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. Trickster Goddess says

    Biggest US reservoir declares historic shortage, forcing water cuts across west

    Officials issue first-ever declaration of tier 1 shortage at Lake Mead as it falls to lowest level since its creation

    […]Arizona will be hardest hit, losing nearly a fifth of the water it receives from the Colorado River. In Pinal county, farmers and ranchers will see the amount of water they get from the river drop by half next year, and disappear altogether by 2023, when the federal government is projected to enact even more severe cuts.

    […]“This is a very big deal, because there’s never been a shortage like this over the almost 100-year history,” said Sarah Porter, director of the Kyl Center for Water Policy at Arizona State University. “The immediate impacts of this will not probably be felt by most people. But it’s a big, giant red flag telling a region that is dependent on Colorado River water that we need to adjust to a drier future.”

    Cutbacks and conservation efforts – though crucial – are unlikely to reverse the reservoir’s decline in the near future. When it’s full, Lake Mead’s elevation sits at about 1,221ft above sea level. But by next year, the lake’s level is expected to drop to 1,065ft, below the 1,075ft cutoff that triggers first-tier water reductions. By 2023, federal officials and water experts expect a tier 2 shortage. And when the lake’s level dips to 1,025ft, a tier 3 declaration will trigger supply cuts to cities and tribal lands.

    This reminds me of a very good book I read recently called “The Water Knife” by Paolo Bacigalupi. Near future water shortage leads to a 3-way shooting war between Arizona, California and Las Vegas. The novel draws heavily on the non-fiction book “Cadillac Dessert” by Marc Reisner.

  2. blf says

    KG@499 (updated and corrected in @500), on “ClauseArticle 61″ of the Magna Carta, “Article 61” of Magna Carta doesn’t allow you to ignore Covid-19 regulations:

    […]
    The original version of Magna Carta granted powers to “assail” the monarch and “seek redress” to 25 barons in order to keep the provisions of the Magna Carta, but these powers were not granted to the population at large. Within a year of being written, this clause was removed from subsequent versions of Magna Carta. It was never incorporated into English statutory law.

    […]

    The first Magna Carta was originally drawn up in 1215. However, it was quickly declared null and void by the Pope on the grounds it interfered with the authority of the King, and a civil war broke out in England. Following this it was then reissued in various forms over the following years, resulting in yet another version issued in 1225. It is this version that forms the basis of our common law today.

    The contents of Magna Carta were placed on the statute book in 1297. In the centuries since however, much of this has been repealed.

    The original 1215 version of Magna Carta had 63 clauses. Only four of these clauses are still relevant today, according to the parliament website. Clause 61 is not among these, as it was omitted from all subsequent versions of Magna Carta and was never incorporated into English law.

    Clause 61 specifically said:

    The barons shall elect twenty-five of their number to keep, and cause to be observed with all their might, the peace and liberties granted and confirmed to them by this charter.

    If we, our chief justice, our officials, or any of our servants offend in any respect against any man, or transgress any of the articles of the peace or of this security, and the offence is made known to four of the said twenty-five barons, they shall come to us — or in our absence from the kingdom to the chief justice — to declare it and claim immediate redress. If we, or in our absence abroad the chief justice, make no redress within forty days, reckoning from the day on which the offence was declared to us or to him, the four barons shall refer the matter to the rest of the twenty-five barons, who may distrain upon and assail us in every way possible, with the support of the whole community of the land, by seizing our castles, lands, possessions, or anything else saving only our own person and those of the queen and our children, until they have secured such redress as they have determined upon. Having secured the redress, they may then resume their normal obedience to us.

    These rights are granted to the 25 barons, not to the population at large. It then continues that:

    Any man who so desires may take an oath to obey the commands of the twenty-five barons for the achievement of these ends, and to join with them in assailing us to the utmost of his power.

    However that is quite different again from granting the rights of rebellion to “any man” — they are only given the power to obey the barons.

    As already noted, whatever the contents of this original document, it was swiftly declared void and replaced by subsequent versions. There is no mention of a clause 61 or the 25 barons in the 1216 version or the ‘final’ 1225 version of the document.
    […]

    So the eejits in Edinburgh Castle are using the original version, never incorporated into any law at any time, and then misunderstanding it. I wonder if they know who any of their 25 barons are? (As you say, this assumes it isn’t some sort of Festival / Fringe stunt.)

  3. KG says

    As you say, this assumes it isn’t some sort of Festival / Fringe stunt. – blf@2

    It isn’t – see my #500 in the Older Comments – it’s “sovereign citizen” numpties.

  4. stroppy says

    @4
    Sounds like an episode of “Hamish MacBeth,” in particular the one where they steal the Stone of Destiny.

  5. blf says

    KG@4, Ah, I took “Sovereign Scots” as something like the name of the Festival Fringe players company behind a (possible) stunt, or simply an invention by whoever might be doing the (possible) stunt, something like Horrible Histories’ “Scary Scotland”. An admittedly quick search didn’t find anything definitive, the closest perhaps being a factsborked page, The League of very Sovereign Scots, but from what (very little) I can see, there’s no obvious connection.

  6. KG says

    The video in which the comment I quoted occurred is apparently from the “Scotland Against Lockdown” twitter account. They’re a bit late, apart from anything else, as there are very few restictions still in place – just masks in indoor public spaces IIRC, and that’s not really enforced. Covid-19 infections, OTOH, are on the rise!

  7. says

    Greg Abbott and Ron DeSantis are using Regeneron to make the pandemic worse, not better

    On Tuesday, authorities in Texas revealed that Gov. Greg Abbott had tested positive for COVID-19 after participating in multiple campaign events in which Abbott, along with other Republicans present, neither wore masks nor practiced any social distancing. Those same authorities already made it clear that, though Abbott tested positive, he is not displaying any symptoms related to his infection. Not only that, but Abbott has already told people that he, unlike almost every American, has already received a booster shot of vaccine. So why is Greg Abbott getting a costly treatment available only under an Emergency Use Authorization and intended for those most at risk of developing severe illness?

    Abbot’s treatment with Regeneron’s REGEN-COV monoclonal antibody treatment seems completely contradictory to the EUA under which it was made available. There seems to be no reason a man who is asymptomatic and has already had a booster vaccine shot should be getting this treatment.

    Like Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, Abbott has been pushing Regeneron’s treatment as a solution to the COVID crisis. Texas has nine infusion centers in the works. Not all of them are open right now, but they’ll be able to handle about 1,350 patients a day when they are. Which is less than 7% of the Texans testing positive for COVID-19 each day. So why was Greg Abbott, whose danger appeared to be low, given access to a treatment denied to 93% of the people in his state? Why should he get something that was not provided to the 17,000 Texans currently hospitalized for COVID-19?

    The CDC has currently only authorized boosters for Americans who have serious immune deficiency issues when it comes to the booster shot. Even that authorization only came last week. When or why Abbott got a booster hasn’t been revealed. the Texas governor was allowed to get an additional jab unavailable to everyone else.

    In Florida, where the second-largest investor in Regeneron also happens to be DeSantis’ largest donor, REGEN-COV is currently available to less than 4% of those testing positive for COVID-19 each day. If the treatment were given to all COVID-19 patients, the cost would be more than $80 million per day—just for Texas and Florida.

    From the very beginning, the treatment has been provided to Republican politicians with utter disregard for how it is supposed to be administered. Donald Trump got four times the prescribed dose while also on oxygen, which violates the EUA. Chris Christie received the treatment while in hospital—which is a violation of the EUA. Now Greg Abbott is getting REGEN-COV despite a booster shot and no symptoms. And at the same time, a very, very high percentage of Americans infected have absolutely no access to this drug, despite promises from Trump, Abbott, and DeSantis.

    A costly treatment that takes hours to administer by IV is never going to be effective in limiting the number of people who need hospitalization from widespread disease. For that, there needs to be something cheap, something that can be administered quickly, something whose efficacy is very high. Fortunately, that something exists. It’s called the vaccine.

    Even as breakthrough cases increase, vaccination continues to be the most effective means of ensuring that patients don’t end up contracting severe illness. In fact, even if every patient did get Regeneron’s treatment, its efficacy was 70% in preventing severe illness. That’s considerably less effective than vaccines. And the results from Regeneron were from a point before the delta variant became prominent. How effective it is against the delta variant isn’t yet clear.

    If Regeneron’s REGEN-COV were 70% effective on hospitalized patients, that would be fantastic. However, a U.K. study released in June saw a 20% mortality reduction when Regeneron was used in the hospital. That’s certainly a genuine benefit, and anyone facing severe COVID-19 would be foolish to turn down the opportunity to receive treatment—even if offered in violation of the EUA. However, it’s far from a get-out-of-COVID-free card. REGEN-COV remains costly, uncommon, and utterly unable to address the current crisis.

    The problem isn’t really with Regeneron’s treatment. The problem is how Republicans are using Regeneron’s treatment as an excuse to fail in protecting residents of their states. REGEN-COV is a valuable tool, but it does absolutely nothing to slow the spread of COVID-19. In fact, dangling the idea that a cure is available only encourages that spread.

    What’s needed is vaccination, masks, and social distancing. The chain of transmission has to be broken. Because no matter how many articles are written about how “COVID-19 is here to stay,” it simply can’t be. We can’t learn to live with it. […]

    COVID-19 must be fought as an existential threat. The means of waging that battle is clear enough — vaccines, masks, and social distancing. Mask mandates are necessary. Proof of vaccination is necessary. Quarantines are necessary. Testing and case tracking are necessary.

    […] Why did Greg Abbott get a booster shot?

    Why did Abbott get treatment with REGEN-COV despite that booster and despite having no symptoms?

    What does Abbott have to say to the 17,000 Texans currently in hospital beds who did not get a chance to receive the treatments he did?

    Why is he continuing to push people to catch a disease for which there is no actual cure?

  8. says

    Polling shows public siding with Biden on Afghanistan (for now)

    If there’s polling evidence of a public backlash against Biden’s policies in Afghanistan, it’s hiding well — at least for the time being.

    When President Biden announced in the spring that he would withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan and end the 20-year war, he faced some political pushback, though there was hardly a public backlash. Polls showed most Americans supporting the White House’s decision to bring the longest war in the nation’s history to a close.

    As the Afghan government quickly collapsed, and the Taliban reclaimed power, among the many questions was whether the developments and chaotic images would affect Americans’ attitudes.

    The preliminary evidence is likely to disappoint the president’s fiercest critics.

    On Monday, the latest Politico/Morning Consult poll found support for withdrawal had dropped sharply compared to April’s results, but a plurality nevertheless sided with Biden’s position: 49% backed the U.S. exit from Afghanistan, while 39% did not. The poll was conducted while Americans confronted a weekend of headlines about the Taliban returning to power.

    The latest findings from Data for Progress pointed in a similar direction.

    […] Voters support the decision to withdraw by a 14-point margin, including Democrats by a 51-point margin, Independents by a 13-point margin, and nearly a third of Republicans.

    […] As NBC News reported overnight, the same survey results found that a 55% majority of the public also supports the Biden administration speeding up the process of giving immigrant visas to U.S. allies in Afghanistan, as opposed to 30% who believe the administration should take no additional action to bring Afghans here.

    Even a plurality of Republican voters sided with the White House on this issue.

    In other words, there does not appear to be any kind of backlash against the president’s policy toward Afghanistan. A narrow majority appears to believe Biden’s policies are the right ones […]

    To be sure, public attitudes can change quickly, and there’s no shortage of unpredictable variables. […]

    On the other hand, much of the media coverage in recent days has emphasized bipartisan opposition to Biden’s policy, which often helps shape opinions. […].

  9. says

    New wildfire explodes through California town as power company cuts off 51,000 people

    “The Caldor Fire Experienced Unprecedented Fire Behavio.”

    A wildfire that ignited Saturday night has since exploded, overtaking a California town in the process.

    The Caldor Fire spread through the town of Grizzly Flats on Tuesday, causing mass evacuations and destroying a number of buildings and cars. Authorities reported two civilians were injured in the fire as it spread through the town and were both transported to local hospitals via air ambulance with “serious” and “severe” injuries, respectively.

    […] “The Caldor Fire Experienced Unprecedented Fire Behavior And Growth Due To Extremely Dry Fuels Pushed By The South Winds,” InciWeb reports, adding, “These Winds, Combined With Low Humidity And Extremely Dry Fuels, Lead To Critical Fire Weather Conditions.” […]

    Meanwhile, rain is falling from a sickly pale yellow-greenish-brownish sky where I am. I was hoping the rain would give me at least one smoke-free day, but everything here still smells like smoke. Headache, sore throat, and that sinking feeling of living through yet another kind of apocalypse..

  10. says

    Wonkette:

    […] Even the people foolish enough to elect DeSantis didn’t technically make him dictator of Florida with free rein to endanger the lives of vulnerable people. He claims his MAGA-mugging executive order somehow balances “the legitimate state interests of school safety and parental rights.” That’s nonsense. It shows no regard for school safety and caters specifically to entitled morons.

    If you trust science and want your child protected, then you’ll support a mask mandate. If your brain has retired to Boca Raton, you’ll oppose this safe and effective mitigation measure.

    These aren’t equally valid positions.

    Link

  11. says

    Wonkette:

    […] the NBC affiliate in DC reports that there’s a little-known website full of data and info about the labyrinths below the district, including the network of tunnels under the Capitol and surrounding buildings, and that the site had the most alarming spike in traffic, which came from the strangest sources, on the days just before January 6.

    The guy who runs the site called the FBI:

    Elliot Carter, who operates the site, worried people were covertly seeking escape routes or entry points to the Capitol ahead of the electoral college count in January.

    That concern about web traffic to WashingtonTunnels.com eventually made its way to leadership of U.S. Capitol Police, the News4 I-Team has learned.

    “These people were suddenly obsessed with the Capitol building,” Carter said.

    They were used to seeing traffic for the site from DC and the surrounding areas. It was when the hyperlinks started coming in, from about New Year’s forward, from batshit far-right Trump conspiracy theory message boards and similar sites, that alarms started to go off. Or as the DC NBC affiliate puts it, it was links from “anonymous message boards, sites and forums named after militias or firearms, or using Donald Trump’s name.” […]

    More about what’s on this website:

    The site, which has a narrow but devoted following among D.C.-area history and city planning buffs, includes maps and details of the underground transit rail system, along with water and sewer systems.

    Carter has also included maps of the unique and heavily traveled underground tunnels on the Hill, which connect the Capitol building to House and Senate Office Buildings, the Library of Congress and the Capitol Visitor Center.

    […] you know, maybe some of them were doing some kind of reconnaissance or research to get ready for their big attack on January 6. […]

    Sounds like something for Nancy Pelosi’s select committee on the January 6 attacks to investigate fully.

    Link

  12. says

    UAE says former Afghan president Ghani welcomed into country ‘on humanitarian grounds’ after fleeing Kabul

    Washington Post link

    Days after fleeing Afghanistan, former Afghan president Ashraf Ghani surfaced in the United Arab Emirates on Wednesday, the Persian Gulf nation’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

    “The UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation can confirm that the UAE has welcomed President Ashraf Ghani and his family into the country on humanitarian grounds,” the statement released Wednesday evening said.

    It remains unclear where the 72-year-old Ghani is in the UAE and whether he plans to remain in the emirate. Previous reports indicated he had fled the Afghan capital Kabul just as the Taliban entered the city, with his family and senior officials to neighboring Tajikistan or Uzbekistan, and possibly then to Oman.

    Inside Afghanistan, Ghani has been widely condemned by even his staunchest supporters for abandoning the country as the Taliban took control. In a Facebook post Monday, Ghani defended his actions, insisting that he left Afghanistan to prevent “bloodshed.” He described his departure as “a hard choice” and said the Taliban had “won with the judgment of their swords and guns.” […]

  13. says

    Texas school district adds masks to dress code, finding possible loophole in Abbott’s ban.

    Washington Post link

    A North Texas school district has made masks a part of its dress code for the academic year, hoping to exploit a possible loophole in Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s statewide ban on mandates regarding face coverings.

    The Paris Independent School District of about 4,000 students announced it would include the masks in the dress code after its board of trustees said it was “concerned about the health and safety of its students and employees.” The district, located about 110 miles northeast of Dallas, noted that Abbott’s executive order last month did not suspend a chapter in the Texas Education Code that gives school districts power to oversee health and safety measures, thus allowing Paris ISD officials to elect to “amend its dress code consistent with its statutory authority.”

    “The Board believes the dress code can be used to mitigate communicable health issues,” the district said in a statement. “The Texas Governor does not have the authority to usurp the Board of Trustees’ exclusive power and duty to govern and oversee the management of the public schools of the district.” […]

    The school board held an emergency meeting Tuesday and voted 5 to 1 in favor of the measure, which will be revisited at the monthly trustee meetings and has the potential to be changed at a later date […]

  14. says

    JFC.

    Arizona’s Ducey denying grants to schools requiring mask protections

    Ducey is effectively telling communities, “Don’t have any COVID outbreaks, and don’t take steps that might help prevent COVID outbreaks.”

    When congressional Democrats and the Biden White House approved the American Rescue Plan earlier this year, they included considerable resources for schools. With this in mind, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) created a $163 million school grant program for his state.

    On the surface, this hardly seemed controversial. After all, those schools will no doubt benefit from the additional funding. But as the Associated Press reported, the Republican governor’s program came with some ridiculous strings attached.

    Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey on Tuesday upped the pressure on the growing number of public school districts defying a state ban on mask mandates as they try to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The Republican created a $163 million school grant program using federal virus relief funds he controls, but schools that have mask mandates or have to close because of COVID-19 outbreaks won’t be eligible for the additional $1,800 per student.

    Got that? In the midst of a pandemic, in a state where infections and hospitalizations are on the rise, some local school districts are trying to protect children by requiring mask protections. The governor is drawing a line: schools that want the additional resources need to eliminate those protections.

    Ducey can’t force schools to drop mask requirements, but he apparently intends to reward schools that are indifferent toward public-health risks.

    What’s more, if schools in Arizona have to close their doors in response to widespread infections, they’ll lose out on the money, too. The GOP governor is effectively telling communities, “Don’t have any COVID outbreaks, and don’t take steps that might help prevent COVID outbreaks.”

    Not surprisingly, this wasn’t well received by Democratic House Minority Leader Reginald Bolding.

    “It’s a sickening irony that he’s doing this by dangling millions of federally provided funds for COVID-19 relief and forcing school districts to choose between the health and safety of kids and educators, or millions in additional funding that Republicans have withheld for years,” Bolding said in a statement. “With the delta variant running rampant and COVID-19 cases among children on the rise, it’s disgusting to put a bounty on spreading this illness to kids and punishing schools that try to operate safely.”

    Republican Govs. Ron DeSantis of Florida and Greg Abbott of Texas have received considerable national attention for their anti-COVID-protections policies, and for good reason. But Doug Ducey is reminding the public that the GOP’s club of reckless and irresponsible governors is growing.

  15. Akira MacKenzie says

    Why is he continuing to push people to catch a disease for which there is no actual cure?

    I think it’s several reasons, several reasons:

    1). There hyper-individualist, anti-science, anti-overarching-government ideology makes them flat out refuse to admit that a collective action based upon “intellectual elitist” expertise (e.g. masking, social-distancing, mass vaccination) is best way to deal with a pandemic.

    2). They tend to be hyper-macho jocks (yes, even the women) who think that only the “weak” get sick and that tough guy can just walk-off and rub a little dirt on a plague. Which brings us to…

    3). They are, at the core, Social Darwinists who think that nothing should stand in the way of capitalism or the comfy lives that system creates for them, least of all the inability of the “losers” to fight off a virus without add that might cost the “winners” money. Let the inferior die off so they are no longer a burden on the superior’s ability to profit and have fun.

  16. says

    NBC News:

    The Texas Supreme Court ruled last might that the Republican-led state House has the legal authority to arrest absent members and force them to return to the chamber. The decision was, of course, a victory for Republicans, eager to get a legislative quorum and pass sweeping new voting restrictions.

  17. says

    US university announces it will fine and cut internet access to unvaccinated students

    Quinnipiac University implemented new penalties for unvaccinated students.

    A university in Connecticut implemented a new policy requiring students to get vaccinated against COVID-19 or lose access to the school WiFi network and face other penalties.

    Quinnipiac University issued the new regulations to students via email explaining it will apply a weekly fee of up to $2,275 per semester for unvaccinated students, mandatory weekly COVID-19 tests, and loss of access to campus network and WiFi.

    The email detailing these penalties was sent to roughly 600 students who had not submitted any proof of vaccination. Just under 10,000 students attend Quinnipiac, per a university spokesperson.

    “Our goal is to protect the health of our entire university community,” the email read. “In order to accomplish this we must know if you have been vaccinated.”

    Students with at least proof of one vaccination dosage will be exempt from the school’s penalties. The exemption only applies to those who have received a Pfizer or Moderna vaccination. The deadline imposed by the school to get fully vaccinated is on Sept. 14.

    The e-mail expressed dismay at having to impose these measures, but said that the current spread of COVID-19 infections fueled by the delta variant require mass vaccinations to cultivate stronger immunity among the student body.

    Guidelines from the Connecticut Department of Public Health advise that masks be worn in all public settings, with some counties requiring masks.

    Many colleges and universities are implementing vaccination requirements, taking cues from agencies and private sector firms as the fall term is set to begin.

  18. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 19

    If the Texas Democrats had any spine, they’d do to the Texas legislature what the Trumpets did to Congress on Jan. 6.

    But no. Process. Procedure. Decorum. Maybe the Republicans will finally play nice instead of trampling on the rules we expect them to follow… No wonder they keep winning.

  19. says

    OMG.

    Sean Hannity is having the oddest bit of — is the word “fun”? Yes, it seems like he’s trying to have “fun” with the debacle of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan. Bringing a little bizarre levity to the devastation! Because that’s what we need right now.

    He seems to be doing this with his promos for his sponsors on his afternoon radio show. For instance, the other day, he literally said with his mouth, “There is a stampede, not only out of Afghanistan, but a stampede away from high prices, overpriced service from the big carriers like Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile. The average family making the switch to PureTalk.” That’s right, it’s not just a stampede out of Afghanistan, it’s a stampede to low prices for cell phones! All he’s missing is a green screen and scenes of a depressing used car lot. We feel like he should be wearing a cowboy hat probably?

    Tuesday, he did it again. This time it was even weirder and also grosser. Are you the family member of an American trapped in Afghanistan who can’t get to the airport in Kabul and probably the Taliban is going to kill them? Freaked out about that and losing sleep? Know what’ll get your ZZZZZZ’s back on track? MyPillow! Just kidding, MyPillow probably won’t even help, but anyway, let’s talk about MyPillow! [audio file available at the link]

    No really, he said all this:

    SEAN HANNITY (HOST): How would you like to be in Kabul today, as an American, and you can’t get to the airport? Where are you thinking your life is headed? If you’re one of those family members, I bet you’re not sleeping. I don’t even think My Pillow can do it. MyPillow.com. That’s where I go. I fall asleep faster, I stay asleep longer. These are going to be a lot of sleepless nights for so many of our fellow Americans. We’ve got to get them home.

    Just … what the fucking … WHY? Who is he playing to here? Who is he amusing? We get that he’s Sean Hannity so he’s a garbage human, but we don’t even understand his point. Is he just really stickin’ it to Americans whose family members might get murdered by the Taliban? Was that on the “own the libs” list this week or something?

    As the Daily Beast notes, Hannity has had other disingenuous things to say about the Afghanistan debacle. And then, when it’s time for a sponsor segue, he does … this weird thing. Of course, the Beast and others are also noting that this latest MyPillow plug is kinda funny, considering how two seconds ago the MyPillow Guy was having a conniption and hurling blame because Hannity and Laura Ingraham aren’t giving any time to his weirdobonkers election fraud conspiracy theories. Take that, Mike Lindell! Hannity just said your shit pillows won’t even help people worried about their family getting murdered by the Taliban!

    In summary and in conclusion, Sean Hannity is a disturbed and sad little man, and when Stephen Colbert reported on this, he referred to Hannity as a “dead-eyed Lego man” and we are just mad we didn’t come up with that first, the end.

    Wonkette link

    Huffington Post link to article that also provides access to the Stephen Colbert segment.

  20. says

    Why Trump’s sudden shift on Afghan refugees matters

    On Monday, Trump said the right thing about Afghan refugees. When members of his base disagreed, he followed their lead, rather than the other way around.

    Though many on the right have been vocal in their opposition to welcoming Afghan refugees, Donald Trump wasn’t among them. In fact, it was just two days ago when the former president issued a written statement stressing the importance of “evacuating civilians and others who have been good to our Country.”

    The Republican added that these Afghans “should be allowed to seek refuge,” and U.S. forces should remain in Afghanistan until these vulnerable people were rescued.

    That was Monday. This is today.

    In Trump’s latest statement, he’s now angered at the sight of 600+ Afghan refugees in the C-17. “This plane should have been full of Americans. America First!” he says.

    Or put another way, over the course of about 48 hours, Trump went from urging the U.S. military to help rescue Afghan civilians to complaining about the U.S. military helping rescue Afghan civilians.

    It’s tempting to ignore such palaver, though in this case, it’s probably notable for a couple of reasons.

    First, Trump’s nonsense frequently becomes Republican orthodoxy, reflecting the extent to which much of the GOP is a cult of personality. When the former president seemed to endorse protections for Afghan refugees “who have been good to our country,” the hope was that this would help influence Republican policymakers.

    Now that he’s apparently changed his mind, much of the GOP will likely follow.

    Second, it’s occasionally of interest to see Trump follow the lead of his base, instead of the other way around. On Monday, the former president said the right thing about those who “should be allowed to seek refuge,” perhaps because he’d seen coverage of Afghan civilians on television.

    But after learning that his allies and supporters took the opposite position, Trump conveniently decided that he no longer agrees with himself, either.

  21. says

    NBC News report calling Afghan ally evacuation a ‘politically heated issue’ cites … Stephen Miller

    The Senate last month unanimously (!) passed a spending package that included provisions increasing the number of special visas for Afghan allies by the thousands. That package was also approved by the House in another overwhelming vote, 416 to 11. NBC News’ Sahil Kapur notes “bipartisan agreement” when it comes to assisting Afghans who aided U.S. military, but still claims there’s “a coming political fight” over what he described as a “politically heated issue.”

    So who exactly is on the other side of this “political fight” claimed by NBC News? The main quote comes from former White House aide Stephen Miller, who was quoted via text message. So Miller—a noted white supremacist who once reportedly said he’d be happy if not one refugee made it to America—was either sought out for comment or knew he’d have a reporter who’d elevate his words. The report also cited right-wing propagandist Laura Ingraham. I mean, is there really a “political fight” here, or is was this report kinda looking to create one?

    “The main person quoted in this article who doesn’t support resettling Afghan SIVs and refugees is Stephen Miller,” Roll Call reporter Caroline Simon tweeted. “Worth noting that many Republican lawmakers do support Afghan SIVs, and have been calling for their speedy evacuation.” Immigration policy expert Aaron Reichlin tweeted that “Miller is a white supremacist who recently declared that the U.S. should indefinitely halt all legal immigration, a fact which should be front and center in any reporting about him.”

    […] new Data for Progress polling also shows strong support from Americans for speeding up visas for Afghan allies and their families. “Those who support a streamlined visa process include majorities of Democrats (62%) and independents (56%), along with a 45% plurality of Republicans,” she wrote. This shouldn’t be controversial—maybe it’s for that reason that NBC News has to stoop to quoting a famously racist twerp. [video available at the link]

    The Wall Street Journal reports that Houston, Texas, resident Naqibullah Laghmanai is among those worried about family back in Afghanistan. A former interpreter for U.S. military forces, Laghmanai said in the report that the Taliban has already searched the home of relatives, and he now fears for the lives of his parents and siblings. “Mr. Laghmanai’s family in Kabul had already received a threat from the Taliban and had been in hiding for months because, he suspected, of his work for the U.S. government and his father’s work for the Afghan government.”

    The former interpreter said his parents and siblings had applied for special visas, but the process has stretched out to over a year now. Following Afghanistan’s fall to the Taliban last weekend, there’s been no more time to spare. “Their only hope is on me to get them out, and I can’t,” he said in the report.

    Those are the stories we should be elevating. Instead, mainstream media outlets are really making decisions to elevate white supremacists. Unfortunately, it’s not an isolated problem. Media Matters revealed earlier this summer that major outlets have cumulatively cited anti-immigrant groups in hundreds of articles from 2019 on. Two of the anti-immigrant groups, Federation for American Immigration Reform and the Center for Immigration Studies, are designated hate groups.

    Don’t quote Stephen Miller unless you are doing so to rebut him or to mock him. Stephen Miller is a “famously racist twerp.” Miller taught Trump how to be even more racist.

  22. says

    Pumpers, Dumpers, and Shills: The Skycoin Saga,” written for The New Yorker by Morgen Peck.

    The cryptocurrency promised to change the world and make its users rich in the process. Then it began to fall apart.

    On an April afternoon in 2011, a twenty-seven-year-old tech entrepreneur named Bradford Stephens arrived at a stucco bungalow near the canals of Venice, California. He had recently started a new data-analytics company, and had come to speak with a coder named Brandon Smietana, whom he hoped would get involved. Stephens had already met Smietana online, where he uses the handle Synth, and where he often debated minute points about math and programming. When Stephens and Ryan Rawson, an employee who tagged along, arrived, Smietana invited them into a carpeted den. A computer sat on a table, its casings removed to reveal a tangle of circuits; a sleeping bag lay on a sofa. Smietana was in his early twenties, with dark hair and a youthful face. Rawson told me, “He had the air of this mad scientist couch surfing.” Stephens pitched his new company, but got no traction. Smietana had turned his attention to a new technology: cryptocurrency. “The only people who have to work for money are the people who cannot create it or print it out of thin air,” he told them.

    The first cryptocurrency, Bitcoin—released in 2009 by an anonymous programmer (or a group of them) called Satoshi Nakamoto—was a feat of computational brilliance. A bitcoin is an abstract unit of value that people track and spend with digital wallets. When someone contributes her computer’s power to process Bitcoin transactions, the computer also races to solve an equation, a process called “mining.” Each solution that meets certain criteria mints new coins. The number created decreases by half every four years or so—an event known as the Halvening—which keeps the supply limited, guarding against inflation. The whole economy is maintained on a blockchain, a shared ledger that keeps a tally of every Bitcoin transaction. As miners add transactions, the Bitcoin software coördinates and finalizes their contributions, making the ledger transparent and unchangeable and the system nearly impossible for governments to shut down.

    But the technology has a flaw: as more people use it, transactions become slower and more expensive. The average transaction fee fluctuates wildly; one day last week, it was two dollars and thirty-three cents, making it more expensive than any major credit card for everyday purchases. The pursuit of a better Bitcoin quickly became a full-blown academic field, with its own conferences, university courses, and peer-reviewed journals. But, as Smietana explained over the next few years to anyone who would listen, he had the solution. He was designing a cryptocurrency that could be sent around the world instantaneously, for next to nothing. He called it Skycoin.

    […] Because bitcoin mining is regulated by algorithms, everyone, in theory, has a fair chance of getting new coins. But, to receive pre-mined coins in a token sale, you often have to buy publicly at the sale price or else negotiate a deal behind the scenes. “A lot of coins were being sold on the side and in secret,” Josh, a major cryptocurrency investor—who eventually bought into Skycoin, and requested that I use only his first name, out of concern for his safety regarding another matter—told me. “You’ll do special deals with people if they give you three or four or five million dollars up front.” This created a sense that making your fortune required being in the right room to get the right tip.

    […] On the second night of the conference, I went to a strip club for an after-party, where flashing your badge got you a crypto-inspired cocktail. (I ordered a Satoshi Sour.) Guests exchanged advice, sure that they were getting the best inside information. But a few hours later a friend whisked me off to a more exclusive party, thrown at a beachside bar by Patrick Byrne, the former C.E.O. of Overstock. (Byrne stepped down in 2019, after it was revealed that he had had an affair with the Russian agent Maria Butina.)

    All the best people. Are red warning sirens going off in your brain?

    The attendees were celebrating the hundred-million-dollar token sale of Byrne’s trading platform, TZero, which he said was going to “drag Wall Street behind the barn, kill it with an axe, and re-create it on blockchain.” There were giant platters of sushi and oysters; the rapper Flo Rida pulled Byrne up onto the bar for a sing-along. Guests exchanged invites to exclusive chat rooms on Telegram, an app favored by coin enthusiasts. I turned to a man next to me and asked what had brought him to the party. He rubbed his thumb and forefinger together and shouted, “Making money.”

    […] By early January, 2018, the total estimated value of pre-mined Skycoins had reached almost five billion dollars. Smietana sent representatives to conferences in New York, Lisbon, San Francisco, and Singapore, and arranged a retreat in Mauritius. A former marketing contractor, who requested anonymity out of fear of harassment, recalled that Smietana could spend lavishly on the people who worked with Skycoin, in one case paying for cryotherapy, vitamin injections, thousand-dollar steak dinners, and a twelve-thousand-dollar trip to the Esalen Institute. “Dude was very liberal with his spending and could be very generous,” the marketing contractor said. The team posted a video of a yacht party, and thundered around in Ferraris. In New York, Skycoin reps cruised in a helicopter to grab footage of a Skyminer held over Manhattan’s skyline.

    […] One of the company’s main selling points was Obelisk, an algorithm that allowed it to send coins cheaply and quickly. On Telegram, Smietana insisted that everything that came before was “obsolete and primitive.” He boasted that Obelisk was written by Houwu Chen, a developer who had worked on Ethereum, the second-most popular cryptocurrency platform. He posted an academic paper written by Chen on the Skycoin Web site, claiming that it was a Skycoin white paper. But when Stephens reached out to Chen, he got no response. “We kept trying to chase people down to ask details, and it was slowly revealed it just . . . didn’t exist,” he told me. In a later discussion about technical details, a Skycoin “community manager” told coinholders that “it’s too advanced to share” and that the company “can’t trust the public with it.” When pressed, Smietana wrote, of Chen, “He is a recluse, I doubt anyone can contact him or he would respond.” Smietana eventually told me that Chen had taken a payment of a million Skycoins for his work on the white paper and then left the project. (Chen declined to comment, saying, “Just don’t put my name in the article. That’s my statement.”) Stephens discovered that Obelisk had never been implemented. (Smietana now acknowledges this, but claims that the project has published some of Obelisk’s code and used it in simulations.)

    Stealing other people’s work, taking credit for other people’s work, plagiarizing stuff like crazy, talking big and delivering nothing. Hyperbole to the point of lying. Sounds like Trump, but with a whole new cryptocurrency-centered vocabulary.

    Lots more at the link, including this back-away-it-is-a-scam paragraph:

    Founders that control perception control the price of their coin. According to Chwierut, the blockchain researcher, during the I.C.O. bubble, it was not uncommon for founders to spend as much as thirty per cent of their budget on ad campaigns. Some of the effort went to gaming the attention economy, requesting mentions from influencers or using bots to create an illusion of broad support. Traders can even use these metrics to manage their portfolios: IntoTheBlock, a “crypto-intelligence” firm, tracks Twitter mentions and Telegram-member counts and sells the information to investors; a data platform called Santiment alerts users when chatter about their coins surges. Recommendation algorithms can encourage the spread of incendiary content, and coins promoted with controversy and falsehood often perform well. […]

  23. tomh says

    Georgia board opens review of Atlanta-area elections, signaling possible takeover
    ERIKA WILLIAMS / August 18, 2021

    ATLANTA (CN) — Emboldened by Georgia’s recent rewrite of election rules, the state’s elections board voted unanimously on Wednesday to investigate how the heavily Democratic Fulton County manages elections.

    The Republican-led State Elections Board named a bipartisan, three-person panel to review elections operations in Georgia’s most populous county, whose seat is Atlanta.
    […]

    The state board’s move was made possible in March, when Republican Governor Brian Kemp signed into law a sweeping bill that makes several changes to how future elections will run….

    The law allows the state board to remove and replace local election officials following performance reviews or audits, enabling it to appoint a temporary administrator with power over vote counting, polling locations and staffing….

    The 98-page bill passed by the Republican-led General Assembly also included a new photo ID requirement for voting absentee by mail, and made it a misdemeanor to pass out food and drinks to anyone standing in line to vote.
    […]

    Fair Fight Action, a voting rights group set up by former Democratic state lawmaker Stacey Abrams, slammed the GOP review of the election process in Fulton County in a recent statement.

    “After giving themselves unprecedented power under Senate Bill 202, Republicans wasted no time in waging an anti-democratic, partisan power grab, attempting to seize control of elections in Georgia’s largest county, home to the greatest number of voters of color in the state,” said CEO Lauren Groh-Wargo.

  24. says

    Images of bloodied Afghans contradict Taliban’s claims of moderation

    The militants are trying to consolidate their control of the country in a campaign to paint a more moderate image.

    Images of the Taliban cracking down on a protest and bloodied women and children beaten by fighters are contradicting the more moderate image the militant group has been trying to project as it tries to consolidate power in Afghanistan.

    […] A former police official told Reuters that four people were killed in the protest [in the eastern city of Jalalabad] and that 13 others were injured. Afghanistan’s Pajhwok news agency shared video of what it said was the incident, showing crowds running as gunfire was heard. […]

    Meanwhile, the Taliban’s assurance of a “safe passage” to the Kabul airport, where thousands have thronged in a desperate bid to be taken out of the country, has also been undermined by a report and photographs by a Los Angeles Times journalist.

    In one of the graphic images, a woman and a child are seen with blood on their faces, apparently unconscious.

    […] The Guardian reported that the militants were checking documents and forcibly turning some people around at checkpoints, refusing to let them reach the airport. […]

    National security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters Tuesday that officials have received reports of people being turned away, pushed back or even beaten as they try to get access to the airport.

    “We are taking that up in a channel with the Taliban to try to resolve those issues,” Sullivan said. “And we are concerned about whether that will continue to unfold in the coming days.”

    Meanwhile, the U.S. Embassy has been operating out of the airport, coordinating further evacuations. As many as 15,000 Americans remain in Afghanistan, Biden administration officials told Senate staffers Tuesday.

    Other countries are also scrambling to get their citizens out of the country. Dutch Foreign Minister Sigrid Kaag said Tuesday that evacuation efforts were unsuccessful because the chaos outside the airport made it impossible to get eligible people on a plane […]

    […] A Taliban commander has acknowledged that their takeover of the country happened very quickly — “beyond their imagination” — leaving them at a loss about how to govern.

    “We were mentally not prepared for capturing such a big city of over 6 million people, as it has a lot of issues to deal with,” a Taliban commander in Kabul said.

  25. says

    New York Times:

    The Biden administration, escalating its fight with Republican governors who are blocking local school districts from requiring masks to protect against the coronavirus, will use the Department of Education’s civil rights enforcement authority to deter states from banning universal masking in classrooms, Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said Wednesday.

  26. says

    NBC News:

    The death toll from Haiti’s devastating 7.2-magnitude earthquake has climbed to 1,941, the country’s civil protection agency said Tuesday. More than 9,900 people were injured in the earthquake, which struck Saturday morning.

  27. says

    Washington Post:

    The Biden administration on Sunday froze Afghan government reserves held in U.S. bank accounts, blocking the Taliban from accessing billions of dollars held in U.S. institutions, according to two people familiar with the matter.

  28. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 26

    And, if Democrats really cared about voting rights as much they claim to, why isn’t the GA Statehouse and Governor’s mansion not a smoldering pile of ashes and rubble?

  29. blf says

    Good for the village! Spanish village tells tourists to suck up roosters and braying donkeys (quoted essentially in full):

    […]
    Some called in to complain about braying donkeys. Other tourists dialled up officials in the northern Spanish village of Ribadesella, population 5,700, to notify them of the mess left behind by wandering cows.

    “Last week we had a lady who called us three or four times over a rooster that was waking her up at 5am,” said Ramón Canal, Ribadesella’s mayor. She told us that we had to do something.

    Officials sprang into action. What they came up with, however, likely fell short of what the grumbling tourists were hoping for: a tongue-in-cheek poster campaign that calls on city slickers to “assume all the risks” of rural life.

    “Here we have church bells that ring out regularly, roosters that crow early in the morning and herds of livestock that live nearby and at times carry cowbells that also make noise,” reads the poster put up around the town in recent days.

    “If you can’t handle all this, you may not be in the right place,” it adds.

    The aim is to bridge the at times yawning gap between urbanites and rural life, the mayor told the Spanish broadcaster Antena 3. “One needs to realise that milk doesn’t come in cartons, it comes from cows, and that you have to feed and maintain them.”

    The idea for the posters came from a village in southern France, said the deputy mayor, Luis Sánchez. About two years ago, Saint-André-de-Valborgne [something over 200km away from me –blf], home to about 400 people, pushed back against petulant urbanites with posters that warned of tolling church bells, clanging cowbells and crowing roosters in the area.

    In Ribadesella, the complaints were limited to a very small number of tourists, said Sánchez. But officials seized on the opportunity to make it clear to residents where they stood on the issue. “To hear a rooster crowing at night is normal,” Sánchez told the newspaper La Voz de Asturias. “If you come to a rural hotel, you have to be aware that this is daily life in the villages.”

    The poster is not just about warning tourists. For those eager to embrace roaming sheep and rooster wake-up calls, Ribadesella’s poster extends a hearty welcome. “If on the other hand you’re one of the privileged ones who can bear all this, you’ll enjoy the wonderful surroundings and the excellent products made by our fantastic farmers, ranchers or artisans,” it adds. “Enjoy Ribadesella!”

  30. blf says

    US targeted Black Lives Matter activists in bid to disrupt movement, report finds (my added emboldening):

    […]
    The federal government deliberately targeted Black Lives Matter protesters via heavy-handed criminal prosecutions in an attempt to disrupt and discourage the global [BLM …].

    The report was released by the Movement for Black Lives [M4BL], a coalition of more than 50 activism and advocacy civil rights groups and professional associations representing Black communities and published in partnership with the Creating Law Enforcement Accountability and Responsibility (Clear) clinic at City University of New York (Cuny) School of Law.

    [… The report] also is pushing for passage of the Breathe Act, proposed federal legislation that would radically transform the country’s criminal justice system, and ending the use of joint terrorism taskforces in local communities.

    The report also points to the stark difference in how the government handled the Covid-19 protests against local government shutdowns and mask mandates amid the pandemic during the same period.

    It analyzes 326 criminal cases initiated by US federal prosecutors over alleged conduct related to protests in the wake of Floyd’s murder and the police killings of other Black Americans, from 31 May 2020 to 25 October 2020.

    A key finding of the report is that the push to use federal charges against protesters came from top-down directives from Donald Trump and the former attorney general William Barr.

    M4BL and Clear found that in 92.6% of the cases, there were equivalent state-level charges that could have been brought against defendants, mostly with less severe potential sentences.

    “We saw Barr overnight go from expressing some level of sympathy for racial justice protesters to labeling them as radical and violent agitators with absolutely no basis for that sort of characterization,” said Ramzi Kassem, founding director of Clear and a law professor at [Cuny], adding that it was “very transparently aimed at disrupting a Black-led movement for social justice that was happening both spontaneously and in an organized fashion nationwide”.

    […]

  31. blf says

    Another villagecity in Spain, Gijón (population c.250,000) saying enough is enough, Bullfighting festival axed after bulls named Feminist and Nigerian slain:

    Century-old festival ‘crossed various lines’, says Gijón mayor, citing residents’ opposition to bullfighting

    “The bullfighting festival is over,” the city’s Socialist mayor, Ana González, told reporters. “They have crossed various lines … A city that believes in equality between men and women, that believes in integration, that believes in open doors for everyone cannot allow these sorts of things to happen.”

    The Socialist party had decided at its most recent congress to do away with the 133-year-old Begoña bullfighting festival, citing growing opposition among the city’s residents. These plans were accelerated after it appeared that bullfighting was being “used to display an ideology contrary to human rights”, said González on Wednesday.

    The current contract with festival organisers would not be extended nor would the city’s bullring be leased for the event, meaning a loss of €50,000 (£43,000) in annual income for the city, she added.

    [… an absurd claim about how bulls breed to be tortured to death “must” be named… N]ames changes in bullfighting are not without precedent; at a festival held shortly after Spain’s civil war came to an end in 1939 one of the bull’s names was changed from “Communist” to “Mirador” amid concerns over offending sensibilities, noted newspaper El País.

    [… frothing spittle from teh nazis…]

    The mayor’s decision was welcomed by many animal rights campaigners as well as opposition parties on the left. Some, such as the journalist Anita Botwin, couldn’t help but note the irony of how the polarising festival met its demise. “That a feminist bull put an end to the bullfighting festival in Gijón is poetic justice,” she tweeted.

  32. blf says

    ‘They deserve a place in history’: music teacher makes map of female composers (Grauniad edits in {curly braces}):

    Interactive tool features more than 500 women who are often forgotten in the classical music world

    Two siblings, both considered child prodigies, dazzled audiences across Europe together in the 18th century, leaving a trail of positive reviews in their wake. But while Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart went on to be celebrated as one of the world’s greatest composers, the accomplishments of his sister — Maria Anna — were quickly forgotten after she was forced to halt her career when she came of age.

    However, a new tool is seeking to cast a spotlight on female composers throughout the ages, pushing back against the sexism, stigmatisation and societal norms that have long rendered them invisible.

    “We’ve never given them the place they deserve in history,” said Sakira Ventura, the creator of an interactive map that features more than 500 female composers from across the globe. “They don’t appear in musical history books, their works aren’t played at concerts and their music isn’t recorded.”

    The 28-year-old music teacher from Valencia came up with the idea after realising that during her years of academic studies of music, she had rarely heard of women who had composed classical music. “I had always talked about putting these composers on the map — so it occurred to me to do it literally.”

    […]

    “When I started I thought I wouldn’t know more than five female composers,” she said. After more than a year and hundreds of hours of work, the site documents 530 composers — including a short description of each one and a link to listen to their work — and Ventura is working her way through a list of another 500 names to add.

    The result is a catalogue of artists that range from Kassia, a Byzantine abbess born in 810 and whose hymns are still sung in the Orthodox church, to Alma Deutscher, the British teenager who composed her first piano sonata at the age of six.

    […]

    Much of the reaction to the map has been positive, said Ventura, save for the few voices that have complained about the absence of men on the map. “I have to explain to them that if they want to find out about male composers, they can open any book on music history, go to any concert or tune into any radio station,” she said. “But if I’m putting together a map of female composers, it is because these women don’t appear anywhere else.”

    What’s excited her most is the interest she has received from other teachers who are eager to incorporate the map into their lessons. “I’m 28 years old and nobody ever spoke to me about female composers,” she said. “So I want to do what hasn’t {been} done for me, I want my students to know that {Wolfgang Amadeus} Mozart and Beethoven existed but also that there were also all these female composers.”

    Ms Ventura’s site, including the map and short descriptions, seems to be entirely in Spanish (excepting items like a link to the above-excerpted Grauniad article).

  33. says

    Nikki Haley pushes anti-Biden line even she couldn’t believe

    Nikki Haley must know her new anti-Biden line doesn’t make sense. She also must know that we know it doesn’t make sense. She just doesn’t appear to care.

    Earlier this year, after Nikki Haley swapped an anti-Trump posture for the opposite position, National Review’s Philip Klein described the Republican as “a human chameleon. She thinks we’re too dumb to notice.”

    The description came to mind yesterday, as Haley took aim at President Biden’s policies in Afghanistan.

    Nikki Haley insulted the intelligence of her fellow Americans on Wednesday and once again found herself soaking in her own hypocrisy. On Wednesday, the former ambassador to the United Nations under […] Trump attacked the Biden administration’s withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan ― and especially, the administration negotiations with the Taliban, which Haley compared to “dealing with the devil.”

    Yes, that was her criticism of the Biden administration. “Negotiating with the Taliban,” Haley wrote, “is like dealing with the devil.”

    To be sure, I’m mindful of the circumstances. The conditions surrounding the president’s withdrawal from the war is highly controversial; Haley is eyeing a national campaign; and she’s eager to exploit developments in Afghanistan with cheap shots that might resonate with her party’s base.

    But this is an instance in which Haley couldn’t possibly believe her own rhetoric.

    We know this with some certainty because the Trump administration’s foreign policy team — of which Haley was a prominent part — negotiated with the Taliban. Indeed, Taliban negotiations were an integral part of the former president’s policy in Afghanistan. Team Trump even pressed for imprisoned officials such as Taliban cofounder Mullah Baradar to be freed precisely so the Republican administration could negotiate with him.

    The Republican National Committee used to celebrate Trump’s negotiations with the Taliban. Haley herself used to boast about the efficacy of the administration’s Taliban talks. The former president even wanted Taliban leaders to visit Camp David around the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, for goodness’ sake.

    It’s not as if Haley can claim the negotiations with the Taliban began after she stepped down from the then-president’s cabinet — because that’s clearly not the case.

    And yet, there was the former ambassador to the United Nations marveling at the Biden administration’s willingness to rely on Taliban talks — a scenario Haley characterized as “unbelievable.”

    This doesn’t make sense. Haley must know that this doesn’t make sense. […]

  34. says

    Why it matters that Biden is banning a Trump-backed pesticide

    “Elections have consequences” is a common political cliché, but in the case of a pesticide tied to children’s health problems, it clearly applies.

    […] The New York Times reported overnight:

    The Biden administration announced on Wednesday that it is banning a common pesticide, widely used since 1965 on fruits and vegetables, from use on food crops because it has been linked to neurological damage in children. The Environmental Protection Agency said this week it would publish a regulation to block the use of chlorpyrifos on food.

    Let’s circle back to our earlier coverage because it’s worth appreciating how we arrived at this point.

    The Obama administration originally proposed banning the use of chlorpyrifos on food in October 2015. A risk assessment memo issued by nine EPA scientists concluded. “There is a breadth of information available on the potential adverse neuro-developmental effects in infants and children as a result of prenatal exposure to chlorpyrifos.”

    By all appearances, this wasn’t an especially tough call. There was, after all, “extensive scientific evidence” that even small levels of exposure to this pesticide, used to keep pests off crops, “can harm babies’ brains.” There were related concerns about the health effects on the farmworkers who’ve been dispersing chlorpyrifos on crops.

    And then Donald Trump took office. […] officials reversed course, putting the federal ban on hold, ignoring career officials in the EPA.

    This, not surprisingly, sparked a series of legal challenges, in which Team Trump repeatedly sided with the chemical industry.

    In the spring, an appeals court ruling concluded that the federal government had to either ban the use of the pesticide or prove that it’s safe for public use. Yesterday, the Biden administration chose the former over the latter.

    The Times’ report added, “In an unusual move, the new chlorpyrifos policy will not be put in place via the standard regulatory process, under which the E.P.A. first publishes a draft rule, then takes public comment before publishing a final rule. Rather, in compliance with the court order, which noted that the science linking chlorpyrifos to brain damage is over a decade old, the rule will be published in final form, without a draft or public comment period.”

    Had the 2020 presidential election gone the other way, the fight almost certainly wouldn’t be over, and the judgment of EPA scientists wouldn’t be prevailing over the wishes of the chemical industry.

    A Washington Post report added, “For now, chlorpyrifos can still be used for growing cotton and treating golf courses. The EPA will make a decision on whether to continue to allow for those and other nonfood uses by the end of next year.”

  35. blf says

    Quack Didier Raoult over in Marseille is having some well-deserved problems, French scientist[quack] who pushed unproven Covid drug may be forced from post:

    […]
    University professors must retire at the age of 68 in France. Raoult turned 69 in March, and so from 31 August will no longer be eligible to continue his post as a researcher and medical practitioner at the University of Aix-Marseille and Marseille University Hospitals.

    His age does not disqualify him from continuing as director of the Marseille-based infectious diseases institute he founded, IHU Méditerranée Infection, but François Crémieux, the director of Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Marseille (AP-HM), one of the founding member institutions of the IHU, told Le Monde it is not reasonable for Raoult to continue there after he ceases to practise medicine and conduct university research.

    […]

    Jean-Luc Jouve, the president of the AP-HM’s medical commission, told the French newspaper that Raoult had requested to continue in his position at the hospital on a part-time basis, but that his proposal would not be accepted. “There are more than enough teams at the IHU to make up for his departure,” Jouve said.

    The French medicines agency has opened an investigation into IHU’s hydroxychloroquine studies, as has University of Aix-Marseille itself. […]

    [… teh quack and his supports (teh nazis are specifically mentioned) have a habit of putting up misinforming videos…]

    “I would like the information disseminated by the IHU to be in peer-reviewed scientific publications that allow for scientific debate, not in YouTube videos,” Crémieux told Le Monde. “Whether deliberately or not, the institute has become the scientific guarantor of the anti-vaccine, anti-health-pass debate and feeds the conspiracy sphere. This is a problem that must be put to an end.”

    […]

  36. tomh says

    NYT:
    Texas Can Ban Common Form of Second-Trimester Abortion, Appeals Court Rules
    Azi Paybarah / Aug. 19, 2021

    A federal appeals court on Wednesday upheld a Texas law banning the most common form of second-trimester abortion, ruling that a lower court had erred in finding that the law imposed “an undue burden on a large fraction of women.”

    At issue is a Texas law that was passed in 2017 but has not yet been in effect because of legal battles. The law, known as Senate Bill 8, prohibits a dilation-and-evacuation abortion method and requires doctors to use alternative abortion methods, according to Wednesday’s decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

    A Federal District Court judge had found that the 2017 law “imposes an undue burden on a large fraction of women” because it “amounted to a ban on all D&E abortions.”
    […]

    In the second trimester of pregnancy, it is “the safest and medically preferred abortion procedure” and “results in fewer medical complications” than other abortion methods, according to a statement in 2019 from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
    […]

    The Texas law is one of many abortion restrictions enacted in recent years by Republican-controlled state legislatures emboldened by the Supreme Court’s rightward shift. The Supreme Court is set to hear arguments in the fall over a Mississippi law that bans most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, a direct challenge to the constitutional right to abortion established in 1973 in Roe v. Wade.

    The Texas case, too, may reach the Supreme Court.

    Over the past decade, abortion opponents have scored major victories in state legislatures, with restrictions whittling down access through much of the Midwest and the South.

    A record was set in the 2021 legislative season for the most abortion restrictions signed into law in a single year in the United States, according to the Guttmacher Institute, which tracks abortion statistics and supports abortion rights.
    […]

    Amy Hagstrom Miller, president of Whole Woman’s Health, a plaintiff in the case, called the law an unprecedented intrusion into the doctor-patient relationship. “In no other area of medicine would politicians consider preventing doctors from using a standard procedure,” Ms. Miller said in a statement. “It should never be a crime for doctors to use their best medical judgment and follow the most current science.”

  37. says

    Trump’s stance on vaccines gets much worse

    The worse Trump’s rhetoric about the vaccines becomes, the worse it’s likely to be for the public.

    On March 1, as public access to COVID-19 vaccines became more common, Donald Trump appeared at a far-right gathering and eventually said the right thing. After insisting that he wanted credit for the development of the vaccines, the former president declared, “So everybody, go get your shot.”

    About a week later, the Republican issued a related statement that meandered, and was annoyingly whiny, but which was nevertheless pro-vaccine: Trump called the shots “beautiful” and suggested that “everyone” would be receiving them.

    As we’ve discussed, much of the former president’s statement was pitiful — his goal was clearly to seek acclaim for himself, prioritizing his ego over public needs — but the underlying point remained the same: Trump framed the distribution of vaccines as fundamentally a good thing.

    Five months later, his position has deteriorated in ways that are likely to prove consequential.

    Trump appeared on Fox Business yesterday morning to whine incessantly. “When I was president you didn’t have people protesting the vaccine,” he said, conveniently forgetting that when he was president, the vast majority of Americans did not yet have access to the vaccine. The Republican added, in reference to COVID-19, “When I left it was virtually gone. It was over. It was the past.”

    Over 4,000 Americans died from the virus on Trump’s last day in the White House. It was one of the deadliest days of the entire pandemic. For him to believe the crisis was “virtually gone” by mid-January is delusional, even by Trump standards.

    But when the on-air conversation turned to booster shots for those who’ve been vaccinated, things got a little weird.

    “That sounds to me like the moneymaking operation for Pfizer, okay?” Trump said. “Think of the money involved…. The whole thing is just crazy. It doesn’t — you wouldn’t think you would need a booster. You know, when these first came out, they were good for life.”

    First, literally no one in a position of authority ever said the vaccines were “good for life.”

    Second, it was a bit jarring to hear the former president laud coronavirus vaccines and blast coronavirus booster shots in the same interview, seemingly indifferent to the contradiction.

    But perhaps most striking is Trump’s conspiratorial thinking: public-health officials believe booster shots will help protect the public, and the former president’s instincts tell him the “whole thing is just crazy,” because he suspects a “moneymaking” scheme.

    […] what matters is the extent to which Trump’s nonsense might influence his followers’ behavior. After all, we all need as many people as possible to get vaccinated, and polling suggests it’s far-right Republicans who are the most resistant to doing the right thing.

    The worse Trump’s rhetoric about the vaccines becomes, the worse it’s likely to be for the public

  38. says

    There’s a “crisis cycle” at Fox News, one that mirrors the behavior of the Republican Party writ large. In the wake of any display of destructive and/or outrageous behavior—the ‘Access Hollywood’ tape, Trump’s phone call to Ukraine, and especially January 6—someone at the network becomes the designated “reasonable guy.” Maybe it’s Brian Kilmeade musing from the couch. Maybe it’s one of Fox’s few alleged non-pundits delivering “straight news.” In any case, the job of the reasonable guy is to keep a toehold in reality while Fox waits to see if their base will really go along with, say, mocking Gold Star families, demeaning prisoners of war, buddying up to dictators, or taking a dump on America’s allies. Once it’s clear that Fox’s base is more than happy to come along past the frontiers of whatever dark fantasyland Republicans are carving out at the moment, the reasonable guy can join everyone else in being unreasonable.

    For the last few weeks at Fox, Sean Hannity has been perhaps the most unlikely, and unbelievable, reasonable guy. It’s been Hannity’s job to squirm a little uncomfortably while admitting things like COVID-19 is actually killing people, maybe the pandemic is not over, and especially to weakly wave a shy flag that reads “maybe you should get vaccinated.” This role had to be a whole lot of no-fun for someone who was previously free to frolic in the realms of Trumpian fantasy, and who often led the way on promoting the miracle cure of the week. Just the accusation that he was being a reasonable guy was enough to send Hannity into a fit of advanced pique, one in which he absolutely denied ever being reasonable.

    But on Wednesday, Fox made it clear that this round of testing is over. In an interview with Florida’s pro-virus Gov. Ron DeSantis, Hannity scoffed at the idea that vaccines provide protection and joined in the latest Republican claim that a pound of cure is much better than any quantity of prevention. Now he’s free once again, free to swim the vast hydroxychloroquine, ivermectin, colloidal silver seas. And Fox can once again stop pretending that anyone there gives a damn.

    In the midst of his conversation with DeSantis, Hannity whipped out a statement insisting that “the science shows the vaccine will not necessarily protect you. It’s not protecting many people.”

    […] It’s not like Sean Hannity is going to cite a study, or interview a respected epidemiologist. And when he’s speaking with the guy whose campaign website still includes mugs, hats, and T-shirts saying “Don’t Fauci my Florida,” […]

    Actual science—the kind of with data and analysis—continues to show that vaccines are tremendously beneficial. A survey of Texas hospitals on Wednesday showed that in a state where 55% of the population had been vaccinated, between 93% and 98% of those hospitalized for COVID-19 were unvaccinated. Those numbers correspond with CDC values nationwide, which continue to demonstrate that, even in the face of delta variant, vaccines remain at least as effective as original Phase 3 testing suggested when it comes to preventing severe disease.

    […] Fox supports DeSantis because he’s the designated heir to Trump. He, along with Texas’ Greg Abbott and South Dakota’s Kristi Noem, are the bannerfolk for leading the Republican Party into territory ever more extreme, more scornful of facts, and more willing to sacrifice man, woman, or child for a sweet, sweet dollar. Florida is open for business, y’all.

    From the beginning of the pandemic, Fox has helped peddle supposed cures to COVID-19. The reason they’ve done this, and why Trump did this, isn’t difficult to determine. The idea is to downplay the threat of the virus and make it seem reasonable that people stay out there putting their necks on the line while the bosses sit back in safety and collect on their work.

    While DeSantis’ offer to hand out Regeneron Pharmaceuticals monoclonal antibody treatment would seem to have more legitimacy than previous claims of a miracle cure, the truths are these: […] its effectiveness in preventing severe disease is considerably worse than any of the major vaccines; and even if every one of Ron DeSantis’ infusion centers was running at full capacity 24/7, they could still only treat 4% of the people testing positive for COVID-19 in Florida.

    […] As CNN reported on Wednesday, Fox News itself requires that every employee “report their vaccination status.” And while the company is cheering on Republicans who call for murder at school board meetings, behind the scenes they are “requiring employees to wear a mask in small, confined spaces with limited opportunities for social distancing and where there are multiple employees, including control rooms.” That’s the science that Fox actually believes in. It’s just not what they tell their followers on the air.

    Vaccines work. Masks work. Social distancing works.

    Hydroxychloroquine does not work. Ivermectin does not work. Silver solution isn’t just ineffective, it gets you jailed.

    […] What has changed with delta is the odds of being infected, though even there the COVID vaccines remain extremely effective. Vaccine effectiveness in preventing infection dropped from 91.7% pre-delta to 79.8% with delta as the primary variant.

    […] What the overall data shows right now is that the vaccine in the United States remains highly effective in every way that can be measured. It’s extremely good against preventing infections, it’s even better at preventing severe disease. Both of those statements remain true over eight months after the vaccine first became available and despite the prominence of the delta variant.

    The CDC’s decision to authorize booster shots shows an agency, and a government, operating out of an abundance of caution. […]

    Link

  39. blf says

    Follow-up to @39, A snippet from Marseille seeks to ‘turn page’ on controversial Covid doctor[quack]:

    Raoult’s notoriety has only increased in recent weeks after he posted a video where he appeared to cast doubt on the efficacity of vaccines as a weapon in the pandemic, saying that global protection from vaccination was modest.

    If teh quack meant there is a severe imbalance and unfairness in the availability of vaccines, which has and will probably continue to cause problems, he’s got a point. However, when there is a high level of vaccination, very very few of the vaccinated get sick, fewer get seriously sick, and even fewer die. Somewheres around 99% of all hospitalized cases in areas with good vaccination coverage are unvaccinated; e.g., here in France, it’s currently about 18 intensive care cases per one million unvaccinated, but less than 2 for (fully?-)vaccinated. In S.France where I live, ICU occupancy is over 70%, most-to-all of whom are unvaccinated. Vaccines work, now get them out to the rest of the world (indeed, WHO recommends doing so as a priority over general booster shots, WHO condemns rush by wealthy nations to give Covid vaccine booster: “Move likened to handing out lifejackets to those who already have them while letting others drown”).

  40. blf says

    Not enough turkeys for Christmas due to Brexit, [“U”K] poultry producers warn:

    Government urged to relax UK immigration rules after one in six jobs left unfilled since EU departure

    UK poultry producers have warned that serious staff shortages caused by Brexit could mean there are not enough turkeys to go round this Christmas.

    They mean the feathered kind, not the kind who voted for brexit. And there aren’t too many recipes for Roasted Eejit, albeit recipes are generally considered Stuffing in Teh LandBog of Mushy Pea. (No known relationship to The Bog of Eternal Stench, albeit they are difficult to tell apart; if you see greasy fish gasping or greasy potatoes with mold, its probably the Pea one.)

    [… T]he Unite union said that the crux of the problem was neither Brexit nor Covid but the “terrible pay and working conditions that make the meat processing industry one of the worst places to work in the UK”. “The conditions are awful, and the pay is worse,” said Bev Clarkson, its national officer for food, drink and agriculture.

    The BPC [British Poultry[Puke] Council] countered that increasing wages to attract domestic workers was not the answer. “We generally operate in areas of high local employment so there is a limit to availability of local workers coupled with negligible appetite from UK workers to move from other parts of the country,” said [the council’s chief executive, Richard] Griffiths.

  41. blf says

    Hereditary Monopolist’s (HM’s) “government” doing its usual thing, Guards at Kabul embassy told they are ineligible for UK protection:

    […]
    More than 100 guards at the British embassy in Kabul have been told they are not eligible for UK government protection because they were hired through an outsourced contractor […].

    Most of the 125-strong team of security personnel, employed by the global security firm GardaWorld, have been given informal notice that they no longer have jobs guarding the embassy, several said.

    The guards, some of whom had been working for the UK embassy for over a decade, described feeling abandoned by British officials and their employer. Many have been forced into hiding, fearing for their lives.

    Meanwhile, more than 100 guards doing the same work for the US embassy, under a separate GardaWorld contract, have been evacuated and others were receiving support from the US embassy, according to a senior Afghan national GardaWorld employee in charge of human resources.

    […]

    Nearly all 160 GardaWorld employees working on the British embassy contract applied for help from the Ministry of Defence-run Afghan relocations and assistance policy (Arap), designed to assist people working for UK organisations, and all except 21 translators were rejected last month. They received letters explaining they were not eligible because they were not directly employed by her majesty[hereditary monopolist]’s government. […]

    A Foreign Office spokesperson said: We are clear there is absolutely no legitimate basis to prevent civilians from travelling to safety. We are monitoring the situation with GardaWorld closely and remain in contact with them to provide any required assistance.

    This is bog-standard usual for teh hereditary monopolists and their “government”, with a long history of abandoning people who believed their lies but are no longer considered useful by teh hereditary monopolists or their “government”. As one example, there are currently Gurkha veterans on hunger strike outside Downing Street protesting their manifestly unfair pensions (and until 2009 they didn’t even have to right to live in teh “U”K (the Gurkha’s are all(?) from Nepal)). (Update: Apparently, the hunger strike has just ended (19th August) — after 11 days — with teh hereditary monopolists’ so-called “government” agreeing (finally!) to talk about the issue.)

  42. says

    Oh, FFS.

    Dan Patrick falsely blames COVID surge on unvaccinated Black Texans

    In March 2020, as much of the nation was just starting to confront the severity of the COVID-19 crisis, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) appeared on Fox News and presented a curious argument. To hear the Republican tell it, seniors should be willing to risk their wellbeing in order to prevent temporary, short-term economic hardship.

    “Those of us who are 70 plus, we’ll take care of ourselves,” Patrick said at the time.

    It was an absurd pitch for a great many reasons, and served as a reminder to the public: those seeking wisdom during the pandemic probably shouldn’t turn to Texas’ lieutenant governor.

    A year and a half later, Patrick is still at it. The Houston Chronicle reported overnight:

    In a string of claims aired on Fox News late Thursday night, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick deflected criticism of Governor Greg Abbott and instead took aim at Black Texans, a population that has faced a greater rate of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths while often having less access to vaccination sites compared to other racial groups.

    Patrick acknowledged Texas’ public-health crisis — rising cases, hospitalizations, and fatalities — and said he’s aware of the criticisms of the state’s Republican leadership. But the lieutenant governor insisted the blame be directed at unvaccinated African Americans, not the GOP officials who remain passive toward the pandemic.

    “The Democrats like to blame Republicans,” Patrick said. “Well, the biggest groups in most states is African Americans who are not vaccinated. Last time I checked, over 90 percent of them vote for Democrats in their major cities and major counties.”

    He added, “[I]n terms of criticizing the Republicans for this? We’re encouraging people who want to take [the vaccine] to take it — but [Democrats] are doing nothing for the African-American community that has a significant high number of unvaccinated people.”

    Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner (D) said soon after, “The Lt. Governor’s statements are offensive and should not be ignored.”

    I think that’s right on both counts. Indeed, let’s unpack the many ways in which Dan Patrick was completely wrong.

    First, there’s the data the Texas Republican is choosing to ignore. The Washington Post reported this morning that the latest data from the Texas Department of State Health Services “shows that the African American population there is not driving the increase in cases.” While vaccination rates among Black Texans could certainly be better, but when it comes to the COVID surge in the Lone Star State it’s Whites and Hispanics who make up the bulk of the state’s cases.

    In fact, the latest data suggests unvaccinated White Texans outnumber unvaccinated Black Texans by a roughly three-to-one margin.

    The article quoted Jorge Caballero, a former instructor at the Stanford University School of Medicine who is now working as health data scientist, saying, “Making a statement that casts blame on a racial or ethnic minority for the spread of disease is a well-known racist trope that predates most of us. People are already getting hurt by this virus, and it makes absolutely no sense for us to add insult to injury.”

    And second, the idea that Texas Democrats are “doing nothing for the African-American community” is bizarre. There are local Democratic officials throughout the state turning to mask and vaccine policies designed specifically to curtail infections.

    It’s curious that Patrick hasn’t heard about this — since it’s Gov. Greg Abbott (R) and state Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) who’ve gone to great lengths to block these efforts.

  43. says

    Following Brooks’ statement, rep says GOP ‘has a decision to make’

    The first part of Rep. Mo Brooks’ (R-Ala.) statement yesterday was benign. As a right-wing North Carolina man threatened to detonate a bomb near the U.S. Capitol, the Alabama congressman said he prayed for the safety of first responders and lamented violence targeting political institutions.

    But then the Republican kept going, adding, “Although this terrorist’s motivation is not yet publicly known, and generally speaking, I understand citizenry anger directed at dictatorial Socialism and its threat to liberty, freedom and the very fabric of American society.”

    WTF! Yikes! Inviting more violence! And, for good measure, spouting lies about “dictatorial Socialism.”

    After encouraging his likeminded allies to vote, Brooks concluded, “Bluntly stated, America’s future is at risk.” [At risk from the likes of Mo Brooks.]

    It was problematic for a variety of reasons, not the least of which was the congressman expressing tacit sympathy for extremists’ motives.

    The Democratic pushback was almost immediate. “It is astonishing that this needs to be said but no one who serves in Congress should be expressing public sympathy with the views of a terrorist who threatened to blow up the U.S. Capitol,” Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) tweeted. “I would have thought we could all at least agree on that.”

    Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) added, in reference to Brooks, “I know it seems like hyperbole when we say that Republicans have become enemies of democracy, but here is a mainstream Republican TAKING THE SIDE OF THE BOMBER.”

    As for Republicans, Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) initially described Brooks’ statement as “evil.” As NBC News reported, the Illinois congressman soon after went a little further:

    He added in another tweet: “The GOP has a decision to make. Are we going to be the party that keeps stoking sympathy for domestic terrorists and pushes out truth, or finally take a stand for truth. I’ve made my decision, so has Mo. Now it’s up to GOP conference leadership to make theirs.”

    A Washington Post report added, “Republicans, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), have largely remained silent about Brooks’s tweet.”

    […] Kinzinger’s point is well taken; the House Republican conference does have “a decision to make.” By all appearances, however, the party has already made its decision, and it’s siding with Brooks and others like him.

  44. says

    A COVID lesson for many: Refusing vaccinations can be expensive

    New reporting raises a question some may not have considered: Are the unvaccinated really willing to take the financial hit?

    In recent months, there’s been no shortage of reports about people paying for fake COVID-19 vaccination cards, though they remain somewhat baffling. A free miracle vaccine is readily available throughout the United States, but some would prefer to pay real money — in some cases, hundreds of dollars — for fraudulent documents that leave them at risk.

    But it’s important for Americans to also realize the other ways in which refusing vaccinations can be increasingly expensive. Axios reported this morning:

    Coronavirus patients who end up hospitalized — the vast majority of whom are unvaccinated — are increasingly likely to be on the hook for their medical bills, according to a new KFF analysis.

    Axios added that early last year, most insurers were willing to waive out-of-pocket costs for coronavirus hospitalizations, “but with vaccines readily available, many patients are once again on the hook for deductibles and co-pays, which could make remaining unvaccinated a lot more expensive.”

    It’s also notable that most of the states with the highest numbers of per-capita COVID-19 cases still haven’t accepted Medicaid expansion through the Affordable Care Act, creating conditions in which many low-income families can’t afford coverage.

    The list of good reasons to get vaccinated is not short. […]

  45. says

    Chez Lynna report: Rain continued to fall until, finally, the smoke was gone from the air in my community. I can expect about half a day of clear skies before the smoke moves in again. I am really happy to have a break from the smoke, no matter how brief.

  46. says

    Good for some laughs:

    Rep. Clay Higgins (R-LA) is ready to go Rocky Balboa on some guy on the internet.

    A man from Alaska named Joel Dolphin roasted Higgins in the comment section of one of the congressman’s posts on Tuesday, saying that “Higgins and his ilk have made it abundantly clear they are domestic enemies to our Constitution” and that “sycophantic fools like Traitor Higgins happily amplified” ex-President Donald Trump’s lies about the 2020 election.

    Higgins exploded.

    “Joel Dolphin, you be the messenger son. You. I’m easy to find,” he wrote. “Higgins out.”

    Dolphin said he would “happily take the time to repeat myself to your face” if Higgins ever visited Anchorage.

    The Republican told his internet detractor that he’ll be visiting the state with Rep. Don Young (R-AK) next year.

    “Locate us a ring, or a dojo,” Higgins wrote. “I’ll give you a few rounds to make your point. Be seeing you. Higgins out.”

    Dolphin accepted the challenge, telling the GOP lawmaker that “you’ve already made the point yourself with your rhetoric and your objection to certifying the election” but “hey, if you want to take it to the mats we can do that, too.”

    “See you in 2022,” he wrote.

    However, Dolphin, whose LinkedIn lists him as a former police officer, later told the Advocate that he was “not expecting anything to happen” given Higgins’ history of cartoonish chest-thumping on Facebook.

    Because yes, this week’s Facebook throwdown was only the latest instance of Higgins, also a former police captain, trying to flex some online machismo.

    The Republican posted an unhinged rant on Facebook about “Islamic horror” and “radicalized Islamic suspect[s]” in 2017.

    “Every conceivable measure should be engaged to hunt them down. Hunt them, identity them, and kill them. Kill them all,” he wrote.

    Higgins also threatened to shoot armed Black protesters last year in a similarly deranged Facebook post, saying he’d “drop any 10 of you where you stand.”

    “That’s not a challenge, fellas, it’s a promise,” he wrote. “We don’t want to see your worthless ass and we don’t want to make your mothers cry.”

    The Republican carried on with his tough guy rhetoric even after Facebook deleted the initial post for violating its policies on promoting violence.

    “I’ll advise when it’s time, gear up, mount up, and roll out,” he wrote.

    Link

  47. says

    Follow-up to comment 50.

    Posted by readers of the article:

    Why are Republican men stuck in middle school? It just reeks of arrested emotional development.
    ——————–
    I would say Higgins is making a fool of himself but since he is a Republican that would make it redundant.
    ———————
    Nutjob Higgins is a malignant psychopathic fascist Republican who should embarrass his constituents. We better pass the voting rights act pronto.
    ——————-
    Clay Higgins is like Donnie Trump, aka Cadet Bone Spurs, i.e. a bully from afar, a chicken sh_t when near. All hat, no cattle!
    ———————–
    A lot of bluster and performative stunts but not much in the way of competence.
    ————————-
    Media: “Congressman Higgins, what’s your assessment of the Afghanistan crisis?”

    Me: “If anyone is surprised, they obviously haven’t read the Bible very much. “

    What in hell’s fuck does the bible have to do with central Asian geopolitics?
    —————–
    At 60 years old, Clay Higgins … the blustering fat pigeon … and deadbeat dad *…
    will never … never step into a ring with
    34 years old Joel D Dolphin ,
    nonetheless, Mr. Dolphin – Former Gov’t Investigator | Ex-Cop (4 Yrs) | Combat Vet | Ex-GOP c.2012 |
    Has Accepted Rep. Higgins’s Challenge to Fight in 2022
    ——————-
    “Higgins out” is how he finishes his tweets? As if he’s Mr. Tough Dude chasing down perps? Wow is this some 5th grade shit or what?

  48. says

    Texas House Reported A Quorum, Opening Door To Voting Restrictions

    The Texas House of Representatives had a quorum for the first time in months Thursday evening, as some Democrats trickled back after weeks of absence to block a voter restriction overhaul.

    The Republican majority wasted no time referring the package of voting restrictions to committee, the next step in its journey to passage.

    The numbers to achieve quorum were pushed over the top with the help of three Democrats — Reps. Garnet Coleman, Armando Walle and Ana Hernandez — who cited the COVID-19 surge as compelling them to return to the business of legislating.

    “We took the fight for voting rights to Washington, D.C. and brought national attention to the partisan push in our state to weaken ballot access,” they said in a statement. “Our efforts were successful and served as the primary catalyst to push Congress to take action on federal voter protection legislation. Now, we continue the fight on the House Floor.”

    It was a long, at times tense few hours to amass the quorum.

    “The party arguing for ‘election integrity’ just established quorum by voting members present who weren’t on the floor,” tweeted Rep. Diego Bernal (D-TX). “Make sense now?”

    Bernal is one of the remaining Democrats staying away from the chamber to block the bill.

    Some of the other Democratic holdouts expressed anger at their colleagues for returning.

    “This is how Texas Democrats lose elections,” Rep. Michelle Beckley (D-TX) responded to the three returning Democrats’ statement.

    The quorum was only just barely achieved Thursday, and it’s yet to be seen if the chamber will sustain those numbers for the entirety of the special session.

    While House Speaker Dade Phelan (R-TX) struck a welcoming tone on Thursday, Republicans had been recently intensifying their measures to force Democrats back to the chamber. When a sufficient number of Democrats failed to show up for the first day of the special session earlier this month, Phelan signed 52 civil arrest warrants for law enforcement to return the lawmakers to the floor.

    The Texas Supreme Court had previously overturned a district court’s ruling blocking Republicans leaders from ordering the arrests.

    […] Many of the absent Democrats have been spending their time in Washington D.C., lobbying federal lawmakers to pass voting safeguards.

    A group of senators has been working on a compromise bill, expected to be a pared-down version of the For the People Act, and the House recently introduced an updated version of the John Lewis Voting Rights Act.

    Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) vowed to make voting rights the Senate’s first priority upon return from recess, a promise meant to match the urgency of the impending threats now that redistricting has begun.

    But as long as Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) refuse to reform or eradicate the filibuster, all voting rights legislation is dead on arrival in the upper chamber. There are not 10 Republican senators willing to help any pro-voting bills over the 60-vote threshold.

  49. says

    America’s Anti-Vaxxers Are Getting More Dangerous

    “One of the last things they do before they’re intubated is beg me for the vaccine.”

    For a few brief weeks in the spring, it seemed as if the United States was poised to announce a small victory in the fight against the pandemic. A vaccine had arrived in record time. It was proven effective against serious illness and hospitalization, as an average of 2 million adults were getting inoculated each day and there seemed to be plenty of the Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson doses to go around. The media scrambled to write pieces about how to stay safe while still breaking free of isolatio […].

    But then, predictably, the anti-vaxxers and their BFFs the anti-maskers had other plans.

    Yes, COVID-19 is surging again, this time fueled by the highly infectious and deadly Delta variant, which is ravaging the country—especially in places with low vaccination rates such as Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi. As of August, about half of the country remains unvaccinated. But as this unvaccinated group has asserted its importance and become a public health menace, it seems dangerous to dismiss them as an undifferentiated collective. Not everyone who is unvaccinated is an anti-vaxxer. Some people are immunocompromised, others have legitimate medical questions, and some are struggling to find time to get vaccinated.

    But there’s still a frightening number of people who are refusing to get the shot for no good reason. As I’ve looked at their Twitter feeds and public statements, it seems that at least three distinct groups with three very different reasons are endangering public health. Some are motivated by political convictions, others by accepting scientific misinformation, and a third group has bought into conspiracy theories. Clearly there are no bright lines distinguishing them, and the Venn diagram might have a few intersections, but the unholy trinity can be found whining to reporters, delivering delusional speeches at City Hall meetings, or loudly protesting outside local schools.

    […] trouble has officially arrived.

    Of course, a president like Donald Trump would politicize a public health crisis, and his influence lingers everywhere. Even though he was still president when the vaccine was developed and in the earliest stages of distribution, President Joe Biden has presided over most of the national vaccination drive. So, Trump supporters—whose determination to be against anything a liberal politician supports had reached stratospheric levels following his defeat—pushed back against Biden’s goal to get every adult at least one shot by the Fourth of July. With an able assist from the talking heads on Fox News and craven GOP politicians with an eye to 2024—such as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis—what began as a commonsense and scientific way to contain a deadly virus turned into yet another pointless flashpoint in our exhausting culture wars. For them, mass vaccination was the embodiment of government overreach, and politicians like Trump lackey and Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan dove right in, tweeting: “The Biden Administration wants to knock on your door to see if you’re vaccinated. What’s next? Knocking on your door to see if you own a gun?” For them, their unvaccinated status is a badge of honor.

    In some cases, conspiracy theories intersect with political paranoia, and that leads us to those who believe that vaccines are designed to control the population. This conviction is evident in some strange performance art, such as what took place at a San Diego public hearing over vaccine mandates. Here, we have a man saying vaccine mandates will “open a pit of hell” and that our children will be asked “How many vaccines have you had?” and “Have you been a good little Nazi?” [video available at the link]

    There has also been a fever swamp of medical misinformation regarding menstruation, fertility, and pregnancy. Social media influencers began spreading false information almost immediately. Some of the rumors included that the vaccine could make you sterile or that even being around a vaccinated person could disrupt your menstrual cycle. Last week, all the rumors seemed to have gotten the attention of the CDC, which announced that there was no evidence that the COVID-19 vaccine could affect fertility.

    Those who have refused to get vaccinated for whatever reason now find themselves facing restricted access in some places. New York City, for example, plans to require vaccination proof to enter restaurants, gyms, and other businesses. San Francisco is requiring vaccine proof for certain indoor businesses as well. Brian Kilmeade, a host of Fox & Friends, had a solution! He told viewers in New York City to purchase a fake vaccine card. Isn’t it better, really, for the unvaccinated to commit a crime than get the shot? [video available at the link]

    What all these people have in common is the dire consequences of their actions. Their refusal can and already has harmed vulnerable people. […] coincided with school reopenings, with some teachers refusing to get vaccinated and placing children under 12, who are not eligible for the vaccine, and their families at risk. School districts in Mississippi and Alabama have already had to shut down because of outbreaks. Clearly, nursing homes are another incredibly vulnerable population. In a Washington Post op-ed, New Jersey–based writer Louise Dubin described an outbreak in her father’s nursing home because of unvaccinated nursing staff that led to the deaths of two residents—though her father survived.

    The most alarming part isn’t that they don’t care about collective health; after all, individualism is one of the founding principles of American conservatism. Rather it’s astonishing to see how little regard they seem to have for their own lives. […] Purposely remaining unvaccinated increases your chance of hospitalization and death. Oftentimes the reality of the situation doesn’t become clear until anti-vaxxers are near death. “One of the last things they do before they’re intubated is beg me for the vaccine,” Alabama doctor Brytney Cobia told the Washington Post about her patients suffering from COVID-19. “I hold their hand and tell them that I’m sorry, but it’s too late.” This is collateral damage from the tyranny of the anti-vaxxers. In the end, we’re all more vulnerable than we ever were.

  50. says

    Justice Barrett refuses to block construction of Obama Presidential Center

    Applicants said the construction of the center would cause harm to Chicago’s Jackson Park.

    Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett denied a bid to block the construction of the proposed Obama Presidential Center in Chicago’s Jackson Park on Friday, acting alone and without releasing an explanation of her decision.

    The suit requested that a writ of injunction be issued to prevent any further groundbreaking for the center, as well as stopping tree cutting in Jackson Park for the Obama Center.

    […] Barrett’s decision means the Supreme Court will allow the construction of the presidential center to continue.

    The Obama Presidential Center announced plans to break ground earlier this year, following four years of review.

    “The project serves as a catalyst for long-overdue investment in and around historic Jackson Park — creating a new destination to move visitors from hope to action, breathing new life into the park, and delivering amenities and economic benefits to the community the Obamas called home,” the Obama Foundation said in a February news release. […]

  51. says

    CNN’s Clarissa Ward and her reporting have stood out from the pack amid the chaos in Afghanistan. […]

    While reporting Wednesday from the streets of Kabul, now completely controlled by the Taliban outside the city’s airport, Ward, clad in a traditional headdress and robe, and her crew were accosted by an agitated Taliban fighter.

    “Can I ask you a question?” she asked the individual. “Excuse me.”

    The Taliban member refused to speak to her, demanding she cover her face with the hijab she was wearing around her head. She complied, and pressed the fighter again, pointing to the whip he had in his hand and asking him, “What is that?”

    When the fighter again refused to acknowledge her, Ward pulled her face covering down, looked into the camera and said: “He wants me to cover my face, but he doesn’t want to comment on that truncheon he’s carrying.”

    It was one of numerous tense moments that have played out on live television as Ward reports from the ground. […]

    In the interview with The Hill, Ward recounted an incident earlier in the week where a Taliban fighter was on the verge of pistol whipping her producer before she and another fighter intervened.

    “People have been saying, ‘Oh this woman is fearless,’ and I’m really not. I’m very fearful and I don’t like being in situations where bullets are flying. … I flinch every time I hear a gunshot. I hate gunfire just like anybody does,” said Ward, who is married and has two young children.

    “But I understand … I have a better gauge of when I feel like I can ask a tough question or when I think someone is really volatile and potentially dangerous,” said Ward, who speaks Arabic in addition to Mandarin and Spanish. She is also fluent in French and Italian, according to her CNN biography.

    In the early days of Kabul’s fall, Ward said, members of the Taliban were somewhat welcoming of journalists, eager to portray themselves as nonviolent and compliant with international norms.

    “We quickly learned the Taliban actually wanted journalists out on the streets, because for them they sort of see this as a sort of public relations coup,” she said.

    […] The rise of the Taliban and its support for conservative, fundamentalist laws threatens the role of the press, and especially female reporters in the country. The Afghan Journalists Safety Committee in a release last week highlighted multiple instances since the start of August in which Afghan journalists were killed, intimidated or detained by members of the Taliban.

    “It is noteworthy that such violence is in direct contrast to the official statements made by Taliban leaders,” the organization said in a statement. “The continuation of such a situation, in addition to undermining press freedom and journalists’ safety, will further isolate the Taliban among the country’s media community.”

    […] Ward told The Hill many people she’s spoken with watched or are aware of President Biden’s Monday speech on the crisis playing out around them, and many found it unsatisfying.

    “There’s a huge amount of bitterness,” she said. “They were hoping for an apology, or even better, a sort of game plan for how this would be fixed or repaired. There’s so much heartache and rage just about how poor the execution of this was in the eyes of many Afghan people.”

    Link

  52. says

    Wonkette: “Anti-Maskers Continue Making School Board Meetings Weird, Violent”

    For the past several weeks, school board meetings and back to school events across the country have been turned into battlegrounds between people who understand why masks are necessary for students in areas with increasing numbers of COVID infections and people who think that if God wanted people to wear masks during a pandemic, we would have been born with them on our faces.

    That sounds like a joke, but it is not actually a joke. It is a literal thing a woman said, at one of these meetings in Birmingham, Michigan, while wearing glasses (and clothes!) we are pretty sure she was not born with. [video available at the link]

    She said:

    When is it gonna end? Our children will never see the freedoms that we enjoyed growing up. They are not even free to breathe fresh air. If God wanted us to cover our mouth and nose, he would have made us that way.

    Ha! That plural use of “freedoms” reminds me of PZ’s post That Peculiar Plural. Excerpt:

    They can’t say their “freedom” is being taken away, since they aren’t going to jail and don’t even seem to suffer any consequences, but putting that “s” on the end somehow implies a numerous and unspecified set of privileges are being taken from them. It’s a useful rhetorical trick, I guess.

    Back to the Wonkette article:

    Now, I am an atheist, but I like to think that if God made it so we were born with masks, they would be less KN-95 and more plague doctor. Or maybe an Eyes Wide Shut kind of a thing. Oh! Or like the Wicker Man masks where they’re all rabbits and shit. Just for the whimsy.

    That being said, even if God was sitting up on his cloud shaking his fist and yelling, “Excuse me! I think I know what I am doing, plague-wise. I’m pretty big on the plagues. If I want you to survive, I’ll let you know by not killing you! Please go on about your business as normal or I will have to send the locusts in, and trust me, you will not like the locusts” at the earth, that still would not be a good reason to not require masks at schools, because separation of church and state.

    It would be lovely if that were the most horrifying thing to come out of this particular school board meeting, but it was not.

    Via MetroTimes:

    While a Black woman and Jewish woman were addressing the board about their support for the mask policy, a man in the audience flashed the Nazi salute and repeated “Heil Hitler.” Two men behind him also uttered the phrase.

    Police questioned the man during the meeting and are investigating whether he committed a crime.

    Superintendent Embekka Roberson notified parents of the Nazi salute in a letter Wednesday and said the district has no tolerance for hate.

    […] hate groups like the Proud Boys have been showing up to these meetings as well and have recently directed a lot of their energy into yelling about masks. […]

    While many of those showing to these meetings are parents upset about their own kids wearing masks, not everyone who goes is even a parent. Last week, we were all treated to a viral video from Williamson County, Tennessee, of some very intense anti-maskers surrounding a car and screaming “We will find you!” and “You’ll never be able to show your face in public again!” at the man inside. [video available at the link]

    Turns out? One of the main anti-maskers screaming at the guy was not even a parent of a child at the school and does not even have kids.

    Rod Lunn, a jeweler and recipient of $41,000 in PPP loans, literally just showed up at the meeting to cause trouble. In an interview with WSMV, Lunn defended his actions, claiming that the driver in question nearly ran over a child, which made them want to yell at him even more about masks.

    He also claimed he wasn’t threatening the man, despite the whole “We know who you are!” thing. Which definitely does seem like a threat and certainly something he ought to have been pressed on in this interview.

    Via WSMV:

    It took one cell phone recording of Lunn shouting at a mask supporter to put him in the center of the national debate on masks in schools.

    “You said some things in that video like ‘We know who you are’ and ‘You’ll never be allowed in public again,’ would you categorize that as a threat to that person?” News4’s Marissa Sulek asked Lunn in an exclusive interview with News4.

    “That is in no way a threat,” Lunn responded.

    “How would you explain your behavior in that video?” Sulek asked.

    “The reality is, it looks bad and I understand,” Lunn says. “But we aren’t being listened to. We’re just being told what to do.”

    The other guy yelling, by the way, has been identified as Dwayne Larring, a Christian rock guitarist who was once fired by Kelly Clarkson mid-show for being an asshole and was a member of a Christian band called “Audio Adrenaline” — which is very much not the same thing as Vocal Adrenaline. It’s not clear if he has kids in that district either, but it’s good to know that someone screaming those threats is so incredibly holy.

    […] what schools ought to do is what this one school in Texas did and just include masks in the dress code. Then, if people want to oppose that, they’ll have to explain why that is any more ridiculous than anything else in the dress code. This will be very difficult, given that school dress codes never make any sense, like banning earrings on boys, […] Good luck with that, because those rules are stupid as hell.

    In conclusion, if you can run for your local school board, please run for your school board, because these people? They are definitely gonna be trying to take over some school boards.

  53. says

    European forces cross Taliban lines for Kabul rescue, pressuring Biden to expand evacuation

    Washington Post link

    The United States is set to expand bases used for Afghanistan evacuations after an air base in Qatar reached capacity, temporarily halting evacuation flights.

    The overflow of evacuees in Qatar prompted the U.S. military to stop evacuation flights out of Kabul for “multiple hours,” one of the officials said.

    The Biden administration is under pressure to expand its Afghanistan evacuation efforts beyond Kabul airport after European forces crossed Taliban lines and entered the city to rescue civilians. Access to the airport has been heavily restricted by Taliban fighters who have beaten people trying to flee the country.

    Earlier this week, an elite team of French police officers entered the capital’s Green Zone, where French nationals and vulnerable Afghans were sheltering on the grounds of the country’s embassy. They transported the people to Kabul airport for evacuation, the police confirmed. […]

  54. says

    Covid Live Updates: Rice University Delays In-Person Classes as Virus Surges

    New York Times link

    Rice University, a private institution in Houston, has done its best to build a wall against the Delta variant that is engulfing the state of Texas.

    Unlike the state’s public universities, which cannot mandate vaccines or masks, Rice has imposed stringent requirements for being on campus. It requires student and faculty members to wear masks and has testing protocols for all visitors. And while not specifically requiring vaccines and risking running afoul of Texas law, it has told students they were expected to be vaccinated.

    Still, the virus has surged in Houston, and on Thursday, Rice became the second university in the state to shift classes online, dampening hopes for a return to normal college life this fall. The university delayed the start of school by two days until Aug. 25 and said that classes would remain online through Sept. 3.

    It also said that members of the Rice community had tested positive for Covid despite the high vaccination rates — 98.5 percent — among the student body.

    “I’ll be blunt: the level of breakthrough cases (positive testing among vaccinated persons) is much higher than anticipated,” Bridget Gorman, the dean of undergraduates, wrote in a letter to the school’s 8,000 graduate and undergraduate students. The university didn’t specify how many breakthrough cases there were.

    More than 12,000 people are hospitalized with the coronavirus in Texas, where officials have prohibited both masks and vaccine mandates, and where Gov. Greg Abbott recently tested positive.

    “We’re in a hot spot right now,” said Rice’s president, David Leebron, adding that the decision to move temporarily to remote classes was made to give the university time to assess the results of its recent testing. […]

  55. says

    Florida gives school districts 48 hours to end COVID mask protections

    Florida counties defying Gov. Ron DeSantis’ dangerous policy have until Sunday to comply — or else.

    Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) created a policy that seemed surprisingly hostile toward the public’s interests: no matter how severe the COVID-19 crisis in the Sunshine State became, local school districts could not require mask protections. Those who prioritized public health over the Republican’s political agenda would be sanctioned.

    Education officials in Alachua and Broward counties were aware of the governor’s policy, but prioritized safety. This morning, the Florida Board of Education nevertheless gave local education officials until Sunday to comply with DeSantis’ order, whether it makes sense or not.

    In a letter sent to the Broward County School Board on Friday, Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran said both Broward County and Alachua County must comply within 48 hours before both counties could face sanctions.

    Corcoran said in a statement, “We cannot have government officials pick and choose what laws they want to follow.”

    Or put another way, if Florida’s governor settles on a policy that puts families at risk during a pandemic, it’s up to educators to go along, regardless of the public-health consequences.

    And what happens on Sunday? Broward and Alachua Counties have also been ordered to produce information on school-board members’ compensation.

    […] “The Florida Department of Education will then begin to withhold from state funds, on a monthly basis, an amount equal to 1/12 of the total annual compensation of the school board members who voted to impose the unlawful mask mandates until each district demonstrates compliance.”

    Corcoran added that these penalties would be the “initial consequences,” suggesting other penalties will follow.

    I have no idea whether local officials will back down in the face of these threats, but there’s every reason to believe the Florida Board of Education will have to start making related threats to other communities: the Miami-Dade, Hillsborough, and Palm Beach Counties’ school boards voted this week to impose stricter mask policies. The Orange and Sarasota County school boards may soon follow.

    […] we’re talking about enormous school districts. Looking over the list of the largest school districts in the United States, Miami-Dade is fourth in the nation. Broward is sixth, Hillsborough is seventh, Orange is ninth, and Palm Beach is tenth.

    With student populations this large, curtailing COVID-19 infections in these schools would have a significant impact on the state’s overall totals.

    And yet, there’s Ron DeSantis, who suggested this week that mask protections have “not proven to be effective,” reality notwithstanding.

    Federal intervention remains a possibility. President Biden spoke from the White House yesterday, announcing that he’d directed Education Secretary Miguel Cardona to “use all of his authority, and legal action, if appropriate,” to deter states from banning universal masking in classrooms.

    “We’re not going to sit by as governors try to block and intimidate educators from protecting our children,” the Democrat said. White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain echoed the sentiment this morning.

  56. tomh says

    Federal appeals court upholds CDC’s eviction moratorium
    Jacob Knutson / August 20, 2021

    The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia left in place the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-related eviction moratorium on Friday.

    Alabama and Georgia realtors will likely appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court, which declined to lift the ban in June but signaled that it would not tolerate another extension.

    Justice Kavanaugh said in June that he believed that the CDC exceeded its authority in enacting the moratorium and that congressional authorization would be necessary for the CDC to extend it.

  57. says

    Top Election Official Rips Arizona GOP’s Sham Election ‘Audit’ In Scathing Preview

    Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs released an analysis of the state Senate GOP’s incoming report from its so-called “audit” of the 2020 election results carried out by Cyber Ninjas, a firm led by a pro-Trump conspiracy theorist.

    In her 46-page analysis, Hobbs ripped the “audit” for:

    “lack of security and chain of custody procedures”

    “lack of transparency”

    “lack of consistent, document quality control practices, policies, and procedures”

    There are “numerous examples of failures” in Cyber Ninjas’ review process, Hobbs said.

    “Any one of these issues would deem an audit completely unreliable, but the combination of these failures renders this review meritless.”

    Hobbs pointed out that the primary reason for the audit was Republicans’ refusal to accept the election results that led to Trump’s solid defeat.

    As a result, they held an audit that “undermined public confidence in accurate and secure elections that were conducted in 2020.”

    Stephen Richer, Maricopa County’s GOP county recorder and top elections official, also released a fiery prebuttal to the audit flatly rejecting his fellow Republicans’ stolen election narrative.

    “Nobody stole Maricopa County’s election. Elections in Maricopa County aren’t rigged,” he wrote.

    The audit report is expected to be released soon.

  58. says

    Immunocompromised People Make Up Nearly Half Of COVID Breakthrough Hospitalizations. An Extra Vaccine Dose May Help.

    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officially recommended on Aug. 12 and Aug. 13, 2021, respectively, that people who are moderately to severely immunocompromised receive a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

    One reason for this recommendation is high hospitalization rates among immunocompromised people who are vaccinated. As of July 2021, nearly half of the vaccinated people hospitalized with breakthrough COVID-19 infections were immunocompromised – despite making up only 2.7% of the U.S. adult population. In comparison, the rate of breakthrough cases among vaccinated people who are not immunocompromised was less than 1%.

    I am a physician scientist specializing in infections in immunocompromised patients. As someone who researches autoimmune disease and has worked on the COVID-19 vaccine trials, I agree that a third dose of COVID-19 vaccine can help protect those with weakened immune systems.

    People who are immunocompromised have weakened immune systems. This can result from certain diseases and their medical treatments, such as cancer, autoimmune diseases, untreated HIV, organ transplant medications and some forms of kidney disease. The common thread is that the body’s defenses against infection are impaired.

    Two parts of the immune system seem to be particularly important in protecting people from getting sick with COVID-19: T cells and B cells. B cells make antibodies that can bind to and inactivate viruses. T cells kill off virus-infected cells, prevent infection from further spreading and organize the body’s overall defense response. Different types of immunocompromising conditions and treatments can either kill or decrease the effectiveness of these key immune cells.

    That can result in a hampered response to vaccines. As a result, people who are immunocompromised often need to follow different vaccination guidelines from people who are not immunocompromised to best protect themselves from infection. After a bone marrow or solid organ transplant, for instance, patients are routinely revaccinated against such infections as hepatitis B.

    Early on in the pandemic, researchers learned that immunocompromised people infected with COVID-19 tend to have particularly severe and long-lasting infections. This leads to prolonged viral shedding, meaning that the period during which these infected people release the virus as they breathe, talk and eat is much longer. Thus, they have a higher chance of transmitting the virus to others.

    Long infections with poor immune responses are also ideal environments for the virus to evolve and adapt in ways that allow it to better infect people. […]

    The best protection for everyone against COVID-19 is to have as many people vaccinated as soon as possible. In the interim, a third vaccine dose can safely and effectively decrease the likelihood of severe COVID-19 in immunocompromised people. And consistently wearing masks, regardless of vaccination status and whether or not you’re immunocompromised, can also significantly reduce the spread of COVID-19.

  59. says

    Follow-up to comment 62:

    […] immunocompromised are 3% of the pop but 40% of the breakthroughs, so that is definitely notable. It’s also (relatively) good news for the 95% of vaccinated people with effective immune systems.

  60. says

    Wonkette:

    This week, a federal court found one of the laws most commonly used to charge undocumented immigrants with crimes is unconstitutional because it’s too racist.

    This is a HUGE decision; it’s a true landmark in American jurisprudence, which actually has entire doctrines about how courts should bend over backwards to give deference to bigoted lawmakers. (“Good faith,” my ass.)

    So here’s how we got here: In 2020, Gustavo Carrillo-Lopez was indicted for the felony of illegally re-entering the United States after being deported. His lawyers filed a motion to dismiss the charge, arguing the law he was charged under is racist. Specifically, Carrillo-Lopez argued the law was both “enacted with a discriminatory purpose” and “has a disparate impact on Latinx persons.”

    A look at history and statistics shows that this is clearly true. But, generally, no matter what the evidence, courts will do whatever they can to find racist laws constitutional.

    That’s what makes it so incredible that Chief US District Judge Miranda Du agreed with Carrillo-Lopez, ruling the law making re-entry a felony “was enacted with a discriminatory purpose and that the law has a disparate impact on Latinx persons, and the government fails to show that Section 1326 would have been enacted absent racial animus” and dismissing the charges.

    Badass, Judge Du. […]

    As Judge Du laid out, to prevail, Carrillo-Lopez had to demonstrate both that the law had a “disparate impact” on Hispanic/Latino immigrants and that “racially discriminatory intent or purpose” was a “motivating factor in the decision” to enact the law. He did just that.

    […] A look at the history of this law shows it is, in fact, racist — as it was always intended to be. The legislative history from 1929 is so bad that, eventually, even the government conceded that “discriminatory intent motivated [its] passage[.]”

    The “Undesirable Aliens Act of 1929,” as you may be able to tell from the name, was passed specifically with white supremacy and bigotry in mind. This was the first time border-crossing was criminalized. Like professors Benjamin Gonzalez O’Brien from San Diego State University and Kelly Lytle Hernandez of UCLA explained to the court,

    the legislation came on the heels of the National Origins Act of 1924 which narrowed the pathways of legal immigration by reserving 96 percent of all quota slots for European immigrants and emphasized how racial animus became more intense heading into the 1920s, a period referred to as the ‘Tribal Twenties,’ when nativism and eugenics became more widely accepted and began to impact Congressional immigration proposal.

    […] The provision making it a crime was reenacted and strengthened with the McCarran–Walter Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952. And guess what? Congress was racist then, too. Or, as Judge Du put it, “[t]he 1952 reenactment did not cleanse Section 1326 of its racist origins and was also motivated by discriminatory intent.”

    Supporters of Section 1326 actually used the slur “wetback” in Congress while making it easier to prosecute people for illegal re-entry. On behalf of the Department of Justice, Deputy Attorney General Peyton Ford praised the change, saying it would “aid in taking action against the conveyors and receivers of the ‘wetback.”‘ Another supporter said legislation must make it easier “to deal more effectively with the wetback problem[.]” The same Congress also passed another anti-immigration bill that was officially nicknamed the “Wetback Bill,” also criminalizing certain border crossings.

    President Truman vetoed the McCarran–Walter Act because of its fuckery, calling it “legislation which would perpetuate injustices of long standing against many other nations of the world” and “intensify the repressive and inhumane aspects of our immigration procedures.” Congress overrode his veto.

    It’s pretty damn racist, guys.

    […] The 1952 Congress incorporated the advice of supporters of the bill who used racial epithets in official documents, while contemporaneously passing another bill targeting “wetbacks.” Although it is “not easy” to prove that racism motivated the passage of a particular statute, the Court reasons that it cannot be impossible […]

    It’s not just that Section 1326 was intended to be racist — it’s racist in its application, too. Like Judge Du found, “Section 1326 does indeed disparately impact Mexican and Latinx individuals.” As Professor Hernández testified, between 1929 and 1952, “some years, Mexicans comprised 99 percent of immigration offenders” and by the 1930s, “tens of thousands of Mexicans had been arrested, charged, prosecuted, and imprisoned for unlawfully entering the United States.”

    Currently available data shows that trend has, unsurprisingly continued.

    […] The government argued that it was fine if Section 1326 was racist in application, because we just really like to over-police our southern border. Judge Du rightly called out this argument as “circular and inconclusive,” writing:

    It cannot be the case that the mere over-policing of certain locations—here the Southern border as opposed to the Northern border—prevents a specific group from raising equal protection challenges. Or that because Mexican citizens will likely make up more unlawful reentries because they are a higher percentage of the overall illegal alien population, they cannot raise equal protection challenges. Ultimately, the law still bears more heavily on those individuals than others[.]”

    I don’t know about you, but I am shocked, JUST SHOCKED, that an American immigration law would primarily be used to punish people from Mexico, Central, and South America. […]

    if Judge Du’s opinion survives the Ninth Circuit, the Supreme Court is almost certain to not only reverse, but to make it even harder to win these kinds of cases. But this is the kind of case that’s important not just for its current impact, but also for the impact it has in the future. Someday, this case will be cited by immigrants’ rights activists the same way we now cite Justice Frankfurter’s dissent in Korematsu.

    And, as for my preferred outcome, I’m with Ian Milhiser: The DOJ should refuse to appeal and be legends. […]

    https://www.wonkette.com/immigration-nice-time

    Full text of the opinion is available at the link.

  61. blf says

    Last week Mike Lindell held a 3 day cyber symposium bouncy castle fun fair at which supposed absolute proof would be shown that Big China broke into election machines not connected to the Internet via… ah, forget it, trying to make the claims sillier than they already are might inadvertently create an even more funniest joke in the world (apologies to Monty Python). It was supposed to result in the Supreme Court voting 9–0 to reinstall hair furor. Somehow.

    As previously logged in this series of poopyhead threads, the evidence was bogus, sourced from a known fraudster, and last week’s fun fair failed so spectacularly Lindell, in true hair furorian style, is lashing at anything and everything (but admitting no faults or blame himself). He’s even now claiming TruNews is part of teh FAKE news conspiracy, Mike Lindell Accuses TruNews of Being a ‘Fake News’ Front Established by Media Matters. Except for the “Media Matters” part, he happens to correct, albeit not in his intended sense, TruNews is rubbish (RWW edits in {curly braces}):

    […] Lindell reacted to the fiasco by spreading new conspiracy theories alleging that left-wing reporters worked with “antifa” activists to sabotage his event, going so far as to accuse the far-right outlet TruNews of being an “antifa” front group funded by Media Matters.

    TruNews — an anti-vaccine, anti-semitic, End Times conspiracy theory network — was among the media organizations granted credentials to cover Lindell’s event. TruNews was so sympathetic to Lindell’s claims of massive voter fraud that the network sent two correspondents to broadcast from the symposium and streamed the entire event live on its website for three days.

    None of that seemed to matter to Lindell. Broadcasting on his Frank Speech platform Monday, Lindell took aim at TruNews.

    I have a report from from our counter-intelligence on the people that were there, Lindell said. Antifa individuals were working with TruNews, which is a fake news site established by Media Matters for America.

    TruNews played Lindell’s comments on its program Monday night, and the hosts were understandably mystified by Lindell’s allegations, declaring that if he can be this wrong about them, then nobody should believe anything that he says about any subject.

    “It really is sad,” said TruNews founder Rick Wiles. “Somebody is feeding Mr Lindell a lot of bad information, and I think he should wise up and take a look at who he has surrounded himself with and whether somebody has gotten inside his group and they are now turning him into a clown. They’re destroying his credibility.”

    “If his sources of information are so faulty that he accuses TruNews of being a Media Matters puppet and that we smuggle antifa terrorists into meetings, if his information is that faulty, then I can’t trust anything Mike Lindell says,” Wiles added. “I’ve been one guy here through this whole thing that has said, ‘Let’s hear him out. Let’s not attack him. Let’s give the man a fair chance to present his information.’ That’s why we sent Edward {Szall} and Lauren {Witzke}, but now I wouldn’t waste a dime on anything Mike Lindell says.”

    I opted not to set the TruNews quotes from Wiles in eejit quotes, which normally would be automatic for either, because whilst the quoted statements are bonkers in their own way, important parts are true (or quite plausible). E.g., “Somebody is feeding Mr Lindell a lot of bad information”, “[Lindell] should wise up and take a look at who he has surrounded himself with”, Lindell is a “clown” (not in the good sense, and he hasn’t recently turned into one), he never had any credibility and it now certainly is destroyed, and very Very certainly, “[don’t] trust anything Mike Lindell says”, etc.

  62. blf says

    Nevada court ruling could reshape US immigration policy:

    […]
    In a court ruling with potentially broad implications for United States immigration cases, a federal judge in Nevada has found a criminal law that dates to 1929 and makes it a felony for a person who has been deported from the US to return to the country is unconstitutional.

    US District Judge Miranda Du in Reno, in an order issued on Wednesday, found the law widely known as Section 1326 is based on “racist, nativist roots” and discriminates against Mexican and Latino people in violation of the equal protection clause of the Fifth Amendment.

    […]

    Section 1326 of the Immigration and Nationality Act makes it a crime for a person to enter the US if they have been denied admission, deported or removed.

    It was enacted in 1952 using language from the Undesirable Aliens Act passed by Congress in 1929. Penalties were stiffened five times between 1988 and 1996 to increase its deterrent value.

    […] Julian Castro, secretary of Housing and Urban Development in the Obama administration, tweeted that he doubted the Justice Department would want to defend a law with “an incredibly racist history”.

    [… Retired longtime chief of the Federal Public Defender’s Office in Nevada, Franny] Forsman called Du’s order groundbreaking for its thoroughness. Du, a Vietnamese immigrant, was nominated to the federal bench by former President Barack Obama and sworn in in 2012.

    “I think it will have implications because it’s going to be difficult to get around her reasoning,” Forsman said of the court order.

    “It’s a little hard to get around a statute that was called the ‘Wetback Act’ by the people enacting it,” she said, referring to a derogatory term sometimes used to disparage Mexican migrants, and Hispanics more generally.

    Du said she considered written and oral arguments and expert testimony about the legislative history of the law from professors Benjamin Gonzalez O’Brien of San Diego State University and Kelly Lytle Hernandez of the University of California, Los Angeles.

    “Importantly, the government does not dispute that Section 1326 bears more heavily on Mexican and Latinx individuals,” the judge said in her 43-page order […]

    “The government argues that the stated impact is ‘a product of geography, not discrimination,’ and that the statistics are rather a feature of Mexico’s proximity to the United States, the history of Mexican employment patterns and the socio-political and economic factors that drive migration,” Du wrote.

    “The court is not persuaded.”

  63. says

    Florida’s Kindergartners Offer to Explain Mask Issue to DeSantis

    New Yorker link

    TALLAHASSEE (The Borowitz Report)—A group of Florida’s kindergartners has offered to explain the science underpinning the use of masks to the state’s governor, Ron DeSantis.

    Calling DeSantis’s objection to mask mandates “clearly an example of ignorance on his part,” one of the kindergartners, Jayson Dorrinson, said that his fellow five-year-olds were willing to talk to the Governor at his earliest convenience.

    “The benefit of wearing masks is so clear, it’s obvious to us that no one has explained this issue properly to Mr. DeSantis,” the kindergartner said. “We’re happy to play that role.”

    Dorrinson said that he was “not concerned” that being told the facts about masks might enrage DeSantis, who has been on a short fuse in recent weeks.

    “We sincerely hope that he doesn’t get mad,” the five-year-old said. “But, if he does, we’ll just give him a timeout.”

  64. says

    Orlando Sentinel:

    The city of Orlando and its water utility on Friday appealed to residents to cut back sharply on water usage for at least several weeks because of a pandemic-triggered shortage of liquid oxygen used to treat water.

  65. says

    Good news — Refugees welcome: Several states open arms to fleeing Afghans

    A bipartisan group of governors is offering to take in Afghans who are being forced out of their country after Taliban forces seized power over the weekend.

    “Utah was settled by refugees fleeing religious persecution. We understand the pain caused by forced migration and appreciate the contributions of refugees in our communities,” the state’s Republican governor, Spencer Cox, tweeted on Tuesday. [Little bit of Mormon propaganda thrown in.]

    Cox has written a letter to President Joe Biden offering to “assist with the resettlement of individuals and families fleeing Afghanistan, especially those who valiantly helped U.S. troops, diplomats, journalists, and other civilians over the past 20 years.” […]

    Other Republican governors have offered to step up as well, citing the troubling scenes of Afghans trying to flee the country at the Kabul airport in the wake of the Taliban taking control of the city. […]

    “Maryland receives more of these SIV’s than nearly any other state, and we stand ready and willing to receive more. It is the least we can do,” Hogan [ Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan] said.

    In South Carolina, Gov. Henry McMaster told reporters it’s “our duty” to help the Afghans.

    “Those people … helped protect Americans,” McMaster said, according to the local newspaper The State. “Now it is our duty to help them. We need to help them.”

    Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds and Vermont Gov. Phil Scott both said officials in their states had been in touch with the federal government about taking in refugees.

    “We have the capacity. We want to work with them to get them here,” Reynolds said Tuesday during a WHO-AM radio interview. “They’ve helped us, helped Americans, and we’re more than willing to help them relocate to Iowa.”

    Scott told reporters in Montpelier that the state is “ready, willing and able” to help. Republican Govs. Charlie Baker of Massachusetts and Brian Kemp of Georgia made similar proclamations, with Kemp coming under fire from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Georgia, for his stance.

    “GA shouldn’t welcome Afghan refugees while 1,000’s of Americans are stranded,” Greene tweeted, questioning how much allowing the refugees would cost taxpayers.

    The issue has become political in California as well, where Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, who’s fighting a recall attempt, declared at a campaign stop Monday that, “We are a state of refuge.”

    “You don’t hear that from Republican candidates” in the state, Newsom said, adding that his administration is “already working in terms of a lot of those refugees coming in.”

    Other Democrats, including Govs. Tony Evers of Wisconsin and Ralph Northam of Virginia, also offered to take in more refugees.

    Northam tweeted Monday that he’d met with Afghan citizens in the state and “made it clear” to the federal government that “we’re ready and willing to take thousands more. Virginia will continue to serve as safe harbor.”

  66. says

    Associated Press:

    The public is more concerned about the threat caused by domestic extremist groups than those from outside the country. Sixty-five percent are extremely or very concerned about the dangers posed by domestic extremist groups, compared with 50% who are concerned about extremists from foreign countries.

    That’s quite a change.

  67. says

    Follow-up to Lyke @67:

    […] According to the U.S. National Snow & Ice Data Center, rain fell for several hours on an area 10,551 feet in elevation on Aug. 14, an unprecedented occurrence for a location that rarely sees temperatures above freezing.

    It was also the latest date in the year scientists had ever recorded above-freezing temperatures at the National Science Foundation’s Summit Station. […]

    Yikes.

  68. says

    Good News.

    Traveling is one thing a lot of people missed doing when the pandemic first struck. As a result of canceled flights, a lot of us ended up with miles and travel vouchers that we had no idea when it would be safe to use next. In comes Miles4Migrants, a 501(c)(3) charity that uses donated frequent flyer miles to reunite families around the world separated by war, persecution, and disaster.

    Instead of being sad that you’re unable to use your miles or vouchers, you now have the opportunity to gift them to those in need.

    Miles4Migrants partners with over 50 nonprofits across the world to identify refugees, asylees, asylum seekers, and their immediate family members in need. It does not discriminate by race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or any other identity. After identifying those in need, it pays for the flights of those who can legally enter a new country but cannot afford the airfare. […] “We’ve flown people from I don’t even know how many countries at this point—it’s an insane number of countries. We have flown Afghans who worked as translators for the U.S. military; we have flown LGBT activists. We have flown Cubans who protested the dictatorship. We flew a man who carried his handicapped son from Honduras to the U.S. border. We flew a Thai folk band who wrote songs about how they didn’t like the Thai government and then the Thai government tried to kill them,” Miles4Migrants co-founder Seth Stanton told PEOPLE.

    “We flew a family from Zimbabwe where the husband’s father was a politician and he lost his political race and the opposition decided that they would not only kill him but also his oldest son, so the family knew they shouldn’t be part of politics anymore. The stories just go on and on.”

    With the current state of Afghanistan, the organization is gathering more attention as it helps to fly out refugees and asylum seekers during the crisis.

    “We had been flying people out of Afghanistan right up until the airport [in Kabul] was closed. We have no idea how long it’s going to be closed. We have families that are scheduled to depart the airport within the next several days, within the next several weeks, within the next month, that we are hopeful will be able to depart,” Stanton said.

    Those who are interested in donating have a few options. Begin by visiting the site Miles4Migrants.org, where you can pledge frequent flier miles, credit card points, money, or vouchers from canceled flights. The process is simple:

    Donors can follow this link and pledge miles.
    Once the organization’s NGO partners identify a family in need of your miles, the Miles4Migrants team of flight bookers reaches out to you to fulfill your pledge.
    Their team of flight bookers will then use your miles information to book a flight.
    A family is then reunited! […]

    Link

  69. says

    Tropical storm Henri has developed into a hurricane, the National Hurricane Center said Saturday morning, with the storm expected to make landfall in the northeast U.S. as soon as Saturday night.

    The center noted that areas of the northeast were expected to see hurricane conditions, a storm surge and flooding rainfall either Saturday night or early Sunday.

    […] Hurricane warnings have already been issued for parts of New York and along the coast of Connecticut. The National Hurricane Center also said in an advisory that hurricane conditions could be seen in parts of Rhode Island this weekend.

    It would be the first hurricane to hit New England in several decades, NBC News reported. Hurricane Bob was the last hurricane to hit areas of New England in 1991. Hurricane Gloria was the last one to make landfall in Long Island in 1985.

    Link

  70. says

    Fox News ignores a DC bomb threat inspired by right-wing conspiracy theory culture

    A Thursday night news brief on Fox News contained a remarkable claim — that the network doesn’t have enough information to determine what motivated a man spouting right-wing conspiracy theories to shut down a significant portion of Washington, DC, around the Library of Congress by claiming to have a bomb earlier in the day.

    “So far, no word on a possible motive,” said anchor Jackie Ibanez at the conclusion of a 15-second brief that amounted to the entirety of Fox News’s Thursday night coverage of the incident.

    […] comment may have been intended to obscure an uncomfortable truth for America’s most-watched cable news network. In videos streamed to Facebook before and during the bomb threat while he sat in a truck, Roseberry made clear he’s immersed in right-wing conspiracy theories and grievances that receive heavy play on Fox.

    “Once this dickhead Biden’s out of office and the Democrats sitting down there in the f**kin’ jailhouse, our president’s gonna be Donald Trump, and this is no limit on his pardons,” claimed Roseberry in a video posted early Tuesday morning, alluding to a lie propagated by former President Donald Trump on Fox News as recently as Wednesday about the 2020 election being stolen from him.

    […] Roseberry ranted about alleged Facebook shadow-banning and complained about immigrants receiving government subsidies for health care — gripes regularly stoked by Fox during segments that frame social media companies’ effort to root out hate speech and disinformation as censorship and portray immigration as an existential threat to white America. He complained about the quality of American coinage, said “Southern boys are here,” and vowed, “You can take me out. But when you do, you know what’s going to happen, Joe Biden? There’s going to be a chain reaction. And that chain reaction’s going to be on your hands.” He ultimately surrendered to police.

    Facebook eventually removed Roseberry’s profile, but not before his videos were widely watched and summarized in media reports. Yet if you’d watched Fox News Thursday night, you’d have no idea those videos existed. […]

    Hammering people with lies about Democrats stealing elections and overseeing an immigrant invasion of the country can have deadly consequences. It’s notable but not surprising that Fox News is unwilling to reckon with those consequences — especially in comparison to the wall-to-wall coverage that would likely ensue if an adherent of antifa or Black Lives Matter shut down the Capitol area with a bomb threat.

  71. says

    Wonkette: “PSA: Don’t Go Taking Horse Pills Unless You Are Literally A Horse, Which You Probably Are Not”

    A horse is a horse, of course, of course, and no one should talk to a horse of course — especially if that horse is trying to sell you drugs.

    For the last few weeks, we’ve been hearing about American patriots going down to their local Tractor Supply stores in order to procure Ivermectin, for the purpose of curing or preventing COVID-19, a thing it doesn’t do.

    While Ivermectin is approved for use by humans under certain circumstances, usually to treat parasitic worms, the kind they are getting is for horses or cows, because that is what the Tractor Supply store sells and that’s the only way they can get the drug without a prescription. As you can probably guess, this has not turned out well and the Mississippi State Department of Health has had to send out a notice asking people to please stop taking horse Ivermectin, due to the large number of calls they are getting to their poison control hotline.

    In fact, according to the notice, “at least 70% of the recent calls have been related to ingestion of livestock or animal formulations of ivermectin purchased at livestock supply centers,” which seems like a lot.

    Taking a horse-sized dose of practically any medicine is generally a bad idea, since, as they say, sola dosis facit venenum, “the dose makes the poison.” […] In the case of Ivermectin, an overdose can lead to “rash, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, neurologic disorders, and potentially severe hepatitis requiring hospitalization.”

    The FDA has also created a helpful FAQ about why one should not take drugs meant to cure parasitic worms in horses, noting that many of the inactive ingredients in medicines created for animals could also harm humans.

    Of course, none of this is going to do anything to convince people to stop trying to take Ivermectin for the purpose of curing COVID, particularly those who do not believe COVID exists in the first place. […]

    Iceman80: THERE IS NO COVID! Sidetracked Again: I agree. There’s no way to test for it so there’s no way to call it something … but for sure – something is making people sick and the people are treating themselves with Hydroxy … and Ivermectin.

    Well that is certainly one way to explain how COVID-19 simultaneously does not exist and can be cured with horse pills. Perhaps they could call it Schrödinger’s Virus?

    We’ve gone through this with a variety of different “cures” — bleach and Lysol, hydroxychloroquine, “Miracle Mineral Solution” (which is also bleach), etc. Sadly they have not gotten into the “cure” promoted by one Indian politician that involved drinking cow urine and then smearing oneself with cow shit (though there is still time).

    It’s not hard to figure out what it is they want in a cure. For one, they want doctors to hate it. And the FDA— because they hate doctors and the FDA. They also want it to be a “cure” for literally everything else on earth. For instance, several people on the Great Awakening Qanon message board are now claiming that it also cures MS and cancer. […]

    They are in search of a clickbait cure, because that’s what they’ve been socialized to want — by clickbait itself, by magazines in the checkout aisle, by television shows like “Dr. Oz.” They have been showered, for years in “Doctors hate this one weird trick to cure literally all of your ailments!” so as far as they’re concerned, doctors hating something is conclusive proof that it works. They are rooting for the medicinal underdog because it would be more emotionally, narratively satisfying for the simple horse pills to have been better than the flashy vaccine all along. […]

    Link

    Sheesh! You won’t go get a free vaccine, but you will go to the farm supply store and spend money on horse pills that will poison you?!

  72. says

    Wonkette: “Woman Claims Vaccines Are A Secret Plot To Make Us Glow Under Black Light”

    Man, the hits just keep on coming with these school board meetings, no? And really, the more I watch them, the more I learn about, well, things that are just definitely not true. Because people are so mad at the idea of getting vaccinated or having to wear masks that they just start making shit up.

    Like this lady from a school board meeting in Palm Beach, Florida who says that not only do the vaccines make us magnetic, but that they also make us all glow under black light. Neat! […]

    She said:

    It’s never been about your health. It’s never been about your health! It’s about control and compliance. And lemme tell you something! Go home tonight and take one of these spoons and put it on your vaccination spot. Guess what? It’s gonna stick to you! Get a in a corner! Get into some silence and some meditation — hopefully some of you believe in God! — and pray and check in with yourself, or your, whoever you answer to, and ask, “Is this something normal? To have metal stick to you? Is this human? No!

    Guess what else? You take a black light flashlight and shine it on your veins and you’re now gonna glow in the black light! Because guess what? You’re no longer human! You’re 2.0’s! And we are afraid of YOU!

    You shouldn’t be afraid of us! Because you’re shedding your spike proteins and this is the reason why people are in the hospital! It’s not the unvaccinated! It’s the vaccinated! It’s the vaccinated and guess what? The truth is coming out, everything is bubbling up. You guys are disposable! And whoever you’re puppeting, whoever you’re parroting, they don’t care about you any more or less than you care about the kids.

    I invite you to get a conscience, because if you’re vaccinated, your time is limited anyways, but I ask you to get on your knees and repent and ask for forgiveness. Because this is not just happening on this field and on this plane. You’re gonna be paying for this for the rest of eternity. All right? So I will tell you good luck, God bless. See ya!

    So like … what I am getting from this is that I made a huge mistake by not going into Spencer’s Gifts this week when I was at the mall. They sell black lights there still, along with literally everything else they had in the 90s.

    Just look at all these Nirvana shirts! [image at the link]

    Sadly, they do not have the see-through phones there anymore. But they do have lava lamps for when you have your awesome glowing vein black light party.

  73. blf says

    There were, yet again, genocide supporters bellowing in the streets in some places here in France, protesting the Health Pass, the vaccines, and Macron — and apparently with a more prominent antisemitic tone. They were out in the village today, but I managed to miss them; it didn’t sound very large, which would be consistent with reports the attendance (nation-wide and in Paris) has fallen again. At least one report, which I’ve managed to misplace the link-to, said a recent poll found over(?) 50% thought the protesters were morons. (The report didn’t quite put it like that.) Multiple reports are focusing on a distinct antisemitic element to the protests; e.g., comparisons to the Holocaust or wearing Yellow Stars, both uncoded and coded signs and chants, etc.

    And it continues to be the case a majority support the Health Pass, which (app or paper) is proof of being fully-vaccinated or having had a recent negative test, etc., and the requirement to show it to visit a restaurant, café, bar, etc., indoors or outside. Here in the village most places I’ve visited seem to be asking and checking, albeit just about the full range of non-comedic possibilities has happened to me by now (the Health Pass started 9th August but wasn’t mandatory last Monday, 6th August). I do feel sorry for the staff at several places I frequent, who bloody well know by now I have a valid fully-vaccinated Health Pass, but still need to see it (I’m learning to have it ready so they don’t have to ask).

  74. Pierce R. Butler says

    LYnna… @ # 47, quoting MSNBC quoting Mo Brooks: … I understand citizenry anger directed at dictatorial Socialism …

    & Lynna @ # 75 quoting Vox: … a man spouting right-wing conspiracy theories …

    According to RawStory.com, in F’book videos posted on his way to fame, Roseberry began his litany of grievances with specific personal issues:

    … he began by talking about how his health insurance wouldn’t pay for anything anymore. He said he’d been getting injections in his knees to help him walk, but when he went to the doctor he said that the insurance didn’t cover him. He went on to say that his wife had skin cancer but that the insurance wouldn’t cover it either because they considered it “cosmetic.” He said that his wife had to have her nose practically removed.

    We can all, I think, sympathize with this, even while tut-tutting at the chosen response. But something Brooks – and all other reportage on this I’ve seen – somehow misses: Comrade Roseberry’s problems come from the capitalist institutions regulating access to health care in the US. He (among other tactical misjudgments) parked his truck in front of the wrong building.

  75. says

    Khaled Hosseini, author of the bestselling novel “The Kite Runner,” described the Taliban takeover of his home country, Afghanistan, as “absolutely gut-wrenching.”

    In an interview with CNN, Hosseini said watching the country’s fall, especially his hometown of Kabul, was “heartbreaking,” adding that he was worried for his friends and family who are still there.

    “I have a very strong emotional bond to the country, to the city, to its people. I actually haven’t lived Afghanistan since 1976, but those formative years were spent there,” he told CNN. “It’s just heartbreaking to see the Taliban flag fly over that city.”

    […] Hosseini said that many Afghan people told him that they had no faith in the country’s military to protect them if the U.S. military were to withdraw.

    “When I was in Afghanistan and spoke to local people, it was quite remarkable how they all echoed the same thing: That if the Americans were to leave, they did not have faith that the Afghan state could protect them and uphold the country,” he told the news outlet. “That was even more true years later.”

    […] The author said he is also “skeptical” about the Taliban rule, saying that the group will have to prove it will be different this time around “with deeds and not with words.”

    […] “I think I would call on all countries to keep their borders open and to welcome Afghan refugees who are fleeing 40 years of violence and persecution,” he said. “This moment is not the time to give up on Afghanistan. It is not the time to turn your backs on Afghans and Afghan refugees.”

    “The United States owes the Afghans,” he added. “Those who are left behind, who aligned themselves with US objectives, who believed in US initiatives, who at the risk of their own lives worked alongside us and other foreign troops. We mustn’t turn our back on those people.”

    Link

  76. says

    Follow-up to blf @78.

    […] Reuters reported that there were a total of about 175,000 people who gathered throughout France Saturday. Photos and videos circulated on social media showed demonstrations, most of whom were maskless, holding signs with phrases like “Liberté,” and “Libérons la France,” or “Liberate France.”

    […] Around 200 different protests were held throughout the country Saturday, though the total number of demonstrators declined from last weekend, when authorities recorded nearly 215,000 protesters.

    […] The protests have attracted people across the political spectrum in France, with Reuters reporting that the largest demonstration in Paris was led by far-right politician Florian Philippot. Another demonstration was led by left-wing protesters with ties to the “Yellow Vests” (Gilets Jaunes) movement.

    […] While the majority of French citizens support the health passes, and roughly 62 percent of the country’s population has been fully vaccinated, a vocal minority opposed to the requirements has taken to the streets since the measure was first introduced.

    […] AFP noted Saturday that Jewish groups and anti-racism campaigns have denounced some protesters who have displayed slogans and symbols, including yellow stars, in attempts to compare the health pass to the treatment of Jewish people under the Nazi regime.

    Left-wing newspaper Le Monde condemned the actions of some protesters, writing in an editorial this week, “Although anti-Semitism on the far-right is old, it seems to be encouraged at the moment by the rise in conspiracy thinking.”

    Link

  77. says

    Cuomo warns New Yorkers in flood areas to ‘move to higher ground’ before Henri

    New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) on Saturday warned New Yorkers who live in flood areas to get to higher ground before Hurricane Henri hits the state.

    “If you know you are in an area that tends to flood … get out of that area now,” Cuomo said in a briefing Saturday after Henri was upgraded to hurricane status. “If you have to get to higher ground it has to be today.”

    A hurricane advisory sent out this morning said Long Island, N.Y., Connecticut and Rhode Island could begin to see hurricane conditions Saturday night. […]

  78. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 76

    It’s not hard to figure out what it is they want in a cure. For one, they want doctors to hate it. And the FDA— because they hate doctors and the FDA. They also want it to be a “cure” for literally everything else on earth. For instance, several people on the Great Awakening Qanon message board are now claiming that it also cures MS and cancer.

    It’s populist anti-intellectualism, as usual. They want to think that the good-old, salt-of-the-earth, common folk had some home-spun, easy-to-obtain cure all along, rather than those snotty, edu-ma-cated, egg-head doctors with fancified degrees and big words.

  79. lumipuna says

    Back when my favorite social media sites (such as FTB) were funded by skeezy clickbait ads, I sometimes saw the “doctors hate this health trick” pitch and it was one of the oddest things ever. Another was health tricks whose main selling point seemed to be that they were “weird”. Sure, when I look for health solutions I want them to be as weird as possible.

    The thing about doctors started clicking in when I realized that in US doctors are mainly known for charging all your money – and that’s in exchange for some incomprehensible treatment that may or may not help you get better. Otherwise, I think the weirdness thing appeals to conspiracy theorists who want to feel they have some important secret knowledge. And like Akira said, probably many people feel drawn to simple old folk-style remedies that are easy to comprehend, obtain and use.

  80. says

    Well, this is … interesting.

    Trump Booed At Rally After Quipping That COVID-19 Vaccinations Are ‘Good’

    […] Trump appeared to get booed by some of his supporters at a “Save America” rally in Alabama on Saturday night as soon as he encouraged the crowd to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

    “I believe totally in your freedoms, I do, you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do,” Trump said. “But I recommend: take the vaccines.”

    After saying that COVID-19 vaccines are “good,” Trump was met with boos from the crowd.

    Trump then quipped to the crowd that they have “freedoms,” but that he “happened to take the vaccine.”

    […] In the seven months since he left office, [Trump] has not launched an official campaign to push Americans to get inoculated against the infectious disease that has killed more than 600,000 Americans thus far, despite allies’ efforts to persuade Trump to do so.

    The Daily Beast reported earlier this month that Trump has shown little interest toward pushing the public to get vaccinated even when his allies offered several suggestions on how he could potentially vocalize pro-vaccine rhetoric.

    The former president’s latest remarks echo his scattered approach to encouraging vaccines.

    Last March, Trump told Fox News that he would “recommend” people to get vaccinated, but that he respected people’s “freedoms” to refuse vaccinations. […]

    Two video snippets are available at the link.

    This was a super spreader event in Alabama!

  81. says

    Josh Marshall:

    […] I wanted to focus on something that seems to be getting very, very little above-the-fold coverage in the American press coverage: the key leaders of the US backed government over the last two decades are relaxedly meeting with the political leadership of the Taliban in Kabul about the formation of the new government.

    Meanwhile, Ashraf Ghani, the Afghan President whose precipitous flight hastened the rapid collapse of the government last weekend says he supports these negotiations and is in the process of negotiating his own return to the country.

    He’s currently in the United Arab Emirates.

    Meanwhile, Afghan media reports that Ghani’s brother, Hashmat Ghani, pledged loyalty to the Taliban and has encouraged all Afghans to do the same. I have no idea if that is in line with these negotiations or something different.

    This is a tweet posted a few hours ago by Abdullah Abdullah. [Tweet available at the link, and here:
    https://twitter.com/DrabdullahCE/status/1429126101188726793 ]

    You probably know the name of Hamid Karzai, an ethnic Pashtun who was President of Afghanistan from 2001 to 2014. Abdullah was Karzai’s Foreign Minister from 2001 to 2005. He lost in a disputed 2014 election to Ghani and then became “Chief Executive” of the country which was something like the Prime Minister and I think was part of some deal growing out of the disputed 2014 election. (His pre-2001 background was with the so-called Northern Alliance, the final holdouts against the Taliban.) This is not my area of expertise. But these three are among the most prominent leaders of the US era government. There’s zero question about that. […]

    Now, what does this all mean? I can’t answer that question. If nothing else it reminds us that a key truth of any military occupation is that the locals live there and the occupiers don’t. […] In this particular case, everyone’s interests seem pretty straightforward. Karzai, Abdullah and Ghani want some role in the new regime or at least don’t want to be on the wrong side of it. At least in the short-run stabilizing the situation is likely in everyone’s interests. The Taliban meanwhile, for all their military success, will rapidly need international recognition, access to the global banking system and access to the country’s money in US banks. All of that was cut off as soon as the former government fell. The country has rapidly gone from an importer of all manner of US and other foreign aid to being locked out of the international financial system. That will become a problem very quickly.

    Whether or not the Taliban actually plan on governing differently than they did between 1996-2001, that financial need will become acute. If nothing else they likely want to have a longer tenure than they did in their first period at the helm in the country.

    […] I flag this first because it seems highly newsworthy if we’re trying to understand just what is happening in the country. But it is remarkable to me that you can immerse yourself in the current US media coverage and as far as I can tell see very, very little discussion of this at all. I only noticed it and started digging around because I noticed Abdullah’s tweet and did some digging from there.

    Link

  82. says

    U.S. Orders Commercial Airlines to Help Ferry Afghan Evacuees

    New York Times link

    Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III has ordered six commercial airlines to provide passenger jets to help with the growing U.S. military operation evacuating Americans and Afghan allies from Kabul, the Afghan capital, the Pentagon said on Sunday.

    Mr. Austin activated Stage 1 of the Civil Reserve Air Fleet, created in 1952 after the Berlin airlift, to provide 18 airliners to help ferry passengers arriving at bases in the Middle East from Afghanistan, John F. Kirby, the Pentagon spokesman, said in a statement.

    The current activation is for 18 planes: four from United Airlines; three each from American Airlines, Atlas Air, Delta Air Lines and Omni Air; and two from Hawaiian Airlines.

    The Pentagon does not anticipate a major impact to commercial flights, Mr. Kirby said.

    Capt. John Perkins, a spokesman for the military’s Transportation Command, said on Sunday that the commercial airliners would begin service on Monday or Tuesday and that they would fly evacuees both from the Middle East to Europe and from Europe to the United States.

    Captain Perkins said in a telephone interview that the military had requested wide-bodied, long-haul aircraft capable of carrying several hundred passengers. He said that discussions started with the airlines last week and that some carriers had volunteered planes for the evacuation. But, he added, the demand was great enough for Mr. Austin to order more airlines to honor their obligations under the reserve fleet program.

    Civilian planes would not fly into or out of Kabul, where a rapidly deteriorating security situation has hampered evacuation flights. Instead, commercial airline pilots and crews would help transport thousands of Afghans who are arriving at U.S. bases in Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

    The commercial airlines would ease the burden on those bases, which are filling up rapidly as the Biden administration rushes to increase the number of flights for thousands of Afghans fearing reprisals from Taliban fighters.

    From the bases in the Middle East, the airliners would augment military flights carrying Afghans to Germany, Italy, Spain and other stops in Europe, and then ultimately to the United States for many of the Afghans, officials said.

    Scott Kirby, the chief executive of United Airlines, said on social media, “As a global airline and flag carrier for our country, we embrace the responsibility to quickly respond to international challenges like this one.” […]

  83. says

    New York Times Editorial Board: “The School Kids Are Not Alright”

    One of the most distressing aspects of the Covid pandemic has been seeing governors and state education officials abdicate responsibility for managing the worst disruption of public schooling in modern history and leaving the heavy lifting to the localities. Virtually every school in the nation closed in March 2020, replacing face-to-face schooling with thrown-together online education or programs that used a disruptive scheduling process to combine the two. Only a small portion of the student body returned to fully opened schools the following fall. The resulting learning setbacks range from grave for all groups of students to catastrophic for poor children.

    From the start, elected officials seemed more concerned about reopening bars and restaurants than safely reopening schools that hold the futures of more than 50 million children in their hands. Failed leadership continues to be painfully evident as the states enter yet another pandemic school year without enforcing common-sense public health policies that would make a much-needed return to in-person schooling as safe as possible. These policy failures are compounding at a time when the highly infectious Delta variant is surging […]

    as of this month, nearly one-fourth of the states had banned Covid-19 vaccination requirements, hamstringing localities that want to prioritize student safety. As of early August, only 29 states had recommended that students wear masks — down from the 44 states that did so last fall — and nine states had banned masking requirements. President Biden took the right approach on Wednesday when he announced that his Education Department would use its broad authority to deter the states from barring universal masking in classrooms.

    State leaders would be wise to further protect children by requiring teachers to be vaccinated — without exception. Meanwhile, parents who wish to know what proportion of the teaching staff has been vaccinated are being thwarted by the fact that only a few states are publicly reporting this information.

    Governors and other elected officials are trying to whistle past the devastating learning setbacks that schoolchildren incurred during the shutdown. That story is coming to light in studies and reports that lay out the alarming extent to which all groups of students are behind where they should be in a normal academic year and how the most vulnerable students are experiencing the steepest drop-offs in learning.

    […] Latino third graders scored 17 percentile points lower in math in the spring of 2021, compared to the typical achievements of Latino third graders in the spring of 2019. The decline was 15 percentile points for Black students and 14 percentile points for Native American students, compared with similar students in the past. As Sarah Mervosh of The New York Times describes the situation, the pandemic amplified disadvantages rooted in racial and socioeconomic inequality, transforming an educational gap into a gulf.

    […] “The fallout from the pandemic threatens to depress this generation’s prospects and constrict their opportunities far into adulthood. The ripple effects may undermine their chances of attending college and ultimately finding a fulfilling job that enables them to support a family.” […] The impact on the U.S. economy could range from $128 billion to $188 billion every year as the cohort enters the work force.

    […] In the United States, a growing body of research shows that the suffering of poor children during the pandemic was compounded by the fact that their schools were more likely to remain closed than schools serving higher-income students. […] schools that went strictly remote experienced a 42 percent increase in disenrollment compared with those that offered full-time in-person learning. […] more than a million children who had been expected to enroll in local schools did not show up, either in person or online […]

    some of the children who lost connection to school in the upper grades may not return to class at all unless districts make a concerted effort to bring them back into the fold.

    The learning catastrophe that has befallen the country’s most vulnerable children will take longer than one academic year to remedy. For starters, states and localities will need to create intensive plans for helping children catch up while moving them through new academic material and to devise systems for measuring progress toward clearly stated goals. This project will not be easy to accomplish. But pretending that everything is fine — and that no extraordinary measures are needed — is a recipe for disaster.

  84. says

    Conspiracy-riddled culture Trump created comes back to bite him at Alabama rally

    You know we’ve reached a low point as a country when even the loyal-to-a-deadly-and-illogical-fault supporters of […] Trump boo him when he recommends vaccinations against COVID-19. “I believe totally in your freedoms, I do, you gotta do what you gotta do, but I recommend take the vaccines,” the former president said at a rally on Saturday in Cullman, Alabama. “I did it. It’s good.” The crowd responded with boos.

    “That’s okay, that’s alright,” Trump pressed on. “But I happen to take the vaccine. If it doesn’t work, you’ll be the first to know. But it is working. You do have your freedoms, you have to maintain that.” Trump is only the latest Republican to make the 180-degree turn from denying the virus to falling in line with efforts to see the general public vaccinated. “These shots need to get in everybody’s arm as rapidly as possible, or we’re going to be back in a situation in the fall that we don’t yearn for, that we went through last year,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said last month. “Ignore all of these other voices that are giving demonstrably bad advice.”

    Fox pundits took similar stances. “Please take COVID seriously,” Fox News host Sean Hannity told his viewers last month. I can’t say it enough. Enough people have died. We don’t need anymore death. Research like crazy.” Hannity added: “Talk to your doctor, your doctors, medical professionals you trust based on your unique medical history, your current medical condition, and you and your doctor make a very important decision for your own safety. Take it seriously. You also have a right to medical privacy. Doctor-patient confidentiality’s also important, and it absolutely makes sense for many Americans to get vaccinated. I believe in science. I believe in the science of vaccination.”

    GOP Rep. Barry Moore went from calling House Speaker Nancy Pelosi a “tyrant” for enforcing a mask mandate to encouraging people to talk to their doctors about getting the vaccine. Catching COVID-19 apparently led to the difference in messaging for him. Moore posted on Facebook Friday:

    “I’m sad to share that Heather and I have tested positive for COVID-19. To every extent possible, I will continue working virtually while recovering in quarantine.

    While I believe every American has the freedom to make their own health-related decisions, I encourage talking with your doctor about the different vaccines and therapies available and making an informed decision about the prevention and treatment that is best for you. Now is the time to act—don’t wait until you or someone you love is sick.

    Please join me and Heather in praying for our country and world as we fight this horrible virus. We’re thankful for the support and prayers on our behalf.”

    [tweet and previous video of Barry Moore blathering on and on about Nancy Pelosi being a "tyrant" for requiring masks is available at the link]

    Not every Republican leader, however, is embracing reality, and the result has been a dangerous trickle-down effect of conspiracy theories and lies. Since states have started re-implementing mask mandates and urging vaccinations amid a spike in COVID-19 cases, entitled protesters have taken to voicing their concerns in the most inappropriate ways, some also turning to violence. […] Associated Press reporters wrote. “At a school in Texas, a parent ripped a mask off a teacher’s face during a ‘Meet the Teacher’ event.”

    Dozens of unmasked demonstrators lined the entrance of Hawaii’s Lt. Gov. Josh Green’s condo building, where he lives with his wife, their 14-year-old, and their 10-year-old. “They should protest me at my place of work, where I’m the lieutenant governor,” Green told the AP. “But it’s different than flashing a strobe light into a 90-year-old woman’s apartment or a strobe light into a family’s apartment, where they have two kids under age 4.”

    Hawaii. Gov. David Ige told KHON last month that the only thing more alarming where the pandemic is concerned than the six-day triple-digit spike in COIVD-19 cases was the lagging number of people getting vaccinated. “We administered about 15,000 vaccinations per week in the month of July,” Ige told the news station. “So that’s significantly lower than, for example, in May, it was at 72,000 per week. So based at that pace, it would probably go into September before we hit 70%.”

    Ige “took a lot of heat” for keeping a mask mandate in place even in May when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised that those who are fully vaccinated don’t have to wear masks, KHON writer Lauren Day wrote. The CDC has since changed that guidance to advise that masks be worn indoors.

    Green, an emergency room doctor, told the AP he wasn’t home during the recent anti-masking and anti-vaccination protest. Instead, he was treating COVID-19 patients on the Big Island. “I will personally be taking care of these individuals in the hospital as their doctor when they get sick from refusing to wear masks and refusing to be vaccinated,” he said. […]

  85. says

    At least 16 dead, dozens missing in Tennessee flash floods

    […] Two of the 16 dead are seven-month-old twins that were swept from their parents as they were trying to escape the storm’s path. The twin’s grandfather Joey Hall told the Post the family found the twins still together.

    “They’ve been holding on to each other ever since they was born,” Hall said.

    […] the flash flooding knocked out cellphone towers, phone landlines, and blocked roadways in rural areas of Middle Tennessee.

    The state broke its own record with 17 inches of rain falling in one day, according to the National Weather Service.

    […] 51 people remain missing as of Sunday. […]

  86. blf says

    Supposedly, one of the things that happened at Mike Lindell’s 3-day cyber symposium bouncy castle fun fair is he was attacked by invisible ninja antifa, and has since filed a police report to that effect. However, in addition to the attackers being invisible and non-existent, there’s another problem, three witnesses say it didn’t happen, Mike Lindell alleged attack in Sioux Falls: Witnesses say it didn’t happen:

    […]
    On the last day of the event [August 12th], MYPillow CEO Mike Lindell claimed he had been attacked, and filed a police report hours later.

    Three men who had seen Lindell and had their pictures taken with him say they were with Lindell at the same time and place named in the attack. They are coming forward with their story out of concern for a young man, a stranger they assisted with taking pictures.

    One of the three men is Jeff Bonuongiorno, a candidate for Congress in Florida. Major Ryan Kelly was also there and Shayne Snavely, a Senior Aide for Virginia Senator Amanda Chase.

    “You have a Major in the Army, you have a Senior Aide to a State Senator, and myself, who’s running for United States Congress. I just need to protect the innocent and come forward with the truth,” said Buongiorno.

    [… details…]

    The following day, all three were surprised to hear Lindell claim he was attacked at the same time and place they were with him.

    “There was no doubling over there was no, no, no pain of everything was normally got an elevator with his associate and it went straight up to the room and you can see the elevator all the way up,” said Snavely.

    […]

    In addition to knowingly filing a (very probably) false police report, Lindell is also interfering with (or at least claims he is) an FBI investigation, MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell says he is hiding a pro-Trump election official at a secret safe house to help her dodge a FBI investigation:

    […] Lindell has said he is providing a safe house for a Colorado county clerk amid an FBI investigation into her role in an alleged plot to leak election data to a QAnon leader […]

    The official at the center of the probe, Mesa County clerk Tina Peters, is accused of compromising voting machines and allowing someone to share sensitive data with QAnon figurehead, Ron Watkins, Insider previously reported.

    Peters, a so-called “Trump Truther,” permitted surveillance cameras to be turned off for up to two months, it is alleged.

    She is under investigation by the Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold, and on Tuesday, the FBI said it was also looking into it. The FBI announced that it was working with Colorado’s District Attorney’s office “to determine if there was a potential federal criminal violation,” FBI Denver office spokeswoman Courtney Bernal told the Denver Post.

    Two weeks ago, when Griswold issued an order authorizing her staff to travel to Mesa County to inspect the election system, Peters was on her way to [… teh] cyber symposium in South Dakota […].

    Lindell told Vice News on Wednesday that, following the symposium, a member of his own security team leaked the secret location she was staying in, the media outlet reported.

    Peters is now holed up in a new safe house, Lindell said.

    She’s worried about her safety. These people are ruthless, he [bellowed …]

    And apparently he’s now claiming hair furor will again be squatting in Wacko House by New Year’s Day, Mike Lindell, still in Trump’s good graces, has new prediction: reinstatement by New Year’s. With an amusing snippet:

    […] Lindell’s handpicked cyber team […] spent the 3-day conference[bouncy castle fun fair] sharing bizarre conspiracy theories about election technology company Dominion Voting Systems, including that the company uses Serbian technology with Chinese characteristics.

    I guess Venezuela asked the Serbs for help when they finally realised Hugo Chávez was dead.

  87. blf says

    Joséphine Baker to enter French Panthéon of national heroes:

    […]
    Franco-American dancer and singer Joséphine Baker, a prominent figure in the French Resistance during World War II, will be inducted into the Panthéon on November 30, the newspaper Le Parisien reported Sunday, citing French President Emmanuel Macron.

    […]

    The dancer and activist, who was born in Missouri in 1906 and buried in Monaco in 1975, will become the first Black woman to be memorialised in France’s national necropolis in the centre of Paris. Only five women have so far been inducted into the Panthéon out of the 80 people honoured there. […]

    Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Joséphine Baker rose to international stardom in the 1930s — especially in France, where she settled in 1925 and soon dominated the country’s cabarets with her big smile, sense of humour and wispy clothing. In 1937 she married Jean Lion […], a captain of industry of Jewish heritage.

    Baker also became a French citizen and a patriot who was dedicated to the country’s resistance against the Nazi occupation during World War II. She was able to capitalise on her celebrity for the war effort: She would hide secret messages in her clothes from the officials who were too busy asking for autographs.

    Baker would also crash embassy parties to collect intelligence on the positions of German troops and donated the proceeds from her concerts to the French Army. The Chateau des Milandes, where she lived, became a resistance hotspot.

    […]

    The singer became an outspoken antiracism activist after having coped with the American segregation system. In 1963 she took part in the March on Washington alongside Martin Luther King. Dressed in her French wartime uniform, medals included, she was the only Black woman to give a speech during what became the height of the Civil Rights Movement.

    While in France she became an advocate at LICA [Ligue internationale contre l’antisémitisme], which would later become the International League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism in 1979.

    […]

  88. says

    Hey, everyone!

    Related to #s 78 and 81 above – France 24 – “‘On veut montrer qu’on existe’ : à Paris, une manifestation en soutien au peuple afghan”:

    …La place de la République s’est rapidement remplie dès 14 h, colorée de nombreux drapeaux noir-rouge-vert. Très vite, les pancartes se sont multipliées à leur tour : “Save our family”, “Help Afghans”, “Évacuons maintenant”, “Accueillons hommes, femmes et enfants”.

    Une semaine après la prise de Kaboul par les Taliban, les réfugiés afghans en France s’étaient donné rendez-vous, place de la République à Paris, pour une manifestation en soutien au peuple afghan, et pour le rapatriement de leurs familles, restées au pays.

    “L’État français nous abandonne”

    La manifestation s’est organisée à l’initiative des réfugiés eux-mêmes, encadrés par plusieurs associations œuvrant pour les exilés.

    “On veut montrer qu’on existe”, explique à France 24 Ezatwazir Tarakhail, réfugié afghan de 31 ans, arrivé en France fin 2014. Membre de l’association Paris d’exil et de Watizat – un collectif qui édite des guides d’information en français, anglais, arabe, pachto et dari à destination des personnes exilées –, il a battu le pavé, dimanche, aux côtés de plusieurs centaines de manifestants “pour soutenir le peuple afghan et défendre le droit à la dignité de tous les Afghans et de leurs familles en Afghanistan”.

    Au lendemain de la prise de Kaboul par les Taliban, déjà vécue comme un traumatisme pour les Afghans exilés en France, dont beaucoup sont séparés depuis des années de leurs proches restés au pays, le discours d’Emmanuel Macron a été, pour eux, un énième déchirement. “On attendait vraiment un soutien de l’État français et du président Macron”, explique Ezatwazir. “Mais au lieu de parler des personnes en danger, il nous abandonne et parle de lutter contre l’arrivée de vagues de réfugiés : c’était vraiment un discours politique, pas un discours d’humanité.”…

    I can’t find an English version. Several hundred people demonstrated in Paris yesterday demanding the expedited safe passage of their families and others most in danger in Afghanistan. Several hundred, while 175,000 came out to protest public health measures and a life-saving vaccine during a pandemic while claiming to be persecuted. Priorities.

  89. says

    Here’s a link to the August 23 Guardian (support them if you can!) coronavirus world liveblog.

    From there:

    Full Pfizer authorisation ‘could set precedent for lower vaccine approval standards’

    The US Food and Drug Administration is poised to give full approval to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine later today, in the hopes it will facilitate further vaccine mandates and an increase in take-up rates – despite an absence of long-term data of the jab’s efficacy and safety.

    The British Medical Journal reports that transparency advocates have criticised the FDA’s decision not to hold a formal advisory committee meeting to discuss Pfizer’s application for full approval, despite last year committing to it.

    It had said it was “committed to use an advisory committee composed of independent experts to ensure deliberations about authorisation or licensure are transparent for the public.”

    The BMJ cites experts suggesting the decision not to meet to discuss the data was politically driven.

    Kim Witczak, a drug safety advocate is a consumer representative on the FDA’s psychopharmacologic drugs advisory committee, told the BMJ it removed an important scrutiny mechanism for looking at the data and “we have no idea what the data looks like” without a meeting.

    These public meetings are imperative in building trust and confidence especially when the vaccines came to market at lightning speed under emergency use authorisation. The public deserves a transparent process, especially as the call for boosters and mandates are rapidly increasing. These meetings offer a platform where questions can be raised, problems tackled, and data scrutinised in advance of an approval.

    It is already concerning that full approval is being based on 6 months’ worth of data despite the clinical trials designed for two years. There is no control group after Pfizer offered the product to placebo participants before the trials were completed. Full approval of Covid-19 vaccines must be done in an open public forum for all to see. It could set a precedent of lowered standards for future vaccine approvals.

    Diana Zuckerman, president of the National Center for Health Research, told the BMJ:

    It’s obvious that the FDA has no intention of hearing anyone else’s opinion. But if you make decisions behind closed doors it can feed into hesitancy. It’s important to have a public discussion about what kind of data are there and what the limitations are. As we think about risk versus benefit, we need to know.

  90. says

    What are you doing, Guardian liveblog?:

    The Wall Street Journal has queried why the Food and Drug Administration is attacking ivermectin, a medication it certified as a safe and effective anti-parasitic in 1996 which has received a Nobel Prize and has seen billions of doses administered around the world.

    It reports that a group of 10 doctors who call themselves the Front Line Covid-19 Critical Care Alliance have said ivermectin – which cam fight a number of viruses – is “one of the safest, low-cost, and widely available drugs in the history of medicine.”

    The FDA’s warning against ivermectin includes this statement: “Meanwhile, effective ways to limit the spread of Covid-19 continue to be to wear your mask, stay at least 6 feet from others who don’t live with you, wash hands frequently, and avoid crowds.” The WSJ said this was not based on the quality data that the FDA requires for drug approvals.

    Ivermectin is being studied by University of Oxford scientists as a possible Covid treatment as part of a UK government-backed study that aims to aid recoveries in non-hospital settings.

    It is being used officially to treat Covid in some countries, including India, Mexico, Bolivia, and elsewhere in south America and Asia, despite the lack of World Health Organization approval.

    A report in the Times has described Ivermectin as a Covid “wonder drug” saying that the data from where it was being used was “compelling” and suggested mortality had fallen.

    The Financial Times has also reported on a University of Liverpool metaanalysis which it said “could cut chance of Covid-19 deaths by up to 75%” – with striking results from a number of smaller RCTs.

    JFC! There’s reporting on this in your own paper! (See my link on another thread.)

  91. says

    Heartening to see this: ‘By morning, dozens of volunteers had assembled at the Annandale campus. And by noon, the piles of donations had grown so high that volunteers had to turn some away’….”

    Link to WaPo piece about Afghans arriving in northern Virginia at the link.

  92. says

    CNN – “FDA grants full approval to Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine, opening door to more vaccine mandates”:

    The US Food and Drug Administration on Monday granted full approval to the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for people age 16 and older. This is the first coronavirus vaccine approved by the FDA, and is expected to open the door to more vaccine mandates.

    “The vaccine has been known as the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine, and will now be marketed as Comirnaty, for the prevention of COVID-19 disease in individuals 16 years of age and older,” the FDA said in its announcement on Monday.

    The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has been authorized for emergency use in the United States since mid-December for people age 16 and older. In May, the authorization was extended to those 12 and older.

    “The vaccine also continues to be available under emergency use authorization (EUA), including for individuals 12 through 15 years of age and for the administration of a third dose in certain immunocompromised individuals,” according to the FDA.

    Out of more than 170 million people in the United States fully vaccinated against Covid-19, more than 92 million have received the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.

    This weekend, officials familiar with the decision said they discussed how to prepare for the rollout once the FDA grants full approval, given it will be a major messaging opportunity to encourage vaccination.
    US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday that approval could encourage more people to get vaccinated, and more mandates.

    “For businesses and universities that have been thinking about putting vaccine requirements in place in order to create safer spaces for people to work and learn, I think that this move from the FDA, when it comes, will actually help them to move forward with those kinds of plans,” Murthy told CNN’s Brianna Keilar.

    Murthy also noted “a small number of people” have been waiting for full approval before getting their shot and believes “this may tip them over toward getting vaccinated.”…

  93. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    In other news, Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro has said that he will ask his health minister to set an end date for the use of face masks as a means of reducing Covid transmission

    Reuters reports that masks have become a political issue in Brazil, with Bolsonaro long ranting against their use and frequently refusing to wear one in public despite a legal requirement to do so.

    In a radio interview, the president argued that with much of the population already vaccinated or having caught the virus, masks are not needed and that he hoped a date would be set by the end of the day.

    Any such move could prove to be largely moot, however, with states and municipalities free to set their own Covid-19 restrictions in Brazil. Any federal government position on the matter would likely only function as a guideline, though it would be considered a victory by Bolsonaro’s far-right base.

    Some epidemiologists say it is too early for such a move, especially due to the rise of the Delta variant in Brazil. Although nearly 60% of Brazil’s population have received their first dose, only 25% are fully vaccinated.

    Bolsonaro said he had also commissioned a study into the use of mask wearing with a view to recommending an end to their widespread use.

    Brazil, which at over 570,000 has the world’s second highest coronavirus death toll behind only the US, has faced claims [FFS] that a lack of coordinated national social distancing measures have propelled the death rate.

  94. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    Following the full US approval for the Pfizer jab, New York City officials have been first to announce a vaccine mandate for school employees – in what is expected to be a flurry of such moves across the country.

    The Associated Press reports that officials have said all New York City public school teachers and other staffers will have to get vaccinated against the coronavirus as the nation’s largest school system prepares for classes to start next month.

    The city previously said teachers, like other city employees, would have to get the shots or get tested weekly for the virus. The new policy marks the first no-option vaccination mandate for a broad group of city workers in the nation’s most populous city, though mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Friday that coaches and students in football, basketball and other purportedly “high-risk” sports would have to get inoculated before play begins.

    Now, about 148,000 school employees — and contractors who work in schools — would have to get at least a first dose by 27 September, according to an announcement from the Democratic mayor and the city health and education departments.

    The city has not immediately said what the penalty will be for refusing, or whether there will be exemptions. The previous vaccinate-or-test requirement had provisions for unpaid suspensions for workers who did not comply.

    At least 63% of school employees have been vaccinated. That figure doesn’t include those who may have gotten their shots outside the city.

    New York City last week began requiring proof of vaccination t o enter restaurant dining rooms, gyms and many other public places, a first-in-the-nation policy that a few other cities have copied since it was announced. Meanwhile, New York state announced last week that hospital and nursing home workers would have to get inoculated, the AP reports.

  95. says

    From today’s Democracy Now! headlines:

    U.S. Tops 1,000 Daily COVID-19 Deaths for First Time Since March

    As the Delta variant continues to fuel another devastating COVID surge, the U.S. is now averaging 1,000 daily deaths for the first time since March. One in five intensive care units across the country are at or above 95% capacity as some states are seeing more hospitalizations than during the winter peak.

    Rev. Jesse Jackson and his wife Jacqueline were hospitalized in Chicago after testing positive for coronavirus. The famed civil rights leader is fully vaccinated and received his first COVID-19 shot at a public event in January to encourage others to get the vaccine.

    In South Carolina, Republican Party leader and Trump loyalist Pressley Stutts has died of COVID-19. Stutts opposed mask and vaccine mandates and claimed that COVID-19 was a man-made disease. Meanwhile, former President Donald Trump was booed at an Alabama rally Saturday after telling his supporters to get vaccinated.

    The Bay Area newspaper The Mercury News is reporting the first U.S. COVID fatalities occurred earlier, and in more locations, than previously thought. Records now show COVID listed as a cause of death in California, Alabama, Georgia, Kansas, Oklahoma and Wisconsin as early as January 2020. Scientists say the virus could have been circulating in the U.S. in December or even November of 2019.

    India and Taiwan Roll Out Domestically Produced COVID Vaccines Despite Lack of Trial Data

    India has authorized emergency use of another Indian-made COVID-19 vaccine, after its producer said it prevented symptomatic infections in two-thirds of recipients. Regulators approved ZyCoV-D even though there’s no publicly available data on its performance in advanced clinical trials.

    In Taiwan, President Tsai Ing-wen has publicly received a shot of the home-grown Medigen vaccine. Regulators approved the two-dose vaccine last July — though a late-stage clinical trial remains ongoing.

    More Than 50 Feared Dead After Boat Carrying Refugees Capsizes En Route to Canary Islands

    Over 50 people are believed to have died after a dinghy carrying migrants and refugees from Africa capsized en route to Spain’s Canary Islands last week. Just one survivor was pulled from the sinking vessel. The U.N. says at least 250 people died on the perilous route in the first six months of 2021, though a local rights group says the number of deaths is eight times higher.

    Climate Crisis Puts Over 1 Billion Children at “Extremely High Risk” of Extreme Weather

    A new report by UNICEF warns nearly half of the world’s 2.2 billion children are at “extremely high risk” of severe floods, heat waves, drought and other impacts of the climate crisis. Some of the highest-risk countries include India, Nigeria and the Central African Republic — and other nations that are responsible for less than 1% of greenhouse gas emissions. The first-of-its-kind report was published in collaboration with Greta Thunberg and other youth climate activists on the third anniversary of Thunberg’s first student strike outside the Swedish parliament.

    In more climate news, a new study shows deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon has hit its highest annual rate in a decade. Since August of last year, the Amazon has lost over 10,000 square kilometers — an area roughly 13 times bigger than New York City.

    Bolivian Wildfires Scorch Nearly 700,000 Acres as Ranchers and Farmers Drive Deforestation

    In Bolivia, wildfires have burned nearly 700,000 acres, threatening the Ñembi Guasu natural protected area, an Indigenous autonomous territory near the border with Paraguay that is considered one of the world’s largest dry forests. This is a Bolivian environmental activist.

    Carolina Ballivián: “In the last few years, Bolivia has become one of the biggest deforesters in the world. … The capital gain grows between $800 to $1,000 per hectare when that land is cleared, because it can be used as grazing pastures for livestock instead of maintaining it as a virgin forest.”

    SCOTUS to Weigh Fate of Trump-Era “Remain in Mexico” Policy for Asylum Seekers

    In immigration news, the Supreme Court has temporarily suspended the reinstatement of the contested Trump-era “Remain in Mexico” program. The move comes after the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals last week rejected a Biden administration challenge to a ruling that allowed for the revival of the 2019 policy, formally known as the Migrant Protection Protocols. The full Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the case on Tuesday. The program forced some 68,000 asylum seekers to wait in often dangerous conditions in Mexico while their cases made their way through U.S. courts.

    California Judge Voids Proposition Exempting Gig Economy Workers from Labor Protections

    In labor news, a California judge ruled Friday that Prop 22 is unconstitutional. The case was brought by the Service Employees International Union and drivers for ride-hailing companies. Prop 22, which passed last November, exempts companies like Uber and Lyft from having to classify their workers as employees, instead of independent contractors, depriving gig workers of basic wage and labor protections. Defenders of Prop 22 vowed to appeal the ruling.

  96. says

    Former insider blames Miller, allies for sabotaging refugee process

    “It’s one thing for a judge to call out Team Trump for a broken process; it’s something else for a Trump insider to say the process was broken deliberately.”

    Among the questions the United States has confronted in Afghanistan is why, exactly, our allies have struggled to get their visa applications processed. At issue is a group of unique Afghans who played a special role working with, for, and alongside U.S. forces, qualifying them for a special visa category.

    And yet, these same special allies have faced bureaucratic struggles for quite a while, and a newly offered explanation has jolted the larger conversation. The New York Times reported over the weekend:

    A homeland security adviser to former Vice President Mike Pence accused the Trump administration of distorting the truth about Afghan refugees, writing on Twitter that the former president and Stephen Miller, his top immigration adviser, sought to prevent the refugees from entering the United States.

    At issue are revelations from Olivia Troye, a lifelong Republican who served as a counterterrorism and homeland security adviser to then-Vice President Mike Pence, and who ultimately came forward to expose wrongdoing in the Trump White House.

    Late last week, she did so again, publishing a social-media thread on her efforts to advocate for refugees during her tenure, only to confront a system that wouldn’t budge, even when then-Secretary of Defense James Mattis intervened.

    As Rachel explained during Friday night’s show, we dug in on that point, and corroborated the claim: Mattis did, in fact, send a memo in September 2018 advising the Trump administration not to limit entry to Iraqis and Afghans who provided essential mission support.

    But the Trump administration dragged its feet anyway, not because of a non-responsive bureaucracy, but because of deliberate malice. As Troye wrote, “There were cabinet [meetings] about this during the Trump [administration] where Stephen Miller would peddle his racist hysteria about Iraq and Afghanistan. He and his enablers across [government] would undermine anyone who worked on solving the SIV issue by devastating the system” at the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department.

    Troye added that Miller and the former president had “watchdogs in place” in key agencies and departments, who in turn “made an already cumbersome SIV process even more challenging.”

    The allegations are striking in their significance. These are, after all, allies who played lifesaving roles. They’re eligible for special immigration visas, for themselves and their families, which they earned. That process was going to be cumbersome anyway, but according to Troye, while Team Trump made overt plans to end the war in Afghanistan, it also chose to make the SIV process worse on purpose.

    Also on Friday afternoon, Elizabeth Neumann, a former DHS assistant secretary for counterterrorism threat prevention in the Trump administration, confirmed Troye’s account.

    What’s more, let’s also not forget that it was two years ago when a federal court concluded that the Trump administration was, in fact, ignoring the law by needlessly delaying the process through which visas were processed. […

  97. says

    […] to an extraordinary degree, a small handful of moderate House Dems — whose own political fortunes appear to be tied to Biden’s — appear ready to make things dramatically worse for the White House. As the New York Times explained in a separate report:

    House Democrats will end their summer break on Monday, amid finger-pointing and rising tensions, to try to pave the legislative way for the most ambitious expansion of the nation’s social safety net in a half century. But the divisions emerging over an arcane budget measure needed to shield a $3.5 trillion social policy bill from a filibuster are exposing deep strains in the Democratic Party over ideology, generational divides and the fruits of power and incumbency.

    […] The Democratic road map to legislative success was relatively clear. The Senate recently approved a $3.5 trillion budget resolution with unanimous support from the Democratic conference. The plan was for the House to approve the same budget blueprint, at which point the party could flesh out an ambitious intra-party compromise.

    Two weeks ago, nine House Democrats — whom Jon Chait nicknamed the “Suicide Squad” — announced they’d defeat the budget resolution, effectively crushing Biden’s entire domestic agenda, unless the House first passes the Senate’s bipartisan infrastructure plan.

    The rebellion is being led by Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), who’s joined by Reps. Carolyn Bourdeaux (D-Ga.), Filemon Vela (D-Texas), Jared Golden (D-Maine), Henry Cueller (D-Texas), Vicente Gonzales (D-Texas), Ed Case (D-Hawaii), Jim Costa (D-Calif.), and Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.).

    These nine moderates — representing roughly 4% of the House Democratic conference — are well aware of their party’s plan. The process envisioned by House Democratic leaders and the vast majority of progressive members has been unchanged from the outset: The chamber will tackle the $3.5 trillion measure, and once it passes, the House can then approve the Senate’s bipartisan infrastructure legislation, sending both parts of the two-track package to the White House for Biden’s signature. It’s the same plan that has the president’s enthusiastic support.

    But Gottheimer & Co. are eager for progressive lawmakers to voluntarily give up their leverage, and hand it over to these nine moderates. They envision a schedule in which the Senate’s bipartisan infrastructure bill passes first, at which point the centrists will consider the rest of the party’s plans.

    Maybe. If they feel like it.

    The moderates claimed in a new Washington Post op-ed that the nation’s infrastructure needs are so urgent that the House has to pass the Senate bill as quickly as humanly possible. It’s a difficult argument to take seriously, in part because a few weeks won’t make any practical difference, and in part because it’s a pretextual excuse obscuring what appears to be Gottheimer’s principal priority: tax breaks that largely benefit his wealthy constituents.

    The New Jersey congressman told The Atlantic that, as far as he’s concerned, most House Democrats are “holding the president’s priority hostage,” which was amusing given that (a) Biden doesn’t support Gottheimer’s scheme; and (b) it’s Gottheimer and the other moderates who are actually holding the president’s entire domestic agenda hostage.

    And just in case these efforts to divide the party weren’t quite problematic enough, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) issued a statement this morning siding with the nine centrists over the Democratic leadership.

    It’s possible that all of this is just a lot of summer posturing; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who’s already explored possible compromises, will figure something out; and the White House agenda will remain on track, with plenty of difficult negotiations still to come.

    It’s also possible that nine moderate House Democrats will cause Biden’s domestic plans to fail catastrophically, and both infrastructure bills will die.

    We should expect some clarity fairly soon: the House is scheduled to a hold a procedural vote as early as tonight on the budget resolution, which would clear the way for a budget vote slated for tomorrow. As of this minute, the Democratic leaders’ plan doesn’t have the votes to pass, and the Democratic moderates’ alternative strategy also doesn’t have the votes to pass.

    Biden, who needs a win and can’t afford to have 4% of the House Democratic conference kneecap his presidency, will reportedly be working the phones today. […]

    Link

  98. KG says

    SC@95,

    Yes, I’ve been looking for a place in the Guardian to object to that tosh – although the moderators tend to remove comments criticising the paper’s staff. The same thread has an uncritical report of an anti-mask diatribe by a professor of sociology, Robert Dingwall, a consistent friend and supporter of SARS-CoV-2. I suspect the Guardian‘s Covid live thread team has been infiltrated by – at best – an ignorant fool.

  99. says

    FL Teens Now Have Higher COVID Positivity Rate Than Other Age Groups In The State—Amid DeSantis’ Mask War

    Kids ages 12 to 19 are leading other age groups in Florida in the rate at which they test positive for COVID-19 — a sobering data point that comes as Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) fights tooth and nail against school mask mandates.

    Children in that age group who are tested have a positivity rate of 25 percent, per the Tampa Bay Times. And kids 12 and younger have a rate of 23 percent.

    The disturbing numbers come amid DeSantis and Florida state officials’ relentless attacks on school districts that have bucked the governor’s ban on requiring students and school staff to wear masks without an opt-out option except for those with medical conditions.

    More than five counties have implemented mask mandates despite the ban, including Sarasota County, the first GOP-lead county in the state to do so. Leon County Schools became the latest district to establish a mandate on Sunday.

    The school districts’ defiance of DeSantis’ order has prompted harsh tactics from state-level officials.

    Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran announced on Friday that Broward and Alachua counties had 48 hours to reverse their mask mandates before the state would begin withholding the salaries of the school board members who voted for the policies.

  100. says

    Follow-up to comment 107.

    Posted by readers of the article:

    Some of that positivity rate may be the result of observational bias (only people who get tested are the ones with symptoms, for the most part), but that would be true of other age groups as well.
    —————-
    I look on in amazement at Republican governors who interfere with the fight against COVID. Where is the morality police? Isn’t it immoral to cause sickness and death in children and immunocompromised people.
    ——————
    DeSantis will get the anti-vaccine vote. The phenomenon of people engaging in cultish hysteria doesn’t explain why someone like DeSantis would harness the momentum of mass stupidity. The anti-science voting bloc must be enormous.
    ——————–
    In addition to tens of thousands of deaths, there will likely be hundreds of thousands with minor-to-major long term disability, including particularly cognitive losses. There are only so many jobs where you don’t need stamina, executive function or mid-term memory.
    ———————–
    At trump’s latest rally, the crowd booed him when he recommended vaccinations. So he many be able to convince his followers to attack others, but they won’t follow him to do anything that isn’t about attacking.

  101. says

    KG @ #105, I had the same suspicion! The ivermectin post was already a problem, and the Dingwall one seemed gratuitously cranky. They really need to get a handle on it – the liveblog’s a great resource, and this undercuts its credibility.

  102. says

    Here are some simple facts:

    1. Wearing an inexpensive disposable mask can help to protect children, teachers, and school staff against infection by a debilitating and potentially deadly disease. However, this effect is only most effective if wearing a mask is nearly universal. Creating a situation in which some people are masked, and others are allowed to go maskless, doesn’t just result in a minor decrease in mask effectiveness, it represents a major loss of the protective effect.

    2. Wearing a mask does not have a detrimental effect. They can be worn even while exercising. They can certainly seem uncomfortable or unfamiliar, but they do not really inhibit the ability to get necessary oxygen or expel carbon dioxide.

    3. Workers in many different industries have worn masks for years, during prolonged shifts and heavy labor. People, including children, in many cultures routinely wear masks in public spaces. There is no evidence that masks cause any significant harm, and a great deal of evidence that masks can protect people against both disease and environmental hazards. […]

    Here are two more facts:

    5. School administrators, board members, and teachers who are putting their jobs on the line by defying immoral orders and facing loss of salary and fines while withstanding personal attacks and threats of physical violence, represent the best of America and deserved to be honored. They are taking great personal risk to protect children from people who are determined to harm those children for political gain.

    […] Florida continues to lead the nation in new cases of COVID-19 with over 20,000 new cases each day. On Saturday, the Florida Education Association reported that 66,790 Florida children below the age of 16 have now tested positive for COVID-19 in August alone — an average of over 3,100 kids a day. As of this week, 17 schools in Florida have been forced to close because of outbreaks of COVID which have affected large numbers of students and staff. In just the first few weeks of this school year, 19 teachers and 5 students have died of COVID-19. Florida’s students aren’t getting an education; they’re being forced onto the front lines of a battle in which Gov. Ron DeSantis is seeking to prove he’s extreme enough to secure the Republican nomination in 2024. […]

    Link

    More at the link.

  103. says

    SC @109 and KG @105, I agree. I can’t believe they printed/posted that nonsense.

    In other news: “Arizona elections officials launch bipartisan assault on GOP audit”

    Two of Arizona’s top election administrators have issued scathing indictments of a contractor who audited millions of ballots cast in the state’s largest county.

    The two officials are seeking to undercut a final report from Cyber Ninjas, the firm hired by Arizona’s Republican-controlled state Senate, that they say will be marred by deep flaws. Cyber Ninjas is expected to deliver its initial report Monday on the nearly 2.1 million ballots cast in Maricopa County in last year’s presidential election.

    Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D) and Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer (R) in separate reports castigated the inspection itself as deeply flawed — so much so that Hobbs argued it did not even merit the term “audit.”

    “Despite frequent references to this review as an audit, the exercise undertaken by the Arizona Senate’s Florida-based contractor, Cyber Ninjas, fails to meet industry standards for any credible audit, much less for an election audit,” Hobbs’s office wrote. “The Senate’s contractors demonstrated a lack of understanding of election processes and procedures both at a state and county level.”

    […] Richer, the Maricopa County recorder who beat an incumbent Democrat in the same election the state Senate is disputing, framed his objections as an open letter to fellow Republicans.

    “Nobody stole Maricopa County’s elections. Elections in Maricopa County aren’t rigged,” Richer wrote, citing statements from Gov. Doug Ducey (R), Attorney General Mark Brnovich (R), former Attorney General William Barr and several attorneys representing […] Trump.

    “I believe in the court system. I believe in facts and logic. I believe that Maricopa County has many safeguards against widespread fraud. I believe in the simple, straight-forward, data-backed explanation that Trump lost many Republican voters in affluent areas,” Richer wrote. “Accordingly, I know Joe Biden won Maricopa County.”

    […] Several of the Arizona Republicans who voted to authorize the audit have come to regret their votes and have publicly criticized the process. […]

    Link

  104. blf says

    Apropos of nothing, for lunch today I returned to the same restaurant I’d visited on 1st August (mentioned in this series of poopyhead threads), albeit this time, despite high winds, the dishes were served without collapsing umbrella as a condiment. Didn’t really miss the taste… The amusing incident today was several of the children present (all young teenagers as far as I could tell) found a what I first thought was a disturbing young blow-up sex doll (unclothed and seemingly female) in the playhouse. Apparently not (and no-one else seem bothered) — not sure what that “says” about me, probably that I really Really need a new glasses prescription — and were playing a game, which seemed to be, if you had the doll, you were “it”, an Orc or something, and everyone tried to avoid you. No glowing-blue swords were seen, perhaps because they would make rather short work of a blow-up Orc…

    Lunch itself, of course, was excellent, a bacon-and-pasta-and-greens salad, followed by well-seasoned pork and local veggies, with apricots baked in cream for dessert, all with a local vin rosé.

  105. says

    Also from Democracy Now!:

    “Proud Boys & Far-Right Groups Tied to Jan. 6 Attack Reporters & Others at Anti-Mask, Anti-Vax Rally.”

    “Spencer Ackerman: Today’s Crisis in Kabul Is Direct Result of Decades of U.S. War & Destabilization.”

    “Spencer Ackerman on How the U.S. War on Terror Fueled and Excused Right-Wing Extremism at Home”:

    AMY GOODMAN: …We’re spending the hour with Spencer Ackerman, the Pulitzer Prize-winning national security reporter, author of Reign of Terror: How the 9/11 Era Destabilized America and Produced Trump.

    Spencer, you begin your book, with the prologue, with Timothy McVeigh visiting the far-right paramilitary compound in Elohim City, Oklahoma, before what you call, the prologue’s chapter heading, “the worst terrorist attack in American history.” Talk about the connection you see between the rise of right-wing extremism in the United States and the so-called war on terror.

    SPENCER ACKERMAN: I thought it was extremely important to see the war on terror in its fullness, in its totality, and only then can we understand its implications. And I think the only way to really do that is to look at who were the exceptions to the war on terror, who the war on terror didn’t target, despite fundamentally similar actions. And there we can understand not just what the war on terror is, but its relationship to American history, which shapes it so deeply.

    And so, I also wanted to kind of start with a journalistic cliché, where the reporter kind of zoologically takes a reader through this unfamiliar and scary world of violence committed by fanatical people who are training with heavy weapons and talk about committing mass atrocity for a sick and supposedly divinely inspired religion. But I wanted those people to be white. I wanted the reader to see how similar these actions were, how similar some of the motivations were, how similar some of the justifications were. But we never treated them like that.

    The whole purpose of the phrase “war on terror” was a kind of social compromise amongst respectable elites in order to not say the thing that they were in fact building, which was an expansive war only against some people’s kinds of terror, only against nonwhite people’s kinds of terror, only against foreigners’ kinds of terror, and not against the kind of terrorism that is the oldest, most resilient, most violent and most historically rooted in American history, one that seeks to draw its own heritage out of the general American national heritage, people who call themselves not dissenters, not rebels, but patriots, people who are restoring something about America that they believe a corrupt elite, that is now responsive to nonwhite power at the expense of the extant racial caste, that has been deeply woven inside not just the American political structure, but the American economy, that drives American politics — how that ultimately never gets treated.

    This is exactly what Timothy McVeigh was about. This is what Timothy McVeigh had as his motivations for murdering 168 Americans in Oklahoma City, including 19 children. And we looked away from it. We looked away from how deep the rootedness of white supremacist violence was in this country. We listened to what I believe are principled civil libertarian objections against an expensive category of criminalized association. Treating people who might have believed as McVeigh did, odious as I believe that is, but ultimately not committing acts of violence — treating them as, essentially, indistinct from McVeigh was absolutely intolerable, as it always should have been, to the American political elites, but that intolerability did not extend to Muslims.

    And there it was easy, after 9/11, to construct an apparatus fueled by things like the PATRIOT Act, that expanded enormous categories of criminal association, known as material support for terrorism, authorized widespread surveillance, that certainly would not be focused simply even on American Muslims, as disgusting as it was that it was focused on them primarily. But, ultimately, all of these things that both parties, that the leaders of the security services and intellectuals created, maintained and justified, so readily, against the threat of a foreign menace, seen as civilizational, seen as an acceptable substitute for a geopolitical enemy that had served as a rallying purpose throughout the 20th century — the war on terror is kind of a zombie anti-communism in a lot of its political caste and association. And never would any of this be visited upon white people. From the start, the war on terror showed you exactly who it was going to leave out from its carceral, from its surveillance and from its violent gaze….

  106. says

    Guardian – “Anti-vaccine protesters occupy ITV News and Channel 4 headquarters”:

    Anti-vaccine protesters occupied the headquarters of ITV News and Channel 4 News in London on Monday afternoon, the latest in a series of actions aimed at the media.

    Jon Snow, the Channel 4 News presenter, was chased into one of the building’s side entrances by conspiracy theorists shouting at him.

    Livestream footage showed hundreds of protesters shouting scientifically unsupported claims about the Covid-19 vaccine programme and blaming the media for promoting so-called vaccine passports, which they view as incompatible with British values.

    After marching from King’s Cross station to ITN’s Gray’s Inn Road headquarters, protesters were met by two uniformed police officers guarding the building’s revolving doors. However, they were immediately let through an emergency exit, apparently by a supporter who was already inside the building.

    The protesters were then stranded in the building’s reception, separated by a glass wall from ITN journalists stuck inside their offices, with both groups filming each other. Eventually, police reinforcements arrived to clear the building.

    Although the majority of the British public has now had a Covid-19 vaccine, and the UK has one of the highest uptake rates in the world, the persistent nature of anti-vaccine protests has caused particular concern for executives in the news industry.

    They are struggling to work out how to protect their journalists from harassment both online and in person, especially following an incident involving the BBC Newsnight political editor, Nick Watt, outside Downing Street.

    There has been some confusion among anti-vaccine protesters regarding which media they are targeting….

  107. says

    US Capitol Police press release – “USCP Completes Internal Investigation into the January 6 Officer-Involved Shooting”:

    After interviewing multiple witnesses and reviewing all the available evidence, including video and radio calls, the United States Capitol Police has completed the internal investigation into the fatal shooting of Ms. Ashli Babbitt, which occurred in the Speaker’s Lobby on January 6.

    USCP’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) determined the officer’s conduct was lawful and within Department policy, which says an officer may use deadly force only when the officer reasonably believes that action is in the defense of human life, including the officer’s own life, or in the defense of any person in immediate danger of serious physical injury.

    The officer in this case, who is not being identified for the officer’s safety, will not be facing internal discipline.

    This officer and the officer’s family have been the subject of numerous credible and specific threats for actions that were taken as part of the job of all our officers: defending the Congress, Members, staff and the democratic process.

    The actions of the officer in this case potentially saved Members and staff from serious injury and possible death from a large crowd of rioters who forced their way into the U.S. Capitol and to the House Chamber where Members and staff were steps away. USCP Officers had barricaded the Speaker’s Lobby with furniture before a rioter shattered the glass door. If the doors were breached, the rioters would have immediate access to the House Chambers. The officer’s actions were consistent with the officer’s training and USCP policies and procedures.

    On April 14, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia announced it would not pursue criminal charges based on insufficient evidence. The case was investigated by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and the Metropolitan Police Department. The administrative investigation was launched after the criminal investigation was closed.

  108. blf says

    Trump’s border wall reportedly in severe disrepair in Arizona:

    […]
    When Donald Trump launched his presidential campaign in 2015 by saying Nobody builds walls better than me, it was to say the least a questionable claim.

    Trump insisted the great wall he planned for the southern US border […] would be impenetrable, physical, tall, powerful, beautiful.

    Like other pronouncements by the former president[Wacko House squatter], who made his name in construction, the assertion did not hold water.

    Neither, it seems, did the wall.

    Photographs published by the website Gizmodo appear to show sections of the partially constructed wall in southern Arizona in severe disrepair, torn apart by summer monsoon rains that the site said “literally blew floodgates off their hinges”.

    At least six gates were washed out in a single location near Douglas, according to a quote on the website from José Manuel Pérez Cantú, director of an environmental nonprofit, Cuenca de Los Ojos.

    Other sections of the wall were also hit by last week’s powerful monsoon, according to the Tucson Sentinel, which said a US Customs and Immigration Services official confirmed damage had been done.

    […]

    In 2020, when Trump was still in power[squatting and demanding bribes], experts warned that floodgates in some places along the 701-mile, $21bn wall would need to be left open during heavy rains and flooding, to avoid collapse amid surges of tons of water carrying rocks, sediment, tree limbs and other debris.

    Because of their remote locations, many of the gates would have to be manually opened and left unattended for months at a time, the Washington Post reported […]

    It appears the gates were open during last week’s storms, but the wall was still no match for “historic flooding” after months of drought. According to climate experts at the University of Arizona, the Douglas area has this year received almost twice its average annual amount of monsoon rainfall.

    Gizmodo blamed the failure at least partly on rushed construction and an alleged bypassing of environmental regulations.

    “Who could have predicted this? Ah yes, just about everyone,” author Brian Kahn wrote, linking to an article highlighting environmental threats the wall would encounter.

    […]

    Trump always insisted that Mexico would pay for the wall — a claim proven false.

    Construction began in 2017 but the wall was beset by problems, including lawsuits and cost overruns.

    Earlier this year, the Guardian reported that sections costing $27m a mile could be easily scaled — using a $5 ladder.

  109. says

    News:

    Really BIG news from North Carolina: a big blow to disenfranchisement, which will restore the right to vote to more than 50,000 people!

    A state court ruled that anyone who is not incarcerated has the right to vote (ppl on probation/parole can’t vote now): [link atl]

    This is a hugely suppressive & racist system that took a blow.

    Accortding to data by the @SentencingProj, ≈ 45% of the people who just regained the right to vote (and didn’t have it until now) are Black. (That’s ≈ twice as high as the share of black people in NC.)

    AND there’s more than meets eyes: when ppl on probation or parole can’t vote, it just ups the confusion around who is eligible. Some prosecutors feed that by prosecuting people who make errors. (See: [Guardian link atl]) This simplifies all that, helping many more people.

    Important: None of this would end disenfranchisement, as tens of thousands of people who’re in prison over a felony will still be barred from voting (unlike in ME, VT, DC). Racial disparities over who gets put in prison are even greater; roughly half of state prisons in NC.

  110. says

    Text quoted by blf in comment 116:

    Trump insisted the great wall he planned for the southern US border […] would be impenetrable, physical, tall, powerful, beautiful.

    Ha! None of the above.

    What a failure.

  111. blf says

    SC@118, Huh? None of the Grauniad’s liveblogs I checked are (unexpectedly) closed? Precise link, please…

    Here is a link to the entry @95 et al is complaining about (something omitted from all the complaints I’ve seen, this is not an endorsement), Grauniad’s poor reporting about the hallucinations in both the WSJ and FT about Ivermectin being used to “treat” Covid-19.

    Please note that one can link to the liveblog, or to specific entries within the liveblog. My link about is to a specific entry, but what I am asking for is a general link to the whatever blog has been closed unexpectedly.

  112. says

    Fla. officials face new questions as COVID deaths reach record high

    As one Florida neurologist said about COVID conditions, “It’s the worst it’s ever been right now. And I just think that nobody realizes that.”

    Americans have seen plenty of press conferences featuring medical professionals throughout the pandemic, but it was nevertheless striking to see several dozen doctors assemble in a hospital parking lot this morning, hoping to send a message to their local community. The Palm Beach Post reported:

    More than 70 physicians met Monday morning to bring a clear message to Palm Beach County residents: You should get vaccinated. Emergency-room doctors joined neurologists, infectious-disease experts, plastic surgeons and dozens of others to put their faces in front of the community where people would recognize them and, they hope, heed their warning. Multiple doctors said they are exhausted. They’ve treated COVID-19 patients for nearly a year and a half, and in Florida, doctors say things are getting worse at a faster rate than any other point in the pandemic.

    Palm Beach Post link

    Neurologist Robin Kass told the newspaper, “It’s the worst it’s ever been right now. And I just think that nobody realizes that.”

    The statewide data bolsters the point. The Palm Beach Post also reported over the weekend that COVID deaths in the Sunshine State have reached their highest point ever, and the Mayo Clinic’s Vincent Rajkumar noted that Florida is currently the only state where daily fatalities in the current wave have exceeded the previous waves.

    […] Local school officials, however, are increasingly prioritizing public health over the Republican governor’s political agenda. On Friday night, Sarasota County’s school board voted to create a mask requirement, becoming the sixth community in Florida to defy DeSantis’ order.

    What was especially notable about this decision, however, was the local political climate: in the first five instances, officials disobeyed the governor in Democratic strongholds. Sarasota County, however, backed Donald Trump by a double-digit margin last fall.

    By all appearances, the DeSantis administration still intends to punish communities that try to curtail the spread of the virus through mask protections. […]

  113. says

    Jan. 6 Defendant Busted Streaming Mike Lindell In His Garage Compares It To A Drug Relapse

    An accused Capitol rioter broke the conditions of his pretrial release by bingeing pillow magnate Mike Lindell’s awful voter fraud symposium earlier this month.

    The defendant, Douglas Jensen, acknowledged in a court filing Sunday that he’d broken the rules against accessing the internet. But he asked for the court’s lenience, comparing the incident to a drug user’s relapse. Jensen is pictured above in the “Q” shirt. [Photo available at the link.]

    “If a drug abuser relapses, there is typically a sanction protocol in place to help the person deal with his/her substance abuse issues,” Jensen’s lawyer wrote. “Mr. Jensen requests that this Honorable Court treat his violation is a similar manner.”

    Lindell’s symposium, like his other events before it, completely failed to produce the earth-shattering evidence Lindell promised that Donald Trump’s second term had been stolen by Chinese hackers. But that hasn’t discouraged the MyPillow CEO, who said recently of voting machines, “we have to melt down the machines and make prison bars out of them.”

    The trouble for Jensen, who’s accused of possessing a knife in the Capitol and leading a mob that chased Capitol Police Office Eugene Goodman up a flight of stairs, began with a visit from his pretrial services officer earlier this month.

    The report back wasn’t pretty.

    “A mere thirty days after his release from the D.C. Jail, defendant Douglas Jensen was found alone, in his garage, using a WiFi-connected iPhone to stream news from Rumble,” prosecutors said in a filing Thursday.

    “When confronted about this obvious violation of his release conditions, defendant provided his Pretrial Services Officer with one excuse after another.”

    Eventually, prosecutors said, Jensen fessed up. He’d possessed an iPhone for two weeks. And he’d been watching Mike Lindell.

    “Jensen eventually admitted to his Pretrial Services Officer that in the previous week, he had spent two days watching Mike Lindell’s Cyber Symposium regarding the recount of the presidential election,” the filing stated, asking the court to throw Jensen back in jail.

    The violation came only a month after Jensen was released from jail against prosecutors’ wishes. He faces several felony charges, including aggravated assault, but he was released from custody in part based on the argument that he had only attended the Capitol riot because he’d been duped into becoming a “true believer” of the QAnon conspiracy theory.

    After months in detention, Jensen’s lawyer said his client felt deceived, “recognizing that he bought into a pack of lies.”

    But the Lindell binge showed that the sob story was “just an act,” prosecutors said — “that his alleged epiphany inside the D.C. Jail was merely self-advocacy; and that, at the end of the day, Jensen will not abandon the misguided theories and beliefs that led him to menacingly chase U.S. Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman up the Senate staircase on January 6, 2021.” Separately, the filing referred to Jensen’s beliefs as a “QAnon addiction.”

    Responding to prosecutors in a filing Sunday, Jensen’s lawyer Christopher M. Davis said Jensen conceded that he’d violated his pretrial release conditions, but tried to downplay the infraction.

    “Jensen had been working in the yard that week, cutting down a large tree,” Davis wrote. “It was exceptionally hot, and he would go into the garage to cool down. While in there, he would listen to the radio.” (The “radio” was a bluetooth speaker streaming audio from an iPhone that Jensen’s daughter had been using, Davis said.)

    Jensen took issue with the government’s assertion that his actions endangered the community, Davis noted, because he did not post anything on social media or encourage anyone to accept “conspiracy lies.”

    “The condition of no internet access is really to ensure Mr. Jensen does not become overly influenced by conspiracy theories circulating on the internet,” a footnote in the filing read. “It is not internet access that the government is worried about, it is misinformation that could influence Jensen to engage in conduct similar to what occurred on January 6. However, he remains on GPS monitoring and any violation of that condition is immediately known by Pre-Trial Services.”

    The filing concluded by asking for another chance, invoking the penalty awarded to lapsed drug addicts who receive sanctions, rather than re-incarceration pending trial.

    “Mr. Jensen asks this Court to accept his apology and allow him to remain in home incarceration, with a sanction, if this Court deems such is appropriate,” Davis wrote.

  114. says

    The far-right “Patriots” who organized Sunday’s Proud Boys rally in Portland, Oregon, cynically billed the event as “Summer of Love” while preparing for the event by sharing ideas about combat gear and ginning each other up for the street brawling that is their raison d’etre.

    Then, following a rally at which Proud Boys speakers urged violence against their “Antifa” opponents—and with no police anywhere in sight—they set about attacking anyone they perceived as their enemies, engaging in running street brawls, overturning vehicles, and assaulting people in their cars while destroying them. It all culminated in gunfire in downtown Portland, which finally brought hordes of police to the scene.

    Photos and video of the violence are available at the link.

    The rally originally was planned for mid-afternoon at the city’s main waterfront park in the heart of downtown, but organizers made a shift Sunday morning and moved it to the parking lot of an abandoned Kmart in the northeastern part of the city. With the city park abandoned, antifascists gathered in their place and held a celebration opposing hate groups throughout the morning and afternoon.

    Organizers for the event had sent out fliers featuring ‘60s-style psychedelic graphics, a Volkswagen, and text promising “Patriots Spreading Love Not Hate.” But among themselves, they shared photos of their street-fighting gear and admonitions to prepare for violence. [The Proud Boys tried to gaslight the Portland community and the Portland police.]

    The same admonitions continued at the rally itself, as speakers took the stage to urge the audience to take action because “God has called us to this,” while others attacked members of the press.

    One notoriously violent Portland-area Proud Boy, Tusitala “Tiny” Toese, threatened violence against transgender people: “If you wanna, you know, go into female bathrooms, then stop lying and identifying yourself as a woman. You know, tell the truth. Just say you identify as a pervert. Why lie? Tell the truth. But guess what? If you wanna identify as a woman and go in there, I’m gonna follow you in there as a woman, too. Then I’ll whoop your ass. Because I’m not playing this Democrat game.”

    Proud Boys also climbed atop the abandoned Kmart and spread a banner reading, “Free Our Political Prisoners,” an apparent reference to the Proud Boys and others currently awaiting trial for their roles in the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection in Washington.

    […] The violence erupted when a phalanx of black-clad antifascists marched past the parking lot where the rally was being held, and a cluster of Proud Boys began chasing them. A van involved in the situation came to a halt at the edge of the parking lot, and its occupants also were chased down Sandy Boulevard.

    […] Others caught up to an antifascist at his parked pickup truck, which appeared to be carrying water supplied for the counterprotesters. They slashed his tires, broke out his windows, and sprayed him with mace, after which one Proud Boy with fighting gloves entered the cab and began beating the man. The man eventually was able to get out of the truck and flee the scene.

    […] Guardian reporter Jason Wilson, who witnessed the shooting, said the incident occurred around 6 p.m. when antifascists attempted to chase out a man observed rallying with the Proud Boys earlier. The man took cover behind a solar-powered trash receptacle and then pulled out a handgun and began firing at the cluster of antifascists across the street. One of the antifascists pulled out his own gun and fired back, after which the man fled down a side street. Bystanders, including reporter Sergio Olmos and a Latino family inside a nearby vehicle, scrambled for cover.

    Police arrested the man a couple of blocks away and booked him. Dennis Anderson, 65, was charged with unlawful use and possession of a firearm shortly after the shooting, according to The Oregonian. Anderson’s bail at the Multnomah County Jail was set at $7,500.

    Before the event, Portland Police published a statement announcing that they intended to stay out of the protest. “You should not expect to see police officers standing in the middle of the crowd trying to keep people apart,” Chief Chuck Lovell said. “People should keep themselves apart and avoid physical confrontation.”

    Eric Ward of the Portland-based Western States Center, a nonprofit that focuses on human rights and which participated in Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler’s “Choose Love” rally the day before, voiced anger and concern about the failure of authorities to recognize the dynamic at work in the Proud Boys events—namely, “paramilitaries from outside this community descended on Portland to spread bigotry and engage in intimidation.”

    Despite every indication that participants at today’s rally were coming to Portland with the intention of inflicting destruction, far too many local, state and federal leaders made the decision to ignore the danger posed by anti-government and white nationalist groups—as if closing our eyes to the threat of violence would somehow make it go away. […]

    it appeared that the organization’s chief strategy going forward was to spread out into members’ communities, attach themselves to local right-wing causes and events, and then bring violence to those situations. Portland had already seen a version of that strategy unfold two weeks beforehand.

    Now, it’s clear that their traditional big-event rally, intended to draw Proud Boys from around the nation to descend upon a targeted city, will also remain a useful tool in their strategic manual.

    Link

  115. says

    blf @ #120:

    Here is a link to the entry @95 et al is complaining about (something omitted from all the complaints I’ve seen, this is not an endorsement), Grauniad’s poor reporting about the hallucinations in both the WSJ and FT about Ivermectin being used to “treat” Covid-19.

    I literally quoted it @ #95.

  116. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 124

    …and with no police anywhere in sight…

    The operative phrase being “in sight.” Otherwise, there were probably plenty of cops among the fash scum.

  117. says

    US military reports biggest day of airlifts out of Afghanistan

    The U.S. military says it has evacuated roughly 37,000 people from Afghanistan in just over a week, nearly half of whom have been removed in the last 24 hours.

    About 16,000 people have been evacuated out of Kabul on 28 military flights and 61 coalition aircraft in the past day, Maj. Gen. Hank Taylor, deputy director of the Joint Regional Operations, told reporters at the Pentagon.

    The military flights evacuated approximately 10,400 people while the coalition flights evacuated another 5,900 people.

    Taylor also said that five flights with about 1,300 passengers landed at Dulles International Airport outside Washington, D.C., in the past day.

    “Our mission remains focused on ensuring a steady flow of evacuees out of Kabul to the intermediate staging bases and safe havens at our insulations [that] continue to rapidly build out capacity as needed to ensure reception and providing humanitarian assistance,” Taylor said.

    Pentagon press secretary John Kirby, who spoke alongside Taylor, said “several thousand Americans” have been evacuated from Afghanistan since Aug. 14. but declined to be more specific as the number is “very fluid.” […]

  118. says

    First lady’s press secretary calls on Rachel Campos Duffy, Fox News to apologize for host’s comments

    The first lady’s press secretary on Monday called for an apology from Fox News and weekend host Rachel Campos-Duffy, who over the weekend said Jill Biden had failed the country by letting her husband run for president.

    Campos-Duffy also criticized President Biden’s “mental state” in commentary criticizing the exit of troops from Afghanistan and the administration’s struggles to evacuate people from that country.

    “This is disgusting,” said Michael LaRosa, Jill Biden’s press secretary. “@RCamposDuffy and @FoxNews know better. They can do better and their viewers deserve better. I hope they’ll apologize to the First Lady and leave this kind of talk in the [trash] where it belongs.”

    Campos-Duffy said the most “patriotic thing Jill Biden could have done was tell her husband, to love her husband, and not let him run in this mental state that he’s in.”

    “I think she failed the country as well,” the weekend host said.

    “When you look at what’s hurting America, when you look at this lack of leadership, and you wonder, who are the people responsible for putting someone this incompetent and frankly this, you know, mentally frail in this position?” Campos-Duffy said earlier in her commentary. “I’m sorry, as a political spouse, I can’t help but look at Jill Biden … No one knew better his state of mind than Dr. Jill Biden.”

    Campos-Duffy, who joined Fox News in June as co-host of “Fox & Friends Weekend,” is married to former Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wis.).

    […] Campos-Duffy’s criticism of Jill Biden, and her attacks on President Biden’s state of mind, stuck out from the majority of GOP criticism — particularly the remarks about the first lady.

  119. says

    Follow-up to comment 128.

    Posted by readers of the article:

    most of the “evidence” the right points to as “proof” of Biden’s mental state is him pausing to keep his stutter from starting. It takes concentration to head a stutter or stammer off, especially while talking.
    ——————-
    not smart enough to wear a seatbelt (thrown out of a car during accident) or smart enough to use birth control (9 birth/children). Bless bible thumper, Campos-Duffy’s heart

  120. says

    Follow-up to comment 124.

    Wonkette:

    […] Another hot topic was how the January 6 insurrectionists were all “political prisoners,” which is very true if you completely ignore that any other political or non-political group that attacked the Capitol would also be going to prison. That’s like me robbing a bank while singing the score of Sondheim’s Company and then attributing my subsequent arrest to the teller’s dislike of musical theater.

    Counter-protesters had their own shindig nearby. For most of the day, aside from some yelling, they did not interact much with the Proud Boys.

    And then, well, they did.

    Via Oregon Public Broadcasting:

    Witnesses said the violence began when a white van attempted to pull into the parking lot where the “Summer of Love” event was taking place. Members of the Proud Boys later flipped the van over.

    “This van right here that’s on its side tried pulling into the parking lot, and all these Proud Boys gate security started hitting it with bats and busting the windows out,” one witness, who did not want to be identified, told OPB.The witness said people got out of the van and started to run away as Proud Boys attacked them.

    “I saw this dude beating a woman. There was like two ladies that got hit. It was a nightmare, it was fucking terrifying,” they said.

    And here is video footage of that happening. [videos are available at the link, the van video shows the Proud Boys tipping it over while people cheer, but not the preceding events]

    […] And then the guns came out:

    After the violence ended in Northeast Portland, a man fired a handgun at what appeared to be a group of anti-fascists downtown. Portland police moved in and arrested 65-year-old Dennis G. Anderson of Gresham. He was charged with unlawful use of a weapon and unlawful possession of a firearm.

    Video posted online also appeared to show someone shooting back after the man opened fire. Information was not immediately available on what led to the shooting. Police said witnesses may have removed evidence from the scene before they arrived.
    If there is any acceptable use of a gun, using it to shoot at someone who has already started to shoot at you would have to be it. That and a zombie situation where you have to destroy the brains of your relatives or they are just going to keep trying to eat you.

    […] If said Proud Boys want to prove how super macho they are by firing into a crowd, it is entirely possible someone will fire back on them. Which may have been what happened yesterday (it’s not yet known who the other shooter was). Luckily, no one was killed, but someone could have been, and it sure sounds like it would have been the fault of that guy Dennis Anderson, the one the police arrested. […]

    Link

    Glad I wasn’t there. Awful.

  121. says

    Health Care costs, scams, inequities, hidden costs, etc.

    This year, the federal government ordered hospitals to begin publishing a prized secret: a complete list of the prices they negotiate with private insurers.

    The insurers’ trade association had called the rule unconstitutional and said it would “undermine competitive negotiations.” Four hospital associations jointly sued the government to block it, and appealed when they lost.

    They lost again, and seven months later, many hospitals are simply ignoring the requirement and posting nothing.

    But data from the hospitals that have complied hints at why the powerful industries wanted this information to remain hidden.

    It shows hospitals are charging patients wildly different amounts for the same basic services: procedures as simple as an X-ray or a pregnancy test.

    And it provides numerous examples of major health insurers — some of the world’s largest companies, with billions in annual profits — negotiating surprisingly unfavorable rates for their customers. In many cases, insured patients are getting prices that are higher than they would if they pretended to have no coverage at all.

    Until now, consumers had no way to know before they got the bill what prices they and their insurers would be paying. […]

    This secrecy has allowed hospitals to tell patients that they are getting “steep” discounts, while still charging them many times what a public program like Medicare is willing to pay.

    And it has left insurers with little incentive to negotiate well.

    The peculiar economics of health insurance also help keep prices high. [snipped some details that are available at the link]

    […] Health economists think of insurers as essentially buying in bulk, using their large membership to get better deals. Some were startled to see numerous instances in which insurers pay more than the cash rate. […]

    New York Times link

    Lots more at the link.

  122. says

    Texas town closes down after COVID-19 positive rate passes 40%

    The town of Iraan (pronounced Ira-Ann), in Texas, is shut down. According to The Texas Tribune, the oilfield town, with a population just north of 1,200-1,300 people, had its local school shut down last week after about 25% of the staff and 16% of the student body tested positive or were in quarantine for COVID-19. The West Texas town only has a 14-bed hospital with zero critical care facilities. The Tribune reports that the closest hospitals with the equipment and services needed to handle serious COVID-19 cases are “all 80 miles or more away.” The Iraan-Sheffield Independent School District made this announcement last Monday after only five days of classes.

    Iraan’s schools are not fighting Republican death-eater Gov. Greg Abbott’s anti-mask mandates. The Iraan-Sheffield Independent School District joins three other school districts that both allowed mask-wearing to be “optional” and are now closed due to high COVID-19 numbers. A statement from the district’s superintendent, Dr. Tracy Canter, conveyed to parents that the school would be closed until at least Aug. 30.

    CNN reports that this may be an optimistic timetable as Iraan saw 119 people tested in the first two weeks of August, and 50 of those tests came back positive. The town’s city council has already voted to close down the city building and “postpone late fees on water and gas utilities and stop utility disconnections for at least a month.”

    The football season has been postponed for now.

    Iraan General Hospital CEO Jason Rybolt told CNN he was “very concerned for the community,” and whether the small town of Iraan will be receiving the medical treatment it needs. The hospital’s chief nursing officer, Connie Miles, told CBS7: “We started seeing some patients come into our facility that were needing more care than what they could get at home last week, and we have transferred some patients out to larger facilities. Our biggest issue right now is finding facilities that will take these patients because every facility in the state is full.” Iraan, like the other districts that have closed down, is an area where fewer than a third of residents are fully vaccinated. […]

    Unvaccinated people are ruining football in Texas.

  123. says

    Unvaccinated are breaking everything—the bank, the health care system, the bonds of society

    Vaccines and adequate supplies have definitely made the delta round of the COVID-19 pandemic less horrific for the doctors and nurses trying to save lives. The jeopardy for them and their families is at least reduced by the fact that the vaccine has been available to them, and they don’t have to rely on personal protective equipment that’s days old. But the fact that there is a vaccine and that many of the people who are filling up ICUs are there by choice adds a whole level of demoralization that didn’t exist in the first round.

    “It feels very different to me because it is preventable now. So, it’s a very different feel in terms of the age of the patients coming in. They are getting really sick, there are a lot of people on ventilators and they are not vaccinated,” Dr. Meghan McInerney, the ICU medical director at Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise, Idaho, said in a recent interview. “It didn’t have to be this way and so with that, the air in the ICU is a little bit defeated. You know, the nurses, the doctors, the respiratory therapists, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, all the members of our team are feeling a little more deflated with this round of a COVID surge because it is a preventable illness at this point.”

    Nancy Roberts, a respiratory therapist with St. Luke’s Hospital in Boise, concurred. “It’s rough. You leave here having worked a very hard shift and trying to take care of people, and not everybody makes it. So it does, absolutely, wear you down. Just knowing that we are having a hard time keeping staff and having new people hire on those are realities, so we are doing what we can do,” Roberts said. It’s bad in Idaho. But magnify that several thousands of times in Florida, and you can understand why this is happening: Doctors are walking out. [video available at the link]

    Nitesh N. Paryani, a radiation oncologist in Tampa, tries to shed light on what’s happening in his hospital and to send a dire warning to all those people refusing vaccines: “The unvaccinated are killing people in ways they probably never imagined.”

    “On Aug. 3, I received a call from a hospital that does not have a cancer program,” he wrote. “Such calls are routine at the regional referral center where I work. A doctor at the outlying hospital had a patient with metastatic brain cancer. She was unable to walk, and without urgent radiation treatments there was no hope for any meaningful recovery.” He couldn’t respond to that call for help. “We had no beds available. We had paused elective surgeries the previous week and have been trying to control the influx of patients. Our emergency department had a 12-hour wait that day … But I had no choice. For the first time in my career, I had to say no.”

    […] it’s staff that’s in short supply rather than equipment. Mississippi is now using paramedics and emergency medical technicians to take care of patients in emergency rooms. Tennessee has deployed the National Guard to hospitals and are allowing some health care workers to provide care they are not licensed to give.

    Oregon’s Gov. Kate Brown has appealed to FEMA to build and staff a field hospital. She’s also warned her residents that in some parts of the state “there may not be a staffed bed for you if you have a medical emergency.” That’s not a scare tactic to get people to get vaccinated. It’s reality. It isn’t just the medical staff who’ve left, either. “Sometimes we don’t have anyone to answer the phones,” said Marsha Martin, a trauma nurse at University of Florida Shands Hospital in Gainesville. “We’re constantly interrupting the care we are giving to go fetch stuff,” Martin said. “There are delays in patients getting medicine they need.”

    Then there’s the Gulf Coast: “The average per person hospitalization rate for Panama City, Fla.; Mobile, Ala.; and Gulfport, Miss.; is considerably higher than that of their states as a whole, even though they are three of the four states with the highest rates in the country, according to data compiled by The New York Times.”

    The vaccination rate in all three of those counties is well below 40%, and the per person case rate in each is more than twice the national average. The hospitalizations and deaths are from the delta variant, and they’re overwhelmingly from vaccine-refusers. “We’ve had 44 year olds, 45, 35, that have died,” said Tiffany Murdock, a hospital administrator for Singing River Health System in coastal Mississippi. “I’ve been a nurse for 15 years, and I’ve never seen anything like it.” She talked about a husband and wife in their 40s who died last week, both unvaccinated.[…]

    It’s enough to start a serious discussion among public health and public policy experts: What are the consequences for the unvaccinated for what they’re doing to the nation’s health care system? It cost $2 billion in June and July of this year. $2 billion in 2 months, a Kaiser Family Fund (KFF) analysis finds.

    Using Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, KFF estimates there were around 37,000 preventable COVID-19 hospitalizations among vaccine-refusing adults in June and another 76,000 in July. That doesn’t count the children who aren’t eligible for the vaccines, a record high of 1,900 recorded just a few weeks ago.

    That has to be paid for, and we’re all having to shoulder the costs through either taxes paid for public insurers or higher premiums for our private insurers. “People who don’t vaccinate are imposing costs on the community that they’re not paying for,” Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, an expert in vaccine policy at UC Hastings College of the Law, told Los Angeles Times columnist Michael Hiltzik. She proposes they be treated like environmental polluters who are fined and forced to pay for the damage they’ve caused. […]

    In the meantime, plenty are pinning their hopes on the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the Pfizer vaccine to bring the remaining unvaccinated around. But that’s not going to undo the damage already done.

  124. says

    CNN – “House committee plans to seek phone records in probe of January 6, including from members of Congress”:

    The House Select Committee investigating the January 6 Capitol riot is poised to send notices to various telecommunications companies requesting that they preserve the phone records of several people, including members of Congress, multiple sources tell CNN.

    Preserving communications records is the first step in an investigatory process that could eventually lead to witness testimony. The notices are set to go out as soon as this week and provide the first window into the kinds of information the committee plans to pursue.

    Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson, who serves as chairman of the Select Committee, has said that he hopes to issue subpoenas by the end of August. Thompson also has signed off on a broader investigative strategy that will serve as a guide for the panel’s work going forward, according to a source familiar with the planning document.

    While it remains unclear which members’ records the committee is interested in, several Republican lawmakers, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and GOP Rep. Jim Jordan, have acknowledged speaking to then-President Donald Trump by phone on January 6.

    Democrats have also accused some of their GOP colleagues of interacting with individuals who stormed the US Capitol prior to the attack.

    In an interview with CNN on Monday, Thompson confirmed the committee was poised to send letters to telecom companies but also indicated they would be sent to social media companies, though he declined to name which ones.

    “In terms of telecom companies, they’re the ones that pretty much you already know, the major networks, the social media platforms, those kinds of things,” Thompson told CNN on Monday.

    “I can tell you that we’ll look at everything that will give us information on what happened on January 6,” Thompson said. “We will look at all records at some point.”

    The Mississippi Democrat said the letters requesting that records be preserved have not gone out yet, but that there is a wide range of people who the Committee is planning to contact.

    “We have quite an exhaustive list of people. I won’t tell you who they are. But it’s several hundred people that make up the list of individuals we plan to contact,” he said….

  125. says

    Jared Holt on Medium – “Far-right extremists in United States applaud Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan”:

    Supporters of far-right extremist movements in the United States applauded the Taliban after the group’s takeover of Afghanistan, cheering the development as an existential defeat of Western powers they believe are responsible for perceived declines in society. Some went so far as to frame the US defeat in the nation as a goal for their own movements to aspire toward.

    Extremists’ reactions to the Taliban’s domination of Afghanistan fits into three distinct buckets: support for major pillars of the group’s driving ideology, sympathy for its struggles to maintain access to mainstream social media platforms, and allegations that events in Afghanistan are meant to conceal or distract from other nefarious government activities.

    The Taliban and US far-right extremists are aligned on some but not all aspects of their political agenda, including the downgrading of women in the social order, hostility toward LGBTQ people, opposition to abortion, and support for a fundamentalist religious government. Both view the social progress of Western societies as the driver of cultural and political collapse and seek to foment deep resentment against the private and government entities and figures they believe to be responsible for that collapse. For these extremist movements, opposition to the structures of Western society can form the basis of ideological solidarity and make for what can seem like unlikely bedfellows.

    Andrew Torba, who operates alternative social media platform Gab, published a post on his platform likening the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan to what he believes is possible in the United States, writing “there’s no reason we can’t too.” New users to Gab are subscribed to Torba’s account by default.

    After news organizations published several articles noting the far-right’s sympathies for the Taliban, a Telegram channel associated with the Proud Boys attempted to clarify why the broader movement was cheering on the terrorist group.

    “We are celebrating the fact that despite trying for 20 years, the system has failed to subvert a local populace into accepting degeneracy,” the channel wrote. “We’re celebrating that a small band of armed militiamen was able to defeat the forces of Jewish power arrayed against them. We are celebrating the fact that their [sic] are millions more armed white Americans than their [sic] are Taliban, most with better weaponry. White Unity will be the future, that is what we are celebrating.”

    Another Proud Boys affiliated Telegram channel elaborated further: “I think Islam is poisonous. I don’t want goat fuckers in white nations. BUT, these farmers and minimally trained men fought to take their nation back from globohomo. They took back their government, installed their national religion as law, and executed dissenters. Hard to not respect that.”

    White nationalist youth movement activist Nicholas Fuentes remarked on Gab: “The Taliban is going to ban abortion, vaccines, and gay marriage… maybe we were fighting on the wrong side for 20 years.” While his claims were likely entirely rhetoric used to entrench far-right sentiment, Fuentes’s statement ignored that abortion was mostly illegal and gay marriage completely so under the previous US-backed government.

    Elsewhere, on Telegram, Fuentes posted that the “people that run America are far more radical, dangerous, and evil than the Taliban.” He later explained, “The Taliban is a conservative, religious force, the US is godless and liberal. The defeat of the US government in Afghanistan is unequivocally a positive development.”

    The Taliban also earned favor with extremists after a member complained to the press that social media sites were banning accounts used by the group. A Telegram channel popular with extremists wrote, “When asked about Taliban censorship, the spokesperson simply had to point out the obvious that Americans censor all the time. America hasn’t just lost militarily to the Taliban, it’s lost the moral high ground…. …..to the Taliban.” Mainstream conservative figures, like the former president’s adult son Donald Trump Jr., also echoed that sentiment.

    Ron Watkins, of 8chan and QAnon notoriety, suggested to his followers on Telegram that the situation in States. Ron Watkins, a core figure in the QAnon movement and an individual that one documentary pinned as a person responsible for at least some “Q” posts, posted on Telegram: “The ongoing failure in Afghanistan is just the beginning of a planned distraction campaign so they can ignore the Maricopa County Audit results. All eyes on Maricopa County!”…

  126. says

    Some recommendations:

    Maintenance Phase – “The Obesity Epidemic”:

    Over the last 30 years, fatness has been defined as a risk factor for disease, then a disease in itself, then a global epidemic. What caused this rapid shift? Who’s gonna join our group of B-roll vigilantes? And did we just hear Morgan Freeman?…

    New Books Public Policy – “David E Campbell, Geoffrey C Layman and John C. Green, Secular Surge: A New Fault Line in American Politics:

    American society is rapidly secularizing – a radical departure from its historically high level of religiosity–and politics is a big part of the reason. Just as, forty years ago, the Religious Right arose as a new political movement, today secularism is gaining traction as a distinct and politically energized identity. Secular Surge: A New Faultline in American Politics (Cambridge University Press, 2020) examines the political causes and political consequences of this secular surge, drawing on a wealth of original data. The authors show that secular identity is in part a reaction to the Religious Right. However, while the political impact of secularism is profound, there may not yet be a Secular Left to counterbalance the Religious Right. Secularism has introduced new tensions within the Democratic Party while adding oxygen to political polarization between Democrats and Republicans. Still there may be opportunities to reach common ground if politicians seek to forge coalitions that encompass both secular and religious Americans….

    Jacobin, The Dig – “Jesus and John Wayne w/ Kristin Kobes Du Mez”:

    Dan interviews historian Kristin Kobes Du Mez on her book Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation. “Having replaced the Jesus of the Gospels with the vengeful warrior Christ, it’s no wonder many came to think of Trump in the same way.”

    (Obviously, “corrupted a faith” and such isn’t my view, but whatever.)

    Finally, I can’t recommend The White Lotus on HBO more highly.

  127. says

    Here’s a link to the August 24 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    From their morning summary:

    People infected with the more transmissible Delta variant have a viral load 300 times higher than those with the original version of the Covid-19 virus, when symptoms are first observed, a South Korean study found.

    The 2020 Paralympic Games will kick off in Tokyo with the opening ceremony on Tuesday as Japan struggles with its worst Covid-19 outbreak so far, record daily cases and an overwhelmed medical system.

    Northern Ireland has the highest rate of Covid-19 infection in the UK, at 579.5 per 100,000 people, figures have shown. It is the highest infection rate in the region since 8 January.

    The newly elected Iranian government led by President Ebrahim Raisi is facing demands to broaden its sources of vaccines as the country becomes engulfed by its fifth and most deadly wave of Covid-19.

    Deaths from Covid-19 are now averaging 100 a day across the UK, and there are warnings that case rates will jump again when millions of pupils return to schools next week. The country racked up more than 31,000 new cases on Monday.

    Almost 5,000 UK Covid-19 cases are linked to a music and surfing festival – Boardmasters – which took place in Cornwall this month.

    New South Wales recorded another 753 cases on Tuesday but the Australian state has passed 6m vaccinations and will announce some relaxation of the tight lockdown curbs this week for people who have received two doses.

    New Zealand is bracing for its biggest coronavirus outbreak yet as cases rose by another 41 on Tuesday. The majority of people are Samoan and are linked to a cluster at a church.

    Vietnam has deployed soldiers to enforce a lockdown in Ho Chi Minh City, after authorities claimed enforcement of recent curbs has not been sufficiently strict – with people from today people from today generally prohibited from leaving their homes.

    The WHO director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said that Covid-19 booster shots should be delayed as priority ought be given to raising vaccination rates in countries where only 2% of the population has been inoculated.

    They also have a link to this article – “Masks off: how US school boards became ‘perfect battlegrounds’ for vicious culture wars.”

    Too much to excerpt, but this paragraph stood out:

    National political leaders and conservative institutions have played an active role in stoking the surge in school board activism, with groups such as the Heritage Foundation and Manhattan Institute promoting the false idea that CRT is taught in public schools, and former Trump administration officials establishing new organizations to fund school board campaigns. In June, the rightwing Christian group FRC Action (an offshoot of the Family Research Council, which is considered a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center due to its extreme anti-LGBTQ+ positions) held a “boot camp” to train volunteers for “doing battle on the front lines” of school board politics.

  128. says

    TPM – “InfoWars Host Owen Shroyer In Custody Facing Jan. 6 Charges”:

    InfoWars host Owen Shroyer is reportedly in custody and faces charges for his actions on Jan. 6, when he amped up the crowd outside of the Capitol alongside InfoWars founder Alex Jones.

    Shroyer didn’t enter the building. Rather, he’s charged with “knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority” and “violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.”

    In other words: He led a crowd, along with Jones, onto the Capitol grounds, according to an FBI agent’s statement of facts in the case.

    “Shroyer marched to the U.S. Capitol from the Ellipse shortly before the U.S. Capitol was breached,” the agent said, citing video from that day.

    “One video depicted Shroyer, marching with other individuals, leading a crowd of people in a ‘1776!’ chant as the host of the Infowars show on which the video was streamed stated, ‘Alex Jones at this moment is leading the march toward the Capitol building,’” the agent stated. “In the same video, Shroyer can be heard telling the crowd, ‘today we march for the Capitol because on this historic January 6, 2021, we have to let our congressmen and women know, and we have to let Mike Pence know, they stole the election, we know they stole it, and we aren’t going to accept it!’”

    The InfoWars host didn’t try to hide his activity. In fact, the feds cited InfoWars’ own videos to justify the charges….

  129. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    Chad’s former dictator Hissene Habre, whose government was accused of killing tens of thousands, has died in a hospital in Senegal aged 79 after reportedly contracting Covid recently.

    The Associated Press reports that the 79-year-old, who became the first former head of state to be convicted of crimes against humanity by an African court after spending decades in luxurious exile in Senegal, died at a Dakar hospital earlier today, Jean Bertrand Bocande, director of the penitentiary administration, has confirmed.

    The former dictator had been sentenced to life imprisonment in 2016 but ultimately served about five years in prison following his trial on charges linked to his time in power from 1982 to 1990.

    During his reign, he had received hundreds of millions of dollars in aid and arms, as well as substantial support from the US and France, because he was seen as a “bulwark” against former Libya dictator Moammar Gadhafi, according to Human Rights Watch.

  130. says

    Guardian world liveblog summary:

    US president Joe Biden is set to be briefed on an intelligence investigation into how Covid-19 began after he ordered a report on the competing origin theories. People familiar with intelligence reporting reportedly said there has been little corroboration over recent months that the virus had spread widely and naturally amongst wild animals, thus raising the spectre of a lab leak.

    Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon warned some Covid controls could be reimposed in the country after it recorded a record spike in new cases, which have doubled in the past week. Vaccinations had greatly lessened the effects of the virus but even so, she said, some controls could be needed again.

    Montana’s governor maintained vaccine mandates remain illegal in the state after yesterday’s Food and Drug Administration full approval of the Pfizer vaccine. A spokesperson said it did not invalidate Montana’s law, which also prohibits discrimination based on whether a person has been inoculated.

    Australian prime minister Scott Morrison rejected modelling that warned the country could face 25,000 deaths and 270,000 cases of long Covid if lockdowns and public health restrictions end once 80% of the adult population is vaccinated.

    Greece announced it would end free testing for unvaccinated people in an attempt to to boost inoculation rates. The new measures to coax people into getting vaccinated will also oblige unvaccinated people to test either once or twice a week, depending on their profession.

    Iran reported a record daily 709 Covid-related deaths as infections continue to rise in the country. The health ministry said there were also 40,623 new infections over the past 24 hours.

    British tourists face difficulties in proving their vaccine status in Europe following a delay in linking the NHS Covid pass to the EU’s system due to gaps in the British government’s application to Brussels.

  131. says

    From today’s DN! headlines:

    G7 Leaders Urge Biden to Delay Withdrawal from Afghanistan as Taliban Warns of “Consequences”

    Leaders of the G7 group of wealthy nations are meeting virtually today to discuss the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan, where they’re expected to ask President Biden to extend the U.S. troop presence in Kabul past the August 31 deadline for withdrawal. On Monday, Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen told Sky News that the U.S. would “face consequences” if its troops remained in Afghanistan into September.

    Suhail Shaheen: “President Biden announced this agreement that ’til 31st of August they would withdraw all their military forces. So, if they extend it, that means they are extending occupation.”

    Thousands of people remain camped outside of Kabul’s airport in an increasingly desperate bid to fly to safety. The White House says the U.S. has evacuated more than 58,000 people since the Taliban swept into Kabul on August 14.

    On Monday, the United Nations’ top human rights official, Michelle Bachelet, cited credible reports of serious human rights violations committed by the Taliban: summary executions of civilians and Afghan soldiers who had surrendered, and severe restrictions on women and girls.

    Meanwhile, The Washington Post reports CIA Director William Burns held a secret meeting in Kabul Monday with the Taliban’s de facto leader, Abdul Ghani Baradar. It was reportedly the highest-level face-to-face meeting between the Taliban and the Biden administration since the Taliban takeover.

    Florida Doctors Hold Protest as Students Return to Classes Amid Massive COVID-19 Surge

    In Florida, thousands of students returned to classrooms Monday even as the state recorded one of the highest coronavirus infection rates in the world. Miami-Dade County schools opened the fall semester with a mask mandate in place, defying Republican Governor Ron DeSantis’s threat to pull funding from the district and to cut off the salaries of school officials who require masks. At least seven Florida districts that serve more than a million students are defying DeSantis’s ban on mask mandates. This comes after more than 10,000 students in Hillsborough County alone have had to quarantine over possible exposure to the coronavirus at school.

    Meanwhile, Florida’s hospitals are overrun with COVID-19 patients — the vast majority of whom are unvaccinated. On Monday, 75 South Florida doctors staged a symbolic walkout from Palm Beach Gardens hospital, pleading with members of their community to wear masks and get vaccinated. This is Dr. Rupesh Dharia.

    Dr. Rupesh Dharia: “We are not only your doctors, but we are your neighbors and your friends. Many of our children go to school here with your children. We are exhausted. Our patience and resources are running low. And we need your help.”

    Haiti’s Earthquake Death Toll Rises to Over 2,200 with Thousands Still Homeless

    In Haiti, the death toll from the massive August 14 earthquake has passed 2,200, with thousands of survivors growing increasingly desperate. People left homeless by the quake have been living in squalid camps in the mountains, north of the hard-hit city of Les Cayes, where they say children are suffering from hunger, fevers and infections.

    UNICEF says 1.2 million people were affected by the earthquake, including over half a million children.

    Kathy Hochul Sworn In as New York Governor as Andrew Cuomo Resigns

    Here in New York, Kathy Hochul was sworn in as New York’s first woman governor early Tuesday, just after outgoing Governor Andrew Cuomo’s resignation took effect at the stroke of midnight. Cuomo announced his resignation two weeks ago, after New York Attorney General Letitia James released a damning report finding he sexually harassed at least 11 women. Cuomo released a recorded video statement Monday in which he portrayed himself as the victim of a smear campaign orchestrated by his political rivals….

    Proud Boys Leader Enrique Tarrio Sentenced on Weapons and Vandalism Charges

    Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio has been sentenced to five months in jail for burning a Black Lives Matter banner that was torn down from Asbury United Methodist Church, a historic Black church, during a pro-Trump rally in Washington, D.C., in December. Tarrio will also serve time for bringing two high-capacity rifle magazines to Washington — just days before the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol. The sentencing judge said even though Tarrio was not present at the Capitol during the assault, his actions contributed to undermining U.S. democracy.

    Extinction Rebellion Launches New Resistance Campaign with London Direct Action Protests

    In Britain, the climate justice group Extinction Rebellion launched a new resistance campaign with a series of protests in London Monday. The group says they want to highlight the destructive role financial institutions play in the climate crisis….

  132. says

    How Arizona Republicans’ bizarre ‘audit’ managed to get even worse

    “When it comes to the Arizona Republicans’ election “audit,” we were reminded yesterday that this dumpster fire is clearly more pitiful than powerful.”

    At Donald Trump’s rally in Alabama over the weekend, there was a point at which the [he] not only assured his followers that his election conspiracy theories are true, he also added, “You’ll see the evidence starting to come out.”

    Nearly 10 months after the Republican’s defeat, there is still no such evidence, and he didn’t specify what kind of substantiation he believes is “starting to come out.” My best guess, however, is that he was referring to an utterly bonkers “audit” created by GOP members of the Arizona state Senate, who are reportedly prepared to release their findings.

    As NBC News reported late yesterday, that’s not going especially well.

    Arizona Republicans will get only partial findings from their partisan review of 2020 ballots Monday after three people from the private company leading the so-called audit tested positive for Covid-19, state Senate President Karen Fann said.

    “The team expected to have the full draft ready for the Senate today, but unfortunately Cyber Ninjas CEO Doug Logan and two other members of the five-person audit team have tested positive for COVID-19 and are quite sick,” Fann said in a statement.

    […] The original plan was for Cyber Ninjas to take a few weeks to conduct an “audit.” That was roughly five months ago.

    As the outlandish review proceeded — who can forget the bizarre search for bamboo fibers? — we were told a final report would be available late last week. Then we were told to expect it yesterday.

    As yesterday neared its end, Arizona Republicans said Cyber Ninjas CEO Doug Logan and two other members of the five-person audit team have tested positive for COVID-19 and have fallen ill, which will delay the disclosure of the findings. One of the auditors has reportedly even been hospitalized with COVID-related pneumonia.

    […] among the reasons this was so extraordinary was that this was the first public acknowledgement that a five-person audit team actually exists. […]

    Who comprises this five-person audit team, and what qualifications do they bring to the table? There are no answers to such questions because we still don’t know who they are. [There is only one “Cyber Ninja,” Doug Logan. As far as we can tell the company has no employees.]

    Former Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett, who has ostensibly served as a liaison for the “audit” process, and communicated with the public on behalf of the auditors, also expressed surprise yesterday — not only because of the COVID-related developments, but also because he thought the audit team had nine members, not five. [LOL, LOL, LOL]

    Making matters just a little worse, aside from the COVID problem, Arizona Republican state senators also conceded yesterday that the report that was due to be released isn’t actually done anyway.

    In case this isn’t obvious, Trump and other election conspiracy theorists have spent months not only touting the outlandish process in Arizona, but also preparing to use the investigation’s findings as proof of 2020 wrongdoing. Far-right officials in other states intend to use the Arizona report to push for similar “audits” in other states in which Republicans disapproved of the voters’ judgment. […]

  133. says

    ‘Not that far apart’: Democrats near deal to break budget impasse

    Speaker Nancy Pelosi is close to reaching an agreement with moderates that will pave the way for passage of the $3.5 trillion budget framework.

    Democratic leaders are finalizing a deal that would clear the way for passage of the $3.5 trillion budget framework and set a House vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill for Sept. 27, an offer they hope ends a weekslong standoff with moderates.

    After several hours of furious negotiating Monday night, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her team are finishing the compromise, which they hope to put on the floor as soon as Tuesday afternoon. […]

    “I’m sorry that we couldn’t land the plane last night, and that you all had to wait. But that’s just part of the legislative progress,” Pelosi said Tuesday morning. “I think we’re close to landing the plane.”

    Many rank-and-file members of the Democratic caucus are furious at Rep. Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey and his group of centrists, who have halted progress on the centerpiece of President Joe Biden’s social spending plans over their insistence the bipartisan bill receive a vote first. […]

    “Like in any family, people have different views until the family comes together, so that’s what we’re doing today,” Rep. Joyce Beatty, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, said before a meeting Tuesday. “We’re not that far apart. It is a procedural [obstacle] more than the actual legislative process.”

    […] Pelosi and senior Democrats toiled in the Capitol until the wee hours of Monday morning attempting to break the impasse. Lawmakers hope to wrap up their efforts and leave town for the remainder of August as soon as Tuesday.

    Frustrations among the broader Democratic caucus over the moderate intransigence spilled out during an emotional, closed-door meeting Monday where Majority Leader Steny Hoyer called the internal fighting “mutually assured destruction.”

    “We cannot squander this majority and this Democratic White House by not passing what we need to do,” Pelosi said during the Monday meeting. “Right now, we have an opportunity to pass something so substantial for our country, so transformative we haven’t seen anything like it.”

    Mostly good news. We’ll see what happens this afternoon.

  134. says

    Follow-up to comment 147.

    Wonkette:

    […] This whole sorry exercise will doubtless lead to nothing but a vague suggestion of suspicious ballots or some such smoke and mirrors. But in the meanwhile it’s inspired Pennsylvania Republicans to go balls to the wall with their own fraudit. Because stupidity, like COVID, is contagious.

    “I don’t necessarily have faith in the results,” Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman told Trump-loving talkshow host Wendy Bell in an interview reported by the Philadelphia Inquirer. “I think there were many problems in our election that we need to get to the bottom of.”

    “We need to get the voter rolls, we need to get the ballots — things of that nature — so we can match them up to see: who voted, where were they living, were they alive,” he added later, reviving the old canard of dead voters in Philadelphia.

    And so we wish Doug Logan and his ninjas a speedy recovery. We’re sure after a few milliliters of horse dewormer they’ll be right as rain.

    WE KID! Do not take animal drugs, no, not even if you are a shameless hack bent on destroying faith in democracy.

    Link

  135. says

    Wonkette:

    Here’s a quote for you:

    “He’s a grifter – a fat ugly inarticulate poorly groomed alcoholic with delusions of grandeur. He has never elected anybody to any public office in his life most particularly not Donald Trump who is his own man in implemented [sic] his own strategy.”

    Goodness! Our rightwing friends sure aren’t showing very much Christian grace to each other right now!

    That’s Roger Stone, who was indicted and convicted for Trump-related crimes before having his sentence commuted, posting on Telegram about Steve Bannon, who was indicted and pardoned before he could be convicted. And in the full post, Stone writes many flowery words about how Bannon might get indicted in the state of New York next. AND ROGER STONE IS HAPPY ABOUT IT.

    The full text of what Stone posted:

    “Robert Mueller informant and perjurer Steve Bannon doesn’t know his ass from his elbow. Steve didn’t make money on Wall Street nor did he make money in Hollywood.

    “He’s a grifter – a fat ugly inarticulate poorly groomed alcoholic with delusions of grandeur. [etc.]

    “Despite being an informant for Robert Mueller they indicted him anyway and he will soon be recharged in New York on new charges. You’ll see me as [sic] his trial in the front row and I will not leave until he is convicted and jailed.”

    At the end of the post, Roger Stone linked to an article in the Palmer Report, because that’s how discerning Roger Stone is.

    We mostly post this because it’s fun to watch them turn on each other and hate each other and eat each other. Why, just the other day, Alex Jones was saying that Donald Trump is maybe just a dumbass. Which is true, except for how Jones was saying it because Trump was reluctantly encouraging people to get vaccinated.

    In other very important news, Roger Stone says he’s going to sue ABC News for defamation (you don’t care why) and superlawyer Larry Klayman did sue Roger Stone for defamation (you really don’t care why), and oh yeah, another one of Devin Nunes’s clown lawsuits against people who hurt his feelings has been thrown out, the one against the Republican strategist Liz Mair. He’s still suing the imaginary cow and the one that pretends on Twitter to be his mommy, though the Fresno Bee notes that “he has not been able to serve them with a complaint.”

    Don’t know why that important Devin Nunes update felt like it belonged in this post about Roger Stone calling Steve Bannon a “fat ugly inarticulate poorly groomed alcoholic with delusions of grandeur,” but it just did.

    Link

  136. says

    Ari Melber talked about how Facebook amplifies misinformation that goes out to hundreds of millions of people.

    Facebook is back in hot water after an explosive New York Times investigative report found the company hid the truth about its most popular viral content after the company discovered the most-viewed link on the platform raised doubt about the coronavirus vaccine. MSNBC’s Chief Legal Correspondent Ari Melber reports on the legal implications of Facebook’s cover-up and the Biden administration’s “anti-trust” complaint against the company.

    The video is 11:08 minutes long. Melber is direct and concise. It’s worth watching as a way to really get a handle on the role Facebook plays.

    Link

  137. says

    Follow-up to SC @94, excerpts from Jimmy Fallon’s show:

    Yeah, it was approved by the real F.D.A., the Food and Drug Administration, which is not to be confused with the fake F.D.A., the Facebook Doctors Association […]

    Get this: The new name of the fully approved Pfizer vaccine is Comirnaty. Comirnaty, which sounds more like a drunk person trying to say ‘community’: [imitating drunk] ‘You can’t arrest me; I’m a valued member of the comirnaty.”

  138. says

    Jen Psaki tells Fox News’ Doocy to stop being a part of the problem and help with the solution

    […] no one has a shorter memory than conservative media. Seizing on the decades-long foreign policy disaster that is Afghanistan, conservatives are trying their darndest to blame President Biden’s administration for being the people who finally picked up the corrupt and incompetent can that has been kicked down the road for three administrations now. The issues that the United States and its allies face now that we have withdrawn from our 20-year occupation of Afghanistan are messy. They fall at the feet of President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, “architect” of the Afghanistan invasion Defense [snipped the rest of the list]

    But regardless of our foreign policy’s pedigree, Joe Biden is the president now. […] conservative outlets play video of the human suffering and confusion that surrounds Afghanistan’s changing power dynamics and jack their fear and warmongering volume knobs way up. […] Enter Peter Doocy. Like his father Steve Doocy, the Fox News legacy hire’s job consists of coming up with undercooked headline premises and then asking a question of press secretary Jen Psaki, followed up by an even more fact-free Republican-talking point follow up that he will turn into whatever it is he’s going to report back to Fox News.

    Press secretary Psaki has made it a practice to pleasantly humiliate Doocy at virtually every press briefing. […]

    Doocy began by pointing out that the images Fox News, OAN, CNN and others are showing the world right now of the Taliban include them sporting American weaponry and military clothing. Doocy and others have clearly forgotten that this move by the Biden administration is based on the deal Donald Trump cut with the Taliban. […]

    And now, after an administration begins to complete the deal the previous Republican administration struck, and after an administration tries to pick up the pieces of a disaster that was started 20 years ago by one of the worst foreign policy initiatives the planet has ever seen, conservatives want to try and pin some kind of trash ‘soft on terrorism’ label to the Biden administration’s lapel.

    On Monday, Peter Doocy, doing his continuously pathetic part, attempted to angle his followup to Psaki by saying that the criticisms of President Biden were due to the fact that Americans have been “stranded” in Afghanistan. So far, the administration has estimated that there were somewhere between 10,000 and 15,000 U.S. citizens in Afghanistan the day before the Taliban took control of the capital city of Kabul. This number does not include the many more Afghans who allied themselves over the past 20 years with the U.S. forces, many of whom are also trying to leave the country fearing reprisal from the Taliban. […]

    On Monday, officials told NBC news that the number of people evacuated over the weekend brought up the total number to 37,000. Psaki said Doocy’s use of the term “stranded” was “irresponsible,” saying that the Biden administration has no plans to just turn around now and pretend that there aren’t people that still need to leave Afghanistan. It’s an important distinction that applies not only to Peter Doocy and Fox News but to most of the media outlets in our country. […]

    “I am just calling you out for saying we are stranding Americans in Afghanistan when we have been very clear that we are not leaving Americans who want to return home. We are going to bring them home. And I think that’s important for the American public to hear,” Psaki said. You cannot have it both ways. It is fine to criticize the president for seemingly not knowing how quickly the Taliban would take control of the capital. If you want to criticize the last president for making a deal that put an accelerant on the chances for heightened bloodshed if the U.S. didn’t leave the country when Biden did, you can criticize that. If Peter Doocy wants to investigate our military and the trillions of dollars we have spent in Afghanistan setting up a government that seems to have easily been toppled, please go ahead. […]

    Video available at the link.

  139. says

    Follow-up to comment 148.

    If Mitch McConnell is for it, you know it’s bad. McConnell Blesses Centrist Dems’ Attempt To Blow Up Two-Track Infrastructure Plan

    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) cheered the attempt by some moderate Democrats in the House to decouple the two infrastructure bills, threatening the future of the Democrats’ sweeping reconciliation package.

    “I wish the moderates in the House success,” McConnell said on Fox News Tuesday morning. “They want to split the infrastructure bill away from this massive $3.5-to-5 trillion reckless tax and spending bill, and deal with the two separately.”

    The group of moderates has been demanding an immediate vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill passed by the Senate earlier this month. The group has claimed that “families can’t wait” for the hard infrastructure improvements like retrofitting homes and resurfacing roads. But that rationale seems cloudy, given that none of the money to do those improvements can be spent until October 1, the beginning of the federal government’s fiscal year.

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has no interest in moving the bipartisan bill individually, as that could potentially free up the centrists to get the smaller bill, which they like better, passed, then walk away when it comes time to pass the reconciliation package that’ll include progressive priorities. […]

    Yeah, that’s what McConnell wants. He wants Democrats to walk away from the larger reconciliation package.

  140. says

    CNBC – “CDC study shows unvaccinated people are 29 times more likely to be hospitalized with Covid”:

    Unvaccinated people are about 29 times more likely to be hospitalized with Covid-19 when compared to those who are fully vaccinated, according to a study released Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    The new study, published in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, also found that the unvaccinated were nearly five times more likely to be infected with Covid than people who got the shots. The results are based on data from Los Angeles county between May 1 and July 25, the agency said.

    The data is in line with comments from federal and state health officials, who have been saying for weeks that millions of unvaccinated Americans have been putting themselves at serious risk of the delta variant, the most contagious coronavirus strain yet.

    As of Monday, more than 201 million Americans, or 60.8% of the total U.S. population, have had at least one Covid shot, according to data compiled by the CDC. More than 171 million Americans, or 51.5% of the total U.S. population, are fully vaccinated, according to the agency….

  141. says

    ‘I think it is time where God is separating the sheep from the goats….I’m a goat. Because I am not a sheep. I’m not doing what they tell me to do. I’m fighting against it (the vaccine)’.

    In Alabama — the state with the lowest vaccination rate in the nation….”

    Donie O’Sullivan report atl. “They view it as a political statement, almost. And some folks are so intent on not becoming part of this herd of sheep, they’re going as far as taking medicine for horses.”

  142. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 156

    I don’t have access to Twitter right now so I can’t tell, but I don’t suppose anyone pointed out to this dipshit that goats are herd animals too?

  143. Jean says

    They’re not sheep or goats, they are lemmings running of a cliff… And they’re also pushing the so-called sheep of the cliff with them.

  144. says

    Dr. Stephen Grant:

    I’m usually pretty even-keeled but am beyond livid right now. Our 6th grader (just moved to a new school and new city, no friends) is the only one wearing a mask in his class, teacher-included. Today, the teacher led the class in a mask “debate”.

    Every single other kid spoke against masks (suffocation, carbon dioxide, natural immunity, etc) to cheers from the classmates.

    My son stood up w/ mask on face and was boo’ed while explaining that he wears it to keep others safe. The teacher did nothing.

    If you don’t want to wear a mask–fine. But why are you singling out and ridiculing my 11-year old kid (who is just trying to fit in and make friends in a new city) for wearing one?

    In a predominantly Mormon community, I’m baffled by the passionate resistance to masks and vaccines, even after the recent urging by the church’s highest leaders.

    On the bright side, his son sounds great, and will be able to look back on this and be proud.

  145. says

    Josh Marshall:

    One thing I’ve been wanting to address over the last week is what remains the background premise for the Afghanistan mission: denying a safe haven to al Qaeda or other similar groups from which to mount attacks on the United States. I have already seen numerous analyses claiming that al Qaeda will soon be setting up shop again under Taliban protection. Sometimes it is necessary to grab hold of a bad argument by the root.

    Let me address this at a few levels.

    In retrospect – and perhaps at the time – the entire ‘safe haven’ argument was greatly overstated. Let’s take the actual 9/11 attacks as our example. As many note, most of the plotting was done by people who weren’t even in Afghanistan. They were mostly people from the Gulf living in Europe or the United States. At a basic level the whole premise was wrong from the beginning. But this critique misses a non-trivial part of the equation. There’s only so much time in the day. If you’re running an international terror group, time spent on the run is time not spent plotting attacks. Obviously terrorist and guerrilla groups have managed to do both throughout history. But it certainly makes sense and I think is borne out by history that if you have a base of operations which is basically protected and secure that’s an advantage. This is the premise on the strategy of ‘pressure’ wrapped up in aggressive surveillance, drone strikes, throttling access to the international banking system, special ops raids and more. Time spent running is time not spent plotting.

    It’s a given that we wouldn’t want to return to the status quo ante of 2001 when Al Qaeda was operating openly in Afghanistan. But that seems highly unlikely. The Taliban would rapidly be cut off from the international economy and everything they’d need to run the country and the US would be sending drones and commando missions to attack encampments. More immediately it seems clear that the Taliban sees al Qaeda as more of an albatross than an asset. It was protecting al Qaeda that got them driven from power in the first place. As Anatol Lieven notes here, while the Taliban have been consistently shifty and vague about their commitments to a more inclusive regime, they’ve been consistent and clear about not welcoming international resistance groups. They’ve cut off support to the Uighurs in China and the Chechens in Russia to secure the acceptance if not the support of the two local powers. It’s not a matter of trusting them. But assuming that this is part of their plan is dubious at best.

    It’s worth considering what we might call the worst case scenario since we’ve actually seen it play out. After the withdrawal from Iraq, an explicitly jihadist terrorist state took shape under ISIS rule in Northern Iraq and Syria. Obviously that wasn’t great. And a mix of training and inspiration did lead to a spate of mainly lone wolf terror attacks in Europe and North America. But the US led a highly heterogenous coalition of states that reconquered the territory in fairly short order. And critically, we did not go to occupying Iraq.

    This also illustrates a different, perhaps more important point. It’s not 2001. There are numerous failed or broken states where al Qaeda or ISIS or similar groups have if not safe havens then bases of operation: Yemen, Somalia, Libya, to a decreasing but still real extent in Syria. To a great degree we have continued to focus on Afghanistan simply because it was one out of a number of places where such a catastrophic event could potentially arise from. We could devote dozens of posts to questioning the whole premise. Is non-stop terrorist threats to the American mainland even in the top ten threats the country faces today? There’s the climate crisis, which is truly existential. In conventional foreign policy terms there’s great power competition with China, which has deep economic, military and ideological dimensions. There’s a very real threat of domestic terrorism and attacks on the American Republic itself. But even on its own terms the idea that our counterterrorism focus should be on garrisoning a country which through a confluence of events was tied to a catastrophic terrorist attack twenty years ago sounds absurd. (Spoiler: It is absurd.)

    It was with this in mind that I saw this article by Robin Wright in The New Yorker. The headlines tells the story: “Afghanistan, again, becomes a cradle for jihadism – and al Qaeda“.

    […] I read this story very, very closely. And I have to tell you the entire thing sounded like bullshit to me. I won’t summarize it or go into detail. If you’re interested I’d recommend reading it. It is out of time warp and peddling the same stories and scare lines as I remember from twenty years ago – in a radically different historical moment.

    To hear her tell it, or to her the experts she quoted, things are actually more dangerous today than they were in the summer of 2001. You may think al Qaeda is on the ropes or gravely diminished. In fact, they’re just leaner and meaner and … well, they basically run the Taliban. […]

    […] most of it was nonsense – or perhaps more to the point, possibly accurate data points spun up to seem threatening and terrifying when in fact they weren’t.

    Not only are we more threatened today than twenty years ago, according to Wright, but apparently we’ve done next to nothing on this front over the last twenty years. But that’s just bullshit. It’s the same Terror/Consultant industrial complex we were hearing from 20 and 10 years ago, back for a sort of last gasp when the hold of the policy responses they demanded are coming undone. By the end of the article the argument shifts from terrorist infrastructure – bases, networks, training and communications – to ideology. We’ve never ‘gotten it’ because it’s not about any of that stuff. It’s about defeating the ideology, they say.

    And there we are. This is all claptrap we’ve been run ragged over for two decades. Counter-terrorism is necessary and terrorist threats are real. We’ve vastly hardened access to the global banking system over the last two decades. We conduct vast surveillance. We fly drone missions anywhere and everywhere. One doesn’t have to agree with all those efforts. But they create a very different situation than the one that existed twenty years ago. Much like other press coverage over the last ten days these new arguments about terror threats emerging from Afghanistan are really just more gambits at denial, refusing to recognize the time and treasure and lives we’ve already wasted there.

    Link

  146. says

    From Eric Boehlert at Press Run, we get some suitable exasperation at the press “deliberately falling down a deep well of optics reporting” to craft the story they want to tell. “The media have gone all-in with the narrative that Biden’s presidency sits on the precipice of ruin”—based on, primarily, the optics of the reporters’ Republican sources saying so.

    As Boehlert observes, it’s a game similar to the coverage given Hillary Clinton’s Emails; the political press covers even the most hyperventilating Republican claims and then repeats them ad nauseam. Why? Because hey, the “optics” of someone saying those things makes for a quick and research-light story that will turn public heads. In the end, a great many of the nation’s problems come from media elevation of the political press over the facts and stuff press. Determining which infrastructure policies might best serve an urbanizing nation is complex and often boring, but when a well-heeled professional ideologue has said a thing, that can be written up as an “optics” story. In the span of a few hours, cue the gushing by literally any pundit that can find their way to a camera.

    • From Marcy Wheeler at emptywheel comes a call-out of press efforts to rehabilitate national security sources with misleading claims that yes, the White House was warned of the probable near-instant collapse of the Afghan military. Wheeler remains an expert in source-pushed press or government gaslighting; […] The Wall Street Journal here for a published ass-covering that relies on readers not understanding how calendars work. The gullibility of journalists, when approached by sources with bridges to sell, will never end.

    • From Josh Marshall at TPM […] “The loud voices are ones of evasion,” says Marshall, and the “real charlatans are those staking out what amounts to a phony third option–getting out cleanly, without anything that felt bad.”

    • From Michael Hobbes at Rotten in Denmark […] the current national inability to distinguish between intelligent ideas and stupid ones presented with “intelligent” veneer, we get a nice rundown of why savvy media punditry sucks, very, very much, and acts primarily as an optics-focused way for invested figures to say optics things to bend the optics however they want them bent. Bonus points to Hobbes for taking aim at one of my personal pet grievances: the insufferable emptiness of The Atlantic’s recent slide to performative contrarianism.

    Is the evacuation from Afghanistan “bad”? Of course it is. We lost a war—we can’t claim otherwise if, after 20 years of half-hearted action, the enemy was able to road-trip their way back into regional and national government before we had even fully cleaned out our desks. We lost the war even more egregiously than we thought we had, resulting in a sea of people storming the airport hours after their propped-up president had fled the country for safer ground.

    So now things are a mess, and now for all this nation’s talk of defending Afghan women and children or putting the brakes on militant religious oppression worldwide, we remain where we began—almost entirely dependent on future diplomatic and economic pressures to enforce human rights that could not be enforced with military power.

    […] the aftermath suggests that our whole pursuit of the war was a farce to begin with.

    Since none of the war’s architects want an examination of those failures, we’re left instead with grousing about how things would have worked out in the 22nd year, or the 27th year, or the 51st year if a president was willing to listen to them … forever.

    Link

  147. says

    Charlie Watts died.

    Legendary Rolling Stones drummer dead at 80

    […] “It is with immense sadness that we announce the death of our beloved Charlie Watts. He passed away peacefully in a London hospital earlier today surrounded by his family,” a spokesperson said. “Charlie was a cherished husband, father and grandfather and also as a member of The Rolling Stones one of the greatest drummers of his generation. We kindly request that the privacy of his family, band members and close friends is respected at this difficult time.”

    Watts spent over five decades as the Rolling Stones’ drummer and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The band, once called “the world’s greatest rock & roll band” is known for hits such as “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” and “Paint It Back.”

    Several musicians and celebrities took to social media to mourn Watts […]

  148. says

    Follow-up to SC’s comment 155.

    Coronavirus vaccines remain highly effective at stopping severe disease amid spread of delta, L.A. data show.

    Washington Post link

    Unvaccinated people in Los Angeles County were five times as likely to get infected with the coronavirus and 29 times as likely to be hospitalized as people who were fully immunized, newly released data from California show. It’s the latest evidence that vaccines continue to reduce significantly the risk of severe illness — their fundamental purpose — despite the spread of the more contagious delta variant.

    The report, published Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, also demonstrates the limits of vaccines. They are not an impenetrable barrier to the virus. Some inoculated people are continuing to develop covid-19, the disease caused by the virus. But the vast majority of “breakthrough” cases among vaccinated people do not require hospitalization.

    Vaccine effectiveness — the statistical measure of protection from infection in the vaccinated population — has dropped as the delta variant has spread. On May 1, the report said, people who had not been immunized were more than eight times as likely to be infected as people who were fully vaccinated. That was before delta took hold, and on July 25, the ratio had dropped to about a fivefold greater risk.

    […] “Prior to delta, it did indeed appear that the vaccines were also very good at protecting against infection overall,” Paul Simon, chief science officer for the Los Angeles County Department of Health, said. “But when delta emerged, there was a big change, because delta is so much more infectious. The vaccine didn’t protect as well against infection.”

    […] Vaccinated people who had hoped they would be free from concern about infection have been sobered by evidence that breakthrough infections are more common than before the arrival of delta. At the same time, there has been little erosion in protection against severe illness and death.

    […] The great majority of new coronavirus infections still occur in people who have not been immunized. But as vaccination rates increase, so will breakthrough cases as a percentage of new infections, experts point out.

    “Simply, it’s math. As we have more people vaccinated, more of our infections that we diagnose are going to be in vaccinated people,” Oregon state epidemiologist Dean Sidelinger said. “It’s not entirely unexpected.”

    Public health officials say recent research bolsters the CDC’s view that even people who have had their shots would be wise to wear masks indoors under certain circumstances. Vaccinated people can spread the virus, the CDC has said. The viral load measured in people with breakthrough infections is comparable to the viral load in unvaccinated people […]

    The amount of virus in the community matters in the same way that the intensity of rainfall matters, he said.

    “It’s not a drizzle, it’s a storm. Even if you’re fully vaccinated, you should add that layer of extra protection — a raincoat, a mask — when you’re out in the rain,” Simon said. “Once we get this level of community transmission back down to a low level, I think people who are fully vaccinated will again have much more confidence. Not only are they protected against hospitalization and death, they’re also very unlikely to get infected.”

  149. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    The new governor of New York has said she will immediately make masks mandatory for anyone entering schools, AP reports.

    In an address after taking up her post today, Kathy Hochul added she would also be working to introduce a requirement that all school staff are either vaccinated or undergo weekly Covid-19 testing.

    A back-to-school testing programme would be launched to make testing for students and staff more convenient, she added.

    She also promised to get the state ready to distribute vaccine booster shots – when they became widely available – and reopen mass vaccination sites that had been closed.

    Hochul said: “None of us wants a re-run of last year’s horrors with Covid-19. Therefore we will take proactive steps to prevent that from happening.”

    Her announcements were tackling some of the problems that had been left unaddressed during Andrew Cuomo’s turbulent final months in office.

  150. says

    Reuters – “Brazil governors express concern at Bolsonaro support among state police”:

    Most of Brazil’s governors are concerned about their state police officers appearing in an upcoming march in support of President Jair Bolsonaro, minutes published on Tuesday showed, as the far-right former army captain continues to sow doubt about next year’s presidential election.

    Their concerns came to light in minutes of a Monday meeting of governors in Brasilia, in which they discussed a worsening political crisis in Brazil, as Bolsonaro picks fights with the Supreme Court and federal electoral authorities, and questions the credibility of the country’s elections.

    Of Brazil’s 27 governors, 25 signed the minutes expressing concern about the high level of support for the president among the country’s roughly 500,000 military police.

    Active-duty military police are prohibited from making political demonstrations, but many are expected to show up at Sept 7 marches in support of Bolsonaro….

  151. says

    Twitter:

    Tunisian president extends suspension of Parliament ‘until further notice’

    Tunisian President Kais Saied announced an extension of the country’s suspension of Parliament and the immunity of its members on Monday. Last month, Saied dismissed Prime Minister Hicham Mechichi and assumed executive authority in a move opponents branded a coup, France 24 and Middle East Eye report. Since the intervention, Saied has not appointed a new prime minister or created a roadmap that has been requested by the country’s civil society groups, according to Reuters.

  152. says

    Here’s a link to the August 25 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    From there:

    US troops must swiftly get jabs, says defence secretary, with over a third still unvaccinated

    Military troops must immediately begin to get vaccination against Covid after Pfizer’s jab received full approval, US defense secretary Lloyd Austin has said in a memo as he ordered service leaders to “impose ambitious timelines for implementation.”

    More than 800,000 service members of 2.1m including reserves have yet to get inoculated, according to Pentagon data. The memo, which was obtained by the Associated Press, does not dictate a specific timeline for completing the vaccinations.

    “To defend this nation, we need a healthy and ready force,” Austin said in the memo. “After careful consultation with medical experts and military leadership, and with the support of the president, I have determined that mandatory vaccination against coronavirus disease…is necessary to protect the force and defend the American people.”

    Troops will be able to get their Pfizer shots at their bases and from their commands around the world, the AP reports. The Pentagon has said it has enough vaccine supply to meet demand.

    Members of the US military are already required to get as many as 17 different vaccines, depending on where they are deployed. The requirements — which include shots for smallpox, hepatitis, polio and the flu — also provide for a number of temporary and permanent exemptions for either medical or administrative reasons, the AP reports.

    Austin in the memo noted that the new requirement will allow for exemptions that are consistent with the current policies for all the other vaccines. Permanent exemptions include serious medical reactions to the vaccine, immune deficiencies such as HIV infection, and “evidence of existing immunity” by a serologic antibody test or “documentation of previous infection or natural infection presumed.”

    A little over half of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated with one of the country’s three options – Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson.

    (Yesterday’s world liveblog kept going for the usual span – until around 8 PM ET in the US. I suspect the early closure of the previous day’s was related to complaints about some of the posts.)

  153. says

    Guardian – “Fury as US politicians fly into Kabul in midst of evacuation effort”:

    Two members of US Congress flew unannounced into Kabul airport in the middle of the chaotic evacuation, stunning State Department and military personnel who had to divert resources to provide security and information to the lawmakers, US officials have said.

    Seth Moulton, the Democratic congressman for Massachusetts, and Peter Meijer, the Republican congressman for Michigan, flew in and out on charter aircraft and were on the ground at Kabul airport for several hours. That led officials to complain they could be taking seats that would have otherwise gone to other Americans or Afghans fleeing the country, but the congressmen said in a joint statement that they made sure they were leaving on a flight with empty seats.

    “As members of Congress, we have a duty to provide oversight on the executive branch,”’ the pair said in a statement. “We conducted this visit in secret, speaking about it only after our departure, to minimise the risk and disruption to the people on the ground, and because we were there to gather information, not to grandstand.”

    The two lawmakers are both military veterans, with backgrounds in the region. Moulton, a Marine who has been an outspoken critic of the Iraq war, served multiple tours in Iraq. Meijer was deployed as part of the army reserves and later worked in Afghanistan at a nongovernmental organisation providing aid. Both serve on the House armed services committee.

    Three officials familiar with the flight said that State Department, Defense Department and White House officials were furious about the incident because it was done without coordination with diplomats or military commanders directing the evacuation.

    The US military found out about the visit as the legislators’ aircraft on its way to Kabul, according to the officials. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity.

    One senior US official said the administration regarded the lawmakers’ visit as manifestly unhelpful, while other officials said the visit was viewed as a distraction for troops and commanders at the airport who are waging a race against time to evacuate thousands of Americans, at-risk Afghans and others as quickly as possible.

    The House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, issued a statement on Tuesday evening taking note of the desire of some legislators to visit Afghanistan and saying she was writing to “reiterate that the Departments of Defense and State have requested that members not travel to Afghanistan and the region during this time of danger”.

    She added: “Ensuring the safe and timely evacuation of individuals at risk requires the full focus and attention of the US military and diplomatic teams on the ground in Afghanistan.”

    The Pentagon has repeatedly expressed concerns about security threats in Kabul, including by the Islamic State group. When members of Congress have routinely gone to war zones over the past two decades, their visits have been typically long planned and coordinated with officials on the ground in order to ensure their safety….

  154. says

    Guardian – “Murdoch empire strikes back at ABC’s documentary on Fox News’ championing of Trump”:

    Rupert Murdoch’s global media operation is honing its sights on the ABC after the public broadcaster aired a critical look at Fox News and its relationship with Donald Trump.

    News Corp has published 45 articles in just two days [!!!] attacking the public broadcaster across its Australian mastheads.

    The pushback against the ABC came even before the two-part program reported by Washington correspondent Sarah Ferguson had aired.

    Fox News headquarters in New York sent a legal threat, saying the ABC had “clearly violated” its own standards by “exhibiting bias and a failure to maintain any level of impartiality in the presentation of news and information”.

    Four Corners spoke to former Fox News insiders who claimed the rightwing channel became a propaganda outlet for the former president under the watch of Rupert Murdoch himself.

    On Tuesday The Australian published what amounted to a front-page editorial, The ABC’s big lie and the madness of Four Corners, which said the program was a “conspiracy-laden and error-ridden ‘expose’ into Fox News”.

    The Australian’s editor-in-chief, Christopher Dore, went on to publish 10 articles rubbishing the ABC and Four Corners. Commentators included Chris Kenny, Gerard Henderson and former Murdoch editor Mark Day, who called it a “full-frontal hit job on Rupert Murdoch, News Corp and the US Fox News channel”.

    The Murdoch tabloids joined the pile-on too. Articles by rightwing columnists Rita Panahi, Tim Blair and James Morrow were syndicated across the Herald Sun, Daily Telegraph, Courier Mail, Mercury, Cairns Post, Townsville Bulletin, Advertiser and news[dot]com[dot]au.

    Murdoch’s most popular columnist, Sky News presenter Andrew Bolt, said the ABC itself “is an echo chamber and propaganda vehicle that destabilises democracy”. The Daily Telegraph columnist Miranda Devine, who is based at the New York Post in the US and is a regular on Fox, joined in saying the ABC’s documentary “would put the worst Fleet Street beat-up merchants to shame”.

    The ABC told Guardian Australia News Corp’s reaction was expected. “The Australian’s first column attacking the story was published before the first episode had even gone to air,” a spokesperson said. “Since then, the striking uniformity of the attacks from News Corp journalists, commentators and outlets across the nation has only further served to highlight the importance of having a range of independent voices in the Australian media.

    “News Corp not liking a story does not mean the story is biased or inaccurate. The Four Corners report is based on multiple on-the-record, on-camera interviews with people who were employed by Fox News who give first-hand, verifiable accounts of their own experiences.

    “The story was rigorously tested against the ABC’s Editorial Policies and the ABC stands by it.”

  155. says

    Empty Wheel – “John Pierce Tries to Hire His 18th January 6 Defendant while on a Ventilator with COVID-19”:

    I’ve written about John Pierce’s efforts to collect a cast of January 6 defendants to represent — many, those who could incriminate Joe Biggs, and therefore a ton of Floridians (though he lives in California), especially Proud Boys. As of this morning, he represented 17 defendants (after having been fired by two other key January 6 participants, Ryan Samsel and Alan Hostetter, already).

    [descriptions of the 17 client-defendants follow]

    Representing this many defendants would be an impossible feat, even for the most experienced defense attorney, and harder still for a civil attorney like Pierce. Plus, some of these representations would seem to pose serious conflicts.

    At a status hearing for Shane Jenkins, a January 6 defendant accused of assault, this morning, his currently retained attorney, Public Defender Maria Jacob, started by saying that she believes that she’s being replaced. John Pierce’s colleague, Ryan Marshall (who is not barred in DC but nevertheless handled Pierce’s appearance in Nate DeGrave’s case yesterday), piped up to say, yes, that was happening but unfortunately the notice of appearance he thought had been filed last night had not appeared on the docket yet. When Judge Amit Mehta asked where Pierce was, Marshall said, “Mr. Pierce is in the hospital, we believe, with COVID-19, on a ventilator, non-responsive.”

    Judge Mehta wished the Pierce family well and scheduled a hearing next Thursday rather than accepting the appearance of a lawyer on a ventilator to represent his 18th client in this matter.

    Update: A week ago, Pierce said he would never get vaccinated….

    WTF.

  156. says

    Reuters – “U.N. sees massive drop in COVID vaccinations in Afghanistan after Taliban takeover”:

    In the first week following the Taliban conquest of Kabul, COVID-19 vaccinations in Afghanistan have dropped by 80%, the U.N. agency UNICEF said, warning that half of the few doses delivered to the country so far are close to expiry.

    In the week starting on Aug. 15, 30,500 people had been vaccinated in 23 of the 34 provinces of the country, whereas the previous week 134,600 people were inoculated in 30 provinces, according to figures provided by UNICEF, which coordinates the rollout of COVID-19 shots distributed across the world by the World Health Organization (WHO) vaccine programme Covax.

    “The drop is understandable, as in situations of chaos, conflict and emergency, people will prioritize their safety and security first,” the UNICEF spokesperson said, noting the U.N. agency has been calling on all Afghan healthcare workers, including women, to return to work.

    The spokesperson declined to comment about whether the drop in inoculations was also the result of Taliban’s possible vaccine scepticism, but warned about risks caused by a protracted slowdown in the vaccination campaign.

    Nearly 2 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine delivered to Afghanistan, which is about half of the total so far, expire in November, the UNICEF spokesperson said.

    WHO data show that only 1.2 million doses had been administered as of Aug. 20 in Afghanistan, which has a population of 40 million.

    Gavi, which co-leads Covax with the WHO, said the programme has so far delivered over 4 million doses to Afghanistan.

    “Our priority today is to work with UNICEF and WHO country offices (..) to ensure our ability to continue the country’s COVID-19 vaccination programme,” a Gavi spokesperson told Reuters, declining to comment on whether vaccinations had been hampered by the Taliban.

  157. blf says

    Apropos of nothing, today for lunch I went to the local shellfish specialist restaurant, and had some wonderful prawns with a selection of oysters — one of which I don’t recall ever hearing of before or tasting, “Utah Beach”, from Normandy, and apparently farmed at or very near that famous D-Day landing site. They were quite good, large albeit a bit salty; and quick subsequent search suggests they are (mostly) highly recommended. I concur. Strangely, no carpenters or walruses were sighted. Burp! (The mildly deranged penguin liked them as well, but complained the shells needed extra chewing and could use more cheese.)

  158. says

    SC @169: “Reported Covid cases in South Dakota have quadrupled in the last two weeks….”
    Sturgis. Hundred of thousands of motorcyclists. Crowded bars.

  159. says

    Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) may not fully appreciate the fact that self-exoneration does not work.

    […] The Texas Tribune reported yesterday:

    Nearly 11 months after Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s former top aides accused him of accepting bribes, Paxton’s office on Tuesday published a 374-page internal report that concludes he’s innocent of the allegations.

    The full report is online here (pdf). It does not appear to list any authors by name, saying only that it was the product of the state attorney general’s office.

    Or as the Houston Chronicle put it in a surprisingly amusing headline, “Embattled Texas AG Ken Paxton releases anonymous internal investigation clearing himself.”

    […] the Texas Republican was already under indictment on felony securities fraud charges when members of his own team made multiple criminal allegations against him last fall.

    In December 2020, FBI agents arrived at Paxton’s door, and earlier this summer, the Texas bar association launched an investigation into Paxton’s alleged professional misconduct.

    But don’t worry, the Texas attorney general’s office believes the Texas attorney general is a fine, upstanding official who’s done nothing wrong. Sure, Paxton could’ve brought in outside investigators to at least provide the appearance of impartiality, but the Republican preferred to keep things in-house.

    If Paxton believes this will help make his controversy go away ahead of his 2022 re-election campaign, he’s going to be disappointed.

    Link

  160. says

    Florida’s Republican governor may believe his constituents agree with him on Covid passivity, but there’s fresh evidence to the contrary.

    When it comes to the pandemic, conditions in Florida remain dire. While the total number of Covid-19 cases is no longer spiking, statewide hospitalizations and fatalities continue to climb.

    Indeed, the NBC affiliate in Tampa reported this morning that there’s a backlog at local funeral homes and crematories, which are “overwhelmed” with “an influx of bodies like they’ve never seen.” The report referenced one local facility where bodies have been “stacked to the ceiling.”

    It’s against this backdrop that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) refuses to abandon his position of passivity, recently touting his opposition to state “restrictions” of any kind — including schools that want to require mask protections for children.

    The Republican governor may believe his constituents agree with him, but there’s fresh evidence to the contrary.

    […] a majority of people in Florida say 60 – 36 percent that they support requiring students, teachers, and staff to wear masks in schools, according to a Quinnipiac University poll of Florida adults released today.

    […] Quinnipiac also found that 69% of Floridians oppose the governor’s plan to withhold school leaders’ salaries if they require masks; 68% believe local officials should be able to require masks in indoor public spaces if they believe it is necessary; and 64% believe masks are effective in slowing the spread of Covid-19.

    DeSantis, on the other hand, supports withholding school board members’ salaries, opposes local control, and recently suggested that mask protections have “not proven to be effective,” reality notwithstanding.

    […] Local officials having to decide between the governor’s political vision and protecting the public during a health crisis are increasingly concluding that DeSantis’ wishes just aren’t that important — and the more Floridians reject the governor’s vision, the more likely it is that communities will feel justified in defying him.

    […] it was initially two school districts that said they would ignore DeSantis’ order and require mask protections for children to curtal the spread of the virus. Then the total grew to four. Then five. As of last night, 10 school districts in Florida have prioritized public health over the governor’s political plans.

    Given the size of the relevant counties, the Washington Post reported this morning that more than half of Florida’s students “are now enrolled in public school districts with mask mandates despite threats of sanctions.”

    For its part, the DeSantis administration still intends to punish communities that try to curtail the spread of the virus through mask protections. The Biden administration, meanwhile, has reached out to local officials in the state, suggesting there may be federal reimbursement funds available.

  161. says

    CNN – “House committee seeks documents from agencies on January 6 Capitol attack, signaling massive investigative effort”:

    The House Select Committee investigating the January 6 Capitol attack requested a massive tranche of documents from several US government agencies — signaling they intend to undertake a sprawling probe of security failures and attempts to overturn the 2020 election results.

    This initial wave of document requests was sent to various executive branch agencies, including the departments of Homeland Security, Justice, Defense and Interior, the FBI, the National Counterterrorism Center and the Office of the National Intelligence as well as the National Archives, which has legal custody of all the presidential records from former President Donald Trump’s time in office.

    The National Archives previously told CNN it possesses documents that are relevant to the committee’s investigation and that there is a process “by which the Congress and the incumbent administration may request access to records of former administrations.”

    The committee’s document requests could lead to potentially lengthy fights over access.

    President Joe Biden could seek to block the committee from receiving any of the documents by asserting executive privilege. Trump also could assert executive privilege, but Biden has the ultimate say over Trump on whether the documents can be shared or if doing so could compromise the presidency itself.

    After that, Trump could still try to go to court to stop the committee from obtaining documents from the Trump White House and testimony from people like former White House Chief of Staff Meadows….

    I only caught a few seconds about it on CNN, but I think I heard her say some of the documents requested relate to Enrique Tarrio, which is interesting.

  162. says

    NBC News:

    The House voted 220 to 212 on a key procedural motion to instruct committees to write the $3.5 trillion bill, which can pass both Congressional chambers without any Republican support. To placate the centrist Democratic holdouts, Speaker Nancy Pelosi committed to a Sept. 27 deadline to vote on the $550 billion Senate-passed infrastructure bill. Every Democrat voted for the measure, and all Republicans opposed it.

    Commentary from Steve Benen:

    For Congress, yesterday’s vote represented the first key hurdle toward advancing both elements of President Biden’s domestic infrastructure agenda. Negotiations will now begin in earnest on crafting the details of the Democrats’ ambitious plan.

    But as the dust settles on the recent Capitol Hill drama, it’s worth appreciating the damage Gottheimer and his cohorts have done to themselves — in exchange for very little.

    Jon Chait labeled the group of centrists the “Suicide Squad,” while Greg Sargent went with “Sabotage Squad.” Both phrases work nicely. These nine members made a conscious choice to climb out onto a limb in a very public way — complete with a Washington Post op-ed and a great many television appearances — while putting their own president’s legislative priorities in jeopardy.

    They did so in the hopes of gaining special leverage, as if these nine members were entitled to exert dominance over the wishes of their many Democratic colleagues.

    Their antics did not go unnoticed. TPM noted yesterday, House Democrats from across the political spectrum “are finding it hard to contain their annoyance” and the moderates who threatened the White House’s entire agenda “for no real reason.”

    Even other Democratic moderates were irritated. Rep. Susan Wild (D-Pa.), who represents a competitive Philadelphia-area district, characterized the centrists’ strategy as “stupid.”

    No one seemed more impressed with the plan hatched by Gottheimer & Co. than Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) — which probably should’ve been a big hint about the merits of the strategy.

    So what are we left with? A small group of House Democrats — none of whom are in the party leadership, none of whom chair any congressional committees — who managed to annoy the White House, their own party’s leadership, progressives, and even other centrists, all over the course of about a week.

    […] For their trouble, members of this squad are assured of a House vote on the Senate’s bipartisan infrastructure package — though the bill was going to get a vote anyway.

    In theory, these moderates may yet gain some leverage, since the chamber is now committed to voting on the bipartisan bill by Sept. 27, and the larger reconciliation package may not be ready before then. But if these House Dems believe that they’ve gained their colleagues’ respect, or that they’ll somehow have greater influence in the future, they’re mistaken.

    Link

  163. says

    Excerpt from the link provided by SC in comment 183:

    On July 30th, right-wing talk radio host Marc Bernier, who for the past 30 years has broadcast from Daytona Beach, Florida on WNDB — host station of the Daytona 500 and flagship station to NASCAR’s Motor Racing Network — tweeted out that the government is “acting like Nazis” in trying to get people vaccinated against Covid-19.

    That is the last tweet in his Twitter feed.

  164. blf says

    Follow-up to SC@178, Covid Cases Spike After Sturgis Motorcycle Rally — Again:

    A section of rural South Dakota that hosted hundreds of thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts earlier this month for the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally now has one of the sharpest rises in Covid cases anywhere in the US — a major sign that this year’s motorcycle rally served as a repeat of 2020’s superspreader event.

    ● Meade County, where the city of Sturgis is located, is adding an average of 29 new Covid cases a day and neighboring Lawrence County 17 a day […], after having days before the rally with hardly any new Covid cases at all.

    […]

    ● Hospitalizations have also surged more than 200% in the two counties, though neither have recorded new Covid-19 deaths, which tend to lag behind increases in cases and hospitalizations.

    ● The testing positivity rate during the week of August 13 to August 19 was extraordinarily high in Meade County, at 33.3%, according to the South Dakota Department of Health, while Lawrence County’s rate was also above 25%.

    […] The CDC definitively linked 649 Covid cases to the 2020 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, but most believe the actual number is much higher. One study released weeks after the event suggested the 2020 rally might have led to 250,000 cases.

    All applaud, please, South Dakota’s alleged-“Governor” Kristi Noem, who called the 10-day [2021] Sturgis Motorcycle Rally a fantastic event. It was, if the purpose was to kill children, both by spreading a very dangerous virus and by spewing very dangerous (and planet-overheating) emissions. A snippet from South Dakota governor calls the Sturgis rally with hundreds of thousands of attendees a fantastic event as COVID-19 cases spike:

    I think[fail to understand] it’s interesting that this side, this political party, the Democrats, who embrace getting abortion on demand [everything, of course, to do with a pandemic and the Global Climate Catastrophe], are accusing us of embracing death when we’re just allowing people to make personal choices and have personal responsibility over when they want to assemble, when they want to gather and spend time outdoors enjoying their way of life, Noem said[blathered, spewed spittle, bellowed, and lied] on Friday [August 13th?] in an interview with Fox News’ Laura Ingraham.

    So we’ve had a fantastic event here in South Dakota, she said. They’re having a fantastic time. We’re glad everybody made the trip to South Dakota.

    Quite possibly, most of the rest of the world is absolutely horrified at S.Dakota’s deliberate biological warfare on the rest of the planet, the deliberate attempt to sicken and kill people who don’t have the “choice” to be protected (either because of age, lack of access to the vaccines, or genuine medical conditions), and the deliberate chemical warfare assault on the planet (those emissions, etc.).

    It’s not the Taliban which is a problem (excepting to most people trapped in Afghanistan), it’s the S.Dakotiban (a subset of the kooks who include the thugiban (of which the alleged-“Governor” is a member)).

  165. says

    House Democrats took a big step by passing the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, despite unanimous Republican opposition.

    It’s no secret that Republican officials in states across the country are approving voter-restriction measures at a breakneck pace. […]GOP officials believe the anti-voting is necessary to help the party claim power, and thanks to conservatives on the U.S. Supreme Court, who gutted the Voting Rights Act, the attacks on the franchise are possible.

    […] congressional Democrats and other voting-rights advocates have rallied behind the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act (H.R. 4). As NBC News reported, the bill passed the chamber yesterday afternoon.

    […]. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said in a statement last week that Congress had “not only an ironclad Constitutional mandate, but a moral responsibility” to pass the bill.

    […] Democrats were unanimous in their support for the legislation, and Republicans were unanimous in their opposition.

    […] in the not-too-distant past, the Voting Rights Act was a rare area of bipartisan agreement. As recently as 2006, when Congress reauthorized the measure first approved in 1965, the vote in the House was 390 to 33, with nearly 200 votes from GOP lawmakers. In the Senate, the reauthorization passed 98 to 0. Not even the most conservative Senate Republicans wanted to be seen as opponents of the Voting Rights Act.

    The president who signed it into law was none other than George W. Bush, who held a big public ceremony at the White House to celebrate the extension of one of the most important pieces of legislation in American history.

    Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) delivered remarks on the Senate floor when the bill passed, touting his support for the law.

    I happen to have been there the day the original voting rights bill was signed. We have, of course, renewed the Voting Rights Act periodically since that time, overwhelmingly, and on a bipartisan basis, year after year after year because members of Congress realize this is a piece of legislation which has worked. And one of my favorite sayings that many of us use from time to time is, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” […] This is a good piece of legislation which has served an important purpose over many years.

    Seven years later, Republican-appointed justices on the Supreme Court took a sledgehammer to the Voting Rights Act. In the aftermath, […]

    […] the grand total of GOP lawmakers in the House who voted yesterday to restore and reinvigorate the Voting Rights Act was zero. None of the so-called “moderates.” None who voted to certify the results of the 2020 presidential election. None of the members who voted for Donald Trump’s impeachment.

    […] The bill now heads to the evenly divided U.S. Senate, where it faces an inevitable Republican filibuster, notwithstanding the unanimous vote to reauthorize the Voting Rights Act in 2006.

    But all hope is not lost, at least not yet. Two weeks ago, as the Senate wrapped up its work ahead of its summer break, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) spoke about detailed talks with a group of Democratic senators — Minnesota’s Amy Klobuchar, Oregon’s Jeff Merkley, West Virginia’s Joe Manchin, Georgia’s Raphael Warnock, California’s Alex Padilla, Virginia’s Tim Kaine, Maine’s Angus King, and Montana’s Jon Tester — on a new, compromise voting rights bill, which would presumably include elements featured in the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.

    […] There’s no reason to believe Republicans senators will ever budge on protecting voting rights, and no bill, no matter how narrow or carefully tailored, will overcome a GOP filibuster. But the fact that these senators continue to work on this legislation is notable in its own right. Whether or not you always agree with the relevant players, these senators aren’t dumb. They’re well aware of the legislative arithmetic, and it seems unlikely that they’d invest time and energy into an important bill that was doomed from the outset. […]

  166. says

    Jan 6 Committee Aims Massive Doc Request Squarely At Trump

    The House Jan. 6 Committee sent a vast document request on Wednesday, demanding that eight federal agencies provide information relating to former president Trump’s involvement in the Capitol insurrection.

    The panel is asking for documents that include Trump White House records held by the National Archives and Records Administration, as well as documents from the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, Justice, and Interior.

    The committee also directed its requests towards the intelligence and national security communities, asking for information from the FBI, Director of National Intelligence, and National Counterterrorism Center.

    The panel wants records encompassing Trump’s activities, movements, and meetings on Jan. 6, as well as documents and communications from April 1, 2020 until the end of Trump’s term having to do with attempts to contest the 2020 election results and to “delay or impede” the electoral count.

    “Our Constitution provides for a peaceful transfer of power, and this investigation seeks to evaluate threats to that process, identify lessons learned and recommend laws, policies, procedures, rules, or regulations necessary to protect our republic in the future,” panel Chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) wrote in a letter to the archives.

  167. blf says

    Fury as US politicians fly into Kabul in midst of evacuation effort:

    […]
    Seth Moulton, the Democratic congressman for Massachusetts, and Peter Meijer, the Republican congressman for Michigan, flew in and out on charter aircraft and were on the ground at Kabul airport for several hours. That led officials to complain they could be taking seats that would have otherwise gone to other Americans or Afghans fleeing the country, but the congressmen said[probably lied] in a joint statement that they made sure they were leaving on a flight with empty seats.

    As members of Congress[freeloaders], we have a duty to provide oversight on the executive branch[scam as much as we can “think” up using our limited intelligence (please contact our offices dealing your request and proposed payment)], the pair said in a statement. We conducted this visit in secret, speaking about it only after our departure, to minimise the risk and disruption to the people on the ground, and because we were there to gather information, not to grandstand. [And it was supposed to be a fecking secret jaunt! FAKE news, FAKE news!]

    The two lawmakers are both military veterans, with backgrounds in the region. Moulton, a Marine who has been an outspoken critic of the Iraq war, served multiple tours in Iraq. Meijer was deployed as part of the army reserves and later worked in Afghanistan at a nongovernmental organisation providing aid. Both serve on the House armed services committee.

    Three officials familiar with the flight said that State Department, Defense Department and White House officials were furious about the incident because it was done without coordination with diplomats or military commanders directing the evacuation.

    The US military found out about the visit as the legislators’ aircraft on its way to Kabul, according to the officials. […]

    One senior US official said the administration regarded the lawmakers’ visit as manifestly unhelpful, while other officials said the visit was viewed as a distraction for troops and commanders at the airport who are waging a race against time to evacuate thousands of Americans, at-risk Afghans and others as quickly as possible.

    The House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, issued a statement on Tuesday evening taking note of the desire of some legislators to visit Afghanistan and saying she was writing to “reiterate that the Departments of Defense and State have requested that members not travel to Afghanistan and the region during this time of danger”.

    The two congressmen said they went into their visit wanting “to push the president to extend the August 31st deadline. After talking with commanders on the ground and seeing the situation here, it is obvious that because we started the evacuation so late[as per hair furor’s timetable], that no matter what we do, we won’t get everyone out on time, even by September 11.” [Gee, I wonder why these morons picked that day? (I’ve not set those comments in eejit quotes because, despite who is making them, the claim is plausible –blf)]

    Basically, two of the Taliban’s allies in Congress, or at least people who have “sponsors” (i.e., bribe-payers in Afghanistan) have now self-identified themselves.

  168. blf says

    Delta (ironically) Airlines is getting serious about the genocidalists and biological war criminals, Delta Airlines to impose $200 monthly fee on unvaccinated employees:

    […] CEO Ed Bastian announced that unvaccinated employees enrolled in Delta’s account-based healthcare plan will be subject to a $200 monthly surcharge starting 1 November.

    “The average hospital stay for Covid-19 has cost Delta $50,000 per person. This surcharge will be necessary to address the financial risk the decision to not vaccinate is creating for our company,” Bastian wrote.

    Starting 12 September, any US employee who is not fully vaccinated will be required to take a Covid test each week. Additionally, starting from 30 September, Delta’s Covid pay protection will be provided only to fully vaccinated individuals who experience breakthrough infections.

    Currently, 75% of Delta staff are vaccinated. The airline has also partnered with the state of Georgia to operate the state’s largest mass vaccination site at the Delta Flight Museum, where approximately 35% of Georgia’s mass vaccination doses were administered to residents.

    “While we can be proud of our 75% vaccination rate, the aggressiveness of the variant means we need to get many more of our people vaccinated, and as close to 100% as possible,” Bastian added […]

    Earlier this month, United Airlines announced that it will require its US employees to be vaccinated, making it the first large airline to mandate vaccines for its employees.

    As quoted, it’s perhaps unfortunate Mr Bastian only(?) highlighted the financial cost to the company. I do understand why that was cited — and it’s perhaps useful that it was (as people have been noting, in the States the financial costs to individuals, etc., of a serious or fatal case of Covid-19 is astronomical), but it should not have been the only(?) reason cited. And it’s good to see a fully-vaccinated individual who suffers a “breakthrough” case will not be penalised, which seems like a very very positive step. (I have no idea how the airline is dealing with people who have a legitimate medical reason precluding vaccination, but these statements suggest they could be handling those (fortunately rare) cases sensibly.)

    The quoted 75% vaccinate rate is impressive. (For comparison, here in France, it’s a bit less, just over 72% (of those eligible, so the numbers are probably very comparable).) Congratulations to Delta (the airline, not the virus variant) and those responsible 75%.

  169. lumipuna says

    Re: 156-159:

    It’s the Jesus separating the sheep and the goats thing from Matthew.

    As is commonly the case with these sorts of Christians, she’s so twisted the metaphor and its meaning as to have it completely backwards.

    IIRC, Terry Pratchett’s Small Gods had someone note (paraphrasing) that while both sheep and goats are herd animals, the latter are notably more intelligent and capable of finding the way without constant herding. IDK if there’s any truth in this, but it’s a nice twist of the old Christian parable.

    Meanwhile, members of cranky cults always claim to be great independent thinkers, on the account that they disagree with the scientific and/or mainstream understanding of reality.

  170. blf says

    Follow-up to Lynna@149, etc., Some snarking from Laurie Roberts at AzCentral(? Arizona Republic?), It’s the perfect storm of conspiracy: Arizona’s election audit and COVID-19:

    Cyber Ninjas CEO Doug Logan and two other members of his five-member audit analysis team were stricken with the virus that’s often derided by those on the far right as nothing more than the seasonal flu. One of three is reportedly hospitalized.

    Here’s hoping that all three make a full and speedy recovery and that far-right crowd breathlessly awaiting proof of a hijacked election — the same people who see COVID-19 as a government plot — can somehow locate their heads, which likely popped off at the mere mention of the virus.

    The mildly deranged penguin is wondering just how a head pops off someone who has their head firmly embedded in their arse. Is there a massive, ah, fart, first, or does the head fly out of the mouth?

    Additional snippets:

    Every day I get emails from Republicans who absolutely believe that more than 74,000 early ballots were illegally counted despite never being requested by voters. That the county deleted a voter database to hide critical evidence from auditors. That 11,000 people illegally voted then were slipped onto the voter rolls in December.

    These are all “facts” that were publicly announced by the auditors during Senate briefing.

    None of it is true. Maricopa County has debunked every one of the claims, explaining in detail how the inexperienced auditors are misinterpreting data. […]

    Trump and his acolytes have successfully convinced a shockingly high number of Republicans that facts aren’t facts unless they come from him, or from one of the far-right gossip and propaganda sites that laughably claim to report the news.

    Anything espoused by the county? Corrupt.

    Anything reported by the actual media? Fake.

    Anything claimed by Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs? Liar.

    Anything defense of Arizona’s election offered by the few Republican officials who dispute tall tales of conspiracy and intrigue? RINOS and sellouts. And, oh yeah, traitors.

    As a number of readers have told me: Everyone knows there was fraud. [Just ask Mike Lindell’s invisible non-existent Serbian antifa Chinese agents operating US military satellites from Italy to change / download votes using the internet which voting machines are not connected-to…]

    Because, well, they just know.

    No evidence needed. No credibility required.

    And some more snarking:

    [Arizona Senate President Karen] Fann announced on Monday that the draft report on the auditors’ findings has been delayed due to COVID. The search for evidence of the “crime of the century” just got its butt kicked by the virus of the century.

    Not even ninjas, it seems, can dodge the realities of medical science.

    That rather presumes teh ninja’s tale of their previously-unknown “audit team” being hit by Covid-19 is true (it’s plausible, teh ninja’s are are based in Florida (and are mostly(? entirely?) thugs)).

    Another snippet:

    Sadly, there is no vaccine to protect us from a sore loser determined to cast doubt on democracy.

    Nor any time limit.

    We’re now told the ninjas are just getting started on yet another phase of their investigation: Examining signatures on the 1.9 million early ballot envelopes to determine if they’re fake or real.

    That’s an enormous and fairly complex undertaking and oh, by the way, keep those donations coming.

    I’d ask what expertise the ninjas have in the area of handwriting analysis but really, does it matter?

    Don’t worry, Jovan Pulitzer (the fraudster who most emphatically did not invent the QR code), whose has a magical mystery machine that can find bamboo fibres in ballets, probably has another magical mystery machine that can identify fake signatures. Probably because the ink contains bamboo fibres, or the marks aren’t for the “correct” candidate, or the name is one allegedly-common to someone who is brown, black, etc., or simply that not enough ballets are being counted as fake. And if that doesn’t work, he probably has yet another magical mystery machine which can identify Chinese-made electrons stuffed into the Internet (presumably because they orbit a bamboo nucleus (electrons, of course, “orbit” a nucleus in an atom, not when free as in an electrical flow, and much of the Internet these days is optical fibre anyways)).

  171. blf says

    The genocidalists and biological war criminals are freaking out, Vaccine ‘conspiracy theories’ prompt threats, Mississippi’s top health official says:

    Mississippi’s top health official said Tuesday that he has received threats from people who are spreading lies about his family as he urges the public to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

    […]

    “I have received some threatening phone calls and want to clarify any confusion there may be with some conspiracy theories going around,” Dobbs wrote on Twitter.

    Dobbs said one lie is that his son, who is also a physician, receives a World Bank-funded kickback when Dobbs urges people to get vaccinated.

    “I get zero $ from promoting vaccination,” Dobbs wrote.

    [… details about the pandemic situation in Mississippi…] Mississippi still lags behind the national rate: 38% of eligible people in the state are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, compared to 52% in the US.

    The Scarlet Pearl casino on the Mississippi Gulf Coast is requiring all of its more than 800 employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 unless they have a medical condition that precludes vaccination, according to Ben Koff, the casino’s senior vice president of marketing. Koff said employees face a Friday deadline to receive at least the first vaccination, and more than 90% had done so Tuesday.

    He said Scarlet Pearl started its vaccine mandate with its 180 salaried employees, and one person left after declining to get vaccinated. Koff described the mandate as a way of caring for the community.

    “We’re not going to compromise on caring,” Koff said.

    Koff said Scarlet Pearl has been offering on-site vaccinations to employees and their families. Employees are receiving $300 to become fully vaccinated. He said the casino will next month give $500 prizes to 300 customers who are members of the in-house rewards club and can prove they are fully vaccinated.

    As reported, Scarlet Pearl’s mandate seems very good, since it does not have an absurd personal beliefs exemption. That’s not too surprising, since Mississippi is (and has been for years) one of the very very few states which does not allow such vaccination exemptions. From memory, Mississippi and W.Virginia (the other state with a long-standing no personal beliefs exemption (in recent years, California, at least, has since joined this same set of sensible states)) both realised their medical infrastructure was too weak, etc., to deal with an epidemic, and that mandating vaccinations (excepting people who have a medical reason) would be far cheaper and easier.

  172. says

    Talk about asking a leading question.

    Politico’s Sam Stein, an MSNBC contributor, this morning highlighted a question from the latest Morning Consult/Politico poll:

    “Do you believe the U.S. should still withdraw its military presence in Afghanistan if it means it creates an opening for al Qaeda and other terrorist groups to establish operations in Afghanistan?”

    Before we get to how the public responded to this, it’s worth dwelling on the amazing wording of the question itself. It’s easy to imagine the phrasing eliciting a specific response: those responding to the poll are being introduced to the idea that withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan may invite terrorists to take root in the country.

    That the question specifically referenced al Qaeda, shortly before the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, adds additional weight to the scale. The wording practically echoes a negative campaign ad. […]

    And yet, 45% of respondents said they still support withdrawing from Afghanistan, while 40% oppose withdrawing “if it means it creates an opening” for terrorists.

    In other words, despite the wording of the question, a plurality of Americans effectively said, “[…] let’s get out of Afghanistan.”

    […] Postscript: I should also add that Sam Stein seemed eager to note that he was not responsible for the wording of the question.

    Update: The Morning Consult/Politico poll is now available online. An initial question asked respondents, “As you may know, President Biden announced the start of a withdrawal of U.S. military presence in Afghanistan beginning May 1, with all troops returning home by September 11, 2021. Based on what you know, do you support or oppose President Biden’s decision?”

    On this point, 50% supported withdrawal, while 39% were opposed.

    It was the next question that examined attitudes further, asking whether Americans would still support withdrawal if it meant creating an opening for terrorists. This was the context for the survey […]

    Link

  173. says

    As Californians begin to mail back ballots in the state’s gubernatorial recall election, Democratic officials are increasingly concerned low turnout will not only force incumbent Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) from office, but it will also leave the state in the hands of a far-right Republican.

    Democrats sweat turnout disaster in California

    […] Even in this bastion of progressive politics, ominous signs for the Democratic Party are everywhere. A CBS News-YouGov poll last week found voters who cast ballots for Joe Biden were less likely than Trump supporters to be very closely following the recall — and less motivated to vote. In a Berkeley-IGS survey, registered Democrats and independent voters were nearly 30 percentage points less likely than Republicans to express a high level of interest in voting in the election.

    The lack of enthusiasm is so concerning to Democrats that Gavin Newsom, the state’s Democratic governor, has been furiously working to yoke his main Republican opponent, Larry Elder, to Trump, while volunteers working with the progressive advocacy group Courage California texted voters a plea last week not to throw their mail ballots away. […]

    It isn’t just California. In a special election in May in a Texas House district Trump carried by just 3 percentage points in 2020, the top Democratic candidate in the field failed in a low-turnout contest to even advance from the all-party primary. Last week in Connecticut, a Republican won a special election for a state Senate seat in a district Biden carried by 20 percentage points in November.

    […] In California, the FiveThirtyEight polling average late last week had Newsom retaining his job, but by a narrow margin, at just more than 1 percentage point. His job approval ratings remain above water, and all registered voters in the state are being mailed a ballot. The widely held belief of political professionals of both parties in California is that Newsom will likely win. But it is far closer than most expected.

    […] In a recent campaign ad, a narrator highlights Elder’s opposition to coronavirus restrictions, calls the election “a matter of life and death” and offers a photograph of Elder standing beside Trump with their thumbs up. Newsom, campaigning recently in San Francisco, called Elder “to the right of Donald Trump,” and he said, “That’s what’s at stake in this election.”

    […] In a normal election with multiple candidates and issues on the ballot, that might be enough. But in the recall, there are only two questions — first, whether a voter wants to recall Newsom and second, if he is ousted, which of 46 candidates they want to replace him, including Elder, 2018 Republican candidate John Cox, former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and reality TV star Caitlyn Jenner. Newsom is encouraging voters — who have already received their ballots in the all-by-mail election — to check “no” on the first question and leave the second part blank.

    […] “I doubt if half the people in the state know there’s an election in 30 days,” Davis said. “That is complicating the problem for Democrats.”

    He said, “We have to rise to the challenge.”

  174. says

    Good news: some notable doofuses are being held accountable.

    Conservative activists Jacob Wohl and John Burkman stand accused of making illegal robocalls last fall, intended to discourage African Americans from mail-in voting. Now, the Federal Communications Commission has proposed a $5.1 million fine against them. It’s the largest robocall fine ever proposed by the FCC.

    NBC News

  175. says

    Oh, FFS.

    Arkansas Jail Doctor Reportedly Prescribing Inmates Ivermectin (The Deworming Drug) For COVID

    Inmates in the Washington County, Arkansas, jail have been prescribed the deworming medication Ivermectin as a COVID treatment, local officials say, despite an alert from the Food and Drug Administration that the drug has not been approved for that use.

    Ivermectin has become something of a second hydroxychloroquine in recent months — much hyped as a COVID treatment or preventative, especially by conservative politicians, but not actually proven as useful or supported by the vast majority of the medical community.

    […] The drug has proved especially harmful in instances when human beings attempt to self-medicate with veterinary doses of the drug, meant for cows or horses.

    “I was really mortified by it, but also just embarrassed. I mean, the whole world’s talking about ‘don’t do this,’ but yet we’re doing it to our detainees,” Eva Madison, a justice of the peace in Washington County, told TPM Wednesday. Justices of the peace are equivalent to county commissioners in Arkansas.

    Madison claimed in a county meeting Tuesday night that the doctor contracted to work in the county jail, Rob Karas, was prescribing Ivermectin for inmates. […]

    Sheriff Tim Helder separately confirmed that Karas Correctional Health had informed him last month that they were using the medication. Helder praised Karas at the county meeting Tuesday night.

    “This is appalling,” State Rep. Nicole Clowney (D) wrote in response to the Democrat Gazette report. […]

    Holly Dickson, the executive director of the ACLU of Arkansas, said in a statement that the jail’s use of Ivermectin “illustrates the larger systemic problem of mistreatment of detainees and over incarceration in Arkansas that has persisted — even in the midst of a pandemic.”

    “No one — including incarcerated individuals — should be subject to medical experimentation,” Dickson said.

    […] “What we’re seeing across the south, not just our state, is that veterinary-grade Ivermectin is being taken by humans, and we’re seeing increased numbers of cases — both in adults and children — that are being reported to the poison control center,” state Health Secretary José R. Romero said.

    Some of the right’s loudest voices have boosted Ivermectin in recent months, including Fox News’ Laura Ingraham, who said of that drug and hydroxychloroquine, “there was a campaign — a concerted campaign — to vilify and dismiss and demean, and, frankly, lie about it, the effectiveness of these drugs. There’s nothing else to call it.” [Aiyiyiyiy]

    Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) has also publicized the drug. Kelli Ward, the Trumpy chair of the Arizona GOP, attacked the FDA’s warning against using it. […]

    In response to one commenter, Karas appeared to defend using Ivermectin in the jail setting.

    “I got experience and don’t really need more studies,” he wrote, after referring to studies of the drug’s use on COVID patients. “Over 4000 patients treated with. 1 percent mortality, 0% mortality in over 350 documented cases at the jail.”

  176. says

    Follow-up to comment 197.

    Posted by readers of the article:

    40+ died, but it is ok because those weren’t documented?
    ———————-
    Dude’s license should be revoked and the AG’s office should be considering charges. This is appalling.
    ———————–
    Am I being too cynical if I ask what percentage of the inmates in this experiment are Black?

  177. says

    […] People in this nation are still hungry, and that includes children and teenagers. We know people have lost their jobs, lost their housing, and gone into medical debt related to the pandemic, and when it comes to food security, the picture hasn’t been much brighter. […]

    As schools reopen for in-person learning, many families feel relief having free or reduced breakfast and lunch available for their students. […] free lunch programs can be a double-edged sword in that they can bring about feelings of embarrassment and shame if, say, peers become bullies. That’s part of why it’s so beneficial for schools to make meals free for all students, regardless of income. Unfortunately, one school district in the state of Wisconsin is refusing to participate—and comments from adults in the decision-making room are uniquely horrifying.

    […] [some background] the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is extending its federal waiver for the free National School Lunch Seamless Summer Option through June 30, 2022. This waiver lets all students, regardless of family income eligibility, receive free meals at school. Specifically, the program offers each student one breakfast, one lunch, and a snack during after-school programming for grades K-12.

    This waiver program means families don’t have to fuss over paperwork and could be more inclusive for folks in need whose incomes are shifting rapidly during the pandemic. It also means no student will be “outed” as needing free or reduced meals, as everyone will receive them. Sounds great, right? Somehow, one entire school district in the whole state of Wisconsin is opting out.

    The Waukesha School District is the only district in Wisconsin to refuse the free meals program, thanks to school board members. […]

    […] Waukesha district CFO Darren Clark, for example, said he doesn’t want families to become addicted to “this service” of free meals for all students and added that “free is a funny thing.”

    Karin Rajnicek also spoke at the meeting and identified herself as having three children. Rajnicek said she believes it’s the “responsibility” of the adult to feed the children and that she’s concerned people will become “spoiled” and think, “it’s not my problem anymore, it’s everyone else’s problem to feed my children.”

    Mind you, feeding hungry people of any age should be everyone’s problem. Research shows that children learn and behave better when they’re not hungry, but even if food did not impact a child’s performance, making sure everyone is fed is truly a baseline standard for humanity.

    Another thing we know: Some families who technically qualify won’t apply if there are language barriers, for example, or people have inconsistent or off-the-books incomes, or people are worried about citizenship or immigration issues. […] No matter the reason, it’s evident that just making the meals accessible for everyone takes a burden off all involved.

    Thankfully, administrators in other parts of the state understand how vital a program like this is during the pandemic. “I’ve been getting a lot of calls lately,” Karen Fochs, nutrition director for the Wausau School District, explained to local outlet WAOW. “We do still have struggling families in our community, and those are the ones that are reaching out. […]”

    Link

  178. says

    JFC!

    Erik Prince Is Charging $6,500 a Person to Evacuate Afghanistan on His Chartered Planes

    As scenes of chaos and desperation mount ahead of the fastly approaching August 31 deadline to evacuate US troops from Afghanistan, Erik Prince, the notorious Blackwater founder, has identified a golden opportunity to make some cash on the final way out.

    Prince, the Wall Street Journal reports, is currently charging $6,500 per person for a spot aboard chartered planes out of Kabul, a hefty rate that gets even more expensive if one should need assistance leaving their trapped homes. From the WSJ:

    Mr. Prince, whose Blackwater guards were convicted of killing civilians in 2014 while providing security for Americans during the Iraq war, said he was charging each passenger $6,500 to get them safely into the airport and on a plane, and it would cost extra to get people who have been trapped in their homes to the airport. It remained unclear whether Mr. Prince had the wherewithal to carry out his plans.

    Prince’s plans to capitalize on tragedy come amid a broader effort by aid organizations to rescue as many people as possible as the US struggles to process visas and evacuate both Americans still in the country and the tens of thousands of Afghans who worked from the US government over the past 20 years of war.

    As the Journal notes, most of these campaigns are “driven by genuine empathy for Afghan friends and colleagues” desperate to escape the Taliban’s imminent takeover.

    But Prince’s attempt to turn a profit fits right into his longstanding machinations to privatize every inch of the forever wars. At one point during the Trump administration, Steve Bannon tapped Prince, also the brother of former Trump education secretary Betsy DeVos, to come up with a plan to replace US troops in Afghanistan with Prince’s army of mercenaries. That didn’t work out, but Prince kept busy in recent years by overseeing operations to spy on so-called Trump enemies in government while misleading Congress in the Russia investigation.

    Now he’s back, scrambling to make one last buck from the crisis in Afghanistan. […]

  179. says

    Taliban to allow Afghans with legal papers to travel beyond Aug. 31, German diplomat says

    A German diplomat on Wednesday said the Taliban have pledged that Afghans with legal documents will be allowed to travel on commercial flights after U.S.-led evacuations are set to end on Tuesday.

    Markus Potzel, Germany’s envoy on Afghanistan, tweeted, “Director [Sher Abbas] Stanekzai assured me that Afghans with legal documents will continue to have the opportunity to travel on commercial flights after 31 August,” referring to the head of the Taliban’s political office in Doha, Qatar.

    As Reuters reported, Potzel is currently in Doha negotiating with the Taliban.

    He also tweeted that Germany has pledged to increase humanitarian aid to the Afghan people by 100 million euros as groups such as the World Health Organization and UNICEF have said they will no longer be able to provide humanitarian assistance since the Taliban took power.

    Western countries such as Germany, the U.S. and the U.K. have been working to evacuate foreign nationals and Afghan allies out of Afghanistan since the government fell to the Taliban earlier this month.

    Leaders around the world have been calling for the Aug. 31 evacuation deadline to be extended. […]

  180. says

    Navalny compares Russian prison to Chinese labor camp

    Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny compared being in prison in Russia to a Chinese labor camp.

    Navalny made the comparison in an interview with The New York Times published Wednesday, his first since being arrested in January.

    Navalny is serving a 2 1/2-year prison sentence […] He was arrested in January after traveling back to Russia from Germany, where he was recovering from the attempt.

    […] “You might imagine tattooed muscle men with steel teeth carrying on with knife fights to take the best cot by the window,” Navalny said. “You need to imagine something like a Chinese labor camp, where everybody marches in a line and where video cameras are hung everywhere. There is constant control and a culture of snitching.”

    Navalny further described the experience as “psychological violence,” and detailed five daily sessions of watching television. He further said that he had not been assaulted by other inmates, and actually described having “fun” with them.

    “When we cook, I always remember the classic scene from ‘Goodfellas’ when the mafia bosses cook pasta in a prison cell,” Navalny said. “Unfortunately, we don’t have such a cool pot, and pasta is forbidden. Still, it’s fun.”

    Aside from his prison experience, Navalny also weighed in on Russia’s political future, saying the Putin regime was a “historical accident, not an inevitability.”

    “Sooner or later, this mistake will be fixed, and Russia will move on to a democratic, European path of development. Simply because that is what the people want,” Navalny said.

    Russia unveiled new charges against Navalny earlier this month, alleging that his foundation encouraged citizens to flout coronavirus guidelines to attend protests in January. The charges are punishable by up to three years in prison.

  181. says

    Follow-up to comment 200.

    Wonkette: “Can Erik Prince Get You Out Of Afghanistan?”

    If Erik Prince, the sadistic Aryan walking daddy issue who also happens to be Betsy DeVos’s little brother, is trending, it’s never a good thing, at least not until the day if/when he’s indicted for something. Today is not that day.

    In a Wall Street Journal investigation about the frenzied efforts to evacuate people from Afghanistan, we learn that […] he charges $6,500 a head to fly people out of the country on a chartered jet. Prince isn’t the only private entity trying to get people out, of course. He just is the one who is charging $6,500 for the privilege […]

    Private rescue efforts are facing growing obstacles this week, just as the urgency grows. Chartered planes are flying out of Kabul with hundreds of empty seats. New Taliban checkpoints on the road to Pakistan have made driving out of the country increasingly risky. Confusing bureaucratic hurdles have prevented countless people from leaving Afghanistan.

    As the Wall Street Journal explains, the efforts are even more urgent now that President Joe Biden has announced that he’s sticking with the August 31 deadline to get all the way out, for better or for worse. The paper adds that evacuation flights are really probably going to end by Friday, which is two days from now, “to give U.S. troops time to remove their own equipment from the airport and leave safely.”

    […] Anyway, so it’s $6,500 to get people onto the plane, and extra if Prince has to get his delicate white paws any dirtier than that, we guess. Cherry on top: “It remained unclear whether Mr. Prince had the wherewithal to carry out his plans.”

    Of course.

    […] most people working to evacuate folks from Afghanistan are doing so because they want to, for humanitarian reasons, because they really want to protect people from the Taliban. So many activists and organizations are working on it. The Clinton Foundation is working on it. And it’s really, really hard, and time is really, really short.

    And Erik Prince is over here demanding people write $6,500 checks for services his own ass may not be able to cash. Typical.

    Regardless of how poorly the end of the two-decade-long Afghanistan fuck-for-all is going […], it’s super-clear that the reason many Very Responsible People oppose its end is because the cash spigot of war profiteering is turning off. Prince is just one of the grossest and most obvious of them.

    […] And now the war is ending. When you consider how many of Erik Prince’s wet Aryan dreams of Afghan domination and white colonialism are going poof right now […]

    Link

  182. blf says

    The Mars helicopter Ingenuity is helping the Perseverance rover’s science and driving teams — again — My Favorite Martian Image: Helicopter Sees Potential Rover Road Ahead:

    […]
    Prior to Ingenuity’s latest flight [the 12th, on 16th August], the majority of what the Perseverance science team knew of the southern portion of the Seítah feature came from orbiter images. Based on that data, they believed the site could possibly be a treasure trove of complex geology […]

    They used the rotorcraft’s images to look for signs of layered, sedimentary rock that could have been deposited in water, intriguing rocky outcrops accessible to the rover, and safe routes the rover could take into and back out of the area.

    “From a science perspective, these images of South Seítah are the most valuable Ingenuity has taken to date,” said [project scientist for Perseverance, Ken] Farley, who’s based at Caltech. “And part of their value may be in what they are not showing. Sedimentary layers in rocks are not readily apparent in the image, and there may be areas that could be difficult to negotiate with the rover. There is work to do by our science and rover driving teams to understand better how to respond to the new data.”

    […]

    “What this image may be saying is, we don’t need to drive further west to obtain the best geologic variety of this first science campaign,” said Farley. “If we decide to make the trip to South Seítah, we’ve got some valuable intel on what we’ll encounter. And if the decision is to stick around ‘Artuby Ridge,’ the rover’s current location, we’ll have saved valuable time. It’s a win-win.”
    […]

    Ingenuity was originally scheduled for a maximum of 5 flights over the course of the initial month on Mars, to prove it was possible to fly (on Mars). That demonstration was so successful the mission was extended (indefinitely?) to understand ways it could help the main mission (despite lacking any science instruments (the closest thing it has is the sideways-and-downwards-pointing colour camera, which took the image being discussed)). Ingenuity’s now flown 12 times, for a total distance of over 2km (over 1 mile), at a variety of altitudes and speeds, over a variety of terrains — which is exceptionally impressive as it was only designed to fly over largely flat terrain, so the flights over South Seítah (especially) are both quite risky and (as per above) very helpful. (Apologies, I don’t know the total flight time.)

  183. says

    The Guardian world liveblog closed early again today (around 4 PM ET in the US). They did link to this piece elsewhere in the Guardian by Owen Jones – “Workers sacrificed plenty due to Covid, so let’s reward them with new rights”:

    With most formal Covid restrictions all but melted away, freedom prevails. Back to the workplace, Tory ministers make demands of our newly liberated workforce: the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, warns young workers that continuing to work from home may risk their careers. Though markedly softer in tone than last summer – when ministers demanded, through the press, to “Go back to work or risk losing your job” – the message is clear, at least in England: pubs and bars may be thronged again, but the ancien regime of work must be restored in full.

    Yet as wars have disrupted the old ways of doing things, spurring on demands that widespread sacrifice should be rewarded with new rights and freedoms, so it should be with the pandemic. In her successful campaign to become general secretary of Britain’s largest private sector union, Unite, Sharon Graham said the organisation “should get back to the workplace and deliver what it says on the trade union tin – a relentless fight for jobs, pay and conditions”.

    Surely here is an opportunity to help define a new deal for the post-pandemic workplace. Even before the national emergency, there was a trend for working at home, growing by more than a quarter over the 2010s – but about four million workers who wanted to were denied the right to do so. While zero-hours contracts allow bosses to dictate the hours – and therefore pay – of their workers on a whim, granting employees full rights to genuine flexible working would dramatically improve our work-life balance. The demand for a four-day week – with recent trials in Iceland deemed an “overwhelming success” by researchers – has come of age, too.

    But a new settlement for the workplace must also be more democratic. Like the lives of others in so-called “free societies”, we are, in reality, mostly governed by a form of despotism: the hierarchy of work. Millions sacrifice vast swathes of their lives to work for others, surrendering much of their autonomy and having little say in the decisions governing their daily existence. Among other things, this status quo is bad for workers’ health and wellbeing. According to a 2016 study by Indiana University, having a highly demanding job with little sense of control led to a 15.4% increase in the likelihood of death compared to a low-demanding job. What damaged workers’ health wasn’t the demands placed on them, but rather the lack of agency; as the researchers put it, “stressful jobs can actually be beneficial to employee health if also paired with freedom in decision-making”.

    If you’re given the power and resources to problem-solve, pressure at work becomes beneficial. Without it, blood pressure increases and workers are driven to drink, eat or smoke more and to exercise less….

    But it’s not just the free market that denies workers power and control in their jobs. The postwar form of nationalisation developed by Labour replicated the top-down corporation model of big business, denying worker and consumer alike a say over how services and utilities were run….

    What are the alternatives, then? Consider Paris’ water supply, privatised in the 1980s, leading to a 265% surge in its bills and various corruption scandals, until it was brought back into public ownership in 2008. At its heart was democratic participation, with a board of directors, including trade union representatives, city councillors and environment NGOs. It proved a huge success… And in Germany, famously, a policy of “co-determination” implemented in 1976 requires all large public and private companies to reserve half of their directors’ supervisory boards for elected workers’ representatives.

    Such demands will provoke claims that companies captured by workers’ interests will find themselves on a collision course with their wider economic mission – but the evidence simply is not there to justify it. According to research from the management consultancy firm, the Hay Group, there is “strong evidence of a causal link between employee engagement and business performance”.

    The case for workers’ democracy is overwhelming: for health, wellbeing, the quality of services and economic performance. The lot of millions of workers is subordinated to the whims of unaccountable bosses. If any good is to come from Britain’s nightmarish experience with the pandemic, it should be to follow the example of the postwar generation and reject the old ways. Here is a start.

  184. says

    I got the Rickie Lee Jones CD Traffic from Paradise recently at Goodwill for like a dollar and loved it. Smiled through the whole thing. It came out during the ’90s, and I don’t think I even knew of its existence even though I’ve always liked her music, but I just adore it.

  185. says

    RE: #197
    Holy crap on a non-salt cracker. That’s not just malpractice. It’s a crime against humanity. Like, literally, this guy should be sent to the Hague. He won’t be, but he should.

  186. Trickster Goddess says

    British Columbia is following Quebec in introducing proof of vaccination for a number of indoor non-essential sporting and social activities, starting Sept. 13. It also includes student housing on campus.

    There is an exemption for children under 12, but not for people who are unable to receive the vaccine for health or religious reasons.

    I heard today the the daily vaccination rate has now doubled.

    [CBC]

  187. raven says

    Kansas City Star
    ‘As they’re being intubated, they still don’t believe it.’ The COVID denial won’t die

    Michael Ryan Wed, August 25, 2021, 3:00 AM·4 min read
    Our friends in health care have seen plenty to impale the heart in this COVID-19 pandemic, but nothing more tragic than this: the sight of guilt-ridden young children who believe they’ve killed an unvaccinated parent by bringing the virus home.

    “And as they’re dying, the kids are at the bedside apologizing,” a hospital nurse tells me.
    “You’ve actually seen that?” I ask her.
    “Multiple times,” says the nurse.

    My Kansas City nurse friend, who can’t use her name because she isn’t authorized to speak to the media, occasionally shares this inconceivable, untold tragedy with dinner companions who obnoxiously insist on spouting their anti-vaccine views to her over burgers and beer.

    Some of them are shamed into silence by what she tells them. But others cling stubbornly to their defiance, even after hearing of parents who’ve left their children motherless or fatherless because of it — and left them with a lifetime of self-reproach for something that clearly wasn’t their fault.

    Of course it isn’t the kids’ fault they got sick and may have gotten their unvaccinated father or mother deathly ill. While Dad or Mom could’ve easily gotten vaccinated, the children could not have. “But they still just feel terrible, because they feel like they killed their parent,” she says.

    COVID vaccine resistance goes on and on and on, even amid the delta variant and amongst the caring hospital workers who can help, if not the dying patients then their survivors. Astonishingly, many of those who’ve seen a loved one die still refuse to get vaccinated.

    “We discuss it. We try to push it. Our doctors try to push it,” my friend says of efforts to vaccinate the survivors of COVID’s dead and dying. “It seems more often than not they don’t want it.”

    Good God, why not?

    The nurse says most complain they don’t know what’s in the shot, or they just don’t trust it or the government. Or they say they’ve gone this long without getting it, so they should be fine — unlike their loved one who succumbed to it.

    Vaccine hesitancy — which feeds my friend’s hospital with an unending stream of patients from some of the most intractably vaccine-hesitant counties in America — shows up even in the most desperately ill. One man on the cusp of needing intubation told my friend’s nursing colleague she was an idiot for being vaccinated.

    “He asked her if she’d had her vaccine, and he was just like, ‘You’re stupid,’” the nurse says. “Just laid into her about how everybody’s falling for what the government says and COVID’s not real and you shouldn’t get the vaccine. While he’s laying in an ICU bed.”

    Walked out tied to oxygen; on a ventilator 12 hours later
    Another man — not the only one, mind you — berated the hospital’s emergency room staff for urging him to be admitted. He walked out, albeit tethered to oxygen, insisting angrily that COVID isn’t real.

    “And then we found out that he was at (another hospital) within 12 hours on a ventilator,” the nurse says. “He was, the whole time, just saying, like, ‘COVID’s not real. You guys are stupid.’

    “I could tell you that story about every day — that they’re just yelling at us and they leave and then they come back or they go to (another hospital) because they’re worse than when they left. And as they’re being intubated they still don’t believe it.

    “We’re all so exhausted we don’t want to beg you to stay, but we do because we know you’re going to leave and die.”

    This is the tragedy tucked inside COVID’s calamity. As if our heroes in health care need more on their shoulders, they must deal with hostility toward them and toward the hard-won medicine that could’ve saved even the quarrelsome — and perhaps saved their young children a lifetime of groundless guilt for having brought the virus home that killed daddy.

    “If that story doesn’t make you change your mind, I just don’t really care to talk with you at all,” my nurse friend says, matter-of-factly. “If that doesn’t bother you, I don’t know what will.

    “It’s mind-blowing to all of us. We just can’t fathom it.”

    Still, she and her colleagues work long, incessant hours to save even the belligerent unbelievers, all the while compartmentalizing the monstrous tragedies they endure, just to stay sane and functional. There seems no end to the cruelty, because there seems no end to the unmoved and unvaccinated.

    “I think the worst part is knowing that there’s just no end in sight. Even if we get a lull, and maybe the census goes down a little bit, it’s going to keep spiking all winter. And we know that, and it’s just exhausting to think about it.”

    Ultimately, the worst part has to be seeing kids who will grow up believing they’ve killed an unvaccinated parent, when in fact stubbornness, ignorance or cynicism did the deed.

    Even when the Covid-19 virus patients are being put on a ventilator, they don’t believe the Covid-19 virus exists.
    Sometimes, if they survive that, they still don’t believe the virus exists.

    And they can watch their family members die of Covid-19 virus and still believe the vaccines are a toxic, government plot.
    Going to be a long winter for a whole lot of people and a lot more dead from the virus.

  188. blf says

    Infowars Host in Custody to Face Charges in Jan 6 Riot[Insurrection]:

    […] Owen Shroyer, is in custody after being charged in the Jan 6 riot[insurrection] at the US Capitol, officials said Monday.

    Shroyer, who hosts “The War Room With Owen Shroyer” for the website operated by conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, said on air Friday that he had to turn himself in to authorities Monday morning to face misdemeanor charges stemming from Jan 6.

    He was scheduled to appear in federal court in Texas later Monday. Shroyer said in a video posted Sunday that he is obviously completely innocent of the charges.

    Quite frankly, I’m confused [obviously! you work with disinfowacko], he said. I’m confused at the allegations and the charges.

    Shroyer said he was at the Capitol as a journalist and there was never any intent to disrupt anything. [killing some cops, shouting (with a gallows at-hand) hang Mike Pence, etc., etc., etc., is clearly not any intent to disrupt anything — it’s an attempt to overthrow, an attempted insurrection or attempted coup d’etat]

    Shroyer is charged with crimes including disorderly conduct and entering a restricted area of Capitol grounds. He was seen on the west side of the Capitol next to the inauguration stage as well as at the top of the stairs on the east side of the Capitol, according to court documents. He is not accused of going into the Capitol building.

    Shroyer was outspoken in advance of Jan 6 about wanting to stop the certification of President Joe Biden’s victory, authorities said. […]

  189. blf says

    Sadly, again, there’s a very poorly written and misleading entry in the Grauniad’s current pandemic live blog, about “An Arkansas jail physician has defended the prescribing of widely used anti-parasite medicine ivermectin to prisoners after criticism, including from the state’s American Civil Liberties Union” (previously noted in this series of poopyhead threads). The most absurd part of the entry asserts:

    It follows smears from the Food and Drug Administration which has attempted to cast ivermectin — which is approved for both people and animals for a number of conditions, and whose discoverers won a Nobel Prize — as a livestock drug and dewormer, which while true only tells part of the story for a medicine which has seen billions of doses distributed worldwide in mass drug administration campaigns since it was approved in 1987.

    […]

    The FDA has not approved its use in treating or preventing Covid-19 in humans, due to an absence of large-scale trial data. But it is being used officially to treat Covid in some countries, also including India, Mexico, Bolivia, and elsewhere in South America. A report in the Times has described ivermectin as a Covid wonder drug saying that the data from where it was being used was compelling and suggested mortality had fallen.

    For information on contacting the Grauniad’s Reader’s Editor, please see How to make a complaint about Guardian or Observer content. I myself have contacted that Editor several times over many yonks (all about matters of “Accuracy”), most recently last(!) weekend, over an error in Josephine [sic] Baker to become first Black woman to enter France’s Panthéon, which, as one can deduce from the note at the end of amended article, was accepted and the article (mostly) corrected (confirmed by private e-mail). I don’t ever recall any of my complaints being ignored or rejected, but rather suspect being polite and presenting correctly-stated facts with supporting citations from reliable sources helps.

  190. says

    There have been two explosions in Kabul, one at an airport gate and one at a hotel near the airport. There are reports of (at least) multiple injuries, including among US personnel. USians had been warned away from the airport due to a credible threat of an attack.

  191. says

    Guardian world liveblog, quoted @ blf’s #212:

    It follows smears from the Food and Drug Administration which has attempted to cast ivermectin — which is approved for both people and animals for a number of conditions, and whose discoverers won a Nobel Prize — as a livestock drug and dewormer, which while true only tells part of the story for a medicine which has seen billions of doses distributed worldwide in mass drug administration campaigns since it was approved in 1987.

    Outrageous. The drug has been prescribed for humans, in a formulation and dosage meant for humans, for a number of conditions which are not COVID. The FDA is responding to humans taking formulations for other animals (e.g., horse dewormers) that they’re buying at feed stores and trying to dose out themselves for an indication which isn’t supported by evidence even for human formulations. Telling people not to use formulations of a drug meant for other animals or not to use any formulations of a drug to prevent or treat a condition there’s no evidence it prevents or treats isn’t a smear of that drug. Whoever is posting this bullshit shouldn’t be allowed to continue posting there.

  192. says

    SC @214 and blf @212, I agree. The Guardian is really goofing up here. It’s discouraging to see them posting misinformation.

    Follow-up to SC @213. Pentagon confirms multiple casualties in explosion near Kabul airport

    Multiple explosions took place around the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Thursday, resulting in a number of U.S. and civilian casualties, the Pentagon confirmed.

    Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said a “complex attack” near one of the gates of the airport led to “a number of US & civilian casualties.” Kirby also confirmed a second explosion near the Baron Hotel, located a short distance from the airport gate.

    One source confirmed to The Hill the explosion was the result of a suicide bombing, something reported by other news outlets as well.

    Thousands of people had gathered outside the airport in recent days as American civilians and Afghans sought to get aboard evacuation flights being conducted by the U.S. military ahead of its withdrawal from the country on Aug. 31.

    […] On Wednesday, U.S. Embassy in Kabul warned citizens there to avoid traveling to Hamid Karzai International Airport and said that “U.S. citizens who are at the Abbey Gate, East Gate, or North Gate now should leave immediately.”

    That followed a similar warning from British officials to their own citizens to avoid the airport due to “an ongoing and high threat of terrorist attack.”

    The U.S. Embassy in Kabul on Thursday issued an updated security alert noting the explosion and emphasizing that U.S. citizens should avoid the area.

    “There are real and significant challenges that we also have to take into consideration,” Biden said Tuesday in explaining his plan to withdraw by Aug. 31 despite calls to extend the mission. “The longer we stay, starting with the acute and growing risk of an attack by a terrorist group known as ISIS-K, an ISIS affiliate in Afghanistan — which is the sworn enemy of the Taliban as well — every day we’re on the ground is another day we know that ISIS-K is seeking to target the airport and attack both U.S. and Allied forces and innocent civilians.”

    House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said after a briefing with the intelligence community Monday that threats against the airport were “very real and very substantial.”

    “This has been a concern of mine for some days now — that this would make a very attractive target for ISIS-K or for elements of al Qaeda,” Schiff said.

    The violence will add to concerns among lawmakers that the situation in Afghanistan is becoming increasingly unstable as U.S. forces are set to exit the country in a matter of days, even as many Afghan allies and American citizens have yet to make it out.

    […] The U.S. has evacuated more than 100,000 people from Afghanistan since the end of July, with most of those being relocated after the Taliban took control of Kabul roughly two weeks ago. Biden has expressed confidence that forces will be able to stick to their Aug. 31 withdrawal plan, but the president was briefed Wednesday on contingency plans should the U.S. need to extend its presence to complete its evacuation mission. […]

  193. says

    The Guardian has an Afghanistan liveblog.

    From there:

    As we’ve been reporting, two powerful suicide bombs have hit one of the main entrances to Kabul’s international airport, reportedly killing 13 people just hours after western intelligence agencies warned of an imminent and “very credible” terrorist threat.

    Confirming US casualties, a Pentagon official described a “complex attack” that appeared to have involved one suicide bombing close to the Abbey gate entrance to the airfield with the second occurring near the Baron hotel which has been used to process Afghans hoping to come to the UK.

    According to a Taliban spokesperson who spoke to Reuters, the attack killed at least 13 people, including children, with Taliban guards among the wounded. One emergency hospital in Kabul said it had received 30 wounded with six dying on the way to hospital.

    British and Turkish military sources confirmed that the attack had involved two blasts, with immediate suspicion bound to fall on Islamic State’s affiliate in Afghanistan – known as the “Khorasan province”.

  194. says

    Kevin McCarthy has expressed support for an alternative policy: leave U.S. troops in Afghanistan until, well, some point in the future.

    […] As President Biden brings the war to an end, the Republican Party’s line has grown … complicated.

    On the one hand, GOP leaders are loath to contradict Trump [made no secret of his desperation to withdraw U.S. troops, even striking a controversial deal with the Taliban]. They’re also aware of polls showing many Americans wanting to bring troops home. But on the other hand, Republicans are also eager to condemn a Democratic president and exploit critical coverage of the administration in the wake of the Taliban reclaiming power.

    The result is a narrowly tailored talking point, embraced by much of the party: GOP officials have spent a couple of weeks attacking Biden, not for withdrawing our forces, but for withdrawing our forces in problematic ways. The message has focused less on the “what” and more on the “how.”

    It’s why it came as a surprise when House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) unexpectedly changed direction yesterday.

    Pointing to the GOP leader’s Capitol Hill press conference yesterday, Politico noted in passing that McCarthy “said he would have kept American troops in Afghanistan.”

    That wasn’t an exact quote, so I checked the video of the Q&A, and this was the relevant exchange:

    REPORTER: “It sounds like you are for leaving some sort of troop presence in Afghanistan if you were in charge.”

    MCCARTHY: “Yes.”

    In terms of tone, the congressman answered in a matter-of-fact sort of way, as if his position were obvious. When the reporter followed up, asking what the troops’ mission should be and how long McCarthy would want to see troops deployed to Afghanistan, the GOP leader didn’t answer directly, focusing much of his answer on the decision to withdraw from the Bagram Air Base.

    Asked whether Trump was “wrong to agree to withdraw our troops,” McCarthy didn’t answer that question directly, either.

    To a very real degree, this reflects a shift on Kevin McCarthy’s part. In February 2020, after the Trump administration announced its deal with the Taliban, McCarthy applauded the former president for “working toward closing this chapter.”

    […] The White House has a policy: end the war; withdraw U.S. forces; bring the troops home. Kevin McCarthy expressed support yesterday for an alternative policy: leave U.S. troops in Afghanistan until, well, some point in the future.

    Aside from the finger pointing, tired talking points, and attack ads, this is the basis for a meaningful and substantive discussion. The nation’s top Democrat and one of the nation’s top Republicans disagree on a fundamental point: whether there should be an ongoing U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan. […]

    Link

  195. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 213

    According to the accounts I’ve seen, there have been American causalities in that attack. Lovely. (/s) This whole “damned if we do/damned if we don’t” situation has just a bit more damning. If Biden doesn’t respond with force, then it reinforces the charges of weakness and incompetence made by the right seem all the more valid, driving undecideds, and right-wing Dems into the arms of the fascists for the next few elections. If Biden does respond, it will anger the anti-war/anti-imperialist portions of the left who will sit things out the way the did in 2016, again, increasing the likelihood that the Trumpists to take back control of the country in 2022 and 24. Of course, we know the Alex Jones conspiracy kooks will claim the attack is a “false flag” designed to reignite the war.

    I can’t even anymore.

  196. says

    Trump throws tantrum as Jan. 6 committee seeks key info

    Donald Trump tends to throw some kind of tantrum on a nearly daily basis, and yesterday was no exception. […] latest outrage stood out for a reason.

    [He] issued a written statement late in the afternoon denouncing a “leftist” congressional committee engaged in a “partisan sham,” which he intends to contest by way of “executive privilege.”

    And what, pray tell, had the former president so worked up? NBC News reported yesterday on the latest requests for information from the bipartisan congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrectionist attack on the U.S. Capitol.

    The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack at the U.S. Capitol demanded records Wednesday of communications related to the assault among federal officials and a host of Trump staffers and allies, including some family members. In letters to eight federal agencies, including the Justice and Defense departments, the FBI and the National Counterterrorism Center, Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., the chairman of the bipartisan committee, requested a trove of specific communications.

    […] the bipartisan panel is expecting the records to be delivered to the committee by Sept. 9 — two weeks from today — which Thompson considers realistic because related congressional requests for the materials have been pending for months.

    Failure to comply will almost certainly lead to subpoenas.

    […] what’s striking in the short term is the scope and nature of the request. It’s now obvious that part of the official inquiry into the assault on the Capitol is an examination of Team Trump’s efforts to defy the election results and cling to power despite the will of the American electorate.

    Those hoping to see the select committee adopt a meek approach, with a narrow remit, were reminded yesterday that the bipartisan panel has far greater ambitions in mind. […] the latest document requests to the National Archives include practically everything that happened the day of the pro-Trump riot.

    But they’re also demanding records related to:
    “Planning by the White House and others for legal or other strategies to delay, halt, or otherwise impede the electoral count”

    “Any documents and communications relating to instructions to stop or delay preparation for the transition of administrations”

    “[C]ommunications discussing the recognition of Joseph Biden as the winner of the 2020 Presidential election”

    “All documents and communications concerning the potential invocation of the Insurrection Act”

    “From November 3, 2020, through January 20, 2021, all documents and communications related to martial law”

    “All documents and communications concerning the use of Federal law enforcement or military personnel during voting in the 2020 Presidential election.”

    And that’s just part of what the committee is seeking from the National Archives. The comprehensive review goes even further with requests to several other departments and agencies. […]

  197. says

    Good news: more unethical doofuses are being held accountable for their actions.

    Judge sanctions group of pro-Trump attorneys in dramatic fashion

    When a judge concludes that your case was so ridiculous that you clearly require more schooling, it’s a bad sign.

    It’s one thing for a group of conspiracy-minded lawyers, loyal to Donald Trump, to lose after bringing misguided litigation to court. It’s something else when those lawyers face sanctions because they brought misguided litigation to court. NBC News reported yesterday:

    A federal judge Wednesday sanctioned some of […] Trump’s attorneys who unsuccessfully challenged Michigan’s 2020 election results. In a blistering 110-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Linda Parker in Michigan imposed sanctions on Sidney Powell, Lin Wood and other lawyers involved in making claims about election fraud in the state.

    […] In the aftermath of Trump’s 2020 defeat, his allied lawyers filed all kinds of strange lawsuits, including one in Michigan that peddled a variety of absurdities, effectively asking the judiciary to set aside President Joe Biden’s victory in the state and award Michigan’s electoral votes to the Republican ticket. A judge concluded in December that the case was based on nothing but “speculation and conjecture,” at which point the far-right litigants voluntarily agreed to withdraw the suit.

    That was not, however, the final word on the subject. […] the embarrassingly dumb litigation went away. But what about possible consequences for those who thought it’d be a good idea to waste everyone’s time with such a transparently baseless case?

    Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s (D) administration and the city of Detroit sought penalties against nine attorneys — a group that includes prominent Trump allies Sidney Powell and L. Lin Wood — arguing in a court filing that the December litigation wasn’t just wrong on the merits, it was also filed “for an improper purpose.”

    Yesterday, U.S. District Judge Linda Parker agreed in dramatic fashion, going so far as to conclude that the lawyers’ conduct “warrants a referral for investigation and possible suspension or disbarment.”

    The judge described the pro-Trump case as “a historic and profound abuse of the judicial process,” adding:

    “Individuals may have a right (within certain bounds) to disseminate allegations of fraud unsupported by law or fact in the public sphere. But attorneys cannot exploit their privilege and access to the judicial process to do the same. And when an attorney has done so, sanctions are in order. … The attorneys who filed the instant lawsuit abused the well-established rules applicable to the litigation process by proffering claims not backed by law; proffering claims not backed by evidence (but instead, speculation, conjecture and unwarranted suspicion); proffering factual allegations and claims without engaging in the required prefiling inquiry; and dragging out these proceedings even after they acknowledged that it was too late to attain the relief sought.”

    Parker went on to explain that the pro-Trump lawyers filed their case in the hopes of “undermining the people’s faith in our democracy.”

    She concluded, “[D]espite the haze of confusion, commotion and chaos counsel intentionally attempted to create by filing this lawsuit, one thing is perfectly clear: Plaintiffs’ attorneys have scorned their oath, flouted the rules and attempted to undermine the integrity of the judiciary along the way. As such, the court is duty-bound to grant the motions for sanctions.”

    […] Parker also ordered the lawyers “to pay Detroit’s court costs and to undergo 12 hours of continuing legal education, including six hours on election law.” […]

  198. says

    Here’s the general link to the August 26 Guardian world coronavirus liveblog.

    From their nonloopy posts:

    Covid case rates rising in most areas of England, with south-west showing highest rate

    Covid-19 case rates are rising in all regions of England except London, and Yorkshire and the Humber, as summer moves into autumn, according to the latest weekly surveillance report from Public Health England.

    PA reports that south-west England has the highest rate, with 481.7 cases per 100,000 people in the seven days to August 22, up sharply week-on-week from 351.8. The east Midlands has the second highest rate at 360.9, up from 351.5. London has the lowest rate with 247.3, down from 277.6.

    Case rates in England are continuing to rise in most age groups, PHE said. The exceptions are children aged four and under, and adults aged between 20 and 39.

    The highest rate is among 10 to 19-year-olds, with 616.5 cases per 100,000 people in the seven days to August 22, up sharply week-on-week from 472.5. The second highest rate is among 20 to 29-year-olds, down from 622.2 to 541.2. The lowest rate is among people aged 80 and over, at 95.2, up slightly from 90.1.

    Covid-19 vaccination administrations in Africa tripled over the past week, though protecting even 10% of the continent by the end of September remains “a very daunting task”, the Africa director of the World Health Organization has said.

    The WHO Africa director, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, said 13m doses were administered in the past week, three times more than the number of shots given in the previous week as donations of doses increased from developed countries.

    There have been at least 7.6m reported infections and 192,000 reported deaths related to Covid in Africa, home to 1.3bn people, throughout the pandemic, according to Reuters. The Africa Centre for Disease Control said only 2.4% are currently vaccinated.

    “I think it is very difficult for us to talk about booster doses in Africa,” Moeti said. “We have not covered even 5% of the population yet with the initial vaccinations that are needed to slow down the spread of the virus and most importantly, stop what we think might be a fourth wave, which is coming.”

    Africa will receive 117m doses in coming months but an additional 34m will be needed to reach the 10% vaccination target, she added. Beyond that, though, Moeti urged African countries to ramp up their readiness to utilise vaccines when they arrive. “No precious dose should be wasted,” she said.

  199. says

    From the Guardian Afghanistan liveblog:

    The prime suspect for the suicide bombing at Kabul airport is the Islamic State affiliate in Afghanistan, known as the Islamic State’s Khorasan Province (ISKP), my colleague Jason Burke writes.

    Jake Sullivan, President Biden’s national security adviser, said on Sunday there was an “acute” and “persistent” threat to the ongoing evacuations from the Afghan capital from the ISKP – which takes it names from that used by a series of Muslim imperial rulers for a swath of land stretching from Iran to the western Himalayas.

    The warning, which focused attention on a group that has hitherto had a very low international profile, was echoed this week by British and western European officials.

    ISKP was founded in 2015 but has never succeeded in building a significant force in the country. Its expansion has been opposed by the Taliban, which Isis believe has rejected the true teachings of Islam. Many of its fighters are foreigners, coming from Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Pakistan and it has retained relatively close links with the leadership of ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

    Many have been worried by an intensification of attacks linked to the ISKP in recent months.

    “The trajectory of ISKP has been one of resurgence after a tough time in 2019 and the first half of 2020 … but they went silent suddenly since the Taliban takeover and a possible reason for that was the group were gearing up for a new campaign,” said Charlie Winter, a senior research fellow at London University’s Centre for the Study of Radicalisation.

    Analysts said that ISKP would see an attack against the airport as a great victory.

    “They achieve several things: they hit legitimate targets (from their perspective), they send a signal of still being a force to be reckoned with and they challenge the Taliban’s state project by highlighting that the group can’t secure Kabul,” said Tore Hamming, a Danish expert in Sunni Jihadism who has studied Isis.

    The crowds, planes and infrastructure at the airport provide an obvious venue for the kind of mass casualty attack that Isis has become known for, but also is a “perfect meeting of diverse targets” of the group in Afghanistan: the US military, Afghans who have helped the western effort seen as collaborators and the Taliban, which the ISKP sees as “apostates”, Winter told the Guardian.

    During the first four months of 2021, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) recorded 77 attacks claimed by or blamed on ISKP, a significant increase. These have targeted a wider range of targets than previously : Shia Muslims, journalists and foreigners, as well as civilian infrastructure and military personnel….

    US officials have said they are concerned that further attacks could occur at Kabul airport following earlier twin blasts by suspected suicide bombers, Reuters is reporting.

  200. says

    From today’s DN! (support them if you can, too!) headlines:

    U.S. COVID-19 Hospitalizations Top 100,000 for First Time Since January

    The United States recorded more than 1,100 COVID-19 deaths Wednesday, with over 170,000 new infections. For the first time since January, more than 100,000 U.S. residents are hospitalized with the disease.

    Florida is having its worst week of the pandemic, with daily cases averaging 30% higher than January’s peak. In Florida’s Orange County, children aged 5 to 14 make up the largest group of new coronavirus cases, with a test positivity rate of around 20%. On Tuesday, the Orange County School Board approved a 60-day mask mandate for students, in defiance of Republican Governor Ron DeSantis’s ban on public health requirements in schools. More than half of Florida public school students are now under mask mandates.

    Meanwhile, Delta Airlines on Wednesday said employees who refuse to get vaccinated will have to undergo weekly coronavirus tests and will have to pay a $200 monthly surcharge on their health insurance plans.

    NY Gov. Hochul Promises “Clear, Honest Picture” of COVID-19 Toll After Cuomo Cover-Up of Deaths

    Here in New York, newly sworn-in Governor Kathy Hochul on Wednesday reported nearly 12,000 COVID-19 deaths not counted by former Governor Andrew Cuomo. In 2020, Cuomo reportedly instructed his aides to compile data that underrepresented nursing home deaths by counting only those who died inside nursing facilities, while excluding those who got sick there and later died in hospitals. Governor Hochul on Wednesday told NPR her administration would report COVID-19 deaths according to CDC standards.

    Gov. Kathy Hochul: “There’s no opportunity for us to mask those numbers, nor do I want to mask those numbers. The public deserves a clear, honest picture of what’s happening, and that’s whether it’s good or bad. They need to know the truth, and that’s how we restore confidence.”

    Pan American Health Organization Blasts COVID-19 Vaccine Inequity

    …Meanwhile, the Pan American Health Organization warned Wednesday that vaccine inequity is unnecessarily prolonging the pandemic. The organization’s director, Dr. Carissa Etienne, said donations from wealthy countries were far too little to protect the hundreds of millions of people who remain vulnerable.

    Dr. Carissa Etienne: “A handful of companies produce all the world’s supply of COVID-19 vaccines. Many of them are letting price and country of origin — not need — to determine how doses are rolled out. So, much of today’s vaccine supply remains in the hands of wealthy nations around the world. … We must expand regional pharmaceutical production so we can be in the driver’s seat of our own pandemic responses.”

    House Probe Seeks Documents from Trump’s Inner Circle Regarding January 6 Attack

    Back in the United States, the House committee investigating the January 6 Capitol insurrection has requested a massive trove of documents related to the attack, including internal Trump administration communications. The request to eight federal agencies covers records involving Melania Trump; Donald Jr., Eric and Ivanka Trump; Jared Kushner; Mark Meadows; Hope Hicks; Stephen Miller; and Kayleigh McEnany, among others. Investigators are focused on whether Trump wanted to use the military to remain in power — and whether administration officials considered invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Trump during his final weeks in office.

    Michigan Man Gets 6-Year Sentence for Plot to Kidnap Gov. Whitmer

    In Michigan, 25-year-old Ty Garbin was sentenced Wednesday to six years in prison for his role in plotting to kidnap Michigan Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer last year. Garbin was the first of 14 men arrested over the plot to be sentenced, and received a reduced penalty after he agreed to cooperate with federal investigators.

    Court Upholds Death Sentence for White Supremacist Who Killed 9 at Emanuel AME Church

    A U.S. appeals court has upheld the conviction and death sentence of white supremacist Dylann Roof, who murdered nine Black worshipers at the historic Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, in June 2015. In 2017, Roof became the first federal prisoner sentenced to death for a hate crime.

    Newly Surfaced Video Shows White Louisiana Police Officer Brutally Beating Black Motorist

    In Louisiana, a lawyer for a Black motorist who was brutally beaten by a white State Police trooper more than two years ago has obtained body-camera video of the incident. The video from May 2019 was also obtained by the Associated Press. It shows officer Jacob Brown striking Aaron Larry Bowman with a flashlight 18 times. The assault left Bowman with a broken jaw, broken wrist, three broken ribs and six stitches on his head. Louisiana State Police waited 536 days to open an investigation — and only did so after Bowman brought a civil lawsuit.

    Last December, state prosecutors charged officer Brown with aggravated battery and malfeasance in office; those charges remain on hold pending a federal investigation. Brown is from the same State Police unit — known as “Troop F” — whose officers killed Ronald Greene, a 49-year-old Black man, by tasering, punching and dragging him during an arrest in 2019. Troop F is under an internal investigation looking into whether white officers are systematically targeting Black motorists for abuse.

    Carbon Dioxide Levels Soared Above 412 Parts Per Million in 2020, Highest in Human History

    In climate news, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide reached their highest levels in human history last year, averaging more than 412 parts per million. That’s despite a modest slowdown in emissions due to the coronavirus pandemic in 2020. NOAA also reports global average sea level rose to a new record high, about 3.6 inches above 1993 levels, when satellite measurements began.

    Greek Prime Minister Urges Radical Action on Climate Crisis After Record Heat and Wildfires

    Greece’s prime minister is calling for radical action to address the climate crisis, after a record-shattering heat wave fueled devastating wildfires that sparked panicked evacuations and sent vast plumes of smoke across Southern Europe. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis addressed the Greek Parliament Wednesday.

    Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis: “We recognize that dealing with the climate crisis is forcing us to change everything — the way we produce agricultural products, how we move around, how we generate energy and the way we build our homes. Everything must change in this immense effort to mitigate the impact of the climate crisis to whatever extent possible.”

  201. says

    Guardian Afghanistan liveblog:

    An Afghan man who has a British passport and lives in Derby has told of frightening scenes just hours before the bombs went off.

    He, his wife and five children aged 11 months to 13 years old had spent four days in the queue but made it to the top of the line at the Baron hotel, the British army gathering point last night.

    “We were waiting for the British army to call us, but they never did,” said Ahmad. Then Taliban units suddenly moved into clear the area.

    They were shooting in the air screaming ‘get out, get out’. My kids were screaming and couldn’t stop crying. People were pushing each other, people were being crushed. But we ran away and we are at home now and afraid to go out. It was horrible We are safe, but we are scared. We think this is the end for us and the British army won’t be flying any more.

  202. says

    Twitter is no longer letting me click on individual tweets, so I won’t be linking to any more and I guess that’s the end of the Tweet o’ the Day.

    From a personal productivity perspective, it’s probably a healthy development. :)

  203. says

    Guardian (from earlier this month but I’d missed it) – “The ‘queen of vegan cheese’ wants to change the dairy industry”:

    Miyoko Schinner calls herself “the queen of vegan cheese”. The chef, activist and author wrote the 2012 book Artisan Vegan Cheese, which taught readers how to make cheeses from nut milk. Two years later she launched Miyoko’s Creamery. Based in Sonoma, California, the company makes vegan cheese and butter products sold in thousands of US stores, including Whole Foods and Target.

    Schinner believes vegan cheese can be part of the climate solution. While cheese is often seen as less carbon intensive than meat, the dairy industry has a huge carbon footprint. Some cheeses have a larger greenhouse gas impact than pork or poultry.

    Plant-based cheese has traditionally lagged behind the plant-based milk and meat sectors, but it’s now one of the fastest growing vegan foods, expected to grow more than 70% between 2019 and 2027. Miyoko’s has been part of this growth – in 2019 the company upgraded to a 29,000-sq-ft facility to keep up with demand.

    Schinner spoke with the Guardian about the challenges of making quality plant-based dairy products and her quest to cut emissions by helping farmers transition from dairy to plant-based products….

    I had one of my favorite breakfasts this morning: some Miyoko’s Double Cream Classic Chive cheese, a wheat roll, a pear, and a cup of Earl Grey.

  204. says

    The problem(s) with DeSantis’ new boasts about Florida, COVID

    Just when it seemed Florida’s public-health crisis couldn’t get any worse, conditions in the Sunshine State deteriorated even further. The New York Times reported overnight, “More people in Florida are catching the coronavirus, being hospitalized and dying of Covid-19 now than at any previous point in the pandemic, underscoring the perils of limiting public health measures as the Delta variant rips through the state.”

    The same article added that this week, the virus is claiming the lives of roughly 227 Floridians per day, which is “by far the most in the United States right now.”

    It was against this backdrop that Florida’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, returned to Fox News — yes, again — to push a curious message. As the Washington Post summarized:

    Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) said President Biden has failed to “end covid” and should follow his state’s lead, even as Florida experiences record-breaking cases, deaths and hospitalizations.

    First, there was the governor’s assertion, in reference to Biden, “You know, he said he was going to end covid. He hasn’t done that.”

    I suppose there’s some truth to that, to the extent that the crisis is still ongoing, though the criticism is hopelessly bizarre. The president is in a powerful office, but the idea that Biden can snap his fingers, in Thanos-like fashion, and magically bring a global pandemic to a swift end is foolish to the point of comedy.

    What the president can do is put the pieces in place for success — and the Democrat has done exactly that. Biden’s efforts to end this nightmare would almost certainly be further along were it not for those whose passivity and indifference have made matters worse.

    Or put another way, to the extent that assigning blame is a worthwhile exercise, DeSantis and his cohorts shoulder far more responsibility than the White House for the fact that the crisis continues.

    Second, there’s the governor’s idea that Florida is some kind of model worthy of emulation.

    “We are the first state to start the treatment centers for monoclonal antibodies,” DeSantis during the interview. “We’re having great success with that. That should have been a bigger plan, a bigger part of this whole response throughout the country from the beginning.”

    It’s a bit like listening to an official, who’s undermined efforts to install sprinklers and fire extinguishers, brag about the efficacy of a local burn unit treating some fire victims.

    There are several core truths in Florida that are inescapable. COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations, and fatalities have never been worse. School districts across the state feel the need to defy the governor’s political wishes when it comes to protecting kids against the virus. Prominent Florida businesses are defying DeSantis, too. The state’s funeral homes and crematories are “overwhelmed” with “an influx of bodies like they’ve never seen.” On a range of issues related to the pandemic, most Floridians believe the governor has the wrong approach to the crisis.

    In light of all of this, perhaps DeSantis should avoid phrases such as “great success”?

  205. says

    Capitol Police Officers Sue Trump And Cronies For Sparking Jan. 6 Violence

    Seven Capitol Police officers who responded to the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection are suing […] Trump and his allies for encouraging and, in the case of some defendants, participating in the violent attack.

    The lawsuit names Trump, the Trump campaign, Roger Stone, and more than a dozen members of far-right organizations and militias, including Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, as the defendants. It was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

    The defendants “conspired to use force, intimidation, and threats” to prevent Joe Biden from entering office, prevent Congress from certifying the 2020 elections, and prevent the U.S. Capitol Police from being able to carry out their duty to protect the area, the lawsuit alleges.

    “Because of Defendants’ unlawful actions, Plaintiffs were violently assaulted, spat on, tear-gassed, bear-sprayed, subjected to racial slurs and epithets, and put in fear for their lives,” the filing states. “Plaintiffs’ injuries, which Defendants caused, persist to this day.”

    The 71-page lawsuit alleges a long conspiracy, perpetrated by Trump, to stoke fury and distrust of the 2020 election results among his supporters through lies about election fraud. The effort, the lawsuit says, culminated in Trump encouraging violence in order to overturn his defeat.

    Trump began laying the groundwork for the Capitol attack as early as May last year, when he started peddling the lie that mail-in voting led to voter fraud and claiming that he would only lose the election if it were “rigged,” the lawsuit argues.

    The plaintiffs, five of whom are Black, highlight in their lawsuit the racist elements of Trump and co.’s election fraud lies and the insurrection they incited.

    The then-president and his allies repeatedly accused cities and counties with large Black populations of casting fraudulent votes, the lawsuit notes.

    That rhetoric directed Trump supporters’ rage at Black people, the suit also argues, rage the Black officers faced directly when the mob hurled racial slurs at them while breaking into the Capitol.

    The lawsuit notes that several of the insurrectionists openly flaunted white supremacist symbols during the attack, including a Confederate flag.

    “Racism and white supremacy pervaded Defendants’ efforts from the outset,” the filing states.

    The plaintiffs allege that Trump and the others violated the Ku Klux Klan Act, a law that was established to counteract white supremacist violence aimed at disenfranchising Black voters. The NAACP and several Democratic lawmakers cited the same law in their lawsuit against Trump and Rudy Giuliani, filed earlier this year.

  206. says

    U.S. service members killed in Kabul airport bombings

    […] The Pentagon has now issued a statement confirming that one of these bombs resulted in the deaths of “a number of U.S. service members.” Other members of the U.S. military are being treated for injuries. Though the Pentagon did not cite an exact number, The Wall Street Journal is reporting that four Marines were killed, along with at least 13 Afghans and others who were gathered outside waiting to enter the airport. Taliban sources are also claiming that some of the Taliban fighters near the airport have also been killed. Causalities surrounding a second bombing, which took place about a block away, are unknown.

    Credit for the attack has been claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant-Khorasan Province, also known as ISIS-K or ISIL in Afghanistan. CNN is now reporting that intelligence connecting ISIS-K to the explosions is “firm.” […]

  207. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 228

    <

    blockquote>In light of all of this, perhaps DeSantis should avoid phrases such as “great success”?

    <

    blockquote>

    Not if wants to curry the favor of the MAGA cultists before the 2024 election.

  208. says

    Guardian Afghanistan liveblog:

    Afghan Health Ministry: At least 60 dead, 140 wounded in attacks

    The Afghan health ministry has confirmed earlier reports to the effect that 60 Afghan civilians have been killed in the blasts.

    12 US service members have been confirmed dead with at least 15 injured

    Two suicide bombers detonated explosives outside the Abbey Gate of the Kabul international airport. The blasts were followed by gunfire from persons believed to be members of Islamic extremist organisation ISKP.

  209. says

    Armed Picnics and Snipers at Family Dollar: Life in a Town With a Government-Approved Militia

    In Virginia, paramilitarism gets a rebrand.

    On a dry, bright afternoon in late June, members of the Bedford Militia lined up on a grassy lot on the property of Bryan Buchanan Auto Auction, right off the county highway in Montvale, Virginia. The group of about a few dozen stood in formation still as water, a US flag on one side and the squad’s guidon bearer holding up the militia’s flag on the other, the Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance. All were dressed in military fatigues and about half had a sidearm strapped to their hip. Bob Good, a Republican serving his first term in the US House representing the region, was on stage getting fired up, discussing his efforts on Capitol Hill to defend the Constitution, by which he meant the Second Amendment.

    Good warned the audience that Joe Biden and the Democratic Party would not rest until they took away every gun in the country and forced critical race theory—the latest Republican boogeyman—into every classroom. The only thing preventing this leftist fever dream from becoming reality was the militia and their supporters, “proud patriots and constitutional conservatives who are doing their part to help strengthen our nation and to fight for the things that we believe in,” he said to rapturous applause.

    […] Loosely affiliated groups of armed militias are nothing new to the American landscape, […] a recent report from the Southern Poverty Law Center, another joint report from the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project and MilitiaWatch, a nonprofit that tracks political violence, explains how these groups have ramped up their activity. At first, they came together to protest state mask mandates and shutdowns to stop the spread of COVID-19, then to square off against Black Lives Matter activists during a summer of intense protest, then to rally at ballot-counting centers on behalf of Donald Trump’s Big Lie, and then, finally, to storm the US Capitol on January 6 in an attempt to overturn the results of the election.

    […] Virginia is the only state where local governments are legitimizing their regional militias. In Bedford County and its neighboring Campbell County the local governments are trying to rebrand their militias from extremist paramilitary groups operating on the fringe of society into an official arm of the state […]

    In May 2020, the Bedford County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution officially recognizing the militia; Campbell County had passed an identical resolution a couple months prior. “Legally, it means nothing,” Mary McCord, the executive director of Georgetown Law’s Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection, says of the resolution. Under Virginia state law, only the governor has the authority to call forth militias. But, McCord warns, the resolution gives the militia a “veneer of sanctioned credibility,” the consequences of which can be severe.

    […] The state of Virginia has a very clear anti-paramilitary law—all paramilitary activity that includes teaching, demonstrating, or assembling one or more people for the purpose of training with firearms is explicitly prohibited—but laws are only as strong as a local law enforcement’s appetite for enforcing them. In a county like Bedford, what incentive does the locally elected sheriff have to enforce such laws when he knows that enough people in his community support the militia? “You just might as well resign now because you’re not going to get reelected,” McCord says.

    […] Despite the positive image that the Bedford Militia wants to project, the truth is that they are a group of armed civilians whose mission is “combating community deterioration and juvenile delinquency” along with providing “community security.” Determining what exactly that means and when and where it’s necessary for an armed group of civilians without any kind of public oversight to get involved is, at best, controversial. At worst, it’s what led to much of the violence that took place last summer at protests in the wake of George Floyd’s murder. Just as many other militias took to the streets opposite Black Lives Matter protests, so did the Bedford Militia, in an armed standoff that led to a riot in Lynchburg that the community is still reeling from.

    […] Bob Davis, another Bedford County supervisor who voted to recognize the militia, spoke in apocalyptic, biblical terms when I talked with him at the June muster. He told me that he sees this modern militia movement as a step toward the nation’s realignment, away from a more pluralistic society to what he views as its original ideals as a Christian nation. “I think our nation is in a bad state right now because citizens fail to understand our founding principles,” he said. “Our laws came from God, from the book of Leviticus and Deuteronomy. And along the way we got away from those principles that made us great.” Davis knows what the militias are really about, canned-food drives or no.

    […] Modern militias like the ones in Bedford and Campbell counties need to believe in what Wills calls “an almost magic power of ‘people’s war’ to prevail against the odds.” Not just because it gives them an ill-fated blueprint for a fight against federal tyranny when the times comes—and if you ask any militia member, that time will come—but because it also provides them with moral sanction for their crusade. Anti-government sedition is reimagined as the fullest expression of constitutional duty.

    [snipped many examples of militia members threatening their fellow citizens in Virginia] a man who claimed to be a member of the Campbell Militia fired back at the woman [a black woman], threatening to “lay you down next to your best friend George Floyd.” He then threatened to kill her son. “Bring the boy too,” he wrote, “we’ll lay him with you.”

    […] Whatever the militias’ stated intent, experts like McCord and Mark Pitcavage, a senior research fellow at the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism, are on high alert. Localities in Virginia and beyond are treating anti-government groups as if they were nothing more extreme than a local Kiwanis club. Pitcavage points to Landor and Lyon counties in Nevada, which recently became members of the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, a far-right group of local police officers that promotes the idea of local sheriffs as the sole authority to fight federal tyranny. The group is led by Richard Mack, a former Arizona sheriff and founding board member of the Oath Keepers. “And so there you actually have counties joining an extremist group, which is even worse than what’s happening in Virginia,” he says.

    These are signs of civic capitulation. “The key problem here is that you have what are, by all accounts, extremist groups, getting an official recognition and imprimatur of an actual level of government,” Pitcavage says. “It fools people into thinking these are innocuous groups. That these groups somehow have legitimacy. When in fact they don’t—they’re not innocuous, they don’t have legitimacy. And, in fact, they have a very dangerous set of ideas.”

  210. says

    NBC – “Tropical system could rapidly intensify into a major hurricane before making landfall on the Gulf Coast”:

    A tropical depression churning in the Caribbean Sea is forecast to intensify into a hurricane before making landfall along the Gulf Coast late Sunday or early Monday.

    Tropical Depression Nine is expected to become a tropical storm by Friday morning, and a hurricane by Saturday morning once in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, the National Hurricane Center said Thursday morning. The storm is forecast to continue strengthening as it crosses the Gulf of Mexico and “could be near major hurricane strength” when it reaches the northern Gulf Coast, the center said.

    Thursday morning, the storm system was about 115 miles south-southwest of Negril, Jamaica, and moving northwest at 13 mph. It had maximum sustained winds of 35 mph.

    Meteorologists are warning that there is a high likelihood it will rapidly intensify as it approaches land, nearing major hurricane strength — Category 3 or higher — at landfall which is forecast to occur Sunday night or early Monday.

    Before reaching the Gulf Coast, Tropical Depression Nine is forecast to bring storm surges of 2 to 4 feet, and rainfall amounts up to 10 to 15 inches across portions of western Cuba, the Cayman Islands and the Yucatan Peninsula.

    Once past the Yucatan Peninsula, tropical storm conditions could begin as early as late Saturday or early Sunday for the Gulf Coast states. Six hurricanes have made landfall in five years along the Gulf Coast.

    The system’s projected path, or its “cone of uncertainty” for landfall, stretches from eastern Texas to the Alabama coastline, with Louisiana directly in the crosshairs. It was almost exactly one year ago, on Aug. 27, when Category 4 Hurricane Laura slammed the Louisiana coast with 150 mph winds. The devastating Hurricane Katrina hit the state 16 years ago Sunday.

    The next available storm name is Ida. Should this system become an “I” named storm, it will join a list that includes some of the more historically damaging hurricanes. Eleven “I” names have been retired, the most of any other alphabetical letter on record. This is because “I” named storms typically happen at peak hurricane season when the atmospheric ingredients favor strong tropical cyclones and the steering patterns favor landfalls.

    Elsewhere, excessively hot temperatures are continuing to plague about 70 million people across several regions of the country….

  211. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    This is how you start up school again.

    Illinois will require all eligible students and school employees to be vaccinated and re-instituted an indoor mask mandate under an order announced by Governor J.B. Pritzker on Thursday.

    Pritzker, a Democrat, issued the new policy amid a resurgence of COVID-19 cases spurred largely by the Delta variant of the virus and increasing reports of “breakthrough” cases in which people already vaccinated get infected.

    The statewide mask mandate applies to anyone at least two years old and will take effect on Monday.

    “This is a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” Pritzker told a news conference. “People can slow the pandemic by masks and vaccinations,” he said.

    “To put it bluntly, we are fighting a battle we thought would be over,” he said. “Unfortunately we’re running out of time as all of our hospitals are running out of beds.”

    Pritzker also said that any school employees exempt from the vaccine – for religious or other reasons – will be tested at least once a week.

    On Monday, the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine was given full approval for use by the federal government. But the Pfizer authorization is for people ages 16 an older, not younger children.

    Pritzker’s announcement came in the wake of Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s recent order requiring all city employees, including police and firefighters, to be vaccinated or have proof of a valid medical or religious exemption. [L1N2PW1TR]

    The policy in the third-largest U.S. city comes as numerous other municipalities, school districts and governments across the nation grapple with masking and vaccination requirements.

    To bad the rethug govs are too stupid to even look at the results.

  212. says

    Andy Slavitt tweeted (I can’t link to it):

    Convo w hospital exec in South Florida:

    -27% test positives, up from 3% weeks ago (at their hospital I believe)
    -They’ve stopped non emergency non-COVID care
    -Many younger people on oxygen
    -Lost 49 yo & 52 yo last night, unvaxxed
    -Staff is overworked & under tremendous stress

  213. tomh says

    Madison.com
    GOP prepared to spend $680,000, issue subpoenas in hunt for election fraud, Reince Preibus says
    Riley Vetterkind | Wisconsin State Journal

    Republican lawmakers are prepared to spend up to $680,000 on their ongoing review of the November presidential election and will issue subpoenas in the next week or two, according to former Wisconsin and national Republican Party chair Reince Priebus.

    Also on Wednesday, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said he believes a “cyber-forensic audit” is necessary as part of the Legislature’s review of the 2020 election and that discussions have focused on additional hiring to aid in the probe.

    “Assembly Republicans have been working with (former Wisconsin Supreme Court) Justice (Michael) Gableman to conduct a swift, complete and thorough investigation,” Vos said in a statement. “Part of our discussion has been focused on hiring independent contractors to enhance our efforts. We believe a cyber-forensic audit is necessary to ensure issues did not happen in 2020. We have allocated additional resources to Justice Gableman to ensure this investigation gets to the truth.”

    Vos didn’t provide any clarity on what he meant by a “cyber-forensic audit,” nor did he confirm the cost of the audit.
    […]

    Gableman told a group of Trump supporters last year that the election was stolen. He also traveled to Arizona this month to observe the recount there, and attended a symposium on alleged election fraud in South Dakota headed by MyPillow chief executive Mike Lindell.
    […]

    Gableman is receiving $44,000 to oversee the election investigation.

    Preibus’ comments, which were first reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, come just days after Vos visited with Trump during a campaign event in Alabama. After the meeting, Vos said he would keep Trump updated on the Legislature’s election investigation and will do “whatever it takes” to help Gableman uncover reports of systemic voter fraud.
    […]

    Trump knocked Wisconsin Republicans earlier this summer for, in his view, not doing enough to investigate the 2020 election outcome in the state. State Rep. Janel Brandtjen, R-Menomonee Falls, the Assembly’s election committee chair, attempted to issue subpoenas for election materials to Milwaukee and Brown counties; however, neither Vos nor Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu, R-Oostburg, signed them and so they weren’t valid…..

    “Let’s be clear,” said Assembly Minority Leader Gordon Hintz, D-Oshkosh. “This dangerous game being played by Robin Vos and other Wisconsin Republicans is part of a coordinated and well-funded national effort, with the ultimate goal being to undermine and overturn future elections.”

    There are a number of investigations into the 2020 election despite there being no evidence of widespread fraud. The investigations include the Legislature’s, authorized by Vos; an election audit being performed by the nonpartisan Wisconsin Audit Bureau; the review overseen by Brandtjen; and an independent investigation being led by Peter Bernegger, who was convicted of mail fraud and bank fraud in federal court in Mississippi in 2009.

  214. blf says

    Re @212 and who wrote that nonsense at the Grauniad, I didn’t think to check at the time when the entry was still fresh. The entry is timestamped 16:38 BST (lower right→hand corner of the entry).

    Léonie Chao-Fong (“a London-based reporter”) signed-on at 09:14 BST, and was relieved by Mattha Busby at 18:41 BST.

    Interestingly, at 10:37 BST, Chao-Fong (presumably) wrote (quoted in full):

    Inmates at a prison in Arkansas in the United States have been prescribed a medicine used to deworm livestock to combat Covid, despite warnings from health officials that the antiparasitic drug should not be used to treat the coronavirus.

    Washington County’s sheriff confirmed that the jail’s health provider had been prescribing the drug but didn’t say how many inmates at the 710-bed facility had been given ivermectin, AP reports.

    “Whatever a doctor prescribes, that is not in my bailiwick,” Sheriff Tim Helder told members of the Washington County quorum court.

    It comes after the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) told Americans to stop taking ivermectin instead of getting a Covid shot, after a spike in calls to the Mississippi poison control centre.

    At least two people have been hospitalised with potential ivermectin toxicity after ingesting the drug, the state’s poison control centre said Monday.

    That is just straightforward reporting of a news event with any editorialising or snarking, unlike the wrong-headed later 16:38 entry.

    I’m unconvinced Chao-Fong is a member of the Grauniad’s staff. They have a very small body of work there, all dated this month, and some of the other current blog writers are known to be freelancers (e.g., Mattha Busby (as per their e-mail address)). Their profile at a number of sites (easily found by searching) indicate they are indeed currently freelance, having most recently been employed(?) by HuffPost.

    I have not tried to work out who “had the keys to the blog” at the time of the previous incident on the preceding day (as noted in this poopyhead thread by SC and others).

  215. says

    blf @ #246, thanks!

    I have not tried to work out who “had the keys to the blog” at the time of the previous incident on the preceding day (as noted in this poopyhead thread by SC and others).

    It appears to have been Mattha Busby. I think it’s likely they were responsible for the offending posts on the 23rd.

  216. says

    Guardian – “New Zealand police break up one-person anti-lockdown protest in Auckland”:

    A one-person anti-lockdown protest in central Auckland has been shut down, after the police were alerted to discussions of a potential gathering on social media.

    New Zealand police said officers were on Queen Street on Friday after hearing a protest was being planned, but only one person arrived with the intention of protesting, Newshub reported.

    “Police have been in the area and have spoken to one person who arrived intending to attend the protest. Police spoke to the individual who was encouraged to comply with alert level four restrictions and chose to leave,” a spokesman said.

    They said they are continuing to monitor the situation….

  217. says

    Here’s a link to the August 27 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog (Busby is currently at the helm).

    From there:

    Former Italian prime minister and billionaire media mogul Silvio Berlusconi is back in hospital for tests, his spokesman confirmed on Friday.

    “Hospitalisation was required for a thorough clinical evaluation,” he told AFP, after media reports that the 84-year-old was admitted to Milan’s San Raffaele hospital on Thursday.

    Berlusconi has been in and out of hospital all year due to complications relating to a coronavirus infection that hospitalised him for 11 days last September.

    The former premier dominated public life in Italy for decades and he remains a member of the European parliament (MEP) for his Forza Italia party.

    But he been set back by a string of health issues in recent years, including open heart surgery in 2016.

    Growing numbers of local areas across the UK are recording their highest rates of new cases of Covid-19 since comparable records began, as the third wave of coronavirus continues to pick up pace across the country, new figures show.

    But unlike the first and second waves of coronavirus cases, the third wave has yet to cause a similarly sharp rise in the number of hospital cases and deaths, PA Media reports. A total of 6,906 patients with Covid-19 were in hospital in the UK as of 25 August. This is a long way below the 39,254 patients who were in hospital at the peak of the second wave on 18 January – the highest for any day since the start of the pandemic.

    Meanwhile, the average number of UK deaths reported each day of people who have died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 currently stands at 110. This compares with a peak of 1,248 on January 23.

    PA Media reports:

    Parts of Scotland, Wales and south-west England are all experiencing case rates higher than at any point since mass testing was first introduced in summer 2020, while areas of Northern Ireland hit a new peak in recent days.

    The figures come amid warnings of a further increase in the spread of the virus in coming weeks, with pupils either back at school or soon to return, a bank holiday weekend about to begin in all nations except Scotland, and a busy calendar of sport and music events likely to attract large crowds….

  218. says

    NBC – “Officer who shot Ashli Babbitt during Capitol riot breaks silence: ‘I saved countless lives'”:

    In the chaotic minutes before he shot and killed Ashli Babbitt during the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, Lt. Michael Byrd focused his attention on the glass doors leading into the lobby of the House of Representatives chamber.

    About 60 to 80 House members and staffers were holed up inside, and it was Byrd’s job to protect them.

    As rioters rampaged through the Capitol, Byrd and a few other officers of the U.S. Capitol Police set up a wall of furniture outside the doors.

    “Once we barricaded the doors, we were essentially trapped where we were,” Byrd said in an exclusive interview with NBC News’ Lester Holt, speaking publicly for the first time since the riot. “There was no way to retreat. No other way to get out.

    “If they get through that door, they’re into the House chamber and upon the members of Congress,” added Byrd, who gave NBC News permission to use his name after authorities had declined to release it.

    Soon a horde of demonstrators arrived. Byrd, a 28-year veteran of the Capitol Police, took a defensive posture with his gun drawn as rioters smashed the glass doors.

    He said he yelled repeatedly for them to get back. But the mob kept pressing forward, and then a lone rioter tried to climb through one of the doors.

    What happened next was captured on video: Byrd fired one shot, striking Babbitt in the shoulder.

    For Byrd, who is Black, the incident turned his life upside down. He has been in hiding for months after he received a flood of death threats and racist attacks that started when his name leaked onto right-wing websites.

    But in his interview with Holt, Byrd said he has no doubt that he made the right decision in light of the circumstances.

    “I know that day I saved countless lives,” Byrd said. “I know members of Congress, as well as my fellow officers and staff, were in jeopardy and in serious danger. And that’s my job.”

    Byrd said he had no idea whether the person he shot was carrying a weapon. It was only later that night that he found out that the rioter was a woman who was unarmed.

    Asked why he pulled the trigger, Byrd said it was a “last resort.”

    “I tried to wait as long as I could,” he told Holt. “I hoped and prayed no one tried to enter through those doors. But their failure to comply required me to take the appropriate action to save the lives of members of Congress and myself and my fellow officers.”

    Byrd has been cleared of wrongdoing by the Justice Department and the Capitol Police…. [See #115 above.]

    It was the first time Byrd had ever shot his weapon in his 28 years on the force. Over the next few minutes, he helped the House members evacuate the building. He said it wasn’t until later that night, when he got the chance to watch TV coverage, that he understood the full scope of the Capitol riot.

    The Babbitt family’s attorney has described the incident as an “ambush,” alleging that the officer gave no warning before he pulled the trigger. Babbitt’s family has signaled its intention to file a civil lawsuit against the Capitol Police; it had previously filed court papers seeking the name of the officer who shot her.

    The attorney, Terry Roberts, didn’t respond to a request for comment.

    Byrd said he felt pain in his throat for days afterward from yelling at the protesters to stop and step back as they pounded on the glass doors.

    Byrd also scoffed at the allegations by some that he had a political agenda.

    “I do my job for Republican, for Democrat, for white, for Black, red, blue, green,” he said. “I don’t care about your affiliation.”

    He noted that when Trump was president, he escorted him through the Capitol on numerous occasions. “If he was in the Capitol and I was responsible for him, I’d do the same thing for him and his family,” Byrd said.

    In the days after Jan. 6, Byrd’s name leaked out in right-wing media and online forums. Then came the threats.

    “They talked about killing me, cutting off my head,” Byrd said, adding that there were also racist attacks.

    “It’s all disheartening, because I know I was doing my job.”

    The hardest part, he said, has been the effect on his family. A tear slid out of Byrd’s eye and trickled down his right cheek as he lamented how the life he built has been upended.

    “Sometimes, you can’t do anything but cry,” Byrd said, his voice growing heavy. “You felt like you did your job. You helped protect our legislative leaders of this country and you fought for democracy and keeping them established.”

    After having remained silent for seven months as the investigations dragged on, Byrd said he wanted to speak out to counter the misrepresentations of his actions that day, even if doing so exposes him to more threats and vitriol.

    “It’s something that is frightening,” Byrd said. “Again, I believe I showed the utmost courage on January 6, and it’s time for me to do that now.”

    He said that he knows there are people who disagree with his actions that day and that they may always.

    “I hope they understand I did my job,” Byrd said. “There was imminent threat and danger to the members of Congress. I just want the truth to be told.”

  219. says

    Steve Vladeck tweeted: “Tonight’s #SCOTUS ruling nixing the CDC eviction moratorium is the 19th different ruling on the ‘shadow docket’ so far this Term that disrupts the status quo compared to what was true before; and the 21st from which all three Democratic appointees were the only public dissenters:…”

    I’m sure cable news will have time to cover this just as soon as the Military-Industrial Complex parade is over.

  220. blf says

    The older Grauniad liveblog incident (@120 et al.) was at 14:11 BST, with the 14:04 entry immediately preceding it also being problematical.

    As SC@247 noted (albeit again without links), Mattha Busby signed on at 11:49 BST, who appears to have been “in control” of the liveblog until it was closed at about 19:03 BST. Busby was also who closed the @212 / @246 later incident, albeit was perhaps not “in control” at the time of that later incident’s dubious entry. As noted previously, Bushy is also a freelancer (I have not done any further searching / research into Bushy).

    Léonie Chao-Fong is not logged as being involved in the liveblog that day. It kind-of looks like Chao-Fong was repeating some but not all of the nonsense in Bushy’s much earlier entry. At the moment, my own speculation is Bushy and then Chao-Fong is rather mindlessly parroting unknown / unidentified sites featuring quack / woo-woo / anti-vaxxers, perhaps citing alleged-studies such as Ivermectin, ‘Wonder drug’ from Japan: the human use perspective (Proc Jpn Acad Ser B Phys Biol Sciv.87(2), 2011 Feb) or, rather more likely, Ivermectin [IVM]: a multifaceted drug of Nobel prize-honoured distinction with indicated efficacy against a new global scourge, COVID-19 (August 2021 (PDF available at the link)). That very short “study” does state in its conclusion (my added emboldening): “We believe that the evidence to date supports the worldwide extension of IVM treatments for COVID-19, complementary to immunizations.”

    That leads to an additional speculation on my part, that the WSJ article(? option column?) which seems to have started all this, as per Bushy’s original liveblog entry, neglected that that study did not say Ivermectin is an alternative to vaccine, only that it might be an effective therapeutic in addition to (under unstated(?) conditions) vaccination, presumably and especially in so-called “breakthough” cases. And of, course, any such IVM must be the human-approved drug, not the livestock dewormer version.

  221. says

    I linked to this when it came out, but just for the record here’s the Cochrane meta-analysis from last month – “Ivermectin for preventing and treating COVID-19.”

    Based on the current very low- to low-certainty evidence, we are uncertain about the efficacy and safety of ivermectin used to treat or prevent COVID-19. The completed studies are small and few are considered high quality. Several studies are underway that may produce clearer answers in review updates. Overall, the reliable evidence available does not support the use of ivermectin for treatment or prevention of COVID-19 outside of well-designed randomized trials.

  222. says

    SC, there’s a “pro-Trump telemedicine website”?! JFC.

    In other news: Trump has spent much of the last two decades saying deeply unfortunate things about the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Yesterday, he made matters worse.

    As the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks approaches, Donald Trump wants the public to know one thing: his administration killed “bigger” terrorists than the one responsible for 9/11. [JFC! What an immature doofus.]

    The former president appeared on Hugh Hewitt’s radio talk show yesterday and reflected for a while at how impressed he is with his own counter-terrorism record:

    “And we took out the founder of ISIS, al-Baghdadi, and then of course [Iranian military leader Qasem Soleimani]. Now just so you understand, Soleimani is bigger by many, many times than Osama bin Laden. The founder of ISIS is bigger by many, many times, al-Baghdadi, than Osama bin Laden. Osama bin Laden had one hit, and it was a bad one, in New York City, the World Trade Center. But these other two guys were monsters…. The press doesn’t talk about it. They don’t talk about it because they don’t want to talk about it.”

    Hours later, Trump appeared on Fox News and pushed the same line, insisting that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was “far bigger than Osama bin Laden, far bigger.”

    Right off the bat, the context for such rhetoric is striking. Not only will the United States recognize the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks in two weeks, but we’re also currently dealing with the painful end of the decades-long war in Afghanistan, which was launched in response to Osama bin Laden’s and al Qaeda’s terrorism, and which is drawing to a tragic close in part because of Trump’s dubious deal with the Taliban.

    It’s against this backdrop that the former president did two interviews yesterday in which he eagerly downplayed bin Laden’s importance, effectively telling the public, “What really matters is me and my efforts to glorify myself.”

    [Trump] claimed, for example, that he “tried to help” at Ground Zero in New York the day of the attacks, but there’s no evidence of any such efforts. In fact, on 9/11, the future president seemed principally focused on how the destruction of the Twin Towers affected his ability to boast about the height of one of his nearby properties.

    Fifteen years later, as part of first presidential campaign, Trump frequently referenced the 9/11 attacks, though as the Washington Post reported at the time, “[S]everal of Trump’s statements about what he witnessed that day appear to be greatly exaggerated or false.”

    Two years ago, the then-president delivered White House remarks claiming that he’d predicted bin Laden’s rise in a book, and insinuating that 9/11 could’ve been prevented if only more people “would have listened” to Trump. The rhetoric was both demonstrably untrue and plainly obscene.

    And yet, he just keeps going, apparently unable to help himself.

  223. says

    Vera Bergengruen at Time – “How ‘America’s Frontline Doctors’ Sold Access to Bogus COVID-19 Treatments—and Left Patients in the Lurch”:

    …Similar stories have flooded anti-vaccine forums and messaging apps in recent weeks as some customers and donors raise doubts about [America’s Frontline Doctors]. The group describes itself as a “non-partisan” group of medical professionals. But it originated as a right-wing political organization, and since its founding has consistently spread medical misinformation. Its name implies the group consists of physicians on the frontlines of the pandemic, but it’s not clear how many of its members have spent any time treating patients with COVID-19.

    Its followers aren’t the only ones with questions about AFLD. It’s hard to pin down how many people the group employs, how much money it’s taking in, or how that money has been spent, in part because the non-profit has failed to file required disclosures. After it failed to submit its annual report in Arizona, where the group is registered under the name “Free Speech Foundation,” the state recently downgraded the organization’s charitable status to “pending inactive.”

    Over the past three months, a TIME investigation found, hundreds of AFLD customers and donors have accused the group of touting a service promising prescriptions for ivermectin, which medical authorities say should not be taken to treat or prevent COVID-19, and failing to deliver after a fee had been paid. Some customers described being charged for consultations that did not happen. Others said they were connected to digital pharmacies that quoted excessive prices of up to $700 for the cheap medication. In more than 3,000 messages reviewed by TIME, dozens of people described their or their family members’ COVID-19 symptoms worsening while they waited for an unproven “wonder drug” that didn’t arrive.

    “My mom has now been admitted to the hospital with Covid,” one user wrote Aug. 12 on the group’s channel on the messaging app Telegram. “AFLDS has not returned a call or message to her and they’ve taken over $500 out of her account!”

    Since its founding last year by Dr. Simone Gold, a Los Angeles physician who was later arrested during the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, America’s Frontline Doctors has nurtured medical conspiracies popular in right-wing circles. Created as a political project to support the Trump Administration’s economic reopening push, it ricocheted from promoting skepticism about COVID-19 to launching a national RV tour to denounce “medical censorship and cancel culture.” It promoted hydroxychloroquine as a miracle drug and billed itself as a provider of legal services for people who refuse to be vaccinated or to wear a mask, or who want to stop vaccinations for children.

    The group’s profile has soared amid the rise of employer-imposed COVID-19 mandates and the emergence of ivermectin as an alternative treatment of choice for the broader anti-vaccine community. AFLD’s Telegram channels have rapidly grown to more than 160,000 users. Its website traffic has quadrupled since April, according to an analysis by the web-analytics company SemRush, which estimates it drew nearly half a million visitors in July. In the process, AFLD’s reach has spread beyond to mainstream sites like Instagram and TikTok, making it a leading purveyor of medical disinformation that erodes public confidence and hinders efforts to get the pandemic under control, experts say.

    “They’re the 21st century, digital version of snake-oil salesmen,” says Irwin Redlener, a physician who directs the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University. “And in the case of ivermectin, it’s extremely dangerous.”

    The ivermectin craze reflects some of the most damaging elements of the post-Trump conservative movement, with a mixture of political profiteering, disinformation, exploitation of social media and conspiratorial thinking combining at a critical point in the pandemic. AFLD has capitalized on “the perfect storm of everything that you needed to have a large population of people susceptible to vaccine misinformation,” says Kolina Koltai, a researcher who studies the anti-vaccine movement at the University of Washington. “America’s Frontline Doctors are really good at what they do. This idea of doctors fighting the system is a narrative that is really appealing to a lot of people.”…

    Much, much more at the link. Very thorough.

  224. says

    The disingenuous Republican response to the terrorist attack in Kabul:

    […] t was at 9:44 a.m. EST yesterday morning when Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby published a tweet, alerting the public to the fact that there had been an explosion outside the airport in Afghanistan’s capital. It was at 11:34 a.m. EST — not quite two hours later — when Republican Rep. Troy Nehls of Texas published a tweet of his own: “Biden has blood on his hands and must be held accountable.”

    Soon after, the House Republican Conference promoted Nehls’ missive, extending the GOP’s imprimatur to the smear.

    […] assorted GOP officials and candidates exploited the attack while trying to one-up each other.

    Republican Sen. Roger Marshall of Kansas said Biden may need to “resign immediately.” Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri, after spending months pushing for the rapid withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan, argued that Biden “is responsible” for the ISIS attack and “must resign.”

    Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee upped the ante, raising the specter of Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley either resigning en masse or facing “impeachment and removal from office.”

    A wide variety of House Republicans pushed similar lines, as did assorted players on the sidelines, including former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley.

    For much of American history, it was considered a dramatic development when a member of Congress called on a sitting president to step down from office. In the Biden era, it’s become something Republicans simply do.

    […] it was of interest that many of the Republicans calling for the president’s resignation struggled to explain what, specifically, they believe Biden did wrong or could’ve done differently. Texas’ Nehls, for example, said the “chaotic withdrawal” of U.S. forces “set the stage for this violence.”

    But that’s not much of a pitch. Yes, there have been chaotic conditions throughout Afghanistan as the country’s inept and corrupt government collapsed, but ISIS and its affiliates existed before this year, and terrorist violence in Kabul predates the Biden administration.

    If there were evidence that the American president disregarded intelligence about a possible attack, the GOP’s rhetoric might make more sense, but that’s plainly not the case. If there were evidence of the American president blaming his own country’s military leaders for the deaths, that might also help explain ferocious political pushback, but Biden didn’t do that, either.

    There can be no doubt that yesterday’s attack was devastating and heartbreaking. There can also be no doubt that the security conditions in and around Kabul, despite the United States’ best efforts over the course of decades, have been profoundly dangerous […]

    I suspect Biden’s Republican detractors know all of this. The problem is they don’t care. A terrorist attack is just another opportunity to take cheap shots, undermine public confidence, win a news cycle, and prepare political messages for the next round of elections.

    * After Psaki spoke, officials confirmed the death of a 13th American service member.

    Link

  225. says

    SC @256, I wish the headline could be changed. “How ‘America’s Frontline Doctors’ Sold Access to Bogus COVID-19 Treatments—and Left Patients in the Lurch” leaves the wrong impression if one doesn’t already know that “America’s Frontline Doctors” is an organization full of charlatans, grifters, scammers and whacky-brained doofuses.

    How a bogus organization of so-called “doctors” sold unapproved COVID-19 treatments, and harmed patients. That would be a better headline.

  226. says

    Justice Stephen Breyer made comments in the spring about his career plans. His latest rhetoric seems… different.

    After Donald Trump’s third Supreme Court nominee was confirmed last fall, many on the left took solace in the fact that President Joe Biden’s victory would at least stop the judicial bleeding. Justice Stephen Breyer could finally retire at a time in which there was a Democratic White House and a narrow Democratic majority in the Senate.

    At least, that was the idea at the time.

    The center left justice, who celebrated his 83rd birthday last week, has spent much of 2021 defending his reluctance to step down from the high court — including arguments that the broader political context can and should be ignored.

    “My experience of more than 30 years as a judge has shown me that, once men and women take the judicial oath, they take the oath to heart,” Breyer argued during an appearance at Harvard Law School in May. “They are loyal to the rule of law, not to the political party that helped to secure their appointment.”

    Two months later, the justice sat down with CNN’s Joan Biskupic and sounded very much like a jurist who intended to stick around for a while, indifferent to the political circumstances.

    Yesterday, however, Breyer spoke to The New York Times’ Adam Liptak — ostensibly to help promote the justice’s new book — and his comments about his professional future sounded a little different from what he said in the spring.

    He recalled approvingly something Justice Antonin Scalia had told him. “He said, ‘I don’t want somebody appointed who will just reverse everything I’ve done for the last 25 years,'” Justice Breyer said during a wide-ranging interview on Thursday. “That will inevitably be in the psychology” of his decision, he said.

    The observation may seem obvious, but it was a rare acknowledgement from the longtime justice: Breyer acknowledged the possibility that by delaying his retirement further, he increased the risk that his successor would be ideologically opposed to everything he’s done on the bench.

    Nearly 20 years ago, then-Chief Justice William Rehnquist was asked whether it was “inappropriate for a justice to take into account the party or politics of the sitting president when deciding whether to step down from the court.”

    The conservative jurist replied at the time, “No, it’s not inappropriate. Deciding when to step down from the court is not a judicial act.”

    When the Times reminded Breyer yesterday about Rehnquist’s comments, he seemed to endorse the sentiment, saying, “That’s true.”

    […] if Breyer is mindful that his future replacement might “just reverse everything” he’s done for the last quarter-century, time is of the essence.

    As we discussed in May, if Breyer assumes that a Republican-led Senate — which is likely in 2023, if not sooner — would confirm a Biden nominee for the Supreme Court, I suspect Attorney General Merrick Garland would happily take the justice’s call. (Historical trivia: It’s been 126 years since a Republican-led Senate confirmed a Democratic president’s pick for the high court.)

    We’re talking about conditions in which GOP senators kept a Supreme Court seat vacant for 11 months in 2016 for purely partisan reasons, with some Senate Republicans suggesting they’d keep the seat empty indefinitely until their party controlled the White House again.

    Breyer has a responsibility to at least recognize this political landscape and weigh his legacy accordingly.

    Link

  227. Akira MacKenzie says

    @255

    SC, there’s a “pro-Trump telemedicine website”?! JFC.

    It stands to reason something like this would arise. We have telemedicine hucksters selling online “doctors” to get prescriptions for everything from dick pills to ADHD meds (at prices you could probably get cheaper from bick & motor pharmacists) .

    All hail the free and unregulated market and Internet. Long may it grift.

  228. tomh says

    NPR
    After A Bitter Fight, The Texas House Passes A Restrictive Voting Bill
    August 27, 2021

    Months of partisan battles in Texas concluded late Thursday as Republican House members passed new voting restrictions, moving the legislation closer to the governor’s desk.

    The vote in the Texas House on the nearly 50-page bill, SB1, was 79-37 (mostly on party lines) and follows historic efforts by Democrats to block it.
    […]

    And now Texas — which already has some of the strictest voting rules in the country — is set to become the latest Republican-led state to pass new restrictions on voting and election administration in the wake of the 2020 elections.
    […]

    The House legislation in Texas would add new ID requirements for people seeking to vote by mail; add new criminal penalties to the voting process; empower partisan poll watchers; and ban drive-through and 24-hour voting options, steps taken last year by Harris County, home to Houston.

    Harris County officials have said that voters of color made up the majority of people who took advantage of the 24-hour voting option. Separately, an ACLU of Texas report found that more than 70% of prosecutions for alleged voting crimes conducted by the state attorney general’s office have targeted Black and Latino voters.
    […]

    Texas will soon become the latest GOP-run state to enact new voting restrictions, joining Georgia, Florida, Arizona and others.

  229. says

    EXCLUSIVE: Newly Unsealed Transcript Reveals Crux Of Mueller’s Collusion Case

    Internal Trump campaign polling data from the 2016 election was sent to a person close to Russia’s leader, according to recently unsealed statements by a prosecutor from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office.

    At a sealed February 2019 hearing in D.C. federal court, prosecutor Andrew Weissmann said that data shared by former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort ended up in the hands of someone close to Vladimir Putin.

    “And for us, the issue of internal campaign polling data being sent to REDACTED, who the defendant conceded is extremely close to the senior leader in Russia, is in the core of what it is that the special counsel is supposed to be investigating,” Weissmann told U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson for the District of Columbia on February 4, 2019.

    A transcript of the hearing was unsealed Thursday, but the identity of the person who received the data remains redacted.

    The newly unsealed portions reveal for the first time the theory of the case the Special Counsel’s office was driving at in prosecuting Manafort and investigating potential collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.

    In the hearing, Weissmann argued that there may have been a quid pro quo arrangement, with Moscow supporting Trump’s 2016 campaign and the victorious Trump administration then supporting a potential Ukraine peace plan that would have given Russia control of Ukraine’s breakaway eastern regions.

    That goes straight to how the Special Counsel’s Office appears to have viewed collusion as it applied to Manafort: in exchange for Russia helping Trump win, the theory goes, the country would “control what would be an autonomous region of the eastern Ukraine,” Judge Berman Jackson summarized at the hearing. That was, she said, “plainly something favorable to the Russians.”

    […] “Several individuals affiliated with the Trump Campaign lied to the Office,” the report reads, adding that “those lies materially impaired the investigation of Russian election interference.” Manafort and his associates also had a practice of deleting messages sent via encrypted applications, meaning that investigators were unable to examine the content of their communications.

    […] The source of Weissmann’s information is unclear; at one point, he declines to continue speaking on the court record and offers to brief the judge ex parte.

    The revelation comes years after the closure of an investigation whose end — and final report — left dozens of questions unanswered.

    But the newly unsealed portions of the hearing capture prosecutors’ thinking on one of the most shocking incidents uncovered both by the Special Counsel and by a bipartisan Senate investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election: that Manafort shared internal Trump campaign polling data with Konstantin Kilimnik, an alleged Russian intelligence officer. The Treasury Department said in an April 2021 statement announcing sanctions on Kilimnik that he forwarded the information on to Russian intelligence services.

    The transcript also offers sharpened insight into what Weissmann appeared to see as the benefit that the Russian government stood to receive for helping elect Trump.

    […] Manafort had lied repeatedly to the Special Counsel’s Office both about his own involvement in the peace plan and about Kilimnik’s role.

    […] “In looking at the issue of what Russia could be — what interests it would have, and what it could be viewing as a beneficial interest to that country of having a certain candidate win, and whether there was knowing or unknowing coordination by the then Trump campaign manager, all are the focus of — and are raised by the issue of the August 2nd meeting,” he added.

    Judge Berman Jackson then interrupted, pressing Weissmann to describe why he thought Manafort’s work in Ukraine post-2016 was important, and why his subsequent lies to the Special Counsel’s office were as well.

    Weissmann’s reply, which remains partially redacted, explained that Kilimnik had a “continuity” of interest in promoting the plan. The Mueller Report says that the alleged intelligence officer undertook “efforts to promote the peace plan to the Executive Branch (e.g., U.S. Department of State) into the summer of 2018.”

    The prosecutor added that there is a document which purportedly said that Manafort would be given “access to senior people in Russia to help promote this.”

    Manafort’s attorneys sought at the hearing to argue that the polling data shared during the 2016 campaign was so granular as to be incomprehensible to anyone apart from seasoned American political operatives.

    Both Mueller and Senate investigators found that Manafort briefed Kilimnik at the meeting about battleground states, and directed Gates to print out a copy of internal campaign polling data to bring to the session. Manafort had also purportedly directed Gates to periodically send campaign information to Kilimnik.

    […] Gates, according to FBI notes from his interview, recalled watching Manafort discuss how the data related to “blue-collar workers” and which swing states would be in play.

    […] “It’s not the sort of thing you would give to someone outside the campaign, much less outside the country,” she [Judge Jackson] remarked.

    Westling replied that he doubted the Russians would be able to “interpret” the information. [bullshit]
    […]

  230. says

    Manafort’s attorneys sought at the hearing to argue that the polling data shared during the 2016 campaign was so granular as to be incomprehensible to anyone apart from seasoned American political operatives.

    This is obviously bullshit, but it also doesn’t make sense. If it was of no use to the Russians, what would be the purpose of giving it to them? Also, I’d just like to emphasize that Manafort’s lawyers confirmed in court that he, Trump’s campaign manager, provided the Kremlin, while they were attacking our election, with internal swing-state polling data. That’s collusion.

  231. says

    Follow-up to comment 262.

    Posted by readers of the article:

    So, we now know that in addition to being a rank criminal, Manafort was a traitor.
    ————————-
    And this all got swept under the rug as irrelevant or unproveable?

    Is it any wonder the good guys always lose in these cases? Manafort and company knew exactly what they were doing in such an untraceable process that they couldn’t be caught and prosecuted.
    ————————-
    If someone is working for the US Prez campaign and is shopping around different gifts or bribes to give to Russians in return for their help…how the F*&^ does it matter what gifts/info they are proferring? And they get into quibbling about whether non-english speakers could make much use of it […]
    ———————–
    If the data was useless to the Russians (lawyer Westling’s POV), then why the secret handoff to a known spy? It’s not like he gave Kilimnik something useless like an ostrich jacket.
    ———————
    It seems that Eastern Ukraine was what Putin wanted and Trump was willing to give it to him for a bit of help. Trump then tried to put the squeeze on the new President of Ukraine to deny him the military assets he needed to fend off Putin. As Speaker Pelosi said, all roads lead to Putin.
    ————————
    Even if you take Chump being Putins groomed poodle out of the equation, or anything to do with winning an election…if Putin cares about running psy-ops and mucking up the American system…this kind of data would be useful to him and the kind of thing he wouldn’t be able to find on his own. At least nothing so sharp and current as what Manafort had.

    So even without Chump and an election, Putin would probably find this stuff useful. I really don’t understand how this was lost on the judge and the Mueller folks seemed to be losing this argument…that the data was a thing of value. Manafort would not have been offering it if it wasn’t.
    —————————
    We also know both why Manafort didn’t talk, and why Trump pardoned him: because both are trying to avoid a face-full of Novichok or a fall out a hotel room window.
    ————————–
    The redacted name is obviously Oleg Deripaska, with whom we already know (from Rick Gates) Manafort intended Kilimnik to share the polling data.

    ETA: That’s also part of Manafort’s effort to get back into Deripaska’s good graces after ripping off a bunch of his money that Manafort was supposed to have somehow invested in Ukraine. You may recall that Deripaska was suing Manafort over that. Deripaska was also the guy who Manafort obliquely referred to in an email to either Gates or Kilimnik (I forget which) who should be told that Manafort can offer him briefings and intel from inside the Trump campaign, shorty after he got brought inside the campaign by offering to work for free.
    ————————–

    Richard Westling, an attorney for Manafort, replied that the data was “only really significant if you do what it is that people like Mr. Manafort and others who run political campaigns do.”

    “Yes your honor, I bribed that cop, but I did it in two-dollar bills, and nobody cashes those things anymore.”
    ——————————
    doesn’t it seem obvious that the Russians must have had someone helping them with the polling data to interpret it? I mean, there are plenty of people who speak English in Russia, and apparently plenty of Republican political operatives who are willing to work with a brutal dictator to overthrow an American election.

  232. says

    AP – “Judge blocks Florida governor’s order banning mask mandates”:

    School districts in Florida may impose mask mandates, a judge said Friday, ruling that Gov. Ron DeSantis overstepped his authority by issuing an executive order banning the mandates.

    Leon County Circuit Judge John C. Cooper agreed with a group of parents who claimed in a lawsuit that DeSantis’ order is unconstitutional and cannot be enforced. The governor’s order gave parents the sole right to decide if their child wears a mask at school.

    Cooper said DeSantis’ order “is without legal authority.”

    His decision came after a three-day virtual hearing, and after at least 10 Florida school boards voted to defy DeSantis and impose mask requirements with no parental opt-out.

    Cooper said that while the governor and others have argued that a new Florida law gives parents the ultimate authority to oversee health issues for their children, it also exempts government actions that are needed to protect public health and are reasonable and limited in scope. He said a school district’s decision to require student masking to prevent the spread of the virus falls within that exemption.

    The judge also noted that two Florida Supreme Court decisions from 1914 and 1939 found that individual rights are limited by their impact on the rights of others. For example, he said, adults have the right to drink alcohol but not to drive drunk. There is a right to free speech, but not to harass or threaten others or yell “fire” in a crowded theater, he said.

    “We don’t have that right because exercising the right in that way is harmful or potentially harmful to other people,” Cooper said. He added that the law “is full of examples of rights that are limited (when) the good of others … would be adversely affected by those rights.”

    DeSantis has dismissed the masking recommendation of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as not applicable to Florida, but Cooper cited numerous Florida laws and statutes covering health care in nursing homes, prisons and elsewhere that say state decision-makers should give great weight to CDC guidelines.

    The school districts that have defied Santis’ order represent slightly more than half of the 2.8 million Florida public school students enrolled this year….

  233. says

    SC @265, speaking of Republican governors facing defeat in the courts: Greg Abbott’s executive order targeting migrants faces defeat in court.

    Right-wing Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s despicable executive order targeting migrants continues to face defeat in the courts. George W. Bush-appointed U.S. District Judge Kathleen Cardone, who temporarily halted the order following a Department of Justice-led lawsuit, on Thursday issued an injunction continuing to block the policy while litigation continues.

    Thursday’s order stems from a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and ACLU of Texas on behalf on migrant organizations and volunteers who assist newly arrived asylum-seekers. That included humanitarian worker Jennifer Harbury, who was blocked by Abbott from driving an asylum-seeker to an immigration appointment, or even just to a movie.

    “I recently assisted a woman and her little boy who were kidnapped three times in Reynosa, Mexico,” Harbury said in a statement earlier this month. “She was gang raped in front of her child. I loved driving them to the movies, to ride a tricycle in the park—the normal things after so much trauma. If the governor thinks he’s going to scare me off from doing that, I’d say to him, ‘Just go home, Mr. Abbott, just go home.’”

    Thankfully, Abbott will not be able to do that for now. “With the court’s injunction, our plaintiffs—including shelter providers, humanitarians, and immigrants living in Texas—will be able to live their lives and provide refuge for asylum seekers free from the threat of having their vehicles impounded or being forced to drive to the border,” said ACLU of Texas attorney Kate Huddleston.

    […] the Department of Justice case has now been consolidated with the ACLU and ACLU of Texas case, which was launched on behalf of Harbury, Angry Tías & Abuelas of the Rio Grande Valley, FIEL Houston, and Annunciation House, one of the largest migrant shelters in the nation.

    The ACLU and ACLU of Texas had said that under Abbott’s order, “shelters can no longer pick up asylum seekers or take them to get food, attend court hearings, or see doctors. The vast majority of migrants leave the border by bus, and are unable to join family members in other parts of Texas and other states. And Texans now face a harsh regime of arbitrary arrests by state officers, who are empowered to stop and question a driver they suspect of transporting asylum seekers, and to seize their vehicles or force them to drive to the border.”

    […] “Our clients brought this lawsuit because the executive order is illegal and inhumane,” said ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project Staff Attorney Spencer Amdur. “Texas Gov. Greg Abbott launched an unprecedented attack on migrants and the federal immigration system, and the court was right to block the order.” Huddleston said “[t]his is the first step to ensuring that this latest assault on Texans’ civil rights and effort to scapegoat immigrants by the governor is unsuccessful.”

  234. says

    Six conservative Supreme Court justices are trying to rule the nation from the shadows

    The Supreme Court six in the radically conservative majority did it again: They struck down the Biden administration’s eviction moratorium in another unsigned shadow docket decision. This follows the precedent-breaking order from the court Tuesday attempting to direct President Biden’s foreign policy and force him to retain Trump’s cruel Remain in Mexico policy.

    In this case, the six in the majority deigned to write eight pages of rationalization; generally the shadow docket orders are no more than a few lines. That gave them eight pages in which to make some basic, factual errors. That’s one of the problems with these kinds of rulings, emergency orders that are issued without the usual process of hearings, and arguments and debate among the justices. The majority writer—and we don’t know who that is—tries to paper over that: “The case has been thoroughly briefed before us—twice,” the majority says. Which is simply not true. What they’ve seen are two emergency motions from landlords’ groups. They’ve heard no oral argument, and they’ve seen no briefs from affected parties.

    In the dissent by the three liberal justices, Justice Stephen Breyer noted that: “These questions call for considered decision-making, informed by full briefing and argument,” he wrote. “Their answers impact the health of millions. We should not set aside the C.D.C.’s eviction moratorium in this summary proceeding.”

    The majority also writes that because there has been “three additional months to distribute rental-assistance funds to help ease the transition away from the moratorium,” the need to extend the moratorium again “to ensure the orderly administration of those programs has since diminished.” That’s blatantly not reality, as news this week demonstrated—the Treasury Department’s report showed that billions in rental relief has not been disbursed, that there is no “orderly administration” of the programs.

    […] The law actually allows the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to act far more coercively, as Breyer’s dissent notes. “[I]t is undisputed that the statute permits the CDC to adopt significant measures such as quarantines, which arguably impose greater restrictions on individuals’ rights and state police powers than do limits on evictions.” That’s a point that would have been made in oral arguments and in briefs had the court considered the case through the regular docket. “[T]he public interest is not favored by the spread of disease or a court’s second-guessing of the CDC’s judgment,” Breyer writes.

    But that’s expressly what the six extremists on the court are doing—not just second-guessing the CDC, but the entire Biden administration. They’re doing it from the shadows with these “emergency” rulings that are blatantly partisan. […]

  235. says

    Wonkette:

    One of the most popular uses of religion since time immemorial has been to justify the worst acts of human beings — from the Crusades to the Spanish Inquisition to slavery to witch hunts to segregation to various acts of terrorism and pretty much all racism and sexism in general. […]

    So it is hardly shocking that many of the worst actors throughout the COVID-19 pandemic have used religion to justify their desire to do whatever they want without any regard for the safety of others.

    For instance, California resident Gary Nelson believes his two precious children are being discriminated against for their religious beliefs … because the school won’t let them attend in-person classes without a mask. Yeah.

    Via NBC:

    “They were sent home and told not to come back with or without a mask,” said Gary Nelson, whose children, Drew, 17, and Victoria, 16, attend the Springs Charter Schools Temecula Student Center. “If they do, they would be charged with trespassing.”

    Nelson said Drew, a senior, and Victoria, a junior, were booted from the campus on Aug. 19 when they declined to wear masks because of their religious beliefs.

    “The Bible says we’re made in the image of God and Satan tries to cover that up. A mask is a sign of oppression,” Nelson said Thursday. “If it was Muslim, Jewish or something of a more high-profile minority religion in this country, yes, they would have accommodated … just to say they weren’t discriminating based on that religion. But they feel safe because it’s Christianity.”

    First of all, I would like to point out the very high likelihood that these children wear clothes to school and that their father wears clothes when he goes to work or otherwise leaves the house. […] they have no issue covering up the rest of them.

    Second, 65 percent of Americans identify as Christians. While that may not be as high a percentage as in previous decades, it is still the majority religion in this country. Not only are there many Christians out there wearing masks with no religious conflict, but there are very likely Christians involved in making this very decision. “Not wearing a mask during a fucking pandemic” is hardly a well-known precept of Christianity, nor any other religion known to man. […]

    There are also no known instances of people belonging to any religion being given an “accommodation” that allowed them to put other people’s lives at risk. Why? Because generally speaking, someone’s right to practice their religion ends where another person’s safety and wellbeing begin. If there were a religious community of children who felt they needed to sacrifice all of the adults in their town to He Who Walks Behind The Rows in order to ensure a quality corn harvest, they would not be allowed to do that, legally. They definitely would not be allowed to do it at school […] So it seems odd that these children think that they ought to be allowed to do anything that could potentially lead to someone’s death by another means.

    Third, why would anyone believe in a God who would rather people get sick and die than miss one moment of staring at the faces of these two particular teenagers? It’s nice to have confidence, but to imagine oneself so incredibly attractive that a literal deity could not live without gazing upon your countenance between the hours of 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. daily is a little much.

    For its part, the school has patiently tried to explain to the Nelsons the myriad ways the teens had violated school policy with their behavior, in ways that had absolutely nothing to do with their religion.

    [School Principal Rebecca] Fabozzi said in a letter to Nelson that his children were disruptive and that they were violating the mandate from the California Department of Public Health, or CDPH, that students wear masks in public schools. She also listed nine other ways the siblings had failed to follow school rules and policies.

    […] She ended the letter by saying that because of the disruption, Nelson’s children would remain on independent study at home with full access to curriculums, resources and teachers.

    […] The fact is, the Nelsons are getting an accommodation. Rather than being kicked out entirely, they are allowed to continue their studies at home. That is the accommodation. That way, they don’t have to wear a mask and other people don’t have to worry about the risk they pose. It would not be fair to the other students to say, “Oh, these two precious angels can go without masks because God can’t be deprived of seeing their lovely faces for a few hours, but everyone else has to.” They are being allowed to practice their religion and the other students are allowed to continue having a safe and hygienic environment, and that’s about the best compromise any school can be expected to do in the face of such ridiculousness.

    Link

  236. says

    Wonkette:

    [snipped details of other vice presidents embarrassing the USA] by the “Did Kamala Harris embarrass America?” standard, the country’s first woman vice president did just great on her recent solo trip to meet with leaders of southeast Asian countries, which ended yesterday. You hardly heard anything about it, and that’s largely the point. She went to Singapore, gave a speech warning that China is violating international law in the South China Sea, then went on to Vietnam to say stern things bout China some more, and also to pledge the US will donate an additional million doses of the Pfizer vaccine to Vietnam, bringing the total US commitment to Vietnam to six million doses.

    […] She showed the flag, shook the hands, promised US support in these difficult times, and focused more on the US relationship with the host countries and other allies in the region, sending the message that the grownups are back in charge at the White House.

    The no-drama-ness of Harris’s foreign tour impressed New York Times fashion columnist Vanessa Friedman, who noted that the first woman vice president hardly made any waves at all, except when she chose to with that deliberate tough talk on China, and that while Harris’s trip featured the usual “ceremonial appearances” that go along with state visits, there was virtually none of the attention to Harris’s own appearance, of the sort that was the annoying norm for women politicians for decades. Harris’s trip, she says, was notable in part because of how much the focus was on what she said and how little extraneous commentary it generated; how little reaction to the theater of the trip (the costumes! the curtain raisers!).

    For once, nobody said much about how a woman in politics dressed, so Friedman wrote about that negative space […]

    […] She stuck to dark pantsuits, the equivalent to the “generic world leader uniform” for men of dark suits […]

    Against the backdrop of the messy evacuation from Afghanistan and the need to reaffirm America’s commitment to its allies, with the Delta variant and other forms of the virus casting a cloud of fear over the world’s efforts to combat the pandemic, her somber wardrobe served to reflect the somber state of the world.

    It’s a pretty good analysis of how Harris used her wardrobe to reinforce her mission: Be the vice president, represent Biden and America, stay on message, and for godssake don’t barf on any prime ministers, save that for when you’re president. Oh yes, and for international trade purposes, be seen wearing American designers. Mission accomplished.

    Link

  237. says

    At least 170 people killed in Kabul airport bombing.

    Washington Post link

    A bombing outside Kabul airport Thursday that killed 13 U.S. troops left at least 170 people dead and at least 155 injured, according to one person with knowledge of the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

    That toll does not include the U.S. service members, and is likely to rise because many bodies are still irretrievable, the person said.

    A local affiliate of the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, which marked the deadliest day for American forces in Afghanistan in a decade, and one of the deadliest in the nearly 20-year war.

    U.S. troops in Kabul are bracing for more Islamic State attacks that could include car bombs or rocket fire at the airport, even as evacuation efforts wind down, a top U.S. commander said.

    “The mission there being performed is dangerous and has now come with significant loss of American personnel, but it’s a worthy mission because they continue to evacuate folks out of that region, out of the airport,” Biden told reporters at the White House as he met with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett. “They’ve evacuated more than 12,000 additional people out of the airport in the last 24 hours.”

  238. says

    Guardian – “California man charged with attacking Capitol police had history of assaulting activists”:

    When David Dempsey was arrested in California on Thursday and charged with attacking police officers defending the US Capitol on 6 January, local activists in Los Angeles were not surprised.

    Federal prosecutors have accused 34-year-old Dempsey of striking police at the Capitol with improvised weapons, including a crutch and a pole, and spraying them with a chemical agent, according to the criminal complaint against him.

    Five months earlier, two Los Angeles men said, Dempsey had used the exact same tactics to assault them during tense summer political demonstrations in the Tujunga neighborhood and in Beverly Hills.

    One of these alleged assaults had happened directly in front of police officers in Beverly Hills, and the other was reported in detail to the Los Angeles police department, according to the two men. Both said that local police failed to follow up or to arrest Dempsey, even though he had previously been charged with using bear mace on anti-Trump protesters in Santa Monica, California, in 2019.

    The Los Angeles police department did not immediately respond to a request for comment on their handling of the assault allegation against Dempsey last summer.

    In a video from 6 January, Dempsey is seen delivering a monologue in front of wooden gallows erected by the Capitol, saying that politicians like Nancy Pelosi and Jerry Nadler “don’t need a jail cell. They need to hang from these motherfuckers [pointing to gallows]” and that “the time for peace is over”, according to the criminal complaint.

    More at the link.

  239. says

    CNN – “January 6 committee seeks answers on misinformation from social media companies”:

    The House Select Committee investigating the deadly January 6 Capitol riot sent letters to 15 social media companies, including Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, seeking to understand how misinformation and efforts to overturn the election by both foreign and domestic actors existed on their platforms.

    The panel specifically asked for data and analysis on domestic violent extremists affiliated with efforts to overturn the 2020 election, particularly around the January 6 attack.

    Chairman Bennie Thompson asked for the information to be provided in two weeks.

    In addition to requesting a paper trail of information, the Select Committee also asked these social media companies to provide information on how they tried to address the misinformation that existed on their platforms and where the holes in doing so might have been.

    These letters build on the massive tranche of requests the Committee sent on Wednesday to several federal agencies and the National Archives that illustrate how the committee is building its case to explain the gaps in security failures and how former President Donald Trump and his orbit worked to overturn the 2020 election results.

    The target social media platforms are: 4chan, 8kun (former known as 8chan), Facebook, Gab, Google, Parler, Reddit, Snapchat, Telegram, theDonald[dot]win, TikTok, Twitch, Twitter, YouTube and Zello. The letters “seek a range of records, including data, reports, analyses, and communications stretching back to spring of 2020.”…

  240. raven says

    I’m sure Lynna knows about the crisis situation in Idaho hospitals.
    It’s like that in a lot of areas, mostly Red areas though.
    We’ve reached the point where Covid-19 patients are dying in the hallways while waiting for treatment.

    A friend forwarded me an email the local hospital sent out to their patient email list. It said, “Don’t get sick because we don’t have space and probably won’t be able to treat you.”

    COVID-19 forces Idaho hospitals past capacity, toward crisis
    By REBECCA BOONE Associated Press Aug 26, 2021 Updated 14 hrs ago

    BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Hospital facilities and public health agencies are scrambling to add capacity as the number of coronavirus cases continue to rise statewide. But many Idaho residents don’t seem to feel the same urgency.

    Volunteers are helping with contract tracing at the Central District Health Department, and health education classrooms are being converted into COVID-19 treatment units in northern Idaho. On Thursday, some Idaho hospitals only narrowly avoided asking the state to enact “crisis standards of care” — where scarce health care resources are allotted to the patients most likely to benefit — thanks in part to statewide coordination.

    Meanwhile, unmasked spectators sat shoulder-to-shoulder in the showing arena at the Western Idaho Fair this week as kids maneuvered livestock around the ring. At West Ada School District, Idaho’s largest school district, 21% of students had officially “opted out” of the district’s mask requirement before the first day of school ended on Thursday.

    “Our forecast is bad, to put it real bluntly,” said Dr. Frank Johnson, chief medical officer for St. Luke’s Health System.

    Coronavirus-related hospital admissions have been doubling every two weeks since July 24, he said. Thursday there were between 162 and 170 COVID-19 patients hospitalized in St. Luke’s facilities.

    “If we take that over the next two weeks and double that, we’re in a real, real difficult state that is well above any of the prior peaks that we had,” Johnson said. “We don’t have room for those numbers to double.”

    Neighboring states are in similar straits. St. Luke’s has been getting regular calls from overwhelmed facilities in Oregon, Washington and Nevada looking for places to send patients. Oregon has contracted with a private medical company to send “crisis teams” of nurses, respiratory therapists and paramedics to its hardest-hit hospitals in hopes of easing some of the load. Idaho’s public health leaders have requested help from FEMA, but the state is competing against others also requesting the same aid.

    And because hospitalizations generally occur about two weeks after the patient is first infected with coronavirus, the state’s climbing number of positive tests could mean any help may not come soon enough for some patients. More than 1,000 newly confirmed cases were reported on Wednesday and the daily number of new cases has been trending steadily upward.

    Hospitals and public health officials have frequent conference calls as they try to shuffle patients to the places where resources are still available. The calls are clinical in nature, but at times incredibly grim.

    “One of our partners in the state earlier today hit the point where they had had a patient intubated down in their emergency department, needing to keep that patient alive as they were trying to find a bed for that patient because they couldn’t care for them there,” Johnson said. “They were thinking about who they could take off a ventilator so they could put that patient on a ventilator — that’s a crisis level of care. We were at that level today.”

    It’s difficult, but understandable to see many Idaho residents acting like coronavirus isn’t a big deal, Johnson said.

    “Most of our patients in our state here in Idaho are not going to require hospitalization for COVID,” Johnson said. “In terms of the proportion of the population, yeah, it’s not most people that are in that situation, so I get it that people don’t see that right in front of them.”

    But it’s not just COVID-19 patients who will be affected by limited hospital capacity. On Thursday, as St. Luke’s was struggling to find beds for coronavirus patients across the state in need of ICU care, three new patients came in with strokes in need of the same beds.

    “We’re having trouble and we will have trouble accommodating the needs of our community if they have an emergency,” Johnson said. “If a kid comes in with pediatric trauma and we’re stressed on space and capacity, we are going to have a hard time taking care of them.”

    Last winter when hospitals were overwhelmed, masking and social distancing helped turn the tide. Now, with vaccination also available, the public can again help hospitals maintain capacity, he said. Roughly 98% of the COVID-19 patients in St. Luke’s ICU are unvaccinated.

    “Regardless of their opinions on COVID, we want to make sure that we have capacity for them,” Johnson said.

  241. says

    Raw Story – “Anti-masker ‘not doing good’ as lungs stiffen from COVID-19: ‘They’ve run out of options for him'”:

    The situation appears grim for the head of a “Freedom Defenders” group in Texas who opposed masks and vaccines before going into the hospital with a COVID-19 infection.

    Caleb Wallace has been hospitalized with the coronavirus since the beginning of August, unconscious, alone and heavily sedated, and his pregnant wife shared a “heartbreaking update” Wednesday on his condition, reported GoSanAngelo.

    “He’s not doing good,” Jessica Wallace posted on Facebook. “It’s not looking in our favor, his lungs are stiff due to the fibrosis. They called and said they’ve run out of options for him and asked if I would consent to a do not resuscitate. And it would be up to us when to stop treatments.”

    The 30-year-old father of three, whose wife is expecting their fourth child next month, organized “The San Angelo Freedom Defenders” group last year to push back against pandemic protection measures, and he organized anti-mask rallies and gave multiple interviews questioning public health measures before experiencing shortness of breath, high fever and a dry cough on July 26.

    At first, he tried treating himself with ivermectin, high doses of Vitamin C, zinc aspirin and an inhaler, but Wallace was taken July 30 by a relative to the emergency room at Shannon Medical Center, where he joined 33 others hospitalized with the virus.

    “He couldn’t breathe on his own,” said Jessica Wallace. “The first week he was able to be on oxygen. By the morning of (Aug. 8), he had to be ventilated.”

    Jessica Wallace said her political views differed from her husband, who also identified himself as the state coordinator for the right-wing West Texas Minutemen….

  242. says

    raven @274, thanks for posting that. We still have way too many Ammon-Bundy-type people in the state. They are anti-vaccine without good reasons. They are spreading misinformation. And also, they are in denial, as if the overwhelmed doctors and nurses at St. Luke’s don’t exist. As if unvaccinated people in that hospital (98% of the ICU patients, as you noted) are not going to die, suffer from long COVID, or be bankrupted by medical bills. It’s just insane. And … it puts people like me, people who tried to do all the right things, in more danger.

    The Ammon-Bundy types seem to think that it is so much fun to be a willfully-ignorant bully that it’s worth dying for a bogus concept of “freedom.” Fecking whackos and doofuses.

    What do they think is going to happen now that most kids in Idaho are back in school?

  243. blf says

    Shane Vaughn Claims COVID-19 Vaccines Don’t Work Because The US Is Under God’s Judgment:

    Radical right-wing pastor Shane Vaughn […] falsely declare[d] that COVID-19 vaccines are not working because, he claimed, the United States is under God’s judgment for tolerating reproductive freedom and LGBTQ rights.

    I’m going to tell you what God[I hallucinated a cabal of imaginary magic faeries] told me to tell you, Vaughn said. They’ve got variants coming that ain’t no vaccine going to work for. This nation is under the judgment of God. And I want to tell you something right now: They’re already admitting that the vaccine is alarmingly not working. Alarmingly! They’re alarmed at what they’re seeing. Do you know why? Because America, you’re making a huge mistake.

    Frustratingly, he could easily be correct the current vaccines will not be very effective against some future variant. What he omits — and hence one of the reasons for the eejit quotes — is because he unvaccinated (primarily) are a huge collection of petri dishes in which the virus can further mutate.

    […] Vaughn bellowed You’re running, where’s the next vaccine? Can I get another one? Can I get that second shot? The third one? Does anybody got the fourth? I need a fifth one, please.

    Why would you go begging them for their help? he continued. They have nothing that’s gonna help my judgment that is coming upon this nation. […] These vaccines are gonna quit working on every corner until this nation falls to her knees and repents for dead babies and repents for the sodomy of this nation!

    It’s not entirely clear who the various you, they, them, etc., refer-to, but unless he means peas or horses, it probably doesn’t matter, the gibbering is so batshite lunatic dangerous.

  244. blf says

    Vaccine conspiracy theorists become even more desperate after full FDA authorization (Washington Post edits in {curly braces}):

    The claim is that the FDA somehow didn’t really fully authorize the Pfizer vaccine. It’s built on nonsense, experts say.

    For many months, vaccine skeptics and critics of vaccination mandates have pointed to the fact that the coronavirus vaccines were available only under emergency-use authorizations. So when the Food and Drug Administration this week fully authorized the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, these folks had some accounting to do.

    Increasingly, some of them have landed on a rather conspiratorial idea that seems likely to rear its head moving forward, particularly as employers push forward with mandates.

    The claim: The FDA didn’t really fully authorize the Pfizer vaccine.

    It’s a claim many of the most prominent vaccine skeptics you might have heard of are pushing with increasing gusto. […]

    [… The various claims (plural)] boil down to the idea that the FDA has engaged in a bait-and-switch. While it fully approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine that will be marketed under the name Comirnaty, the FDA also extended the emergency-use authorization for the same vaccine under the existing name.

    [… One lunatic version is] the full authorization provides a pretext for mandating the emergency-use version (which some wrongly suggest is different). Others have wrongly claimed that if this was truly a real, full authorization, the EUAs would have to be voided — so the fact that they aren’t means it isn’t a full authorization.

    That last claim is something I’ve been wondering about, since EUAs are granted only(?) when there is no approved and available treatment. Well, now there is an approved one, so, eventually, any future Covid-19 vaccine might not be eligible for an EUA? (I don’t know of any reason the existing EUAs would become invalid due to the approval.) The article dives into this legal-ish point some more:

    […]
    The crux of the argument focuses on a footnote in the FDA documentation about why the EUAs are continuing (key part bolded):

    Although COMIRNATY (COVID-19 Vaccine, mRNA) is approved to prevent COVID-19 in individuals 16 years of age and older, there is not sufficient approved vaccine available for distribution to this population in its entirety at the time of reissuance of this EUA. Additionally, there are no products that are approved to prevent COVID-19 in individuals age 12 through 15, or that are approved to provide an additional dose to the immunocompromised population described in this EUA.

    To some, this means the fully approved vaccine isn’t or won’t be available. The language, though, strictly says that there merely isn’t a “sufficient” amount of it available to the approved groups to void the need for the EUAs.

    As for the idea that they simply wouldn’t be allowed to continue the EUAs if they truly had a fully approved version? That comes out of thin air. The FDA is allowed to continue with EUAs even if a fully approved treatment is available, as long as there isn’t an “adequate” amount of the fully approved treatment available. (The above footnote is appended to the FDA using this precise language.)

    […]

    “That language gives FDA a tremendous amount of flexibility to continue to issue EUAs, or to retain existing EUAs, even after one or more products are approved,” said Patricia J Zettler, a former FDA attorney and law professor at Ohio State University. “For example, remdesivir is fully approved for the treatment of covid-19 requiring hospitalization, but there remains an EUA for the product for pediatric patients outside the scope of the approval.”

    Zettler added: “There is nothing suspicious going on here; this is just regulatory language explaining why a legal standard is met.”

    William Schaffner, an infectious-disease specialist at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, agreed.

    […]

    Chris Beyrer, an epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School Public Health, noted that the existing Pfizer vaccines that have been produced and purchased can’t legally be overlabeled with the Comirnaty branding, even as they are the same thing.

    “That’s why there may be, for some time, EUA Pfizer doses in use before {fully authorized} Comirnaty becomes more widely available,” Beyrer said. “This is standard, nothing unusual, and {it} does not void an EUA.”

    This is something largely relegated to the extremes of the vaccine-skeptic community. But it’s catching on. And the FDA’s approval of the Pfizer vaccine — which is actually, literally that — means we’ll start seeing more entities mandating the vaccine. And that means those who have fought those mandates will need something to explain their opposition to mandating a fully authorized vaccine in a country where that is commonplace.

    This appears, as likely as anything, to be the thing many of them will latch on to. It just does not provide the firm grip they seem to want.

  245. says

    NBC29 – “Liberty University announces quarantine amid COVID-19 spike”:

    Liberty University announced a temporary campus-wide quarantine Thursday amid a spike in COVID-19 cases.

    News outlets report that the quarantine is set to begin Monday and last until Sept. 10. [Yes, it’s a two-week temporary quarantine.]

    The university’s online COVID-19 dashboard showed 159 known active cases among students, faculty and staff as of Wednesday. As the fall semester began this week, the university, which doesn’t require vaccination, lifted building capacity restrictions and distancing and masking requirements.

    The protocol changed late Thursday with the announcement of the campus-wide quarantine, moving classes online and suspending large indoor gatherings.

    The university will encourage masking and social distancing and host vaccine clinics on campus, but it didn’t indicate it would mandate those measures.

    Feelin’ that liberty.

  246. blf says

    Got one of fecking slimes! Austria’s former far-right vice chancellor convicted of corruption:

    A Vienna court convicted the former leader of Austria’s far-right Heinz-Christian Strache of a corruption charge on Friday in a case stemming from a 2019 scandal known as “Ibizagate”.

    Strache, one of Europe’s most high-profile former far-right leaders, was given a 15-month[!] suspended[!] jail sentence.

    The Ibizagate scandal led to Strache resigning as vice-chancellor and head of the far-right Freedom Party (FPOe).

    […]

    The scandal broke when video footage emerged of Strache promising public contracts to a woman posing as a Russian oligarch’s niece in exchange for support for the FPOe’s 2017 election campaign.

    The video, which was secretly filmed on the Spanish resort island of Ibiza, led to a sprawling investigation by anti-corruption prosecutors who turned up several other allegations of wrongdoing against Strache and other prominent politicians.

    […]

    Prosecutor Bernhard Weratschnig said in his closing argument that holders of public office should remain above even the perception of corruption and that the “advantages” Strache received were “indisputable”.

    “Every euro is one euro too many,” he said.

    According to an SMS exchange uncovered by prosecutors, Strache had asked [co-accused & also convicted shady “friend” Walter] Grubmueller which amendments to legislation would be needed in order for Grubmueller’s clinic to finally be treated in a fair manner.

    During Strache’s time in government, the law was amended to enable clinics like that of Grubmueller to receive money from the public health insurance fund.

    Strache has also been accused of embezzling party funds to pay for his luxurious lifestyle during the 14 years he headed the FPOe, though he has not been charged over this.

    […]

    The FPOe’s vote share crashed from 26 percent in 2017 to just 16 percent in 2019.

    The party has spent much of the time since the scandal consumed by infighting.

    […] Strache attempted a political comeback last year with a bid to be Vienna’s mayor, but his list won just three percent of the vote in municipal elections.

  247. blf says

    Oh for feck’s sake, ‘It’s only going to get worse’: mask war in Arizona schools ramps up as Covid cases soar:

    The state is poised to ban mandates next month — even as the threat to young children grows

    [… I]n Arizona, any school district with a mask mandate draws the ire of the Republican governor[local mafia boss], Doug Ducey, and his allies in the Republican-dominated statehouse who are ramping up a showdown at the very time Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations have worsened.

    By Thursday evening, Arizona, with a population of about 7.1 million, had reported nearly 1 million Covid-19 cases since the start of the pandemic. More than 18,600 people have died, 35 of them under the age of 20. That may rise, as the state’s positivity rate has soared to 10–14% — up from 5% in May.

    While Arizona hospitals aren’t yet full, they are experiencing an alarming uptick in Covid-19 patients, most of whom are not vaccinated. The Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association calls the surge in the state cases “ominous”. Yet only 47.3% of Arizonans are fully vaccinated, compared with 51.7% nationwide.

    […]

    The main children’s hospital in Arizona, Phoenix children’s hospital, has seen an increase in cases and hospitalizations of kids with Covid-19, says Dr Wassim Ballan, a pediatric infectious diseases specialist at the hospital.

    “Mortality is low but not zero,” he says.

    He advocates for all protective measures — vaccines when possible, masks, handwashing, distancing and the following of CDC guidelines.

    One of those guidelines — wearing masks in indoor settings — will be difficult to follow when a new Arizona law that bans mask mandates in state-affiliated schools takes effect on 29 September. A recent court challenge to the law, filed by parents, teachers, school boards and other advocates for kids, notes that if schools aren’t allowed to impose Covid-19 mitigation measures, like masks, “students and teachers will get sick and some may die.”

    In the meantime, Ducey, widely thought to have national political ambitions, has played hardball with mask-mandating school districts. He recently announced only districts following all state laws were eligible for $163m in federal grant money now in his control.

    […]

    Joe Biden sicced Miguel Cardona, the secretary of education, on Ducey and other Republican governors who have bullied school districts that have imposed mask mandates. The president directed Cardona to “assess all available tools” to use against governors who are trying to keep school districts from protecting kids.

    Ducey called Biden’s response weak and pathetic. [Deliberately killing children & others so you can continue to pocket $163m is neither weak nor pathetic. –blf]

    […]

    The school mask showdown has only served to further divide many in this politically polarized state. It’s at least as divisive as a continuing recount of votes in Maricopa county […]

    [… M]ost mask-mandating school districts are located in urbanized counties, where pro-mask and anti-mask parents are battling it out in school board meetings. “The high level of political verbiage and finger pointing distracts us from our job to help kids learn,” laments Jim Lemmon, a member of the Tempe elementary school district board.

    Even the kids have taken up the fight, teasing each other for wearing or not wearing masks.

    [… A]t a welding supply store, a blue-eyed man wearing a T-shirt that reads Liberty Guns Beer Trump says: I don’t have kids but if I did have kids I’d definitely oppose the mask mandate. He worries masks will cause a lot of damage and serious psychological implications. [Dead children obviously are neither damaged nor have any problems. –blf] And he’s dismayed by the number of folks in town who support kids wearing masks in schools.

    […]

    The article focuses on the rural Miami (yes, in AZ) school district, which does have a mask mandate. However, “[the] district will probably stop requiring masks in order to comply with the new state law that takes effect at the end of September, if it passes muster in the courts.”

  248. blf says

    And the most important thing about France’s Health Pass, The health passport is feminine, rules French language guardian (possibly paywalled):

    […]
    The health passport in French is known as a pass sanitaire — but should it be a masculine le pass or a feminine la passe? [French only has two genders, it does not have the neutral gender of, say, German –blf]

    Until now the styling had been masculine and the reporting in the French press, as well as government communications have referred to it as a pass sanitaire.

    […]

    However, now the French language guardians the Academie française have got involved.

    Not only is pass incorrect, says[burbles] the Academie in its statement, but — even worse — it’s an Anglicism.

    The ruling reads: The noun ‘pass‘ is an Anglicism to be avoided. In French, it could be replaced by the feminine word passe, which can designate a passage permit, a laissez-passer. […]

    […]

  249. says

    Joy Reid just reported on Florida. They had more than 27,000 new cases in the last day (their test positivity is 15-20%) and almost a thousand deaths. That’s about the same as Brazil, and more than Russia.

  250. says

    Giuliani Makes The Case That He’s ‘A Functioning’ Person

    […] America’s former mayor gave a rather blunt interview to NBC New York this week, addressing head on the fact that everyone thinks he’s basically lost his mind.

    When NBC asked him directly how he feels about the pretty universal perception that he’s gone off the deep end since his shinier days as the mayor of New York, he said, “I don’t care.”

    “I am aware of that,” he said, responding to questions about his meteoric fall from grace. “And what’s happened is, our country has gone off the rails … I’m exactly the same person. They changed!”

    He then blamed the media for his now-tarnished reputation and the public’s general skepticism of anyone associated with former President Trump. He also addressed allegations that he may have a drinking problem, based on reports of his behavior in the White House on the night of the 2020 election, as well as a slew of other stories to surface over the past several years about him slurring his words during interviews or running into walls while walking.

    “Never,” he said. “I don’t think I’ve ever done an interview drunk. I mean, I drink normally. I like Scotch, I drink Scotch,” he said, according to NBC New York.

    “I’m not an alcoholic,” he continued. “I’m a functioning, I probably function more effectively than 90 percent of the population.”

    There you have it.

    The former mayor also spoke about his belief that the DOJ is bent on destroying him for political reasons and addressed the department’s probe into his dealings in Ukraine while he served as Trump’s lawyer — the very dealings that got Trump impeached the first time. He called the scope of the investigation “unconstitutional,” but laughed “out loud” while making the unsubstantiated claim that the country’s top law enforcement arm’s investigators have, apparently, been unable to unlock his phone?

  251. says

    “Socialism Alert! Greg Abbott got COVID and now wants to spread it around to everyone.”
    —Trevor Noah

    Anti-vaxxer being interviewed by Jordan Klepper: I can’t go to the gym. It feels like a dictatorship. Like we’re living in Nazi Germany and the only things that are missing are the camps and the gas.

    Jordan Klepper: Do you think that’s what it was like in Nazi Germany? People were [B-word-ing] about not going to the gym?

    —The Daily Show

  252. says

    Update: Jesse Jackson moves to rehab following COVID-19 diagnosis, wife in ICU

    Famed civil rights activist Rev. Jesse Jackson has been transferred to a rehabilitation hospital following his COVID-19 diagnosis, while his wife Jacqueline has been moved to intensive care, the couple’s son said Friday.

    In a statement released to the civl rights icon’s Instagram on Friday, Jonathan Jackson said his father’s symptoms have been subsiding, which has put his Parkinson’s “more in focus.”

    Jesse Jackson, 79, revealed that he had Parkinson’s in 2017, a neurological disorder that progressively causes mobility and movement challenges. […]

    Jesse Jackson has been transferred to the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab in Chicago where “he will immediately begin intensive occupational and physical therapy,” Jonathan Jackson said.

    Jonathan Jackson further said that his mother, 77-year-old Jacqueline Jackson, remains at Northwestern Memorial Hospital but has been moved into the intensive care unit.

    Jacqueline Jackson is not on a ventilator, but is “receiving increased oxygen and is breathing on her own,” her son said.

    “Both of our parents are continuing to receive excellent medical care,” Jonathan Jackson said. “We urge that you continue to keep them in your prayers because we know that this is a serious disease.” […]

    Jesse Jackson was vaccinated, but his wife was not.

  253. says

    Unvaccinated, unmasked teacher led to elementary school outbreak

    An unvaccinated elementary school teacher in California who was diagnosed with COVID-19 infected half of the students in their classroom and sparked a community-wide outbreak, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

    The teacher showed up to work while symptomatic and continued to teach for two days before receiving a test. She reported nasal congestion and fatigue, but attributed the symptoms to allergies.

    The school required teachers and students to mask while indoors, but the teacher was reportedly unmasked when reading aloud to the class.

    […] Other than two teachers, one of whom was the index patient, all school staff members were vaccinated.

    […] Twelve of the teacher’s 22 students subsequently received a positive test result, including eight out of 10 in the front two rows.

    The report also found a separate outbreak at the same school, among unvaccinated students in a different grade. According to the CDC, six students tested positive. Investigators found that one student hosted a sleepover on May 21 with two classmates from the same grade. All three of these students experienced symptoms after the sleepover and tested positive.

    The outbreaks in the separate grades were probably linked, the CDC said.

    Cases were then identified in four different students from separate grades. These four students were siblings of students who were infected from the unmasked teacher, and exposure was assumed to have occurred in their respective homes.

    In addition to the teacher and 22 infected students, four parents of students with cases were infected, for a total of 27 cases. Among the five infected adults, one parent and the teacher were unvaccinated; the others were fully vaccinated.

    Aside from masks, all desks were separated by six feet. All classrooms had portable high-efficiency particulate air filters and doors and windows were left open.

    CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said the lesson should be that schools can be safe, as long as multiple layers of mitigation are followed.

    “The introduction of the virus into the classroom by a teacher who worked in school while she was both symptomatic and unvaccinated and who was unmasked when reading aloud to a class resulted in cases within the classroom, across the school, and among families of students and staff in the community,” Walensky said during a press briefing.

    “We know how to protect our kids in school. We have the tools.”

    Until children under age 12 are eligible to be vaccinated, the CDC says the best way to keep them safe in schools is to use all the tools available, including physical distancing, masks, ventilation and vaccines for everyone else who is eligible.

  254. says

    Florida Judge Rules That Residents Have a Right to a Smarter Governor

    New Yorker link

    TALLAHASSEE (The Borowitz Report)—In what many have seen as a legal setback for Governor Ron DeSantis, a Florida judge has ruled that the state’s residents have a right to a smarter governor.

    “The Constitution does not grant you the right to yell ‘fire’ in a crowded theatre,” Judge John Cooper, of Florida’s Second Circuit, wrote. “Similarly, it does not grant you the right to govern a state like a blithering idiot.”

    “The Declaration of Independence enshrines the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” Cooper continued. “All three are imperilled in a state run by a blazing bonehead.”

    DeSantis swiftly blasted the ruling, stating that it would have a “chilling effect” on ignorant politicians becoming the governor of Florida going forward.

    DeSantis’s statement drew strong support from two of his state’s most prominent political luminaries, the former governors Rick Scott and Jeb Bush.

    Humor/satire

  255. says

    At least one drone strike from the USA has killed an ISIS-K planner. The strike was in retaliation for the attack at the Kabul airport that killed more than 170 Afghans, and also killed 13 USA military personnel. More were injured.

  256. blf says

    Republican election audits have led to voting system breaches, experts say (Grauniad edits in {curly braces}):

    […]
    Republican efforts to question Donald Trump’s defeat in 2020 have led to voting system breaches experts say pose a risk to future elections.

    Copies of Dominion Voting Systems softwares used for designing ballots, configuring voting machines and tallying results were distributed at an event[teh cyber symposium bouncy castle fun fair] this month in South Dakota organized by the MyPillow chief executive, Mike Lindell […]

    Matt Masterson, a former top election security official in the Trump administration, said: “We told election officials, essentially, that you should assume this information is already out there. Now we know it is, and we don’t know what {hackers} are going to do with it.”

    The software copies came from voting equipment in Mesa county, Colorado, and Antrim county, Michigan, where Trump allies challenged results last fall. Dominion software is used in some 30 states, including California, Georgia and Michigan.

    Harri Hursti, an election security pioneer, was at the South Dakota event and said he and other researchers were given three separate copies of election management systems that run on the Dominion software. Data indicated they were from Antrim [Michigan] and Mesa [Colorado] counties. While it’s not clear how the copies came to be released, they were also posted online and made available for public download.

    The release gives hackers a “practice environment” to probe for vulnerabilities and a road map to avoid defenses, Hursti said. All hackers would need is physical access to the systems because they are not supposed to be connected to the internet.

    “The door is now wide open,” Hursti said. “The only question is, how do you sneak in the door?”

    […]

    In Antrim county, a judge allowed a forensic exam of voting equipment after a brief mix-up of results led to a suit alleging fraud. It was dismissed in May. Hursti said the date on the software release matches the date of the forensic exam.

    […]

    In Colorado, authorities are investigating whether Mesa county elections staff provided unauthorized access to systems. The county elections clerk, Tina Peters, appeared with Lindell in South Dakota and told the crowd she was being targeted by Democrats. [as per @91, Peters is the person Lindell claims he is hiding from the FBI –blf]

    […] This week, Mesa county commissioners voted to replace voting equipment [secretary of state Jena] Griswold ordered no longer be used.

    Geoff Hale, who leads election security at the US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (Cisa), said his agency has always operated on the assumption system vulnerabilities are known by malicious actors. Officials are focused instead on ways to reduce risk, such as using ballots with a paper record that can be verified by the voter and rigorous post-election audits, Hale said.

    Having Dominion’s software exposed publicly did not change the agency’s guidance, Hale said.

    Jack Cable, a security researcher, said he assumed US adversaries already had access to the software. He said he was more concerned the release would fan distrust among the growing number of people not inclined to believe in the security of US elections.

    I concur. It’s a standard assumption in cryptology work (computing or otherwise) the attacker knows the algorithm (has the software), has an uncorrupted copy of the ciphertext (the encrypted data), and at least a general idea of the plaintext (what was originally encrypted looks like or contains). What they are missing is (simplified), the password needed to decrypt. Those are certainly key assumptions in financial transaction security (e.g., ATMs, chip-and-PIN cards, ticket vending machines, and so on (some of which are Internet-capable)), and I don’t see why that wouldn’t also be true in elections security.

    One difference, however, possibly, is the cost-payoff ratio: How much does it cost (in terms of time, money, etc.) to “break” the system, and is that cost worth the payoff. For financial networks that have zillions of dollars flowing through them (e.g., SWIFT) spending before the system changes / improves is probably worth quite a lot, but not so much for laboriously stealing people’s credit card details. Being able to manipulate an election? Seems like it could also be very very valuable.

    The cost-payoff ratio matters, as it means certain extremely difficult theoretical “breaks” can be allowed to not so much fester as simply be addressed by preventative measures (usually intended to increase the cost / difficultly of a successfully exploit of the theoretical “break”, as well as simply fixing bugs). The software and its certification have a limited lifetime, so such routine improvements are rolled out fairly frequently. But if the attackers (or researchers) perceive a theoretical possibly as being worthwhile, then the matter is perhaps no longer one of “just” routine improvements. (This sort of cost-payoff tradeoff does not apply to just ciphers, but to all aspects of the system, including the “back room” people (operators (presumably with security clearances)), backups & spares, as well as the more obvious issues like physical protection and communications security.)

    […]
    Ryan Macias, an election technology and security expert who was in Arizona earlier this year to observe [teh cyber ninja’s ongoing fraudit], was alarmed by a lack of cybersecurity protocols. There was no information about who was given access, whether those people had passed background checks or were asked to sign non-disclosure agreements. Cyber Ninjas did not respond to an email.

    Macias was not surprised to hear copies of Antrim county’s system had surfaced online, given the questionable motives of the various groups conducting the reviews and the central role that voting systems have played in conspiracy theories.

    “This is what I anticipated would happen, and I anticipate it will happen yet again coming out of Arizona,” Macias said. “These actors have no liability and no rules of engagement.”

  257. says

    Update to comment 292. Officials now say that two ISIS-K members were killed, a facilitator and a planner. The Pentagon says there were no civilian casualties as a result of the retaliatory strike.

  258. blf says

    Nasa / JPL have created an interactive map, Where is Perseverance?, showing the locations of both the Perseverance rover and Ingenuity helicopter, along with waypoints, tracks, latitude & longitude, distances covered, etc. The Martian features, however, don’t seem to be named? (The mysteriously-labeled “layers” control in the upper left←hand corner turns the various displays on-and-off.)

  259. says

    Storm update:

    As of 7:00 AM ET on Saturday, Hurricane Ida is a Category 1 storm with maximum winds of 85 mph, heading northwest after crossing western Cuba overnight. However, the National Hurricane Center predicts that Ida will continue to strengthen throughout the day as it passes over the warm waters of the central Gulf of Mexico. The latest forecast shows the storm becoming a major Category 3 storm by Sunday morning, and as Ida nears the coast of Louisiana, the NHC expects it to grow still more intense, making landfall as a Category 4 storm with 140 mph winds. That would make Ida stronger than Hurricane Katrina at the time it reached New Orleans in 2006, and put it on par with Hurricane Laura, which crashed into western Louisiana last year.

    […] path has shifted over 50 miles to the east in just the last 12 hours. Ida is now projected to make landfall around the town of Houma, just 50 miles west of New Orleans. Not only does this mean that higher winds, more rain, and a larger surge are likely to strike the New Orleans area on the anniversary of Katrina, by being just to the west of the city, but New Orleans is on the “dirty” side of the storm; the side where the storm’s own rotation makes things simply worse. The surge warning for the storm now carries predicted levels of 10 to 15 feet. In some areas, the surge may reach 20 feet—high enough to completely cover large areas several miles inland. Low-lying areas of the coast west of New Orleans are expected to be fully inundated. What this means for the city itself will be up to series of levees that protect most of the area. However, the NHC is calling for “devastating winds, life-threatening surge,” and “heavy rainfall.”

    Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards has declared a state of emergency and asked residents to please listen to the warnings. For those in low-lying areas new the coast, those plans should be simple: Get out. Coastal port towns and areas for several dozen miles inland are expected to be completely inundated. Anyone who can move should move, and those who can’t move should be contacting local authorities to learn about options for shelter—or better still, transport out of the area.

    But Edwards’ warning carries a coda that’s not been present in most such cautions: “Now is the time for people to finalize their emergency game plan, which should take into account the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.”

    […] Hospitals across the state are simply full. Not only are ICUs full, but regular beds are full, pediatric wards are full, emergency rooms are full. Patients are already being treated in hallways, in tents, and in parking areas turned into makeshift extensions. Under normal circumstances, many hospital patients would already be on their way to rooms in safer areas, but with the explosion of delta variant cases across the Southeast, those rooms are already full. Whether it’s Louisiana or Mississippi, inland to Arkansas, or west to Texas, there simply is nowhere to shift patients in a healthcare system facing record demand for beds.

    That means that hospitals—and the already exhausted and long overworked nurses, doctors, and EMTs—have no choice but to stay where they are. Everyone else may, and should, be leaving. But these health care professionals have to stay with their patients and hope that preparations for maintaining power, water, and supplies are adequate in the face of a powerful storm.

    During Katrina, both hospitals and extended care facilities in and around New Orleans found themselves short of power, short of medications, and facing rising floodwaters. This generated a number of horror stories, like that at Memorial Medical Center, where the question of whether the doctors present were heroes, murderers, or both still remains difficult to resolve.

    […] One thing is excessively clear: Anyone who is in the area and can leave, should leave. Anyone in the area who can’t leave should seek shelter. And everyone should absolutely take every step possible to avoid both COVID-19 and any injuries.

    In the wake of Ida, there will be damage from devastating winds. There will be flooding from a massive storm surge. There will be flash floods, downed trees, power failures, blocked roads, and extremely difficult conditions from the combination of wind, surge, and heavy rains. […] And even those who normally shrug all that off should be running right now, because what there will not be is any hospital beds.

    If you can get out, get out. Do so safely, but do it now, because time is running out quickly.

    Link

  260. says

    ‘Graveyard of Empires’ is an old epitaph that doesn’t reflect historical reality — or the real victims of foreign invasions over the centuries.

    It was inevitable. With the hurried end of the U.S. involvement in Afghanistan, the old epitaph has been revived already in dozens of newspaper headlines, editorial cartoons and think pieces. It seems to spring from the lips of every other television commentator.

    “Afghanistan,” we are told, as if this explains everything, “is the graveyard of empires.”

    […] The only trouble is that it doesn’t have much to do with actual history. Afghanistan, in its long existence, has sadly been more like the roadkill of empires — a victim to their ambitions. Understanding this historical reality is critical to grasping why the United States is unlikely to suffer serious long-term effects from its long and wasteful occupation of Afghanistan — or from the bloody, bumbling withdrawal. It is also vital in acknowledging how much more likely smaller powers like Afghanistan are to suffer lasting trauma than any of their larger, more powerful invaders.

    Certainly, the peoples living in what is Afghanistan today have resisted mightily one haughty conqueror after another who swaggered down the Hindu Kush. Alexander the Great faced fierce opposition from locals when he invaded around 330 B.C., and received a nasty leg wound from an arrow. But he ultimately smashed that resistance, founded what became the modern city of Kandahar and pushed on to India — leaving behind the Seleucid Empire, which lasted for 250 years. Genghis Khan conquered Afghanistan. So did Timur, better known as Tamerlane, and his descendant Babur. So did the Turks and the Huns, the Hindus and Islamic Arabs, the Persians and the Parthians. So did numerous empires, peoples and tyrants you’ve probably never heard of: the Greco-Bactrians, the Indo-Scythians, the Kushans, the Sassanian Empire, the Maurys Empire, the Gahznavids, the Uzbeks, the Safavids and the Hotak dynasty. Most of them stayed for decades, even centuries.

    The idea that Afghanistan was some kind of geopolitical quicksand for empires seems to have started with the First Anglo-Afghan War, which ended in 1842. An army of 4,700 British and Indian soldiers retreating from Kabul was slaughtered nearly to a man near the village of Gandamak, along with at least 12,000 civilians traveling with the army. The debacle was a major scandal back in London. It also came at a moment when England’s penny dreadfuls and its narrators of the travails and glories of empire were hitting their stride. Much like the tabloids and instant TV news of today, their reports and images served to horrify and enrage audiences at home. (They also played into the racist, Western fascination, one that lasted throughout the 19th century and beyond, with the idea of a gallant band of doomed, white warriors fighting to the last while helplessly outnumbered by “savages”: the Afghans in Gandamak or the Sioux and Cheyenne at the Little Bighorn, the Turks at Balaclava, the Zulus at Isandlwana.)

    Less frequently mentioned in recollections of Gandamak is that Britain sent an “army of retribution” into Afghanistan a few months later, one that crushed every Afghan army sent against it, looted and razed numerous towns and villages in its path, and finally sacked Kabul — burning the dazzling Char-Chatta Bazaar there in a final spasm of vengeance. Britain would return to stomp Afghanistan in the Second Anglo-Afghan War, which ended in 1880. Far from being interred, the British Empire would reach its zenith in 1920, extending its reign more than 13.7 million square miles, or more than one-quarter of the Earth’s land mass.

    The Soviet Union’s misadventure in Afghanistan was more damaging. The USSR suffered 14,453 fatalities during its brutal, 1979-1988 occupation of the country, and squandered a fortune in materiel and money. But with all due respect to the dead, this was about a typical half-hour at Stalingrad. Although many people have argued that the Soviet Union collapsed because of its failures in Afghanistan, it is impossible to deny the vastly greater price the USSR paid for keeping its many other subject peoples in thrall, or for the manifest failings of communism.

    […] Of course, the U.S. skedaddle is also a disaster for Afghans, especially women and girls, and all who put their faith in the belief that a true democracy might soon emerge. America has joined that en