that there was any loving-kindness to be found in the haven I represented. But I had been in the pulpit too long and I had seen too many monstrous things. I don’t refer merely to the glaring fact that the minister eventually acquires houses and Cadillacs while the faithful continue to scrub floors and drop their dimes and quarters and dollars into the plate. I really mean that there was no love in the church. It was a mask for hatred and self-hatred and despair. […]

    New Yorker link

  59. says

    Mark Meadows: Trump is meeting with non-existent ‘cabinet members’

    To hear Mark Meadows tell it, Trump is a fully engaged president meeting with cabinet members. That won’t help with unhinged conspiracy theorists.

    As bonkers as this sounds, there are some conspiracy theorists on the right-wing fringe who believe Donald Trump didn’t just win the election he lost, he’s also still the president.

    For example, Lin Wood, a pro-Trump attorney, recently told an audience that the former president “is still the guy the military will call” in the event of a crisis. He added that President Joe Biden only appears to be the president.

    Obviously, no one should believe such nonsense. But as the HuffPost noted, former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows appeared on Newsmax on Friday and used rhetoric that will likely make the unhinged conspiracy theories worse.

    [Meadows] has been meeting with former President Donald Trump and “Cabinet members” about plans to “move forward in a real way,” he claimed in a Newsmax interview on Friday. He refused to divulge the specifics of plans being discussed with Trump — whom he referred to as “the president” — at the former president’s Bedminster golf club in New Jersey.

    As the video of the exchange shows, Meadows described Trump as “a president who is fully engaged, highly focused, and remaining on task.”

    The North Carolina Republican added, in apparent reference to Trump and his team, “We met with several of our cabinet members tonight.”

    The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman responded the next day, “I can’t stop thinking about this interview. The former chief of staff is talking as if there’s a shadow presidency going on (there isn’t) at a time when there’s a conspiracy theory that Trump will be reinstated (he won’t).”

    […] Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics (CREW), a non-partisan watchdog group, added, “We can’t believe we have to say this, but no, Donald Trump is not secretly running the country from a golf course in New Jersey.”

    That’s true, though for those on the fringe, Meadows’ rhetoric will likely be seen as evidence to the contrary.

    Trump is not the president. He does not have a “cabinet.”

  60. says

    Some podcast recommendations (religion edition):

    New Books – “Imagining Persecution”:

    Many American Christians have come to understand their relationship to other Christian denominations and traditions through the lens of religious persecution. Jason Bruner’s Imagining Persecution: Why American Christians Believe There Is a Global War Against Their Faith (Rutgers UP, 2021) provides a historical account of these developments, showing the global, theological, and political changes that made it possible for contemporary Christians to claim that there is a global war on Christians. This book, however, does not advocate on behalf of particular repressed Christian communities, nor does it argue for the genuineness (or lack thereof) of certain Christians’ claims of persecution. Instead, this book is the first to examine the idea that there is a “global war on Christians” and its analytical implications. It does so by giving a concise history of the categories (like “martyrs”), evidence (statistics and metrics), and theologies that have come together to produce a global Christian imagination premised upon the notion of shared suffering for one’s faith. The purpose in doing so is not to deny certain instances of suffering or death; rather, it is to reflect upon the consequences for thinking about religious violence and Christianity worldwide using terms such as a “global war on Christians.”

    SWAJ (from March, but good) – “The Atrocity of ‘Gay Conversion Therapy'”:

    “Conversion therapy” is a discredited practice of trying to change an individual’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Lucas Wilson is a Liberty University grad who took part in the university’s ongoing “conversion therapy” program. Now a writer and scholar, he shares his experiences and those of others who endured the efforts to change their sexual orientation.

    Decoding the Gurus – “Special Episode: Interview with Evan Thompson on Buddhist Exceptionalism”:

    We class up the podcast this week with another special interview with a philosopher specialising in Asian philosophical traditions, cognitive science, and philosophy of mind.

    In our discussion with Evan we address the reception and presentation of Buddhism in the West, whether it is accurate to describe it as a mind science, and how ‘Buddhist modernism’ is related to Buddhist exceptionalism. We also get into debates of the nature of Self and whether Sam Harris is correct to claim that modern cognitive science has confirmed the insights from Buddhism.

    This is not an episode targeting the tradition of Buddhism but rather an examination of a specific (modern) manifestation of Buddhism that is particularly popular in the West (and has long been a topic of fascination for Chris!).

    So join us to distill the real teachings of the Buddha and hear how our ramblings are confirmed by 2,500 years of introspective mind science!

  61. says

    Why Ted Cruz’s CDC criticisms were condemned as ‘dangerous’

    Republican condemnations of the CDC are reminiscent of their condemnations of the media. Take Ted Cruz’s controversial floor remarks, for example.

    The politicization of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) during Donald Trump’s presidency was staggering. The CDC has long served as an international gold standard, but in 2020, when the agency was needed most, Republican officials politically intervened in science in indefensible ways.

    At the time, GOP officials in Congress expressed complete indifference. It’s not that Republican lawmakers participated in the politicization of the CDC, so much as they saw what Team Trump was doing and didn’t care.

    Now that Team Trump has been voted out of office, congressional Republicans have decided to take a keen interest in the CDC — though not in a constructive way. “Has there ever been an institution in American public life that has more discredited itself more rapidly than the CDC?” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) asked during floor remarks last week, condemning the agency’s latest mask guidance amidst rising COVID-19 infections.

    The Texan added, “A year and a half ago, the CDC was one of the most respected medical and scientific organizations on the face of the planet. Today, the CDC has willingly allowed itself to be politicized to behave as an arm of the DNC. And their credibility is in tatters. It is a joke.”

    It was a curious attack for all sorts of reasons. For example, it’s unclear why Cruz didn’t care when the CDC was actually being politicized by Trump appointees. The senator also offered no proof to substantiate the bizarre conspiracy theory, alleging that somehow the agency is secretly aligned with the Democratic National Committee.

    But as Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) explained late last week, there’s a deeper problem.

    “The political agenda at the CDC that Republicans allege is a fiction. It’s constructed out of thin air. And it’s frankly an insult to the thousands of dedicated non-political, public health professionals at the CDC, who just go to work every day trying to keep Americans safe. These aren’t politicians — these are epidemiologists and scientists and doctors who’ve worked their entire lives trying to keep this country safe. I’m not saying they get it right every time. I’ve criticized many of the decisions made by the CDC during the pandemic. It’s okay to criticize their decisions. But to claim that they are all corrupt. They’re these politically controlled hacks. That’s an outrage.”

    The Connecticut Democrat added, in reference to Cruz’s speech from Thursday, “[R]hetoric like that is going to get people killed. Because we are still in the middle of the epidemic. And what anti-CDC Republicans are doing through these attacks on our public health agencies is to intentionally undermine people’s faith in the nation’s preeminent public health institutions right at the moment where we need people to believe in them.”

    Murphy concluded, “Don’t come to the Senate floor and make things up. […] that will guarantee that this virus never disappears.”

    […] public health officials are releasing information many conservatives don’t like, so they’ve launched an expansive effort to convince their allies not to trust scientists and agencies like the CDC […]

    The fact that the Republican campaign appears to be having the intended effect, putting Americans at greater risk in the process, adds insult to injury — in a rather literal sense.

  62. says

    Republican officials press Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade

    In 2020, Republicans insisted the Supreme Court wouldn’t overturn Roe v. Wade. In 2021, Republicans are begging the justices to overturn Roe v. Wade.

    Last fall, in the wake of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing, and as Republicans scrambled to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the high court, Democrats told voters the future of reproductive rights was on the line in the 2020 elections.

    And Republicans, realizing that they’re on the wrong side of public opinion, furiously pretended otherwise.

    In one of the presidential debates, for example, after Joe Biden said the Roe v. Wade precedent was on the ballot, Donald Trump immediately pushed back. “Why is it on the ballot?” the Republican asked. “Why is it on the ballot? It’s not on the ballot.”

    The same day, Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) insisted the likelihood of Roe v. Wade being overturned “is very minimal.” She added, “I don’t see that happening.” Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) used similar rhetoric during his re-election campaign.

    As we discussed at the time, the misleading rhetoric at least made tactical sense: the more voters realized how much damage an even-more-conservative Supreme Court was likely to do, the more Republican officials and candidates risked an electoral backlash. It’s precisely why so many in the GOP simply pretended that reproductive rights weren’t on the line, Roe’s future was sound, and Americans could count on the status quo remaining in place.

    At least, that was the official Republican line before Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation. Now that the Supreme Court has a six-member conservative majority, and with the justices poised to hear a Mississippi case involving banning abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, the party’s posture seems awfully different.

    Lawyers for the state of Mississippi urged the Supreme Court on [July 22] to overturn Roe v. Wade, taking a more aggressive approach than the one they presented when they asked the court to hear the case a year ago. The case for overturning the two main decisions that legalized abortion in the U.S. — Roe v. Wade in 1973 and a later case, 1992’s Planned Parenthood v. Casey — is overwhelming, the state said. “The conclusion that abortion is a constitutional right has no basis in text, structure, history, or tradition,” it said.

    Late last week, 12 sitting Republican governors also filed a brief with the Supreme Court, asking the justices to overturn Roe.

    The same day, 228 Republican members of Congress — from the House and Senate — also pressed the Supreme Court to overturn the 1973 precedent.

    Among the signatories were Iowa’s Joni Ernst and North Carolina’s Thom Tillis — both of whom downplayed the possibility of this happening while running for re-election.

    A cynic might wonder if maybe, just maybe, when Republicans scrambled last fall to tell voters the Barrett confirmation fight had nothing to do with abortion and reproductive rights, they weren’t being completely honest with the public.

    “They weren’t being completely honest” … understatement.

  63. says

    What’s amazing about the former president’s response to the Justice Department revelations is that it failed to include anything resembling a denial.

    According to materials released late last week by the House Oversight Committee, Donald Trump had a meeting of great historical significance on Dec. 27, 2020. Desperate to overturn the results of the election he lost, the then-president privately urged Jeffrey Rosen, his acting attorney general, and his deputy, Richard Donoghue, to declare that the election was corrupt.

    The Justice Department’s top two officials at the time knew there was no evidence to substantiate such an assertion, but Trump nevertheless pressed Rosen and Donoghue to lie.

    “Just say that the election was corrupt [and] leave the rest to me” and to the White House’s Republican allies in Congress, Donoghue wrote in his notes, quoting Trump.

    The day after the materials reached the public, the former president issued a statement responding to the revelations, insisting that from his perspective, they don’t show him “attempting to overturn the election.”

    “In fact, it is just the opposite. The documents were meant to uphold the integrity and honesty of elections and the sanctity of our vote. The American People want, and demand, that the President of the United States, its chief law enforcement officer in the country, stand with them to fight for Election Integrity and to investigate attempts to undermine our nation.”

    Trump proceeded to lie some more, arguing that the election was “incredibly corrupt.” He added a day later that evidence to substantiate his claims will be “coming out in the very near future.” (Perhaps we should expect the proof in two weeks?)

    What’s amazing about the former president’s response to the revelations is that it failed to include anything resembling a denial. Justice Department materials documented Trump’s efforts to push officials to lie about election corruption, as part of his scheme to hold power he didn’t earn, and the Republican’s response is to effectively argue that he considers his lie to be true.

    Ergo, he believes there’s no real controversy.

    That’s not how reality works. If you’re caught suborning perjury, and a prosecutor files charges, you won’t get away with it by arguing, “It’s OK, I like to believe that the lies are true.”

    As for GOP lawmakers on Capitol Hill, congressional Republicans have said practically nothing about the new evidence that a former sitting president urged the Justice Department to lie. […]

  64. says

    Cartoon: The surreal magaverse

    How are we supposed to trust anything if the rules for a constantly evolving pandemic with dangerous new mutations are not set in stone from the beginning?

  65. blf says

    France24 (roughly, France’s attempt at a “BBC World Service”) irritated somebody — good for them! — from the Grauniad, Pegasus spyware found on journalists’ phones, French intelligence confirms:

    […]
    French intelligence investigators have confirmed that Pegasus spyware has been found on the phones of three journalists, including a senior member of staff at the country’s international television station France24.

    It is the first time an independent and official authority has corroborated the findings of an international investigation by the Pegasus project — a consortium of 17 media outlets, including the Guardian. Forbidden Stories, a Paris-based nonprofit media organisation, and Amnesty International initially had access to a leaked list of 50,000 numbers that, it is believed, have been identified as those of people of interest by clients of Israeli firm NSO Group since 2016, and shared access with their media partners.

    France’s national agency for information systems security (Anssi) identified digital traces of NSO Group’s hacking spyware on the television journalist’s phone and relayed its findings to the Paris public prosecutor’s office, which is overseeing the investigation into possible hacking.

    […]

    A source at France24 said the broadcaster had been “extremely shocked” to discover one of its staff had potentially been monitored.

    “We are stupefied and angry that journalists could be the object of spying. We will not be taking this lying down. There will be legal action,” the source said.

    Le Monde reported that the France24 journalist, based in Paris, had been selected for “eventually putting under surveillance”. Police experts discovered the spyware had been used to target the journalist’s phone three times: in May 2019, September 2020 and January 2021, the paper said.

    [… more details, especially concerning the other two French journalists, “Lénaïg Bredoux, an investigative journalist at the French investigative website Mediapart, and the site’s director, Edwy Plenel”, and a possible connection to Morocco…]

    As the article points out, this seems to be confirmation that Israel’s NSO’s software has been used on targets not consistent with NSO’s frantic & derisory assertions about the targets.

  66. says

    Belarusian Olympic sprinter granted asylum in Poland

    Belarus Olympic track sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya has been granted asylum in Poland after expressing fears for her own safety if she returned to her native country, The Washington Post reported.

    In a statement on Monday, Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Marcin Przydacz tweeted that ​​Tsimanouskaya has been in contact with the Polish authorities on her situation and has received her humanitarian visa […]

    […] This comes as a video that circulated throughout social media showed the 24-year-old sprinter pleading for help, stating that Belarus is forcibly trying to make her return to the country after criticizing her team for placing her in the 4×400-meter relay, an event she has never competed in before, according to the Post. […]

    Tsimanouskaya’s husband and child have fled the country to Ukraine. […]

  67. says

    Wonkette:

    Politico is out with a story this morning that Number One Trump Humper Jason Miller’s knockoff Twitter site GETTR is currently overrun with ISIS propaganda, including videos of beheadings. Reporters Mark Scott and Tina Nguyen write that the site “features reams of jihadi-related material, including graphic videos of beheadings, viral memes that promote violence against the West and even memes of a militant executing Trump in an orange jumpsuit similar to those used in Guantanamo Bay.”

    This comes after the waves of N-word hashtags, Nazis, groypers, photos of feces, and furry porn that plagued the site in its first week online, during which it also managed to get hacked, compromising tens of thousands of users’ data. And lest we forget, the entire platform is just a retread of Chinese expat billionaire Guo Wengui’s old social media site GTV — which makes sense, since Guo, who is Steve Bannon’s BFF or something, is backing Miller […]

    Although the ISIS content makes up only a small portion of the nasty drek flowing through the GETTR gutter, it was entirely predictable that the platform would be immediately colonized by malign actors. Miller’s whole pitch is that his site won’t censor users for flogging lies about Covid, the election, or any other bullshit. Even if it had the heft to staff up with moderators to bounce destructive content, or join one of the tech consortiums that helps platforms behave in a plausibly responsible fashion — or at least appear to — GETTR would likely refuse to do anything that would tarnish its reputation as a free speech Mecca for the very worst people.

    So of course when someone with an Islamic State flag as his avatar asked “Is Daesh here?” — i.e. “Any ISIS peeps in the house?” — the answer was yes.

    For his part, Miller indignantly insists on Twitter that he is cancel culturing ISIS.

    “ISIS is trying to attack the MAGA movement because President Trump wiped them off the face of the earth, destroying the Caliphate in less than 18 months, and the only ISIS members still alive are keyboard warriors hiding in caves & eating dirt cookies. Buried beneath a misleading and inflammatory headline…even Politico acknowledges GETTR has a robust & proactive moderation system that removes prohibited content, maximizing…A.I. technology and human moderation.”

    Naturally he posted the statement to Twitter so someone would actually read it. […]

    Anyway! Miller’s blarping about dirt cookies notwithstanding, note that he is loudly praising himself for his responsible content moderation policies, in direct opposition to his fellow MAGA travelers who insist that censoring user-generated posts transforms the site from a platform to a publisher under the nonsensical interpretation of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act pushed by Trump and his ilk. Turns out, you can’t just let nutbags spam your site with crazy shit if you want other people to hang around there. […]

    In summary and in conclusion, this is all working out just as well as expected.

    Link

  68. blf says

    Apropos of absolutely nothing, today I went to one of my favourite local restaurants for lunch. And as expected, the staff and lunch were both great. The thing of note (besides the umbrella almost falling on my head) was the starter (appetiser or entrée), which was, loosely translating, Artichokes with Bacon and Umbrella Blown Over. I had absolutely no idea what the feck that would be, or would be like, it’s a dish I have no recollection of ever even hearing of before, much less trying. So I tried it: Delicious! Basically, Artichoke hearts cooked somehow (not sure how, but probably involving butter and/or olive oil), with bits of added bacon (or more correctly, some type of façon (don’t think it was the vegan lardon substitute, but it was, it was very tasty!)), with a small amount of other stuff (carrots, and also probably some shallots). The umbrella missed (probably a good thing as I wasn’t wearing my proven pigeon-proof hat at the time), and I don’t think it (both the umbrealla and the hat) would have added anything.

    Amusingly, I had pre-selected this restaurant last-ish week as the first place to visit when the French Health Pass measures came into effect (which was intended to be 1st-ish August), partly as the restaurant has been very Very good with Covid-19 precautions, and partly because their garden is one of the safest (Covid-19 wise, if perhaps not umbrella wise) and coolest (weather, as well as ambiance) outdoor / terrace places I know of in the area. (It’s also very secluded and quiet, with a large friendly and obviously well-trained dog keeping on eye on things — he came over to check after the umbrella was blown over, and deciding everything was Ok, went back to sleep.) As it happens, the new Health Pass measures (which include being able to show proof of vaccination, etc., to visit a restaurant, etc.) don’t come into effect until next Monday, 9th August.

  69. says

    Wonkette:

    […] Meadows [Trump’s last surviving chief of staff, Mark Meadows] described Trump as “a president that is fully engaged, highly focused, and remaining on task.” This wasn’t true of Trump when he was actually president. Furthering the delusion, host Steve Cortes called Meadows “chief,” as though he still has a paying job with the government:

    CORTES: Chief, do you want to break any news from your meetings with President Trump?

    MEADOWS: Well, we met with some of our Cabinet members tonight.

    No, he did not, because Donald Trump is not president and no longer has a collection of grifters and sleazebags we’re obliged to call a “cabinet.”

    MEADOWS: We actually had a follow-up […] meeting with some of our Cabinet members, and as we were looking at that, we were looking at what does come next. I’m not authorized to speak on behalf of the president, but I can tell you this, Steve. We wouldn’t be meeting tonight if we weren’t making plans to move forward in a real way, with President Trump at the head of that ticket.

    This is so fucking pathetic. […]

    Meadows reveals what most people already know: Trump will run again in 2024. (Or at least wants his followers to think he is, for grifting purposes.) He’s playing coy, but he basically said it during an interview a few weeks ago with Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo […]

    The Federal Election Commission has a “testing the waters” exemption that allows potential candidates to raise money while considering whether they’ll actually run. They can do this without filing reports, and we all know how much Trump loves transparency.

    The exemption isn’t a “free pass” and is intended to cover genuine uncertainty. Trump has obviously made up his mind, but he seems to think he can take advantage of the exemption for as long as he delays officially saying he’s running. But his fake chief of staff just declared that they are “making plans to move forward in a real way.” These bozos fundamentally misunderstand the law, which should come as no surprise to anyone who lived through Trump’s trainwreck presidency.

    Link

  70. says

    Demons And Crack Forcing Us To Believe Biden Won Election, Says Totally Normal Christian Preacher

    When last we met Pastor Greg Locke, he was telling us all about the normal things he believes, like how Joe Biden is possessed by a demon and Tom Hanks and Oprah are operating a child sex trafficking ring through tunnels that are underneath the White House. But those are not the only extremely normal and rational things Pastor Greg Locke believes. He also believes the delta variant doesn’t exist and is instead a “vaccine variant” being spread by people who got the vaccine. While he has been widely mocked for this belief, he told his congregation on Sunday that the CDC itself confirmed his findings this week.

    And he would like an apology. From the media. [video available at the link]

    While the real CDC has not, in fact, confirmed Locke’s findings, that does not for sure mean another thing called “CDC” has not. It is entirely possible the Cedar City Regional Airport (IATA code: CDC) in Utah thinks he is correct here. Or perhaps the Canadian Dairy Commission. We don’t want to jump to conclusions here. (NOTE: We have no evidence those fine institutions think Greg Locke is correct. We are, as ever, making jokes.)

    Also, during his sermon, Pastor Locke — after yelling at the crowd that there would be no mask-wearing in his church — stated that the only people who believe Joe Biden is the legitimate president are “crack-smoking, demon-possessed leftists.” [Video available at the link. Pastor Locke is very excited and he yells a lot.]

    […] Are we to believe demons have nothing better to do than to convince us Joe Biden won an election? Really? […] are demons really gonna come all the way up from hell and possess millions of people just to make them think Joe Biden won the election? They can’t find someone a tad saucier than that? I mean, no offense to Joe Biden — who, according to Pastor Locke, is also demon-possessed — but he does not seem like he would be the first choice of demonkind. Especially since it does not seem as though they have much of a follow-up plan. […]

    Of course, it is entirely possible none of us are demon-possessed and Pastor Greg Locke is just throwing out every possible bizarre thing he can think of up against the wall in hopes of creating a loyal army who will give him all their money. After all, no successful cult has ever started out by telling people anything normal.

  71. says

    More podcasts:

    The Daily – “From Opinion: Nikole Hannah-Jones and Ta-Nehisi Coates on the Story We Tell About America”:

    You’ve heard the 1619 podcast right here on The Daily. And we’ve covered the backlash to the 1619 Project and the battle over critical race theory that followed. In this interview, Ezra Klein, an Opinion columnist at The New York Times and host of The Ezra Klein Show, speaks with Nikole Hannah-Jones and Ta-Nehisi Coates about these skirmishes, and how they have gripped our national discourse. At the heart of the conversation in this episode is the question: How do we understand American history?

    Jacobin Radio – “Michael and Us: Bugs Bunny is Dead, Long Live Bugs Bunny!”:

    You may love Bugs Bunny, but you will never own him. That’s the thesis of SPACE JAM: A NEW LEGACY (2021), which sends Bugs and LeBron James through a tour of WarnerMedia’s intellectual property while never letting you forget that its WarnerMedia’s intellectual property. “Th- th- th- th- that’s bad, folks!” PLUS: Vanity Fair in the ’20s, Jeff Bezos in space, and some alarming new trends in movie marketing.

    Here’s the related NPR piece – Space Jam: A New Legacy Is a Peek Into the Bleak, Cynical Future of Film”: “The new LeBron James–Looney Tunes crossover movie isn’t just bad. It’s a harbinger of worse to come.”

    I’m still not fully able to accept that this movie exists. It’s like a Frankfurt School nightmare took form.

  72. says

    Dozens of legislators from other states to join Texas lawmakers in D.C. to lobby for voting bills.

    Washington Post link

    More than 100 state legislators from across the country will converge in Washington on Monday to join their Texas counterparts in pushing the Senate and President Biden to take action on voting reform legislation.

    The lawmakers represent more than 20 states, including some in which Republican-led legislatures have passed or are considering new voting restrictions, and will urge senators to pass the For the People Act, or at least show progress on a federal voting law, before their summer recess. They are scheduled to rally outside the Capitol on Tuesday and press their case during other public events and private meetings.

    The For the People Act, which would set voting standards and overhaul campaign finance and ethics rules, has stalled in the 50-50 Senate because it can’t get the support of 60 members needed to pass most legislation there. And at least two Democratic senators — Joe Manchin III (W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.) — have resisted calls to eliminate that filibuster rule, or make an exception for the bill, and allow it to pass with a simple majority. […]

  73. says

    Quoted in Lynna’s #71:

    As the video of the exchange shows, Meadows described Trump as “a president who is fully engaged, highly focused, and remaining on task.”

    This suggests to me that he could be decompensating rather dramatically.

  74. blf says

    SC@86, “This [[hair furor] is fully engaged, highly focused, and remaining on task] suggests to me that he could be decompensating rather dramatically.”

    Or dramatically decomposing, as in maggots have eaten his brain, but is too dumb and delusional to notice.

  75. says

    Re SQB’s #49 – Guardian – “Sifan Hassan destroys top-class 5,000m field in first leg of unique treble bid”:

    One down, two to go. [Dutch runner] Sifan Hassan won the first leg of her Tokyo triple by taking the gold medal in the women’s 5,000m. And, being Hassan, she did it style, with a finishing kick that swept her from past four of the finest long-distance runners in the world. Her final time of 14min 36.79sec did not break any records, but that last lap did. No woman had run a quicker final 400m in this event in the Olympics, no woman had, in fact, come close to doing anything like it. It was unprecedented, like so much else Hassan is doing this week. “Many people say I’m crazy,” she said. “Believe me, I think I’m crazy too.”

    Next up, Hassan has the semi-finals of the 1500m on Wednesday, the final of that same event on Friday, and then the 10,000m on Saturday. If she can do it, it would be one of the greatest feats in Olympic history.

    And it almost ended before it had even really started. Earlier in the day, Hassan fell on the last lap of her 1,500m heat, but jumped back to her feet and sprinted back past the field, in what has already become one of the iconic races of these Games….

  76. says

    Here’s a link to the August 2 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    From their recent summary:

    The coronavirus has killed at least 4,227,765 people since the outbreak emerged in China in December 2019.

    Health authorities in Iran have reported more than 37,000 cases of coronavirus in 24 hours for the first time, as the country also recorded its highest daily number of deaths from Covid for three months.

    Poland is stepping up security at vaccination points following two arson incidents overnight in a single town and an attempt by anti-vaccine activists to break into another.

    The Philippines will extend a night curfew in the capital, Manila, amid a tightening of curbs in the south-east Asian country to combat a potential surge in cases of the Delta variant of Covid-19, a government official said today.

    Vaccine shortages in developing countries are pushing refugees to the back of the queue.

    US president Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser Dr Anthony Fauci has told ABC News he does not expect the US will be returning to lockdowns, despite the growing risks of Covid-19 infections posed by the Delta variant.

    In Australia, the state of Queensland has extended its lockdown until Sunday, defence minister Peter Dutton has been forced to isolate after a health alert at his son’s school and soldiers have been deployed on the streets of Sydney to enforce stay-at-home rules as New South Wales struggles to contain its own Delta outbreak.

    Brazil had 20,503 new cases of coronavirus reported in the past 24 hours and 464 deaths, the country’s health ministry said on Sunday. The South American country has now registered 19,938,358 cases since the pandemic began, while the official death toll has risen to 556,834, Reuters reports.

    Thousands turned out in Berlin on Sunday to protest the German government’s anti-coronavirus measures despite a ban on the gatherings, leading to clashes with police and about 600 arrests.

    The UK has registered 24,470 new Covid cases in the past 24 hours. There were 911 further hospitalisations and 65 more people have died within 28 days of a positive test.

    Italy reported five coronavirus-related deaths on Sunday, down from 16 the day before, the health ministry said. The daily tally of new infections fell to 5,321 on Sunday compared with 6,513 the previous day.

    A day after it recorded the most new daily cases since the start of the pandemic, Florida on Sunday broke a previous record in the US for current hospitalisations, as the number of patients in hospitals because of Covid-19 once again broke through the 10,000-person threshold….

  77. blf says

    The Onion, ‘Well, Why Did I Get Vaccinated Then?’ Screams Burning Woman After Realizing She Can Still Catch Fire:

    Indignant over her continued ability to burn, visibly angry local woman Maria Williams, who is currently ablaze, asked aloud Tuesday why she even bothered to get a Covid-19 vaccine if it turned out she could still catch fire. “There’s no way I would’ve gotten that stupid jab if I knew I could still go up in flames like this!” screamed Williams, who was reportedly engulfed in smoke from head to toe as she ran through her home and accused the scientific establishment of deception, stating that it had failed to inform her of her continued flammability when it immunized her against the deadly virus. “Those shots were supposed to protect me! I went through all that hassle. […]” […]

  78. says

    Jane Mayer in the New Yorker – “The Big Money Behind the Big Lie”:

    …Although the Arizona audit may appear to be the product of local extremists, it has been fed by sophisticated, well-funded national organizations whose boards of directors include some of the country’s wealthiest and highest-profile conservatives. Dark-money organizations, sustained by undisclosed donors, have relentlessly promoted the myth that American elections are rife with fraud, and, according to leaked records of their internal deliberations, they have drafted, supported, and in some cases taken credit for state laws that make it harder to vote.

    One of the movement’s leaders is the Heritage Foundation, the prominent conservative think tank in Washington, D.C. It has been working with the American Legislative Exchange Council (alec)—a corporate-funded nonprofit that generates model laws for state legislators—on ways to impose new voting restrictions. Among those deep in the fight is Leonard Leo, a chairman of the Federalist Society, the legal organization known for its decades-long campaign to fill the courts with conservative judges. In February, 2020, the Judicial Education Project, a group tied to Leo, quietly rebranded itself as the Honest Elections Project, which subsequently filed briefs at the Supreme Court, and in numerous states, opposing mail-in ballots and other reforms that have made it easier for people to vote.

    Another newcomer to the cause is the Election Integrity Project California. And a group called FreedomWorks, which once concentrated on opposing government regulation, is now demanding expanded government regulation of voters, with a project called the National Election Protection Initiative.

    These disparate nonprofits have one thing in common: they have all received funding from the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation. Based in Milwaukee, the private, tax-exempt organization has become an extraordinary force in persuading mainstream Republicans to support radical challenges to election rules—a tactic once relegated to the far right. With an endowment of some eight hundred and fifty million dollars, the foundation funds a network of groups that have been stoking fear about election fraud, in some cases for years. Public records show that, since 2012, the foundation has spent some eighteen million dollars supporting eleven conservative groups involved in election issues.

    It might seem improbable that a low-profile family foundation in Wisconsin has assumed a central role in current struggles over American democracy. But the modern conservative movement has depended on leveraging the fortunes of wealthy reactionaries….

    …Jonathan Rauch, of the Brookings Institution, recently told The Economist, “We need to regard what’s happening now as epistemic warfare by some Americans on other Americans.” Pillars of the conservative establishment, faced with a changing U.S. voter population that threatens their agenda, are exploiting Trump’s contempt for norms to devise ways to hold on to power. Senator Whitehouse said of the campaign, “It’s a massive covert operation run by a small group of billionaire élites. These are powerful interests with practically unlimited resources who have moved on to manipulating that most precious of American gifts—the vote.”

    An animating force behind the Bradley Foundation’s war on “election fraud” is Cleta Mitchell, a fiercely partisan Republican election lawyer, who joined the organization’s board of directors in 2012….

    …Ian Bassin, the executive director of Protect Democracy, who served as an associate White House counsel under Obama, told me, “Institutions like the Heritage Foundation and alec are providing the grease to turn these attacks on democracy into law.”…

    Much, much more atl. Hugely disturbing. “Richard Hasen, a law professor at the University of California, Irvine, and one of the country’s foremost election-law experts, told me, ‘I’m scared shitless’.”

    A relevant quote from McGoey’s The Unknowers:

    [A]ny new law or regulation of commerce which comes from this order [the merchant class], ought always to be listened to with great precaution, and ought never to be adopted till having been long and carefully examined, not only with the most scrupulous, but with the most suspicious attention. It comes from an order of men, whose interest is never exactly the same with that of the publick, who have generally an interest to deceive and even to oppress the publick, and who accordingly have, upon many occasions both deceived and oppressed it. – Adam Fucking Smith

  79. says

    Lindsey Graham:

    I was just informed by the House physician I have tested positive for #COVID19 even after being vaccinated.

    I started having flu-like symptoms Saturday night and went to the doctor this morning.

    I feel like I have a sinus infection and at present time I have mild symptoms.

    I will be quarantining for ten days.

    I am very glad I was vaccinated because without vaccination I am certain I would not feel as well as I do now.

    My symptoms would be far worse.

  80. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    The sight of a needle piercing skin is enough to chill a quarter of adult Britons and trigger up to 4% into fainting. But hope is on the horizon for needle-phobics as researchers are working on a range of non-injectable Covid vaccine formulations, including nasal sprays and tablets.

    Almost every vaccine in use today comes with a needle, and the approved Covid-19 vaccines are no exception. Once jabbed, the body’s immune system usually mounts a response, but scientists in the UK and beyond are hoping to harness the immune arsenal of the mucous membranes that line the nose, mouth, lungs and digestive tract, regions typically colonised by respiratory viruses including Covid-19, in part to allay the fears of needle-phobics.

    To understand the role this anxiety may be playing in vaccine hesitancy in the UK, Daniel Freeman, a professor of clinical psychology at the University of Oxford, and colleagues recruited more than 15,000 adults – representative of age, gender, ethnicity, income and region of the UK population – in a study and found that a quarter of the group screened positive for a potential injection phobia.

    Notably, this subset of people were twice as likely to report that they would put off getting vaccinated or indeed never get the jab. Out of the total number of those fearful of needles, 10% were found to be strongly Covid vaccine-hesitant.

    Probably about 3% to 4% of the UK’s total adult population were needle-phobic (have an intense fear of medical procedures involving injections), he said. And the fear of needles was more prevalent in younger adults, he added….

    I’ve seen multiple reports on vaccinations – including on vaccine hesitancy! – on MSNBC that feature a loop of pictures or video clips of people getting the shots, even close-ups of needles going into people’s arms. This is incredibly stupid and counterproductive.

  81. says

    CNN – “Officer who responded to January 6 attack is third to die by suicide”:

    A DC police officer who responded to the US Capitol insurrection has died by suicide, according to the Metropolitan Police Department.

    “Officer Gunther Hashida, assigned to the Emergency Response Team within the Special Operations Division, was found deceased in his residence on Thursday, July 29,” department spokesperson Kristen Metzger told CNN in a statement.

    Hashida joined the Metropolitan Police Department in 2003 and responded to the Capitol on January 6, Metzger said.

    “We are grieving as a Department and our thoughts and prayers are with Officer Hashida’s family and friends,” Metzger said.

    This is the third known suicide of an officer who responded to the Capitol during the attack, and it is the second known suicide by a DC officer specifically….

  82. says

    TPM – “Tucker Carlson Summers With Viktor Orban, Touted As Speaker At Budapest Far-right Gathering”:

    Fox News host Tucker Carlson is billed as a speaker at a far-right conference in Hungary on Saturday, according to a flier for the event. The appearance will come days after the Fox host met with the country’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.

    Carlson will purportedly offer his insights at MCC Feszt, an event hosted by the Mathias Corvinus Collegium, which the New York Times described in June as a government-funded plan to “train a conservative future elite.

    A program for MCC Feszt touts Carlson as speaking on Saturday, delivering a talk called “The World According to Tucker Carlson.”

    But Carlson isn’t only in Budapest for the conservative lectures, hot springs, and fruit brandy, however. The far-right news host surprised some on Monday after Orbán posted a photo of the two of them meeting on Facebook.

    The New York Times described MCC as benefitting from $1.7 billion in grants from the Hungarian government and open support from Orbán….

  83. John Morales says

    In Australian news: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-08-03/tribunal-orders-fraser-anning-to-remove-posts-vilifying-muslims/100337536

    Former Australian senator Fraser Anning has been ordered to remove 141 pieces of content from the internet after a Queensland tribunal found he breached anti-discrimination laws by vilifying Muslims.

    […]

    Neither Facebook nor Twitter have been ordered by the tribunal to remove any material.

    When asked by the ABC whether they would do so voluntarily, neither committed to taking the posts down if Mr Anning or others running the accounts failed to act.

    Katharine Gelber is the head of the University of Queensland’s School of Political Science and International Studies, and an expert on free speech and anti-discrimination laws.

    She said this was the only incident she was aware of in which a politician had made comments while in office that were found to breach vilification laws.

    […]

    Mr Anning did not make any submissions to the tribunal and failed to appear at a compulsory conference for the matter.

    The ABC could not reach him for comment.

    It has previously been reported he is now living in the United States.

  84. says

    Guardian – “Belarus exile group leader Vitaly Shishov found dead in Kyiv, police say”:

    The head of a Kyiv-based non-profit organisation that helps Belarusians fleeing persecution has been found dead in a park in the Ukrainian capital, police have said.

    Vitaly Shishov, the head of Belarusian House in Ukraine (BDU), was reported missing by his partner on Monday after he did not return from a run and could not be reached on his mobile phone.

    “Belarusian citizen Vitaly Shishov, who had gone missing in Kyiv yesterday, was today found hanged in one of the Kyiv parks, not far from where he lived,” police said in a statement, adding that they had opened a murder investigation and would pursue all leads including a possible “murder disguised as a suicide”.

    Friends of Shishov said he had been followed by “strangers” while jogging recently, the human rights organisation Viasna said on Telegram….

    Ukraine, Poland and Lithuania have become safe havens for Belarusians during a violent crackdown by the country’s strongman president, Alexander Lukashenko, on any form of dissent since mass protests erupted after last year’s disputed elections.

    BDU helps Belarusians find accommodation, jobs and legal advice, according to its website.

    Shishov’s disappearance came as the Belarusian athlete Krystsina Tsimanouskaya said she was forced to withdraw from the Tokyo Olympics and threatened with forced repatriation for criticising her athletics federation on social media.

    The sprinter, who was granted a humanitarian visa from Poland on Monday, said she feared being jailed if she returned to her country, where the authorities have targeted the president’s opponents, rights activists and journalists.

    Her husband, Arseniy Zdanevich, told AFP he had fled from Belarus to Ukraine and was hoping to join his wife “in the near future”.

    Lukashenko and his son Viktor have been banned from Olympic events over the targeting of athletes for their political views….

  85. says

    Here’s a link to the August 3 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    From their morning summary:

    Pakistan hit a target on Tuesday to vaccinate one million people a day against Covid-19, making strides in its inoculation campaign just weeks away from a deadline for workers in public-facing roles to obtain vaccination certificates.

    Indonesia’s health workers are struggling under the weight of new cases seven days after the world’s fourth most populous country faced its deadliest day with 2,069 deaths.

    A total of 327 deaths registered in England and Wales in the week ending 23 July mentioned Covid-19 on the death certificate, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) – up 50% on the previous week and a three-month high.

    Brazil had 15,143 new cases of the novel coronavirus reported in the past 24 hours and 389 deaths from Covid-19, the lowest death toll for a Monday since early December, according to Health Ministry data.

    Health authorities in Iran have reported more than 37,000 cases of coronavirus in 24 hours for the first time, as the country also recorded its highest daily number of deaths from Covid for three months….

  86. says

    CNN – “Maricopa County defies latest subpoena request from Arizona state Senate seeking to expand 2020 ballot review”:

    Maricopa County and Dominion Voting Systems are rebuffing the latest subpoenas from Arizona’s GOP-led Senate for election materials related to the so-called audit of 2020 election ballots.

    In a defiant letter sent Monday in response to the state Senate’s request, county Board of Supervisors Chairman Jack Sellers wrote: “If you haven’t figured out the election in Maricopa County was free, fair and accurate yet, I’m sure you never will. The reason you haven’t finished your ‘audit’ is because you hired people who have no experience and little understanding of how professional elections are run.”

    “The Board has real work to do and little time to entertain this adventure in never-never land. Please finish whatever it is that you are doing and release whatever it is you are going to release,” he added. “There was no fraud, there wasn’t an injection of ballots from Asia nor was there a satellite that beamed votes into our election equipment.”

    The letter concluded with a pointed: “Release your report and be prepared to defend any accusations of misdeeds in court. It’s time to move on.”

    …Arizona’s Senate issued subpoenas last week asking Maricopa County for documents, passwords, security information, changes of voter registration records, signed ballot envelopes or images, documents related to any breaches of the election system, information about changes in voting records, county routers and IP addresses and computer logs from two months before and three months after the election.

    The deadline for the county and Dominion to respond was 4 p.m. ET Monday.

    Among the 11 objections to the subpoena, the Board of Supervisors noted the lawmakers’ request “was not authorized by a vote of the Senate” and argued “it is an abuse of process or designed merely to harass.”

    In a statement released Monday night, Arizona Senate President Karen Fann, a Republican, wrote that her chamber is “weighing our options for securing access to the routers and passwords,” adding that “we will try to be patient and give the County more time to comply as they had requested.”

    Two GOP state senators have come out against the so-called audit, however, making it more difficult for Republicans, who have a razor-thin majority in the chamber, to approve any legal action.

    Dominion Voting Systems, which provided the election machinery for the 2020 vote, also defied a subpoena and a public records request deadline.

    In a letter to the Senate’s lawyer, Dominion attorney Eric Spencer called the subpoena unconstitutional, writing in part that “events have confirmed that the subpoena is invalid and unenforceable.”

    Spencer argued in the letter that the Senate’s decision to return tabulator machines last week to Maricopa County “clearly extinguished the Arizona Senate’s claimed interest in obtaining Dominion security keys and passwords (which was non-existent to begin with) and rendered the Subpoena moot.”

    Dominion also objected that the Senate was seeking information that was proprietary. The company said it will head to court and “seek discovery of all materials related to Cyber Ninjas and other contractors’ copying, review, transfer, storage and any other use of Dominion’s physical and intellectual property.”

  87. says

    Another great episode of Maintenance Phase – “The Body Mass Index”:

    The BMI is EVERYWHERE. But is it scientific or scientif-ish? While many Americans think of the body mass index as an objective measure of health, its history reveals a more complicated story. This week, Mike and Aubrey tackle the first in a two-part series about the BMI and the “Obesity Epidemic.” Along the way they visit 18th century Belgium, learn a gross new acronym and dissect Dracula’s facial features.

  88. says

    DN! – “Refugees Continue to Face ‘Extreme Danger’ in Mediterranean Sea as Aid Groups Scramble to Respond”:

    The number of refugees trying to reach European soil continues to grow due to worsening poverty, violence and the climate crisis, and over 1,100 refugees have perished crossing the Mediterranean so far this year, according to the United Nations. We speak with Laurence Bondard of SOS Méditerranée, a humanitarian group that rescues migrants at sea, who says there is a severe shortage of search-and-rescue resources in the area to address the crisis. “The people that are actually fleeing via the sea that are on tremendously unseaworthy dinghies — most of the time without life jackets, without enough food or water — are in extreme danger, and they cannot always be rescued,” Bondard says….

  89. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    New York City will require proof of vaccination to enter restaurant[s]

    New York City is to require proof of vaccination for indoor activities including entering restaurants and attending performances, mayor Bill de Blasio has said.

    The announcement, which is likely to arouse serious controversy in some quarters, is the latest in a string of initiatives aimed at encouraging more residents to get vaccinated. “We know this is what’s going to turn the tide,” de Blasio said.

    New York City, population 8.5m, has seen a swift rise in recent coronavirus cases — with more than 1,200 new cases being registered per day – but Covid-related deaths have not exceeded more than 100 per day since May last year.

    It comes after New York theatre operators announced Covid-19 vaccinations and masks would be required for all Broadway audience members when theatres reopen in the coming weeks.

    “We want to strongly recommend that people wear masks in indoor settings even if you’re vaccinated,” De Blasio said yesterday. “We think it is so important to make clear that if you are vaccinated, you get to benefit in all sorts of ways. You get to live a better life. Besides your health in general, you get to participate in many, many things. And if you’re unvaccinated, there are going to be fewer and fewer things that you’re able to do.”

  90. says

    The Pentagon is on lockdown.

    More:

    BREAKING: Sounds like multiple shots fired at Pentagon Transit Center. Body on the ground near Metrobus….

    CPR being done on two people at Pentagon transit center. Heard multiple shots fired.

    @ArlingtonVaFD on the scene. CPR on two people. Have heard there is a third person….

    Video atl.

  91. Czech American says

    In reference to SC’s post at #111, the transit center at the Pentagon is a hub for Metrorail and Metrobus, so this doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with the Pentagon itself.

    In a post-911 world, it seems odd to have such a hub of activity close to the Pentagon, but it predates 911 by decades, though they did move it further away after the Pentagon attack.

    Just a point of reference for people not familiar with the DC area.

  92. blf says

    Terrific. Not. Apparently, the area where I live in France has one of the lowest numbers of fully-vaccinated people, around 44% (nation-wide, it’s now over 61%), and also a very Very high percentage of Delta (over 97%, compared to about 92% nation-wide). Guessing, this is probably due to the large number of le penazis and loonytarian nutcases, an opinion somewhat confirmed by Which parts of France lag behind for Covid vaccinations? (possibly paywalled): “‘The Rassemblement national [le penazi] voters in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur are largely composed of professionals, who care a lot about individual freedoms, notably in terms of health’, [said Lucie Guimier, whose thesis looked at the geopolitics surrounding vaccine hesitancy].” This area is also very popular with tourists (I’m certainly tripping over a lot of them at the moment), most of whom (from outside France) should be fully-vaccinated, nonetheless… Delta will presumably be hitchhiking a lot as the tourists return to whereever (especially since being vaccinated doesn’t prevent someone from being a carrier).

  93. says

    The Pentagon Force Protection Agency tweeted:

    The scene of the incident is secure. It is still an active crime scene. We request that everyone stay away from the Metro rail entrance and bus platform area. Transportation at the Pentagon is diverted to Pentagon City.

    The Pentagon has lifted the lock down and has reopened. Corridor 2 and the Metro entrance remains closed. Corridor 3 is open for pedestrian traffic.

    No other details.

  94. blf says

    Brazil court to investigate Bolsonaro for baseless warnings of voter fraud (my added emboldening):

    Brazil’s Supreme Electoral Court (TSE) decided on Monday to open an investigation into far-right President Jair Bolsonaro for his statements claiming there will be fraud in next year’s elections.

    Bolsonaro, who is expected to seek a second term in 2022, has repeatedly said Brazil’s electronic voting system is vulnerable to fraud.

    Critics say Bolsonaro, like former US President[Wacko House squatter] Donald Trump, is sowing doubts with his unfounded claims in order to pave the way for him not to accept defeat in 2022.

    The TSE also decided to ask the Supreme Court to investigate whether Bolsonaro committed a crime by attacking the electoral system on social media and threatening Brazil’s democracy.

    The TSE voted to investigate Bolsonaro after he accused the court’s members of complicity in maintaining a voting system that would help former leftist President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva return to power.

    Bolsonaro is calling for the adoption of printed receipts that can be counted if any election result is disputed, a paper trail that would change the current all-electronic voting system. Bolsonaro has said he might not accept the result of next year’s presidential election if the system is not changed.

    […]

    Earlier on Monday, a group of 18 active and former Brazilian Supreme Court justices, who also serve as judges on the TSE, said the election system is free of fraud.

    “Brazil has eliminated a history of election fraud,” the judges said in a statement, saying that since the electronic voting system was adopted in 1996, there has never been a documented fraud case in any election.

    “The electronic voting system is subject to audits before, during and after the election,” they said. The judges said all the steps are monitored by political parties, prosecutors, federal police, universities and the Brazilian Bar Association.

    The judges said printed ballots are less safe than electronic voting, and that if Brazil goes back to manual counting of 150 million printed ballots, the chance of fraud would be higher.

    […]

  95. says

    SC @96, thanks for posting that excerpt. So important.

    From the text you quoted, this really stuck with me:

    These disparate nonprofits have one thing in common: they have all received funding from the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation. Based in Milwaukee, the private, tax-exempt organization has become an extraordinary force in persuading mainstream Republicans to support radical challenges to election rules—a tactic once relegated to the far right. [My question: So why does this foundation get to be tax-exempt?]

    […] It might seem improbable that a low-profile family foundation [low-profile, but hugely rich … and no longer low-profile] in Wisconsin has assumed a central role in current struggles over American democracy. But the modern conservative movement has depended on leveraging the fortunes of wealthy reactionaries

    […] “We need to regard what’s happening now as epistemic warfare by some Americans on other Americans.” […] “It’s a massive covert operation run by a small group of billionaire élites. These are powerful interests with practically unlimited resources who have moved on to manipulating that most precious of American gifts—the vote.”

  96. says

    Quoted in blf’s #116:

    Bolsonaro, who is expected to seek a second term in 2022, has repeatedly said Brazil’s electronic voting system is vulnerable to fraud.

    Didn’t hear him ranting about it when he was elected.

  97. says

    blf @114, I am living in a situation somewhat analogous to yours. In the county in which I live, there has been some recent improvement. About 40% of the residents over 12 years of age have been vaccinated, and that’s a good sign since the percentage was stuck at 31% for weeks earlier.

    Less conservative counties in Idaho have vaccinated more that 70% of the residents over 12 years old. Big difference!

    Overall, only 37.5% of eligible residents in the state have been fully vaccinated. The differences between ultra conservative populations and those that are more diverse/liberal/moderate are stark.

  98. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    Covid-19 hospitalizations are surging across the US and stretched hospitals are warning that the overwhelming majority of Covid-19 patients are unvaccinated and their serious sickness preventable.

    More than 50,000 people were hospitalized across the US as of Monday, according to the US health department. This is significantly fewer people than during the peak in cases, deaths and hospitalizations this January, but similar to the rates last summer when coronavirus vaccines were still in development.

    The US is seeing more new Covid-19 infections a day than it did last summer, with an average of 72,000 cases a day this month. Cases are still much lower than in January, when there were 250,000 new cases a day in the US.

    Health officials are especially concerned about Florida, where cases are the highest they have been since the pandemic began.

  99. blf says

    William Koenig Says COVID-19 Is God’s Judgment on the US for Being So Pro-LGBT:

    End Times author William Koenig […] claimed that the global COVID-19 pandemic was the judgment of God on the United States for its tolerance of the LGBTQ community.

    Koenig has built a career out of chronicling the ways in which God supposedly sends natural disasters to America as punishment for failing to stand with Israel, which was precisely what he blamed the COVID-19 pandemic on last year. But on Sunday, Koenig asserted that the pandemic was now God’s judgment for American culture being so pro-LGBT.

    […]

    I really sense that COVID is part of the judgment, Koenig said. We had a national shutdown last summer. We had every major sports league that favored the LGBT agenda, that even took on states for their bathroom bills. When you think about Hollywood was shut down. We thought fashion was shut down. Retail was shut down. All these areas that were so pro-LGBT, the COVID shut them down, and I don’t know if they’ll ever recover.

    […]

    Those magnetic microchips made from Graphene oxide will fix all the problems. Both yours and mine. Two simple injections, a few weeks apart…

  100. says

    Oh, no. Marco Rubio is still talking … and still saying stupid stuff. I don’t think he’s good at this. He can’t even promulgate stupid stuff well.

    Follow-up to comment 56.

    Why Rubio’s criticisms of the Pentagon chief are so misplaced

    As Florida struggles with a COVID crisis, Marco Rubio invested time into complaints that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin took the threat too seriously.

    […] To be sure, senators routinely publish unfortunate ideas online, but this stood out for a reason. [A reference to Rubio’s several tweets mocking Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. The Secretary complied with local masking guidelines, and Rubio made a series of mistakes that misidentified where Lloyd Austin was, where photos were taken, etc. etc.]

    For one thing, Rubio is ostensibly someone who takes foreign policy seriously, but as his own country’s Defense secretary completed a successful Asian tour, the Republican focused less on the substance and more on trivia — which Rubio managed to get wrong.

    For another, the senator’s own home state is dealing with a brutal COVID outbreak. As we discussed yesterday, Florida’s tally of new cases has reached its highest point since the start of the pandemic. COVID hospitalizations in the state have also reached an all-time high.

    […] Tom Bossert, a former Homeland Security Advisor in the Trump White House, noted, “This wave is now larger than all previous waves.” An NBC News report added over the weekend, “The state has become the new national epicenter for the virus, accounting for around a fifth of all new cases in the U.S.”

    It’s against this backdrop that the state’s senior U.S. senator is investing time into complaints that Lloyd Austin took the COVID threat too seriously.

    Someone ought to be embarrassed, but it’s not the Defense secretary.

    Rubio had repeated characterized Lloyd Austin’s actions as “embarrassing.”

    Rubio still hasn’t apologized, nor has he even acknowledged that he made several mistakes. Florida man.

  101. says

    CNN – “Police union goes to bat for Chicago officer charged in US Capitol riot”:

    The Chicago chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police union is going to bat [!] for one of its members who stormed the US Capitol and now might [!] lose his job with the Chicago Police Department.

    The revelation came in court filings one week after police who responded to the January 6 attack publicly blasted the union, and other unions, for not doing enough to support officers who protected the Capitol.

    CPD Officer Karol Chwiesiuk was charged in June with two misdemeanors after breaching the Capitol and the office of Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley. Prosecutors said in charging documents that Chwiesiuk used the N-word when bragging to a friend about his actions at the Capitol that day, saying, “n—a don’t snitch.” He hasn’t yet entered a plea to the charges.

    He wasn’t accused of violent crimes, so he was released by a judge and ordered not to have any guns in the home and to give up the firearm owner ID card that is required under Illinois law. But in new court filings, Chwiesiuk asked for permission to retake possession of the ID card [!], because he says he needs it to keep his job, even though he was moved to desk duty and doesn’t carry a gun.

    The vice president for the Chicago chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police union sent a letter to court officials saying that the union will try to block Chwiesiuk’s possible firing [!] and will “start the grievance process to get Officer Chwiesiuk into a pay-status” [!] if he gets back his firearm ID card.

    Daniel Gorman, the union official, said he sent the letter after Chwiesiuk asked for assistance, according to a copy of the brief letter that was included in court filings from Chwiesiuk’s lawyer.

    Magistrate Judge Robin Meriweather hasn’t ruled yet on whether to return the ID card.

    This comes one week after some of the most well-known police officers from January 6 publicly rebuked the national Fraternal Order of Police union, accusing it of being uncharacterizable quiet about the insurrection….

    A fourth police officer who responded to the Capitol attack, Kyle DeFreytag, has died by suicide. According to the Guardian, he wasn’t involved in the fighting but was deployed later in the day to protect the Capitol and enforce the curfew.

  102. blf says

    The Onion:

    ● Congress Advises Newly Evicted Americans To Just Relocate To Second Home:

    Following the expiration of the federal eviction moratorium intended to help tenants during the coronavirus pandemic, congressional leaders advised newly evicted Americans Monday to just relocate to their second homes. “As evictions ramp up all around the country, we urge anyone who has been forced out of their residence to take up refuge in their second vacation home,” said Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), explaining that in order to relieve overcrowding in homeless shelters, citizens should call up their chauffeur and immediately be escorted to their country estate via private jet or superyacht. […]

    ● Cult Leader Warns Followers Things Need To Get Way More Deranged To Be Made Into HBO Documentary Series:

    Telling his acolytes that they were simply not hitting the mark to attract the eye of the acclaimed cable channel, Glensard Handswith, principle master of the Tricyclonian Order, warned followers Tuesday that things needed to get way more deranged for their cult to ever be made into an HBO documentary. “All Inductees of the Order, hear me on this grand sanctum day: If we are going to get our story before a prestige audience, we need to amp all the unhinged stuff way, way up,” said the Guiding Teacher, pointing to the relative tameness of the mud-splattered demonic orgies, videotaped unburdening sessions, and 5,000 rounds of live munitions stored in the leadership’s Celestial Yurts. […] At press time, Handswith had punished his followers for their failings by forcing them to strip naked in a cold cellar and stitch Tricyclonian patterns into their clothing for eight hours of footage that he said would make great B-Roll.

    The mildly deranged penguin has a few suggests. First, don’t store ammunition in Celestial Yurts; instead, remove the gunpowder, mix it with Transcelestial Hyperyougart, smear it all over your naked acolytes bodies, and then invite the demons for orgies which will do a lot more than splatter mud (especially if somebody lights a match). And second, “Tricyclonian Order”? Try something that makes less sense, such as “Republican Party”.

  103. says

    Ruth Ben-Ghiat at Substack – “Tucker Carlson & Viktor Orbán Plan Our Fascist Future”:

    “You Should Know What’s Happening Here in Hungary,” read the Fox News chyron as Tucker Carlson kicked off a week of broadcasts from Budapest….

    …Carlson’s world aligns to an alarming degree with that of Orbán, a wily political operative who claims Hungary is an “illiberal democracy” but as of 2020 rules by decree.

    Orbán’s embrace of ethno-nationalism (“Hungary for the Hungarians”) anti-Semitism (anchored in his obsession with destroying his former friend George Soros) and defense of “Christendom” and white European heritage have made him a beacon of the far right, and Budapest into a hub for a new generation of extremists. So have his “pro-family,” and anti-LBGTQ+ policies. In 2018 he banned gender studies from higher education and in 2020 ended the legal recognition of transgender and intersex people.

    All of these political positions are likely familiar to viewers of Carlson’s show, as is the anchor’s praise for Orbán. “Should we follow Hungary’s example?” he asked his audience in 2019, lauding the country’s pro-natalist policies in the wake of Orbán’s visit with former president Donald Trump.

    While Tucker’s own political ambitions remain unclear, he may be the newest partner of the Hungarian leader, who has mentored right-wing political stars such as Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and Italy’s Matteo Salvini, head of the racist League party.

    The goal of these alliances has always been to mainstream far-right values….

    Orbán has arguably been among the most successful sitting leaders at creating an electoral autocracy – the 21st century way of being a strongman that entails keeping a veneer of democracy going while turning elections into sham events, taking judicial and press freedoms away, and suffocating society slowly….

    This is where the GOP is heading, accelerating the agenda of the Trump presidency to undo our democratic freedoms and institutions. As I observed in 2019 on the occasion of Orbán’s White House visit, the goal of the Trump presidency was also to align America with the global right.

    Carlson is the perfect megaphone for that continuing effort and the perfect extremist for our time of developing electoral autocracy. He is a racist radical with a clean-cut exterior. He wears a jacket and tie as he takes positions in line with those of Fascist thugs past and present. “What’s Happening in Hungary” could be America’s future – that’s the real message coming out of Budapest this week.

    More atl.

  104. says

    Quite a thread: “This anti-vaxxer getting humiliated by @waltermasterson is named Ashley Jefferey.

    Ashley Jefferey is an actor, with an IMDB profile.

    He has no visible means of income. He has unlimited free time to attend anti-vaxx events 5 days a week.

    Let’s dive in….

  105. says

    Another worthwhile thread:

    Tucker Carlson is actually a late-comer to the American right’s love affair with Viktor Orban. A thread…:

    Is it terrifying that Carlson is embracing Orban as TV spectacle? Absolutely. But to understand the effect this is going to have on his audience, it’s also important to understand the groundwork has been laid for quite some time–making it ever more terrifying.

  106. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    Rita Flores, from the Russian political punk group [Pussy Riot], was admitted to hospital with Covid that she contracted while inside prison, the band have said.

    It comes after she was jailed for 15 days last month in Moscow for disobeying a police officer as she reportedly travelled to visit fellow activist Maria Alyokhina in custody. The band have protested that she must return to jail and serve out her sentence once she has recovered.

  107. says

    Update to #115: A police officer was killed in the shooting. Reporters seem somewhat perplexed that the Pentagon isn’t being forthcoming with information, other than suggesting that the officer was the target and that there wasn’t a wider threat. It is odd.

  108. says

    A Black activist who said a group of white men threatened to lynch him announced on Monday that he was actually charged with felony assault and misdemeanor trespassing in the incident, The Washington Post reported. “There’s nothing more American than charging a Black man in his own attempted lynching,” Vauhxx Booker told reporters on Monday outside of an Indiana courthouse.

    Attorney Katharine Liell said at the same news conference that Monroe County Special Prosecutor Sonia Leerkamp filed the charges against Booker on Friday even though the actual incident happened on July 4, 2020, near Bloomington, Indiana. “It is unprecedented,” Liell said at the news conference on Monday. “I’ve been practicing well over 30 years in this state and … I have never seen a special prosecutor open a new case and file charges a year later.”

    Booker told reporters he believes Leerkamp is retaliating against him for refusing to play ball on a mediated resolution. “For the entire year, the special prosecutor has pressured and bullied me at every turn that if I didn’t engage with the restorative justice, if I didn’t let charges be dismissed, that she would charge me,” Booker said. “It wasn’t out of any new evidence or any shocking revelations. It was simply that, once again, a Black person telling a White person ‘no’ — and they were going to punish me.”

    Booker, a member of the civil rights advocacy group Monroe County Human Rights Commission, said he and a friend were en route to Lake Monroe to watch a lunar eclipse when a white man in a Confederate hat started to trail them on an ATV […] The man later accused Booker of being on private property even after his attempts to explain that the event organizer authorized them to be on the land. Booker said […] that the conversation “quickly” took an “aggressive” turn. When he and his friend started to leave, several white men accompanying the first man followed them, yelling. “Two of them jumped me from behind and knocked me to the ground,” Booker said in the post. “I tussled with the two and another one joined in, then two more.”

    Booker said five men soon “easily” took him to the ground and pinned him against a tree, beating his head and ripping his hair. “They held me pinned and continued beating me for several minutes seemingly become more and more enraged as they kept trying to seriously injure me and failing,” Booker wrote in the Facebook post. “At one point during the attack one of the men jumped on my neck. I could feel both his feet and his full bodyweight land hard against my neck.”

    Booker said he heard one of the man’s teen daughters begging her father to let him go. “’We’re going to break his arms,’” Booker recalled one of the men saying. He said he heard another say to “get a noose.”

    Read more from Booker’s complete post below: [full text available at the link]

    […] I was attacked by five white men (with confederate flags) who literally threatened to lynch me in front of numerous witnesses.

    (For my family and friends, I’m okay. I was diagnosed with a minor concussion, some abrasions, bruising, and some ripped out hair patches. I’m sorry you’re learning this way, but I don’t have the energy to keep retelling this. You may not want to watch these videos.)

    […] We were simply looking forward to a night of enjoying nature’s awesome beauty. […]

    […] Booker said he is often “dragged back” to the encounter. “For some folks, it was a year ago but for me, it’s been every day,” he said.

    Video is also available at the link.

  109. says

    Wonkette:

    Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is a whiny fucking brat. There, we said it. […]

    You know that thing preschoolers and conservative white men do when they’re about to have a meltdown, and their faces start scrunching up, and they know it’s coming, they can’t control it, but they really don’t want it to happen in front of their friends? Watch Ron DeSantis’s face during a presser today, as he confronts a reporter WHAT WAS PICKIN’ ON HIM about masks. […]

    The specific question was about children who have ended up hospitalized, and that’s when DeSantis’s lip came out. […] [Video available at the link]

    DeSANTIS: I find that DEPLORABLE to blame a victim who ends up being hospitalized. You don’t know their story! You don’t know what happened with that. And this has been a really negative thing throughout this whole thing with some of these quote ‘experts,’ some of the media, somebody contracts a highly transmissible airborne virus, and they’re viewed as having done something wrong.

    Only if they’ve actually done something wrong, like refuse vaccines or refuse to wear a mask to protect themselves and others. What’s that, it’s a “highly transmissible airborne virus”? Maybe you should make some rules about that.

    DeSANTIS: We obviously have some people that are not vaccinated that have been admitted to hospitals. Are you going to sit there, are you going to sit there, and are you going to sit there and criticize, or we going to try to treat and try to help the folks?

    Both. Both. Also both. (He asked if we were gonna sit there three times, so we figured he needed three answers.)

    DeSANTIS: You know, I’m just sick of the judgment, the judgmental stuff on some of this stuff, nobody’s trying to get ill here, okay?

    Get a grip.

    DeSANTIS: There’s people that were hermits for a year and a half that wore six masks and did that and still contracted it. […] Let’s not indulge these things that somehow it’s their fault.

    Yes, there are people who were hermits and wore six masks and still got it. Is that most of the people who are getting hospitalized and dying and also spreading the Delta variant right now? Well, in Florida, 95 percent of the hospitalizations are among the unvaccinated. But never mind that! Following DeSantis’s logic, we guess since Kathy Griffin has stage one lung cancer (get well soon!) and never smoked a cigarette in her life, we guess we should just absolve cigarettes of all responsibility for the millions of cases lung cancer they directly cause, and instead blame it on being a former cast member of “Suddenly Susan.”

    After all, some person Ron DeSantis may or may not be making up who wore six masks got it! Therefore all these thousands upon thousands upon thousands upon fucking thousands of people getting it right now who are primarily unvaccinated non-maskers, we should not bring any of that up. For the second time today, golly these white Republicans are bad at “party of personal responsibility.”

    As White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said today, half of the country’s 50,000 current hospitalizations come from just four states, and Florida is almost a quarter. During the month of July, one of every five new COVID cases was Floridian. It’s the highest risk place in the whole country. Wonkette noted yesterday that fewer than 50 percent of Floridians under 40 are vaccinated.

    And what is Ron DeSantis doing about that, besides […] whine-begging everybody to stop being so judgy? Jackshit. He’s making sure private businesses can’t require vaccination proof, and making sure schools can’t require masks, to protect kids not yet old enough to be vaccinated. He says he’s gonna pull funding from any schools that try it!

    […] So if you’re a child in a Florida hospital with COVID, relax, your governor’s got you. […]

    […] don’t criticize or make fun of your governor about any of this, as he’s a sensitive and pissy little shit who’s currently feeling triggered. […]

    Link

  110. says

    Wonkette:

    Senator Elizabeth Warren from Massachusetts sat down with Teen Vogue, a pillar in political reporting (seriously), to discuss the state of the country. […] She understands that we’re in deep shit and saying it smells like roses won’t get us out.

    Warren considers the For the People Act, The John Lewis Voting Rights Act, and the Women’s Health Protection Act as legislative must-haves if we’re going to adequately defend ourselves against the Republican Party’s not-so-secret agenda. She argues that a “right-wing minority in this country has pushed for the appointment of a federal bench that is hostile” to voting rights and reproductive choice.

    The Supreme Court is poised either to undercut Roe even further, or to overturn it altogether. They’ve already gutted a big part of the Voting Rights Act.

    It’s no secret that the Right’s longterm goal was establishing a conservative Supreme Court and federal bench, which along with the Electoral College and the Senate’s structural bias would “move the country in a direction where the majority does not want to go,” […]

    We can thwart that by having a Congress that shows a little more courage and that steps up and, by statute, protects the vote and protects access to abortion. This is within our hands.

    It might seem like Warren’s unrealistic and that she should consider her Democratic colleague Joe Manchin’s stirring appeal for bipartisan unity. However, Manchin partying with Republicans on his Washington DC houseboat probably isn’t going to help much against the myriad GOP voter suppression bills that Senator Raphael Warnock sagely described as the “Delta variant of Jim Crow voting laws.” Nailing the dismount, Warnock added that the “only vaccination is federal vaccination.”

    Teen Vogue asked Warren about her visit with the Texas Democrats who fled the state to block immediate passage of GOP voter suppression bills clearly targeted at people of color.

    TEEN VOGUE: You had a lot of encouragement for them, but you also said, “The moment is upon us. It is not enough for us [in Congress] to say that ‘we support you.’ We must change the law.” How hopeful are you that we will see that and see an end to the filibuster?

    WARREN: I have been fighting for a long time to get rid of the filibuster. And I want to see Congress do that. I think it’s the right thing to do. The founders of this nation figured out when a supermajority should be necessary and when it shouldn’t. They said that for regular legislation, that a majority in the House, a majority in the Senate, and the president who will sign the bill means it should become law. The exceptions they created were for treaties that overruled state law and impeachments. There is nothing in the Constitution that gives Mitch McConnell a veto over what Congress does. I would like to see us do this immediately.

    […] she straight-up rejects the filibuster as anti-democratic. Majority rule is a good thing, and no matter what Manchin or Kyrsten Sinema infuriatingly claim, the filibuster doesn’t defend “minority” rights, unless we’re now considering white Republicans a protected class. And enough with the “wah, wah, what if Republicans have a narrow majority and can do terrible things without the filibuster!” As comedian Trae Crowder said, “Only a damn moderate Democrat would be planning on a future defeat.” […]

    we all know Republicans will blow up the filibuster the first chance it’s convenient for them and blame Democrats. Don’t shoot your pistol in the air and expect those assholes to do the same. That’s how you wind up super dead […]

    Warren argues that Republican obstruction over voting rights legislation, despite good-faith efforts from Democrats, has made Democrats in general more open to reforming the filibuster. If this is true, we need to hear more from senators such as Jeff Merkley from Oregon, who recalls interning with a Republican senator in the 1970s and how the GOP didn’t abuse the filibuster as a matter of course. Democrats have allowed Republicans, with Sinema and Manchin’s willing assistance, to cast themselves as institutionalists when McConnell’s GOP are the true radicals who twisted the Senate to advance his agenda.

    Read the rest of Warren’s Teen Vogue interview and remind yourself how badass she is.

    Link

  111. says

    Biden calls for Cuomo to resign after investigation finds the New York governor sexually harassed 11 women.

    Washington Post link

    New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo sexually harassed current and former state employees, creating a hostile work environment for women in violation of state and federal law, state Attorney General Letitia James announced Tuesday.

    Hours after the release of a 165-page report that detailed numerous allegations against Cuomo, President Biden said he believed the Democratic governor should resign, joining a chorus of similar calls by other party officials.

    Investigators laid out a devastating portrait of Cuomo’s behavior and extensive examples of unwanted physical touching, including an incident last November in which Cuomo embraced an executive assistant and reached under her blouse to grab her breast. Witnesses also described an environment in the governor’s office that was abusive and vindictive, with one of the women who came forward targeted for retaliation through the release of her personnel file, investigators said.

    In all, the independent probe found that Cuomo harassed 11 women, including a state trooper whom the governor arranged to be put on his detail.

    […] The findings mark a new low for once-celebrated Democratic star, who won an Emmy in 2020 for his nationally televised briefings during the pandemic, appeared on track for reelection to a fourth term in 2022 and was frequently discussed as a presidential contender. He is now isolated from his own party’s leadership, the result of a months-long investigation that was based on interviews with 179 individuals, including women who accused the governor of misconduct, Cuomo himself and a coterie of his top advisers.

    […] In a video address Tuesday afternoon, Cuomo maintained a defiant posture. He said he would continue serving as governor and defended himself as a champion of women and victims of sexual harassment. “The facts are much different than what has been portrayed,” he said.

    […] “We commend the brave women who came forward and spoke truth to power,” Reps. Hakeem Jeffries, Thomas Suozzi and Gregory W. Meeks said in a statement. “The time has come for Governor Andrew Cuomo to do the right thing for the people of New York State and resign.” […]

    More details at the link.

  112. says

    Good news:

    The Senate on Tuesday unanimously approved legislation awarding the Congressional Gold Medal — the legislative branch’s highest honor — to the U.S. Capitol Police and others who defended the Capitol against a violent mob of Trump supporters on Jan. 6.

    Quoted from The Washington Post.

  113. says

    Better late than never, as related by The New York Times:

    The United States on Monday finally reached President Biden’s goal of having 70 percent of eligible adults at least partly vaccinated. The milestone came a month later than the president had hoped as the country faced the rapid spread of the highly contagious Delta variant.

  114. says

    The lapsed eviction moratorium is the Supreme Court’s fault

    On Sunday, a federal eviction moratorium, which was intended to prevent renters from losing their homes in the midst of a pandemic, expired.

    At its height, this moratorium may have saved as many as 40 million Americans from eviction. But, in late June, the Supreme Court signaled that this moratorium must expire at the end of July, effectively leaving many renters without protection.

    In theory, most of these renters — and their landlords — should have received federal housing assistance. Over the course of the pandemic, Congress allocated $45 billion in rent relief to help people struggling financially due to Covid-19. But the state and local governments charged with distributing these funds have struggled to disburse them quickly.

    […] congressional leaders are eager to shift blame for a possible eviction crisis elsewhere.

    On Sunday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her Democratic leadership team put out a perplexing statement. Although the Supreme Court bears primary responsibility for the end of the eviction moratorium, the words “Supreme Court” do not appear anywhere in the House Democratic leaders’ statement about the now-expired moratorium. Instead, the statement insists that “action is needed,” and then it falsely claims that an effort to “extend the moratorium” must “come from the Administration.”

    There is, in fairness, plenty of blame to go around for why the moratorium did not continue after the Court-imposed deadline of July 31.

    After President Joe Biden called upon Congress to pass a new law extending the moratorium on Thursday, Pelosi attempted to find the votes to pass such a moratorium through the House — but ultimately came up short in a closely divided chamber where a handful of right-leaning Democrats can scuttle any bill.

    Some House Democrats blamed Biden for not speaking out sooner about the need for a moratorium. And, of course, everyone can blame the Senate.

    “It is clear that the Senate is not able to” extend the moratorium, the House leaders said in their Sunday statement, adding that “any legislation in the House, therefore, will not be sufficient to extend the moratorium.” In order to pass an extension through the Senate, Democrats would need to either secure 10 Republican votes to break a filibuster or unanimously agree to change the Senate’s rules to bypass the filibuster — something several conservative Democratic senators refuse to do.

    But none of the figures implicated by the House leaders’ statement — Biden, Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, or filibuster defenders like Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) — bear the lion’s share of the blame for the moratorium expiring.

    That blame should rest with five Republican appointees on the Supreme Court.

    The Supreme Court is dismantling much of the Biden administration’s ability to govern.

    Many federal laws give federal agencies the power to regulate businesses and individuals. The Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act, for example, give the Environmental Protection Agency a fair amount of authority to control pollution and reduce harmful emissions. […]

    In Gundy v. United States (2019), however, four justices signaled that they intend to place potentially drastic new limits on Congress’s ability to delegate this sort of authority to federal agencies. The specific legal rule articulated by the conservative justices in Gundy is vague and difficult to parse, but it would give the Court’s right flank tremendous power to strike down regulations they simply don’t like. Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who did not hear the Gundy case because he was not a member of the Court when it was argued, later signaled that he would provide the key fifth vote to slash federal agencies’ power.

    […] it is likely that the Court is going to strip Congress of much of its power to delegate regulatory power to agencies — while stripping many agencies of their existing authority in the process. At the very least, the conservative Court is likely to claim a veto power over any regulatory action taken by a federal agency.

    The Court’s June 29 decision in Alabama Association of Realtors v. HHS, the case that effectively ended the federal eviction moratorium, should be understood as part of this broader effort to disempower federal agencies.

    In that case, a group of landlords and realtors asked the Supreme Court to halt a federal moratorium preventing many people who were experiencing financial hardship due to Covid-19 from being evicted. This moratorium was originally handed down by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in September 2020 and has been extended multiple times since then — sometimes by Congress and sometimes by the CDC acting under its own authority.

    Specifically, federal law permits the CDC to “make and enforce such regulations as in [its] judgment are necessary to prevent the introduction, transmission, or spread of communicable diseases.” In issuing this moratorium, the CDC determined that a temporary pause on many evictions was necessary to prevent the spread of Covid-19 because people who lose their homes are likely to either move in with friends and family or wind up in shelters, where they could catch the coronavirus or spread it to others.

    The plaintiffs in Alabama Association of Realtors argued that the federal law giving the CDC broad authority to prevent the spread of communicable diseases is too broad […]

    And a majority of the Court agreed with them that the CDC should not have this power. Four justices — Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, and Amy Coney Barrett — voted to immediately suspend the eviction moratorium. Justice Brett Kavanaugh, meanwhile, voted to give renters a very temporary reprieve.

    […] So that’s four votes to cut off the moratorium right away, plus a fifth vote to cut it off after July 31. Five votes is a majority on the Supreme Court, so, if the Biden administration had attempted to extend the moratorium without seeking new legislation from Congress, it would have lost in court.

    All of which is a long way of saying that Congress bears some blame for the expiration of the moratorium. If a majority of lawmakers in the House and a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate had agreed the moratorium needed to be extended, it could have passed legislation doing so […]

    But the lion’s share of the blame belongs to the Supreme Court. The reason why the Biden administration cannot extend the moratorium by invoking the CDC’s statutory authority is that the Court was quite clear that it would not permit such an extension.

    […] Pelosi is simply wrong to claim that “the CDC has the power to extend the eviction moratorium.”

    Yes, a federal statute does give the CDC broad power to control contagious diseases. And yes, this federal statute should be read to give the CDC authority to extend the moratorium. But five justices decided that the CDC does not have this power. So, unless the Biden administration is willing to openly defy the Supreme Court, it is out of options.

    […] her political calculation also makes no sense. Why would a Democratic speaker blame a Democratic administration for creating a problem that was caused by five Republican appointees to the Supreme Court?

    […] Other Democratic lawmakers echoed Pelosi’s misleading claim that the Biden administration should be blamed for not extending the moratorium on its own.

    […] In just this past term alone, the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act, targeted labor unions, and expanded wealthy donors’ ability to secretly spend money to influence American politics. All of these decisions benefit the Republican Party at the expense of Democrats, and they could be a middle phase of a much bigger judicial assault on democracy. […]

    Something has gone seriously wrong with the Democratic Party’s approach to the Supreme Court. If a majority of Democrats approve of a Court that is literally dismantling our nation’s safeguards against racist voter suppression, then Democratic leaders have utterly failed to communicate the potential threat posed by a Court dominated by right-wing justices. […]

  115. says

    Jeff Clark Urged DOJ Officials To Block Biden Georgia Win

    Emails show a top Trump DOJ official advocating for federal law enforcement to throw its weight behind a demand that Georgia reject Biden’s win in the state in last year’s election […]

    Then-acting civil division chief Jeffrey Clark sent a draft letter on Dec. 28, 2020 that asked the governor and state legislature of Georgia to convene a special session that would examine mythical allegations of mass voter fraud […]

    The letter, the report said, also appeared to assert that the DOJ wanted the state to examine the supposed issues as they related to appointing of presidential electors.

    “While the Department of Justice believe[s] the Governor of Georgia should immediately call a special session to consider this important and urgent matter, if he declines to do so, we share with you our view that the Georgia General Assembly has implied authority under the Constitution of the United States to call itself into special session for [t]he limited purpose of considering issues pertaining to the appointment of Presidential Electors,” the memo reads […]

    Clark now works for the New Civil Liberties Alliance, TPM reported on Monday, a group that, among other things, fights vaccine mandates. [Isn’t that just lovely.]

    He first made headlines in the weeks after the Jan. 6 insurrection, when the New York Times reported that Trump had considered replacing then-acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen with Clark.

    […] Clark also reportedly told Rosen to declare that the election had been tainted with corruption, and that Trump would install him as AG.

    […] Clark reportedly sent the draft letter to both Rosen and Donoghue, who rejected it.

    “There is no chance that I would sign this letter or anything remotely like this,” Donoghue reportedly wrote. “While it maybe true that the Department ‘is investigating various irregularities in the 2020 election for President’ (something we typically would not state publicly) the investigations that I am aware of relate to suspicions of misconduct that are of such a small scale that they simply would not impact the outcome of the Presidential Election.”

    Clark also reportedly asked that then-Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe be permitted to deliver a briefing to DOJ leadership on “foreign election interference issues,” before referencing a theory that focused on a new source for the supposed election theft: China accessing Dominion voting machines via the internet and “through a smart thermostat with a net connection trail.”

  116. tomh says

    Re: Elizabeth Warren

    Californians are seeing a steady diet of ads nightly on TV from Warren, opposing the recall of Gov. Gavin Newsom. The latest poll from UC Berkeley, Institute of Governmental Studies, shows an almost 50-50 split in the vote. Although California is obviously heavily Democratic, the problem seems to be complacency among Democrats and a feverish mania among Republicans. Newsom is worried, as he should be.

  117. says

    Yahoo! – “Judge orders Arizona Senate to produce Maricopa audit records”:

    An Arizona judge ordered the state’s Republican-led Senate to produce records related to its audit of the 2020 election in Maricopa County, delivering a big win for critics of the controversial review.

    The documents, sought by left-leaning watchdog group American Oversight, are subject to Arizona’s public records statute and must be provided to the organization “immediately,” Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Michael Kemp ruled Monday.

    American Oversight sued Republican state Senate President Karen Fann in May, listing state Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Warren Petersen and the state Senate itself as additional defendants, and invoked the Arizona Public Records Law in search of access to communications and other records between the Senate and its lead audit contractor, Cyber Ninjas.

    Kemp added a rejection of the defendants’ defense that they hadn’t seen the records in question themselves.

    “Willful blindness does not relieve Senate Defendants from their duties and obligations under the [Public Records Law],” he wrote.

    American Oversight is not the lone body to take Senate officials to court over audit records. The Arizona Republic, a Phoenix-based newspaper, sued the body and Cyber Ninjas on June 30 in demand of access to financial and other audit records. Attorneys for the paper similarly invoked the Arizona Public Records Law.

    Cyber Ninjas separately released a donor list on July 28, which revealed that it received millions of dollars in donations from conservative-leaning groups to fund the audit. However, the list did not reveal details about who gave individual contributions and how much money per donation….

  118. says

    Update! – CNBC – “CDC issues new eviction ban effective through Oct. 3”:

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a new federal eviction moratorium on Tuesday.

    The eviction ban will be targeted at areas of the country experiencing high levels of coronavirus infections and will last for 60 days until Oct. 3. The protection could cover around 90% of renters.

    More than 11 million Americans remain behind on their rent, and the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread. Research has found evictions lead to a spike in virus cases and deaths.

    The White House previously had said it couldn’t extend the eviction ban again after the Supreme Court ruled in June that the policy could only be renewed through legislation.

    It’s unclear how the court will respond to this new moratorium, but it could at least buy states and cities more time to distribute the $45 billion in rental assistance allocated by Congress. Just around $3 billion of that money had reached households by the end of June.

    “This is a tremendous relief for millions of people who were on the cusp of losing their homes and, with them, their ability to stay safe during the pandemic,” National Low Income Housing Coalition President Diane Yentel said. “President Biden’s bold action and leadership in this moment of crisis will save lives and immeasurable suffering.”

    Well done, Cori Bush!

  119. John Morales says

    In Australian news (and a bit of change of pace from grimness):
    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-08-04/autism-assistance-dog-improves-lucas-life-after-ndis-fight/100348082

    Something as simple as getting a good night’s sleep was a foreign concept for the Bugg family for years.
    […]
    Lucas, who has autism, relied on the assurance of human touch to keep him asleep. Sleeping in his own bed had been impossible.

    That was until he got his assistance dog, Vinnie, last month after years of campaigning.

    “Lucas would kick and squirm in between us in his sleep, which would mean a harder day for me the next day with my mobility and that was on a daily basis,” said Ms Bugg, who uses a wheelchair.

    “Vinnie has made it possible for Lucas to be in his own bed safely and no other specialist intervention has been able to do that.
    […]
    Lucas’s parents said the difference in his behaviour, even after only four weeks, had been remarkable.

    “It used to take about four to five hours for Lucas to recover from a meltdown, but even after having Vinnie for just a week, he calmed down as though it had never happened within 20 minutes,” Mr Bugg said.

    “It just blew us away.”

    “His concentration has gone from about five or 10 minutes to an hour, just by having Vinnie in the room.

    “Now Natalie and I can do a job around the house without worrying Lucas is going to run out the front door.”
    […]
    Vinnie is one of the few assistance dogs funded through the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

    Funding is important because it costs about $50,000 to train an AAD, which is then provided to a family for free.

    Mr Bugg said the path to support was long and “extremely frustrating”.

    “It’s taken the best part of three years of my life constantly contacting the NDIS and being knocked back,” he said.

  120. says

    The Daily – “Trouble in Tunisia”:

    Tunisia was supposed to be the success story of the Arab Spring — the only democracy to last in the decade since revolutions swept the region. Recently, after mass protests, President Kais Saied appears to be taking the reins of power for himself. What happened? We hear from Mr. Saied and citizens of Tunisia on the ground. Guest: Vivian Yee, the Cairo bureau chief for The New York Times.

    (This contains essentially zero economic analysis.)

  121. blf says

    First Dog on the Moon in the Grauniad, Paying people $300 to get vaccinated? How crude — how grubby — how very unaustralian (cartoon): “We don’t pay people to do things that are good for the community!” Very Ozland-specific but mostly understandable. Ozland’s vaccine rollout has been essentially completely botched (think of a mistake and it’s probably happened in Ozland), and several areas are under a rather strict lockdown, with some of those areas patrolled by the army.

  122. says

    Here’s a link to the August 4 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    From there:

    Stop issuing Covid booster shots to address unequal global distribution of jabs, says WHO

    The World Health Organization’s head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has said the WHO is calling for a moratorium on Covid-19 vaccine boosters until at least the end of September.

    He said the move was to enable that at least 10% of the population of every country was vaccinated, while WHO officials have also said it is not proven that giving booster shots to people who have already received two vaccine doses is effective.

    Adhanom Ghebreyesus said:

    While hundreds of millions of people are still waiting for their first dose, some rich countries are moving towards booster doses. So far, more than 4bn Covid-19 vaccine doses have been administered globally. More than 80% have gone to high- and upper-middle income countries, even though they account for less than half of the world’s population.

    Accordingly, WHO is calling for a moratorium on boosters until at least the end of September, to enable at least 10% of the population of every country to be vaccinated. To make that happen, we need everyone’s cooperation, especially the handful of countries and companies that control the global supply of vaccines.

    Last week, Israeli president Isaac Herzog received a third shot of coronavirus vaccine, kicking off a campaign to give booster doses to people aged over 60 amid waning efficacy of the jabs. France, Germany and many Middle Eastern countries are also to start administering booster shots.

    Katherine O’Brien, director, immunisation vaccines and biologicals at the WHO. added: “The evidence is evolving. It’s moving. We don’t have a full set of evidence around whether this is needed or not … We need instead to focus on those people who are most vulnerable, most at risk of severe disease and death, to get their first and second doses.”

    Earlier this week, Helen Clark, former New Zealand prime minister and co-chair of an influential Covid panel, criticised more developed countries for buying up many more vaccines than they require, and in many cases only redistributing their surplus when the vaccines are approaching their expiry date.

    “This is completely unacceptable and unethical,” she said of richer countries stockpiling while deaths rose elsewhere.

    Pfizer jab could get full US approval by next month – report

    The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is reportedly aiming to fully approve the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine by the start of next month despite the absence of long-term safety data.

    The New York Times cites anonymous people familiar with the effort saying that the FDA has accelerated the process, with the agency saying previously in a statement that it recognised that an upgrade from emergency authorisation might increase take-up rates.

    Longer term data is usually required to sanction both mass rollouts of vaccines and to secure full approval, in order to establish long-term outcomes including safety, how long protection lasts and whether the jab prevents infection of just the disease.

    But experts say side-effects usually show in the first months and that the mRNA Pfizer jab has been shown to be effective – with the need urgent as the pandemic continues.

    Last week, US president Joe Biden said that he expected a fully approved vaccine by early autumn. A number of universities, hospitals and the largest US federal agency, the Defense Department, are reportedly expected to mandate jabs once a vaccine is fully approved.

    Moderna, the second most used vaccine in the US, requested full approval for its jab in early June and remains in the process of submitting data….

    China tightens travel restrictions

    China has responded to the spike in Covid cases we mentioned earlier with a dramatic tightening of travel restrictions across the country.

    The latest outbreak has so far infected more than 400 people in 25 cities, including the capital city Beijing, reports our correspondent Helen Davidson.

    Wuhan, the city at the epicentre of the pandemic more than 18 months ago, has seen its first cases since the virus was eliminated there last year. Mass testing is being carried out in the city.

    Overall, cases have been reported in 17 of the 31 provinces.

    Nanjing and Yangzhou have since cancelled all domestic flights, while Beijing has suspended 13 rail lines and halted inbound long-distance ticket sales from 23 stations, according to state-run news agency Xinhua.

  123. says

    Guardian – “Colombian top general Mario Montoya faces murder charges in ‘false positives’ scandal”:

    Gen Mario Montoya was the star soldier who oversaw the defeat of Latin America’s most powerful insurgency, a US-trained professional hailed for turning around a demoralized army and masterminding a string of brutal strikes against Colombia’s leftist guerrillas.

    After taking command of the South American country’s army in 2006, he regularly appeared on television news, the face of a modern military who even spoke the language of human rights.

    “Gen Montoya commanded the army at the height of the conflict, when the military was taking the fight to the guerrillas with unprecedented intensity,” said Adam Isacson, director for defence oversight at the Washington Office on Latin America. “He seemed like an emblem of a new, more professional, more effective army that worked closely with the United States.”

    Now, however, Montoya is facing murder charges, alleged to have overseen the abduction and execution of up to 104 civilians – including five children – who were falsely described as rebels to boost statistics, in a scandal known in Colombia as the “false positives”.

    “Montoya’s legacy is very different from what he, and Colombians, had expected it to be in mid-2008,” Isacson said. “He has since come to be seen as a general who measured success through body counts, and who created an internal climate that tolerated human rights abuses.”

    The office of Colombia’s attorney general announced on Sunday that charges would be forthcoming, puncturing the now-retired general’s aura of invincibility – and giving victims hope that light will finally be shed on one of the darkest chapters of the country’s internal conflict.

    The vast majority of the “false positive” killings took place between 2002 and 2008, when the government of then-president Álvaro Uribe was waging war against the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (or Farc), a leftist rebel group which ultimately made peace with the government in 2016.

    A special peace tribunal, known as the JEP, found in February that at least 6,402 people were killed as the “false positives”.

    Soldiers who carried out the executions were rewarded with perks including time off and promotions, while their superiors used the figures to justify substantial military aid from the United States.

    Montoya, who Uribe once described as “a hero of the homeland”, commanded the army during the abuses and was in close contact with his commander in chief. He resigned in 2008, when news of the false positives scandal first broke.

    While more than a thousand low and mid-ranking soldiers have been convicted and jailed for their roles in the executions, no general has yet faced serious legal jeopardy. Montoya – who is one of the most decorated Colombian military officials alive – would be the highest profile official by far.

    But analysts say the charges are more symbolic than practical, given that in 2018 Montoya – who has previously denied wrongdoing – began cooperating with the JEP’s investigation of the extrajudicial killings, precluding him from facing justice in regular courts, at least for now.

    If Montoya is sentenced by the JEP, he would serve between five and eight years – outside a prison – and community service, though could face the rest of his life behind bars if his case winds up in regular court.

    Whatever happens with Montoya, the looming charges have again cast a spotlight on former president Uribe’s role in the conflict. Activists led by mothers of victims such as Monroy have used the catchphrase “Who gave the order?” on murals in cities across Colombia….

  124. says

    […] officials like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis are, in fact, getting in the way of people trying to do the right thing: as COVID conditions worsen in the Sunshine State, the Republican has prevented the private sector from requiring proof of vaccinations, while also blocking mask requirements.

    Indeed, the governor recently delivered out-of-state remarks to a conservative group, insisting his state say “no to restrictions and no [to] mandates.” DeSantis has taken these steps while simultaneously trying to undermine public confidence in public-health authorities.

    Yesterday, [DeSantis] decided the smart move would be to blame news organizations. The Orlando Sentinel reported:

    Despite a record number of COVID-19 patients at hospitals across the state and dire warnings from the Florida Hospital Association, Gov. Ron DeSantis dismissed capacity concerns as news media “hysteria” and insisted “our hospitals are open for business.” His comments came Tuesday as people hospitalized with the coronavirus in Florida rose to an all-time high of 11,515, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

    He added, “Obviously the media does hysteria, you try to fear monger.”

    To help put the statistics in context, as recently as mid-June, there were roughly 1,000 Floridians hospitalized with the coronavirus. Now, it’s over 11,000, with the state breaking its own record yesterday for the third consecutive day.

    As for the GOP governor’s boast that Florida’s hospitals “are open for business,” the Associated Press reported, “Dr. O’Neil Pyke, chief medical officer at Jackson North Medical Center in Miami, said many Florida hospitals are facing staffing shortages. Hospitals also report putting emergency room patients in beds in hallways, and some are again banning visitors or postponing elective surgeries.”

    It’s also worth dwelling on DeSantis’ complaints about media “hysteria” and “fear mongering.” At issue is a public-health crisis with quantifiable metrics — which currently look dreadful. […] Tom Bossert, a former Homeland Security Advisor in the Trump White House, noted, “This wave is now larger than all previous waves.” An NBC News report added, “The state has become the new national epicenter for the virus, accounting for around a fifth of all new cases in the U.S.”

    One need not be hysterical to point at reality and express concern. The infections and hospitalizations are not a media creation; they’re painfully real.

    […] For now, DeSantis doesn’t appear to have much of a plan. “I think it’s very important that we understand that the best defenses we have are the combination of the natural immunity that’s been built up, and our seniors-first vaccination efforts,” the governor said yesterday, adding that he believes “interventions have failed time and time again throughout this pandemic.”

    […] Is it any wonder there’s some preliminary evidence that DeSantis’ public support is starting to falter?

    In mid-March, Politico published a report under text that read, “How Ron DeSantis won the pandemic.” There’s a reason those headlines have disappeared.

    Link

    DeSantis is blaming the media for the surge in coronavirus cases in Florida. Those sick people don’t disappear if the media stops reporting the number of hospitalizations.

  125. says

    The Infrastructure Bill Amendment Process Starts To Get Weird

    When the Senate reconvenes today, it will have an amendment by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) before it to consider that would bar the Biden administration from cancelling the Trump administration’s border wall construction contracts. And there are reportedly plenty more amendments to follow.

    As the amendment process begins to lose focus, it will be up to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) when to cut it off. Sen. McConnell (R-KY) yesterday warned Schumer against filing cloture too soon and trying to move the process along, saying that, if the majority leader did so, he’d whip against it. He wants Schumer to move “slow but steady.”

    Schumer has other priorities. He wants to get the Senate moving on the Democrats reconciliation bill sooner rather than later, with recess and a possible government funding fight looming.

  126. KG says

    Gov. Ron DeSantis dismissed capacity concerns as news media “hysteria” and insisted “our hospitals are open for business.” – Lynna, OM@155 quoting MSNBC

    Open “for business” rather than for treating sick people. Uh-huh.

  127. says

    Wonkette: Missouri Gov Puts The ‘Just Us’ In Justice With Pardons For Gun-Slinging McCloskeys

    Missouri Gov. Mike Parson announced Tuesday that he’d pardoned St. Louis couple Mark and Patricia McCloskey, who became darlings of the Right last year after they valiantly brandished their guns at harmless protesters walking past their fancy house.

    Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner, who’s Black, had charged the blindingly white McCloskeys with unlawful use of a weapon. This triggered every Dred Scott impulse among Republicans, such as Senator Josh Hawley and the former White House squatter, Donald Trump, who suggested Parson pardon the McCloskeys.

    The McCloskeys had pleaded guilty in June to misdemeanors and paid paltry fines. They were also required to surrender the “his and her” rifle and pistol used in the encounter. But their nightmare is now over, thanks to Parson’s benevolent use of his pardon power.

    Mark McCloskey boasted in a statement yesterday:

    As many of you know, Patty and I faced political prosecution for having the audacity to defend our lives and property from an angry mob. Today we are incredibly thankful that Governor Mike Parson righted this wrong and granted us pardons.

    Yes, everyone who watches Fox News and tuned in to the 2020 Republican National Convention knows the couple’s hard-luck story and distorted version of events, where this “angry mob” was going to tear them apart instead of just point and laugh at the barefoot assholes demonstrating poor firearm training. [That’s for sure.]

    […]There was nothing “political” about their prosecution. Gardner charged them with a crime because they’d committed one. And the well-off McCloskeys were fined the equivalent of a long weekend at the D’Monaco Luxury Resort in Missouri. They are ambulance chasers personal injury lawyers, so they had the resources to fight this in court if they truly believed they were falsely accused. Instead, they just ran around crying […]

    However, the governor wasn’t that interested in righting any true wrongs with his pardons. He reportedly was working through a backlog of clemency requests from people who were actually suffering hardship. We’ve discussed how Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, a Republican, refuses to free wrongfully convicted prisoners because they had used up all their appeals. Schmitt has ignored Gardner’s petitions for their release. She’s the prosecutor who looked at her predecessors’ work and determined it was a hot mess of injustice. However, Schmidt and Parson must assume that Gardner is some radical who wants to free innocent Black folks and prosecute guilty white people. […]

    Parson issued 12 pardons yesterday, but he failed to include Kevin Strickland, a 61-year-old Black man who has rotted in jail for more than 40 years. Strickland, who now uses a wheelchair, was convicted of triple homicide in 1979, but he’s doing the time without having committed the crime. The key witness, Cynthia Davis, recanted her testimony in 2009, and revealed how she was pressured to identify Strickland as the killer.

    “Just pick Strickland out of the lineup and we’ll be done, it will all go away, you can go on and you don’t have to worry about these guys no more,” Cynthia Douglas recalled to Strickland’s legal team.

    Strickland had a solid alibi. There was no physical evidence linking him to the murder. Strickland’s first trial ended in a hung jury, and the prosecutor implied it was a “mistake” to have allowed a Black person on the jury. This was remedied when the all-white jury at his second trial delivered a guilty verdict. […]

    Jackson County, Missouri, prosecutor Jean Peters Baker issued a public apology to Strickland in May, which is meaningless without his freedom. Strickland would probably prefer a “fuck you” with a pardon.

    “It’s hard to imagine how everyone can know someone’s innocent and he’s still there,” said Tricia Rojo Bushnell, director of the Midwest Innocence Project. “At this point, no one with power has done the things to let him out.”

    Lamar Johnson, 47, was also denied a pardon. He was convicted of murder in 1994, but Gardner’s office uncovered proof that the police and prosecutors made up evidence. The detectives even paid the only eyewitness thousands of dollars to falsely identify Johnson. […]

    Strickland and Johnson’s dreams of freedom remain deferred, but Parson delivered the McCloskeys shiny pardons, an in-kind donation to Mark McCloskey’s Senate campaign. We’ll end here with a pointed statement from Missouri House Minority Leader Crystal Quade: “The contrast between the governor’s treatment of these cases should offend every Missourian’s sense of justice. It also proves the governor doesn’t have one.”

    Link

    Video is available at the link.

  128. says

    If you are not a political nerd, you might not be aware there were primary elections in Ohio last night. You might have been watching Simone Biles come back and win bronze on the balance beam. […] let’s all learn about the Ohio special primaries together!

    First of all, we regret to inform you that Donald Trump must now be worshiped yet again until kingdom come, for his anointed candidate, energy lobbyist Mike Carey, hath won his primary in the 15th Congressional District […] There had been concern, as Trump’s chosen candidate in a Texas runoff last week lost her race. Was it possible Trump was not literally the GOP’s lord and savior, who cometh upon the clouds and grabbeth all the clouds by the [P-word]? Were Trump’s candidates total losers […]

    Well have no fear! Every GOP knee shall once again bow, in earth and in heaven, and every GOP name shall confess that Trump IS lord. Because his guy won! Of course, there were 10 people running, and Carey was able to win with a grand total of 36 percent, but that’s OK, Donald Trump didn’t win his presidency with 50 percent of the vote either. […]

    […] Trump’s endorsement of Carey, a personal friend of the former president’s adviser Corey Lewandowski, did not clear the field. […] Also a pro-Trump PAC threw $350,000 into ads during the last week of the race. That helped.

    So Trump’s guy won. Smashing victory. Yooge. […]

    The Washington Post roundup has a lot more details on that race, should you like to read them, and should there not be any viral TikToks of British gold medalist diver Tom Daley on the internet right now unboxing condoms and seductively putting suckers in his mouth, oh wait there are?

    Wonkette link

  129. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    Animal rights organisation Peta UK has urged for a change in the law so that it is not compulsory to test vaccines on other creatures, after it emerged vegans could be exempt from any potential jab mandates.

    Legal experts have argued that vegans’ beliefs are protected by employment law after a tribunal last year ruled that ethical veganism is a protected status. Covid vaccines have been tested on animals.

    A number of people to be making light of the potential loophole. Right-wing political activist and former actor Laurence Fox said after claiming to be vegan that, “I will only eat plant-based food and medium-rare sirloin steaks. And chicken, pork scratchings and salami.”

    But vegan and animal rights activist groups have been encouraging people, including those who do not consume animal products, to get the vaccine if eligible.

    Dr Julia Baines, science policy adviser and author at Peta UK, told Euronews:

    The goal of being vegan and advocating for animal rights is to bring about positive changes for animals. As long as tests on animals are a legal requirement, refusing to take a medicine on ethical grounds will not help the animals who have already been used in tests or spare any the same fate in the future.

    What we need is a change in the law so that animals are no longer required to suffer in tests, which is why Peta and our international affiliates are working with government agencies in the UK and abroad to draw attention to the scientific failings of tests on animals and promoting the development, use, and acceptance of modern, non-animal testing methods.

    While vaccines are our best way out of this pandemic, we must look at what got us here in the first place. The link between humans’ treatment of animals and outbreaks of diseases like Covid-19 is something we continue to ignore at our peril.

    A recent episode of New Books in Critical Theory: “Epidemic Illusions: On the Coloniality of Global Public Health.” These ideas need very much to be extended to our relations with other animals.

  130. says

    Follow-up to comment 142 and to SC’s comment 158.

    Aaron Rupar:

    A reminder that the prospect of a second Trump administration staffed by people who follow his orders is an existential threat to American democracy.

  131. says

    Rep. Pascrell: “The parallels between fascists like Hungary’s Victor Orban and republican leaders could not be clearer. My friend @Mehdirhasan lays out the harrowing similarities and reminds us the fascist wolf is at America’s doorstep….”

    Video atl.

  132. blf says

    The Onion, Infrastructure Bill To Fund 11,000-Mile-Long Detour Around Nation During Construction:

    Following delicate bipartisan negotiations to update U.S. roads, highways, and bridges, the Senate moved forward Tuesday on a landmark infrastructure bill that would fund an 11,000-mile-long detour around the nation during construction. […] Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said […] “Under the new agreement, drivers will be able to simply follow the detour signs, winding their way through several states until they reach one of the two alternate routes that will loop around the country to the north and south — through Canada and Mexico, respectively. We urge Americans to follow the signs closely, lest they take a wrong turn and end up thousands of miles off course, or worse, at the bottom of the Atlantic or Pacific Ocean.” While acknowledging the detour could delay commutes by up to three weeks, Schumer remarked that the temporary inconvenience would all be worth it once the nation’s construction was complete in 2065.

  133. blf says

    This is not The Onion, Top RNC official in Florida spreads Covid-19 conspiracies, calling vaccines the mark of the beast:

    Amid recent surging coronavirus cases in Florida, [lawyer Peter Feaman,] a top Republican National Committee official in the state has spread anti-vaccine rhetoric and misinformation, comparing the Biden administration’s vaccine efforts to Nazi-era brown shirts, and twice calling the vaccines the mark of the beast, comparable to a false god.

    […]

    Previously, he supported far-right Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene […]

    […]

    In May, [… he] called Michigan Democratic Gov Gretchen Whitmer diabolical for encouraging vaccines. […] Now the Michigan Democrat has announced that she is going to prolong the state’s suffering until residents submit to getting ‘the jab’ and if enough of them comply with her demands, then she and Joe Biden might permit them to celebrate Fourth of July, he added […]

    […]

    On Thursday, Feaman attacked new US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance suggesting wearing masks indoors in places with high rates of Delta variant transmission. The wolves want control and power, he wrote. […]

    [… other antics, such as (but not limited to) calling the Jan 6th insurrection a false flag and “compar[ing] Democrats’ actions after the Capitol insurrection to Nazis who used the Reichstag fire”…]

    One of [his] books appears to feature a doctored blurb from The New York Times Book Review. At the top of the front cover of “Wake Up, America!”, a blurb reads: ‘Wake Up, America! presents a compelling argument Americans cannot take for granted — that the world of today will not necessarily exist tomorrow.’ — as seen in The New York Times Book Review. A similar blurb exists on its Amazon book page.

    A spokesperson for the Times confirmed that the publication did not publish a review or cover the title in any way and said they were reviewing the unauthorized use of the Times’ name on the book.

  134. blf says

    $5,800 whisky bottle given to Pompeo as gift missing, state department says:

    […]
    The state department has said that it is looking into the the apparent disappearance of a nearly $6,000 bottle of whisky given more than two years ago to then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo by the government of Japan.

    In a notice filed in the federal register, the department said it could find no trace of the bottle’s whereabouts and that there is an “ongoing inquiry” into what happened to the booze. The department reported the investigation in its annual accounting of gifts given to senior US officials by foreign governments and leaders.

    The department’s office of protocol is required to record gifts given to US officials and keep track of their disposition. Recipients have the option of turning gifts of a certain value over to the National Archives or another government entity or purchasing them for personal use by reimbursing the treasury department for their value.

    The Japanese whisky was valued at $5,800 and was presented to Pompeo in June 2019, presumably when he visited the country that month for a Group of 20 summit […]. But unlike other gifts, the department said there was no record of what had become of the bottle.

    […]

  135. says

    ‘Irreparable injury to the United States’: Judge temporarily halts Abbott’s order targeting migrants

    Greg Abbott’s despicable executive order targeting migrants has been blocked, at least for now. Reuters reports that George W. Bush-appointed U.S. District Judge Kathleen Cardone has halted the Republican governor’s plan to stop and even confiscate the vehicles of civilian drivers and contractors who they believe are transporting migrants […]

    “The Executive Order causes irreparable injury to the United States and to individuals the United States is charged with protecting, jeopardizing the health and safety of noncitizens in federal custody, risking the safety of federal law enforcement personnel and their families, and exacerbating the spread of COVID-19,” the judge ruled. The report said the order is in place until Aug. 13, when the parties go back to court.

    The ruling stems from a lawsuit filed by Attorney General Merrick Garland late last week that called Abbott’s order unconstitutional, stating that it has the potential to impede contractors working on behalf of the federal government, as well as interfering with the federal government’s “broad, undoubted power over the subject of immigration.” Garland’s letter said that “in short, the Order is contrary to federal law and cannot be enforced.”

    Civil rights and legal experts also warned of racial profiling that could stem from the order. “Would any car carrying Latino passengers in Texas be subjected to a traffic stop? Given that the state is home to more than 11 million Latinos, according to the U.S. Census, comprising more than 40% of the population, that seems like a Texas-size recipe for the violation of Latinos’ civil rights,” wrote CNN columnist Raul Reyes. While issued just one week ago, immigrant rights advocates said that Abbott’s order was already impacting vulnerable individuals—including children.

    “Because of Abbott’s EO restricting transporting migrants, people are afraid to help migrant families. The local shelter wouldn’t take people in because they could not help them get out,” tweeted Texas Fair Defense Project. “So instead of dropping people off at the shelter like they usually do, [Customs and Border Protection] dropped families off at a local gas station. Pregnant people, children, and others were stranded with no place to go.”

    And because outside law enforcement officers have flocked to the state to aid in Abbott’s equally despicable plan to arrest and detain other migrants who have recently crossed into the state [What?!], “there are no hotel rooms,” the organization continued. “Migrant families are walking around the city looking for a place to sleep.” […]

    Governor Greg Abbott knows exactly what he’s doing, exactly what he’s saying, and exactly what it could lead to. As noted earlier this week, back in 2019 Abbott was forced to spit out a nonapology statement over an anti-immigrant fundraising letter sent out in his name just one day before the El Paso terror attack. It complained to recipients that “if we’re going to defend Texas, we’ll need to take matters into our own hands.”

    But it didn’t stop Abbott carrying out further attacks in the two years since. […] falsely tried to blame asylum-seekers for Texas’ COVID problem. He’s doubled, tripled, Olympic-quadrupled-down on the anti-immigrant bs. […]

    Link

  136. says

    Meatpacking Giant Tyson Mandates Vaccines for All Workers

    The decision comes after a gruesome series of outbreaks.

    When COVID-19 infections began blitzing meatpacking plants last year, no company’s workers bore the brunt of the pandemic quite like those of Tyson Foods, the enormous purveyor of chicken, beef, and pork. Some 12,536 of the company’s 120,000 US employees have tested positive for the virus, and 39 have died from it […] more than twice the counts of any other meatpacking firm. Back in December, Tyson fired seven managers at an Iowa pork-processing plant after an investigation into claims that they had placed bets on how many workers would contract the virus.

    With the highly contagious Delta variant circulating in the United States, Tyson has emerged as the first meatpacking company to mandate that all its employees—from executives to workers on the kill floor—be vaccinated against COVID. Current packinghouse workers will have until November 1 to go through a full course of vaccine shots; new hires will have to show proof of vaccination before their start dates. The company’s announcement doesn’t mention whether workers will be given paid time off to receive and recover from the shots, but it is offering a $200 bonus to fully vaccinated team members “as thank you for doing your part to keep us all safe.” […]

    Workers in some Tyson plants belong to unions, and that could complicate efforts to enforce the edict. Vaccination requirements for unionized workers “will be subject to the results of union bargaining on this issue,” the Tyson announcement states.

    Marc Perrone, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers union, which represents 24,000 Tyson workers, stated in a Tuesday press release that “we support and encourage workers getting vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus, and have actively encouraged our members to do so,” but also expressed concern about the company’s decision to require vaccinations before the US Food and Drug Administration has fully approval them. (COVID vaccines now on the market are available under a provisional Emergency Use Authorization pending formal approval.) […]

  137. blf says

    The Onion points out (correctly) alleged-“Governor” Cuomo has lied, and then tried to coverup, before, Cuomo Increasingly Desperate To Shift Focus Back Onto Nursing Home Deaths:

    In the wake of damning revelations concerning the New York governor’s sexual misconduct, an increasingly desperate Andrew Cuomo attempted to shift media focus back onto the nursing home deaths caused by his administration at a Wednesday press conference. “Of course, I appreciate the concern about these women’s allegations, but let’s not forget that I made a concerted effort to cover up the deaths of 9,250 seniors who died because of my negligence — that’s really what we should be talking about, right?” said a visibly panicked Cuomo, who proceeded to deflect several reporter’s questions by cuing up a slideshow featuring pictures of the doctored documents and his rescinded statewide order demanding nursing homes accept elderly patients carrying the coronavirus or else face legal consequences. “Let’s look at the facts here: I sent throngs of sick senior citizens into New York nursing homes. That’s a terrible decision. Then I cooked the books so that no one knew the toll of my incompetence. Insane, huh? That’s front page, above-the-fold news that’ll last dozens of news cycles, if I’ve ever heard it. I don’t know, guys. Maybe focus on that.” […]

    Cuomo did cook the books (so to speak) and then try to cover it up; e.g., BBC, Governor Cuomo admits to withholding nursing home deaths (Feburary 2021). A snippet:

    [… A]s is often the case with political scandals, his greatest trouble is as much about the cover-up as the original act.

    In this case, Cuomo’s administration withheld information about the number of nursing home deaths in the state to deflect attention away from the decisions made regarding the handling and treatment of elderly with Covid-19.

    He may have avoided giving politically damaging information to Trump and federal investigators, but he may now find himself in greater danger than if he had been forthcoming at the time.

  138. blf says

    Afghans chant ‘Allahu Akbar’ in defiant protests against Taliban:

    ‘God is greatest’ has become a cry of defiance for anti-Taliban protesters as group assaults major Afghan cities.

    On Monday evening, Ahmadullah Azadani climbed on the roof of his house in the Western Afghan city of Herat and awaited something that would have been unthinkable in the city even a week earlier.

    He waited on his roof overlooking the ancient city, until he heard a single voice calling out: “Allahu Akbar” (God is greatest), over and over.

    At first, it was only one voice in the distance, then suddenly the voices increased until it became an echoing cry around the city that only a few days ago was on the verge of falling to the Taliban.

    Azadani, who had returned to his native Herat from the Afghan capital Kabul several months ago, said he had never witnessed anything like it before.

    “I have never seen our people join in such vocal support of their troops and the people who fight alongside them,” he said […]

    […] Azadani said last night’s event differed in one crucial way from the practice from decades prior [during the Soviet occupation].

    “In the past, people were doing this against the communist state including against its army. Now, we do it in support of our Afghan National Security Forces and the national resistance movement, and to say a big ‘NO’ to the Taliban,” he said.

    […]

    On Tuesday morning, President Ashraf Ghani expressed his support in an address to the media.

    “Last night, the people of Herat showed exactly who represents the cries of Allahu Akbar.”

    Ali A Olomi, an Afghan-American professor of the History of the Middle East and Islam, said the fact that the people chose “Allahu Akbar” as their cry of defiance to the Taliban is especially profound.

    […]

    In recent months, social media has become a renewed propaganda ground for both sides of the Afghan conflict, and on Monday evening, several Taliban supporting accounts tried to claim the cries were in support of the group.

    However, Azadani does not buy that claim.

    “I talked to the people. I live here. I can say with certainty no one was doing it for the Taliban,” he said.

    “It was a very clear message to the Taliban that we don’t want you … everyone said they did it to show their defiance.”

    On Tuesday evening, it was Kabul’s turn.

    Despite a heavy explosion occurring only an hour from the 9pm (16:30 GMT) start time, the people still took to their roofs and the streets to chant “Allahu Akbar”. For more than 40 minutes, voices of children, men and women could be heard ringing from the city, even as the sounds of gunfire and smoke rose from the blast site.

    Online video showed people gathering on the streets of various parts of the capital, waving the nation’s tricolour flag.

    But Kabul was not alone, Afghan social media was suddenly filled with videos of similar actions in Nangarhar, Khost, Kunar and Bamiyan provinces.

  139. blf says

    US blocks seafood from Fiji ship accused of enslaving crew:

    US customs and border officials determined there was credible evidence that the fishing vessel operated by a Chinese national was subjecting crew members to conditions defined as forced labour by international standards.

    A tuna fishing boat based in the Pacific island nation of Fiji that has been accused of essentially enslaving its crew was blocked on Wednesday from importing seafood into the United States, part of an increasing effort to keep goods produced with forced labour from entering the country.

    US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issued an order to stop any shipments in American ports from the Hangton 112, a longliner operated by a Chinese national, after the agency determined there was credible evidence that the crew was subjected to conditions defined as forced labour under international standards.

    […]

    CBP said its investigation found evidence that the crew of the Hangton 112 had wages improperly withheld from them, their identity documents were taken and they were kept in “debt bondage”, which typically involves charging workers an excessive amount in advance for travel and other expenses and holding them until they worked to pay it off.

    In May, the US blocked imports of seafood from the entire fleet of a Chinese company that authorities say forced crew members to work in slave-like conditions that led to the deaths of several Indonesian fishermen last year. CBP has also issued orders against individual vessels from Taiwan and elsewhere.

    The 102-foot (31-metre) vessel operates with a crew of about a dozen, according to online records. The boat was cited in a December 2019 investigative report by Greenpeace Southeast Asia and the Indonesian Migrant Worker Union that documented abusive conditions in the Pacific fishing fleet. The operator denied the allegations at the time.

    […]

    In recent years, the issue of unregulated fishing has gained increased attention not just for the abusive treatment of workers but also the damage it does to the environment, economies around the world and the food supply.

  140. Trickster Goddess says

    Mexico sues US gunmakers in unprecedented bid to stop weapons crossing border

    The Mexican government has launched legal action against US gunmakers in an unprecedented attempt to halt the flow of guns across the border, where US-made weapons are routinely used in cartel gun-battles, terror attacks on civilians – and increasingly to challenge the state itself.

    The Mexican government is suing six gunmakers in a Massachusetts court, alleging negligence in their failure to control their distributors and that the illegal market in Mexico “has been their economic lifeblood”.

    Announcing the suit on Wednesday, the foreign minister, Marcelo Ebrard, alleged that units of Smith & Wesson, Barrett Firearms, Colt’s Manufacturing Company, Glock and Ruger have catered to the tastes and needs of Mexican drug cartels and depend on illegal Mexican sales to boost their bottom lines.

    The lawsuit alleges that gun companies openly pandered to Mexican criminals, citing Colt’s special edition .38 pistol, engraved with an image of the Mexican revolutionary Emiliano Zapata. One such weapon was used in the 2017 murder of the Chihuahua journalist Miroslava Breach, who investigated links between politicians and organized crime and was shot dead while taking her son to school.

    “We’re going to litigate in all seriousness and we’re going to win at trial and we’re going to drastically reduce the illegal weapons trafficking to Mexico, which cannot remain unpunished with respect to those who produce, promote and encourage this trafficking from the United States,” Ebrard said.

    “The companies must immediately stop negligent practices, which cause damage in Mexico and cause deaths in Mexico.”

    Mexico is seeking up to $10bn in damages, as well as better safety features on guns and tighter controls on sales.

    Mexican officials said there were legal precedents for the suit, including a recent offer by Remington to pay nearly $33m to families to settle lawsuits claiming that its marketing of firearms contributed to the 2012 Sandy Hook school massacre in Connecticut, where 26 people died.

  141. snarkrates says

    “The Japanese whisky was valued at $5,800 and was presented to Pompeo in June 2019, presumably when he visited the country that month for a Group of 20 summit […]. But unlike other gifts, the department said there was no record of what had become of the bottle.”

    Hmm. This could explain a lot about some of his speeches and interviews.

  142. raven says

    Texas GOP Official Mocked COVID Five Days Before He Died of Virus
    ‘MY HEART IS BEYOND BROKEN’
    H. Scott Apley’s Facebook page was filled with anti-mask, anti-vaccine content until he was suddenly hospitalized on Sunday.
    Updated Aug. 04, 2021 9:34PM ET The DailyBeast

    A GOP official from Texas who regularly espoused anti-vaccine and anti-mask views online has died from COVID-19, five days after posting a meme on Facebook questioning the wisdom of getting inoculated against COVID.

    Dickinson City Council member and State Republican Executive Committee member H. Scott Apley, 45, died in a local hospital around 3 a.m. Wednesday morning, according to a GoFundMe page set up to help Apley’s family with expenses. He was admitted to the facility in Galveston on Sunday with “pneumonia-like symptoms,” and was hooked up to a ventilator as his condition worsened. His wife was also infected, the family said.

    “He leaves behind his wife, Melissa, who is COVID positive, as well as their infant son Reid,”

    This is a story that has happened tens of thousands of times already. It will happen 300 times today.

    “My heart is beyond broken for his family,” Dickinson Mayor Sean Skipworth wrote in a Facebook post.

    Mine isn’t. He was a Plague Rat. He tried and probably succeeded in taking a few people with him who didn’t have to die.

  143. johnson catman says

    re raven @177: Agreed! I just don’t understand how the Plague Rats won’t take the vaccine that is proven effective against the virus. And then there are those who will willingly take medicines that have been proven to not be effective against the virus, like hydroxychloroquine or ivermectin, while refusing the vaccine. Owning the libs, I guess?

  144. Akira MacKenzie says

    <

    blockquote>I just don’t understand how the Plague Rats won’t take the vaccine that is proven effective against the virus.

    <

    blockquote>

    Proven? PROVEN?!?! “Proven” by whom? The same godless, foreign, communist scientists who created the China Flu in the first place? The reason you don’t understand is because you don’t love America and GAWD! Freedom-loving Christians have the power to discern truth better than all those pointy-headed intellectuals who use big words and black-boards full of meaningless doddles to hide their unpatriotic, heathen stupidity!!! So what if I catch it!? I’m washed in the BLOOD OF THE LAMB!!! EVEN IF MY CORRUPT BODY DIES, GOD WILL PROTECT ME AS I PASS INTO HIS KINGDOM!!!/s

    You see? When you raised to hate and fear any authority other than those your in-group approves of, it’s easy to ignore science. It also helps to live in a rural shithole town where everyone looks and thinks alike and anyone who’s different only exist in scary stories the local preachers tell during sermons or told around the diner front counter.

  145. blf says

    The law enabling the French Health Pass — proof of either full-vaccination, recent negative test, etc — and the requirement it must be presented to visit a café, bar, restaurant, museum, ride a long-distance train, etc, has (mostly) passed constitutional muster and hence will be mandated starting next Monday 9th August, France’s top court says Covid ‘health pass’ largely complies with constitution:

    [… T]the Constitutional Court said the restrictions voted by parliament last month represented a “balanced trade-off” between public health concerns and personal freedom.

    [… T]he absence of a health pass must not be an obstacle to patients receiving [medical (urgent or not)] treatment, the court ruled.
    […]

    There several other adjustments to the law (see link), all but one of which strike me as reasonable. The one I wonder about is “the court rejected as ‘disproportionate’ the government’s wish to force people with Covid infections into isolation for 10 days.” Offhand, I don’t see why that isn’t a “‘balanced trade-off’ between public health concerns and personal freedom” — infected people are an undisputed source of infection, so asking them to isolate to reduce the possibly of infections seems judicious.

  146. blf says

    On the vaccine-hesitant front, recently I had a (shortish) exchange with someone who seems to be hesitant (wasn’t totally clear). When I eventually asked straight out, “When will you be vaccinated?”, expecting either more waffling or at least a better insight into the waffling, they (who are in an EU country) threw me with their answer, parapharsing, “When either the Sinovac or [some other one, Sanofi’s perhaps? — don’t recall now] is approved.” Whilst Sinovac has been submitted to the EMA for EU approval, no idea if or when that will happen; and Sanofi’s is only just starting Phase III trials. Hence, that answer (if true) struck me as more waffling, putting off getting jabbed until, at the very earliest, late this year — and even then, that’s only if those vaccine(s) are ordered and available. (I’ve been remiss in not following-up, but the waffling was getting tiresome.)

  147. says

    First, She Stormed A State Capitol With Ammon Bundy. Then, She Stormed Congress, Feds Say.

    […] That’s according to an FBI agent’s affidavit in support of charges against Pam Hemphill, a member of the anti-government activist Ammon Bundy’s “People’s Rights” network who was arrested on Tuesday.

    “We broke the same glass in Boise, Idaho,” Hemphill said in one video shot from the U.S. Capitol doors, flagged by the Idaho Statesman. “In Boise, Idaho, we did the same thing.”

    Later, according to the affidavit, video surveillance footage showed Hemphill “enter the East side of the Capitol Building with a group of rioters” and then walk through the Capitol Rotunda.

    Hemphill now faces four misdemeanor charges, including violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. […]

    The details of Hemphill’s actions that day show the impact of several state Capitol breaches in the months preceding Jan. 6.

    […] mobs of people rushed into state legislative buildings in sometimes violent protest. As one Michigan legislator told TPM, referring to the Jan. 6 attack: “We saw this coming.”[…] [video available at the link]

    State police guarding the building were overwhelmed, with a spokesperson later telling the Statesman, “Idaho State Police personnel determined they could not have made arrests on the spot without elevating the potential for violence.” Bundy only faced a trespassing charge, for which he was eventually found guilty, after returning the following day and being arrested again. Now, he’s running for governor.

    […] Boise State Public Radio, which first reported the charges against Hemphill, noted that she was a “founding member” of People’s Rights and could often be seen live-streaming at its events.

    […] In a Facebook post on Dec. 28, for example, she allegedly wrote, “It’s not going to be a FUN Trump Rally that is planned for January 6th, its a WAR!”

    […] “I think everybody would be happy if uh, [unintelligible] got inside the Capitol and told them how they really felt. […] “Let’s do this; let’s go to the Capitol. We did it in Boise.”

    In response to a comment from someone nearby, Hemphill allegedly said: “Oh yeah. We broke the glass door. Watch the video. I’m with People’s Rights. Ammon Bundy.”

    […] Based on police reports, local media and Hemphill’s own statements, the agent said, “Pamela Anne Hemphill was involved in the breach of the Idaho Capitol.”

  148. says

    AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka has died

    AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka has died suddenly at age 72 after leading the nation’s largest labor federation since 2009. Prior to that, Trumka had been the AFL-CIO’s secretary-treasurer since 1995. Trumka came up through the United Mine Workers, having started working as a coal miner in 1968 before graduating from college and then law school and becoming president of the UMWA in 1982.

    Trumka was elected secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO on a slate with John Sweeney, who was president of the federation from 1995 to 2009. Their election represented a move toward a broader, more diverse labor movement with a deeper commitment to workers not represented by unions and, often, ties to other areas of the progressive movement.

    In 2008, Trumka got widespread attention for his powerful speech to the United Steelworkers taking on racism in the context of Barack Obama’s run for president. In fact, Trumka gave versions of that speech to other groups, bringing the message as widely as he could. In the speech, Trumka told of an encounter with a woman in his hometown of Nemacolin, Pennsylvania, on the day of the state’s presidential primary. When she told him she could never vote for Obama, he pressed her through a series of excuses until she admitted it was because Obama was Black.

    “And I said, ‘Look around this town. Nemacolin’s a dying town. There’s no jobs here,’” Trumka said. “Our kids are moving away because there’s no future here. And here’s a man, Barack Obama, who’s going to fight for people like us, and you want to tell me that you won’t vote for him because of the color of his skin? Are you out of your ever-loving mind, lady?”

    “See, brothers and sisters, we can’t tap-dance around the fact that there’s a lot of folks out there, just like that woman, and a lot of them are good union people—they just can’t get past the idea that there’s something wrong with voting for a Black man. Well, those of us who know better can’t afford to sit silently or look the other way while it’s happening.”

    He went on to detail times in U.S. history when organized labor similarly stood for civil rights and against racism. (That is by no means the only racial history of the U.S. labor movement, to be clear.) […]

    Link

    See also:
    https://twitter.com/thehousered

    Labor’s involvement in Black Lives Matter was not a foregone conclusion. Trumka going to St. Louis and forcefully saying we were obligated to be involved helped clear the way for so much.

  149. says

    […] Trump’s personal coup attempt may have fallen just short of keeping him in office, but he and his allies proved shockingly successful in snowing a substantial majority of GOP voters about his defeat while unearthing absolutely zero evidence to back their claims of a stolen election.

    Republican lawmakers across the country and a cartel of right-wing dark money groups like the Heritage Foundation and Federalist Society have since capitalized on the GOP’s deeply misinformed electorate to codify into law both voter suppression and election subversion measures. The law Republicans enacted in Georgia, for instance, solidifies authoritarian rule loosely cloaked in democracy.

    Left unchallenged, those laws will finish the job that Trump and his cronies started—a system where Republicans exclusively control both the administration and outcomes of U.S. elections, at least until some 60% to 65% of the electorate decides they have had enough.

    Link

  150. says

    The FBI Is Investigating Giuliani’s Attempt to Make a Movie About the Bidens and Ukraine

    “The thing I took away from it,” says a producer hired to work on the film, “was, ‘Jesus, these guys are morons.’”

    Last year, after Rudy Giuliani’s effort to dig up dirt on Joe Biden in Ukraine had already helped lead to the impeachment of his client, […] Trump, Giuliani continued the effort. The former New York mayor joined with George Dickson III, the owner of California cannabis and earthquake warning businesses, to try to produce a documentary advancing discredited allegations about Joe and Hunter Biden’s involvement in Ukraine during the Obama administration. […]

    The venture produced no movie, only about 15 minutes of notably low-quality footage. And now the FBI is investigating the project […]

    The investigation appears tied to an ongoing federal probe into whether Giuliani violated foreign lobbying laws by working on behalf of a Ukrainian prosecutor. Mother Jones first reported that the FBI had searched Dickson’s home in June. Now, the revelation that the bureau is examining Giuliani’s abortive film suggests that the federal investigation into Giuliani’s actions in 2020 is broader than previously known.

    Three people involved in the film project described it to Mother Jones as incompetent and scrambled, with the producers squabbling over money and unable to commit to a line of inquiry. “They couldn’t get their shit together,” said Matthew Galvin, a California video producer whom Dickson hired to work on the effort. “They were always distracted.”

    Galvin added, “The thing I took away from it was, ‘Jesus, these guys are morons.’”

    Still, with Giuliani attached, the men raised what people involved estimated was more than $1 million and hired a filmmaker, who began production in June of 2020. Dickson and Giuliani abandoned the project only in June of this year, around the time federal agents began investigating the film.

    […] “Rudy basically says, ‘Give me $200,000 and I’ll come do your little road show.’”

    […] There is also a “Breaking Biden” title sequence, with the music and imagery taken from the AMC hit Breaking Bad, that features images of a crack pipe and of Hunter Biden smoking a cigarette. This is one of several mocking references to Hunter Biden’s struggle with addiction.

    The material assembled for the film also includes footage of Giuliani speaking, over ominous music, about corruption in Ukraine and Hunter Biden’s position on the board of the Ukrainian energy company Burisma. The younger Biden’s position there helped animate otherwise baseless claims by Trump backers that Joe Biden pushed for the firing of Ukraine’s top prosecutor to protect Burisma. The clip includes no real evidence, but the corruption allegation is illustrated with a darkly lit shot bundles of $100 bills with “The Biden Family” written on them. [In all caps … written in part with a sharpie. LOL. Image available at the link.]

    Viewers then see images of various Ukrainian figures along with descriptions of their alleged misdeeds. The filmmakers link Biden to these figures by placing his picture alongside them, though he lacks known ties to them. [Giuliani, on the other hand, does have ties to the shady doofuses.]

    […] Even the filmmakers realized this material was weak. According to Galvin and two other people involved in the film project, Dickson and Giuliani cut ties with Ryan late last year, due to what they considered his failure to produce usable material. Dickson then sought other options. He contacted another producer and also considered attempting to charge $9.99 for viewers to stream the footage, or just having Giuliani air it in a television appearance. But the problem, Galvin said, was that “they had nothing.”

    “If they had anything, they would have tried to flood the zone with it,” he said. “They tried to produce this whole controversy, and they couldn’t even produce one piece of media.”

    Hooray for incompetence.

  151. says

    Posting this as just one example of the conditions in California as wildfires threaten, well, everything.

    A wildfire devastated a town in California on Wednesday as firefighters struggle to contain the flames of the Dixie fire.

    “We lost Greenville tonight,” Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R) said in a Facebook video Wednesday.

    […] The Dixie Fire destroyed many buildings in the town, some more than a century old [ …]

    “We did everything we could,” said fire spokesman Mitch Matlow. “Sometimes it’s just not enough.”

    There have been around 5,000 firefighters fighting against the Dixie Fire as it has […] burned 278,000 acres […] Firefighters have only managed to contain 35 percent of the fire.

    “If you are still in the Greenville area, you are in imminent danger and you MUST leave now!! Evacuate to the south to Quincy. If you remain, emergency responders may not be able to assist you,” Plumas County Sheriff’s Office posted on Facebook Wednesday.

    A fire official with the U.S. Forest Service-Plumas National Forest warned California residents in a Facebook video saying the behavior of the fires is not what the state is used to and not enough people have been listening to the warnings.

    “You need to get out. We can’t be dealing with this … We want to keep you guys safe and try to protect your structures in there and do the best we can,” the official stated.

    Nearby the River fire has caused thousands to evacuate their homes and evacuation centers had to be put in place.

    Link

  152. says

    Oh, FFS!

    Former President Trump on Thursday criticized an old target — the U.S. women’s national soccer team — by saying players would have won the gold medal and not the bronze at the Olympics if they weren’t “woke.”

    “Woke means you lose, everything that is woke goes bad, and our soccer team certainly has,” Trump said in a statement issued by his Save America PAC.

    “If our soccer team, headed by a radical group of Leftist Maniacs, wasn’t woke, they would have won the Gold Medal instead of the Bronze,” he argued.

    The women’s team took third place and the bronze medal in Tokyo after defeating Australia 4-3 on Thursday.

    They were knocked out of contention for a gold medal after losing to Canada 1-0 earlier in the week.

    Trump has repeatedly targeted the women’s national team for abuse, and players have fired back at the president.

    Things grew especially heated in 2019 as the team worked its way toward eventually winning the women’s World Cup. Star player Megan Rapinoe, asked if she was excited about going to the White House if the team won, said ahead of the tournament, “I’m not going to the f—— White House.”

    […] The former commander in chief specifically singled out Rapinoe without mentioning her by name, writing, “The woman with the purple hair played terribly and spends too much time thinking about Radical Left politics and not doing her job!”

    […] Despite not winning first place, team captain Becky Sauerbrunn said from Tokyo Thursday, “That bronze means so much.”

    “It feels like we really had to earn that thing,” she added, according to The New York Times. “And we’re very proud of it.” […]

    They should be proud.

    Link

  153. says

    Stacey Abrams, Michelle Obama collaborating on voting rights push

    […] The former Democratic gubernatorial candidate in Georgia and the former first lady released a video Thursday calling on the public to help “protect our freedom to vote,” as a number of Republican-dominated states continue to pass elections bills that some say will hamper voters’ access to the polls.

    According to the Brennan Center for Justice, at least 18 states have enacted 30 laws that restrict access to vote.

    Obama, in the video, said “dangerous legislation” is being considered throughout the country that would limit voting rights.

    Abrams contended that many of the proposals would “disproportionately impact Black, brown, young and working-class voters and voters with disabilities.”

    The Democratic duo said the fight for voting rights legislation “isn’t about who’s president or who’s in Congress,” but “about our families, our neighborhoods, our schools and our communities.”

    The public service announcement was put together by When We All Vote, Obama’s organization to help educate and assemble voters of color and young people, and Fair Fight Action, Abrams’s group dedicated to voting rights.

    They called on the public to contact their members of Congress and urge them to “protect and strengthen our access to the ballot.” They also suggested people should check their voter registration statuses and ensure that all community members are registered.

    “We’re working to change the future of this nation. It’s not going to be easy, but nothing this important ever is,” Obama said in the video.

    “We need you. Are you in?” the two asked at the conclusion of the video. […]

  154. says

    Wonkette: Turns Out It Matters When Fox News Tells Viewers Truth About COVID Vaccines For Five Seconds!

    Well! It turns out that when Fox News dips its pinky toe in the waters of being halfway responsible for five seconds every once in a while, it matters.

    We were very not impressed when Sean Hannity took 30 seconds out of his show to say he believes in the science of vaccination and please take COVID seriously. We had faint praise for Steve Doocy telling Fox viewers out loud that 99 percent of the current COVID deaths are happening among the unvaccinated. Had Fox News changed its tune? Um, not really.

    But apparently it still matters!

    A new poll from Morning Consult shows that Fox hosts just barely pretending for a minute to understand that we’re in the middle of a global pandemic and the best way to protect yourself is to get vaccinated — even when they spend the rest of their time railing against masks and questioning the efficacy of the vaccines and hosting malevolent anti-vaxxers — actually has had an effect on its viewers’ willingness to get their damn shots.

    Morning Consult says the “share of Fox News viewers who said they probably or definitely won’t get vaccinated fell to 27% this week,” which is the lowest number they’ve recorded. In July it was 30 percent. Back in March it was 37 percent. The only groups worse in this poll are people who mostly get their news from Instagram, Facebook, Reddit and … Snapchat? Is that even a thing? Apparently it is, for anti-vaxxers! […]

    […] Meanwhile, 75 percent of regular CNN viewers say they’ve already been shot up with vaccines. […]

    Mediaite notes that Fox News is still continuing its efforts toward being reasonably responsible once in a blue fucking moon. Apparently, on Friday, Fox News did a graphic that said “vaccines work” and it didn’t even say “TO MURDER YOUR NANA.” Give it time, though. Tucker’s kinda busy this week embracing full-on fascism in Hungary. […]

    Of course, 27 percent of Fox News viewers still refusing is still way too many. Can you imagine what would happen if Fox News did real journalism about the vaccines for a whole day? We don’t want to suggest crazy talk here or anything, but can you imagine how many of their viewers wouldn’t die? Again, this is a big ask, obviously, because Fox News is very inexperienced with doing real journalism and it would probably go comically poorly. […].

  155. says

    Follow-up to SC in comments 101, 126, 129 and 165.
    Tucker So Mad Everybody Calling His Dirty Fascist Hungarian BFF A Dirty Fascist

    We’ve been trying to avert our eyes all week from the fact that Tucker Carlson is in Hungary, bouncing on fascist dictator Viktor Orbán’s lap with the glee of a child who thinks he’s met the real Santa. Of course, in this case, the Santa is a white supremacist who hates gays, but hey look, so is that weird child on his lap.

    Broadcasting from Budapest last night, Tucker got real pissed at mean democracy-loving people who keep calling his BFF a dirty fascist: [Video is available at the link.]

    TUCKER CARLSON: Because the example of Hungary is so powerful — not just in Europe, but to the world, to the entire world, not simply the West — what you can do with a relatively small economy and not many people, if you’re just serious about keeping your nation from being destroyed. Because the lessons are so obvious, and there’s such a clear refutation to the policies we currently have, and the people who instituted those policies, Hungary and its government have been ruthlessly attacked and unfairly attacked. “It’s authoritarian, they’re fascists!” That is — there are many lies being told right now, that may be the greatest of all.

    Haha, what delusions you must suffer to actually look up to what’s become of Hungary AKA Europe’s embarrassment.

    Literally last month, the European Union was having to punish Hungary for its insane new anti-gay law, which says gays are the same as pedophiles, and, much like Russia did several years ago with its “gay propaganda law,” bans showing the positive existence of LGBTQ people to kids under 18. There’s obviously no marriage equality in Hungary. Same-sex couples can’t adopt kids. Transgender people are basically banned from being recognized by the government. And that’s just some of the stuff Orbán’s government has done to steal its citizens’ rights since he seized power.

    Guessing Tucker “Dan White Society” Carlson thinks all that is pretty great. He after all once left a snail trail all over a TV studio telling the story of the time he beat up a gay guy in the bathroom.

    Last year, Hungary’s parliament, which has been effectively stolen by Orbán’s ruling party, voted to give Orbán the power to simply rule by decree. This was an actual tyrannical response to the COVID-19 pandemic. But as Lawfare explains, that 2020 action was really the culmination of Orbán’s decade of boiling Hungary like a frog in water:

    For Hungary, the coronavirus has accelerated a decade-long democratic crisis, during which Orbán has gradually consolidated his power and weaponized rhetoric to emphasize an ethnic Hungarian identity, target vulnerable groups, and dismantle the institutions responsible both for protecting those groups and for checking executive power—ultimately transforming Hungary into an illiberal state.

    Orbán has gradually remade Hungary in his image since 2010, when his Fidesz party retook a majority in parliament on the heels of the financial crisis and growing anti-establishment sentiment in Hungary. After an initial term as prime minister from 1998 to 2002, Orbán reportedly determined that if he ever came back to power he would not be so easily removed. Upon reclaiming the prime minister’s office, he made good on his word. He packed the judiciary with Fidesz loyalists, redrew the electoral map and changed electoral laws, gave ethnic Hungarians who had never set foot in Hungary voting powers, gutted the civil service, appointed party loyalists to watchdog agencies, consolidated the media and amended the constitution.

    Lawfare notes that there was a hiccup along this road in 2015, when Fidesz actually lost its supermajority in parliament. No matter, though, because Orbán just hunkered down on demonizing Muslims and other immigrants, replete with “preserve Hungary for [white Christian] Hungarians” rhetoric, and everything was back on track. Dude even built a fucking wall on Hungary’s southern border. And the Fidesz supermajority was back by 2018!

    Any of this sound familiar?

    Measures targeting migrants and refugees (and those who help them) were portrayed as necessary, even praiseworthy actions to protect the Hungarian “way of life, our culture, our customs and our Christian traditions” and to prevent the Hungarian people from “dying out.”

    Replacement theory? Tucker’s down for that. (By the way, Newt Gingrich also embraced replacement theory on Fox News this week, like it was a new wife to replace the one with cancer. They’re going all in on this.)

    […] What about this stuff, does it sound familiar?

    The government also revamped the school curriculum to better reflect “Hungarian values”; created a National Culture Council to ensure that cultural institutes “defend the interests of the nation’s well-being”; and picked a months-long legal battle with Central European University (founded by George Soros and one of the region’s premier universities and migration departments), eventually driving the university to leave Hungary and relocate to Vienna. With the media under his control, a financially besieged and demonized civil society, and co-opted cultural institutions, Orbán had successfully enfeebled the remaining challengers to Fidesz narratives and checks on his power, though the facade of democratic institutions remained.

    Replace all the proper nouns in the Mad Libs and you’ve got exactly what the Right wants to do to America. […]

    Hungary is, quite simply, a shell of what it used to be, is no longer a democracy in any sense, and has in the space of a decade become Europe’s shithole. That’s thanks to Viktor Orbán.

    That’s also the future the fascist American Right wants. […]

    Orbán has for the last several years been courting, and has been courted by, the worst American also-rans of the failed culture wars. He’s been buddying up to disturbed theocrats like Brian Brown, who used to run the National Organization for Marriage hate group. (Brown now runs something called the International Organization for the Family.) This is part of an exodus that really began about a decade ago, once American religious Right losers realized they’d lost the marriage equality battle at home, and therefore started going abroad to see if they could find some white people whose hearts were filled with the same hatred toward LGBTQ people theirs were. They all just love Orbán. All of them.

    […] The entire fascist anti-American Right has a super hard-on for Orbán […]

    Tucker said from Hungary this week that “If you care about Western civilization and democracy and families, and the ferocious assault on all three of those things by the leaders of our global institutions, you should know what is happening here right now.” All those words are white supremacist Christian nationalist code words.

    Jonathan Chait wrote this week that Tucker “is laying down a marker in the highest profile way he can that Orban’s iron fist is the future the Republican Party should want.” Russian activist and freedom fighter Garry Kasparov told CNN’s John Avlon that he’s “sure Tucker can pick up some useful tips [in Hungary] to bring home about crushing an independent judiciary, attacking the free press, and hijacking elections…”

    Josh Kovensky writes at Talking Points Memo of the particular events that landed Tucker in Orbán’s lap, where Tucker has met with Orbán, and is speaking this weekend at something called MCC Fezst, some kind of jackoff young fascist event for the Charlie Kirks of Hungary. American wingnut leaders apparently love to go to this thing.

    […] In Chait’s piece, he writes that “If America ceases to be a democracy, it will likely follow a path similar to Orbán’s.” If you’ve been paying any attention the last five years, you know with 100 percent certainty that that’s exactly what white ethno-nationalists like Tucker, Donald Trump, and the modern GOP want. […]

    More at the link, including embedded links to material posted by Ishaan Tharoor, Zeeshan Aleem and Caleb Ecarma.

  156. says

    Republicans Loading ‘Bipartisan’ Infrastructure Bill With So Many Relevant Amendments In Such Good Faith! [/sarcasm]

    The bipartisan infrastructure bill is finally making its way through the Senate, but first it has to get through the process of voting on amendments — some of which actually may be useful, but many of which just reflect the GOP’s very important Culture War priorities, like an amendment by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) that would have restored funding for Donald Trump’s border wall. (It failed to get the 60 votes needed to pass, but the vote tally was 48-49.) [Yikes!]

    It’s not clear exactly how long the amendment process will go on; Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) wants to move the bill along efficiently, but Mitch McConnell (R-Roadblock) warned that if Schumer calls a vote to cut off debate too soon, then McConnell would whip Republicans to vote against cloture, potentially stripping away enough of the dozen or so GOP votes needed to pass the bill.

    […] The voting actually went on all night, but the most ridiculous moment (so far) came yesterday, when Pat Toomey (R-Pennsylvania) spoke against an amendment offered by Tammy Duckworth (D-Illinois) that he claimed was naught but politically correct wokeness. (Video is available at the link.)

    Toomey said he’s just fine with existing requirements that public transit agencies comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), because sure, bus, rail and subway stations should be accessible to all. […] the relevant line requires transit agencies to adopt plans that, in addition to maximizing accessibility and improve operations, would also

    address equity of service to all riders regardless of income, age, race, or ability, taking into account historical and current service gaps for low-income riders, older individuals, riders from communities of color, and riders with disabilities.

    To hear Toomey talk, you’d have thought Duckworth had called for the text of the 1619 Project to be painted on the side of every bus and subway car in America. He griped that Duckworth’s “woke planning mandate” had already been dropped from the first round of negotiations on the bill, and insisted it would amount to a “new federal race, age, and income equity mandate.”

    That nonsense was a rusted, pothole-riddled bridge too far for Toomey, who insisted,

    [This] is politically correct virtue signaling. This is people claiming that transit agencies are somehow racist and that we’ve got to — don’t know — we’ve got to make sure is that escalators are not racist!

    Worse, Toomey warned that the amendment would create new woke burdens for transit planners, because

    You could have bureaucracies here micromanaging who knows what — route planning, fare prices, frequency of service — out of some presumed systemic racism in transit agencies. If we adopted this, then decisions by transit agencies that should be guided by cost and ridership issues would end up be being influenced by wokism.

    Toomey wasn’t about to allow such slander on good decent Americans who run our transit agencies […] Because it could not be possible that poorer neighborhoods are not as well-served by transit as richer neighborhoods. […]

    Duckworth, clearly stunned by all that nonsense, replied that her amendment “is not racist,” and that it

    does not call any particular agency racist. […] My amendment simply ensures that recipients of these critical federal resources fully consider the goals and requirements of the [Americans with Disabilities Act] and develop a plan to maximize accessibility across their systems. This is common sense and good government.

    Duckworth’s amendment ultimately failed on a vote of 48 to 50, with Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) and Angus King (I-Maine) inexplicably voting against it.

    In other amendment fun, Joni Ernst has written up — but not yet actually introduced — an amendment designed to drag the sexual harassment charges against New York gov. Andrew Cuomo into the infrastructure debate, because that’s perfectly reasonable. Ernst’s proposed amendment would prohibit

    funding to go to any state in which the governor of such state has been found, by the relevant state or federal authorities, to have sexually harassed employees while holding the position of governor.

    […] The amendment process is expected to drag out for a bit longer as Schumer gauges just how much pointless delay will be enough for McConnell (other than “until the heat death of the universe”). It’s worth noting that the latest polling continues to show broad public support for both the narrow bipartisan infrastructure deal, […] get this thing done, please!

  157. says

    Quoted in Lynna’s #191:

    Last year, Hungary’s parliament, which has been effectively stolen by Orbán’s ruling party, voted to give Orbán the power to simply rule by decree. This was an actual tyrannical response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Measures targeting migrants and refugees (and those who help them) were portrayed as necessary, even praiseworthy actions…to prevent the Hungarian people from “dying out.”

    Hungary now has the second (only to Peru) highest number of COVID deaths per million in the world.

  158. says

    GOP lawyers face consequences over ‘frivolous’ election lawsuits

    While the failure of anti-election lawsuits was important, the fact that the dubious cases were filed in the first place remains relevant.

    […] in the wake of Donald Trump’s 2020 defeat, quite a few Republican lawyers filed strange lawsuits, making all kinds of bizarre claims related to the elections. Those cases, not surprisingly, failed.

    But while the failure of the lawsuits was important, the fact that the dubious cases were filed in the first place remains relevant — because lawyers who waste everyone’s time with baseless cases are supposed to face consequences.

    And with increasing frequency, they are. The Washington Post reported yesterday:

    A federal judge in Colorado has sanctioned two lawyers who filed a lawsuit challenging the 2020 election late last year, finding that the case was “frivolous,” “not warranted by existing law” and filed “in bad faith.” In a scathing 68-page opinion, Magistrate Judge N. Reid Neureiter found that the lawyers made little effort to corroborate information they had included in the suit, which argued there had been a vast national conspiracy to steal the election from former president Donald Trump.

    The lawyers in question — Gary D. Fielder and Ernest John Walker — alleged a bizarre plot in their lawsuit, involving election officials, Facebook, and Dominion Voting Systems, among others.

    Not surprisingly, the case was dismissed months ago, but yesterday’s developments focused on a necessary second step: Neureiter ordered the conspiracy-embracing lawyers to pay their many defendants’ legal fees. […] “Neureiter ordered the defendants to compile records showing how much time they had spent on the case and their typical billing rates to determine how much the two lawyers will owe.”

    […] “Albeit disorganized and fantastical, the Complaint’s allegations are extraordinarily serious and, if accepted as true by large numbers of people, are the stuff of which violent insurrections are made.”

    […] Fielder and Walker aren’t the only lawyers facing sanctions over ridiculous cases related to the 2020 presidential election.

    As we discussed a few weeks ago, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s (D) administration and the city of Detroit are currently seeking penalties against nine attorneys — a group that includes Trump allies Sidney Powell and L. Lin Wood — who filed anti-election case in December that Democrats believe was also filed “for an improper purpose.”

    […] U.S. District Judge Linda Parker has yet to rule on the matter, but during a recent hearing, she did not seem especially impressed with those responsible for filing bogus anti-election cases.

    All of this matters, of course, not only in the interest of accountability, but also to discourage future frivolous lawsuits in response to election results the GOP doesn’t like.

  159. says

    Democrats Call Republicans’ Bluff On Debt Ceiling As Dangerous Standoff Looms

    t’s that time of year again — when raising the debt ceiling, a critical legislative act that staves off full-scale economic catastrophe, becomes a high-stakes game of political chicken.

    Republicans hold the dubious honor of being the only party eager to play. Lawmakers from both parties occasionally used the process in the past to make a point or cast a symbolic no vote, but not in a way that would seriously risk letting the country default on its debts.

    That is, until 2011, just after Republicans had recaptured the House in the 2010 midterms. Congressional Republicans, many identifying with the Tea Party movement, refused to allow the standard increase in the debt ceiling. They demanded that then-President Barack Obama agree to spending cuts in exchange for their votes. Obama, blindsided by such an abjectly reckless tactic, agreed to negotiations.

    The crisis was eventually resolved, but not before major credit agencies actually downgraded the United States’ credit rating. The Republican hostage-taking — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) candidly characterized it as such at the time — dealt a blow to economic recovery after the Great Recession and dinged the United States’ reputation worldwide.

    And now, they may try it again.

    Republicans have been threatening to pull such a move for months. Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) proposed flirting with an international economic crisis to derail the Biden administration’s agenda back in April. Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) told reporters last month that some in his caucus are considering voting against raising the debt ceiling.

    McConnell, in a transparent bid to sink Democrats’ reconciliation package, said that no Republicans will vote to raise the debt ceiling supposedly out of disgust at the wave of new spending in the legislation, which only has Democratic support. So Democrats, McConnell suggested, are going to have to go ahead and do it themselves.

    […] McConnell said Thursday from the Senate floor. “They won’t get our help with the debt limit increase that these reckless plans will require.”

    The typical Republican concern about spending curiously only seems to arise when a Democrat occupies the White House — Republicans had no problem raising the debt ceiling multiple times under President Donald Trump without demanding any spending cuts in return.

    […] The Republican argument is so extreme as to be almost farcical: you Democrats are irresponsible if you don’t raise the debt ceiling yourselves, because otherwise, we may hold it hostage and ultimately maul both the U.S. and global economy.

    Democrats, unwilling to endanger the reconciliation package by giving their moderates a new reason to oppose it, said no.

    Instead, they’re reportedly planning to yoke it to a must-pass short-term spending bill in September, necessary to avert a government shutdown. The bill can be filibustered, meaning it will require 60 votes. At least 10 Republicans would have to be responsible enough to help avert economic disaster.

    It’s not clear if they will be — but the toll that political maneuver would exact is calamitous of historic proportions, not least while the COVID-19 pandemic continues to ravage wide swaths of the United States and world. […]

  160. says

    Quoted in Lynna’s #s 186 and :

    There is also a “Breaking Biden” title sequence, with the music and imagery taken from the AMC hit Breaking Bad, that features images of a crack pipe and of Hunter Biden smoking a cigarette. This is one of several mocking references to Hunter Biden’s struggle with addiction.

    Former President Trump on Thursday criticized an old target — the U.S. women’s national soccer team — by saying players would have won the gold medal and not the bronze at the Olympics if they weren’t “woke.”

    They’re so sick.

  161. says

    Podcast episodes (media edition):

    “‘Haiti Needs a New Narrative'”:

    In the wake of the assassination of Haiti’s President Jovenel Moïse on July 7th, international media rushed to cover Haiti’s latest political crisis—painting a familiar picture of a nation in turmoil, Haitians in need, and an international community offering rescue.

    In this week’s podcast extra, Nathalie Cerin, co-founder and lead editor of the online Haitian media project Woy Magazine, argues that news consumers just tuning in after the assassination after may miss the bigger picture. Haiti is a country with strong grassroots, pro-democracy movements. But it simultaneously remains plagued by a past (and present) of United States and United Nations’ invasion, occupation, and election meddling.

    To understand the whole story, guest host Brandy Zadrozny talks to Gina Athena Ulysse, Professor of Feminist Studies at UC Santa Cruz and author of Why Haiti Needs New Narratives, about how the international media too often spreads dehumanizing narratives of perpetual chaos — setting the stage for intervention — and then looks away.

    Citations Needed – “Ep 142: The Summer of Anti-BLM Backlash and How Concepts of ‘Crime’ Were Shaped By the Propertied Class”:

    “Concerns rising inside White House over surge in violent crime,” CNN tells us. “America’s Crime Surge: Why Violence Is Rising, And Solutions To Fix It,” proclaims NPR. “Officials worry the rise in violent crime portends a bloody summer,” reports The Washington Post. Over and over this summer we have heard – and will no doubt continue to hear – the scourge of rising crime is the most urgent issue on voters’ minds. Setting aside the way media coverage itself shape public opinion, the rising murder rates in urban areas is indeed very real and its victims disproportionately Black and Latino. In response, like clockwork, Democrats and Democratic Party-aligned media have allied with conservatives and right-wing media are rehashing the same tired responses: more police, longer sentences, and tougher laws. But this time, they assure us it will be different: it won’t be racist and overly punitive. Instead, in addition to the return of 1990s Tough On Crime formula. we will get enough nebulous reforms and anti-bias training that it will somehow be enlightened and consistent with the demands of Black Lives Matter. But everything we know about the past 50 years tells us this will not be true. Indeed, if more policing and prisons solved crime, the United States would be the safest country on Earth, but, of course, it is not. According to The American Journal of Medicine, compared to 22 other high-income nations, the United States’ gun-related murder rate is 25 times higher despite imprisoning people at rates 5-10 times what other rich nations do. So why do lawmakers and the media always reach for the same so-called “solutions” when it comes to crime? What are the assumptions that inform how we respond to an increase in homicides and other violent crime? How can the wealthiest nation in the world throw billions of dollars, more police, longer sentences, and tougher prosecutors at our high murder rates only to continue to wildly outpacing the rest of the so-called developed world on this, the most urgent of metrics? On this episode, we explore the origins of “crime,” what crimes we consider noteworthy and which are ignored, how property rights and white supremacy informed the crime we center in our media, how the crimes of poverty, environmental destruction, wage theft, and discrimination are relegated to the arena of tort, with its gentle fines and drawn out lawsuits – while petty theft and drug use results in long prison sentences. We’ll study how these bifurcations inform both media accounts of crime and how we respond with more police, and longer sentences the second we are faced with so-called crime waves. Our guests are Civil Rights Corps’ Alec Karakatsanis and sociologist Tamara K. Nopper.

  162. says

    One more podcast – SWAJ – “Ex-Evangelical Apologetics: ‘Racism is a Heart Issue’ + ‘Not of This World'”:

    Brad addresses two common refrains about racism and social issues–the “racism is a heart issue” response and the “not of this world” response. He shows how when Evangelicals hold power, they turn to individualist responses to issues like race and guns. They don’t want the systems changed, so the response is to turn it into a changing hearts for God issue. When they have lost the power, they do everything possible to elect their candidates, change laws, and get the power back. It’s an offense-defense strategy.

    I think I see now why the March episode @ #72 popped into my feed. It was likely because of the documentary that just started airing on Netflix, “Pray Away”:

    In the 1970s, five men struggling with being gay in their Evangelical church started a Bible study to help each other leave the “homosexual lifestyle.” They quickly received over 25,000 letters from people asking for help and formalized as Exodus International, the largest and most controversial conversion therapy organization in the world.

    But leaders struggled with a secret: their own “same-sex attractions” never went away. After years as superstars in the religious right, many of these men and women have come out as LGBTQ, disavowing the very movement they helped start. Focusing on the dramatic journeys of former conversion therapy leaders, current members, and a survivor, PRAY AWAY chronicles the “ex gay” movement’s rise to power, its unscientific influence, and its legacy of profound harm.

    Didn’t get a great review in the Guardian, but I think it’s totally worthwhile.

  163. Akira MacKenzie says

    “If America ceases to be a democracy, it will likely follow a path similar to Orbán’s.” If you’ve been paying any attention the last five years, you know with 100 percent certainty that that’s exactly what white ethno-nationalists like Tucker, Donald Trump, and the modern GOP want. […]”

    And what do the Democrats and “mainstream center-liberals” going to do stop this? Wave more signs? Wear pink pussy hats? Hope they never lose another election (they aren’t very good at that one)?

  164. says

    Guardian:

    “Climate crisis: Scientists spot warning signs of Gulf Stream collapse”:

    Climate scientists have detected warning signs of the collapse of the Gulf Stream, one of the planet’s main potential tipping points.

    The research found “an almost complete loss of stability over the last century” of the currents that researchers call the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC). The currents are already at their slowest point in at least 1,600 years, but the new analysis shows they may be nearing a shutdown.

    Such an event would have catastrophic consequences around the world, severely disrupting the rains that billions of people depend on for food in India, South America and West Africa; increasing storms and lowering temperatures in Europe; and pushing up the sea level in t4he eastern North America. It would also further endanger the Amazon rainforest and Antarctic ice sheets.

    The complexity of the AMOC system and uncertainty over levels of future global heating make it impossible to forecast the date of any collapse for now. It could be within a decade or two, or several centuries away. But the colossal impact it would have means it must never be allowed to happen, the scientists said.

    “The signs of destabilisation being visible already is something that I wouldn’t have expected and that I find scary,” said Niklas Boers, from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany, who did the research. “It’s something you just can’t [allow to] happen.”

    It is not known what level of CO2 would trigger an AMOC collapse, he said. “So the only thing to do is keep emissions as low as possible. The likelihood of this extremely high-impact event happening increases with every gram of CO2 that we put into the atmosphere”.

    Scientists are increasingly concerned about tipping points – large, fast and irreversible changes to the climate….

    The world may already have crossed a series of tipping points, according to a 2019 analysis, resulting in “an existential threat to civilisation”. A major report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, due on Monday, is expected to set out the worsening state of the climate crisis….

    (“The AMOC is driven by dense, salty seawater sinking into the Arctic ocean…”

    Obviously, I’m very concerned about my relatives. ;))

    “Olympic athletes and volunteers in Tokyo ‘tortured’ by hottest Games ever”:

    Olympic athletes and volunteers in Tokyo are being “tortured” by dangerous heat, meteorologists have said, as the hottest Games in history puts pressure on organisers to rethink the future of sport in a climate-disrupted world.

    Temperatures hit 34C in the Japanese capital on Thursday with humidity of nearly 70%. Athletes and sports scientists say the combination of heat and moisture has led to “brutal” conditions that must be avoided at future events.

    This could limit the range for endurance sports in terms of geography, season and time of day. Pressure will grow for big events to be moved to cooler seasons, higher latitudes, morning and evenings. Many elite athletes, like many specialist species, will see their habitat shrink….

    Much more at both links.

  165. says

    Here’s a link to the August 5 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    From there:

    Japan to expand Covid curbs amid ‘unprecedented’ surge in infections

    Japan decided on Thursday to expand its Covid-19 emergency restrictions to cover more than 70% of the population, as a surge in cases strains the medical system in the Olympics host city Tokyo and elsewhere, Reuters reports.

    Infections are rising faster than ever as new cases hit record highs in Tokyo, overshadowing the Olympics and fuelling doubts over the prime minister Yoshihide Suga’s handling of the pandemic.

    Suga announced the new steps as new daily cases in Tokyo were expected to top 5,000 for the first time and advisers to the capital said the figure could double in two weeks at the current rate, NHK public TV reported.

    “New infections are rising at an unprecedentedly fast pace,” the economy minister, Yasutoshi Nishimura, told a panel of experts, where he proposed “quasi-emergency” steps for eight more of Japan’s 47 prefectures.

    “The situation on the ground [at hospitals] is extremely severe,” Nishimura added, noting that serious cases had doubled in the past two weeks.

    The panel signed off on the proposal, but Nishimura told a news conference some members had warned the situation was severe enough to require a nationwide state of emergency – a stance shared by the head of the Japan Medical Association.

    Six prefectures including Tokyo are already under full states of emergency to last until 31 August. Another five are under less strict directives, meaning just over half the population is covered by some restrictions.

    The latest steps, to take effect from Sunday, mean that more than 70% of the population will be under some form of restriction.

    The government says the Olympics has not caused the latest surge but experts say holding the Games now has sent a mixed message to an already weary public about the need to stay home.

    Games organisers on Thursday reported 31 new Games-related cases, bringing the total since 1 July to 353.

    It remains to be seen whether the latest restrictions, which are mostly voluntary, will have much impact as the highly transmissible Delta variant spreads.

    “I do not think that more [quasi-emergency steps] will make much difference – [it’s] simply a political statement,” said Kenji Shibuya, former director of the Institute for Population Health at King’s College London.

    The latest expansion follows a sharp backlash against Suga’s plan to limit hospitalisation of patients with Covid to those who are seriously ill and those at risk of becoming so, while others are told to isolate at home.

    The shift is intended to address a hospital bed crunch, but critics say it will lead to an increase in deaths since the condition of patients can worsen rapidly.

    In response to calls from within and outside his ruling coalition to reverse the policy, Suga told reporters on Wednesday that the change was aimed at regions with a surge in cases, such as Tokyo, and was not nationally uniform.

    On Thursday, he appeared to backpedal further, saying moderately ill patients in need of oxygen treatment would be admitted to hospital.

    Criticism of Suga, his ratings already at record lows, is growing over his handling of the pandemic, dealing a fresh blow to the premier ahead of a ruling party leadership race and general election later this year.

    Just under 31% of residents of Japan are fully vaccinated. With 15,221 deaths recorded as of Wednesday, the Covid mortality rate was about 1.6%, in line with the United States.

  166. snarkrates says

    Yeah, word is that the latest update from the IPCC will simply say:
    “We dicked around for 40 years. We are SOOOOO fucked.”

  167. says

    Guardian Today in Focus podcast – “Why a Belarusian Olympic sprinter refused to fly home”:

    When the Belarus sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya criticised her coaches for entering her ‘behind [her] back’ in the 4x400m relay event at the Tokyo Olympics, she set off a chain of events that quickly went beyond her control. On Sunday, she was removed from the team and driven to the airport by officials. But Tsimanouskaya refused to board the flight back to Minsk and sought Japanese police protection.

    The Guardian’s Andrew Roth tells Rachel Humphreys that this sporting disagreement quickly became political and Tsimanouskaya had little option but to seek refuge outside of Belarus. Now she has flown from Tokyo to Vienna after being granted humanitarian assistance by Poland. Her husband, Arseniy Zdanevich, fled Belarus for Ukraine on Sunday.

    The incident in Tokyo made global headlines and was followed this week by news that Vitaly Shishov, the head of a Kyiv-based non-profit organisation that helps Belarusians fleeing persecution, had been found dead in a park in the Ukrainian capital. There are suspicions that he may have been murdered.

    On Tuesday Boris Johnson met the Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya to tell her the UK is on the side of those trying to bring down the tyrannical regime led by Alexander Lukashenko.

    BBC – “Russian gay family flees to Spain after threats”:

    A Russian lesbian family who featured in a controversial health food ad say they have left Russia after suffering online abuse and death threats.

    The mother, Yuma, said on Instagram “we’re safe, we’re resting”.

    The family were targeted in a hate campaign after appearing in an ad for grocery chain VkusVill. The firm later apologised and replaced the photo with one of a heterosexual family.

    Yuma’s daughter Mila wrote in an online post that they are now in Barcelona.

    Both Yuma and her oldest daughter Alina are in same-sex relationships.

    Mila said “now my family and I really need to get settled in Barcelona, these are not easy times for us and we need friends”.

    Yuma’s post showed herself and family members looking happy in a park with palm trees, and waving a rainbow LGBT flag.

    She thanked their social media followers who had supported them, and said fleeing the Russian hate campaign had left them shaken.

    “This was a tough ordeal for all of us, we’re all in a fragile psychological state,” she said.

    A later post shows them in what appears to be a metro station in Barcelona, with Yuma’s caption explaining that they had to leave Russia “so that my daughter could marry her girlfriend”. Yuma voiced her own pain at having been rejected by her parents “because I’m a lesbian”.

    “In Russia we’re denied the basic right to have a family. No matter who we are, we should all have that right!”

    Last month VkusVill apologised after its original ad, showing the same-sex family, had triggered strong reactions on social media.

    “There was an article here that hurt the feelings of many of our customers, staff, partners and suppliers,” the organic health food chain said. [Assholes, the whole sorry lot.]

    A 2013 law in Russia – widely condemned in the West – bans any promotion of gay values and lifestyles to minors.

    Homophobia is widespread in Russia, where many supporters of President Vladimir Putin and the Russian Orthodox Church identify LGBT+ activists with Western liberal values, seen as contrary to Russian tradition.

    In a YouTube interview, recorded just before their departure, the family described the hate campaign directed against them. They spoke to YouTuber Karen Shainyan, who discusses LGBT issues on his channel.

    Yuma said “I was just knocked back by comments to my granddaughter, where some people wrote that they wanted to rape her, kill her, stab a child who is just sitting and smiling in the photograph”. She added: “I’m most afraid for my granddaughter.”

    She said they had experienced previous homophobic attacks, including ones targeting the Bok o Bok (side by side) LGBT international film festival in Russia.

    “In Moscow it was hell, there was an ambush, some chemicals were thrown at our volunteers,” she said, referring to Bok o Bok.

  168. blf says

    Grrrrr! I decided to pop out to a decent local bar tonight (probably for a nice rum) but… As in many S.France (coastal?) villages, there is Summer Tourist Trap Nightly Market. With, tonight, lots of people. NONE of whom were wearing masks or practicing any form of social distancing. I didn’t even see many masks at all, not hooked around elbows, ears, wrists, under chins, as blindfolds or bras, very very few, and I was the only one actually wearing one (except for the various bar, restaurant, etc., servers, albeit not all of them were wearing their (mandatory) masks correctly). Arrive at the bar, only to find they have live music tonight (sounded like a decent jazz band) and were absolutely packed with no obvious pandemic precautions. Feck that. Quick check at another nearby bar (also with excellent rums), and whilst the customers were safely distanced (mostly due to the large terrace and limited seating), it was full. Grrrrrr… So stomp back home, pour myself a rum (Eminente (Cuba)), and Grrrrr a lot. Grrrrr. Grrrr, grrrr, and a Grrrr. Grrrrrrr!!!1!

  169. says

    BBC – “Covid vaccine refuser died after terrible mistake, says partner”:

    A man who died with Covid after refusing to be vaccinated made a “terrible mistake” which put his family at risk, his partner has said.

    Leslie Lawrenson, 58, died at his home in Bournemouth, Dorset, on 2 July.

    His partner Amanda Mitchell, 56, who was seriously ill with Covid at the same time, said he thought the vaccines were too “experimental”.

    She told the Stephen Nolan programme on BBC Radio 5 live: “I feel incredibly foolish. Les died unnecessarily.”

    Ms Mitchell said her partner, a Cambridge University graduate, decided against having a coronavirus jab after reading material on social media.

    She said: “It was a daily thing that he said to us: ‘You don’t need to have it, you’ll be fine, just be careful.’

    “He said to me: ‘It’s a gene thing, an experimental thing. You’re putting something in your body that hasn’t been thoroughly tested.’

    “Les was highly educated… so if he told me something, I tended to believe it.”

    Ms Mitchell, who has diabetes and hypertension, said her partner appeared to be recovering from Covid-related pneumonia while she became seriously ill.

    She said paramedics who attended her at home on 2 July were called back 10 minutes later when her 19-year-old son found Mr Lawrenson dead in bed.

    She said: “Les made a terrible mistake and he’s paid the ultimate price for that.”

    Ms Mitchell was admitted to hospital the same day and spent a week on a Covid ward.

    She said she felt foolish for putting her daughter and older son at risk when they came to help to care for the couple’s 11-year-old son.

    Daughter Carla Hodges, 35, said: “[Leslie] was so brainwashed by the stuff that he was seeing on YouTube and social media.

    “He said: ‘A lot of people will die more from having the vaccine than getting Covid.'”

    Ms Mitchell said she would be having the vaccine as soon as doctors declared her fit enough.

  170. says

    Vice – “Unvaxxed COVID Patient Posts Videos from ICU Begging People to Get the Shot”:

    In a recent video Travis Campbell posted to Facebook, he’s breathing heavily with the help of an oxygen mask. You can see the machine showing his vital signs visible in the background.

    “Hey, everybody,” the 43-year-old says with a wave, pausing between sentences with short, laborious breaths. “Made it through the night. It was a long one.”

    Campbell, his wife, and two of his children came down with COVID-19 last month, his wife told NBC News earlier this week. While he told VICE News that the rest of his family is “improving with minimal setbacks, thankfully,” the Bristol, Virginia, man wasn’t so lucky. He was admitted to the hospital on July 25, the same day he posted on Facebook that he had “never been this sick in my life!!”

    On Monday, he was moved to the intensive care unit.

    Since he was admitted to the hospital, Campbell has been posting videos to Facebook nearly every day documenting his illness—and begging people to get the vaccine. Campbell was unvaccinated. The people “pushing opinions and agendas are nowhere to be seen while you lay here gasping for your last breath like a fish out of water,” he told VICE News in a Facebook message Thursday.

    Campbell directs his videos at unvaccinated people, warning them what might happen if they contract the illness without being inoculated. “This Delta strain is something else,” he said in a video earlier this week. “I want to ask you: If you thought that you had to sit down and plan your goodbyes and funeral or go get the COVID vaccine, what would you do?”

    “It’s a sobering thought of which I have done,” he added. “I have planned.”

    Campbell said he had felt getting the vaccine wasn’t necessary because in the winter of 2020, before coronavirus was widespread, a “very strong virus” went around his family. “It resembled COVID, and the common thought was we already had it and won’t catch it again,” Campbell told VICE News. “Then it started dying out, so we thought it was going away, so [there was] no pressure to vaccinate.”

    “During all the political agendas and conspiracies, you become numb and don’t watch news,” he added. “These are the reasons I felt that aided me in making poor decisions not to protect my family and I with a vaccine.”

    While over half of Virginians are fully vaccinated, the southwest part of the state has a much lower vaccination rate than Richmond or the D.C. suburbs in the north. Roughly 43 percent of Bristol residents have received one vaccine dose, according to the state’s COVID-19 dashboard.

    The emergence of the highly transmissible Delta variant of the virus has highlighted the disparities in vaccination rates across the country; the national average vaccination rate is 50 percent, but all of the 50 worst-hit counties in the U.S. right now are well below that benchmark, according to the New York Times and the Georgia Department of Public Health.

    While vaccination does not protect entirely against catching or transmitting the virus, it does dramatically decrease the incidence of serious illness such as the one Campbell is fighting now….

    Campbell started imploring his Facebook friends to get the vaccine the day he went into the hospital, and in just over a week and a half he’s already made an impact. Campbell said “hundreds of people” have messaged him to tell him they’re getting vaccinated; one post has a screenshot of a message a pharmacist sent to Campbell’s wife, in which the pharmacist says they’ve “had a bunch of people come in for the COVID vaccine because they know Travis or your family or saw his story on the news.”

    As for his own situation, Campbell said Thursday morning that he was tired and his oxygen was thin. He’s currently on a ventilator and chest tube, and doctors say one of his lungs has partially collapsed, but they’re “hopeful,” he told VICE….

  171. John Morales says

    re #210, 211. Yeah, but.

    https://slate.com/technology/2021/07/immanuel-pfeiffer-smallpox-antivaxxer-covid-vaccines-history.html

    Short excerpt:

    This was a week for these kinds of stories to circulate, as the delta variant has surged and it became clear that, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Dr. Rochelle Walensky said at the White House, “this is becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated.” These stories, which I’ve come to think of as Fables of the Sick Anti-Vaxxer, are familiar from past battles over vaccination.

    [..]

    And so even this [here elided] extreme example of the Fable of the Sick Anti-Vaxxer didn’t seem to have the effect authorities thought it would. The day after this fable hit the press, the health department made a vaccination sweep through Boston and “met with but little objection”; “the case of Dr. Pfeiffer had helped their cause immediately.” Medical journals argued that the case had been an “object lesson” that had helped the cause of vaccination. But when the vaccinators went back to knocking on doors a couple of weeks later, after the public learned about Pfeiffer’s survival, they had less luck. And other anti-vaccinationists refused to acknowledge this episode as a blow to their cause, saying that this was just one anecdote, that Durgin should have been more careful, and that the childhood vaccination Pfeiffer had 60 years prior meant that he actually was immunized, and therefore his illness was proof that vaccination didn’t work. In the end, Walloch argues, the episode was not quite the magic bullet of persuasion that Durgin hoped for. Even the anti-vaxxer’s sickness meant different things to different people.

  172. says

    One more podcast episode today!

    Jacobin Radio – “A World to Win: The Right to Roam w/ Nick Hayes”:

    This week, Grace speaks to Nick Hayes, author of The Book of Trespass: Crossing the Lines that Divide Us. They discuss the radical history of English trespassers, how the enclosure of common land formed the foundations of English capitalism, and how we can fight to enforce our rights to the commons and our right to roam against the Conservatives’ assault on our basic freedoms.

    Fascinating. Pairs nicely with Imperial nostalgia: How the British conquered themselves:

    A strong emotional attachment to the memory of empire runs deep in British culture. In recent years, that memory has become a battleground in a long-drawn ideological war, inflecting debates on race, class, gender, culture, the UK’s future and its place in the world. This provocative and passionate book surveys the scene of the imperial memory wars in contemporary Britain, exploring how the myths that structure our views of empire came to be, and how they inform the present. Taking in such diverse subjects as Rory Stewart and inter-war adventure fiction, man’s facial hair and Kipling, the Alt-right and the Red Wall, Imperial Nostalgia asks how our relationship with our national past has gone wrong, and how it might be improved.

  173. says

    John Morales @ #212, not sure exactly what your point (other than the usual trolling) is. That seems like a very specific case and different from those I’ve shared in a number of ways, including:

    Samuel Holmes Durgin, the chairman of the Boston Board of Health, dared the doctor to expose himself to smallpox, unvaccinated.

    And yes—Pfeiffer lived. Not only that, he refused even to acknowledge that the experience had been a negative one, saying “the disease of smallpox, dreadful as it is said to be, never caused me pain for one minute.” And he still wouldn’t admit that vaccines worked.

    They conclude:

    I think it’s clear that these new fables will only be as useful as we let them. It’s difficult to be kind, when our fragile hopes for some post-pandemic normalcy seem to be falling apart due to other people’s refusal to get vaccinated. But the Fable of the Sick Anti-Vaxxer—a story aimed at the hesitant, from somebody who once thought as they did [note that the story they provide isn’t this at all]—may work best when we, the vaccinated, just let it sit, and resist the temptation to gloat.

    In the articles I linked to, survivors of the victims and the sufferers themselves are the ones calling on people to get vaccinated, and the passage I highlighted @ #211 suggests it’s having an effect.

  174. says

    More re #213 – Guardian review – “The Book of Trespass by Nick Hayes review – a trespasser’s radical manifesto”:

    …Summarising English property law, from the first Act of Enclosure in 1235 to the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act of 2005, Hayes persuasively implicates the country’s large private estates – and the very notion of such large-scale exclusive land ownership – in the nation’s foundational evils. “Race, class, gender, health, income are all divisions imposed upon society by the power that operates on it,” he writes. “If this power is sourced in property, then the fences that divide England are not just symbols of the partition of people, but the very cause of it.” To peer through these palings is to gaze into the country’s dark heart: on the other side, ordinarily hidden from public view, is a scene of vampiric exploitation sustained by a quasi-religious belief in the sanctity of private space.

    …Alongside its heroes – Roger Deakin, National Trust founder Octavia Hill, the Greenham Common women and the Sheffield Tree protestors – is a cast of millionaire villains. As well as Dacre, there is the heinous barricader of public footpaths Nicholas van Hoogstraten, various Tory duckhouse-builders, and the “current MP for South Dorset and serial hoarder of syllables, Richard Grosvenor Plunkett-Ernle-Erle-Drax”, whose vast Charborough estate was founded on his ancestors’ slave wealth….

    Only as the book moves towards its conclusion does it become clear that the real value of all these trespasses lies not so much in the thrill of “transgression” or their insights into a sequestered geography, but the effect they have cumulatively of lifting the spell of private ownership from land that is, rightfully, our common inheritance, and whose seizure continues to impoverish us all. “The land is awakening,” Hayes writes at the end. He has picked apart the meaning of “trespass” and brilliantly redefined it as an act of solidarity.

  175. blf says

    Another deranged opinion column in the WSJ (yeah, yeah, I know, “WSJ opinion” and “deranged” are essentially tautological), Fauci and the CDC Undermined Public Trust:

    When clear evidence is lacking, they project their own Covid speculations as authoritative scientific judgments.

    […]

    More recent vacillation includes ever-changing advice on masks, a re-evaluation of the lab-leak theory, the confidence-undermining pause on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, and now encouraging alarmism with misleading claims about the number of Delta variant breakthrough cases. Despite this stream of inconsistent messages, these public-health authorities are routinely invoked by journalists and social-media fact checkers as the standard against which “Covid misinformation” is to be judged.

    A year and a half of placing political expediency over scientific accuracy has taken its toll on the public. By failing to acknowledge the limitations of their own knowledge and [… rest is behind a paywall –blf]

  176. raven says

    There are now numerous reports from Idaho, Florida and elsewhere that the Delta variant is hitting children much harder than the previous viruses.
    It is not clear whether this is just because more children are infected or if the virus is more pathogenic. It could be both.
    This is ominous for the 2021 Fall school year though.
    States like Florida have rather stupidly prohibited mask requirements in schools.
    That is a good way to fill up the pediatric ICU’s again.

    ‘A cautionary tale’: Louisiana doctors face a different COVID-19 surge
    Brad Brooks Thu, August 5, 2021, 4:09 PM· Reuters
    “EVERYBODY IS AT CAPACITY”

    One of the alarming aspects of the latest Delta variant surge is its impact on children and teens, who were believed to be at low risk earlier in the pandemic.

    COVID-19 patients filled every bed in the ICU at the Children’s Hospital in New Orleans was full this week. Doctors and public health leaders said they are increasingly seeing seriously ill patients who are younger and who had no underlying health condition to make them more susceptible. Two-thirds of hospitalized children are too young to qualify for any vaccine.

    Across Ochsner Health, the largest non-profit healthcare provider in Louisiana, the positivity rates for people 19 and under hit nearly 24% this week. That’s up from 3.5% in late June.

  177. raven says

    Idaho Sees Surge in Covid-19 Infections in Babies and Toddlershttps://www.bloomberg.com › news › articles › idaho-s…

    3 days ago — Idaho is suffering a surge in Covid-19 infections among babies and toddlers, prompting an urgent call for un-vaccinated adults to get jabs …

    Idaho is another example.
    The Delta virus is not just hitting children here but babies and toddlers.

  178. says

    Here’s a link to the August 6 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    From there:

    England R-value drops to 0.8-1.1, down from week before

    The estimated Covid-19 reproduction “R” number in England has dropped sharply and could be below one, Public Health England has said, implying cases might no longer be growing exponentially as they fall away from a peak hit in mid-July.

    The estimated R value range was 0.8 to 1.1, compared with 1.1 to 1.4 last week. That means that for every 10 people infected, they will on average infect between 8 and 11 other people, Reuters reports.

    The estimated daily growth rate range was -3% to +1%, compared with estimated growth of between +2% to +5% each day reported last week.

    St Vincent and the Grenadines PM hit during anti-vaccine mandate protest

    The St Vincent and the Grenadines prime minister has been admitted to hospital after reportedly being hit in the head by a stone at a protest against a proposed vaccine mandate.

    Ralph Gonsalves’ car was surrounded by about 200 demonstrators yesterday as he arrived at parliament where lawmakers were to debate a bill mandating frontline public-sector workers to be vaccinated against Covid.

    The 74-year-old got out and made to walk to the building on foot but was hit just above the temple by the projectile, his office said.

    They added he was “recuperating under the care of hospital staff” after he was seen with paper towels pressed against his head and wearing a bloody shirt. He is now set to be flown to Barbados for an MRI scan.

    The island chain, population 110,000, has had relatively few coronavirus cases. It has recorded 2,298 coronavirus cases and 12 deaths since the pandemic began, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University.

  179. says

    Jared Yates Sexton:

    Ah, nice. Tucker Carlson just told his audience if Orbán loses reelection that it might be because Biden interfered with the election.

    Great. All this is just great.

    None of this is concerning at all. It’s totally normal for an American TV host who spends every night spreading conspiracy theories to go to an authoritarian, shine his shoes, and tell a base calling for elections to be overturned that they should embrace authoritarianism.

  180. Rob Grigjanis says

    SC @221: In the shoot out, I think Steph Labbé’s smile unnerved the Swedish penalty takers. Canada, way to go, eh.

  181. blf says

    Liberty Counsel Official Calls COVID-19 Vaccines a Crime Against Humanity:

    [… The dumbest lawyer not named Larry Klayman or Orly Taitz,] Mat Staver is waging a relentless public relations and legal campaign against the COVID-19 vaccines and against any moves by private or government employers to require employees to be vaccinated.

    [… some past examples…]

    Staver portrays the federal vaccine strategy as a conspiracy to impose tyranny. In a July 29 appearance […] — promoted with the title, What can you do to push back against Covidstan? — Staver claimed that they were using the pandemic to take our freedom away, claiming that they crushed information on hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin because they wanted to create this emergency to create a shot to create control by the vaccine passport.

    Staver wrote to Liberty Counsel supporters on Monday asking for money to support litigation to challenge the Biden administration’s announcement that Veterans Affairs and federal government employees would be required to get a vaccine. Claiming that his phone is ringing off the hook with desperate pleas for help from people whose employers or schools are requiring them to get vaccinated, Staver is asking supporters to send Liberty Counsel $75 so it can send a fax in their name to every congressional urging members of Congress to oppose mandatory COVID injections, vaccine passports, and tracing apps.

    Staver fills his emails and media appearances with anecdotes about people he claims were seriously injured by one of the COVID-19 vaccines. Previously he claimed that the vaccines are killing more people every day than the 9/11 attacks did. […]

    […]

    Viewers unfamiliar with Staver and wondering how much credence to give his commentary on COVID-19 vaccines may want to consider Staver’s wildly false claims about the Equality Act, which would protect Americans against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, but which Staver claims would force religious schools to hire pedophiles and goat lovers.

  182. tomh says

    Friday, August 06, 2021
    6th Circuit En Banc Upholds Tennessee Abortion Waiting Period

    In a 9-7 en banc decision in Bristol Regional Women’s Center, P.C. v. Slatery, the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Tennessee’s 48-hour waiting period for abortions. Judge Thapar’s majority opinion concluded:

    …The law is supported by a rational basis, and it is not a substantial obstacle to abortion for a large fraction of women seeking previability abortions in Tennessee….

    The primary dissenting opinion was written by Judge Moore, who said in part:

    Rather than plunge into the vast pool of evidence compiled in the district court … the majority dips a toe and recoils. Speaking vaguely of “inconveniences,”… “logistical challenges,” … and “increased costs,”… but shirking the specifics that the district court explored in exhaustive depth, the majority improvises a sanitized account of the record free of uncomfortable realities. In whitewashing the record, the majority has crystalized what has been clear at least since it agreed to hear this case initially en banc without a principled basis: this case was dead on arrival…. An honest look at the record compels but one conclusion: a law that peddles in stigma, forces women into unnecessary and invasive surgical procedures, and forces low-income women to sacrifice basic necessities for themselves and their families in order to obtain an abortion is nothing if not an undue burden…

    The Hill reports on the decision.

  183. says

    To please Hair Furor, you not only need to be loyal to him—you also have to be loyal to the dumbasses who are loyal to him.

    Trump issued this written statement:

    Do you think Rand Paul will apologize for spending nearly $1 Million on another candidate in Ohio’s 15th District congressional race after I had already endorsed Mike Carey? … Rand’s candidate came in a distant third out of eleven. Rand is a different kind of guy…. Do you think he learned his lesson?

    Commentary:

    […] He gets to pick the candidates; his endorsement must be paramount; his preferences must be honored above others’. The job of other Republicans is to smile, nod, and do what the former president says they should do.

    Trump’s authoritarian instincts in governing are well known, but no one should forget that he brings a similar style to his role as the effective head of the contemporary Republican Party.

    Link

  184. raven says

    Some Florida School Districts Will Require Masks. The Governor May Cut Their Funding
    August 6, 20216:00 AM ET JOE HERNANDEZ NPR

    A battle is brewing in Florida over whether students will have to wear masks when they return to the classroom this fall.

    Several Florida school districts are keeping their mask mandates in place for the upcoming school year, despite an executive order by Gov. Ron DeSantis that leaves it up to parents to decide whether their children wear face coverings in school. School boards that don’t eliminate mask mandates could face the loss of state funding.

    Florida is having a record breaking wave of Covid-19 virus cases. Their pediatric ICU’s are full of sick children. Governor DeSantis is doing everything he can to make it worse.

    DeSantis isn’t an expert on children, education, viruses, medicine, epidemiology, or much of anything. This says a lot about Florida and the people who elected him.

  185. says

    Josh Marshall:

    There was a heated school board meeting last night down in Buncombe County, North Carolina, which includes Asheville. The topic was a new mask mandate for the county’s schools. But it’s a targeted one: the board voted to mandate masking for those who don’t show proof of vaccination. The vote was 4 to 2 in favor. Protesters insisted that this constituted dictatorship if the board didn’t agree to vote again.

    But that wasn’t the end of it. The meeting attracted a pride of feral Trumpers who tried to disrupt it and pushed all sort of conspiracy theories about like “the fake vaccine is the plandemic.”

    You can see one of the outbursts here. [video available at the link]

    […] apparently got a bit too raucous and the board adjourned and left the hall. At this point some of the Trumpers decided that the 4-2 vote constituted a “dictatorship” and proceeded to “overthrow” the board and elect themselves the new board in place of them. “They acted as a dictatorship, and so therefore, the people then take it into our own hands to abolish that governance and reelect new members right then and there,” […]

    Off to the side the school board’s lawyer made clear that’s actually not how this works and the school board remains the school board.

    In any case, what interested me here is that local Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R) gave an impassioned speech on behalf of the protesters (a.k.a., the new, faux board). “You have muzzled [parents’] voices,” said Cawthorn, “just as you have muzzled our children. You passed this mask mandate without input from those who hold you accountable because you knew it was wrong. You knew it would never withstand the scrutiny of the public. I’ve witnessed swampy backdoor tactics from corrupt bureaucrats in Washington D.C., but what you have done here puts that all to shame.”

    What’s not clear to me is to what extent Cawthorn involved himself in the faux-revolutionary cosplay and overthrow. […]

    Anyway, I’m still trying to understand just how Cawthorn was related to the “overthrow” if he was and what role he played in the whole dustup.

  186. says

    Oh, FFS.

    Fast-Tracked Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill Passage Derailed By Single Senator’s Fit Of Budget Hawkery

    Thursday evening, a giddy possibility reared its head.

    Could the bipartisan infrastructure plan actually pass … tonight? After months of fits and starts, near-deaths, resurrections born from flurries of calls and, apparently, exclusive cook-outs on Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-WV) houseboat, payfor meltdowns and about six solid weeks of Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) telling reporters that it was just about finished — could the whole thing really be wrapped up in a few short hours?

    […] Senate leadership proposed the fast-tracked scheme Thursday — a process called “hotlining” — that required all 100 senators to agree to sprint through around 16 amendment votes and secure a final vote that night. That meant that just one obstinate senator could derail the plan.

    […] Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-TN), a freshman and former ambassador to Japan during the Trump administration, lodged an objection. [statement available at the link]

    We are left to assume that Hagerty spent the duration of the Trump administration, for which he worked, gnashing his teeth and rending his garments at the unaccounted-for spending that added an eye-popping $7.8 trillion to the national debt during those four years.

    Hagerty’s opposition won’t actually derail the infrastructure package — he was not expected to vote for the bill anyway, and had voted against a move to advance it last week unlike 17 of his GOP colleagues. Instead, his performance will just keep things moving at a crawl.

    Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) filed cloture late Thursday night, meaning it’ll take a day to “ripen” — I swear I’m not making this up — and slate the key cloture vote for Saturday. That’ll really be the determinative moment where 10 Republicans will need to join Democrats (if no Democrats defect) to overcome the 60-vote threshold and move the bill toward passage. From there, it’s smooth sailing as the final vote only requires a simple majority.

    Increasingly cranky senators also spent Thursday night trying to hammer out a final few amendment disagreements, which gummed up the works.

    Now all eyes turn to Saturday, when hopefully no senators have vacations already booked.

    “We have been trying to vote on amendments all day but have encountered numerous objections from the other side,” Schumer prickled at around midnight. “However, we very much want to finish this important bill, so we will reconvene Saturday at noon.”

  187. blf says

    The Onion, Man Hides Under Bed, Covers Mouth As Enormous Delta Variant Virus Tears Through House:

    Awaking with a jolt to the sound of the enraged virus rampaging around his kitchen, local man Chris Turner reportedly hid under his bed and covered his mouth in terror Thursday as an enormous Delta coronavirus variant tore through his house. [… A panicked Turner] held his breath beneath his bed frame and watched helplessly as the gargantuan virus ripped through his belongings, tearing shelves out of his closet and throwing his dresser against the wall before pausing over his mattress and using its five-inch-long spike proteins to sniff for blood. “Don’t panic, don’t panic. Maybe if I just stay very quiet, it will think I’m dead. Plus, I’m young and healthy. It might not even want anything to do with me.[” …]

    So that’s where it — well, one of them — went. The mildly deranged penguin “misplaced” a few million of her experimental supersized models recently, but hasn’t been able to determine what happened to them. She’s planning on manufacturing the things as an anti-vaccine against hardcore anti-vaxxers. To-date, she explains, you have to vaccinate people. So an “anti-vaccine”, as she is currently inelegantly calling it, vaccinates the virus — albeit as it’s difficult to make needles that small, instead simply eats those who support the virus. Therefore, she asserts, without its fans, the virus sulks off… (I try to point out there are some minor flaws in the reasoning here, and she agrees, realising that after eating its fill of anti-vaxxers, the Yuge Virus should be built so as to turn into cheese after a treatment of bleach, UV light, and some Graphene Oxide (of which there will be plenty as it’s no longer needed for the micromagnetic chipccines).)

  188. says

    Follow-up to comment 230.

    Posted by readers of the article:

    Rehtuglikllans become apoplectic whenever government funds are used for anything other than padding the bank accounts of America’s oligarchy.
    ——————
    theater of the absurd soldiers on
    ——————–
    And there it is – where it was ALWAYS going…

    GOP cosplay, “bipartisan” ululations, beltway finger-wagging at Dem “overreach”…

    All leading to the inevitable, the inescapable, the quantum McConnell singularity…

    The Van Pelt Moment.

    Like Groundhog Day, year after year after year.
    ———————-
    Let’s not do that bothsiderism, please. There is a vast gulf between the Republikkklans and the Democrats on this issue. Democrats want to spend for the betterment of the country. Republicans want to pay off their oligarchs and their benefactors with OUR money.
    ————————
    The cynic in me figures this was the plan all along. It only takes one and Hagerty drew the short straw, while all the others Republicans get to pretend they’re disappointed and maybe even a little concerned.

  189. stroppy says

    Further to @ 185 Lynna, OM

    “Trump Is Planning a Much More Respectable Coup Next Time”

    But there has been a subtle shift in how Trump and his allies have talked about the supposed “rigging” of the 2020 election in a way that will make such claims more appealing to the conservative judges and politicians that held the line last time around. Come 2024, crass and boorish unsubstantiated claims of stealing are likely to give way to arcane legal arguments about the awesome power of state legislatures to run elections as they see fit. Forget bonkers accusations about Italy using lasers to manipulate American vote totals and expect white-shoe lawyers with Federalist Society bona fides to argue next time about application of the “independent state legislature” doctrine in an attempt to turn any Republican presidential defeat into victory.

    https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2021/08/trump-2024-coup-federalist-society-doctrine.html

  190. says

    ‘We Cannot Allow History To Be Rewritten,’ Biden Warns Amid Trump’s Jan. 6 Revisionism

    As he was signing off on awarding Congressional Gold Medals to the police officers who were at the Jan. 6 insurrection, Biden tore into Trumpworld’s crusade to recast and whitewash the events of that day.

    “My fellow Americans, the tragedy of that day deserves the truth above all else,” the President said Thursday afternoon. “We cannot allow history to be rewritten. We cannot allow the heroism of these officers to be forgotten.”

    No sweeping it under the rug; “We have to understand what happened—the honest and unvarnished truth. We have to face it,” Biden declared. [video available at the link]

    But of course the ex-president’s lackeys are going to keep trying to gaslight the country: Ex-Trump campaign stooge Matt Braynard is organizing a “huge” rally at the Capitol next month where “we’re going to push back on the phony narrative that there was an insurrection” (there was).

  191. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    Daily Covid-19 cases in the US moved above 100,000 a day for the first time since February, higher than the levels of last summer when vaccines were not available, and came as health officials sounded alarm over lagging rates of vaccination driving the surge of the infectious Delta variant.

    The seven-day average of hospital admissions has also increased more than 40% from the week before, with health workers describing frustration and exhaustion as hospitals in Covid hotspots were again overwhelmed with patients, almost 20 months into the pandemic in the US….

    (Vaccinations have actually been ticking up as more requirements are instituted and more people witness the Delta devastation. On the other side of the ledger, the fucking Sturgiss Motorcycle Rally & Superspreader in South Dakota, with no public health restrictions, started today and will run through the 15th.)

  192. blf says

    A snippet from Alarm as US Covid cases above 100,000 a day for first time since February:

    Meanwhile, hospitals are fighting to get financial help from state and federal officials. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema) provides funding to help cover some Covid-related costs at hospitals.

    But state officials in Texas are denying funding requests from hospitals as cases surge across the state, after providing $5.39bn earlier in the pandemic, which was reimbursed by Fema, according to local news channel WFAA.

  193. says

    Hundreds of Thousands Are Expected at Sturgis Motorcycle Rally Starting Today—Last Year’s COVID Spread Be Damned

    While the Delta variant continues to drive new COVID outbreaks and hospital bed shortages around the country, an estimated 700,000 people are expected to pack into a small South Dakota town this week for the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally—a 10-day bacchanal of bikers from around the country and the world.

    During last year’s rally—one of the largest public gatherings held in the first part of the pandemic—the virus spread from body to body as attendees expressed defiance at COVID restrictions by packing into bars, music venues, and restaurants. Almost none wore masks. The event, CDC researchers wrote in a study published this summer, had “many characteristics of a superspreading event: large crowds, high intensity of contact between people, potential for highly infectious individuals traveling from hotspots, and events in poorly ventilated indoor environments.” Contact tracers identified 463 attendees and 163 secondary and tertiary contacts who got COVID as a result of the rally—including 17 people hospitalized and one who died.

    But these numbers underestimate the rally’s true impact on viral spread nationally, CDC researchers concluded, because attendees with mild or asymptomatic illness may not have been tested. On the other hand, an analysis by a group of economists […] gives an idea of the upper limit of Sturgis’ impact. Their study, which analyzed anonymized cell phone location data and COVID case rates by county, estimated that last year’s rally was responsible for more than 266,000 new COVID cases nationwide. […]

    The CDC researchers, meanwhile, implied in their recent paper that this year’s rally should be postponed. “Recent modeling suggests that interventions such as postponing voluntary, mass events may be the most viable option to maintain epidemic control in an unvaccinated population,” they wrote. If postponement was “not an option,” the researchers continued, they recommended public messaging on the risks the event posed for unvaccinated people; mitigation strategies like masking, distancing, and quarantining; and mass COVID testing during and after the event.

    While rally organizers will reportedly offer free masks, coronavirus tests, and hand sanitizer, there will be not be a screening process to ensure attendees have been vaccinated or tested negative recently for the coronavirus. […]

    Over the past 14 days, the county that is home to Sturgis has seen an uptick in COVID cases and hospitalizations, while the vaccination rate remains far below the national average.

    The rally starts Friday.

  194. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 234

    And what are you going to do to stop it from being rewritten, Joe? Right now, you aren’t doing jack or shit to stop the rising tide of fascism and white supremacy in this country or abroad.

  195. says

    From an NBC article on Sturgiss:

    …Rallygoers reasoned that after years of riding Harleys, the coronavirus was just another risk. Five motorcycle riders were killed in crashes during the 2020 rally, and one fatal crash has already been reported this year.

    COVID-19 vaccines provide hope the rally won’t set off virus spread, but it’s not clear how many in the Sturgis crowd have received a shot. Unlike events like Lollapalooza that required attendees to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test, precautions at Sturgis are minimal and optional. The biggest step the city has taken was to allow rallygoers to drink on public property, reasoning it will spread the bacchanalia into the open air.

    Only about 46% of adults in the county that hosts Sturgis are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC, compared with 60.6% nationwide. Vaccination rates were similarly low in the five counties where most 2020 rallygoers hailed from, according to an analysis of cellphone data from the Center for New Data. Only one — Maricopa County, Arizona — has cracked 50%. Campbell County in Wyoming, has the lowest rate, at just 27%….

  196. says

    CNN has a reporter in Sturgiss who was just interviewing some of the rallygoers. It…was not cause for optimism. “Are you afraid of COVID?” “Hell, no! My wife stayed home because she has it.” “Are you vaccinated?” “No! I’m not getting that until they stop saying it’s going to make you sterile and kill your ass.”

  197. lumipuna says

    blf at 181 wrote:

    The law enabling the French Health Pass — proof of either full-vaccination, recent negative test, etc — and the requirement it must be presented to visit a café, bar, restaurant, museum, ride a long-distance train, etc, has (mostly) passed constitutional muster and hence will be mandated starting next Monday 9th August

    Meanwhile, in Finland the government has just begun preparing a similar “passport” system as infections
    have increased to mildly alarming levels. I don’t know how important it will be in the end, but everyone seems to have just woken up realizing this is something we needed yesterday. Legal experts estimate the process of preparing such a passport will take months, because we do everything here very slowly and carefully when it comes to restricting individual rights.

    [… T]the Constitutional Court said the restrictions voted by parliament last month represented a “balanced trade-off” between public health concerns and personal freedom.

    [… T]he absence of a health pass must not be an obstacle to patients receiving [medical (urgent or not)] treatment, the court ruled.
    […]

    Finnish government stills maintains that the vaccination will not be mandatory or coerced, except possibly for people in certain jobs, as specified in existing law on infectious disease. Legal experts say the passport cannot restrict access to basic services, or probably any (?) public services, probably including the university I work at. The experts also say venues couldn’t use the passport system to “incentivize vaccination”, only to screen for “safe” customers. There’s some weird doublethink involved, because at population/political level everyone is damn well hoping that the system will incentivize vaccination among socially active young people.

    There several other adjustments to the law (see link), all but one of which strike me as reasonable. The one I wonder about is “the court rejected as ‘disproportionate’ the government’s wish to force people with Covid infections into isolation for 10 days.” Offhand, I don’t see why that isn’t a “‘balanced trade-off’ between public health concerns and personal freedom” — infected people are an undisputed source of infection, so asking them to isolate to reduce the possibly of infections seems judicious.

    In Finland, health authorities have routinely ordered both infected and significantly exposed people to home isolation, though it’s poorly enforceable in practice. This is done based on pre-existing law, and it will likely have to end if/when we accept the presence of Covid-19 as a common disease. Meanwhile, the government has found it very slow and cumbersome and often constitutionally impossible to introduce anything that would even mildly restrict the freedom of people at large, as opposed to specifically targeting infected/exposed people. We’ve only managed reasonably well through the pandemic because people are willing to follow recommendations (including taking the vaccine) relatively well.

  198. blf says

    The Mars helicopter Ingenuity has successfully completed its 11th flight, which was to locate to a new airfield from which it will make at least one, and possibly several, sorties over the South Séítah, a rugged and sandy area largely inaccessible to the Perseverance rover.

  199. blf says

    lumipuna@242, “[Finland’s legal] experts also say venues couldn’t use the passport system to ‘incentivize vaccination’, only to screen for ‘safe’ customers. There’s some weird doublethink involved, because at population / political level everyone is damn well hoping that the system will incentivize vaccination among socially active young people.”

    A vaccinated person can still be a carrier albeit not ill themselves. So not only doublethink but possibly dubious. Here in France, President Macron was absolutely clear when announcing the measures several weeks ago, the purpose was to encourage people to get (fully-)vaccinated — hence the choice of restrictions (entry to restaurants & cafés (indoors & outdoors), etc), which are very much part of French living (as well as being fairly practical to implement). A probable side-effect is that if only fully-vaccinated people are at the cafés etc, then even though some of them will quite possibly be carriers, the risk making someone (at the café) ill is low. (Maybe that is what is meant by a “‘safe’ customer”?)

  200. lumipuna says

    blf at 244:

    Yes, I meant relatively safe. As in, vaccinated or recently recovered people are less likely to be currently newly infected/infectious than the average person, because they don’t catch the virus so easily. Likewise, a person who just tested negative is less likely to be infected, though not guaranteed by any means.

    The experts say that allowing different ways to be “safe” makes the passport system legally more viable, as in less coercive and doesn’t reveal what exactly in your private medical background makes you “safe” at the moment. People who don’t want or can’t legit have the vaccine can still access venues by getting tested.

  201. says

    Owen Jones at Medium – “The lies of anti-trans rights activists need to be rebutted once and for all”:

    Politics is, more often than not, about the exercise of power rather than truth. A narrative does not need to be honest to triumph: it simply needs to become the commonsense of the powerful. Opponents of the trans rights’ movement — who have the active support of nearly all major British media outlets — have settled on such a narrative: that support for trans people, one of the country’s most marginalised minorities, is misogyny….

    Far too much to excerpt adequately (but don’t get me started on the list…:)).

    “Trans rights, forever.”

  202. blf says

    Teh peas are now attacking dogs, US study finds potential dog food link to canine heart disease (my added emboldpeaing):

    […]
    A new study has highlighted research by the Food and Drug Administration linking certain dog foods to canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), a severe heart disease.

    According to a new report by Tufts University researchers published on Thursday, researchers compared traditional dog foods with those that the FDA associated with DCM, looking at more than 800 compounds. Currently, peas are at the top of the list of ingredients linked with compounds that might be related to DCM.

    Diets reported to be associated with DCM are often labeled “grain-free” and usually contain certain ingredients, including peas and potatoes, which are used to replace other ingredients such as rice or corn.

    Canine dilated cardiomyopathy is a deadly disease of a dog’s heart muscle, and results in an enlarged heart and weak contractions. […]

    […]

    Upon detailed analysis through a process called foodomics, researchers found that the ingredient most strongly linked to suspect compounds was peas. However, the FDA is not considering a ban on peas in dog foods yet. According to the agency, because “legumes and pulses have been used in pet foods for many years, {there is} no evidence to indicate they are inherently dangerous”.

    Rather, the problem may be one of quantity, as the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine “indicates that pulse ingredients are used in many ‘grain-free’ diets in greater proportion than in most grain-containing formulas.”

    Originally spotted in the Irish Times, Peas identified as suspect ingredient after dog food linked to canine heart disease (possibly paywalled & very similar to the above-excerpted Grauniad report on the deadly menace of teh pea).

  203. says

    Law & Crime – “Arkansas Judge Blocks Statewide Ban on Mask Mandates: The Law ‘Cannot Be Enforced in Any Shape, Fashion or Form’”:

    A state court judge in Arkansas on Friday agreed to block a state-imposed ban on face mask mandates after two school districts filed a lawsuit Thursday morning.

    The Little Rock School District and the Marion School District are the original plaintiffs. The named defendants are Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) — who is sued in his official capacity — and the State of Arkansas itself.

    “This case presents the question of whether there exists a rational basis for exposing public school students in Little Rock and Marion and throughout Arkansas to the very real threat of serious illness and death,” the lawsuit’s opening salvo bluntly states. “No rational reason exists for denying public school students, teachers and staff, and the school boards which are obligated to keep them safe, the ability to ensure that all who work and learn in our public schools are as safe as possible.”…

    More atl.

  204. blf says

    SC@250, For comparison, France with a population more than triple that of Florida (67m vs 22m) has only slightly more new cases (25,077); France’s all-time daily high was something north of 50,000.† A far too high percentage is in my immediate area and S.France generally, where ICU occupancy is now almost 50% (not quite 30% nationally).

      † The French data has a notorious “weekend lag”, which shows up as big dips on the weekends and then suspiciously high figures at the beginning of the next week. This makes working out what the highest number was (e.g.) a bit tricky.

  205. says

    Friday just in: +821K doses reported administered, including 565K newly vaccinated. 7-day average of newly vaccinated is up 11% from last week and 44% over past 2 weeks. 50% of Americans (all ages) are now fully vaccinated. Keep going!”

  206. blf says

    A snippet from BBC Wales, Covid anti-vaxxers: ‘Shut down fake news sites,’ begs daughter:

    “One of the conspiracy theories is that the blue disposable masks that people wear has asbestos in them[“, said the unnamed daughter, speaking about her parents].

    Yes, the masks are colour-coded: Blue ones contain Asbestos, Black ones contain Botulism, Grey ones contain Gray dye made from aborted babies, White masks are radioactive, and so on. My Gay Fawkes mask rebels against the code, and I’m not sure what it contains — gunpowder, perhaps? The colour-coding code was agreed by Fiendish OrthodoXy (a super-secret extraterrestrial mafia owned by the Trilateral Commission), originally formed to own all the world’s stock markets (and hence all the world’s “publicly-traded” corporations).

  207. blf says

    More self-evident absolute nonsense (snipped from Posts Baselessly Link COVID-19 Tests to Vaccine Conspiracy Theory):

    The COVID-19 vaccines currently in use must be administered via injection. But Instagram posts baselessly suggest that Bill Gates and George Soros will use COVID-19 tests to secretly vaccinate people who haven’t yet received the shots. There is no evidence for that conspiracy theory, and scientists say trying to administer a vaccine with a swab would likely not be effective.

    Bill Gates is going to use self-propelled flying microchips, launched from the swabs, to fly up your nose and into your brain, where they will form a giant magnetic and signal Soros’s waiting fleet of UFOs to come and… and… and, turn you into a liberal! Or a commie. Or an athesit moolsin pedophile gay who takes away all your guns. Or, possibly, a sane human (that’s a very rare side-effect).

  208. says

    Brianna Wu:

    Forgiveness. How do [you? we?] decide when to give it?

    @washingtonpost wrote about the Gamergaters who often reach out to me to apologize for harassing women online.

    The story is fairly heartwarming, if I do say so myself – and the comments are kind….

    WaPo link atl.

  209. says

    Quoted in Lynna’s #227:

    Do you think Rand Paul will apologize for spending nearly $1 Million on another candidate in Ohio’s 15th District congressional race after I had already endorsed Mike Carey? … Rand’s candidate came in a distant third out of eleven. Rand is a different kind of guy…. Do you think he learned his lesson?

    Donald Trump is Moody in My Bodyguard.

  210. KG says

    SC@260,
    Very much agreed! Amazing how many “horse lovers” treat horses as if they were inanimate objects. One of the comments at your link notes that the modern pentathlon was supposed to test the skills required of a cavalry officer trapped behind enemy lines – and a response notes that these skills become obsolete within a decade or so of the event’s invention. Perhaps the horse-riding could be replaced by breaking into and hot-wiring a random locked vehicle?

    @246, Oh, and thanks for the Owen Jones link. I’ll be sending that to a friend who admires Jones, but has been influenced by “gender-critical feminists”.

  211. blf says

    More on that mistreated horse at Tokyo Superspeaders, German modern pentathlon coach thrown out of Olympics for punching horse (Grauniad edits in {curly braces}):

    [German modern pentathlon coach(head of the inquisition)] Kim Raisner was trying to assist German athlete[inquisitor] Annika Schleu as she battled to control[tortured] Saint Boy ahead of her show jumping round in the women’s event on Friday. A[lleged-a]thletes are given only 20 minutes to bond with[terrify] an unfamiliar horse before their round and Schleu, who had been leading the field, was in tears as she came into the ring.

    The International Modern Pentathlon Union said it reviewed footage showing Raisner “appearing to strike the horse … with her fist” and that “her actions were deemed to be in violation of {the rules}.” She was also heard calling to Schleu to whip the horse harder.

    Saint Boy had already refused to jump for another rider, Russian competitor Gulnaz Gubaydullina, earlier in the competition and the German Modern Pentathlon Union said he had been “traumatised by the previous rider” even before Schleu’s round, during which he bucked and refused to trot around the course.

    No wonder the evil equine empire has plans

  212. blf says

    Fauci Backs Vaccination Mandates for Businesses, Universities:

    Businesses and colleges should consider requiring people to get vaccinated against Covid-19 in light of the surge of US cases driven by the delta variant, Anthony Fauci said Friday.

    The chief medical adviser to US President Joe Biden said he opposed a federal vaccine mandate but that the velocity of Covid’s spread should spur private organizations to think about requiring shots.

    “I would encourage private enterprises to seriously consider the idea of mandating vaccination in the enterprise for which they are responsible, whether that’s a university or a place of business,” Fauci said in an interview with Bloomberg Quicktake.

    […]

    “We need to do whatever we can,” he said. “I know people don’t like mandates for them to do things that they feel encroach upon their individual liberty. But in fact, when you are in a public health crisis, sometimes you’ve got to look out for the good of the community as well as your own personal libertarian views.”

    Here in France, there were(? still are?) supposedly protests supposedly against the Health Pass, which is due to come into effect this Monday, 9th August. I’ve no idea what actually did happen(? is happening?), not even here in the village. At the probable time of the local goosestepping genocidalists stumbles, I was listening to some nice (and loud!) music with headphones, making me hard-pressed to hear anything (including the mildly deranged penguin, especially if I can nail her to the floor so she cannot rip the headphones off (and not even necessary then, it’s LOUD)). I also don’t actually know the time of the local goosestumbling, as the map I consulted didn’t give a time — albeit whether that’s due to incompetence on the part of the map-mappers or teh local jackboots, or simply propaganda (pretending there is a stumbles when there isn’t one) is unknown to me. (I base my time-guess on today’s other nearby claimed protests, and the previous local ones.)

  213. says

    Bits and pieces of news, as collated and summarized by Steve Benen:

    * An important policy victory: “The Biden administration announced Friday an extension of the federal student loan payment moratorium until Jan. 31, just weeks before the pause was set to expire at the end of September. In a statement, the Department of Education said this would be the ‘final extension.'”

    * Speaking of progressive Biden administration efforts: “The Justice Department said Friday that the effort by landlords to block the latest eviction moratorium by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention should be rejected because the Supreme Court ruling they point to is not in their favor.”

    * Afghanistan: “Taliban fighters took control of the capital of Nimroz province in southwestern Afghanistan on Friday, the first provincial capital to fall to the militants since U.S. forces began withdrawing from the country.”

    * The latest from Albany: “A former executive assistant to Andrew Cuomo who previously alleged he reached under her blouse and groped her has filed a criminal complaint against the embattled New York governor.”

    * The vaccination push: “The Biden administration is considering using federal regulatory powers and the threat of withholding federal funds from institutions to push more Americans to get vaccinated — a huge potential shift in the fight against the virus and a far more muscular approach to getting shots into arms, according to four people familiar with the deliberations.”

    * In related news: “United Airlines will require employees to be vaccinated against the coronavirus, the company announced Friday, becoming the first domestic airline to require the vaccine as a condition of employment.”

    * What to watch over the weekend: “The Senate could vote this weekend on its nearly $1 trillion infrastructure legislation after Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer filed a motion to bring the debate to a close as soon as Saturday. The weekend vote would clear the way for the Senate to take up a $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation plan that includes President Joe Biden’s more partisan domestic priorities.”

    * Investigating Jan. 6: “A key House committee has postponed multiple scheduled witness interviews about Donald Trump’s final days in office, handing them off to the select panel investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.”

    * The Russian-aligned disinformation campaign “taps into skepticism and fears of coronavirus vaccination to not just undermine the effort to immunize people but also try to falsely link the Biden-Harris administration to the idea of forced inoculations.” New York Times link

    The cartoon posted on the far-right discussion forum showed police officers wearing Biden-Harris campaign logos on bulletproof vests and battering down a door with a large syringe. A caption read in part, “In Biden’s America.”

    The cartoon appears to be an example of the latest effort in Russian-aligned disinformation: a campaign that taps into skepticism and fears of coronavirus vaccination to not just undermine the effort to immunize people but also try to falsely link the Biden-Harris administration to the idea of forced inoculations. The image was one of several spotted by Graphika, a company tracking disinformation campaigns.

    Both Russia and China have worked to promote their own vaccines through messaging that undermines American and European vaccination programs, according to the State Department’s Global Engagement Center. But in addition to overt messaging promoting their own vaccines, Moscow has also spread conspiracy theories. Last year, the department began warning about how Russia was using fringe websites to promote doubts around vaccinations.

    It is difficult to quantify the amount of disinformation being produced at any time by the Russians or other adversarial powers, government officials and outside experts said. But the rise of the Delta variant of the coronavirus — and shifting scientific advice on how to defend against a more infectious strain and the need for booster shots or masks — has created an atmosphere for misinformation to more easily spread, experts said.

    […] The aim of various Russian groups continues to be to exacerbate tensions in Western societies, a key foreign policy goal of Moscow, according to American officials briefed on the disinformation efforts.

    The Russian and Chinese disinformation has tried to magnify the potential side effects of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, suggesting that the mRNA technology they are based on is untested or risky, State Department officials said this week. […]

    * She’s not getting better: “Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., suggested at a recent Republican fundraiser in Alabama that Southerners could threaten President Joe Biden’s ‘police state friends’ with guns if they show up at their homes asking about their coronavirus vaccination status.”

  214. says

    Far-right vigilante militias on U.S.–Mexico border enjoy a cozy relationship with Border Patrol

    Right-wing vigilante militiamen have been fixtures on the U.S.–Mexico border scene since the early 2000s. And while the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) has never officially welcomed their presence, there’s always been a quietly cooperative relationship between them: The vigilantes nab border crossers, and CBP officers come and dutifully pick them up.

    Reportage by the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Freddy Cruz this week demonstrated how this relationship plays out on the ground: With Border Patrol officers responding to the scene when the vigilantes find border crossers and detain them, and then later meeting up in friendly powwows with vigilantes to receive intelligence from them.

    The vigilante militia groups—Veterans on Patrol (VOP), AZ Desert Guardians, and United People of America, all operating along the U.S.–Mexico border in Arizona—have all posted photos, videos, and written accounts of stopping and interrogating migrants, then handing them off to Border Patrol agents, according to SPLC’s Hatewatch. The officers, in the meantime, clearly have been fully aware of the groups’ operations.

    VOP in particular has a sketchy history of volatile personalities and paranoid conspiracism of the QAnon cult variety. The group’s leader, Michael “Lewis Arthur” Meyer, first gained notoriety by camping out in the Arizona desert and claiming he was trying to stop human trafficking by Mexican drug cartels—including “child sex camps” in the desert. Meyer and his group frequently share social-media posts featuring QAnon hashtags and debunked claims, including the idea that George Soros and the Clinton family are responsible for the recent wave of migrants. [snipped examples of sketchiness of various “patriot” far right militia groups patrolling the border]

    […] Sketchy or not, VOP clearly enjoys a congenial, if not collegial, relationship with Border Patrol officials. In one video Meyer posted to Facebook in May, he and another militiamen meet up with a CBP agent in their car, who greets the men with high fives and praises them as “effective and a lot of fun.”

    […] These groups are also powerfully influential within far-right circles, particularly in the “Patriot”/militia movement that fueled the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. As a recent report at Brookings explored, their tactics eventually spread to the broader far right, including suburban militiamen like the Oath Keepers and III Percenters, and street-brawling outfits like the Proud Boys. […]

    More at the link.

  215. says

    The Dixie Fire burning in two Northern California counties is now the largest single wildfire in recorded state history, exploding in size overnight as drought-stricken lands continue to fuel the flames.

    The fire, which has burned for 23 days and forced mass evacuations, razed the Gold Rush town of Greenville on Thursday, destroying 91 buildings and damaging five others. Smoke from the blaze has blown to lower parts of Northern California, including the state capital of Sacramento where the air quality index on Friday reached “unhealthy” levels.

    The troubling development reflects not just the dire effects of climate change and neglected forest management, but also that the electric grid remains prone to sparking wildfires. Pacific Gas & Electric disclosed last month that its equipment may have caused the catastrophic blaze.

    […] By Friday morning, the Dixie Fire had burned 432,813 acres and was just 35 percent contained, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. The blaze’s overnight growth gave it the grim distinction of becoming the largest standalone fire in state history, but it still ranks behind two multi-fire conflagrations. […]

    Link

    Infrastructure goal: bury electrical equipment, or find other ways to prevent fires sparked by PG&E.

  216. says

    Allyson Felix wins gold in women’s relay, becomes most decorated US track Olympian

    U.S. track star Allyson Felix helped Team USA secure the gold medal in the women’s 4×400-meter relay in Tokyo Saturday, setting a record for the most Olympic medals won by any American track and field athlete.

    […] Saturday’s race marked the final one in Felix’s Olympic career, as the 35-year-old previously said that the Tokyo Olympics would be her last summer games.

    The star athlete now has a total of 11 Olympic medals, seven of which are gold and three silver. […]

    Carl Lewis held the previous record with 10 medals.

    Trump has been showing disrespect to females athletes. Now Allyson Felix, who is black and pro Black Lives Matter, clearly is the winner. Allyson Felix is a mother. She had to retrain and sucessfully engineer a comeback in order to participate in the Olympics.

  217. says

    Covid in the USA:

    Just weeks after daily COVID-19 cases reached their lowest point in the U.S., the country is now recording an average of 100,000 new infections per day, as the delta variant has fueled surges among unvaccinated communities.

    It took the country about nine months to reach a daily average of 100,000 cases in November, but cases have surged to that rate again after dropping to an average of 11,000 cases per day in late June, The Associated Press reported based on data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

    A similar rapid spike has also occurred among daily COVID-19 deaths, increasing over the past two weeks from roughly 270 deaths per day to a daily rate of about 500 as of Friday.

    While the White House on Monday announced that 70 percent of U.S. adults have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, one month after President Biden’s initial July 4 goal, health officials have cautioned that the virus is still running rampant among unvaccinated communities.

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle Walensky warned this week that the country could see a surge of up to several hundred thousand cases per day if people do not get vaccinated quickly. […]

  218. says

    Wonkette:

    The Texas Education Agency has issued guidelines for Texas schools that’ll be opening soon during the latest upsurge in COVID-19 cases in the state. Under an executive order from Gov. Greg Abbott, schools won’t be able to require that kids aged 12 and up be vaccinated against the coronavirus, despite the FDA’s authorization of the vaccines for that age group. Schools (and all other governmental entities in Texas) are also forbidden from requiring masks, because freedom hooray.

    But at least if a student, teacher, or staff member in your kid’s school tests positive for the virus, you can rest easy, because the schools won’t be telling parents about it. And not knowing truly is the best way to not worry, isn’t it?

    Dallas-Fort Worth TV station WFAA even tweeted out a helpful reminder of just what parents won’t be told, and what schools won’t be doing to collect information that might be used by public health authorities if they had it. [available at the link]

    Schools don’t have to inform parents of a positive case.
    Schools don’t have to conduct contact tracing.
    If a school does contact trace, parents can still choose to send a child to school if they are a close contact of an infected student.

    […] Masks can’t be required, because what is this, communist Russia under the Nazis? But the guidance does generously remind schools that “School systems must allow individuals to wear a mask if they choose to do so.”

    Further, the memo clarifies that students who are “actively sick with COVID-19 or who have received a positive test result for COVID-19” are not allowed to attend school, and that while the kid is out of school, the school system may provide online or other remote schooling, but it’s not required.

    […] Beyond those very helpful guidelines, the WFAA story does at least note that K-12 kids do have to be vaccinated for the usual childhood illnesses like measles, polio, diptheria, and all that, which is probably useful information, although Texas does allow parents to apply for a “personal belief” exemption from vaccinations, too.

    Also too, in response to WFAA’s tweet about what schools won’t be doing, one kind soul noted that while parents don’t have to be informed of any positive COVID-19 tests at their kids’ schools, Texas has, since 2017, required parental notification of classmates if a kid shows up to school with head lice. […]

    Link

  219. says

    Bad news about gerrymandering … it’s about to get worse.

    Federal judges will no longer play the role of referee when the intensely partisan, once-per-decade fight over congressional mapmaking gets underway this year.

    As a result of decisions by the Roberts Court, federal courthouses will be forced to turn away even the most egregious cases of partisan gerrymandering, which could make it easier for state lawmakers to lock in politically manipulated voting maps for the next decade.

    “Now that the Supreme Court has officially retreated from the area, they’ve set off what will likely be an arms race between the parties to gerrymander to the fullest extent they can in the states where they hold control,” said G. Michael Parsons, a scholar at New York University School of Law.

    Gerrymandering has occurred in the U.S. since around the time of its founding. Some scholars say the practice even predates the 1812 event when Massachusetts Gov. Elbridge Gerry approved a partisan district that was so oddly shaped it was said to resemble a salamander, which, combined with his surname, produced the term “gerrymander.”

    The practice of drawing manipulated congressional and legislative districts for political advantage has continued since then with varying intensity, as voting boundaries are redrawn to account for demographic shifts following the once-per-decade census.

    According to experts, however, the upcoming redistricting is likely to be even less restrained than in years past. It will combine a new degree of sophistication in map-drawing technology, high levels of partisan polarization and currently no legal recourse to fight partisan gerrymandering in federal courts as a result of decisions by the Supreme Court under Chief Justice John Roberts.

    “The Roberts Court has been a wrecking crew on voting rights,” said David Daley, an expert on partisan gerrymandering. “They really tilted the playing field away from voters and toward those who would manipulate maps for their own political gain.”

    Several measures in Congress, including the For the People Act, would ban partisan gerrymandering. But that effort is unlikely to garner enough support from Senate Republicans to overcome a GOP filibuster, particularly before the Census Bureau releases data to the states on Aug. 16.

    […] In a 5-4 decision along familiar ideological lines, the court’s conservative majority ruled that lawsuits over partisan gerrymandering raise a political question that is beyond the reach of the federal courts, handing a stunning defeat to voting rights advocates.

    “I think the Roberts Court’s voting rights decisions have hastened democratic decline, and Rucho marks a particularly dangerous turning point because it officially sanctions the pursuit of partisan advantage as a permissible exercise of state power,” Parsons said. “Some justices have implied as much in prior cases, but Rucho’s majority holding makes this explicit.”

    […] To be sure, the courts will continue to have a role to play in the looming redistricting fight. At the federal level, for instance, it remains illegal to carry out gerrymanders based on race.

    According to Parsons, however, state lawmakers will be particularly careful to frame their map drawing as motivated by party interest, as a way to side-step federal litigation.

    […] Here, another 5-4 decision by the Roberts Court removed another potential weapon against gerrymandering. The 2013 ruling in Shelby County v. Holder eliminated the Justice Department’s power under the Voting Rights Act to screen proposed maps in jurisdictions with a history of racial discrimination in elections.

    […] The constitutions of 30 states include some form of requirement that elections be “free,” according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Those and similar provisions, at least in theory, could create avenues for challengers to sue over partisan gerrymandering.

    But in states where judiciaries that have been subject to, and in some cases shaped by, partisan pressure, courts may be hesitant to overrule a gerrymandered map.

    […] The Supreme Court’s decision in Rucho explicitly left open the possibility that Congress could step up to curb gerrymandering. As Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the majority: “The Framers gave Congress the power to do something about partisan gerrymandering.”

    But with just over one week until the release of new census data sets in motion new map drawing, time is running out. […]

    Link

  220. raven says

    Florida’s disaster is now at 23,000 cases of Covid-19 and 200 deaths per day. A record.
    So how bad will it get and when will it end? Who knows.

    The mathematical models say the daily case total will be 41,000 a day in early September. It’s going to be a long and dismal August for Florida.
    They are likely to go way over their hospital capacity, which means patients aren’t going to be receiving the best care available.

    wtsp.com August 07, 2021

    41K daily: Models project Florida’s number of COVID-19 cases at the peak of this 4th surge
    Mathematical modelers forecasting the trajectory of Florida’s surge predict the highest number of single day totals to hit early September.

    TAMPA, Fla — As Florida hits new pandemic highs, mathematical modelers forecasting the trajectory of Florida’s surge predict the highest number of single day totals to hit early September.

    “All the indicators are pointing for this to be the largest wave of infection that we’ve ever seen,” Dr. Tom Unnasch with USF Public Health said.

    The public health expert has been monitoring the models since the beginning of the pandemic. The newest models show the peak of the next surge will be two to four times bigger than the wave seen in January 2021.

    “I’m getting really, really concerned at this point, not just from these numbers, but from the numbers I’m seeing in hospitalizations. We’re going to be facing this situation where we could really overwhelm our hospital system and our health care system in the coming three weeks or so,” Unnasch said.

    After reporting a record 22,783 cases on Friday, the state’s infection rate stands at 18.9 percent. According to the CDC, an infection rate under 5 percent would show the state has flattened the curve and has control of the virus.

  221. blf says

    Some snippets from CNN’s long article, MyPillow magnate Mike Lindell’s latest election conspiracy theory is his most bizarre yet. His massively yugelly stoooopid claims he was somehow supplied with intercepted encrypted raw internet packets proving vote-hacking has already been discussed in this very series of poopyhead threads (to wit, his data is not encrypted, not raw packets, and is nothing more than a publicly-available voter roll). In reply he now claims that data (analyzed by real experts using screenshots of one of his videos) is simply “B-roll,” a placeholder for the actual evidence. Yeah, sure.

    Since the presidential election, [Clark County clerk] Christina Jensen says she’s been stopped on the street several times by acquaintances who wanted to share troubling news: hackers from Beijing had switched nearly 24,000 votes for Donald Trump in their rural, GOP-leaning Wisconsin county.

    Jensen […] has patiently explained that the local election computer system isn’t connected to the internet — and the county has less than 17,000 registered voters overall.

    But she finds herself unable to convince those constituents of the simple fact that the election wasn’t stolen: “They are like, Well, Mike Lindell says this,” Jensen said.

    […] Scott McDonell, the clerk for Dane County, Wisconsin — another county where Lindell has claimed hacking switched thousands of votes from Trump to Biden — said that out of all the election theories he’s heard, Lindell’s is “the worst one because it’s the dumbest.”

    The county conducted a hand recount of every ballot, paid for by Trump’s campaign, which verified Biden’s win. And every ballot in the state has a paper trail.

    Since Trump’s loss last fall, Lindell has been a superspreader of election misinformation.

    [… E]xperts said the vast majority of votes in the US — including in battleground states — are cast by paper ballot or supported by a paper trail. That means that if hacking did occur, it could be proven by looking back at the ballots. And recounts or audits in several of the counties Lindell says were hacked have verified the results based on those paper ballots.

    “The ballots are ink on dead trees,” said Dan Wallach, a Rice University computer science professor who has researched electronic voting system security. “Nothing that happens in China can change the ink on those dead trees.”

    Numerous election officials in the counties that Lindell has identified as purported targets for hacking told CNN they were baffled and frustrated by his claims. The officials said that their vote-tallying machines are not connected to the internet at all — and that the specifics of Lindell’s allegations simply don’t add up.

    Take Adams County, Pennsylvania, the home of the Gettysburg battlefield. Trump won the county with 37,567 votes, compared to 18,254 for Biden. Data included by Lindell in one of his videos and in court documents allege that 33,111 votes had been stolen from Trump after a hack on November 4 or November 5.

    Molly Mudd, the county solicitor, said that nearly all of the county’s ballots had been counted and reported by Election Night, November 3, before Lindell alleges the hack took place. And if Lindell’s claim about that many votes being swapped were correct, Mudd said in an email, “then it would mean that Biden actually won Adams County (a heavily Republican-leaning county) by an unprecedented landslide, which is probably not the outcome that Mr Lindell and his associates are fishing for.”

    [… I]n Oakland County, a Detroit suburb, election officials say they get regular phone calls from people claiming their votes were stolen, even after a canvass and two audits of the paper ballots verified the results

    “It’s very convenient to say after the fact, oh, you know, it was hacked,” said Lisa Brown, the county clerk. “This is a guy who sells pillows… I don’t know why anybody would want to listen to him as an expert on anything related to elections.”

    There’s a bonkers conspiracy theory “supported” by colourful meaningless graphics that a sooooopercomputer did it. At least one of the loons behind that nonsense previously sold the same-ish theory to “Sheriff” Joe Arpaio several years ago, albeit then the soooopercomputer was involved in some kind of conspiracy involving a federal judge. And prior to that, the same loon managed to con a US federal agency into buying some bogus anti-terrorism software. Lindell has acknowledged that loon & con-man, and some others, are the people who convinced him of the ludicrous Big China switched teh votes, albeit he has since denied knowing those people to CNN.

    Experts agree that Lindell’s fanciful claims are fanciful and unsupported — and are eroding trust in our democracy.

    “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence,” said Wallach, the Rice University professor. “This ain’t that.”

  222. raven says

    Another Red state failure. Texas. Which has 6 ICU beds left. That ratio of 180 ICU patients with 102 on ventilators is high. This means they aren’t admitting a lot of patients who would usually be admitted. This wave of the pandemic is modeled to peak in early September.
    The vast majority of those people in the hospital are unvaccinated.

    NYtimes 8/8/2021 edited for length

    The authorities in Austin warn residents that the city’s Covid situation is ‘dire.’
    The Austin area has seen a dramatic rise in the number of new infections, the highest surge since before vaccinations became widely available, and its intensive care units are near capacity. (My note. They have 6 ICU beds left).

    The authorities in Austin, Texas, warned the public on Saturday that the city’s Covid-19 situation had grown desperate, as a surge in cases driven by the Delta variant swamped hospitals while city officials were prevented from issuing mandates for masks and vaccinations by order of the state’s governor, Greg Abbott.

    Bryce Bencivengo, a spokesman for the city’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, said that Friday had been one of the worst days for Austin’s hospitals since the pandemic started. More than 100 new Covid patients were admitted that day, he said, and intensive care units were near capacity, with Covid patients occupying more than 180 I.C.U. beds and 102 of those patients on ventilators.

    “We are in the single digits of I.C.U. beds available,” Mr. Bencivengo said, adding that patients in emergency rooms were being forced to wait for space in the I.C.U.s to open up.

  223. blf says

    I just noted the statistics section of France’s trace-and-trace app is now giving at least two new stats: Positive rate for teh unvaccinated, and for the vaccinated (both per 100,000 people): Currently 960 and 35, respectively. And also ICU rate for unvaccinated and vaccinated (per 1m people): Currently over 9 and less than 1, respectively.

  224. blf says

    Related to @275, a snippet from US now averaging 100,000 daily COVID infections as Delta surges:

    Dr David Persse, the chief medical officer in Houston, Texas, said some ambulances were waiting hours to offload patients at Houston-area hospitals because no beds were available. Persse said he feared this would lead to prolonged response times to 911 medical calls.

    “The healthcare system right now is nearly at a breaking point,” Persse said on Thursday. “For the next three weeks or so, I see no relief on what’s happening in emergency departments.”

    Another snippet (note this isn’t including Texas):

    Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Kentucky represent 41 percent of new hospitalisations in the US, the CDC says, twice their overall share of the population.

  225. blf says

    I’d never heard of this genocidalist before, Martine Wonner, the pro-Macron MP turned French Covid conspiracy ‘figurehead’. Some snippets:

    Wonner has emerged as the face of the French resistance to the health pass, social distancing measures and the fringe embrace of poorly tested “treatments” such as hydroxychloroquine touted by controversial[conspiracy spewing] Marseille doctor[quack] Didier Raoult.

    [She] is “the symptom of how the Covid pandemic has brought many French people under the spell of conspiracy theories”, Tristan Mendès France, a prominent expert on conspiracism, told Le Monde. “As one of few elected politicians visible in public life to express scepticism about all public health measures, she has become parliament’s answer to Didier Raoult; a figurehead to whom people flock in protest.”

    [… I]n March 2020 [she bellowed in] parliament that face masks are absolutely useless and vociferously supporting Raoult’s hydroxychloroquine treatment.

    [After being thrown out of several political parties and parliamentary groups as a complete loon] Wonner then took her criticisms of the Macron government’s Covid policies to shady corners of the Internet such as France Soir — a renowned broadsheet in the early post-war era, which closed in 2012 before re-emerging two years ago as a conspiracist website promulgating canards like the QAnon fantasy — and videos by Silvano Trotta, an online conspiracy theorist notorious for claiming that masks make people ill and that Covid-19 is a plandémie orchestrated by Bill Gates.

    As experts warned in August 2020 that a resurgent coronavirus would cause another spike in deaths throughout much of Europe in the following months (a vindicated warning), Wonner said: When is this virtual second wave coming? Stop the fear. Covid-19 just an enormous flu, she declared late last year.

    Since early 2021, Wonner has made vaccines the focus of her ire after they started to provide a path out of the Covid nightmare — making the false claims that jabs do not protect anyone and that [m]RNA vaccines such as those of Pfizer and Moderna are like some kind of genetically modified rubbish.

    Hence Wonner’s characterisation of the health pass as the disgraceful pass. Experts say such false narratives are fuelling opposition to the health pass more than traditional civil libertarian concerns expressed by some mainstream[eh? “mainstream”?] politicians. […] Polls show that — contrary to the image the mass[] protests create — a majority of French favour the health pass and that support for demonstrations against it is a minority concern […].

    In light of this, analysts say figures such as Wonner look like good foils for Macron as he seeks a second term in the Élysée Palace: “You don’t win the presidency through {hundreds of[a mere two hundred] thousands of demonstrators} spread across France,” Andrew Smith, a professor of French politics at the University of Chichester, told FRANCE 24. “You win through sensible, evidence-based policy to end the pandemic and restart the economy.”

      † Current estimates seem to be perhaps 240,000 eejits protested yesterday (nation-wide). Whilst that sounds large, it’s a nothing by French standards. The protesting eejits are notoriously either nazis (Le Pen’s mob and some other even more fringe authoritarians), or loonytarians, or a highly-confused fringe “far left”, or anti-vaxxers, plus some “yellow vest” rioters trying to provoke some more anti-Macron rioting.

  226. blf says

    Rightwing radio host and anti-vaxxer dies of Covid (Grauniad edits in {curly braces}):

    […]
    A rightwing TV and radio host[unhinged ranter] who was a vociferous critic of Dr Anthony Fauci and who urged his listeners not to get vaccinated against Covid-19 has died after contracting the virus.

    Dick Farrel, who had described Fauci as a power-tripping lying freak who conspired with power trip libb [sic] loons, had urged people not to get vaccinated as recently as June.

    He reportedly changed his opinion about vaccines after falling ill and later being admitted to hospital before passing away on 4 August aged 65. “He texted me and told me to ‘Get it!’ He told me this virus is no joke and he said, “I wish I had gotten {the vaccine}!” close friend Amy Leigh Hair wrote on Facebook.

    […]

    His partner, Kit Farley, said: […] I can only say this was so unexpected. [BULLSHITE!] He will be missed. [possibly by his family, but probably not by the families of people who died as a result of believing teh anti-vax nonsense]”

    Described as an ardent supporter of Donald Trump, Farrel went all-in on unsubstantiated 2020 election fraud conspiracy theories about election fraud and questioned the efficacy of coronavirus vaccines.

    Hair told WPTV: “I was one of one the people like him who didn’t trust the vaccine. I trusted my immune system. I just became more afraid of getting Covid-19 than I was of any possible side effects of the vaccine. I’m glad I got vaccinated.”

  227. tomh says

    EMERGENCY DOCKET
    Students ask court to block Indiana University’s vaccine requirement
    By Amy Howe
    Aug 6, 2021

    In the first test of COVID-19 vaccine requirements to arrive at the Supreme Court, a group of Indiana University students asked the justices on Friday afternoon to block the school’s requirement that all students be vaccinated against the virus. Both a federal district court in Indiana and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit declined to put the university’s vaccine requirement on hold while the students litigate their challenge, leading to Friday’s filing seeking immediate relief from the justices.
    […]

    In their 31-page filing in the Supreme Court, the students – represented by James Bopp, the conservative lawyer who brought the landmark campaign-finance case Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission – argue that they must give up their constitutional rights to “bodily integrity, autonomy, and medical choice” and “comply with Indiana University’s mandate” so that they can “receive a government benefit (matriculating at IU).”…

    On July 18, a district judge denied the students’ request for a court order blocking the mandate. And on Monday, a three-judge panel of the 7th Circuit declined to put the mandate on hold while the litigation proceeds. In a four-page opinion for the 7th Circuit, Judge Frank Easterbrook wrote that the university’s policy is clearly constitutional under Jacobson v. Massachusetts, the 1905 case in which the Supreme Court upheld a vaccine mandate for smallpox…

    The case, Klaassen v. Trustees of Indiana University, goes to Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who is responsible for emergency appeals from the 7th Circuit. Barrett can either act on the request herself or refer it to the full court.

  228. blf says

    Some Grauniadian snark, about some “U”K MP loon I don’t think I’ve heard of before, Tory values? Urination, urination, urination:

    […]
    Did the Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen cultivate lagoons of urine in his rural Leicestershire constituency? In 2014, the Environment Agency claimed lagoons at the Measham depot of his vegetable packaging and distribution company, AB Produce, emitted a pervasive urine smell. “It smells just like urine all the time — first thing in the morning until last thing at night,” a villager said. By 2016, more than 400 people had complained about Bridgen’s urine lagoons, which he claimed contained liquefied vegetables […]. Though the issue was resolved, whenever the Conservatives need a stink, the Creature from the Yellow Lagoon can be relied upon to kick one up.

    In February, Disney decided to flag, but not censor, dated content in old Muppet Shows. Viewers were warned, for example, that Johnny Cash sang in front of a Confederate battle flag […]. Bridgen, a Tamagotchi Farage, mechanically declared: I would like to know which bunch of muppets thought this one up… If this continues kids won’t be able to watch any TV programmes which are not newly made. Is nothing safe? The shows, previously archived, were in fact newly available, with brief statements before contentious but unaltered episodes. It will soon be illegal to be white.

    We interrupt this snark to try and work out what “Tamagotchi” is… probably a toy fad — “a handheld digital pet”, “a small alien species that deposited an egg on Earth to see what life was like, and it is up to the player to raise the egg into an adult creature. The creature goes through several stages of growth, and will develop differently depending on the care the player provides, with better care resulting in an adult creature that is smarter, happier, and requires less attention.” The digital egg housing Bridgen must have been dropped or discarded into a toilet before hatching, hence its fondness for urine lakes and shiteheads like Nigel Farage.

    Post-factual Bridgen is the political equivalent of a dog with a firework strapped to it, chasing a ball towards enemy lines, tail wagging happily, with little idea of what it is doing. The Conservatives value the culture war confusion the Yellow Dog causes, while knowing it would be a liability to allow his urine to flow too far south from Leicestershire, especially in poorly ventilated constituencies.

    In 2018, Bridgen discussed Brexit on BBC Radio Ulster. Old Yeller didn’t seem to understand the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland were different entities, believing being English entitled him to an Irish passport, via some imagined reciprocal citizenship […]. Having baffled host Stephen Nolan, born in Shankhill Road [sic — it’s Shankill Road (Belfast, N.Ireland)], the Loch Piss Monster quickly hung up mid-call, pretending to have disappeared. […]

    [… Recently Bridgen] said the [“U”K’s HGV (truck)] driver shortage isn’t due to Covid, the pingdemic or Brexit, but to the disappointing 90s cadaver Tony Blair, who encouraged working-class children to go to university, thus placing less value on vocations. Or, as the Yellow Kid really means, Blair didn’t tell the peasants all they were good for was driving lorries for AB Produce’s Measham urine swamp. […]

    [… the authour (Stewart Lee, “a standup comedian, writer and director”) then tears into that nonsense, pointing out “I was the first in my single mum’s family to go to university, aided by a posh part-scholarship and a charity fund for ‘waifs and strays’, your honour.” …]

    Bridgen asks for an honest conversation on the worth of many degree courses… which add little to the economy or the life chances of students. Does Brexit require the nation to be less well educated? […] Like others of his ilk, the culture secretary, Oliver Dowden, and the education secretary, Gavin Williamson, the Yellow Axolotl is dead in the head, dark in the heart and incapable of attaching value to abstract ideas. Bounded in lagoons of urine, they count themselves kings of infinite space. Without conscience or imagination, they sleep untroubled by bad dreams.

    Presumably related (I haven’t actually read it yet), Why public schoolboys like me and Boris Johnson aren’t fit to run our country: “Our elite schools foster emotional austerity and fierce clique loyalty. Here a privately educated writer of the prime minister’s generation reveals the lasting damage public schools do”. (By Richard Beard, including a Q&A.)

  229. blf says

    Poland, Lithuania call for EU help amid Belarus migration row:

    In the past two days, 133 people were stopped at the Belarusian border with Poland, compared to 122 during the whole of last year, according to Polish authorities.

    Poland and Lithuania have called on European institutions to help them deal with a surge in migrants crossing over their borders from Belarus, as tensions between European Union countries and Minsk continue to grow.

    Belarus’s border protection agency said on Friday that it tightened control along its border with Lithuania to prevent Lithuanian authorities from sending migrants back to Belarus.

    On Thursday, Poland accused Belarus of sending a growing number of migrants over the border in retaliation for Warsaw’s decision this week to give refuge to Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, a Belarusian athlete who refused to return home from the Tokyo Olympics.

    “We condemn the weaponisation of irregular migration by the Lukashenko regime with a goal of exerting political pressure on the EU and its individual Member States,” Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte said in a joint statement.

    […]

    Belarusian President[führer] Alexander Lukashenko on Thursday accused Lithuania and Poland of fuelling the migrant issue on the border.

    […]

  230. blf says

    No, no, wrong place — whilst DC has many annoying people who perhaps should be bitten, Mar-a-Lago has a moar Yuge feast, Yes, DC Now Has an Itch Mite Issue:

    Following swarms of the 17-year Brood X cicada hatch, Washington DC has a new pest in town.

    As was first reported by The Washington Post, residents of the capital city were now privy to so-called itch mites feeding on the eggs laid by the billions of Brood X cicadas that emerged in spring 2021.

    Itch mites, known scientifically as Pyemotes herfsi, are microscopic pests nearly invisible to the human eye whose bites cause red, itchy, and painful welts. […]

    “Oak leaf gall mites are so small that they can float on the wind, and pass through window or door screens and loosely-woven clothing” [according to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH)].

    Typical itch mite bites measure about 2 centimeters and are “itchy and painful when scratched, often resulting in secondary bacterial infection.” Those who have been bitten may develop red welts that resemble chigger bites on the neck, face, or arms — not the usual leg area typically associated with chiggers. Itch mite welts make pimple-like lesions after around 12 hours and can be present for up to two weeks, noted IDPH.

    And from Vanishing cicadas likely behind another DC-area nuisance: oak mite bites:

    […]
    It’s believed the cicadas, which have laid billions of eggs across the area, are serving as a feast for oak leaf itch mites.

    In turn, the microscopic organisms are dropping out of oak trees while feeding, landing on people walking by, and then biting their human victims several times over with a lasting itchy impact.

    [… University of Maryland professor of entomology Michael] Raupp said the bites can hang around for several days, and he advised people not to scratch them to prevent a secondary infection.

    So how can people prevent these critters from eating them alive, so to speak?

    “Avoid picnics under the trees at this point in time,” Raupp said. “If you’re picking up leaves that have fallen, you might want to wear gloves. Some people are recommending putting on a hat if you’re walking in the forest.”

    […]

  231. says

    Biden Is Having His Cake and Eating It Too, by Josh Marshall

    The much-heralded bipartisan mini-bill actually seems on its way to passage in the Senate. On the critical (and mind-numbing) vote to allow a majority vote, 18 Republicans ended up voting in the affirmative. It now seems very likely that Biden will get his bipartisan deal while also managing to pass close to his entire fiscal, infrastructure and climate agenda. If that happens – and it is likely to happen notwithstanding a few more months of haggling – it will be a major, major accomplishment.

    Yet in a guest opinion piece Friday in The New York Times Alex Pareene argued that it is in fact a “pyrrhic victory in a broken Senate.” I’m almost never in the practice of responding to people in the Editors’ Blog. But I wanted to do so in this case because Pareene is a gifted writer and incisive political observer and it’s important to explain why he’s wrong.

    […] I would summarize his argument in three parts. First, it is highly uncertain that the extensive reconciliation will actually pass, in which case you’re left with a bipartisan bill that is vastly insufficient to what is needed on every front and dramatically less than Democrats say is necessary. Second, that same six months-plus effort shows that despite the rapid-fire party line vote on the COVID relief package Biden and the Democrats actually haven’t learned the key lesson of the Obama years, which is to act boldly and quickly and not allow Republicans to slow or stymie your progress with bad faith negotiation. Third, the lengthy and agonizing process of negotiating this package, which will end up taking most of 2021, comes at the expense of critical legislation like the PRO Act (unions) or the For the People Act (democracy).

    The first point is easiest to deal with because I think Alex is simply wrong. It’s a prediction about the future. He or I could be right. We’ll know in six months. But it seems wildly pessimistic and not backed by the available facts to assume a very large reconciliation bill won’t happen. That’s not just aspirational thinking. The two bills are moving in unison and support for one is premised on promises from other Democrats about support for the other. The mini-bill wouldn’t be moving forward if members of the Democratic caucus weren’t confident in their colleagues’ commitments to support the much larger reconciliation bill. The mini-bill will die in the House regardless if those commitments don’t pan out.

    Alex says there’s no policy logic in dividing this package into two bills. And he’s absolutely right about that. But the scale and importance of the package is so great that if that’s the cost of getting it done that really seems fine. If the overall package passes, who cares? Basically the Democratic coalition is in the process of having its cake and eating it too. Those who think it’s important to have a “bipartisan” win get that bipartisan win while they pass the rest with 50+1 votes. Like I said, having their cake and eating it too.

    The second and third arguments are wrong in more significant and complicated ways. But they both come back to a simple point. Democrats managed only a 50 seat quasi-majority, with the Vice President’s tie-breaking vote. […] So they needed literal unanimity on every vote to do anything. And that 50 vote caucus had at least two members firmly wedded not only to the filibuster but to the cult of bipartisanship and in more ambiguous ways more right-leaning policy positions. Put sharply, it’s Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema’s fault.

    The argument to the contrary is based on a rhetorical slight of hand by which the opposition of Manchin and Sinema and the compromises required to work around their opposition is repackaged as what “the Democrats” think or what they’re choosing to do or believe in. For that to be true, it must be the case that the majority of the caucus, if it chose to, could simply force these two to vote with the rest of their colleagues. That premise is clearly false.

    Pareene argues that the slog from April til now shows that Democrats didn’t actually learn the key lesson of the Obama years – don’t engage in negotiations with bad faith actors. Use the power you have to enact your agenda. That’s all that matters. […] you can’t implement that lesson without 50 votes. At least two senators told their colleagues right after the COVID relief bill passed that they would not support the same approach on infrastructure spending. They insisted on sounding out bipartisan compromise. There’s a myth that if you really mean business you can force recalcitrant Democrats into line. But that’s not true. The price of getting 50 votes for a big fiscal/infrastructure/climate package was a lengthy process of negotiation with Republicans. Stupid? To me, absolutely. But my frustration doesn’t produce 50 votes. And unfortunately it doesn’t for Biden or Schumer or anyone else.

    The important point is that this doesn’t signify some basic rot or non-getting-it on the part of Democrats, Senate Democrats, the Biden White House or any related group. They simply don’t have the votes. […] Nor is it merely semantics. Telling yourself that you keep voting for “the Democrats” only to see “the Democrats” make the same old mistakes over and over again is a recipe for demoralization. Conflating these points is not only inaccurate but toxic as well. […]

    I think it’s right that a President will be rewarded by forging a bipartisan coalition for big legislation. The question is whether you make that a condition. Getting the right result is infinitely more important than whether you pass it on party line vote. The result is what voters will judge you on. If you can have your cake and eat it too, awesome. But what you pass, however you pass it, is really all that matters.

    But all evidence tells us […] It was simply the only viable path to passing the package. That may mean that Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema suck (and between us, it does mean that, especially with the preening phony Sinema). But that doesn’t change the math or the need for their votes. […]

    Now finally to the last point. The last six months of negotiating and ganging and recurrent drama haven’t been fun. I’ve said as much and worse repeatedly. But if they end up getting what they wanted is it the end of the world? Pareene argues that it’s actually close to the end of the world because a big infrastructure package could have been passed back in the spring leaving months to push other critical agenda items like the For the People Act, the Pro ACT and more. Again Pareene and I agree on the importance of the legislation. To me the truly critical thing is the prohibitions on partisan redistricting contained in the For the People Act. But it’s not true that Biden could have been making progress on these other bills with the time freed up from bipartisaning.

    Those bills haven’t happened yet because they can’t happen without 50 senators making them possible by ending or defanging the filibuster. And those votes aren’t there. Not yet at least. We’re back to the same enticing fantasy that if you just mean business enough these recalcitrant senators will fold. Lyndon Johnson […] was a master of inappropriateness and cajoling, [but] his power stemmed from the fact that when he became President he had a 65 seat majority in the Senate and by January of 1965 a 68 seat majority. He got his way because he had the numbers.

    […] I am cautiously pessimistic about further major legislation in this Congress after the infrastructure bills pass. But Biden is at least marginally better positioned to wrangle them out of recalcitrant Democratic senators having worked with them on infrastructure than he would have been stiffing them.

    At its best, Pareene’s argument amounts to this: Don’t get excited. None of this means the Senate isn’t still broken or Democrats did anything to fix it.

    He’s right. The Democrats had 47 or 48 votes to fix the Senate or make a start of it. That wasn’t enough. What they’re on their way to doing is passing close to the entire agenda even with it still being broken. That’s a huge and historic accomplishment in policy terms and no mean feat in legislative handiwork. The aim of passing a big spending bill isn’t to fix the legislative body. It’s to pass the bill.

    A lot could still go wrong of course. We can almost guarantee two or three months more of posturing and drama. Pareene structures his argument around the suggestion that after all this maneuvering and patience Democrats will likely get stiffed on most of their agenda. That allows the argument for a “pyrrhic victory” to hold together. But he’s very probably wrong about that, which I suspect even he likely knows. If he ends up being right, the whole picture will look very different. But to paraphrase the old saw, hopelessness is not a plan.

  232. says

    […] Appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union” a day after former acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen testified privately before a congressional panel, [Dick] Durbin, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he had learned “how directly, personally involved the president was, the pressure he was putting on Jeffrey Rosen.”

    “It was real, very real. And it was very specific,” the Illinois Democrat said.

    “This president’s not subtle when he wants something, the former president. He is not subtle when he wants something. And I think it’s a good thing for America that we had a person like Rosen in that position, who stood — withstood the pressure.”

    Durbin said that Rosen appeared voluntarily and was “very open” during his seven hours of testimony.

    “It really is important that we ask these questions, because what was going on in the Department of Justice was frightening, from a constitutional point of view,” Durbin said. “To think that Bill Barr left, resigned after he had announced he didn’t see irregularities in the election, and then his replacement was under extraordinary pressure from the president [of] the United States, even to the point where they were talking about replacing him.” […]

    Link

  233. blf says

    Headline in The Onion, DeSantis Threatens To Cut Hospital Funding If Surgeons Keep Wearing Masks (no actual story, but probably doesn’t need one anyways?). Also, Senate Passes Bill Wishing Younger Generations Best Of Luck Stopping Climate Change:

    Calling the legislation “long overdue,” the US Senate passed a bill Wednesday wishing younger generations the best of luck stopping climate change. “As devastating wildfires, flooding, and droughts sweep our planet, there has never been a more urgent time to shift the responsibility onto someone else,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who explained that the bill, called the SEE YA Act, or Saving the Earth Entrusted to Young Americans Act, would allocate over $100 billion toward putting up billboards across the country that read “Good luck!” with pictures of melting glaciers. […] At press time, President Joe Biden had vetoed the bill on the grounds it would be viewed as too radical.

  234. says

    Another provincial capital, Taliqan, falls to the insurgents on Sunday.
    New York Times link

    Taliban fighters captured another northern provincial capital on Sunday afternoon, local officials said, marking the third city to fall to the insurgent group in a single day.

    The fighters had been contained at the gates of Taliqan, the capital of Takhar Province, since June. But as the Kunduz city center fell to the Taliban on Sunday, the insurgents moved into Taliqan, just a few miles away, pushing back government forces there in a bout of vicious fighting.

    By sunset, the Taliban had seized the police headquarters and the provincial governor’s office, said an Afghan official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the developing situation.

    Keramatullah Rustaqi, a Takhar provincial council member, said that the city had fallen to the Taliban and that “security forces left Taliqan to retreat to Farkhar,” a neighboring district.

    […] The exhaustion described by government militia members fighting in Taliqan is common among security forces across Afghanistan after months of trying to hold back the Taliban. In addition to Kunduz, the insurgents have in just three days seized three other provincial capitals: Sheberghan, the capital of Jowzjan Province; Zaranj, the capital of Nimruz Province on the Afghanistan-Iran border; and Sar-e-Pul, the capital of a northern province of the same name. […]

  235. says

    “The deplorable treatment of Michael Fanone and the heroes of Jan. 6,” by Jonathan Capehart.

    Washington Post link

    The violent scene on the west front of the Capitol captured in a photo taken on Jan. 6 by Shannon Stapleton of Reuters is haunting. In it you see the anguished face of D.C. Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone as he is swarmed by a mob of terrorists hellbent on overturning a free and fair election at the behest of a president who refused to accept defeat.

    Fanone was mauled. He was tased so many times that he suffered a heart attack. He has said that he heard his potential murderers say, “Kill him with his own gun.” The father of four believes he was saved after he pleaded, “I’ve got kids.”

    The chaotic scene, as revealed by his own body camera and as described in Molly Ball’s fantastic profile of Fanone in Time magazine, is horrific. Not only for its violence but also what that violence signified. American democracy was on the brink.

    What is most ironic and jarring about the photo is the flag fluttering above Fanone. The one with the black-and-white stripes and thin blue line, a.k.a. the thin-blue-line flag. According to the Marshall Project, “Those who fly the flag have said it stands for solidarity and professional pride within a dangerous, difficult profession and a solemn tribute to fallen police officers.” Yet there’s the pro-police thin-blue-line flag being used as a weapon — against the police. Against Fanone.

    (The Marshall Project also notes the banner has been adopted by white supremacists. Of course.)

    That haunting photo encapsulates the outrage I feel at self-proclaimed pro-police patriots, these armchair law enforcement officers who were just fine with cops in riot gear brandishing military-grade weapons as they quashed peaceful Black Lives Matter demonstrations around the country. These are often the same people braying against the slogan “defund the police” without even bothering to attempt to understand what those words actually mean.

    Fanone captured perfectly the hypocrisy of it all in his Time magazine interview. He said that the few Republican members of Congress who would meet with him used their support of law enforcement during BLM protests last year as a shield against his criticism that they were refusing to stand by police after the savage attacks they suffered on Jan. 6th.

    “You guys don’t seem to have a problem when we’re kicking the sh-t out of Black people,” Fanone recalls saying. “But when we’re kicking the sh-t out of white people, uh-oh, that’s an issue.”

    Quite a withering assessment from a self-described redneck who voted for Trump. But, Fanone told Time, the horror he endured opened his eyes to the truth.

    And the truth is this: Republicans and conservatives who howl about “law and order” never meant it as a statement of universal principle. It was “law and order” for the Black and the Brown. The other. Get in the way of the straight, White, cisgender male’s (and female’s) divine right to riot and to act a fool, to push the prerogatives of an aggrieved and shrinking White majority or to overthrow the government and the message appears to be: “You get what’s coming to you.”

    Officer Fanone and the other men and women who protected the Capitol on Jan. 6 deserve so much better.

    In a Rose Garden ceremony on Thursday, President Biden signed into law the bill awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to the officers who not only defended the Capitol but also defended democracy. There are actually four medals that will be on public display as a reminder of the bravery and the sacrifices made in defense of democracy.

    […] Police aren’t perfect. And because they wield the power of life and death with the backing of the state, we have every right to hold them to a higher standard and to demand that they be held accountable when they get it tragically wrong. But this doesn’t blind me to the importance of law enforcement or their countless acts of heroism.

    That’s why I thank Fanone and fellow Metropolitan Police Officer Daniel Hodges and U.S. Capitol Police Officers Harry Dunn and Aquilino Gonell for their commitment to ensuring that America knows the truth of what happened on Jan. 6.

    […] Anyone unwilling to recognize their valor is delusional. Anyone willing to pretend that Jan. 6 was anything but an attempt to overthrow our government is deplorable.

  236. blf says

    During the 10th flight on Mars on July 24th, an attempt was made to use the Ingenuity helicopter’s onboard colour camera to make a stereoscopic image. It worked, Jezero Crater’s Raised Ridges in 3D:

    […] The stereo images of the geologic feature were taken at the request of the Mars Perseverance rover science team, which was considering visiting the ridges during the first science campaign. On Earth, similar fractures in desert environments might be a clue to past liquid water activity and thus past habitability.

    The 3D view (or anaglyph) is best viewed with red-blue glasses. It was created by combining data from two images taken meters apart by the RTE camera aboard Ingenuity. At the time the two images were taken, Ingenuity was at an altitude of 40 feet (12 meters).
    […]

    And from My Favorite Martian Image: Helicopter Scouts Ridge Area for Perseverance featuring Kevin Hand, “a scientist at [JPL] and co-lead of the Perseverance rover’s first science campaign”:

    “In 3D it almost feels like you can reach out and touch the Raised Ridges,” said Hand. “But along with its immersive beauty, the image provides great detail. If you look closely, you can see some curious lines across the surfaces of several rocks. Are these just made by eons of wind and dust blowing over the rocks, or might those features tell the story of water? We just don’t know yet.”

  237. blf says

    DeSanitary (or is it DeSanity?) blathers and bellows, some snippets from Florida Sees Record COVID Hospitalizations for 6th Day in Row as DeSantis Deflects Criticism:

    DeSantis said he believed that wearing masks would send the message that vaccines are ineffective, thereby hurting efforts to convince people to get vaccinated.

    DeSantis also recently defended his response to the Delta variant and blamed President Joe Biden for not doing enough to combat the COVID-19 crisis, pointing to the border with Mexico.

    Joe Biden has taken to himself to single out Florida over COVID, DeSantis said. This is a guy who ran for president saying he was going to ‘shut down the virus’ and what has he done? He’s imported more virus from around the world by having a wide-open southern border.

    In the Grauniad, Robert Reich (former US secretary of labor and now professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley) tackles this latest thug stunt — blaming migrants for the surging Delta variant — While Delta spreads, Republicans deflect and resort to Trump demagoguery:

    [… W]ith unvaccinated Americans — notably and conspicuously residents of states and counties that voted overwhelmingly for Trump in 2020 — succumbing to the Delta strain in large numbers, Trump Republicans are falling back on their proven method of deflecting attention by blaming immigrants crossing the southern border.

    [… numerous examples…]

    Can we please stop for a moment and look at the actual data? The Delta variant is spreading fastest in interior states like Missouri and Arkansas, far away from the Mexican border.

    It was first detected in India in December, and then moved directly to the United States in March and April according to the CDC.

    GISAID, a nonprofit organization that tracks the genetic sequencing of viruses, has shown that each of the four variants now circulating in the United States arrived here before spreading to Mexico and Central America. International travel rather than immigration over the southern border brought the viruses to America.

    Haven’t we had enough demagoguery and deflection? Haven’t Trump and his ilk done enough damage already?

    The blame game must stop. Let’s be clear: The best way to contain deaths and hospitalizations from Covid is to get more Americans vaccinated. Period.

  238. blf says

    France asks medical staff for help treating Covid-19 on Guadeloupe and Martinique:

    France’s health minister on Sunday appealed for volunteer doctors and nurses to travel to the overseas territories of Guadaloupe and Martinique as a wave of Covid-19 infections overwhelms hospitals on the two Caribbean islands.

    Health Minister Olivier Véran said the first medical staff would fly out on Tuesday, as health authorities race to administer Covid-19 vaccine shots but come up against a deep-rooted culture of vaccine hesitancy.

    Only 21 percent of the populations of Guadaloupe and Martinique have received a first dose of a vaccine […]

    Hospitals on the islands are buckling under pressure with intensive care bed occupancy on Martinique alone at 200 percent of normal capacity.
    […]

  239. says

    blf @289

    And from My Favorite Martian Image: Helicopter Scouts Ridge Area for Perseverance.

    That is a great image. I’m loving the little helicopter that can do almost anything the scientists require.

    Text quoted by blf @290:

    […] Can we please stop for a moment and look at the actual data? The Delta variant is spreading fastest in interior states like Missouri and Arkansas, far away from the Mexican border.

    It was first detected in India in December, and then moved directly to the United States in March and April according to the CDC.

    GISAID, a nonprofit organization that tracks the genetic sequencing of viruses, has shown that each of the four variants now circulating in the United States arrived here before spreading to Mexico and Central America. International travel rather than immigration over the southern border brought the viruses to America.

    Yes. Those are the facts. Governor DeSantis of Florida, Governor Abbott of Texas, and other Republicans are barking up the wrong tree. More people are dying thanks to their misinformation.

  240. says

    More signs of the scammers and grifters getting caught: Trump campaign, RNC refund donors another $12.8 million in 2021

    Former President White House squatter Trump’s campaign and the Republican Party returned around $12.8 million to donors in the first six months of 2021 […]

    It was previously reported in April that Trump’s reelection campaign had refunded around $122 million to donors in 2020. Recently released federal records have revealed that the Trump campaign has so far returned $135 million to campaign donors.

    Shortly before Election Day last year, Trump’s campaign made recurring payments the default option on the campaign’s donation website, meaning that people had to uncheck the option to avoid being charged weekly.

    The Times found that the campaign had attempted to obscure this detail by placing it in the fine print beneath multiple lines of bolded and capitalized text

    The campaign also added a second pre-checked box that doubled a donor’s donation along with new lines of text that distracted readers from what they were agreeing to.

    Trump’s reelection campaign reportedly withdrew over $3,000 in less than a month from one donor who was in hospice care and had donated $500 in September.

    Typical cult leader behavior, continue to rip off your followers until they have nothing left.

    […] These actions by the Trump campaign caused a wave of fraud complaints to credit card companies, the Times reports, with supporters demanding refunds for their unwittingly expanded donations.

    “It’s pretty clear that the Trump campaign was engaging in deceptive tactics,” Peter Loge, director of the Project on Ethics in Political Communication at George Washington University, told the Times. “If you have to return that much money you are doing something either very wrong or very unethical.”

    The Times has previously reported that Trump’s campaign has returned over 10 percent of the $1.2 billion that it raised. President Biden’s campaign, in comparison, returned about 2.2 percent of donations.

  241. says

    Wonkette: Florida Will Pay For Victims Of ‘COVID-19 Harassment’ To Attend Less Hygienic Schools

    On Friday, the Florida Department of Health issued emergency orders giving school districts the right to impose mask mandates on students and employees — but only if parents had the ability to opt their children out of wearing one. Governor Ron DeSantis, unsurprisingly, has even vowed to defund any schools that don’t give students [the opt-out option]

    These new protocols also include a ban on “discrimination” against children who don’t wear masks and a prohibition on barring them from any school activities […] But the anti-mask/anti-vaxxers were not sure that went far enough in protecting the rights of those who wish to exercise their freedom to spread a deadly and contagious virus.

    And that is why, also on Friday, Florida State Board of Education unanimously voted to give out school vouchers to parents of children experiencing what they are calling “COVID-19 Harassment,” so that they can go to to new schools where no one will judge the little darlings for not wearing masks, getting tested or isolating after exposure to COVID-19. […]

    Alas, given the rate at which the Delta variant is tearing through Florida — the state broke its own record number of COVID-19 diagnoses three times last week — those schools may soon be fewer and further between. Either because the people who operate and attend them will be less interested in catching the virus from these students or because they are dead.

    Via Tampa Bay Times:

    Parents can now claim “COVID-19 harassment” over a district’s COVID-19 rules and apply for a Hope scholarship to transfer kids to another school of their choice. Specifically, a parent can apply for a voucher in “instances where a child has been subjected to COVID-19 harassment will provide parents another means to protect the health and education of their child by moving their child to another school.”

    The state has defined “COVID-19 harassment” broadly: “any threatening, discriminatory, insulting, or dehumanizing verbal, written or physical conduct an individual student suffers in relation to, or as a result of, school districts protocols for COVID-19, including masking requirement, the separation or isolation of students, or COVID-19 testing requirements.”

    Furthermore, the rule says “unnecessarily isolating, quarantining, or subjecting children to physical COVID-19 constraints in schools poses a threat to developmental upbringing and should not occur absent a heightened showing of an actual illness or serious risk of illness to other students.”

    As the Delta variant is affecting children more than the original COVID-19 virus, one might consider that catching it could also pose a threat to their developmental upbringing.

    The real purpose of this, of course, is to present the unvaccinated and unmasked as victims of discrimination rather than assholes who don’t care if other people live or die. This tack is evident in the approximately 80,000 attempts to link their plight to that of Jewish people during the Holocaust — who, it should be noted, were specifically not the ones trying to kill people. They refer to mask mandates and requirements for vaccine passports as segregation. It’s all they’ve ever dreamed of, really — an opportunity to get what they see as the “benefits” of being an oppressed minority without the inconvenience of actually being one.

    Another charming example of this happened this weekend, when anti-vaxxers the world over got emotional over a “powerful display of solidarity” in Italy, when vaccinated people burnt their own Green Passes (vaccine passports) in protest of cruel discrimination against the unvaccinated. Or, rather, a requirement that if you want to go somewhere indoors, you have to prove you are vaccinated first. A very, very good requirement that we are going to need to adopt eventually if we ever want to be able to have lives again. [video available at the link]

    Except here’s the thing — the Green Pass is digital. It’s an app. There are physical copies like we have, but this is what they look like. They are not just random green sheets of paper.

    Additionally, the original tweet of the video, which came from a far-right Italian Twitter account, did not even claim that those burning the green pieces of paper were vaccinated.

    Now, I happen to speak Italian so I can read that — but so can literally anyone else if they click the “translate this” button on the Tweet. It just says, basically, that people are burning green passes to protest discrimination against the 30 million Italians who are refusing to get the vaccine.

    The very emotional reactions to this video from anti-vaxxers on a QAnon message board included such gems as:

    “Almost brings a tear to my eye, seeing this. God bless those people who choose unity over division.”

    “Go France go. They love freedom.” (personal fave)

    “God bless the free people of the world that can see through the fog and darkness”

    […] “This video is so great to see. We need this everywhere — as an unvaccinated person I am genuinely afraid of the vaccinated going up against me. This felt like great hopium to watch.”

    Reactions to this bullshit were quite similar across the anti-vaxxosphere. They have essentially created a whole ass LARP in which they are an oppressed minority being denied their civil liberties, and that the unfairness of all of this is so evident that eventually even the vaccinated sheeple will see how cruel it all is and stand beside them, on purpose, in an enclosed area. And that is fucking nuts.

    The goal, ultimately, as with the ban on “COVID-19 Harassment” in Florida schools, is to remove all context, (COVID safety protocols) and turn this into a social justice issue that is about discrimination and civil liberties rather than keeping people healthy and safe. […]

    The fact is, when you put people in danger, on purpose or not, you do have your civil liberties revoked. If you’re drunk, you relinquish your “right” to drive. If you are a doctor and you amputate the wrong leg, you lose your right to practice medicine (hopefully). If you don’t go to medical school in the first place, you never get a right to practice medicine. […] If you are not tall enough to ride a ride, you don’t get to ride the ride because the park owner has a right to protect themselves from lawsuits. If you kill someone, you get sent to prison. These things are not harassment, they are not discrimination, and neither are mask mandates or vaccine passports.

  242. blf says

    Spotted via the summary Report finds Doximity, a social network for doctors, is riddled with anti-vaccine comments, is the CNBC article The social network for doctors is full of vaccine disinformation (CNBC edits in {curly braces}):

    Dr Paul Malarik […] spends about 50 hours a month helping to administer Covid-19 vaccines at pop-up clinics near his home in San Luis Obispo, California. So he’s particularly troubled when he logs onto Doximity, a site used by doctors, and reads anti-vaccine comments.

    “You rarely get to the level of microchips in vaccines, but a lot of this stuff is pretty close to it,” said Malarik, who volunteers his time to mix vaccines, put shots in arms and educate the public. “They’re actively working against us.”

    Doximity, which has long described itself as LinkedIn for doctors, held its stock market debut in June and rocketed up to a $10 billion market cap. In its IPO prospectus, the company said it had 1.8 million members, including 80% of physicians across the US. They use the site to connect with one another, share research, stay informed on industry trends and securely communicate with patients.

    Malarik […] said it’s baffling to peruse Doximity’s site and find the type of misinformation that he expects to see on Facebook and YouTube […]

    […] There’s no anonymity on the site, so everyone is identified. In the posts, they refer to the vaccines as experimental, unproven or deadly and occasionally write Fauxi when talking about Dr Anthony Fauci […]

    Some commenters say that antibodies from contracting Covid are more effective than [… mRNA] vaccines, which instruct human cells to make specific proteins that produce an immune response to the disease.

    [… A] surgeon wrote: Covid-19 vaccines have already killed over 4,000 adults who’ve received the vaccine, the post said, appearing to mimic a debunked claim made by Fox News host Tucker Carlson. To mandate a vaccine that has already killed over 4,000 is akin to murder.

    […] Articles about vaccines or masks have hundreds of comments, many that are factually inaccurate and often based on conspiracy theories, while stories on less politically divisive topics have just a few comments, if any at all.

    [… A] recent article on masking mandates for kids caught the ire of some of the same doctors who oppose the vaccines. A general surgeon commented that masking children is absolutely ridiculous and a form of child abuse. Another said that 50 years of data accumulated by the CDC and {World Health Organization} demonstrated those masks to have made no difference. None.

    […]

    Like most virtual communities, we have community guidelines in place to ensure that Doximity remains a safe and respectful environment, the company said. We employ a rigorous clinical review process, staffed by physicians, to evaluate member comments that are flagged as being potential misinformation.

    I set the company’s statement in eejit quotes because the guidelines (listed in the article) clearly aren’t being followed, and it’s doubtful (due to the reported volume) the review process is working — assuming that process isn’t staffed by anti-vaxxers.

    The risk to doctors goes well beyond any potential action taken by Doximity. Last week, the Federation of State Medical Boards, a nonprofit representing medical boards across the country, released a statement telling doctors they can lose their license for such activity.

    “Physicians who generate and spread COVID-19 vaccine misinformation or disinformation are risking disciplinary action by state medical boards, including the suspension or revocation of their medical license,” the FSMB said. “Due to their specialized knowledge and training, licensed physicians possess a high degree of public trust and therefore have a powerful platform in society, whether they recognize it or not.”

    The FSMB said it was responding to a “dramatic increase” in the dissemination of false information by doctors on social media and elsewhere. But the group isn’t actively scouring sites for abusers.

    […]

  243. blf says

    Coming Soon For The Unvaccinated: A $50 Monthly Paycheck Deduction From Your Employer:

    Employers are beginning to tack on a special surcharge of $20 to $50 a month to their unvaccinated workers, according to one of the nation’s largest health benefits consultancies.

    To date, employers have offered gift cards, a day off from work, cash and other financial incentives to convince their workers to get vaccinated against Covid-19.

    But the carrot approach is about to be joined by a stick that could cost employees up to $50 a month, according to Mercer, the large employee benefits consultancy that works with thousands of employers around the world.

    […]

    Aside from a public health reason to encourage vaccination and keep workers and their families healthy, there is also a financial reason. Covid-19 can lead to serious illness and an expensive hospital stay that costs the worker and company-paid insurance, triggering premium increases as well.

    […] “Getting hospitalized with Covid-19 in the United States typically generates huge bills,” Dr Elisabeth Rosenthal and Stanford University’s Glenn Kramon wrote [in the NYT], citing examples that included “a $104,000 bill for a 14-day hospitalization in Miami for an uninsured person.”

    […]

  244. says

    blf @295, those doctors disseminating false information should be named and shamed. I wonder if outing and shaming them in their local media would work?

    In other news, Oklahoma judge orders state to resume federal unemployment benefits

    An Oklahoma judge on Friday ordered the state to resume paying the supplemental $300 federal unemployment benefit that the state had discontinued earlier this summer.

    The Oklahoman reports District Judge Anthony L. Bonner Jr. issued a preliminary injunction ordering the state to notify the U.S. Labor Department to reinstate and administer federal unemployment benefits provided for as part of Congress’ coronavirus relief efforts.

    Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) had discontinued the coronavirus-related federal unemployment boost in June, arguing, like many in the GOP, the benefits were disincentivizing unemployed people from reentering the workforce – a claim Democrats and a number of economists pushed back on. At the time of his decision, Stitt had also announced a one-time $1,200 return-to-work incentive payment.

    Apart from the $300 supplemental payments, Bonner’s order also restores an extension on unemployment benefits beyond the 26-week cutoff; unemployment benefits to those who normally would not qualify such as gig workers and self-employed individuals; and an additional $100 a week for those who earn at least $5,000 in self-employed income in the most recent taxable year.

    Bonner prohibited the state from withdrawing from the program until he issues a final order or until the program expired in September, the Oklahoman reports. Bonner said that he will provide a more detailed order on Monday.

    […] Governors in over half the U.S. states have moved to end pandemic benefits under the argument that they are keeping people from rejoining the workforce. […]

  245. blf says

    A follow-up to @290 and DeSanity’s alleged-belief “that wearing masks would send the message that vaccines are ineffective, thereby hurting efforts to convince people to get vaccinated”, Wearing Masks Undermines The Vaccine Narrative Highlights A Key Science Literacy Challenge:

    […]
    The clear message from President Biden, Dr Anthony Fauci, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and virtually all medical or health care professionals who did not get a degree from “Social Media University,” is that COVID-19 vaccines are effective, reduce risk of getting the virus, and significantly lower the likelihood of severe symptoms, hospitalization, or death. […]

    [… V]accinated people can still transmit the virus to unvaccinated people. In the US, only about 50% of the population is fully vaccinated. Additionally, young children are not eligible for the vaccine, and most of them are returning to school too (if not already). This is why masks are needed, and why we have to carefully consider messaging of multiple scenarios, outcomes, or processes.

    Ok, Dr Shepherd [the author –blf], where is this science literacy challenge that you speak of? As a professor, meteorologist and climate scientist, I have noticed over the years that people struggle with multiple processes, outcomes or scenarios. […] Another example is related to drought, floods, and climate warming. Most people, including many policymakers, want me to say that climate change is causing more intense droughts or floods. The real answer is that both sides of the precipitation-related extremes are being impacted. For many people, however, that is counterintuitive.

    [… I]t is not weird to think about the efficacy of the vaccine and understand the need to wear masks. However, I can completely understand how others arrive at the conclusion policy should be, either the mask or get the vaccine.

    I am a climate scientist so some people will oddly remind me that climate changes naturally. I usually assure them that we understand that within the atmospheric sciences community. I then go on to remind them that the naturally-varying climate system is still affected by anthropogenic processes. It’s “and” not “or”. Grass grows naturally, but it grows differently when the soil is fertilized.

  246. says

    Follow-up to comments 235 (SC), 237, 239 (SC) and 241 (SC).

    Dr. Fauci responded to questions about the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota:

    “I mean, to me it’s understandable that people want to do the kinds of things they want to do. They want their freedom to do that,” Fauci said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “But there comes a time when you’re dealing with a public health crisis that could involve you, your family and everyone else, that something supersedes that need to do exactly what you want to do.”

    “There are more people here than in the 31 years I’ve been doing this,” Meade County Sheriff Ron Merwin [said].

  247. blf says

    Covid-19 Reinfections For Unvaccinated Over Twice As Likely Compared To Vaccinated (all emphasis in the excerpt are in the original):

    Sorry Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky). Two studies, one published in June and another this past Friday, provide more evidence that people should get the Covid-19 vaccine even if they’ve already had Covid-19 previously. And the study conducted by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) folks provides evidence straight from your home state of Kentucky.

    In May, Paul wrote an Op-Ed for the Courier Journal entitled, “The science proves people with natural immunity should skip COVID vaccines.” The headline for that piece was a giveaway for what Paul was claiming in the commentary: that people who’ve recovered from Covid-19 do not need to get the Covid-19 vaccine. The words “science proves” make for a really strong statement. For example, don’t say “science proves you’re a douchebag” until you have abundant evidence of that person’s douchebaggery. In general, you want to be pretty darn sure about something before using the phrase “science proves.” […]

    Ironically, a month after Paul’s Op-Ed’s headline said “science proves,” a study published in the journal Science in June did the opposite. It showed evidence that contradicted Paul’s headline and conclusion. So, Science, or more specifically a publication in Science, did not agree with what Paul said about science.

    Forbes is getting all snarky on Paul’s arse (and the head inserted inside).

    […] They collected blood from 15 folks who had had confirmed [… SARS-CoV-2] before and after they had received the Covid-19 mRNA vaccines and from 13 folks who not had Covid-19 previously but were full vaccinated.

    In those who had had Covid-19 but were not fully vaccinated, the levels of antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 were “variable and weak” in the words of the researchers. “Variable and weak” is not very comforting, whether you are describing your date, your underwear, or your immune protection. This is not terribly surprising because a SARS-CoV-2 can be like a box of chocolates, except that these chocolates are really awful and should not be eaten. When it comes to a SARS-CoV-2, you never know exactly what you are going to get. The infection can range from being completely without symptoms to mild to more severe to really severe to really, really severe. And these different manifestations may not elicit the same immune responses.

    By contrast, those who had had Covid-19 and had subsequently gotten vaccinated had higher (up to 1000-fold) levels of antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2. In fact, their blood sera neutralized the Beta variant of the Covid-19 coronavirus better than the blood sera of those who had had Covid-19 and were not subsequently vaccinated. All of this suggested that vaccination could further boost the immune protection against Covid-19 among those who had already had Covid-19.

    And now a study just published in the CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) found that among people who had already had Covid-19 those unvaccinated were 2.34 times as likely to get re-infected compared to those who were fully vaccinated. This study included residents from Paul’s home state of Kentucky. […]

    Of course, these two studies, unlike avocado toast, are not perfect. [… reasons to be cautious about the studies…]

    So take both of these studies with a grain of salt. These alone certainly are not enough to say “science proves people with natural immunity should still get Covid vaccines.” Again, in general, using the words “science proves” is not a good idea. Instead, real scientists tend say things like “scientific evidence supports such and such” or “scientific evidence suggests this or that.” That’s why scientific language doesn’t always play well when it comes to political speeches or dates. Saying “evidence suggests that you are attractive, perhaps even sexy, but more studies are needed” may not make the other person swoon.

    Nevertheless, results from both of these studies do support getting the Covid-19 vaccine even if you’ve already had Covid-19. Relying on natural immunity that may be “variable and weak” is not a great idea. That would be like relying on a car, a parachute, a condom, or a combination of the three that’s “variable and weak.” Plus, even if you do develop reasonable immune protection after recovering from Covid-19, it’s not clear how long such natural immunity may last. […]

    Compared to natural exposure to the virus, vaccine doses are more consistent and directed. A vaccine essentially tells your immune system, “hey dude or dudette, focus on the spike protein. No, not on something else. Just the spike protein.” Therefore, in addition to being stronger and less variable, vaccine protection could potentially last longer than natural immunity.

    Paul also asserted we should be excited, throwing away our masks.

      † SARS-CoV-2 is the virus, so I assume the confusingly-worded description means either those 15 people had confirmed infections with the virus, or (as implied in the next paragraph) had the Covid-19 disease itself (which is caused by the virus).

  248. blf says

    Not too long ago in this series of poopyhead threads, I excerpted an RWW article about some nutcase magic sky faerie botherer opposed to vaccines, got Covid-19, recovered, is still opposed to vaccines, and now asserts the Delta variant is caused by being vaccinated. A variant conspiracy theory is the vaccines caused the Delta variant, Did Covid-19 Vaccines Cause Coronavirus Delta Variants? Here’s What The Timing Says:

    […]
    There is however one big flaw in such claims. It has to do with the space-time continuum and the lack of a flux capacitor.

    Usually a cause has to come before an effect. For example, the song “Friday” by Rebecca Black did not cause the stock market crash of 1929. That’s because the song came out in 2011. And Rebecca Black to the best of our knowledge does not have a time machine.

    The same logic should apply when considering the origins of the […] Delta variant. Take a look at the “Tracking SARS-CoV-2 variants” website from [WHO]. This shows when the different “Variants of Concern” and “Variants of Interest” were first detected. As you can see, all of these variants emerged in 2020. […]

    Next keep in mind when Covid-19 vaccination actually started in different parts of the world. […] Covid-19 vaccination didn’t really begin in India until January 2021, about three months after the Delta variant had emerged. Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna did not receive emergency use authorization (EUA) from the [FDA] for their Covid-19 mRNA vaccines until December 2020, the same month that the Astra-Zeneca Covid-19 vaccine first received authorization in the UK. All of this was after all four of the Variants of Concern had already been spreading.

    Then look at where many of these variants have been first detected. Hmm, what do they have in common? Could it be that they have all failed to really control the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus? The US, the UK, India, Brazil, and Peru wouldn’t be the answer to the Jeopardy question, “what countries have done the best at containing the SARS-CoV-2?” […] The US, the UK, India, and Brazil have consistently at or near the top of the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center list of countries with the most reported Covid-19 cases in the world. Peru has topped the globe with the highest per capita Covid-19 related mortality.

    This brings us to the real reason variants of the Covid-19 coronavirus have emerged. “They’re multiplying” in the words of John Travolta from the movie Grease. In this case, they means the virus and not the hots for Olivia Newton-John. [… E]very time the virus infects a cell and uses the cell like a cheap motel to reproduce, the virus can make mistakes. The virus can be like that drunk person in an office party who decides to use the photocopy machine to make many copies of his or her butt. Each copy may be slightly off, resulting in butt variants when its the bottom line, so to speak, and virus variants when it comes to the Covid-19 coronavirus.

    [… T]he best way to prevent the emergence and spread of new variants is to better prevent the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus. The way to do that is to maintain Covid-19 precautions such as social distancing and face mask use until enough of the population is fully vaccinated to reach herd immunity thresholds. Once herd immunity thresholds are reached, the Covid-19 coronavirus will struggle to find new people to infect and no longer be able to continue spreading as it has.

    The Covid-19 vaccines help protect against the Delta variant. Blaming the vaccines for the emergence of such variants would be like blaming the doctor after you’ve already superglued your genitals to a bobblehead doll. Chances are your doctor never used the words “superglue”, “bobblehead”, “genitals”, and “would be nice” all together in one sentence during a previous clinic visit. In fact, the words “superglue”, “bobblehead” and “genitals” probably shouldn’t be used jointly without special permission.

    Again, if you don’t want varying copies of your butt to circulate in the office, don’t sit on the copying machine and press the “Copy” button 1 trillion times. Similarly, failure to control the Covid-19 coronavirus will ultimately lead to more variants. […]

  249. blf says

    Good grief. Whilst not obviously dated, this is obviously very recent, [Farcebork p]ost misleads on origin of delta variant name:

    [… S]ome people online say there’s something even more sinister about the delta variant: its name.

    You’re under a spell, reads text in a July 31 post on Facebook, which has more than 1,400 shares. Delta variant. Delta = Deep sleep.

    […]

    While the delta variant does share a name with a brain wave that is associated with sleep, there is no deeper meaning. The coronavirus variants are named after letters in the Greek alphabet.

    […]

    The claim is likely referring to delta brain waves, which occur most often during the sleep period known as deep sleep. The four categories of brain waves were also named using the Greek alphabet.

    The mildly deranged penguin claims the name Delta variant refers to a variant of the Greek language, a “Linear D”, whose script is unknown and which no samples have ever been fund. She says it was spoken mostly in the Ancient Greek’s spa on one of the moons of Venus. I point out Venus has no moons, and her reply was “not anymore, the cheese kept melting”, which is apparently why no samples of Linear D exist, those clever Greeks wrote it all down on Feta. Literary discussions were often food-fights.

  250. says

    France 24 – “Diverse Olympians- seize stage in Bolsonaro’s Brazil”:

    The Brazil of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro is not always a welcoming place for women, gays and people of color.

    But a diverse group of Brazilian Olympians has seized the stage in Tokyo, claiming the most medals in the country’s history — and winning hearts back home.

    With the women’s volleyball team’s win Friday in the semi-finals, Brazil’s Olympians guaranteed they would bring back at least 20 medals from Japan, besting the previous record of 19 medals the country snagged when it hosted the Rio Games in 2016.

    The record-breaking haul comes courtesy of a group of Olympians as diverse as Brazil itself — including golds from black gymnast Rebeca Andrade, lesbian swimmer Ana Marcela Cunha and female sailors Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze.

    “This medal is also the result of all the help we’ve gotten fighting for equal rights,” said Cunha after winning gold in marathon swimming.

    “Women can be whatever we want, wherever we want and however we want.”

    Brazil’s rainbow-colored Olympic exploits come at a time when the country is in the midst of a conservative wave led by Bolsonaro, who regularly draws accusations of racism, misogyny and homophobia for his comments on blacks, women and gays.

    The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights warned in April there has been an increase in hate crimes and hate speech in Brazil since Bolsonaro took office in 2019.

    “These wins for women, blacks and LGBTQIA+ people helps bring visibility to other ways of living, which were oppressed, excluded and kept largely invisible until only recently in our history,” said anthropologist Claudia Kessler of the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul.

    “Slavery, the forced internment of homosexuals in psychiatric hospitals and the absence of civil rights for women went on for centuries,” she told AFP.

    Brazilian women have won more medals in Tokyo than ever before, with nine. Brazil, however, is not always an easy place for women to succeed.

    It has only been four decades since the repeal of a law that barred women in Brazil from playing sports deemed “incompatible with their nature,” including football, boxing, rugby and weight-lifting.

    Volleyball star Douglas Souza, one of the few openly gay men in Brazilian sports, has meanwhile conquered social media with his humorous posts offering a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the games.

    “The power of sport and the visibility of the Olympics are reconfiguring the national conversation on minorities, on women, on gays, on blacks in Brazil,” said sociologist Marcia Couto of the University of Sao Paulo.

    Bolsonaro has yet to congratulate any of Brazil’s Olympians.

    They have also kept quiet on him, largely steering clear of politics.

    But many have not been shy in speaking out about their race, class and sexual identity.

    “I want recognition,” sprint canoeist Isaquias Queiroz wrote in newspaper Globo.

    “I want a black person from Bahia (the state with the largest Afro-Brazilian population) to be the biggest star in Brazil.”

    Brazil’s population is 55 percent black or mixed-race. It was the last country in the Americas to abolish slavery, in 1888, and the United Nations warned last year that it remains an “extreme example” of structural racism.

    Footballer Paulinho meanwhile made his statement on the pitch, celebrating a goal in Brazil’s 4-2 win over Germany by striking a bow-and-arrow pose that symbolizes Oxossi — an orixa, or Afro-Brazilian deity — which went viral in Brazil.

  251. says

    Guardian – “Eight-year-old becomes youngest person charged with blasphemy in Pakistan”:

    An eight-year-old Hindu boy is being held in protective police custody in east Pakistan after becoming the youngest person ever to be charged with blasphemy in the country.

    The boy’s family is in hiding and many of the Hindu community in the conservative district of Rahim Yar Khan, in Punjab, have fled their homes after a Muslim crowd attacked a Hindu temple after the boy’s release on bail last week. Troops were deployed to the area to quell any further unrest.

    On Saturday, 20 people were arrested in connection with the temple attack.

    The boy is accused of intentionally urinating on a carpet in the library of a madrassa, where religious books were kept, last month. Blasphemy charges can carry the death penalty.

    The Guardian knows the name of the boy and family members, but has chosen to protect their identities for their safety.

    Speaking from an undisclosed location, a member of the boy’s family told the Guardian: “He [the boy] is not even aware of such blasphemy issues and he has been falsely indulged in these matters. He still doesn’t understand what his crime was and why he was kept in jail for a week.

    “We have left our shops and work, the entire community is scared and we fear backlash. We don’t want to return to this area. We don’t see any concrete and meaningful action will be taken against the culprits or to safeguard the minorities living here.”

    Blasphemy charges filed against a child have shocked legal experts, who say the move is unprecedented. No one this young has ever been charged with blasphemy before in Pakistan.

    Blasphemy laws have been disproportionately used in the past against religious minorities in Pakistan. Although no blasphemy executions have been carried out in the country since the death penalty was introduced for the crime in 1986, suspects are often attacked and sometimes killed by mobs.

    Footage circulating on social media appears to show an angry mob attacking and vandalising the temple with iron bars and sticks last week.

    Pakistan’s prime minister, Imran Khan, condemned the mob attack on Twitter and said he has ordered the provincial police chief to take action against anyone involved, including negligent police officers. He promised the government would restore the temple.

    In New Delhi, India’s external affairs ministry summoned a Pakistani diplomat to protest the attack and demand the safety of Hindu families living in Muslim-majority Pakistan. [I mean…]

    In December last year, a large violent mob of conservative Muslims demolished a century old Hindu temple in the north-western province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

    According to a report by the US Commission on International Religious Freedoms, published last year, Pakistan reported the highest number of incidents of mob activity, mob violence, and/or threats of mob violence as a result of alleged blasphemous acts….

  252. says

    Here’s a link to the August 9 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    From there:

    One person is now dying with Covid-19 every two minutes in Iran, state TV has said, as the Middle East’s worst-hit nation reported a new record daily toll of 588 fatalities.

    Reuters reports that with authorities complaining of poor social distancing, state media say hospitals in several cities have run out of beds for new patients. Some social media users have criticised a slow vaccination campaign, with only about 4% of the 83 million population fully inoculated.

    “Every two seconds one person gets infected in Iran and almost every two minutes one person dies from the coronavirus,” state TV said, adding that most of Iran’s 31 provinces have moved from the lower risk orange level to red alert. That compares to a reported rate of about one death per three minutes a month ago, Reuters reports.

    In January, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, banned imports of US- and British-made vaccines, saying they were unreliable and may propagate the infection. Iran has blamed US sanctions for hampering purchases and deliveries of vaccines from other nations.

    Iran’s new president, Ebrahim Raisi, who received his first dose of a homegrown Covid-19 vaccine in public yesterday, has urged officials to speed up vaccinations and to use “all necessary means” for curbing the pandemic, state media reported.

  253. says

    Guardian – “Major climate changes inevitable and irreversible – IPCC’s starkest warning yet”:

    Human activity is changing the Earth’s climate in ways “unprecedented” in thousands or hundreds of thousands of years, with some of the changes now inevitable and “irreversible”, climate scientists have warned.

    Within the next two decades, temperatures are likely to rise by more than 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, breaching the ambition of the 2015 Paris climate agreement, and bringing widespread devastation and extreme weather.

    Only rapid and drastic reductions in greenhouse gases in this decade can prevent such climate breakdown, with every fraction of a degree of further heating likely to compound the accelerating effects, according to the International Panel on Climate Change, the world’s leading authority on climate science.

    The comprehensive assessment of climate science published on Monday, the sixth such report from the IPCC since 1988, has been eight years in the making, marshalling the work of hundreds of experts and peer-review studies. It represents the world’s full knowledge to date of the physical basis of climate change, and found that human activity was “unequivocally” the cause of rapid changes to the climate, including sea level rises, melting polar ice and glaciers, heatwaves, floods and droughts.

    World leaders said the stark findings must force new policy measures as a matter of urgency, to shift the global economy to a low-carbon footing. Governments from 197 countries will meet this November in Glasgow for vital UN climate talks, called Cop26.

    Each nation is asked to come to Cop26 with fresh plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to a level that will limit global heating to no more than 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, the ambition of the Paris climate agreement and a goal the IPCC emphasised was still possible, but only just.

    António Guterres, the UN secretary general, warned: “[This report] is a code red for humanity. The alarm bells are deafening, and the evidence is irrefutable: greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel burning and deforestation are choking our planet and putting billions of people at immediate risk.”

    He called for an end to new coal plants and to new fossil fuel exploration and development, and for governments, investors and businesses to pour all their efforts into a low-carbon future. “This report must sound a death knell for coal and fossil fuels, before they destroy our planet,” he said.

    Temperatures have now risen by about 1.1C since the period 1850 to 1900, but stabilising the climate at 1.5C was still possible, the IPCC said. That level of heating would still result in increasing heatwaves, more intense storms, and more serious droughts and floods, but would represent a much smaller risk than 2C.

    Richard Allan, a professor of climate science at University of Reading, and an IPCC lead author, said each fraction of a degree of warming was crucial….

    Civil society groups urged governments to act without delay….

    Even if the world manages to limit warming to 1.5C, some long-term impacts of warming already in train are likely to be inevitable and irreversible. These include sea level rises, the melting of Arctic ice, and the warming and acidification of the oceans. Drastic reductions in emissions can stave off worse climate change, according to IPCC scientists, but will not return the world to the more moderate weather patterns of the past.

    Ed Hawkins, a professor of climate science at the University of Reading, and a lead author for the IPCC, said: “We are already experiencing climate change, including more frequent and extreme weather events, and for many of these impacts there is no going back.”

    This report is likely to be the last report from the IPCC while there is still time to stay below 1.5C, added Joeri Rogelj, director of research at the Grantham Institute, Imperial College London, and an IPCC lead author….

    Monday’s report will be followed next year by two further instalments: part two will focus on the impacts of the climate crisis; and the third will detail the potential solutions. Work on the report has been hampered by the Covid-19 pandemic…

  254. Czech American says

    @BLF #283

    Those oak mites are seriously messing people up. Some are having allergic reactions and feeling ill from the bites. For some, the bites are still going strong weeks later. (Some are freaking out because their dipshit doctors are diagnosing tick bites/lyme disease, but I don’t want to get started on that rant…)

    As with mosquitoes, they seem to like some people more than others. My wife has had a few bites, but I have been lucky in that I’ve only received one which cleared up in less than a week.

    I shouldn’t whine about the minor inconvenience of having to wear a hat outside, but dammit walks are an important stress/dispair outlet for me right now and I don’t need for that to be stressful too!

  255. says

    Guardian – “French police question man who reportedly admitted killing priest”:

    A man is being questioned by police after he reportedly admitted killing a priest who had offered him a home while awaiting trial for arson.

    The suspect walked into a gendarmerie in the Vendée in west France on Monday morning and allegedly told officers he had killed the cleric, the head of a Catholic religious order.

    Officers from the station at Mortagne-sur-Sèvre went to the address indicated by the suspect and found the body of Father Olivier Maire.

    The arrested man, aged 40, was reported to be a Rwandan volunteer church warden awaiting trial after he was accused of having deliberately set fire to Nantes Cathedral in July last year.

    After the fire, the man was held in custody but released on bail two months ago under a number of release conditions. Father Maire, 60, head of the Montfortain Missionary Order at Saint-Laurent-sur-Sèvre had offered him a home while awaiting his appearance in court.

    Before the Nantes fire the man had been refused permission to remain in France and was subject to an expulsion order. His arrest for the fire meant the order was put in abeyance during the legal process for arson.

    The French interior minister, Gérald Darmanin, tweeted that he was heading to the Vendée….

  256. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    Police in London have clashed with protesters who appeared to seek to enter a BBC office in White City. The demonstrators are reportedly protesting against Covid health passes and jabs for children.

    The “appeared to seek to enter” language is odd. They link to a tweet with video: “Scuffles as anti-lockdown protestors attempt to storm a BBC television office in West London.”

  257. blf says

    Today was the first day the Health Pass in France was required for restaurants, bars, cafés, etc., both indoors and outdoors. (The Health Pass — paper or app — proves you’ve been fully-vaccinated, or have had a recent negative test, or are presumed immune due to recent recovery from Covod-19 (I’ve no idea if people who legitimately cannot be vaccinated are also covered?)) Anyways, after dithering, I decided to give it a test:

    ● First café — perfect, asked and checked using the verification app. (The Health Pass is a QR-code with a number of measures to make forgery difficult whilst not revealing details or being (easily-)trackable, and is EU-wide, albeit local restrictions / measures vary.)

    ● Lunch — no checks, didn’t even ask. However, upon researching, I found there is a one week grace period to allow venues to implement checks. Disappointed, but I’m not angry… yet.

    ● Second café (bar) — perfect, asked and checked using the verification app.

    ● Third café — asked, but only checked visually (no verification app). I’m not upset (yet) due to that grace period…

    ● Fourth café (bar) — not yet open (apparently changed their hours yet again!).

    ● First café (again) — perfect, asked (with an apology for having to check again) and checked using the verification app.

    That first café is taking it quite seriously, with velvet-rope type barriers to isolate their otherwise open terrace, clear signs attached to the hand sanitiser station, etc. (None of the others were that serious, despite at least one of them would have an easier time with such barriers.) That doesn’t surprise me, the first café and its owner — both local “institutions” in the village — have always been taking the pandemic seriously.

    Didn’t see any nutters objecting, and the only problem I saw was one individual unable to operate the app, and then fumbling a long time for their paper backup (at least they had the sense to have a paper backup!).

  258. says

    Raw Story – “Tucker Carlson mocked after claiming Hungary isn’t ‘repressive’ — then having his own interview censored”:

    Fox News host Tucker Carlson spent a week in Hungary fawning over autocratic leader Viktor Orbán. Home and abroad, Carlson was attacked for glorifying a leader known for censoring journalists, attacking immigrants, and promoting right-wing nationalism.

    “Night after night, he’s promoted rhetoric that was once on the fringes, or at least should be on the fringes, to millions of viewers,” said Hannah Gais, a researcher at the Southern Poverty Law Center. “Tucker has already carried water for Orbán’s anti-immigration policies and his attacks on philanthropist George Soros — now he’s further whitewashing this authoritarian government for an American audience.”

    According to his critics, Carlson gave Orbán the American airwaves to promote right-wing populism so Fox News viewers could see how such a movement could be the future of the United States.

    Carlson even did his own report on the coverage he was getting from Hungary, saying that the mainstream media was mischaracterizing the country. Carlson claimed that they aren’t as repressive as the media is making them out to be.

    Yet, when Carlson asked his new idol about China, Orbán not only dodged the question, the interview ended up being censored by Hungarian authorities….

  259. tomh says

    The Hill:
    Supreme Court decision could set off gerrymandering ‘arms race’
    BY JOHN KRUZEL – 08/07/21

    Federal judges will no longer play the role of referee when the intensely partisan, once-per-decade fight over congressional mapmaking gets underway this year.

    As a result of decisions by the Roberts Court, federal courthouses will be forced to turn away even the most egregious cases of partisan gerrymandering, which could make it easier for state lawmakers to lock in politically manipulated voting maps for the next decade.

    “Now that the Supreme Court has officially retreated from the area, they’ve set off what will likely be an arms race between the parties to gerrymander to the fullest extent they can in the states where they hold control,” said G. Michael Parsons, a scholar at New York University School of Law.

    Gerrymandering has occurred in the U.S. since around the time of its founding. Some scholars say the practice even predates the 1812 event when Massachusetts Gov. Elbridge Gerry approved a partisan district that was so oddly shaped it was said to resemble a salamander, which, combined with his surname, produced the term “gerrymander.”
    […]

    “The Roberts Court has been a wrecking crew on voting rights,” said David Daley, an expert on partisan gerrymandering. “They really tilted the playing field away from voters and toward those who would manipulate maps for their own political gain.”
    […]

    Although both Democratic- and Republican-held state governments have undertaken the practice, most experts believe GOP legislatures stand to gain a greater partisan advantage through gerrymandering.

    A new study by the liberal nonprofit Brennan Center listed four states with GOP-held legislatures — Georgia, Florida, North Carolina and Texas — as possessing the highest risk of extreme gerrymandering, with new voting districts that dilute Democrats’ voting power.

    Those states could draw anywhere from six to 13 new congressional districts that heavily favor GOP candidates — which would be enough for Republicans to retake the House in 2022….

  260. blf says

    France24 has been publishing a series of four stories about “People of the pandemic”. The stories are too long to fairly excerpt, but all are interesting:

    (1) The French teacher who became a lockdown YouTube star: “Marie-Solène Letoqueux, a kindergarten teacher in a small town in Brittany, burst into the social media limelight during the first lockdown in France when she created a YouTube show that won her accolades and thousands of followers and, eventually, numerous awards.”

    (2) A Paris balcony’s lockdown quiz show goes global: “When France first went into lockdown in March 2020, the general mood in the country was one of anxiety. To cheer himself and his neighbours up, Noam Cartozo, an actor living in Paris, decided to bring a lockdown version of one of France’s much-loved quiz shows, « Questions pour un champion », to life from his balcony.”

    (3) Parisian chef turns restaurant into local farmers’ market: “Amandine Chaignot swapped her chef’s hat for a greengrocer’s apron during the first French lockdown to support producers and feed Parisians in search of quality products. Her small farmers’ market, a breath of fresh air in a time of crisis, inspired others to follow suit.”

    (4) The French infectious diseases expert fighting viral fake news: “Nathan Peiffer-Smadja, an expert in infectious diseases at Paris Bichat hospital, has joined a United Nations team fighting coronavirus misinformation online.”

  261. blf says

    ‘It wasn’t built to eat broccoli’: Australia’s largest ‘dragon’ unveiled:

    A pterosaur fossil found in the outback a decade ago, the largest known flying reptile on the continent, has finally been identified as a new species and is being compared to a dragon

    With an estimated seven-metre wing span, 40 razor-sharp teeth, a circular crest below its jaw and no living relatives, a new species of pterosaur discovered in outback Queensland is being touted as the closest thing Australia ever had to a mythical dragon.

    The mildly deranged penguin is a bit miffed about the “no living relatives” bit…

    […]
    Tim Richards, a University of Queensland PhD candidate, led a research team from the Dinosaur Lab in UQ’s School of Biological Sciences to describe the specimen.

    […]

    They found it would have likely had a one-metre-long skull, with a pointed snout, proportionately long wings, short hind legs and no tail, and was covered in a light fuzz.

    “It wasn’t built to eat broccoli,” Richards said. “It would make magpie swooping look very trivial. It would have been a fearsome sight. It’s only a few metres in wingspan shorter than a hang glider.

    The mildly deranged penguin says that lightly toasted with a sprinkling of olive oil (scrape off the fuzz first, it burns and tends to stick in the teeth), it’s actually very tasty served with broccoli (just be careful to stun the broccoli first, as having your vegetable wake up and eat the rest of your salad is awkward (albeit that is a way of dealing with any accidentally-included pea)).

    “From its morphology, it’s mostly likely adapted for a carnivorous lifestyle. Its teeth were probably designed more for holding on to slippery fish.”

    No, asserts the mildly deranged penguin. For fending off peas. And the occasional horse (I point out there were no horses then, which she explains is why they were occasional).

    The animal belonged to a group of pterosaurs known as anhanguerians, which thrived for 200m years, lived on every continent and became highly specialised to their environment.

    It has been given the scientific name Thapunngaka shawi — a combination of the Wanamara nation words for “spear” and “mouth”, and the surname of the person who discovered the fossil.

    The remains were found in June 2011 on Wanamara country, near Richmond in north-west Queensland, by Len Shaw, a council worker who would search for fossils during his lunch break by using his front loader to gently pour water on the rock face to identify bone from rock.

    When Shaw noticed the sockets of the jaw, he immediately contacted a local museum, Kronosaurus Korner.

    Stands up and applauds Mr Shaw !

    More details (but lacking the mildly deranged penguin’s insights) at the link.

  262. says

    MSNBC is reporting that the Pentagon will order that service members have to be vaccinated by mid-September (or sooner, if one of the vaccines gets full FDA authorization before then; the Pfizer vaccine is expected to get it in the coming weeks).

  263. blf says

    Effortfully segueing from broccoli-terrorising evidence-supported reality to mind-numbingly stooopid fantasy, Greg Locke Claims Tennessee Plans to Lock Up Unvaccinated People in Quarantine Camps:

    Radical right-wing pastor Greg Locke [… ranted about] Tennessee Republican Gov Bill Lee for supposedly signing an executive order giving the National Guard the authority to build quarantine camps in the state in which to lock up those who refuse to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

    Locke, who has long been an unhinged opponent of efforts to control the spread of COVID-19, recently announced that anyone caught wearing a mask in his church would be ejected. […]

    […]

    Did you see the executive order he just signed for COVID-19? Locke continued. Anybody that has a medical license can now practice in Tennessee from out of state, which is unconstitutional, super, super dangerous, and that is very unlawful for a lot of reasons. But they’re talking about all these hospitals are overflowing with people. Why don’t you carry camera in one of these hospitals that are supposed to be overflowing with COVID patients and show me how empty they are?

    But here’s the two things that bothered me, Locke said. Number one: He has authorized the power of the National Guard to get involved in issues of COVID-19. … You know what bothers me more about the National Guard getting involved? Why don’t you look at Section 8 of what he signed? … They’ve authorized the Tennessee Department of FEMA to build what they call — in his own authorized pages of a signature — quarantine camps. I ain’t talking about East Germany, I’m talking about Tennessee! Quarantine camps for the uninformed people that are still in refusal to be vaccinated.

    Then Locke began to scream.

    I don’t care what Bill Lee says, Locke bellowed. I don’t care what fraudulent, fake Joe Biden says. I don’t care what Planned Parenthood says. I don’t care what Chris Cuomo said. I don’t care what Gavin Newsom said. I don’t care what Nancy Pelosi and her insurrectionist nonsense has to say. You better wake up, church! You better wake up! They hate us. We are speed bumps to the deep state on the road to their progressive communism, and I’ll shout it from the rooftops if I’m the last one. I live by what I say, and I will die by what I say if I have to. I’ll fight this garbage until my dying breath.

    Governor Lee did actually sign an executive order, summarised in, e.g., Gov Lee signs executive order to help hospitals, health care workers respond to COVID resurgence (a link to the full order is included at the link). Let’s just say Locke’s interpretation means he’s dumber than broccoli. For example, Section 8 — actually, “Paragraph 8” — says, in part:

    […] This Paragraph 8 is issued for the limited purpose of authorizing personnel recognized under Tennessee Code Annotated, Sections 58-1-203, 58-1-204, and 58-1-402 (collectively, “Personnel”), to serve in certain health care and emergency services roles to reduce system capacity strain resulting from COVID-19. Namely, Personnel may: (1) perform authorized diagnostic testing for COVID-19 in health care settings, including but not to limited to hospitals, emergency departments, and alternate care sites (collectively, “Facilities”); (2) perform authorized nursing and other functions in Facilities; and (3) operate public or privately owned, permitted ambulance service vehicles with a licensed service. […] Personnel operating pursuant to this Paragraph 8 shall have the appropriate training or skills in the area(s) pertaining to their designations; […]

    Probably needless to point out, but none of unvaccinated, quarantine, or camp is mentioned anywhere in the entire order.

  264. says

    Guardian – “LBC’s James O’Brien wins Ofcom battle with Institute of Economic Affairs”:

    The Institute of Economic Affairs has lost a two-year battle with LBC radio presenter James O’Brien over claims the registered charity is a politically motivated lobbying organisation funded by “dark money”.

    The IEA complained to media regulator Ofcom that the radio station had made a series of inaccurate and unfair suggestions that the organisation is a professional lobby group of “questionable provenance, with dubious ideas and validity” staffed by people who are not proper experts on their topic.

    The free market thinktank particularly objected to O’Brien’s dismissive description of an IEA representative as “some Herbert”, as well as guest Peter Geoghegan’s suggestion that the IEA was “politically biased” during a discussion on the funding of thinktanks.

    O’Brien also described the organisation as a “hard-right lobby group for vested interests of big business, fossil fuels, tobacco, junk food” and urged newspapers to stop quoting from an organisation that is registered as “as an educational charity because they don’t reveal who funds them”.

    The thinktank said that in reality it was the victim of smear campaign that is politically motivated, and any implication the organisation was engaged in illegal lobbying on behalf of corporations is false.

    The IEA, which was founded in 1955 to promote free market ideology and oppose government regulation, has repeatedly failed to reveal its funders. During the negotiations over the terms of Britain’s exit from the EU it received substantial attention for its interventions, with IEA boss Mark Littlewood filmed by an undercover reporter as saying it was “in the Brexit influencing game” and offering to arrange meetings with ministers.

    After a lengthy investigation, the media regulator Ofcom has now cleared LBC of any wrongdoing over the discussions on O’Brien’s shows, which took place in early 2019. The regulator disagreed with the IEA’s interpretation of many of the comments and said that facts discussed on the programmes were not distorted….

  265. says

    NBC News:

    Climate change is changing Earth in ways that are ‘unprecedented’ in thousands of years — and in some cases, hundreds of thousands of years — according to a blistering report released Monday by the United Nations. The sobering assessment also found that some changes that are already playing out, such as warming oceans and rising sea levels, are ‘irreversible for centuries to millennia.’

    NBC News:

    On Monday, there were 107 active large fires burning across 13 states. The Dixie Fire in northwestern California is now the largest fire in the country, outpacing the massive Bootleg Fire in Oregon by more than 75,000 acres. The Dixie Fire, which is only 21 percent contained, also is the largest single fire ever to tear through California, scorching nearly a half-million acres as of Monday. [Earliers, experts were saying the Dixie fire was the largest stand-alone fire, with fires that had merged in the past being larger, buy it is just the effing biggest.]

    Washington Post:

    More than 2,000 people on the Greek island of Evia were forced to evacuate by boat over the weekend as raging wildfires continued to spread, wiping out homes, reducing once-picturesque landscapes to ashes and destroying entire villages.

  266. says

    Washington Post:

    Prolonging a showdown over proposed new voting restrictions, a Texas judge temporarily blocked the arrest of Democratic lawmakers who fled the state to stop the legislation, a move that will allow members of the group to return from Washington without the threat of being detained.

    Good news!

  267. says

    New York Times:

    Public health experts say there is no evidence that migrants are driving the surge in coronavirus cases, as some conservatives, like the governors of Florida and Texas, have been claiming.

  268. says

    VegNews – “Vegan Cheese Queen Miyoko Schinner Is Making Wine Country Vegan Friendly with New Campaign”:

    Miyoko Schinner, the founder and CEO of vegan cheese brand Miyoko’s Creamery, is launching a campaign to make Northern California’s wine country more sustainable and compassionate by incorporating a vegan approach to the food and wine experience. Created due to rising concerns over the climate crisis, sustainability, health, and animal welfare, Wine Country 2.0 brings together local wineries, restaurateurs, hoteliers, hospitality-focused businesses, organizations, and local artisan food producers that are passionate about creating a more sustainable and compassionate wine country experience. Together, they will create a Wine Country 2.0 experience that will attract visitors who might not have opted for wine country as a destination previously, as well as enhance the current experience for the present demographic.

    The number of vegans in the United States has grown by 600 percent over the last three years, and Millennials are now driving the movement, with one-quarter of 25 to 34 year olds classifying themselves as vegan or vegetarian. “That means we are leaving a lot of people out of the wine country experience and losing opportunities to attract and connect with these folks,” Schinner said.

    “Wine Country 2.0 is an entirely new way to enjoy the world’s greatest wine region and leading tourist destination. We will expose visitors and locals alike to phenomenal experiences which demonstrate that caring for the planet and animals while delivering the world’s finest food and wine pairings are not mutually exclusive,” Schinner said. “This convivial, climate-forward collaboration celebrates the diverse, local tastemakers and change makers who are leading the way in creating a more sustainable and compassionate hospitality experience that will create a blueprint for the culinary industry across the country.”

    The campaign will also include an awards ceremony in November celebrating the businesses and organizations that have created the most sustainable and inclusive programs. Wine Country 2.0 also hopes to host an elevated vegan food and wine festival in Spring 2022.

    “Ultimately, the goal is to shift the paradig