Liberal News

  • Forget About Stimulus. We Need Real Assistance.
    by Kevin Drum on September 18, 2020 at 23:00

    The two biggest employers of the working poor are retail and leisure (including restaurants), which are good proxies for the overall economic health of low-income workers. Here’s how they’ve been doing: In both cases, average weekly earnings have recovered to their pre-pandemic level. Among retail employees, average earnings are actually about $30 per week higher

  • Hurricane Maria Slammed Into Puerto Rico 3 Years Ago. Finally Trump Is Providing Some Additional Aid.
    by Will Peischel on September 18, 2020 at 22:52

    Almost three years to the day after Hurricane Maria slammed into Puerto Rico, killing thousands of people and leaving up to $95 billion of damage in its wake, the Trump administration announced a $13 billion aid package for the island’s recovery on Friday. Administration officials touted the funds as a big win for the island,

  • Donald Trump Wanted to Keep This Video Deposition Secret. We Got a Copy.
    by David Corn on September 18, 2020 at 22:44

    During the 2016 campaign, Donald Trump was burdened with lawsuits that accused him and his Trump University of defrauding students who had paid thousands of dollars to learn the supposed secrets of Trump’s financial success. Though the Trump U controversy raised questions about Trump’s fitness for office, he managed to score two legal victories in

  • Fauci Says Restaurants Should Remain Closed
    by Taegan Goddard on September 18, 2020 at 22:40

    As states continue reopening businesses amid the coronavirus pandemic, Dr. Anthony Fauci told MSNBC that bars and restaurants remain closed to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Said Fauci: “Bars are

  • Trump Refuses To Answer When Asked Why He Blocked USPS From Sending Out Masks
    by Jason Easley on September 18, 2020 at 22:18

    Trump quickly changed the subject when he was asked why he blocked the Postal Service from sending masks to every American.

  • Since Nothing Else is Going On, Republicans Want the DOJ to Prosecute Netflix
    by Todd Neikirk on September 18, 2020 at 22:17

    The United States has had over 6 million COVID-19 cases. The death count from those cases is nearing 200,000 and the country is regularly seeing over 1,000 deaths a day. Americans have also been waiting on a decision about expanded unemployment benefits since the end of July. Since Republicans in the House seemingly have nothing … Continue reading “Since Nothing Else is Going On, Republicans Want the DOJ to Prosecute Netflix”

  • President Good Deals Strikes Again
    by Ben Dreyfuss on September 18, 2020 at 21:53

    The New York Times just reported that the Trump administration was on the verge of a deal with pharmaceutical companies to lower the cost of prescription drugs, but then at the last minute the talks collapsed. But it’s why the deal fell apart that makes this story special. Mark Meadows, Mr. Trump’s chief of staff,

  • ‘Climate Floods. Climate Droughts. Climate Fires’: Interactive Map Illustrates How Planetary Crisis Threatens Every Corner of US
    on September 18, 2020 at 21:46

    Julia Conley, staff writerTaking a cue from Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, an outspoken climate action advocate who this week referred to the wildfires which have burned through hundreds of thousands of acres in his state as “climate fires,” two New York Times journalists on Friday offered a visual of how the climate crisis is expected to affect every part of the United States.

  • Right-Wing Operatives Accused of Trying to Entrap Progressive Pro-Democracy Groups in North Carolina to Undermine Their Election Work
    on September 18, 2020 at 21:37

    Jon Queally, staff writer”Common Cause may be the target, but the attack is on our democracy and on the right of every eligible voter to have a say in the future for our families, communities, and country.”

  • Right Wing Round-Up: The Election Is Spiritual Warfare
    by Kyle Mantyla on September 18, 2020 at 21:32

    Jack Jenkins @ Religion News Service: Head of Federal Election Commission calls separation of church and state a ‘fallacy’ and 2020 election a ‘spiritual war.’ Matt Shuham @ Talking Points Memo: Ex-Pence Aide Who Worked On COVID Task Force Comes Out For Biden. Hemant Mehta @ Friendly Atheist: Florida Gov. Nominates Right-Wing Christian Extremist to The post Right Wing Round-Up: The Election Is Spiritual Warfare first appeared on Right Wing Watch.

  • Right Wing Bonus Tracks: Illuminati Wizard
    by Kyle Mantyla on September 18, 2020 at 21:30

    Tom Gilson declares that “Black Lives Matter is a modern Blood Letting Movement, only more horrific.” Brenden Dilley announces that he won’t be friends with liberals because he doesn’t “want to catch whatever the fuck it is that you’ve got that made you that stupid.” Josh Bernstein wants us to know that we are “a The post Right Wing Bonus Tracks: Illuminati Wizard first appeared on Right Wing Watch.

  • Trump Fumes at Chamber of Commerce
    by Taegan Goddard on September 18, 2020 at 21:23

    “President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence criticized the CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce during a phone call Friday morning, venting their frustrations over its recent endorsement of

  • Deal on Drug Prices Undone by ‘Trump Cards’
    by Taegan Goddard on September 18, 2020 at 21:19

    “After months of heated accusations and painstaking negotiations, the White House and the pharmaceutical industry neared agreement late last month on a plan to make good on President Trump’s longstanding

  • Joe Rogan Walks Back Lies About Oregon Fires, Apologizes Like A Big Boy
    by Aliza Worthington on September 18, 2020 at 21:10

    Brianna Keilar spoke today to reporter Miguel Marquez, who had a plea from firefighters risking their lives battling the wildfires in Oregon to stop spreading baseless rumors about how the fires have started. What type of rumors, you ask? Well, the very type PodBro Joe Rogan spouted on his show: that it was left-wing activists, and Antifa who have started them. Keilar played the Rogan clip on her show: ROGAN: There’s a madness going on there. You wanna talk about madness of crowds, that is, that exemplifies that right now and to me — they have arrested people for lighting forest fires up there. MURRAY: Yeah. ROGAN: They’ve arrested left wing people for lighting these forest fires, you know, air quote activists, and this is also something that’s not widely being reported. “It’s not being widely reported because it’s not true,” Keilar shot back. She pointed to the large number of local and state officials refuting these conspiracy theories. She then threw it to reporter Miguel Marquez, who was in Oregon and had spoken to the more

  • Fox Still Trying To Scare The Hell Out Of Old White Men On Social Security About The Dangers Of Socialism
    by Heather on September 18, 2020 at 21:08

    You won’t see anyone on Fox reporting on the fact that the Social Security trust fund could be depleted by 2023 if Trump has his way and eliminates the payroll tax—or that businesses weren’t too hip on his plan and aren’t going along with the payroll tax deferment that he attempted to force through by “executive order.” Because, despite their constant warnings about “creeping socialism” coming to America and destroying life as we know it for everyone, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are extremely popular with seniors, who just happen to make up the majority of Fox’s audience that has a median age of around 65 years of more

  • Amid Pandemic and Endless War, 170+ Global Organizations Urge World Leaders to ‘Recommit to Peace Today’
    on September 18, 2020 at 21:07

    Kenny Stancil, staff writer”Our hearts go out to those suffering today, in the sober knowledge that this may turn out to be but a foretaste of the disruptions that may arise in the years to come.”

  • With Eye On Biden Victory, Warren And Schumer Unveil Plan To Cancel Up To $50,000 For Federal Student Loan Borrowers
    by Frances Langum on September 18, 2020 at 21:04

    As Americans face the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic and prepare for an incredibly consequential presidential election, over a dozen Democrats—led by Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer—came together Thursday to unveil a “visionary” student loan cancellation plan for the next administration. The introduced resolution urges the next president to use existing authority under the Higher Education Act to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt and ensure there is no resulting tax liability for borrowers. Neither the resolution nor the joint statement announcing it directly mentioned Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), but their campaign is clearly the intended target. The statement calls out President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans for refusing “to provide any immediate student debt cancellation for tens of millions of Americans” while vowing that “Democrats will be ready to act starting in 2021.”read more

  • Maya Moore and Jonathan Irons: More Than a Love Story
    by Dave Zirin on September 18, 2020 at 21:02

    Dave Zirin The basketball superstar announced her marriage to a man she helped free from prison. But there is a sobering lesson beneath this feel-good story. The post Maya Moore and Jonathan Irons: More Than a Love Story appeared first on The Nation.

  • Prosecutors Say a Company Named “Fraud Guarantee” Was a Scam. Rudy Giuliani Got $500K From It.
    by Daniel Friedman on September 18, 2020 at 21:01

    A federal investigation in New York this week edged closer to Rudy Giuliani, President Trump’s personal lawyer, as prosecutors charged two men with engaging in extensive fraud using a scammy company that paid the former New York Mayor $500,000. On Thursday, prosecutors in New York leveled new charges against Lev Parnas, who played a central

  • Melinda Gates Slams Trump’s Virus Response
    by Taegan Goddard on September 18, 2020 at 21:00

    Melinda Gates told Axios that the Trump administration has neutered the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and continued to bungle its coronavirus response, concluding that only a “lack of

  • Rainn Wilson opens up about life, death, “Blackbird” and being “#blessed”
    by Mary Elizabeth Williams on September 18, 2020 at 21:00

    The actor talks about the legacy of “The Office,” Leo DiCaprio and how real life is mirroring “Utopia”

  • Denialism: Not Just For Climate Change Anymore!
    by Mark Fiore on September 18, 2020 at 21:00

    Not only is Trump anti-science, he is clearly anti-empathy.

  • Ex-Pence Aide, Covid Task Force Member, Denounces Trump’s ‘Flat-Out Disregard for Human Life’ in Biden Defection Video
    on September 18, 2020 at 20:40

    Brett Wilkins, staff writerOlivia Troye—a self-described lifelong Republican—is the first member of the president’s Coronavirus Task Force to speak out publicly against him. 

  • Less Than a Quarter Think the Election Will Be Fair
    by Taegan Goddard on September 18, 2020 at 20:32

    A new Yahoo News/YouGov poll finds just 22% of Americans believe this year’s presidential election will be “free and fair.”

  • Biden Leads In New Battleground State Polls
    by Taegan Goddard on September 18, 2020 at 20:22

    New battleground state polls from Redfield & Wilson: Arizona: Biden 47%, Trump 42% Florida: Biden 47%, Trump 44% Michigan: Biden 49%, Trump 39% North Carolina: Biden 47%, Trump 45% Pennsylvania:

  • Bonus Quote of the Day
    by Taegan Goddard on September 18, 2020 at 20:14

    “I think it’s going to be a terrible time for this country… this is going to be the scam of all time.” — President Trump, ranting about mail voting before

  • Trump Declares He Knows More Than His Experts
    by Taegan Goddard on September 18, 2020 at 20:13

    During a press conference, President Trump was asked if he believes he knows better than the experts in his administration, after Trump contradicted the directors of the CDC and the

  • Trump Has A Hysterical Meltdown During Press Conference Over Mail-In Voting
    by Jason Easley on September 18, 2020 at 20:02

    Trump proclaimed that mail-in voting is a scam and that the vote count is going to corrupt and against him during a press conference meltdown.

  • Virginia Isn’t a Swing State Anymore
    by Taegan Goddard on September 18, 2020 at 20:00

    Washington Post: “Virginia isn’t getting the swing-state treatment this time around. As in-person early voting got underway Friday, President Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden were dark on broadcast television.

  • As Early Voting Begins in Key States, Advocates Emphasize ‘Election Day’ Not Just in November This Year—It’s Now!
    on September 18, 2020 at 19:50

    Jessica Corbett, staff writerGiven the pandemic, said one organizer, “we are really stressing that folks should try to vote as early as possible, whether they do that by mail or in person.”

  • White Supremacists Are a Threat to Elections, Says the DHS
    by Ken Klippenstein on September 18, 2020 at 19:30

    Ken Klippenstein While the Trump administration publicly downplays the rise of the far right, Homeland Security anticipates “physical threats” to the 2020 election. The post White Supremacists Are a Threat to Elections, Says the DHS appeared first on The Nation.

  • Trump’s Mail Slow Down Scheme Is Failing As Michigan Judge Rules Ballots Must Be Counted
    by Jason Easley on September 18, 2020 at 19:06

    Trump’s effort to suppress the mail-in vote suffered a new defeat as a judge ruled that Michigan must count ballots postmarked by election eve.

  • Has Juan Williams formed a misimpression?
    by <b>bob somerby</b> on September 18, 2020 at 19:02

    FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 18, 202Also, the statistic which never barks: We chatted with George Stephanopoulos at an elite July 4 soiree way back in maybe 2001.He seems like a very nice guy! In fact, we complimented him for the sly way he’d contradicted Sam and Cokie on several occasions, perhaps without seeming to do so.On the whole, Stephanopoulos did a decent job with our speed-talking commander in chief during Tuesday night’s town hall. Still and all, ABC News was the host of that show, and we live in a country where the commander can say things like this, knowing he’ll never be asked about a certain set of statistics:TRUMP (9/15/20): We really—we’re starting to get very good marks [for handling of the virus]. If you look at what we’ve done compared to other countries, with the excess mortality, the excess mortality rate, we’ve done very, very well.When you see our testing, we’re going to be at 84 million tests, 84 million, think of that. And next would be India with about 50 million less testing programs, far greater.I brought this along today because I think it’s something that’s really, very special. We have a new test. It came out literally today. That’s just showing you numbers of how well we’re doing relative to other countries.[…]But we’re very proud of the job we’ve done, and we’ve saved a lot of lives, a tremendous number of lives.[…]TRUMP: The excess mortality rate is among the best in the whole world. I mean, I can show you. There’s a chart that just came out a little while ago, excess mortality rate is compared to Europe, compared to other places, it’s about 25 percent better.In one case, it’s over 60 percent better. And we also have a very big country. You know, this—we’re talking about a lot bigger than most countries.Trump was actually rather careful this night on the subject of Covid deaths. He talked about our “excess mortality rate,” which he said is “among the best in the whole world.”In one case, it’s over 60 percent better! That just shows how well we’re doing compared to other countries!Of course, no one knows what the “excess mortality rate” is. No journalist will have any idea how to critique Trump’s claims about such matters. No journalist will have any idea if Trump’s claims are accurate in this murky area. But he seemed to be saying we’re doing amazingly well, mortality-wise.He also spoke about all the lives he has saved through his topnotch anti-virus work. To cite one example, the commander said we’ve done amazingly well with  swabs.But how about the many lives our country is losing compared to all those other nations? At no point did Stephanopoulos cite such astounding statistics as these:Deaths from Covid-19, September 10-16United States: 6,258Germany: 30Canada: 35United Kingdom: 78South Korea: 23Taiwan: 0 Does it look to you like we’re doing well compared to other countries?  Does it look to you  like Donald J. Trump is saving a whole lot of lives? When it comes to ongoing daily and weekly deaths, why in the world do we have such horrible numbers? Whatever the answer may be, we can assure you of this:Very few people have ever seen any such horrible numbers. Those horrible data remain undiscovered by our sleepwalking upper-end press.In his unimpressive attempts to question Trump about Covid deaths, Stephanopoulos stuck to Total Deaths to Date, an increasingly irrelevant statistic which ignores our nation’s ongoing daily/weekly disaster.Also, this sad exchange occurred:STEPHANOPOULOS: But you know we have 4 percent of the world’s population, more than 20 percent of the cases, more than 20 percent of the deaths.TRUMP: Well, we have 20 percent of the cases because of the fact that we do much more testing. If we wouldn’t do testing you wouldn’t have cases. You would have very few cases.STEPHANOPOULOS: But these are actual cases.TRUMP: Well, Dr. Fauci said we’ve done a fantastic job. He just said it yesterday actually. He said we’ve done a fantastic job, that we didn’t mislead anybody.Truth to tell, that wasn’t the world’s greatest question in the first place. But Stephanopoulos asked the commander about cases and about deaths. When Trump responded with a disclaimer concerning cases, Stephanopoulos followed him down. Just like that, Covid deaths disappeared!Last week, our nation sustained well over six thousand coronavirus deaths; Germany had thirty. But even now, eight months in, our “journalists” and “news orgs” still haven’t discovered that gruesome data set.Where in the world do these people come from? (Answer: Harvard, Columbia, Yale! ABC News, New York Times!)For a second end-of-week point, consider something Juan Williams said Tuesday night on The Five. The gang was discussing the recent shooting attack against two Los Angeles police officers. Has Juan perhaps formed a misperception? We dreamed about that major survey we’d like to see someone conduct:WILLIAMS (9/15/20): There is overwhelming consensus in our country of  the need for police reform.  And this kind of violence [against police] doesn’t undercut that need.People who are mentally ill, people who may be reaching for a knife or drop a—that doesn’t mean they have to die, that they should get killedWhat Americans are saying is, there is a clear pattern. There’s a clear pattern here of people who are killed by police. And overwhelmingly, they are minorities, and generally blacks.To see the full discussion, just click here, move to minute 35.  Warning! The discussion gets a bit unpleasant, thanks perhaps to Greg Gutfeld’s sacred anger.Gutfeld was weirdly hostile. That said, has Williams perhaps formed a misperception? He seems to think that, “overwhelmingly,” the people shot and killed by police officers are minorities—and that, “generally,” such shooting victims are black.Overwhelmingly? Those statements aren’t even close to accurate, but that’s what a person might think from ongoing press coverage. (According to the Washington Post’s Fatal Force site, 26% of such victims have been black since the start of 2015.)We’ve dreamed of a survey in which people are asked how many people of various groups they think get shot and killed by police. We’ll guess that a certain number of people would say that no “white” people ever get shot and killed. We’re curious about the extent to which misperceptions are being formed. This is a very important topic, and the coverage has been highly selective and perhaps misleading.Williams is nobody’s dope. For that reason, we were struck by what he said. We expect to return to the larger, deeply depressing topic next week. As with other topics, so too here. False and mistaken statements have long been part of the coverage. Such statements rather typically lead to false and mistaken belief.

  • Study Finds U.S. Backsliding Into Autocracy
    by Taegan Goddard on September 18, 2020 at 19:00

    Washington Post: “V-Dem’s findings are bracing: The United States is undergoing ‘substantial autocratization’ — defined as the loss of democratic traits — that has accelerated precipitously under President Trump. This

  • Friday Cat Blogging – 18 September 2020
    by Kevin Drum on September 18, 2020 at 19:00

    Sleepy or murderous? You make the call.

  • The Trump Files: The Saga of Donald’s Short-Lived Weight-Loss Program
    by Tim Murphy on September 18, 2020 at 19:00

    This post was originally published as part of The Trump Files—a collection of telling episodes, strange but true stories, and curious scenes from the life of our current president—on October 3, 2016. Donald Trump has long had a fixation with other peoples’ weight. He called Rosie O’Donnell a “fat pig,” criticized Jennifer Lopez’s butt, and

  • The Senate Deserves Your Attention
    by Taegan Goddard on September 18, 2020 at 18:35

    Just for members: The new edition of . This issue includes updated analysis on the most competitive races that make up the fight for the Senate, House, and governorships, along

  • CDC Reverses Guidance Drafted by Trump Aides
    by Taegan Goddard on September 18, 2020 at 18:24

    The CDC reversed its controversial Covid-19 testing guidance on Friday, stating clearly that close contacts without any symptoms “need a test,” the Wall Street Journal reports. As noted yesterday, the

  • The White House Blocked USPS Plans to Deliver Masks to Every Household
    by Chris Walker on September 18, 2020 at 18:23

    The Trump administration missed a chance to send “public health tools to every person in the country,” critics contend.

  • From Our Archives, an Excerpt From Maxine Hong Kingston
    by Jacob Rosenberg on September 18, 2020 at 18:21

    Each week, we take a look at our archives for boosts to propel you into the weekend. In Maxine Hong Kingston’s “The Brother in Vietnam,” which we excerpted in 1980, the main character is simply “the brother.” It is the Vietnam era. The draft looms. He, “the brother,” does not have a religion, a wife,

  • Bolstering Case for Single Payer, Study Shows For-Profit Insurer Plans Pay Hospitals Nearly 250% More Than Medicare
    on September 18, 2020 at 18:19

    Julia Conley, staff writerA new study released Friday by the RAND Corporation details the astronomical prices hospital systems across the U.S. charge private insurers and the more than 153 million patients who obtain health coverage through their employers—while Medicare proves to be a far more affordable option. 

  • Grinding Your Teeth at Night Is No Joke
    by Kevin Drum on September 18, 2020 at 18:10

    Emily Sohn writes about her recent trips to the dentist: It was bad luck, I figured, or maybe just the reality of middle age. My dentist, Jennifer Herbert, suggested otherwise. Ever since the pandemic started, she says she has seen a surge in problems related to tooth-grinding and jaw-clenching. Perhaps, she suggested, pandemic stress was

  • CDC softened school reopening guidelines criticized in fringe group’s letter to President Trump
    by Roger Sollenberger on September 18, 2020 at 18:07

    “The CDC ‘considerations’ are entirely inappropriate, and must be rewritten from top to bottom” the group wrote

  • ‘Unprecedented Abuse of Emergency Powers’: Free Speech Advocates Denounce Trump Effort to Ban TikTok, WeChat Apps
    on September 18, 2020 at 18:01

    Lisa Newcomb, staff writerThe move, says one advocate, is “shortsighted, ridiculous, and likely unconstitutional.”

  • Facebook Versus Democracy
    by Jeet Heer on September 18, 2020 at 17:52

    Jeet Heer A staff revolt highlights the social media giant’s reactionary politics, which are rooted in both business strategy and ideology. The post Facebook Versus Democracy appeared first on The Nation.

  • Trump shared a doctored video of a “racist baby” — now he’s being sued by the parents
    by Brad Reed on September 18, 2020 at 17:49

    The parents claim that Trump tried “to exploit the children’s images for his own purposes and gain”

  • Mail ballots cast by Black voters in North Carolina rejected 4 times more than white voters: report
    by Brad Reed on September 18, 2020 at 17:39

    Mail ballots cast by Black voters in North Carolina rejected 4 times more than white voters: report

  • Judge Rules Michigan Must Accept Late Ballots
    by Taegan Goddard on September 18, 2020 at 17:37

    “A Court of Claims judge ruled that Michigan clerks must accept late ballots so long as they are postmarked no later than November 2 and received before the deadline for

  • Feds admit “Putin’s favorite congressman” offered to pardon Assange if he hid Russian interference
    by Brad Reed on September 18, 2020 at 17:28

    Former Rep. Dana Rohrabacher offered WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange a pardon from Pres. Trump, prosecutors affirm

  • Treasury Department investigating allegations of “rampant racism” at US Mint: report
    by Tom Boggioni on September 18, 2020 at 17:16

    The complaints include “a white Mint executive using the term ‘zoo keeper’ to refer to a Black colleague”

  • Trump Announces $13 Billion In Aid to Puerto Rico
    by Taegan Goddard on September 18, 2020 at 17:13

    “The Trump administration on Friday announced $13 billion in additional aid to Puerto Rico to help with rebuilding in the aftermath of 2017’s Hurricane Maria,” CNN reports. “The move is

  • ‘National Human Disaster’ Looms as Utility Shutoff Moratoriums Come to an End Across US
    on September 18, 2020 at 17:09

    Kenny Stancil, staff writerMillions of Americans “shouldn’t have to forgo more meals just to keep the lights on so their children can attend remote classes.”

  • Trump treated the pandemic as “The Apprentice: COVID Edition”: It’s blowing up in his face
    by Amanda Marcotte on September 18, 2020 at 17:07

    Trump distorts CDC info and spreads vaccine lies because he thinks faking it is always better than doing any work

  • House Republicans Cancel Ad Buy In Houston Area
    by Taegan Goddard on September 18, 2020 at 17:05

    “The National Republican Congressional Committee has canceled about $2 million worth of advertising it had reserved for campaigning in the Houston television market,” the Texas Tribune reports. “The Houston region

  • Top Covid Task Force Staffer: Trump Constantly ‘Ranting And Raving About Fox News’ Being Mean To Him
    by John Amato on September 18, 2020 at 17:01

    We’ve reported earlier that former Pence staffer Olivia Troye has come out for Biden, based on Trump’s “disregard for human life” re the Coronavirus. Susan Glasser of The New Yorker interviewed Troye and told CNN about the interview. Troye reports that Trump would rant and rave about Fox News being mean to him during coronavirus task force meetings instead of focusing on the pandemic. Olivia Troye spoke out for the first time this week in an ad supporting the election of Joe Biden after being a pivotal staffer for VP Mike Pence on Homeland Security and then on the Coronavirus Task force. Glasser told host Alisyn Camerota that Troye said she was speaking out now “because of the continued lies and misrepresentations from President Trump about the coronavirus” and the politicization of the pandemic. Glasser said, “There were several times when Trump would come into the coronavirus task force they would try to get them to focus on the business at hand and he would be ranting and raving about Fox News and how they weren’t being nice enough to him.”read more

  • Top Dems Demand IG Probe Into Possible Illegal Election Influencing in Favor of Trump by William Barr
    on September 18, 2020 at 17:00

    Andrea Germanos, staff writerRecent actions by the U.S. Attorney General, said chairs of key House committees, “clearly appear intended to benefit President Trump politically.”

  • Majority Plan to Vote Before Election Day
    by Taegan Goddard on September 18, 2020 at 16:44

    A new AP-NORC poll finds 54% of voters say they will vote before Election Day. In 2016, roughly 42% of voters did so.

  • Glenn Beck Claims COVID-19 Lockdowns Helping Democrats Prep U.S. for a​ Coup
    by Jared Holt on September 18, 2020 at 16:38

    Right-wing radio host and conspiracy theorist Glenn Beck told viewers in a broadcast uploaded to YouTube Wednesday that the United States is “in its final stage” and that Democrats were plotting a “color revolution” to usurp the current government. Beck began his program urging viewers to resist the urge to contribute to his prophesized chaos, instead The post Glenn Beck Claims COVID-19 Lockdowns Helping Democrats Prep U.S. for a​ Coup first appeared on Right Wing Watch.

  • Trump Accused Howard Zinn of “Propaganda.” But Zinn Was Right About US History.
    by Amy Goodman on September 18, 2020 at 16:15

    Zinn believed that teaching the unvarnished truth about history was the best way to combat propaganda.

  • Biden Holds Big Lead Nationally
    by Taegan Goddard on September 18, 2020 at 16:14

    A new PBS/NPR/Marist poll finds Joe Biden leads Donald Trump nationally in the presidential race by double-digits, 52% to 42%. Said pollster Barbara Carvalho: “There’s no question that Biden’s ahead

  • Trump’s Campaign Manager Didn’t Even Vote In 2016
    by Taegan Goddard on September 18, 2020 at 16:11

    “President Trump’s campaign manager didn’t vote for his boss in the last presidential election. He didn’t vote at all,” the Washington Post reports. “The last time Bill Stepien voted, according

  • Bad News For Trump As Virginia Sees Historic Early Voting Turnout
    by Jason Easley on September 18, 2020 at 16:09

    Virginia is seeing unprecedented lines for early voting in what is an ominous sign for Trump voters say they are willing to wait all day to vote.

  • THE ROLE OF MISTAKEN BELIEF: Leonhardt and Douthat attempt to do deaths!
    by <b>bob somerby</b> on September 18, 2020 at 16:04

    FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 18, 2020Where do they find these guys?: How many people will die of the virus over the next four months?We can’t exactly tell you! That said, here’s a fact-check of something Joe Biden said at last night’s town hall forum. It comes from the Washington Post’s Fact-Checker site:“We should expect another 215,000 dead by January. But if we wore a mask, we’d save 100,000 of those lives, doing nothing but that.”These numbers are on target. Deaths from the novel coronavirus are near 200,000 in the United States, and one influential group of researchers predicts the total will reach 415,000 by 2021.The projection comes from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington. The IHME model currently forecasts 415,090 U.S. deaths by Jan. 1, 2021.As we noted yesterday, some modelers project a substantially higher daily/weekly death rate over the next few months.  In its “most likely” scenario, the IHME has projected an additional 215,000 deaths in the next (roughly) four months. That works out to (roughly) 54,000 deaths per month—close to 2000 deaths per day.(According to the Washington Post’s numbers, we averaged 814.9 deaths per day over the past seven days.)This projection by the IHME received a blip of coverage when it appeared last week. And, of course, it’s just a projection. It could turn out to be wrong.(More from the Post’s fact-check: “Assuming public health mandates were relaxed, the IHME model predicts twice as many deaths before the end of the year: 400,000, for a total of nearly 612,000.” In that scenario, we’d be experiencing an average of more than 3000 deaths per day in the coming weeks and months.)These grisly projections received a minor blip of coverage. That said, our major journalists tend to steer away from reports involving numbers.For Talking Barbie, math was famously hard. For our most “highly-educated” upper-end journalists, statistics seem to be even harder.What follows will constitute a highly significant lesson in anthropology—in the actual capabilities of our actual species. Keeping that framework in mind, let’s consider what happened when two “highly-educated,” upper-end journalists tried to evaluate the coronavirus stewardship of one Donald J. Trump.David Leonhardt took the first crack at this important topic. He did so in an on-line post, “America’s Death Gap,” which appeared in the New York Times back on September 1.By way of background, Leonhardt graduated from Yale in 1994. (He’d prepped at Horace Mann.) During his rise at the New York Times, he’s been branded as one of the smart ones.Now he was trying to evaluate how good a job this country, and especially its president, have done in fighting the virus. He started with an utterly silly framework:LEONHARDT (9/1/20): America’s Death GapHere’s a jarring thought experiment: If the United States had done merely an average job of fighting the coronavirus—if the U.S. accounted for the same share of virus deaths as it did global population—how many fewer Americans would have died?The answer: about 145,000.That’s a large majority of the country’s 183,000 confirmed coronavirus-related deaths.No other country looks as bad by this measure. The U.S. accounts for 4 percent of the world’s population, and for 22 percent of confirmed Covid-19 deaths….That logical framework made little sense. Beyond that, when Leonhardt tried to apply the statistical measure he had chosen, he bungled the assignment. “No other country looks as bad by this measure?” We’re sorry, but that wasn’t true on September 1. As a matter of fact, it still isn’t true today!  But let’s move through this groaner quickly, so we can move on to Ross Douthat’s attempt to analyze this same question:As he started, Leonhardt made a silly assumption. He assumed that, if the U.S. had done an average job confronting the virus, our deaths to date would match our share of the world’s population.That assumption makes little sense. As Leonhardt later mentioned in passing, the virus arrived in certain nations much earlier than in others. Due to patterns of international travel, it moved with relative speed from China into western Europe and into the United States. It arrived much later in other less developed nations. In some of the world’s less traveled realms, the virus has barely arrived at all.For that reason, the countries to which the virus traveled first have had more time to pile up a gruesome number of total deaths. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ve handled the virus more poorly than anyone else. It simply means that the virus has been active within their boundaries for a longer period.As of September 1, the United States did have 4 percent of the world’s population and 22 percent of the deaths. In part, that reflects the ridiculous way Donald J. Trump (and politically affiliated governors) have chosen, and continue to choose, to react to the virus. In part, though, it simply reflects the fact that the virus arrived here early on, from China and Europe both.On September 1, our share of deaths did outstrip our share of the world’s population, by more than a 5-to-1 ratio. But this was also true of other “early arrival” nations, and it remains so today.”No other country looks as bad” by that measure? At present, Belgium and Spain look worse than we do by this measure (assuming the measure is properly applied) as does the United Kingdom, if only by a tad at this point.  That is to say, Spain’s share of world deaths outstrips its share of world population by a higher ratio than ours. We have a lot more people than Spain does, but their ratio of share of deaths to share of population  is still higher than ours. On September 1, that was still true of other major European nations (of Italy, for example). As our nation’s high daily death rate continues, we keep passing other nations with respect to this measure. That said, ten other nations still outstrip us on this score. That includes Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador and Brazil, where runaway daily/weekly death rates have overtaken the late arrival of the virus on their shores.”No other country looks as bad?” That wasn’t true then and it isn’t true now. If Leonhardt’s measure is correctly applied, we aren’t the worst in the world even now! Leonhardt managed to bungle this point because he made a basic blunder in the way he proceeded with his analysis. Anyone except Talking Barbie and her clueless consort, Ken, should be able to see what it was. (Don’t be misled by his graphic!)Leonhardt comes to us straight outta Harvard. He’s been branded as one of the smart one at the New York Times, a newspaper which brands itself as the nation’s smartest.It’s astounding to think that a journalist with that profile could be so innocent of basic analytical skill. But this is an anthropological study—a study of the capabilities of our floundering species as it really exists, not as it’s long been described.With that framework established again, let’s move on to the analysis offered by Ross Douthat.We’ll guess that Douthat is a good, decent person. Almost surely, Leonhardt is too. But that isn’t the question at hand, and his profile looks like this:Douthat graduated from Harvard in 2002. (He’d prepped at Hamden Hall Country Day.) In April 2009, he became a regular New York Times columnist—at the age of 29!Douthat looked at Leonhardt’s attack on our country’s performance and he wasn’t buying. In a column which appeared in print on September 6, he cited and linked to “America’s Death Trap,” then offered this:”I’m not fully convinced by my colleague’s approach.”He proceeded to offer a typical upper-end press corps attempt at analysis.  Where in the world—where on earth!—does the New York Times find these guys?The answer, of course, is “at Harvard and Yale.” But let’s not get bogged down there!How well had Commander Trump performed against the virus as compared to the rest of the world? Bizarrely, Douthat compared our country’s performance in fighting the virus to the performance of such “peer nations” as Colombia and  Peru, but not to that of Canada. He hopscotched all over the countryside in his choice of statistics, alternating between Total Deaths to Date and Current Daily or Weekly Deaths. Sometimes he switched from deaths to the highly amorphous “cases” and “infection rate” as his unit of measure.Also, there was a puzzling side trip to “rate of mask usage,” a statistic which—or so Douthat said—puts us “right in the middle of the pack” when compared with our “peer nations.”Did we mention the fact that Douthat’s collection of “peer nations” includes Colombia, Mexico and Peru, while Canada never gets mentioned? At any rate, out of this puzzling melange came an assessment of Donald J. Trump which differed from that of his Yale-powered colleague:The commander hasn’t achieved greatness is his handling of the virus, Douthat was willing to say. But it seems that he has pretty much turned in an average performance:DOUTHAT (9/6/20): [T]he peer-country evidence suggests that to take the pre-emptive, creative and draconian steps that might have actually suppressed the virus, and in the process saved that hundred thousand or more extra lives, would have probably required presidential greatness, not merely replacement-level competence. We can say without a doubt that Trump whiffed when this call for greatness came. But distinguishing between Trump’s incompetence and what an average president might have managed is harder, so long as so many peer-country death tolls look like ours.So assessed Harvard’s Douthat—to which we offer this:Really? Is it really true that “so many peer-country death tolls look like ours?” Below, you see some current numbers for the nations we would regard as the most obvious peer nations. Who can look at these numbers and think that our president, and our nation as a whole, have done an average job?Deaths from Covid-19, September 10-16:United States: 6,258United Kingdom: 78Germany: 30Canada: 35Japan: 68South Korea: 23Taiwan: 0 Australia: 46European Union: 1,325Those numbers haven’t been adjusted for population. But would you say that those other “death tolls” look anything like our? Does our number, in any way, signal anything resembling average performance? (Key point: The population of the E.U. is one-third larger than ours.)Those numbers have changed since Douthat’s column appeared on September 6. If anything, our relative standing was somewhat more horrible at that time. (Several nations have been experiencing an uptick in daily deaths.)Those numbers show where matters stand after 6-8 months of fighting the virus. Roughly speaking, they show where our nation’s efforts have left us as compared to a range of peer nations. In that chart, we’re looking at nations with roughly comparable economies and infrastructures. They’re countries where the virus came ashore at roughly the same time.In the roughly eight months since the virus arrived, does it look like we’ve done an average job combating it? On what planet would a skilled journalist reach such a conclusion, with some editor cheering him on?Harvard and Yale and the New York Times stand behind the journalists we’ve cited. In the ways our culture reaches such judgments, these journalists are “highly educated.” They stand at the top of the pile.The work they did in assessing this question was bungled all the way down. We regard this as an anthropology lesson, and we ask you to keep that in mind. Alas! A nation whose ranking journalists display skill levels like these will be a nation routinely driven by false and mistaken belief.  We’ll extend our point this afternoon with one more look at George Stephanopoulos, who we’ve actually met and chatted with on at least one occasion.He’s a high ranking journalist too. He  graduated from Columbia in 1982, ranking number 2 in his class.This week, Stephanopoulos also whiffed on the data! “Statistics can be boring and hard,” anthropologists have frequently said.This afternoon:  In a bit more detail, the basic rejoinder not offered

  • U.S. Admits Congressman Offered Pardon to Assange
    by Taegan Goddard on September 18, 2020 at 16:00

    Daily Beast: “Lawyers representing the United States at Julian Assange’s extradition trial in Britain have accepted the claim that the WikiLeaks founder was offered a presidential pardon by a Congressman

  • Her Stepfather Admitted to Sexually Abusing Her. That Wasn’t Enough to Keep Her Safe.
    by by Nadia Sussman on September 18, 2020 at 16:00

    by Nadia Sussman ProPublica is a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. Sign up to receive our biggest stories as soon as they’re published. This article was produced in partnership with the Anchorage Daily News, which is a member of the ProPublica Local Reporting Network. Illustrations by Aidan Koch for ProPublica. Dennis Mouser walked into Anchorage police headquarters on Sept. 2, 1987, for an interview he had requested with a detective. By the time he walked out, he had admitted to sexually assaulting his stepdaughter Sherri on at least two occasions when she was 10. He’d also exposed himself to her, he told police. It was the second time Mouser had asked police to interview him and the second time he described entering his stepdaughter’s room naked. A detective recorded his statement. Then he left the station. A lifetime passed. In June, Sherri Stewart, 44, looked into her iPad at the face of Karen Rhodes-Johnson, the now-retired Anchorage police detective who had investigated the case when she was a child and referred it for prosecution. Stewart, who was born Sherri Patterson, lay in the bed that she has barely left since August 2019 because of an alarming neurological decline. Her bright red hair was in a French braid, a deep blue velvet blanket tucked around her frail body. Nearly 34 years after they first met, this was a singular moment in the lives of a sexual abuse survivor and a detective who spent much of her career investigating crimes against children. Why, Stewart had always wondered, had her stepfather gone free? “I didn’t understand why he didn’t go to jail,” Stewart told Rhodes-Johnson. “And I didn’t understand why nobody was coming to take me away from all of this.” “I’ve reread the confession,” Rhodes-Johnson said. “And yes, he did confess, twice. And I’m going to tell you that your case was one of those cases that lived with me forever because he was not convicted.” Stewart fears her time to get answers may be running short. She told her children months ago she believes she is dying. That was before a cardiologist visit in mid-August turned into yet another trip to the ER. It was before her husband arranged a last-minute flight to Minnesota in a desperate effort to visit the Mayo Clinic in the middle of a pandemic. A screenshot of Stewart’s Facebook post on Monday. Courtesy of Stewart Doctors are still struggling to diagnose and treat her. Her days are urgent and uncertain. No matter what happens, Stewart said, she wants her story told. Stewart is among many Alaskans who still bear the wounds of childhood sexual abuse. In her lifetime, Alaska has tried and failed to reduce the soaring rates of rape and child abuse that, only now, in some corners of the state, are being recognized as epidemic. “It can’t continue,” Stewart said. “We can’t keep breaking people and think that we are going to have a healthy society.” In Alaska, women and girls are more likely to be raped than anywhere else in the U.S. More than half the victims of felony sex crimes in 2018 were children and teens, the vast majority of whom were abused by someone they knew, the state Department of Public Safety reported. For Stewart, the wheels of justice turned so slowly that they undermined the few protections in place for her at the time she was a child. Her legal case made it to the state Court of Appeals in the early 1990s. Yet the long delays that prevented her stepfather from ever being held accountable or receiving treatment continue to plague sexual assault cases today. Just last year, a state judge in Fairbanks said the state’s courts were in crisis, declaring that turnover among public defenders had delayed criminal trials and denied justice to both victims and defendants. Looking back today, some of the professionals involved in the case against Mouser maintain that they did what they could according to the laws and policies in place at the time. Unlike many child sexual abuse cases in Alaska and around the U.S., Stewart’s was one that did receive attention from law enforcement, social services, prosecutors and judges. Yet, amid it all, the child was lost. She told adults she was in danger, but she was sent back to endure more harm. Stewart with her mother, Beth Blake; her stepfather, Dennis Mouser; and her brother, Donald Patterson, in Sterling, Alaska, in an undated photo. Courtesy of Stewart Stewart was 10 years old when she understood for the first time that her stepfather, Mouser, was sexually abusing her. “It was when they first started talking about bad touches, good touches in school,” she said. She was sitting in her classroom at Scenic Park Elementary in Anchorage when the school nurse arrived to do a presentation, she said. Behind the school, the sawtooth peaks of the Chugach Range pierced the horizon. Inside the lights were dim. A video played. It was unlike any class she had had before. “It was something along the lines that nobody is supposed to touch you down there,” Stewart said. “It was talking about how people will try to scare you so you won’t talk about it. Which, of course, Dennis did all the time.” She was grateful for the darkness as she shook and wept. As soon as she could, she ran out to the yard for recess. “I was sitting in this big tire thing and I was crying.” Her friends climbed in with her. “What’s wrong?” “I can’t tell you,” she said at first. But Stewart’s friends coaxed out her secret and convinced her to tell a teacher. School personnel in Anchorage called the Division of Family and Youth Services, or DFYS, now called the Office of Children’s Services, which reported the case to police. That was May 1986. The abuse began soon after Mouser joined the family, when Stewart was 4 years old, she said. “A constant, almost every night thing as a child.” But to adults in her orbit, Stewart looked healthy and whole. She was just a really sweet little girl, said an aunt. Bubbly and full of life, said a family friend, who remembered her love of sledding and playing outdoors. After Stewart reported the abuse at school at age 10, the state took her out of her mother’s house in northeast Anchorage and moved her through a series of homes — family members, friends and, in one case, a foster home, Stewart said. (Foster care records are sealed, and Stewart has been too ill to file a court motion to obtain those records.) In early June 1986, the Anchorage Police Department assigned Investigator Karen Rhodes-Johnson to the case. She had more than 15 years’ experience in law enforcement and took pride in interviewing children who had been put in terrible situations, she said. Stewart around 8 years old, circa 1984. Mouser told her this outfit was too provocative. Courtesy of Stewart Stewart told Rhodes-Johnson that Mouser would come into her “very own bedroom” at night, take off her panties and rub his erect penis against her vagina, Rhodes-Johnson wrote in a police report. He was always drunk, Stewart said. He would touch her genitals with his fingers. At least once, he had “used his tongue in between her legs,” Rhodes-Johnson wrote. Shortly after Rhodes-Johnson was assigned the case, Mouser left Alaska. He spent 28 days in a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program in Washington state, he later told police. The detective couldn’t reach him. In October 1986, about four months after Stewart reported the abuse, Rhodes-Johnson received an unexpected call from a social worker saying Mouser wanted to talk with police. Mouser was back in Anchorage, an inpatient at Charter North Hospital. The social worker had recommended he seek psychiatric care, believing Mouser was suicidal. In a case of sexual assault, “it is not uncommon for a suspect to reach out to detectives after learning about the investigation,” said M.J. Thim, a spokesperson for the Anchorage Police Department. Rhodes-Johnson visited Mouser at Charter North on Oct. 15. She turned on her tape recorder just before noon. She told him he had the right to stop talking any time and the right to have an attorney present. Mouser said he understood. The detective told Mouser that Stewart had given a statement describing sexual contact with him. She asked if sexual contact had ever taken place between Mouser and his stepdaughter. “Uh … I’ve tried to remember but I can’t, it’s just … not that I can remember,” Mouser replied. He went on to describe walking into Stewart’s room naked one time while intoxicated, sitting down next to her, and later feeling guilty about it. They were living in a trailer home in a place called Alaska Village at the time, he said, in East Anchorage. Mouser also said he had heard from the social worker that Stewart was beginning to blame herself for being taken out of the home, but it wasn’t her fault. “What wasn’t her fault?” Rhodes-Johnson asked in a police transcript of the interview. “Uh, any of the … sexual contact … that might have taken place.” “Did that sexual contact take place? “Uh, like I said, I-I don’t — I can’t remember,” Mouser replied. He said he had been struggling with cocaine and marijuana abuse and had frequent blackouts from drinking “maybe three six packs a day.” He was depressed and felt bad about not being with his wife, Beth Blake, Stewart’s mother. She was struggling emotionally, too, he said. At a court hearing in early June of that year, Mouser said, a social worker had read an accusation from Stewart that he had “sexually penetrated her.” He told Rhodes-Johnson he did not believe he was capable of all the acts Stewart had recounted. But he said he felt he might have done some of them. “I-I don’t know. It’s just un … something side [sic], deep inside … guilt, I don’t know,” he said. In mid-December 1986, Rhodes-Johnson sent a case report to the Anchorage District Attorney’s Office, requesting a review for charges of sexual abuse of a minor. More than six months had passed since Stewart had come forward at school and been removed from her home. The DA’s office requested more interviews from APD, including with the school nurse, but did not immediately charge Mouser with a crime. After a brief stay in the home of her father and stepmother, Stewart had moved in with her maternal uncle, Steve Blake, and his wife, Laura, who was a schoolteacher. “She still was very much a little girl, and I doted on her because I didn’t have any children at the time,” Laura Blake said. She enjoyed curling and braiding Stewart’s blond hair and making sure she had everything a child could need. During her time with her aunt and uncle, Stewart received counseling — the only time in her childhood she had mental health services, she said. Although the Blakes had taken in a minor in need of a safe home, the child welfare system seemed distant and disinterested. “No one communicated with us at that time,” Laura Blake said. “No court papers. No judge. No one from the legal system ever contacted us personally to talk about what was happening. We were like bystanders.” Attorney Barbara Malchick, who supervised child advocates for 25 years in the Office of Public Advocacy, said that Stewart should have been receiving monthly visits from her social worker, and also should have been visited on occasion by her legal representative, called a guardian ad litem. Laura Blake said that she does not remember Stewart receiving any such visits in their home or being offered any appointments other than counseling. A family party in the home of Stewart’s aunt and uncle in 1986. Courtesy of Stewart When Stewart was removed from her aunt and uncle’s home, her aunt thought the girl was returning to live with her mother. “I thought she’d go back with her mom, and I thought that Dennis was out of the picture,” Laura Blake said. “And nothing turned out the way I thought it would.” Blake said she and her husband would gladly have kept Stewart in their home had they known she was not being placed with her mother. Instead, Stewart said, she was sent to a crowded foster home where she said she was beaten by the foster mother’s biological son. In addition to facing neglect and abuse, Stewart lost her access to counseling because of the move, she said. A spokesperson for the Office of Children’s Services, formerly called DFYS, wrote in an email that Stewart’s files have been destroyed in accordance with policies from that time. Numerous new laws and policies have been implemented since then, he said, “including the establishment of Child Advocacy Centers designed to change the way sexual abuse allegations are investigated.” Mouser remained free and continued his romantic relationship with Stewart’s mother. In December 1986, Mouser moved to the apartment next door. They filed for divorce, a legal split that was finalized the following March. But Mouser later told police it was a ploy to regain custody of Stewart. Beth Blake believed that divorce was “the only way she’d get her daughter back,” Mouser told Rhodes-Johnson, that it must appear she had ended her relationship with Stewart’s alleged abuser. In fact, Blake was pregnant with Mouser’s child at the time. Within a month of the divorce, Stewart was sent home to live with her mother, Mouser told police. For several months, Stewart said, she and her older brother had their mother all to themselves in a new home. It was the happiest time of her childhood, a summer of bike rides and making friends with new neighbors. “My mom was way more stable then,” Stewart’s older brother, Donald Patterson, said. With Mouser gone, life seemed briefly normal. “There was not physical abuse, there was not mental abuse, there was not a lot of, just, negativity.” But it didn’t last. By August 1987, Stewart’s mother was having “personal contact with Dennis on an almost daily basis,” Beth Blake wrote in an affidavit. Stewart said Mouser was, in fact, living with them. “My mom allowed him right back into the house and then she had two kids with him,” she said. Beth Blake and Dennis Mouser in the mid-1980s. Courtesy of Stewart “Dennis destroyed my mother every way he could,” Donald Patterson said. Mouser’s addictions fueled hers. “He was a blackout drunk,” Patterson said, prone to screaming and physical abuse of Blake. His abuse of Stewart was a part of the larger chaos and destruction, he said. At age 11, Stewart was again being sexually molested by Mouser, she said. She had come forward earlier as she was taught to do, divulging a shameful secret to adults who said they would help her. But she was back in the same situation from which she had tried to escape. “There’s nothing law enforcement could do,” Rhodes-Johnson later said. “She was back in the home because her mother was protecting the guy.” “I could see how DFYS would get uninvolved in the case after returning the child and feeling like she was safe, and being bamboozled by the family” into thinking Mouser was gone, said Malchick, who supervised child advocates at the time. Back then, and to this day, child welfare investigations proceeded more rapidly than criminal investigations, Malchick said, because police and prosecutors had to prove in court, beyond a reasonable doubt, that a crime had occurred. DFYS social workers, on the other hand, could take a child out of the home quickly if they appeared to be in an abusive situation, and could return them to a parent if it was found to be safe, even before a criminal case was resolved. Still, it was routine for social workers and the child’s legal advocate to continue visits for some months after a child returned to the home. Stewart has no recollection of follow-up from the state. She was home, and Mouser was back. “I went around feeling like I was not loved,” Stewart told Rhodes-Johnson when they talked this year. “At all. I just felt like I didn’t matter.” Stewart on a video call with Karen Rhodes-Johnson in June, the first time they have spoken to each other in nearly 34 years. Shannon Patterson By September 1987, Mouser was feeling anxious. A year and three months had passed since Stewart had reported him. He had no news of the investigation. He had not spoken to police about the case in nearly a year. Two and a half months prior, in June, Rhodes-Johnson had filed a follow-up report to the district attorney detailing new interviews with Stewart’s mother, the school nurse and Stewart herself. “CASE STATUS: Pending prosecution,” she wrote. But nothing had happened. On Sept. 2, Mouser went in person to APD headquarters and asked about the case. Rhodes-Johnson interviewed him a second time. She informed him that he was not under arrest and was free to stop the conversation at any point. Later, she also asked if anyone had threatened Mouser or talked him into coming to the station that day. “I’m doing this on my own,” he said, because he was tired of “waiting and waiting and waiting.” As he spoke, a tape recorder rolled. Rhodes-Johnson told Mouser that there was a backlog in the district attorney’s office, and no decision about charging him had yet been made. “The D.A. has not sat down and read the case,” the detective said. She told Mouser she had called the D.A.’s office the previous day and was told “it’s still in the pile.” A lot had happened in the past year, Mouser told the detective. After the divorce, Blake had moved out and got Stewart back, but Mouser remained in the building where they had lived. “We were still seeing each other,” he said, “and she was coming over to the apartment building.” Then in May, the building caught fire and burned down. Afterward, Mouser said, he had spiraled, drinking heavily, getting into a fight. “I was a nervous wreck and living wild,” he said. In June, he learned that Blake was pregnant with his child. “It’s made me grow up, though, this pregnancy thing,” he said. Mouser told police that social services had been warned of his continued relationship with Blake. He said Stewart’s stepmother — her father’s wife — had called up and reported the pregnancy to a caseworker. All this had happened “besides me waitin’ to go to jail, y’know and get it over with,” he said, referring to the pending investigation. Malchick, the former child advocate, believes that if someone had notified the child welfare system that Mouser was in the home and Blake was pregnant with his child, it would have been required to investigate. “I’d be very interested to know what happened there,” she said. “That sounds like a huge breakdown at that point.” During this second interview, Rhodes-Johnson mined Mouser for more details that might be used to build a case against him. He obliged, naming specific dates on which he said he had abused Stewart, all while under the influence of alcohol and cocaine. He also told police he had confessed the sexual abuse to drug counselors, his counselor at church, doctors and Stewart’s mother. Everyone, he said, but a lawyer, which he couldn’t afford. In Mouser’s telling, the first time he abused his stepdaughter was Dec. 28, 1985 — three days after Stewart’s 10th birthday. He told police he had touched her vagina over her clothes. He also told her that if “it was reported in court” he’d been touching her — “teaching her about sex,” he called it — he would go to jail, and she’d be sent to a foster home. He claimed this was not a threat. Two months later, on Mouser’s birthday, he molested her a second time. He said he forced her to touch his penis and he touched her vagina, skin-on-skin. He also forced oral sex on her. He said he thought he had rubbed his penis against Stewart’s vagina, an act she had described to police. An excerpt from the transcript of Rhodes-Johnson’s second interview with Mouser in September 1987. He voluntarily came to the Anchorage Police Department headquarters. Obtained by ProPublica and Anchorage Daily News Then in late May 1986, Mouser said, he watched an “X-rated” video after everyone else had gone to bed. “I went into the room … uh, naked, completely naked and she was awake and covered … scared.” That night, he said, he talked to her but did not touch her. “I realized what I was doing,” he told Rhodes-Johnson. An excerpt from the transcript of Rhodes-Johnson’s second interview with Mouser in September 1987. Obtained by ProPublica and Anchorage Daily News Mouser told the detective about his own experiences growing up in an abusive and dysfunctional home. How he began drinking heavily as a teen to “blank my mind to my brother’s suicide.” Now, with a baby on the way, he appeared eager to bring the case to a close. He said he had given up cocaine and started attending the Anchorage Baptist Temple. (Stewart remembers being baptized there on the same day as Mouser, in disbelief that his sins could supposedly be washed clean.) He also told Rhodes-Johnson that after getting out of Charter North Hospital, he had gone to Langdon, a mental health clinic, apparently seeking services related to his sexual behavior. Mouser said a practitioner there told him that the fee was too high for him to afford on unemployment, and that he would only be able to treat Mouser once he’d been arrested and taken to Hiland, the state prison. Mouser said he made the visit to APD because he didn’t want Stewart to end up in court. “I feel it’s just — it’s a personal very personal family thing between me and her.” Still, he believed his case was “so minor” compared with others that law enforcement dealt with. Blake, Stewart’s mother, was outside in the car waiting for him, he told police. Rhodes-Johnson told Mouser that she planned to call the DA’s office the next day. She kept her word. Yet he wouldn’t be arrested for another year and a half. Rhodes-Johnson in Homer, Alaska. Now retired from the Anchorage Police Department, she was the detective assigned to investigate sexual assault allegations against Mouser. Anne Raup/Anchorage Daily News In June 2020, Karen Rhodes-Johnson looked into her cellphone from the gray bench seat of her truck. She was parked in a lot in Anchorage while her husband, also a retired APD detective, ran errands in a store. A video call with Stewart, more than 30 years after they first met, was the first time Rhodes-Johnson was seeing her as an adult. The coronavirus and Stewart’s fragile health had made it too risky to meet in person. “Your face looks familiar,” Stewart said. “Oh it does? A little bit older,” Rhodes-Johnson replied, adding that she hadn’t worn glasses the last time Stewart saw her. At 73, Rhodes-Johnson wore her blond hair swept back, slender hoops in her ears. She had retired from police work more than 20 years before, after being seriously injured during a training session, she said. Rhodes-Johnson started out in law enforcement in 1969, she said, the rare woman to become a police officer at the time. By the time she was assigned to Mouser’s case, she was working in the APD’s Crimes Against Children Unit while raising four children of her own. The unit was often overtaxed; at one point she told a judge she worked as many as 70 cases at once. In the mid-1980s, the department was just developing protocols for sex crimes cases involving children, Rhodes-Johnson said. She helped coordinate between agencies, she said, and sought out specialized training on working with child victims. Beth Blake around 1976, shortly after giving birth to Stewart. Courtesy of Stewart Now, video chatting with Stewart from her truck, Rhodes-Johnson let the child she once interviewed lead the questions. “Well, basically, Sherri, why don’t you ask me what you’d like to know,” Rhodes-Johnson said. “One of the biggest things was, did my mom know? Was she told?” Stewart asked. “I wish I could say that she didn’t know, because I know that would be easier,” Rhodes-Johnson said. “But yes, your mother knew. And during my whole career, it was maybe a very, very small percentage of the children I interviewed that their mothers didn’t know.” Rhodes-Johnson had spoken to Beth Blake shortly after Stewart reported the abuse at school and again in March 1987. Blake told her she first learned of the molestation when she was called at work by social services and told they were beginning an investigation into Mouser. Blake said she had confronted Mouser about the abuse, but he had just avoided her questions. Their younger daughters were born in 1988 and 1989. Starting at age 12, Stewart said she cared for her baby sisters. During that time, Mouser and Blake abused cocaine, marijuana and alcohol. Sometimes they “partied” in the house, she said. Other times, they left Stewart in charge and drove off to visit friends. “The abuse, then me taking care of my mom’s kids while they were doing drugs, both her and him, I felt the system failed me completely,” she said. Patricia Phillips was a family friend in the 1980s and knew Stewart as a young child. “Her mom was obviously broken,” she said. Blake had told Phillips that she had been raped as a teenager. “I don’t think she was capable of making a better choice for her daughter.” Stewart holds her newborn sister. Courtesy of Stewart As far as Stewart knew at the time, nothing had ever happened to Mouser in response to her complaint of sexual abuse. But Mouser was, in fact, charged with a crime. The day after Rhodes-Johnson interviewed him a second time, in October 1987, she recommended to the DA’s office that the case proceed immediately. About two weeks later, state prosecutors charged Mouser with three counts sexual abuse of a minor. A district court judge issued a summons for Mouser to appear in court. Rhodes-Johnson said she does not know why Stewart was not again removed from her mother’s home when the summons was issued. According to a writ filed by D.H. Daniel, a peace officer, the summons was never served. The officer wrote that Mouser’s residence had burned down and neighbors hadn’t seen him since. Around the same time, Mouser had quit his job. Daniel had no further leads. Then on Oct. 14, 1987, a warrant was issued for Mouser’s arrest. In a motion to supplement the record, a district attorney would later argue that Mouser was not taken into custody until much later because Alaska State Troopers were unable to find him. But he was close by all along. On two occasions, a state trooper looked for Mouser at the home Stewart shared with her mother and stepfather. Stewart’s mother told the trooper Mouser didn’t live there. “If the mother is protecting the guy and hiding him, and she’s a child, what could we have done?” Rhodes-Johnson said. On the Alaska State Troopers’ second attempt to find Mouser, there was also a warrant out for Blake’s arrest, in a separate theft case. Blake was not arrested, Trooper William Hughes wrote in a report, because she was holding her newborn baby in her arms. Those two partial days of searching, in December 1987 and April 1988, were all that troopers devoted to finding Mouser, records show. APD’s Thim said that current practice is for detectives to attempt to serve the warrant, and for other APD officers to follow up if needed. State and federal law enforcement sometimes provide assistance. He did not comment on protocols in the 1980s. Rhodes-Johnson later testified that after bringing the case to the DA for charges, she received no further requests. She was not asked to look for Mouser. She didn’t know what had happened to the case, she said. Mouser continued living and working openly in Anchorage during that time. As Stewart watched over her infant sisters, he kept having contact with law enforcement and the courts, but he was not arrested. Stewart remembers calling police in the early months of 1988, at age 12, when Blake was pregnant and nearly due to deliver Mouser’s child. “Dennis was so intoxicated and violent he tried to strangle my mom,” she said. “He stressed her out, yelled at her, screamed at her, beat her,” said Patterson, Sherri’s older brother. He remembers confronting Mouser that day, trying to intervene. Stewart cowered in the kitchen area and called police to tell them Mouser was hurting her mother, she said, but Blake took the phone from her and told them that nothing was wrong. Mouser had other contacts with police that year. Beginning in 1988, he worked at a Wash-and-Lube car wash in midtown Anchorage. He frequently washed police cruisers and had contact with officers, he later wrote in an affidavit to the court. In April of that year, he gave a statement to police after a co-worker had stolen a car from the car wash. It included an address for him. Then in August 1988, Blake was tried for theft. Mouser walked into the downtown courthouse and testified at her trial, again giving his name and address. Afterward, he asked Blake’s defense attorney for information about the case against him. According to a later affidavit, the defense attorney contacted a colleague at the Office of Public Advocacy, who told Mouser his case had been “quietly shelved.” Rhodes-Johnson said that testifying in Blake’s trial would not have triggered a check for criminal warrants. In January 1989, Mouser was served a civil summons at the home he shared with Blake and the children, according to the same affidavit. In other words, the authorities were able to find him. But he was still not arrested for sexually abusing Stewart. Finally, in May 1989, Mouser went to work temporarily in Whittier, an isolated harbor town outside of Anchorage. At the end of the month, he was picked up by Whittier police on an unrelated matter and arrested on the 1987 warrant. He was sent back to Anchorage and posted bail. Three years had passed since Stewart first told authorities he had abused her. When Stewart was 13 years old, a grand jury finally indicted her stepfather, charging him with one count of sexual abuse of a minor in the first degree and three counts in the second degree. As an adult, Stewart has no memory of the legal proceedings; she is not sure she was aware they were taking place. Her daily life at the time involved basic survival in a home where she did not feel safe. In August 1989, Mouser was arraigned and pleaded not guilty, and when the trial date arrived on Oct. 9, his attorney filed a motion to dismiss the indictment. The argument: The State of Alaska had taken so long to arrest and charge Mouser that it violated his constitutional rights to a speedy trial. The three years that had elapsed since Stewart first came forward made it impossible to mount an adequate defense, he argued. Stewart’s mother and Mouser also filed affidavits detailing Mouser’s numerous contacts with law enforcement and the courts after the warrant was issued. Mouser said in his affidavit that he had sought out APD and given statements because he believed he needed to be arrested in order to be assigned a public defender. For the next two days the lawyers argued on paper and in court. But not over whether Stewart had been sexually abused. The questions at hand were whether the state’s delay was reasonable, and what efforts had been made to locate Mouser. Judge John Reese had been on the bench of the Superior Court for two months when he heard Mouser’s case. Before that, he had spent years in private practice and had been “pretty involved” in the anti-domestic violence movement in the 1970s, he said. Reese found that Mouser’s right to a speedy trial had indeed been violated because of “excessive, unexplained delay” by the state. “The nearly two-year delay in service of the warrant after he was charged substantially prejudiced his rights,” the judge wrote. He dismissed the case. No evidence was presented in court about Mouser’s guilt or innocence, including his admissions of sexual abuse to APD. “We walked out of there in more disbelief than we could have ever done in our careers,” Rhodes-Johnson said, “not only speechless, but like somebody had punched us.” Reese, 76, is now retired. He said he cannot comment on individual cases, nor does he remember this one in particular. But he spoke generally about questions of delay. Speedy trial challenges are rare, he said. Prosecutors are responsible for bringing cases in a timely manner, and when they don’t, the law requires a judge to dismiss. “A judge’s discretion is really limited,” he said. “We’re supposed to follow the law, not our whims and biases and prejudices,” he said. “Your ability to have a fair trial is greatly diminished with delay.” Reese said it would have been improper for him to consider any evidence of a defendant’s guilt or innocence before first deciding if the case belonged in court and if the state had violated the defendant’s rights. “Criminal law does many things,” he said, “including protecting people accused of crime.” Rhodes-Johnson saw the case differently, although she acknowledged that the court was bound by the laws. “They abandoned Sherri’s rights,” she said. “They abandoned her rights versus his.” The memory of that dismissal in court has stayed with her, she told Stewart in June. “When we believe a victim, we do everything in our power. And sometimes our hands got tied. And so we had to go home to our families and hold that with us.” An excerpt of Judge John Reese’s 1989 dismissal of the sexual assault allegations against Mouser. Obtained by ProPublica and Anchorage Daily News The state’s case against Mouser churned through the legal system for two more years. The district attorney appealed Reese’s decision, outlining the efforts that had been made to arrest Mouser. Mouser’s attorney argued the state had failed in its basic duties to pursue the case. “Throughout this case it has been Mr. Mouser who has had to come forward and prod the State along. It was Mr. Mouser who initiated both interviews with the police and who repeatedly requested that something be done with respect to this case so that it would not be forever hanging over his head,” he wrote. “Even when the State had what amounted to two confessions, (thus characterized by this Court), it failed to prosecute this case,” he added. The Alaska Court of Appeals decided to review the case. While the judges worked, Stewart weathered eruptions of violence in her home. Just two months after the judge first dismissed the case against Mouser in 1989, Stewart’s mother pressed charges against him for assault. A police officer wrote that Mouser had struck Blake across the face, and the officer had seen her injuries. Mouser was ordered not to return to the home without written permission from Blake and was sentenced to 10 days in jail, with nine suspended. But he remained in their lives. At least twice, Blake filed for emergency protective orders against Mouser for domestic violence. In July 1990, he made a series of threats to Blake and her children: “Threaten[ed] to kill me if I file a restraining order, threatened to throw hot coffee in my face, get my children all taken away and sent to foster homes by breaking a no contact order,” the mother wrote. She added that Mouser “threatened + attempted to hang self in garage so we will all suffer.” It was Stewart who found him purpled and hanging, with an electrical cord around his neck, she said. She was 14 years old. The image has stayed with her, indelible, among her childhood’s other traumas. Mouser survived the suicide attempt and was taken to a psychiatric hospital, Stewart said. His relationship with Blake fell apart. By October 1990, she filed for custody of their two daughters. Stewart in the fall of 1991, a few months shy of her 16th birthday. Courtesy of Stewart A few months later, in February 1991, the Court of Appeals issued its opinion in the case against Stewart’s stepfather. Chief Judge Alexander Bryner wrote that the state’s efforts to arrest Mouser on the warrant appeared “patently inadequate when viewed in isolation,” but that prior attempts to serve him with a summons made it “less flagrant.” Still, the court agreed that the 20-month delay in arresting Mouser was unreasonable. Ultimately, the result was the same. The Court of Appeals asked for a different legal test to be applied to the question of Mouser’s right to a speedy trial. They sent the case back to the trial court. Again, Reese presided. He applied the new legal test but still found that the state had failed in its basic due diligence. “One can only conclude that the government did not care about trying to serve the warrant,” he wrote. It was the state’s job to gather the evidence against Mouser and bring him to court. It had taken far too long. On Dec. 23, 1991, Reese dismissed the criminal indictment against Mouser for the final time. Mouser was free to go. A representative for the Alaska Department of Law said that none of the district attorneys involved in the case still work for the department. “We no longer have the 30-year old files pursuant to our file retention policy. Without first-hand knowledge to answer your questions about the handling of cases 30 years ago we are unable to answer your questions,” she wrote. Stewart turned 16 two days after the final court dismissal. Six and half years had passed since the day she had crawled into the tire in the school yard and cried. A month or so before the final dismissal, Stewart’s mother had moved the family to Washington state. Distraught to be leaving Alaska, Stewart was determined to forge her own path. She moved out of her mother’s house as a teen, she said, the beginning of many years of wandering across the country and back up to Alaska. When Stewart was 20, she said, her mother was hospitalized with liver complications from hepatitis C. She died the following year in West Virginia, still denying to Stewart that she knew about the sexual abuse. Mouser’s later years can be traced in a series of entries in CourtView, Alaska’s database of court cases. Entering his name results in a list of charges for driving while intoxicated, shoplifting, public drunkenness. And domestic violence. In addition to Blake, two more women filed complaints against him in the following years. Mouser died in 2009. Stewart only found out in 2017. Stewart’s official Navy portrait sits on a table in front of her as she rests in her home in August. Anne Raup/Anchorage Daily News Stewart’s adulthood led her all over the country. She joined the Navy at 23 and was raped shortly thereafter, she said. This time she didn’t report it, fearing retaliation. Years later, Department of Veterans Affairs doctors diagnosed her with PTSD. In 2017, Stewart moved back to Anchorage after many years in the Lower 48. Her family photos are bound in leatherette albums and stuffed in popcorn tins that her grandmother passed down to her. She keeps them in her bedroom now at her home in Hillside, hoping little by little to organize them and excavate her past. The pictures capture holidays and birthdays, smiling faces and dated haircuts. But for Stewart, each one is cast over with darker memories. There’s the Christmas tree her stepfather was too drunk to mount in a stand. The outfit she wore in elementary school that he told her was too provocative. The house where he beat and choked her pregnant mother. “I can’t stand it,” she said, having those photos so close and seeing herself with her abuser. But the albums also hold her childhood protectors, the adults in the family — her grandparents, her aunt and uncle — who offered moments of safety and reprieve. In Anchorage, over the course of two years, Stewart attended college classes in human services and psychology, she said, which helped her cope with her past trauma. “I realized that I, as a child, did what I was supposed to do, and my mother failed me. The system failed me. It wasn’t me. And that’s a really, really hard thing for victims, especially childhood victims, to understand.” Stewart’s family photos. Anne Raup/Anchorage Daily News Stewart said her studies in psychology also allow her to feel empathy for Mouser, even though she wished he had been held accountable for the abuse. She dreamed of a career helping people convicted of sex crimes get mental health care. “Sometimes the people who sexually offend are actually really mentally ill and they need mental help, not just being put in a prison where they’ll become a more violent offender,” she said. But that dream and all her others have run up against the limits of her faltering health. It has been a mysterious and devastating transformation over the course of a year. A photo from last July shows Stewart immersed in the turquoise water of the Bahamas, head tilted back toward the sun, wet hair draped over her shoulders. Her husband, Alain, laughs beside her. Stewart in Minnesota this August awaiting treatment. She had temporarily lost the ability to speak. Courtesy of Stewart This June she posted photos of an IV in her arm, the surgical mask protecting her, her red hair spread across a clinic pillow. For much of the past year, Stewart has moved with the aid of a wheelchair or walker, when she can move at all. She faints often, due to sudden drops in blood pressure. She has trouble swallowing, muscle atrophy, numbness in her leg and lost more than 50 pounds in recent months, she said. Her voice often dims to a whisper. “We are frankly terrified,” Alain Stewart wrote in a note to a VA doctor in June. Finally in August, a specialist in Anchorage told Stewart she may have a rare and incurable connective tissue disorder, as well as a condition related to her low blood pressure and fluctuating heart rate. When she returned about two weeks later for test results, he sent her straight to the emergency room. Within days, she lost the ability to verbalize her thoughts, trapped in the maze of her own mind, she said. Fearing the worst, the Stewarts decided to risk a flight to Minnesota, hoping the Mayo Clinic could save her life. Doctors there described a functional neurologic disorder: the structure of her brain was not damaged, but the wiring wasn’t working right. Staff worked with her to practice words and syllables until she regained the ability to speak over the course of several days. The first sentence they gave her to repeat was, “Today is a sunny day.” As she improved, the sentence she chose to practice was, “I was given this life because I’m strong enough to live it.” Stewart has now returned to Anchorage to wait for a longer-term spot at the Mayo Clinic and a more definitive diagnosis. She is scheduled for further evaluation and treatment at its Scottsdale, Arizona, campus beginning in mid-October. Rhodes-Johnson remains steadfast in her belief that she did all she could for Stewart all those years ago. In other cases she won convictions, she said. She worked on thousands over her career. She couldn’t let the losses hold her back, she said. The work ahead was too important. For Stewart, a video call during the pandemic marked the first time she could get answers from an adult who remembered her at the time the case unfolded, who had worked in the system that had let her down. On the one hand, Stewart wants to expose how she was denied justice. “I want people to know how bad the system failed me as a person. I could have had a better life.” On the other, she offers her story as proof positive that survivors can “rise above the poverty, the drugs and the abuse.” “It’s not your whole life,” she said. “That’s the past. What you do afterwards is who you are.” Stewart; her husband, Alain; and her daughter, Bailee, on a cruise in the Bahamas in July 2019. Courtesy of Stewart For Rhodes-Johnson, their encounter was a chance to try to help a former child victim heal an old wound. Stewart was one of myriad child victims she worked with who never saw justice, she said. “I’m hoping that you’ll see me not as a horrible part of your past, but someone who really did care to make sure that didn’t happen.” She offered words of encouragement — “I’m proud to see that you made the best of this” — and the hope that other victims, as adults, might get the same chance as Stewart. “I can see now that victims need to, if they feel that this helps them to get through this, meet with the officer that you’ve dealt with, meet with a social worker, find out later what went on,” Rhodes-Johnson said. A lifetime after Stewart turned in her stepfather and was abandoned to his abuses, four words cut across the years. “Sherri, I believed you.” Adriana Gallardo contributed reporting. Stewart first contacted ProPublica and the Anchorage Daily News via our online questionnaire about sexual violence in Alaska. Share your story here.

  • Fox News Pundits Compare BLM Protesters To Serial Killer Ted Bundy
    by John Amato on September 18, 2020 at 15:58

    During Thursday’s segment on Fox News’ Outnumbered, two of their right-wing panel agreed that using Ted Bundy as the bellwether for violence in the BLM protests was a great thing. The Fox News program was discussing a report that 93% of the Black Lives Matter-inspired protests were peaceful But for Fox News that was fodder to promote Trump’s “law and order” message and claim the country is in flames while claiming “Joe Biden’s America” means the suburbs will burn down. Host Melissa Francis commented on the violence and riots that have occurred at BLM protests. “#Oneluckyguy” Juan Williams frustrated her by saying he had no basis to compare anything to that except his own experience of being involved in a peaceful protest. This enraged the right wingers on the panel. Kennedy, the “libertarian,” went off the rails and used serial killer Ted Bundy, who raped and mass-murdered scores of women, as her barometer against the civil unrest in the country. Kennedy said, “And the harm that has been done, that’s like saying 95% of it was peaceful.” She continued, “That’s like saying 95% of the sorority girls that Ted Bundy met he didn’t kill.” Melissa Francis was in complete agreement with her and said that was a “great analogy.”read more

  • TikTok and WeChat Apps Banned by Trump Administration Starting This Sunday
    by Chris Walker on September 18, 2020 at 15:57

    Use of the TikTok app by those who already have it will be banned starting November 12, unless the company can be sold.

  • Burn Unit
    by Steve Brodner on September 18, 2020 at 15:50

    Steve Brodner Fires this time. Scenes from our series “The Greater Quiet” for the week of September 14. The post Burn Unit appeared first on The Nation.

  • Johnny Enlow Marries Seven Mountains Dominionism to the QAnon Conspiracy Theory
    by Kyle Mantyla on September 18, 2020 at 15:43

    Pastor Johnny Enlow, a leading proponent of Seven Mountains Dominionism, appeared on the “Up Front In The Prophetic” YouTube program Tuesday, where he linked Seven Mountains theology to the far-right QAnon conspiracy theory. Followers of Seven Mountains Dominionism believe that right-wing Christians are to “do whatever is necessary” to take control of all the seven main The post Johnny Enlow Marries Seven Mountains Dominionism to the QAnon Conspiracy Theory first appeared on Right Wing Watch.

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    by Taegan Goddard on September 18, 2020 at 15:34

    Joe Biden has started receiving classified intelligence briefings, according to NBC News.

  • U.S. Admits Rohrabacher Offered Pardon To Cover Up Russian Hack
    by RedStateRachel on September 18, 2020 at 15:27

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  • Judge blocks “politically motivated” changes at USPS over concerns “voters will be disenfranchised”
    by Igor Derysh on September 18, 2020 at 15:26

    “At the heart of [Louis] DeJoy’s and the Postal Service’s actions is voter disenfranchisement,” the judge says

  • Susan Collins Facing Uphill Climb to Reelection in Maine
    by Alan Ryland on September 18, 2020 at 15:25

    Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) is facing an uphill climb to reelection in her state, according to the latest New York Times/Siena College poll. The poll shows she is five points behind Sara Gideon, her Democratic opponent. Gideon, the Democratic Speaker in Maine’s House of Representatives, leads Collins 49 percent to 44 percent. 45 percent of … Continue reading “Susan Collins Facing Uphill Climb to Reelection in Maine”

  • Republican Anti-Trump Group Claims Support from “Current Top U.S. Government Official”
    by Darragh Roche on September 18, 2020 at 15:24

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  • Sleepy Wilbur Ross ‘Bans’ Tik Tok For Trump
    by Frances Langum on September 18, 2020 at 15:23

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  • Poll: Biden’s Popularity Soaring in Arizona and Maine
    by Alan Ryland on September 18, 2020 at 15:04

    According to the latest New York Times and Sienna College poll numbers, Democrat Joe Biden is significantly ahead of President Donald Trump in the valuable swing state of Arizona: He currently enjoys a nine-point lead in a poll of likely voters (49-40 percent). The margin is even wider in Maine: Biden is 17 points ahead … Continue reading “Poll: Biden’s Popularity Soaring in Arizona and Maine”

  • Trump Blasted for ‘McCarthy-Like’ Call for ‘Patriotic Education’ and Attack on Howard Zinn, 1619 Project
    on September 18, 2020 at 15:00

    Brett Wilkins, staff writerZinn, the renowned historian and author of A People’s History of the United States, often said that being “honest about the history of our country” is the best way to combat propaganda. 

  • Billionaires Called to Pay It Back as UN Warns of ‘Wave of Hunger and Famine’ That Could Rock Globe
    on September 18, 2020 at 14:59

    Andrea Germanos, staff writer”It’s time for those who have the most to step up, to help those who have the least in this extraordinary time in world history,” says the World Food Programme director. “Humanity is facing the greatest crisis any of us have seen in our lifetimes.”

  • As Advocates Demand Media ‘Cover the Crisis,’ Poll Shows Voters Want Comprehensive Reporting on Climate Crisis
    on September 18, 2020 at 14:53

    Lisa Newcomb, staff writer”To give voters the information they need to make political decisions in an increasingly chaotic world, the media must cover the climate crisis with the accuracy and urgency it deserves.”

  • Lindsey Graham Opponent Jaime Harrison Raises Another $1 Million in 24-Hour Period
    by Darragh Roche on September 18, 2020 at 14:53

    Jaime Harrison has repeated his blockbuster fundraising success from Thursday by raising the same amount over the past 24 hours. He’s currently tied with Lindsey Graham in the South Carolina Senate race. Harrison, a Democrat, announced the initial numbers yesterday but had to provide an update on Friday because he’d pulled off the same fundraising … Continue reading “Lindsey Graham Opponent Jaime Harrison Raises Another $1 Million in 24-Hour Period”

  • Judge Denounces USPS Changes as Effort to Sabotage Election and Orders Reversal
    by Jake Johnson on September 18, 2020 at 14:52

    The judge slammed DeJoy’s policies as a “politically motivated attack” on the U.S. Postal Service.

  • Coronavirus Growth in Western Countries: September 17 Update
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  • ‘Astounding’: Trump Officials Reportedly Bypassed CDC Scientists to Publish ‘Dangerous’ Covid-19 Testing Guidelines
    on September 18, 2020 at 14:29

    Jake Johnson, staff writer”Trump’s hacks just sidestepped the CDC entirely and shamelessly wrote their own politically-motivated testing guidelines and published them under the agency’s imprimatur.”

  • McConnell Warns D.C. and Puerto Rico Statehood Will Create Four New Democratic Senators
    by Darragh Roche on September 18, 2020 at 14:26

    Mitch McConnell has warned against admitting Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico as states because it would create new Senate seats for the Democrats and let them pack the courts. The Senate Majority Leader has railed against plans to grant D.C. and Puerto Rico statehood before but on Friday he made his concerns about their potential … Continue reading “McConnell Warns D.C. and Puerto Rico Statehood Will Create Four New Democratic Senators”

  • In Trump’s America, It’s Cruelty as Policy
    by Sasha Abramsky on September 18, 2020 at 14:24

    Sasha Abramsky Forced hysterectomies for ICE detainees, more mass deportations, threats to bring sedition charges against protesters—this is political vandalism. The post In Trump’s America, It’s Cruelty as Policy appeared first on The Nation.

  • MUST WATCH: Councilwoman Takes Down Anti-Gay Bigot Over Pride Flag
    by Ed Scarce on September 18, 2020 at 14:18

    The city of Minot raised their Pride flag last week as part of declaring June Pride Month. COVID delayed that until September. At least one bigot made his displeasure known at a recent city council meeting. Councilwoman Evans wasn’t having it. “I am proudly the first openly elected lesbian in North Dakota. So that is why I am not paying any heed to your crap!” Carrie Evans said. The Dickinson Press reported that Evans’ sexual orientation was not previously known to the public. Source: The Advocate During a heated meeting over the official flying of a Pride flag in Minot, N.D., Councilwoman Carrie Evans declared that she is the first “openly elected lesbian” in the state while responding to a citizen demanding the flag be pulled down. At that point, Evans had been listening to anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric for days when the speaker, Walker, called her out for appearing irritated, according to The Dickinson Press. “We the people. I’m the people. I live in Minot. I am a taxpayer. I am a person. I get to see myself represented on that flagpole just as much as the people who got the Juneteenth flag last month, as much as the POW/MIA will get later this month,” Evans more

  • A Trump Admin Rule Change Would Allow Shelters to Refuse Trans People
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    The mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic has left transgender people more vulnerable to housing instability than before.

  • HHS lawyer pushed to gut testing safety rules to help “special interest friends”: Watchdog group
    by Igor Derysh on September 18, 2020 at 14:00

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  • Mutual Aid Response During Fires Shows Black Lives Matter Is Building Community
    by Simon Davis-Cohen on September 18, 2020 at 13:51

    Organizers protesting police in Portland quickly mobilized to provide services for those impacted by wildfires.

  • Former GOP Congressman Joe Scarborough: Trump Is “The Greatest Threat to American Conservatism and the Church”
    by Darragh Roche on September 18, 2020 at 13:46

    A former Republican congressman turned TV host has criticized those supporting Donald Trump because of their conservative beliefs by dragging the President’s own credentials. Joe Scarborough was a Florida congressman from 1995 to 2001, entering the House as part of Newt Gingrich’s majority during the presidency of Bill Clinton. He now co-hosts a morning show … Continue reading “Former GOP Congressman Joe Scarborough: Trump Is “The Greatest Threat to American Conservatism and the Church””

  • Conspiracy Theories by Cops Fuel Far Right Attacks Against Antiracist Protesters
    by Shane Burley on September 18, 2020 at 13:34

    Antiracist and antifa protesters have been blamed for much of the violence perpetrated by the far right and the police.

  • Bill Barr shows his true colors — and they’re terrifying. Honestly, we should have known
    by Heather Digby Parton on September 18, 2020 at 13:28

    Lesson learned: Just because a Republican has been around D.C. forever doesn’t mean he’s not a hardcore fascist

  • Friday News Dump: FBI Director Testifies To Russia Election Meddling, And Other News
    by Susie Madrak on September 18, 2020 at 13:26

    Anyone on social media knows that moment when you share something about which you have real expertise, and some know-nothing troll responds with “well, actually….” This was just like that. From FBI Director Chris Wray’s testimony yesterday to Congress: But Chris, you don’t see any activity from China, even though it is a FAR greater threat than Russia, Russia, Russia. They will both, plus others, be able to interfere in our 2020 Election with our totally vulnerable Unsolicited (Counterfeit?) Ballot Scam. Check it out! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 18, 2020 Wray also talked about antifa, and white supremacists: FBI Director Chris Wray testified before Congress that antifa is an ideology, not an organization. That puts him at odds with President Trump who has said he would designate antifa — an umbrella term for far-left-leaning militants — a terror group. more

  • Millions of Children Go Hungry as Mitch McConnell Blocks Stimulus Bill
    by Mike Ludwig on September 18, 2020 at 13:25

    Desperately needed emergency food assistance would expire on September 30 under McConnell’s “skinny” stimulus bill.

  • Chuck Schumer Slams Trump’s Blue States Comment: “What a Despicable Man”
    by Darragh Roche on September 18, 2020 at 13:11

    Chuck Schumer denounced Donald Trump in an animated speech from the Senate floor following the President’s claim that Coronavirus response is going well if you exclude the blue states. The Senate Minority Leader addressed Trump’s remarks on Thursday and called out the President’s apparent failure to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. “What a disgrace!” Schumer … Continue reading “Chuck Schumer Slams Trump’s Blue States Comment: “What a Despicable Man””

  • Oil Companies Are Profiting From Illegal Spills. And California Lets Them.
    by by Janet Wilson, The Desert Sun, and Lylla Younes, ProPublica on September 18, 2020 at 13:00

    by Janet Wilson, The Desert Sun, and Lylla Younes, ProPublica ProPublica is a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. Sign up to receive our biggest stories as soon as they’re published. This story was co-published with The Desert Sun, a member of the ProPublica Local Reporting Network. In May 2019, workers in California’s Central Valley struggled to seal a broken oil well. It was one of thousands of aging wells that crowd the dusty foothills three hours from the coast, where Chevron and other companies inject steam at high pressure to loosen up heavy crude. Suddenly, oil shot out of the bare ground nearby. Chevron corralled the oil in a dry streambed, and within days the flow petered out. But it resumed with a vengeance a month later. By July, a sticky, shimmering stream of crude and brine oozed through the steep ravine. Workers and wildlife rescuers couldn’t immediately approach the site — it was 400 degrees underground, and if the earth exploded or gave way, they might be scalded or drown in boiling fluids. Dizzying, potentially toxic fumes filled the scorching summer air. Lights strobed through the night and propane cannons fired to ward off rare burrowing owls, tiny San Joaquin kit foxes, antelope squirrels and other wildlife. An aerial view of the Chevron spill in the Cymric field on July 13, 2019. Obtained by ProPublica and The Desert Sun via a Public Records Act request Over four months, more than 1.2 million gallons of oil and wastewater ran down the gully. California had declared these dangerous inland spills illegal that spring. They are known as “surface expressions,” and the Cymric field was a hot spot. Half a dozen spills and a massive well blowout had occurred there since 1999. This time, faced with news headlines and a visit by Gov. Gavin Newsom to the site, officials with the California Geologic Energy Management Division, or CalGEM — the main state agency overseeing the petroleum industry — ordered Chevron to stop the flow. Regulators later levied a $2.7 million fine on the company. Instead, Chevron profited. Amid the noise and heat, trucks arrived daily to vacuum out the oil from a safe distance. It was refined, sold and shipped to corner gas stations, bringing the company $399,000, according to state records. Chevron appealed the fine, saying while “we fully accept — and take responsibility for — our actions,” it does not believe the spill, known as Cymric 1Y, posed a threat to human health. The company has yet to pay, and CalGEM has not moved forward with an appeal hearing. Along with being a global leader on addressing climate change, California is the seventh-largest producer of oil in the nation. And across some of its largest oil fields, companies have for decades turned spills into profits, garnering millions of dollars from surface expressions that can foul sensitive habitats and endanger workers, an investigation by The Desert Sun and ProPublica has found. California Oil Spills Earn Companies Millions For years, companies have corralled spilling oil in four large fields and sold it. Shoshana Gordon/ProPublica. Source: California Department of Conservation Since the new regulations outlawed surface expressions last year, more than two dozen have occurred in Kern County, the heart of the state’s oil industry. In the Cymric field, three spills are still running, state officials say, including one that’s spilled nearly twice as much as the one for which Chevron was fined. Dozens of older spills have also flowed for years, the investigation found. The largest, just around the bend from Cymric 1Y, started in 2003. The site, also operated by Chevron and dubbed GS-5, has since produced more than 16.8 million gallons of oil and about 70 million gallons of wastewater, a company spokeswoman said. That tops the amount of oil spilled by the Exxon Valdez, the infamous tanker that ran aground in Alaska in 1989. In the last three years alone, the crude collected from GS-5 has generated an estimated $11.6 million, according to an analysis of production data provided by the state. Chevron and state regulators say they’re trying to shut down GS-5 and they have reduced the flow by 90%. It was spilling approximately 15,000 to 23,000 gallons of fluid a day in early February, the latest date for which the state provided detailed data. Ten to 15% of that was oil, officials said. “We take our responsibility to operate safely and in a manner that protects public health, the communities where we operate and the environment very seriously,” company spokeswoman Veronica Flores-Paniagua said. “We remain committed to stopping and preventing seeps consistent with the updated state regulations.” But a close review of the state’s new rules shows they contain several large loopholes that keep oil from surface expressions flowing — the result of years of lobbying and pushback by the energy industry. Vacuum trucks suck thousands of gallons of oil and wastewater a day out of the GS-5 spill, near McKittrick. GS-5 is one of the largest and longest-running surface expressions. Jay Calderon/The Desert Sun For example, over stiff opposition from environmentalists, state officials explicitly allowed high-pressure “steam fracking,” a controversial extraction technique that has been linked to surface expressions. And when spills break out, there is nothing stopping producers from turning them into moneymakers. In a practice known as “containment,” companies can corral the spills with dirt berms, netting, pipes or drains; vacuum out the crude; refine it and sell it. The 2019 regulations spell out steps companies must take to try to halt the spills — mainly temporarily ceasing steam injection — but there are no deadlines for stopping them and restoring the sites. The new rules also largely exempt “low energy” surface expressions related to oil production. According to a review of state and local records, the exemption appears to cover more than 70 older spills that are still revenue generators. A cache of internal documents, photos and video obtained by The Desert Sun and ProPublica shows that over the past quarter century, CalGEM has routinely allowed oil companies to contain and commercialize surface expressions, despite warnings by staffers about environmental and human harm. The agency acknowledges that more than 160 containment structures have been built to corral spills since the late 1990s. The inland spills typically draw little attention, unlike major marine events that garner national headlines. But hundreds of them have occurred, records show. Geysers of oil, rock and mud have shot skyward 100 feet, and slopes have collapsed under smoking waterfalls of crude and wastewater. In one case, a worker died; in another, an employee had to wrench his ankle away from a sudden sinkhole; and a third had to abandon his truck as a dark stain of oil mushroomed beneath it. A Berry Petroleum Co. surface expression in the Midway-Sunset Oil Field in August 2011. Obtained by ProPublica and The Desert Sun via a Public Records Act request “Keep in mind that these eruptions are not at well sites,” wrote then-Oil and Gas Supervisor Elena Miller in a 2011 email to her boss. “These are locations where the earth opens up and spews fluids, solids and gases.” Oil company representatives defend their practices, saying surface expressions mirror natural seeps of crude and come with harvesting a product that provides thousands of well-paying jobs and fuels car-centric California. Containing the spills, they added, also costs money. Chevron, for instance, told lawmakers this year that it had spent $9 million to try to halt spills in the Cymric field. Environmentalists who fought for the regulations are furious about the loopholes and the continued spills. “It’s completely obscene that oil companies can cause an oil spill and then profit off it,” said Hollin Kretzmann, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity, an environmental nonprofit organization. CalGEM could not provide a full accounting of how much oil has spilled from surface expressions, even though the 2019 regulations explicitly require that oil companies report production numbers. The agency also declined to provide spill maps and plans mandated by the new rules, citing, in part, “multiple ongoing legal investigations,” including a departmental probe of the Cymric spills and ongoing litigation between Chevron and another company involving the field where the worker died. “We are greatly reducing the problem. We continue to make progress, but more work is needed,” state Oil and Gas Supervisor Uduak-Joe Ntuk said in a statement. He noted that the practices had developed over decades, and that the new regulations were crafted under his predecessor and then-Gov. Jerry Brown. “This Administration has made it clear that surface expressions are unacceptable and will not be tolerated as the cost of doing business,” he said. After visiting Chevron’s Cymric 1Y spill site last year, Newsom pledged to “tighten things up.” In November, his administration placed a statewide moratorium on new permits for steam fracking, a suspected root cause of many surface expressions, and hired scientists with the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory to study whether the method can be used safely. Ntuk said that while that review is in progress, the agency is cracking down. He has the power to fine companies $25,000 a day for ongoing spills. But other than the one, unpaid fine against Chevron, he has not imposed any financial penalties for surface expressions, instead issuing “notices of violation” — citations that Ntuk has compared to “parking tickets.” He said that approach is working; many spills have stopped and some companies are working proactively to seal abandoned, often damaged wells to prevent future spills. Companies with existing permits, however, are free to keep steam fracking — and to scoop up any oil that cracks the surface. Some experts say the current reality is reminiscent of the 19th-century oil rush. “It reminds me of the industry back when you’re watching ‘There Will Be Blood’ and they used to let this stuff explode out of the ground and collect it,” said Deborah Gordon, a Brown University senior fellow, who researched California’s Midway-Sunset field, where many surface spills occur. Her group concluded it emitted more greenhouse gases than any oil field in the nation. “This is not where this industry needs to be.” After 150 Years, California’s Oil Gets Harder to Extract Oil production in California began in the 1850s, just as its famous gold rush was petering out. Tantalized by visible natural “seeps,” companies large and small drilled wells across the state, hoping to hit paydirt. While profits could be big, so could the spills. In 1910, a Kern County wellhead blew out. Oil skyrocketed from the ground. Over 18 months, the Lakeview Gusher spilled 395 million gallons, creating a pool so deep and wide that men rowed boats across it. It still holds the record for the largest oil spill in U.S. history, dwarfing BP’s Deepwater Horizon disaster, which leaked 210 million gallons into the Gulf of Mexico. Top, the Lakeview Gusher in 1910. Above, men row on the lake of oil created by the spill. San Joaquin Geological Society The California Division of Oil and Gas — the precursor to today’s CalGEM — was formed in 1915. Until this year, the agency’s primary mission was clear: Maximize the production of petroleum and other energy resources. That included helping companies relocate water that interfered with oil, both freshwater supplies and the briny waste that gushes from wells along with crude. After decades of extraction, pumping California’s increasingly tarry reserves became tougher. Much of it was locked underground in diatomites — tightly packed layers of ancient, tiny sea skeletons whose algal innards compressed over milleniums into gooey crude. (Cat litter is made of diatomaceous earth scraped off Kern County hillsides.) By the 1960s, researchers discovered that flooding the subterranean reservoirs with steam or injecting it in cycles, through a process known as “huff and puff,” worked well. The huff phase involves injecting scalding steam down wellbores, then letting the heat melt the tar. The puff portion refers to softened crude, thin as heated maple syrup, rising up through production wells. When the flow slows, another steam cycle begins. The technique is called “cyclic steaming.” By the late 1990s, companies were using a supercharged version of it: steam fracking. Producers injected steam down well bores at pressures high enough to crack brittle underground formations so oil could ooze upward. Nearly half of the oil in the state is produced from cyclic steaming, according to a University of California, Berkeley, report issued in April. How Cyclic Steaming Can Create Pools of Boiling Oil This example is modified from a model of a geographical cross section of the Midway-Sunset Oil Field by Ahinoam Pollack, Stanford University, published in a March 2020 study. Lucas Waldron/ProPublica But blasting old, often damaged wells with steam had an unintended side effect: surface expressions. Like underground tea kettles blowing their tops, seeps of gas, mud, oil and rock erupted in a dozen oil fields. Five companies reported scores of spills over more than 20 years. Chevron alone logged 64 surface expressions between 1997 and 2010, according to a report it sent to CalGEM. Typically, CalGEM has told oil field operators to “shut in” wells near a surface expression, meaning temporarily cease nearby steam injection or drilling. Usually, the spill would stop or slow within days. If it didn’t, the agency has ordered them to stop steaming in an ever-larger radius. But some spots sprang leaks again and again or spilled large amounts for years. With CalGEM’s approval, companies turned these into de facto — but permanent — production sites, even in creeks and ravines supposedly protected by environmental laws. CalGEM got revenue too — the agency is completely funded by the industry it regulates, and this year will receive 67 cents for every barrel of oil produced. “The Earth Had Literally Cracked Open” U.S. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a Republican whose district includes Kern County oil fields, once called Sandy Creek a “ditch” and claimed it hadn’t rained there in 30 years. The creek, which in the 1800s ran miles from the Temblor Mountains to the then-vast Buena Vista Lake, is now dry most of the year. But when winter rains fall, the creek flows. State biologists documented sections that are home to breeding western toads, cliff swallows, California quail, kildeer and other birds passing through on long migrations. In 1998, near Sandy Creek’s headwaters, Aera Energy and two other companies began injecting steam into wells in the soft dirt. A web of surface expressions quickly developed, with continuous oil pools forming in the streambed. They’re still flowing 22 years later. Rather than shutting down production, Aera reshaped the landscape. It installed a 400-foot-long metal pipe, diverting rainwater from its natural path so the crude could continue to flow into the creekbed. Although the spills were still running, they were considered contained; the oil was confined to open-air pools. Nets were slung over them to prevent birds from flying in. Aera and TRC, another oil company that leased adjoining property, periodically pumped out the oil and sold it. State oil regulators later said in an internal report that Aera was producing about 3,000 gallons of crude and waste a day from Sandy Creek. Under state laws, it’s illegal to discharge any hazardous substance into a creek or streambed, dry or not. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife, which enforces those laws, said it can issue temporary permits for cleanup activities, but not for permanent alterations of a streambed. “The Department sees oil spills as emergencies, and its role is to respond to minimize harm to wildlife and clean up ASAP,” a spokesman told The Desert Sun and ProPublica. The department did not respond to questions about whether it has ever cited or fined companies that have spilled oil and altered the streambed in Sandy Creek. TRC did not respond to requests for comment. Aera, which has since sold its Sandy Creek leases, declined to comment on past surface expressions there, but it said in a statement that the company “uses a combination of innovation, engineering, and technology to ensure that we are producing California’s energy under the most environmentally responsible and safe conditions in the world.” The containment approach wasn’t foolproof. In fall 2010, heavy rains sparked flash floods, dismembering the metal culvert. Days before Christmas, rains fell again. The creek reclaimed its natural channel, shoving crude and wastewater 10 miles downstream, through the town of Taft and out the other end. The aftermath of flash floods in Sandy Creek, where Aera had installed a metal culvert to divert rainwater from its natural path. Obtained by ProPublica and The Desert Sun via a Public Records Act request Bruce Joab, a California Fish and Wildlife senior scientist who assesses the environmental damage wreaked by oil spills, still recalls Sandy Creek after the storms. “I was actually shocked at how torn up that upper end of the watershed was,” Joab said. Rusted pipes, steam manifolds and other heavy debris littered the bed. “It was hard to distinguish where the creek began and the oil operation began.” Field warden colleagues who’d seen many surface expressions warned him to watch his step. “There were places where the earth had literally cracked open and oil was spilling out,” he recalled. When spills occur, CalGEM employees work side by side with oil companies to investigate the causes. Chevron officials, for instance, were part of the team that responded to and probed the causes of last summer’s Cymric 1Y spill. Ntuk said that approach is required by state law. In Sandy Creek, a CalGEM staffer documented the flood damage and spills with dozens of photographs and said in a lengthy report to supervisors that the surface expressions there were caused by steam operations. CalGEM, however, did not include Sandy Creek in a tally of surface expressions it provided to The Desert Sun and ProPublica, saying the situation is “still under evaluation and has not yet been categorized.” CalGEM provided no evidence it has ever cited or fined companies for damage after the 2010 floods or after more oily floods in 2016. Sandy Creek is just one place where companies have constructed elaborate containment structures. They can carry a heavy cost. A Tragedy at Well 20 Well 20 in the Midway-Sunset field was drilled in 1927 and abandoned by Chevron in the 1980s. The company tried and failed to plug it three times. By 2011, surface expressions had broken out there regularly, and CalGEM had cited the company twice for oil field waste, though it wasn’t fined. Chevron installed a large, underground containment system — a channel with perforated drains at either end — and added devices called tilt meters to record any sudden shifts in formations beneath the surface to give warning above. The tools typically monitor volcanoes and dams for seismic activity. On the morning of June 21, 2011, Robert “Dave” Taylor and two Chevron colleagues went to the freshly graded site in response to a report of steam coming from the ground. Taylor had worked in the Kern County oil fields for 33 years, starting as a low-paid “roustabout” and working his way up to construction representative. In Taft, where he grew up and raised his family, he was a soft-spoken but beloved coach of high school and community sports teams. Years later, people in town still called him “Coach.” Robert “Dave” Taylor. Bakersfield Californian That June morning, the field at Well 20 looked smooth, per oil and gas agency rules. But underneath, pressure was building. Tilt meters had shown sharp shifts in ground movement, though no one seemed to notice. As the three men walked across the site, a sinkhole of hot oil and hydrogen sulfide opened beneath Taylor’s feet and swallowed him. One of the other men reached into the hole and tried to grab his arm, with no luck. He then tried to use a pipe, but Taylor was gone. Taylor’s family drove north from their home in Taft, thinking there might be a chance he’d survived. They were greeted by a geyser of steam as tall as a telephone pole shooting out of the hole. It took workers until shortly before dawn the next day to retrieve Taylor’s body. He was 54. Chevron spokeswoman Flores-Paniagua called Taylor’s death “a tragic and isolated incident.” The oil and gas agency ordered Chevron and TRC to stop nearby steam injection in an ever-widening radius. It did little good. The spill swelled. Top officials began probing more deeply and told staffers to compile a “spill binder” of fields around Bakersfield, the seat of Kern County. According to the binder, which was obtained by The Desert Sun and ProPublica, they logged 19 more surface expressions in five months. Shortly after Taylor’s death, the ground shook a few miles north and a 60-foot geyser blew skyward. A Berry Petroleum Co. worker fled as a fast-moving surface expression mushroomed under his truck, internal CalGEM documents show. ”In this week’s event, a field worker narrowly escaped injury or death by running away from the site on foot,” wrote Miller, then the oil and gas supervisor, in an email to her boss, obtained through a public records request. “He abandoned his truck which was still parked at the site two days later as it was too dangerous to re-enter.” By autumn, a slope above the site where Taylor died had collapsed into a bubbling cauldron of oil and toxic gases. Inside Chevron, Taylor’s death was taken seriously, said Lucinda Jackson, who headed the company’s global safety, health and environment division until she retired in 2016. She said company geologists had told her as long as they steamed in diatomite in California, Indonesia and elsewhere, surface expressions would occur. Several studies support this conclusion, which is an active area of research. Taylor’s death was “horrible,” she said. Her division doubled down on monitoring and detection efforts. Daily small plane flights using remote sensors were instituted. When she retired, there was a continuous, remote monitoring station in Bakersfield, 40 minutes away, tracking the company’s Kern County fields. Dozens of screens recorded underground formations for any sudden shifts. “Nobody likes these surface expressions,” she added. “They disrupt production and they’re bad for human health and the environment. But it’s just going to be an issue as long as we’re going to keep producing, if the world is still thirsty for oil.” Taylor’s family was barred from suing Chevron because of his employment contract but reached a settlement with the company that had done the grading work over the spill containment site. California’s workplace safety agency, Cal-OSHA, cleared Chevron in its investigation of Taylor’s death, but it later fined the company $350, the maximum allowed by law, for not informing workers in writing of the “necessary safeguards” for working near Well 20. Although CalGEM says Chevron has now successfully plugged and abandoned Well 20, the company told the agency it was still producing oil from a nearby surface expression. In the past month, it has pumped an average of nearly 1,400 gallons of oil and brine a day out of a cistern it installed there. The Fight for Regulation In Sacramento, Elena Miller, the oil and gas supervisor, and her deputies had started drafting surface expression regulations along with other reforms. But oil companies pushed back, complaining that she was causing unnecessary permitting delays. Then-Gov. Jerry Brown fired Miller in the fall of 2011 as he sought to revive California’s sluggish economy. New permits were quickly approved. Meanwhile, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, worried about enforcement of groundwater laws in California oil fields, had been conducting a probe of how CalGEM regulated underground injection. Among its top concerns: oil producers and the agency were not properly testing or tracking injection pressures, which if too high could fracture underground formations. A top EPA official told CalGEM that federal and state laws barred pressure that could crack formations. Oil and steam pipelines crisscross the oil fields in Kern County, California. Jay Calderon/The Desert Sun CalGEM officials said they’d revamp their regulations, but the effort took years. Ntuk, the current oil and gas supervisor, said that prior to 2019, state regulations did not explicitly limit steam injection. Kretzmann, an environmental attorney who’s tracked the agency and injection laws for years, said Ntuk’s position was “absurd.” As the spills continued, agency leaders in 2015 realized there was another long-standing issue: no formal training for the geologists, engineers and supervisors involved in permitting and oversight. “The training that is provided is informal and ‘passed down’ from other regulatory staff, sometimes even new staff train newer staff, and provide ‘best practice’ training,” officials wrote in a request to lawmakers, asking for funding to implement a comprehensive training program. “This method of training is not standardized, it is not measurable, and it is extremely challenging to establish accountability for errors in the field.” Since then, CalGEM has received funding for additional engineers and geologists and instituted a training program, although turnover at the agency is high. Risky Business As Taylor’s death showed, surface expressions can be dangerous. Experts say oil constantly spilling to the surface also releases fresh volatile organic compounds that are building blocks for smog and other dangerous pollution linked to heart disease, asthma and other health problems. Two new studies of pregnant women living close to California oil fields show far higher rates of premature births and low-birth-weight babies. “Every time you push oil through an open pathway to the surface, it’s like opening a bottle of soda,” said Donald Blake, a University of California, Irvine, atmospheric chemist who has tracked air pollutants around the world, including in Kern County. Studies of oil spill cleanup workers and nearby residents in six countries all showed they experienced higher rates of illness, ranging from sore throats to respiratory disease and cancer. There are more immediate risks for workers too. Workers clean up a surface expression in October 2011 in a Kern County oil field, where Berry Petroleum operated. Oil spills can pose long- and short-term health risks for workers. Obtained by ProPublica and The Desert Sun via a Public Records Act request According to internal documents, CalGEM inspectors in 2014 mapped a 1¼-mile-long zone in the Midway-Sunset field, then co-owned by Chevron and Aera Energy. Vents in the rocks and ground were releasing more than 500 parts per million of hydrogen sulfide — levels that could cause humans to stagger and collapse within five minutes. Failed wellbores there were emitting up to 7,000 parts per million, more than three times the threshold for immediate death, according to guidelines of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration. An internal CalGEM memo stated the area was “permanently secured.” Neither the agency nor Aera responded to requests for comment about the zone’s current status. Chevron’s spokeswoman said in an email that the company “took several steps to secure the property” and mitigate the risk of hydrogen sulfide. Chevron sold the property in March, she said. CalGEM staff in the Bakersfield office conducted many in-depth inspections of spill sites and wrote reports documenting them for superiors. A 2015 PowerPoint presentation they prepared, obtained by The Desert Sun and ProPublica, stated that some of the diatomite formations might have been permanently altered by steam fracking, meaning spills there might never stop. But, the presentation concluded, there was little impetus for oil companies to change their ways: “The economic benefit of increased oil … production from steam injection into shallow diatomite … has been, and will continue to be motivation for operators.” Employees familiar with the spills pushed for stricter regulation. Without it, they said, “surface expressions will remain a potential threat.” “We Didn’t Know What to Do” To the west, Santa Barbara County officials had already grappled with the consequences of surface expressions. Known for its scenic beaches, the area is also home to nearly a dozen oil fields. In 2007, Breitburn Energy began injecting steam into the diatomite-rich Orcutt field, half an hour inland from Pismo Beach. Oil cracked the surface and the company contained it and harvested more than 4.8 million gallons of oil from “cyclic steam energized seeps,” according to CalGEM’s 2008 and 2009 annual reports. Using federal prices for California oil for those years, that would mean they earned an estimated $7.3 million. Breitburn later went bankrupt. Pacific Coast Energy Corp. took over the Orcutt field in 2009 and sharply increased cyclic steaming. The number of new spills spiked. “We had spill after spill after spill after spill,” said Errin Briggs, of the Planning and Development Department in Santa Barbara County, which, like Long Beach, Los Angeles and Kern County, works with the state to oversee oil operators. County officials were stumped, and they reached out to CalGEM. According to Briggs, engineers at the oil agency said that the steam being injected into the diatomite was causing it to swell like a balloon, placing pressure on the formation above, which sprang myriad leaks. Short cisterns, like this one pictured on a Berry Petroleum lease in the Midway-Sunset field, are used to contain oil spills. Obtained by ProPublica and The Desert Sun via a Public Records Act request In 2011, CalGEM ordered Pacific Coast Energy to lower the amount of steam it was injecting, Briggs said. The number of new spills was halved over the next few years, he said. Neither a company executive nor CalGEM responded to requests for comment on those measures. To contain the spills, Pacific Coast Energy installed wide, short cisterns, or “cans,” stuck into the earth like straws, from which frothy water and oil can be vacuumed. Unlike many Kern County containment devices, these are sealed with large, garbage can-style tops with handles that can be hoisted open by pump trucks. County officials signed off on the construction after the fact. “Nobody in Santa Barbara had ever seen anything like this before,” Briggs said. “We didn’t know what to do.” There are currently 58 ongoing contained spills in the Orcutt field, Briggs said. CalGEM did not respond to requests for information on the Orcutt spills for months, then said there are even more — 65 “low energy surface expressions.” Environmentalists were stunned that companies were allowed to profit off the contained spills. “Wow. Wow! Wow! And we didn’t even know it. That’s just crazy,” said Katie Davis, chair of the Sierra Club Los Padres Chapter covering Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. “If they’re tapping them for oil, and they’re not even legitimate wells, it’s really going around the law.” A CalGEM spokesman said in an email that under the new regulations, “for low-energy expressions, containment … is permissible.” A dead Western harvest mouse found by the GS-5 surface expression near McKittrick. Pacific Wildlife Center staff. Obtained by ProPublica and The Desert Sun via a Public Records Act request Because the spills were considered emergencies, there was no requirement to do environmental reviews before installing the cisterns, Briggs said. That means large coast live oak, rare flowering bushes and other plants could be ripped out when necessary. Remains of Chumash tribal life could also be moved. The company did have to pay to plant restoration trees and vegetation elsewhere on the oil field. State wildlife officials have long been concerned about the impact of surface expressions on an array of endangered animals and plants. California Fish and Wildlife records obtained through a public records request show dozens of dead and decaying birds and small mammals around spill sites. In places like Sandy Creek, the nets oil companies place over spills to protect wildlife often get tangled or torn, said Julie Vance, Fish and Wildlife’s District 4 director in Fresno, who oversaw response to inland spills for years. Many burrow-dwelling creatures are “entombed” by fast-rising crude from underground, making it impossible to ever document their loss, she said. Netting covers a surface expression near Sandy Creek to protect wildlife. Obtained by ProPublica and The Desert Sun via a Public Records Act request For years, Fish and Wildlife deferred to CalGEM, but the wildlife agency has increasingly played a role in spill response since 2014, after policymakers expanded its mandate to include inland as well as marine spills, and as the oil agency came under growing scrutiny. Loopholes: “Low Energy” Spills Permitted, Containment Allowed In the fall of 2015, the California Department of Conservation announced a “renewal” plan to overhaul the state’s oil agency. Among its priorities: writing new rules for cyclic steaming. In the four years since Taylor’s death, 63 surface expressions had broken out in the Kern County oil fields, according to state records. The department pledged to finalize the regulations in a little more than a year. But the deadline came and went as special interests on various sides lobbied to influence the regulations. Environmentalists won language banning surface expressions. Several oil companies and trade groups pushed back, asking for a narrow definition of what constituted a spill. In response, CalGEM exempted from the ban what it called “low energy seeps,” defined, in part, as slower spills that are not hot and are permanently contained. What qualifies as such a seep is left up to the oil and gas supervisor. The carveout appears to preserve a lucrative form of spill. A recent thesis by a Stanford University master’s student identified 19 such “low energy” sites in the Midway-Sunset field, where spills were contained with cisterns. An analysis of production records by The Desert Sun and ProPublica found that over the past 20 years, 14 of those sites have spilled a combined 20 million gallons of oil, worth more than $19 million. ProPublica is a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. Sign up to receive our biggest stories as soon as they’re published. “I sure would call that a loophole in the law,” said Rosanna Esparza, a retired gerontologist who did health assessments of residents near Kern County oil operations and who is fighting to cease oil production statewide. The Western States Petroleum Association, the industry trade group representing major companies like Chevron, pressed to nix the spill prohibition altogether and just preserve the longtime practice of containment. “There is an inherent conflict created by prohibiting surface expressions yet allowing for management methods,” WSPA wrote in a letter to CalGEM. “The strict prohibition should be dropped in favor of language that provides for prudent management when events occur.” In response, CalGEM staff defended the proposed ban on surface expressions “because they are inherently unsafe.” But they also provided an opening for containment. “Even when a violation has been committed,” the agency replied, “there are still protocols to safely handle that violation.” The regulations took effect in April 2019. Within months, more than a dozen surface expressions occurred, including Chevron’s latest Cymric spills. In short order, the Newsom administration announced the moratorium on new steam fracking permits and moved to bolster CalGEM. The governor’s January budget proposed 128 new positions for the agency, in part to better oversee surface expressions. Under state law, which requires potential polluters to fund oversight, the oil industry would have to pay $24 million over three years for the positions. The Tug of War Continues Oil infrastructure in the Kern River oil field near Bakersfield, California. Jay Calderon/The Desert Sun The permitting pause sent shocks through the oil industry, and Kern County responded with a full-throated roar. Hundreds packed the county supervisors’ chambers in Bakersfield in January for a meeting that lasted nearly seven hours. Oil workers and executives testified about the jobs that supported their families, and they lambasted “environmental extremists” and state officials. Union officials, real estate agents, Chamber of Commerce members, the county sheriff, the district attorney and even the county school superintendent spoke about how vital oil revenues are to the area. County supervisors led the charge. “Rather than the governor giving us credit for our monumental achievements … he insists on punishing us by attempting to deny our right to use the God-given natural resources in our county to support our families,” said Supervisor Zack Scrivner, whose sprawling district includes Taft and several oil fields. Scrivner showed photos of oil spills in Brazilian rainforests and a river in Colombia. This is a river full of oil, and I would offer that this is worse than a surface expression that the governor came down here to visit recently,” he said. “Why would this administration … send our jobs and our treasure to these countries with terrible human rights records, and with little to no environmental controls?” No photos of the Sandy Creek spills or the Cymric ravine flooded with oil were shown. Anthony Williams, Newsom’s legislative affairs secretary at the time, sought to reassure the crowd, saying he had grown up in Bakersfield. “I talk to the governor every single day,” he said, “and so when my voice rings in his ear, your voice rings in his ear.” Elsewhere, in the agricultural communities around Bakersfield, farmers and environmental justice groups worried. Some, who have long lived near oil operations in the Central Valley, disagreed with the industry and its supporters. The spills not only threatened the surface, they argued, but the water table — and the people and crops that rely on it. Tom Frantz, a fourth-generation farmer and activist from Shafter, began monitoring the Cymric surface expressions himself a year ago, sending a drone into the air for timely updates. He watched oil spill into the ravine there, month after month, before CalGEM issued the fine against Chevron. Since that one was stopped, he’s been tracking the company’s even bigger spills that are still running. Last November, after Chevron mopped up the Cymric 1Y flow, another cluster of surface expressions sprouted nearby. Dubbed 36W, it has since gushed more than 2.1 million gallons of oil and wastewater, according to Chevron reports filed to the state, and is being piped into large concrete culverts. Chevron’s spokeswoman said in an email that it’s part of an older spill, even though state photos and reports show them as separate events. Since late March, an analysis by The Desert Sun and ProPublica found, the 36W cluster has garnered the company an estimated $245,000. “They’re a huge source of air pollution, a huge potential source of water pollution,” Frantz said of the spills. “When I see Chevron directly violating the law for months on end, it bothers me greatly that the state is unable to effectively regulate this industry.” Fourth-generation farmer Tom Frantz says oil waste has stunted a neighbor’s almond trees. Jay Calderon/The Desert Sun Chevron denies its surface expressions have had any effect on groundwater. By March, the coronavirus pandemic hit. The global oil market collapsed and California producers idled rigs, costing thousands of oil workers their livelihoods. Citing economic hardship, the industry asked the Newsom administration to scale back CalGEM’s expansion. In the end, Newsom and lawmakers approved 25 new positions, a fifth of the agency’s original request. “Rest assured that CalGEM continues to ensure full regulatory oversight,” Natural Resources Agency Secretary Wade Crowfoot told reporters this year. State and regional water officials are also stepping in, increasingly trying to stanch surface expressions. Clayton Rodgers, assistant executive officer for Central California’s water board, said his agency had for years let CalGEM take the lead. “Based on the resources we had and the belief that (CalGEM) was doing the work to address the concerns, we did not get involved,” he said. Last year, he and his deputy toured Chevron’s spill in the Cymric field. But he said he was unaware of the massive GS-5 spill located 1,000 feet away until a Desert Sun reporter asked him about it. One of his inspectors visited the site the next day and opened an investigation into potential violations of water laws. A truck vacuums up oil from a surface expression in the Cymric field. Obtained by ProPublica and The Desert Sun The regional water board is also monitoring Sandy Creek, the site of the streambed disaster. Berry Petroleum gained ownership of Aera’s stretch in 2017, and water board inspectors have cited the company for violating water contamination laws. Berry first told the inspectors the spills were natural seeps, but it has since voluntarily removed major rusted pipes and other debris, and has plugged and abandoned 10 nearby wells. Berry injects no steam there, but two companies nearby still do, and the spills continue to flow. Berry has a proposal: It wants to build a channel to carry seasonal rains over the oil pools — just like Aera did 20 years ago. The efforts “are driven by our commitment to operate responsibly and protect our natural resources,” said Todd Crabtree, Berry’s manager of investor relations and administration. “Berry strives to abide by all existing California regulations regarding oil and gas production,” including the new regulations. Overall, the rate of new inland spills has slowed, possibly due to lower production, said Gordon, the Brown University expert. But if steam fracking picks up, so could the surface expressions, she said. Cathy Reheis-Boyd, president of WSPA, said she and other oil executives speak regularly with Newsom and CalGEM. She said the industry supports Newsom’s “pragmatic” approach to surface expressions, which includes the ongoing study of steam fracking. “Let’s be clear,” she said. “The best way to get oil to market is not through surface expressions.” The governor’s office declined to comment. Asked if it was considering changes to the regulations, CalGEM said “it is premature to say what new rules, if any, will result from current surface expressions or the scientific review.” The spills have been completely halted elsewhere. After reports about “flow to surface” spills from heavy tar sands in Alberta, Canada, regulators there determined that excessive steaming volumes in the Primrose field — combined with open conduits from below ground, such as wellbores, natural faults and induced fractures — were to blame. In 2016, the Canadian officials banned steam fracking within 1,000 meters —- or about 3,300 feet — of where the spills had occurred. That’s five times the maximum radius California spells out in its regulations, though CalGEM can impose larger ones if a surface expression continues. Alberta also instituted strict protocols for nearby steaming. There hasn’t been a surface expression there since. About the Data Data for surface expression oil volume estimates was provided by Chevron, the ​​​​​California Geologic Energy Management Division, or CalGEM, and the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services. Revenue calculations used monthly California oil barrel price averages from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Since those averages are currently only recorded through June 2020, revenue calculations for 2020 averaged oil barrel prices for the first six months of the year. Given that oil prices steeply declined for a period in March and then slowly increased in the following months, the resulting revenue estimates are likely undercounts. Low-energy seep revenue estimates used monthly well production data from CalGEM’s Well Search database, weekly summary files and CalGEM annual reports. Janet Wilson is the senior environment reporter at The Desert Sun. Previously, she was a staff writer at the Los Angeles Times, where she wrote about everything from desert wind power battles to the sale of national forest lands and poor neighborhoods grappling with deadly soot. Email Wilson at and follow her on Twitter at @janetwilson66.

  • A Cast of Millions: The Demonstrations Will Be Televised
    by Ed Rampell on September 18, 2020 at 13:00

    An anti-Iraq War documentary about protest, power, and peace continues to reverberate—and berate the powers-that-be.

  • Former Senator Claire McCaskill: Bill Barr Should Go “Into the Trash Bin of History”
    by Darragh Roche on September 18, 2020 at 12:37

    Criticism of William Barr has rumbled on this week and the latest voice to join the chorus of condemnation was Claire McCaskill, the former senator from Missouri. McCaskill, a Democrat, spoke to MSNBC on Friday about how the Attorney General isn’t focusing on the Russian threat to the November election, as FBI Director Chris Wray … Continue reading “Former Senator Claire McCaskill: Bill Barr Should Go “Into the Trash Bin of History””

  • ‘Huge Victory for Voting Rights’ in Pennsylvania as State Supreme Court Extends Mail-In Ballot Deadline, Allows Voting Drop Boxes
    on September 18, 2020 at 12:35

    Jake Johnson, staff writer”The court’s well-reasoned decision protects the right to cast a vote by mail that will count, and it protects voters whose health are at risk due to Covid-19.”

  • Very Brief Briefings
    by Peter Kuper on September 18, 2020 at 12:30

    Peter Kuper Director John Ratcliffe informs Congress he won’t be informing them. The post Very Brief Briefings appeared first on The Nation.

  • Jared Kushner Reportedly Didn’t Want Federal Response to Coronavirus: “Free Markets Will Solve This”
    by Darragh Roche on September 18, 2020 at 12:09

    A new report claims that Jared Kushner didn’t want a federal response to the Coronavirus pandemic and blamed New York for the suffering that the virus would cause there. A blockbuster report in Vanity Fair outlines comments Kushner made at a meeting about on March 20 Federal Emergency Management Agency that was meant to develop a strategy … Continue reading “Jared Kushner Reportedly Didn’t Want Federal Response to Coronavirus: “Free Markets Will Solve This””

  • Joe Biden’s Superpower Is Empathy, And It Shone Last Night At CNN Town Hall
    by Susie Madrak on September 18, 2020 at 11:36

    Some highlights from Joe Biden’s successful CNN Town Hall in Scranton last night, reported by Arlette Saentz. Biden was really in the zone as he connected with his questioners. I don’t trust the president on vaccines. I trust Dr. Fauci. If Fauci says a vaccine is safe, I take the vaccine. We should listen to the scientists. Not to the president. “The former VP was asked about Attorney General Bill Barr’s recent comments comparing coronavirus stay-at-home orders to slavery. Biden put the blame on Trump,” Saentz said. You lost your freedom because you didn’t act. The freedom to go to that ball game, the freedom for your kid to go to school, the freedom to see your mom and dad in the hospital. The freedom just to walk around your neighborhood because of failure to act. I never, ever, ever thought I would see such a thoroughly, totally irresponsible administration. “As Biden answered voters’ questions from a social distance at Thursday’s drive-in style event, Trump held yet another campaign rally in Wisconsin, without social distancing, and very few supporters wearing masks.”read more

  • “Climate arsonist”: Biden slams Trump’s wildfire response with a new insult
    by Shannon Osaka on September 18, 2020 at 11:34

    The presidential candidates just had their first scuffle on climate

  • Electionland 2020: USPS Mailers, Pandemic Voting, Get Out the Vote Efforts and More
    by by Rachel Glickhouse, ProPublica, and Thy Anh Vo, special to ProPublica on September 18, 2020 at 11:30

    by Rachel Glickhouse, ProPublica, and Thy Anh Vo, special to ProPublica This article is part of Electionland. Sign up for ProPublica’s User’s Guide to Democracy, a series of personalized emails that help you understand the upcoming election, from who’s on your ballot to how to cast your vote. New From ProPublica No Democrats Allowed: A Conservative Lawyer Holds Secret Voter Fraud Meetings With State Election Officials The Heritage Foundation’s Hans von Spakovsky, whose work about voting fraud has been discredited, has been conducting private meetings for Republicans only. Read the story. ProPublica’s Pandemic Guide to Making Sure Your Vote Counts Here’s what you can do now to be prepared for the 2020 election. Read the story. Poorly Protected Postal Workers Are Catching COVID-19 by the Thousands. It’s One More Threat to Voting by Mail. More than 50,000 workers have taken time off for virus-related reasons, slowing mail delivery. The Postal Service doesn’t test employees or check their temperatures, and its contact tracing is erratic. Read the story. Vote by Mail News Although the cost of postage for mail-in ballots varies by state, a USPS spokeswoman said any ballots with insufficient or unpaid postage will still be delivered, with the cost charged to local elections boards. (USA Today) A study of 2018 mail ballots in three California counties found that the rejection rate for voters age 18-24 was three times higher than the counties’ overall rejection rates. (KQED) California Sunday went behind the scenes at companies in the mail voting supply chain. (California Sunday) Maryland’s ballot vendor reportedly quit after printing had already begun, but the state has found another vendor to fill the gap. (The Baltimore Sun) NPR mapped how mail ballot rules vary across the country. (NPR) Some overseas voters are panicking about voting from abroad by mail this year. (USA Today) Some voters reported errors with Detroit’s third-party absentee ballot tracker during the primary. (Detour Detroit) North Carolina voter hotlines are getting a lot of questions about how to vote by mail. (Voting Booth) California and Oregon voters who have been displaced from their homes by fires must take steps in order to vote by mail from a new or temporary address. (San Francisco Chronicle, The Oregonian) Third-party registration forms and ballot application mailers are causing confusion among some Florida and Montana voters. (Miami Herald, NBC Montana) During Pennsylvania’s primary, around 20,000 mail-in ballots weren’t counted, either because they were returned after the deadline or because they didn’t have a voter signature. (NBC Philadelphia) Because of changes made to absentee ballot envelopes and other policy changes, a lower rate of Georgia mail ballots were rejected during the primary than during the 2018 general election. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution) Mail-In Voting Policies Pennsylvania’s Department of State told counties that they cannot throw out absentee ballots over signature match problems. (Morning Call) Pennsylvania couldn’t start sending out absentee ballots Monday due to legal disputes. (CNN) Ohio’s Controlling Board voted against funding prepaid postage on absentee ballots. (Columbus Dispatch) Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin are among battleground states where local election officials aren’t allowed to start processing mail ballots until Election Day. (Politico) The Michigan Senate approved a bill to allow clerks to begin processing absentee ballots the day before the election. The legislature is considering other policy changes that would affect this year’s election. (Detroit Free Press, MLive) Only some Michigan counties are paying for pre-paid postage on absentee ballots. (Lansing State Journal) Thanks to a court decision, first-time Tennessee voters will be able to vote by mail. (News Channel 9) South Carolina’s governor signed a bill to allow no-excuse absentee voting during the upcoming election. (AP) New York state says it doesn’t have the necessary funding to provide pre-paid postage for absentee ballots. (North Country Public Radio) USPS Absentee Voting Mailers Several state election officials said a nationwide mailer from the US Postal Service offering generic voting guidance would confuse voters in their states. The mailer urged voters to request a mail-in ballot “at least 15 days before Election Day.” (Reuters) A judge in Colorado temporarily blocked distribution of the mailer. (Denver Post) Officials in California, Colorado, Nevada, Washington, West Virginia, Maryland and Utah have criticized the mailer as inaccurate and misleading. In several states, registered voters automatically receive mail-in ballots and don’t need to ask for one. (Capitol Public Radio, Sacramento Bee, Las Vegas Review-Journal, Reno Gazette-Journal, The Daily Chronicle, My Stateline, Baltimore Sun, KSL News Radio) Voting in a Pandemic Missouri’s secretary of state is encouraging people to vote in person, contradicting the state’s health department recommendations to avoid crowds on Election Day. (The Beacon) One Missouri county, which is not requiring election workers to wear face masks, sent an email to poll workers telling them they must keep a mask at hand or on one ear and “may act surprised” and “apologize as you put the mask on” if questioned by a voter. (KMOV) More than 8,000 volunteers have applied for just 1,100 spots to serve as election judges in Denver, Colorado, but the local election commission says they’re still short of Republican applicants. (Colorado Politics) States are hoping to learn from this year’s primary election mistakes to avoid long lines, confusion and delays over mail-in ballots and minimize rejected ballots in November. (PBS Newshour) About 14% of California eligible voters said they were worried about contracting COVID while voting, with African Americans and voters with disabilities among the most concerned, according to a new study of California voter messaging amid the pandemic. (USC Center for Inclusive Democracy) Enfranchisement News College campuses are normally an important venue for mobilizing young voters, but advocates and voting groups say they’re still struggling to figure out how to reach students scattered across the country by the pandemic. (McDowell News, The Guardian) Former NFL quarterback Michael Vick said it wasn’t until he got involved with Lebron James’ voting rights project that he was able to reinstate his own right to vote after serving a prison sentence. “I didn’t understand or know that I could vote…it took until this campaign [to find out] that I did have rights to vote,” Vick said. (Sports Illustrated) A new Arizona policy will allow prospective voters with nontraditional addresses, particularly Native people in rural tribal communities, to register to vote online with digital location codes. (Cronkite News) North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein said the state’s elections board won’t stop the enforcement of a court ruling that would allow more convicted felons to vote this fall. (Associated Press) North Carolina elections officials are trying to identify and contact nearly 5,000 people with felony convictions whose right to vote could be restored by a court ruling. (Carolina Public Press) Advocates working to register prison inmates to vote are worried USPS cuts could threaten ballot access for hundreds of thousands of eligible inmates, whose right to vote hinges on reliable mail. (The Guardian) Some advocates are concerned there hasn’t been enough outreach to Kentucky felons after their voting rights were restored. (Spectrum News) Two Texas congressional representatives are questioning why 20 Houston-area Post Offices reportedly threw out or refused to distribute voter registration cards to patrons. (KHOU) While homeless people often face major barriers to voting, advocates in Washington, D.C. are registering homeless individuals and helping them participate in November’s election. (Washington Post) More than 400,000 people have registered to vote through a new Snapchat feature. (The Verge) Disinformation on Voting Attorney General William Barr attacked mail-in ballots again, claiming without evidence that they’re more vulnerable to coercion than in-person voting. In an interview, Barr suggested fraudulent ballots favorable to Democrats would be “discovered” on Election Day. (The Hill, Chicago Tribune) Twitter and Facebook flagged President Donald Trump’s posts telling North Carolina voters to vote by mail early and subsequently visit the polls on Election Day. The head of the state’s election board said the president’s comments could cause unnecessarily long lines during the pandemic. (GPB) Twitter is expanding the types of voting-related content it will label or remove to include “false or misleading information intended to undermine public confidence.” (Forbes) Trump told a crowd in Nevada he will “negotiate” a third term and claimed without proof that Democrats will “rig the election.” (Slate) Connecticut’s Secretary of State has hired an expert to thwart online disinformation campaigns targeting the election. (CT Mirror) The Chicago Tribune debunks election season misinformation for Illinois voters, including false claims that voting is available by text message and that voter information is being sold online. (Chicago Tribune) Creative Approaches to Getting Out the Vote Live Nation announced an initiative to try to convert concert venues into voting centers around the country. (Rolling Stone) Fashion designers launched a new voter registration campaign, which will also debut at New York Fashion Week. (Harper’s Bazaar) Kentucky is offering lawyers continuing education credits if they serve as poll workers. (WTVQ) An El Paso church is registering people to vote at food distribution sites. (KTSM) Dancers and choreographers in St. Louis are encouraging people to vote through a series of commissioned dance videos. (St. Louis Public Radio) TikTok creators are launching a “Tok the Vote” voter registration campaign. (CNN) Facebook kicked off a poll worker recruitment drive that will appear on users’ news feeds. (Techcrunch) The Latest Lawsuits News on lawsuits to expand mail-in voting in Louisiana, Montana and Vermont. News about litigation over absentee ballot applications in Iowa, Michigan, Ohio and Texas. News on lawsuits involving mailing absentee ballots in Wisconsin. News about litigation over absentee ballot rules in Arizona and Missouri. News on litigation involving absentee voter eligibility in Texas. News about lawsuits over counting absentee ballots in Arizona and New Jersey. News on lawsuits over voter ID in North Carolina. News about felon voting lawsuits in Florida. News about in-person voting litigation in Georgia. News about mail-in ballot drop box litigation in Ohio. News about voter registration litigation in South Dakota. Any newsroom can apply to be part of Electionland. We’re looking for newsrooms — especially local newsrooms — that will be dedicating resources to covering voting problems during the 2020 election. Radio, TV, online and print reporters are all encouraged to apply. Sign up here.

  • Where QAnon meets Jesus Christ: Inside the “upside-down fantasy world” of Trump rallies
    by Chauncey DeVega on September 18, 2020 at 11:00

    Carl Hoffman traveled 5,000 miles and spent hundreds of hours at Trump rallies — and survived to tell the tale

  • The virus doesn’t care about the election
    by Terry H. Schwadron on September 18, 2020 at 10:23

    But Trump does, and that’s why he’s pushing for a vaccine — any vaccine — by Nov. 1

  • Firefighters’ Union, a Key Biden Ally, Confronts a Barr Investigation and Trump’s Pardon Power
    by Rachel M. Cohen on September 18, 2020 at 10:00

    IAFF’s president and his second-in-command are caught in a high-stakes brawl ahead of union elections and the race for the White House. The post Firefighters’ Union, a Key Biden Ally, Confronts a Barr Investigation and Trump’s Pardon Power appeared first on The Intercept.

  • Journalists must face the 2020 challenge: This isn’t a normal election, and the truth is at stake
    by Dan Froomkin on September 18, 2020 at 10:00

    Not taking sides in the 2020 election is basically just taking Trump’s side — and refusing to be honest about it

  • Schumer demands immediate resignation of HHS Secretary Alex Azar for being “subservient” to Trump
    by Jake Johnson on September 18, 2020 at 09:46

    “We need a Secretary of Health and Human Services who will look out for the American people”

  • Susan Collins Is Donald Trump’s Essential Ally in the Senate
    by John Nichols on September 18, 2020 at 09:45

    John Nichols The senator makes a big deal about refusing to say whether she’ll vote for Trump in November. But she’s already given him the votes he needs. The post Susan Collins Is Donald Trump’s Essential Ally in the Senate appeared first on The Nation.

  • Faith and Labor Movements Are Bridging Trump’s Racial Divide With Hope and Love
    by Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, Richard Trumka on September 18, 2020 at 09:30

    Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, Richard Trumka The president’s lies and fearmongering don’t lead to inevitable decline. We can push back. The post Faith and Labor Movements Are Bridging Trump’s Racial Divide With Hope and Love appeared first on The Nation.

  • Former Trump officials are in open revolt against a president like we’ve never seen
    by Cody Fenwick on September 18, 2020 at 09:29

    Long before the election was in sight, officials under Trump have resigned, quit, or been fired

  • GOP Sen. Marsha Blackburn reveals she doesn’t know what an “Amendment” is — on Constitution Day
    by Sarah K. Burris on September 18, 2020 at 09:22

    “We will never rewrite the Constitution of the United States,” she proudly and wrongly proclaimed on Twitter

  • American Athletes Can Decide This Year’s Election
    by Robert Lipsyte on September 18, 2020 at 09:00

    Robert Lipsyte In a year of marked by mass uprisings and the Covid pandemic, Trump depends on sports to project a sense of normality. Will the players comply? The post American Athletes Can Decide This Year’s Election appeared first on The Nation.

  • Poorly Protected Postal Workers Are Catching COVID-19 by the Thousands. It’s One More Threat to Voting by Mail.
    by by Maryam Jameel and Ryan McCarthy on September 18, 2020 at 09:00

    by Maryam Jameel and Ryan McCarthy ProPublica is a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. Sign up to receive our biggest stories as soon as they’re published. For months, one postal worker had been doing all she could to protect herself from COVID-19. She wore a mask long before it was required at her plant in St. Paul, Minnesota. She avoided the lunch room, where she saw little social distancing, and ate in her car. The stakes felt especially high. Her husband, a postal worker in the same facility, was at high risk because his immune system is compromised by a condition unrelated to the coronavirus. And the 20-year veteran of the U.S. Postal Service knew that her job, operating a machine that sorts mail by ZIP code, would be vital to processing the flood of mail-in ballots expected this fall. By mid-August, more than 20 workers in her building had tested positive for the coronavirus. Then, in a list of talking points on her supervisor’s desk, she spotted a reference to a new positive case at the plant. She had heard that someone she’d worked with closely a few days earlier was out sick, but no one at USPS had told her to quarantine, and no contact tracer had reached out to her. Although USPS’ protocol is to tell workers when they’ve been exposed to COVID-19, that didn’t happen, she and another postal worker familiar with the case said. Asking around, she learned that a colleague she’d partnered with to load mail into the sorting machine had been infected. She phoned her doctor, who advised her to quarantine and get tested. Later that week, she tested positive and began suffering body aches, a sore throat and fatigue. ProPublica is a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. Sign up to receive our biggest stories as soon as they’re published. “They should’ve told anybody who worked with him, ‘You need to go home.’ What is it going to take, somebody to die in the building before they take it seriously?” said the worker, who requested anonymity for fear of retaliation. In recent weeks, furors over Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s cost-cutting initiatives, and over President Donald Trump’s unsubstantiated warnings of voter fraud, have overshadowed a significant threat to the Postal Service’s ability to handle the expected tens of millions of mail-in ballots this fall: a rapid rise in the number of workers sidelined by COVID-19. The total number of postal workers testing positive has more than tripled from about 3,100 cases in June to 9,600 in September, and at least 83 postal workers have died from complications of COVID-19, according to USPS. Moreover, internal USPS data shows that about 52,700 of the agency’s 630,000 employees, or more than 8%, have taken time off at some point during the pandemic because they were sick, or had to quarantine or care for family members. High rates of absence could slow ballot delivery in key states, especially if there’s a second wave of the coronavirus, as some epidemiologists predict. Twenty-eight states, including Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Florida, require mail-in ballots to arrive by Election Day to be counted. Even in a normal year, absentee levels of this magnitude “would have a dramatic effect on the mission of the postal service,” said Alan Kessler, an attorney who served on the Postal Service’s Board of Governors during the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations, including as chairman from 2008 to 2011. “When people ask me about November, my biggest concern right now is exactly that — the on-time delivery of mail.” Kessler is a former finance vice chair of the Democratic National Committee. What vacant positions have been filled at USPS have been filled by less experienced temporary workers. Restrictions on overtime pay under DeJoy may have prevented full-time workers at some facilities from adding hours to pick up some of the slack. While USPS has nearly $14 billion in cash, it reserves some of that funding to pre-pay employee pensions, and it is projected to run out of money next spring. On Thursday, a federal judge in Washington state temporarily halted operational changes that have slowed mail delivery, finding that “at the heart of DeJoy’s and the Postal Service’s actions is voter disenfranchisement.” As the St. Paul worker’s case illustrates, the Postal Service’s half-hearted precautions against COVID-19 have contributed to the problem. Its efforts to limit the virus’s spread in the workplace fall short of recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Unlike Amazon, which relies on USPS to help deliver its packages, the Postal Service doesn’t test workers or check their temperatures, depending instead on self-reporting. When employees get sick, USPS sometimes neglects to tell co-workers, and its efforts at contact tracing have been inconsistent and understaffed. Reflecting these shortcomings, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has received more than 250 coronavirus-related complaints against the Postal Service since March, more than twice the number filed against private employers in the same industry like Amazon, FedEx and the UPS. Amazon, which has almost 250,000 more workers than the postal service, had 117 complaints. The complaints against USPS paint a worrisome picture. They typically allege failures to maintain social distancing, enforce mask wearing or inform workers when colleagues have the virus. The tally doesn’t include open complaints yet to be made public, including one by another worker in the same St. Paul building. That July complaint, obtained by ProPublica, accused USPS of “not communicating and informing employees that may have potentially been exposed to positive COVID-19 employees,” as well as inadequate ventilation and six other hazards. The Postal Service responded to OSHA that it traces contacts of all employees who test positive and encourages ailing employees to stay home. Nevertheless, OSHA told the complainant that it will inspect the facility as soon as possible. The Postal Service has been adamant that it can handle a nationwide increase in voting by mail in the general election. Even a mass shift to mail-in ballots would represent a small portion of its overall volume. Still, DeJoy, a major donor to President Donald Trump and the Republican Party, acknowledged in congressional testimony last month that COVID-19-related absences had upended mail service. “Across the country, our employee availability is down 3 to 4% on average,” DeJoy said. “But the issue is in some of the hot spots in the country, areas like Philadelphia and Detroit — there’s probably 20 [other areas] the averages cover — they could be down 20%. And that is contributing to the delivery problem that we’re having.” The Postal Service referred us to an April 30 statement on its website. Its COVID-19 leadership team “is focusing on employee and customer safety in conjunction with operational and business continuity during this unprecedented epidemic,” according to the statement. “We continue to follow the strategies and measures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and public health departments.” Among its initiatives, the statement said, the Postal Service is supplying its more than 30,000 locations with masks, gloves and cleaning supplies. Employees who can’t maintain social distance must wear masks. The service has reduced employee contact with the public by eliminating a rule that customers must sign mobile devices for deliveries, and it has updated its leave policy to allow workers to take extra time off for illness and child care. Postal workers who test positive are supposed to tell their supervisor, who should alert a nurse responsible for contact tracing. But communication is sometimes lacking. “They have the occupational nurse doing the contact tracing, but sometimes there’s no contact with the worker. And some managers don’t report [the case] to the tracking. Some managers tell people, ‘You don’t sound sick, come to work,’” said Omar Gonzalez, western regional coordinator at the American Postal Worker Union. “So we don’t really know what to rely on.” One reason that the system breaks down is a shortage of contact tracers. USPS, which does not provide medical care to workers, employs about 160 nurses. Alongside other administrative duties, they are supposed to register COVID-19 cases and interview workers when they get sick. In the New York district, one nurse has been responsible for contact tracing for about 8,200 employees; in Detroit, the ratio is two nurses per 11,600 workers; and in Atlanta, one for 12,500. Facilities in all three districts have seen coronavirus outbreaks. USPS has reemployed 10 former agency nurses to assist with contact tracing, according to a spokesperson. “To use the word contact tracing is a joke,” said Jonathan Smith, president of the New York metro area’s postal worker union. Coronavirus outbreaks in several areas have correlated with slower delivery times. First-class delivery has slowed since March, with notable lags in New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Detroit, Chicago, Houston and Southern California, according to data from GrayHair Software, which tracks postal analytics. COVID-19 has “caused severe disruptions to on-time delivery in many parts of the country,” the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs reported this week. In late March and early April, it found a spike in cases in Michigan, “especially in the Detroit area,” led to a “notable drop in on-time delivery.” In Philadelphia, where more than 235 postal workers have tested positive, local media outlets reported unsorted mail piling up in postal facilities and carriers unable to complete routes even after working extra hours. Some residents said they went two to three weeks without receiving mail. In April, COVID-19-related delays in Detroit facilities slowed delivery of primary ballots for parts of northwest Ohio, prompting Ohio’s secretary of state to call for in-state processing of all ballots. In Michigan’s August primary election, more than 6,400 residents’ votes weren’t counted because they arrived after the deadline, though it’s not clear whether COVID-19 was a major factor. Internal USPS data from its southern region in mid-August shows the impact of the coronavirus on workers. In Atlanta, more than 900 postal workers had been infected with COVID-19 or had to quarantine. More than 550 workers were affected in Houston and an additional 485 in South Florida. COVID-19 outbreaks have strained postal offices that had inadequate staffing even before the pandemic, said Michael Caref, national business agent of the Illinois chapter of the National Association of Letter Carriers. “Now you’re seeing crisis levels in some areas.” In March, the Postal Service donated 500,000 N95 masks “in excess of our needs” for distribution to hospitals and other critical workers, according to a draft letter from the Board of Governors to members of Congress that was made public by American Oversight. However, the service doesn’t provide N95 masks, which are considered especially effective at filtering out virus particles, to most of its own employees. A Postal Service spokesperson said USPS supplies N95 masks to employees who require them. Other workers receive surgical masks. The CDC and OSHA have both released guidance on how employers should protect workers, though it does not carry the power of law. According to the CDC, “businesses and employers can prevent and slow the spread of COVID-19 within the workplace.” The CDC advises employers to “consider conducting daily in-person or virtual health checks (e.g., symptom and/or temperature screening) of employees before they enter the facility.” The Postal Service doesn’t conduct those checks. The onus falls on workers to stay home if they notice symptoms, get tested, report back on results and recall whom they were in contact with. At Amazon, which has also been criticized for failing to protect its employees during the pandemic, precautions are more stringent. According to an Amazon spokesperson, the company does daily temperature checks and has installed thermal cameras at some of its sites. When an employee is exposed, the company “immediately kicks-off contact tracing to determine if anyone was exposed to that individual, and we inform those employees right away and ask them to quarantine for 14 days with pay,” the spokesperson said. FedEx’s protections also appear more robust than the Postal Service’s. FedEx checks temperatures of employees at some of its sites, and it has expanded testing to 43 locations since July, according to a company spokesperson. The CDC advises employers to collaborate with local and state health departments on contact tracing. According to its guidance, employees who are asymptomatic but have been within about 6 feet of a person with COVID-19 for a prolonged period of time should self-isolate and quarantine for 14 days. Often, contact tracing is needed to identify those employees. But even when USPS employees report positive tests, supervisors don’t always follow through. In August, an asymptomatic employee in Flint, Michigan, tested positive for COVID-19 and told a supervisor as well as a few co-workers. The worker stopped coming in, but the supervisor didn’t inform USPS’ medical unit until four days later — after the exposed workers had told their union, which in turn reported the case to management. Michael Mize, the local postal union president, said he pushed the supervisor to report it. A USPS nurse started contact tracing on the fifth day. “That’s way too slow,” said George Rutherford, a professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of California at San Francisco School of Medicine. Because most people infected with COVID-19 often begin shedding large amounts of virus four or five days after they’re exposed, even if they’re asymptomatic, co-workers in Flint might have transmitted the disease before the nurse contacted them, Rutherford said. “That’s why you gotta get on this stuff quickly.” According to CDC guidance, exposed co-workers should be contacted and tested within 24 hours. USPS and union officials had a Zoom call to discuss what went wrong in Flint, Mize said. “Luckily we don’t have any major outbreaks because of any failures that happened,” he said. “If things aren’t handled appropriately, you’re relying on good fortune.” Roscoe Woods, a Detroit-area postal union president, said that USPS sometimes lacks up-to-date contact information, complicating the task of contact tracers. In addition, employees often don’t know the surnames of exposed co-workers. “You’re trying to trace down eight people and all their contact information is bad,” said Woods, who has stepped in to help with contact tracing in the past. When employees are sidelined because of the coronavirus, USPS can fill in some of the gaps by hiring employees who aren’t in the union. But the Postal Service has long had trouble hiring and retaining temporary or non-career employees, and union representatives say the Postal Service has been slow to fill these roles during the pandemic. In February, the Postal Service’s Office of Inspector General faulted the agency for failing to recruit and retain nonunion workers. In 2019, the annual turnover rate for non-career employees, who constitute 21% of the workforce, was 38.5%; the average tenure for workers who left their jobs was just 81 days. One of the top reasons for leaving: Workers said that supervisors didn’t treat them with respect. The jobs filled by these workers are physically strenuous, pay about $17 an hour, lack benefits and often require an inconsistent work schedule. It can take weeks to hire and train them. “The hiring process is really slow,” Caref said. “And if you have a person that says they want to work, the person is not prepared for a month after they’ve been hired. They really need to figure that out.” Virus-related OSHA complaints from around the country reflect some of the dangers and frustrations postal workers have faced throughout the pandemic. “The station and the vehicles have not been cleaned and sanitized. Bleach spray bottles were provided at one time but the employees were not provided material to wipe down surfaces and the bottles have since broken,” reads a complaint filed from Houston on June 18. “Employees in the vehicles do not have hand sanitizer or another method to cleanse hands while away from the station.” In a postal facility in Smithtown, New York, “the air conditioning has not been working properly for the last 3-4 weeks (blowing 81 degrees at the vent) which has made working in the building uncomfortable and may be contributing to employees not wanting to [wear] their masks,” a complaint stated in mid-July. It’s unclear what action, if any, OSHA took on the Houston and Smithtown complaints, which are now closed. Since the worker in St. Paul began quarantining in mid-August, there have been at least 11 COVID-19 cases at her workplace, according to Postal Service emails obtained by ProPublica. Overall, at least 33 out of more than 1,000 workers have tested positive at the building since the start of the pandemic. In USPS’ Northland District, which covers Minnesota — including the St. Paul plant — and western Wisconsin, at least 148 workers have tested positive. “We had a record breaking day with COVID-19 positive cases today. 18 employees must be quarantined. This is not a good record,” reads an Aug. 25 email from USPS management to unions regarding the Northland District. “We had 4 new COVID-19 cases reported today. Things aren’t getting any better,” management said in an email two days later. No one replaced the St. Paul postal worker while she was out. She returned to the job this month, even though she was still recovering and low on energy, because she needed the money. After two weeks of sick leave, her days off were unpaid, and her husband hasn’t worked for four months because of an unrelated health condition. Plus, the situation at the plant has improved somewhat: Social distancing has become mandatory in the break rooms, and employees were warned that not wearing masks could jeopardize their jobs. She also felt a civic obligation, because she’ll be responsible for processing thousands of ballots in the upcoming election. “That’s another reason why I want to go back to work,” she said. “I want to make sure the ballots get run.” Jack Gillum and Rachel Glickhouse contributed reporting. Help us report on voting. Are you a voter? A poll worker? An election administrator? We want to hear from you about any problems you’re experiencing or witnessing in the voting process. Complete this form to share your election experience with us.

  • Denouncing ‘Intentional Effort’ to Sabotage Election, Judge Orders Nationwide Reversal of DeJoy Mail Changes
    on September 18, 2020 at 08:46

    Jake Johnson, staff writer”At the heart of DeJoy’s and the Postal Service’s actions is voter disenfranchisement,” said Judge Stanley Bastian.

  • ‘Valorize o seu sindicato, camarada’, diz bancário da Caixa envolvido na histórica greve de 1991
    by Pedro Nakamura on September 18, 2020 at 05:15

    Mobilização sindical pagou salário integral a grevistas por mais de um ano e reverteu demissão em massa decretada pelo governo Collor. O slogan era ‘Não toque em meu companheiro’. The post ‘Valorize o seu sindicato, camarada’, diz bancário da Caixa envolvido na histórica greve de 1991 appeared first on The Intercept.

  • American Companies Are Profiting Off of Labor Camps in Xinjiang
    by Zeb Larson on September 18, 2020 at 05:00

    Here’s how we can start holding them accountable.

  • “The Quiet Rooms” Wins Four Illinois APME 2019 Awards
    by ProPublica Illinois on September 18, 2020 at 04:00

    ProPublica Illinois ProPublica Illinois is a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. Sign up to get weekly updates about our work. The Illinois Associated Press Media Editors announced this week that “The Quiet Rooms” series, a collaboration between ProPublica and the Chicago Tribune, won four awards in the Illinois APME 2019 newspaper contest. This year, three newspaper divisions competed in more than 20 categories including General Excellence and Sweepstakes. The investigation, by ProPublica Illinois reporter Jodi S. Cohen, the Tribune’s Jennifer Smith Richards and former ProPublica Illinois fellow Lakeidra Chavis, won two first place awards in the categories of investigative reporting and public service, second place in the digital storytelling category, in addition to being the 2019 Editorial Sweepstakes winner. “The Quiet Rooms” showed how Illinois schools frequently put children in stark “isolated timeout” spaces, or physically restrained them, for reasons that violated state law. Seclusion and physical restraint of children in Illinois is supposed to happen only in limited situations and only for safety reasons. State education officials, however, have failed to monitor the use of these practices, which can inflict trauma and injury, and parents often are told little about what happens to their children. The series prompted the state’s governor and education officials to commit to sweeping change, beginning with emergency restrictions. State officials banned locked seclusion immediately and put new restrictions on schools’ use of physical restraint, including banning prone restraint. For the first time, Illinois is also monitoring restraint and timeout, with schools required to notify state officials within 48 hours of using the measure. The state also announced plans to invest $7.5 million over the next three years to train Illinois educators on more positive ways to work with students. See a list of all winners for the Illinois APME 2019 newspaper contest here. ProPublica Illinois is a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. Sign up to get weekly updates about our work.

  • Biden Shreds Trump’s Economic Con In Strong Town Hall Performance
    by Sean Colarossi on September 18, 2020 at 02:02

    During Thursday’s town hall event on CNN, Joe Biden showed why many voters in midwestern battleground states are flocking to his campaign.

  • White House Forced The CDC To Downplay The Need For Coronavirus Testing
    by Sean Colarossi on September 18, 2020 at 01:31

    Trump didn’t just downplay the pandemic, but he repeatedly dismissed measures to slow the spread of the virus and save American lives.

  • Biden Says Trump ‘Should Step Down’ For Intentionally Misleading America On The Pandemic
    by Sean Colarossi on September 18, 2020 at 01:00

    There are plenty of reasons to vote against Donald Trump this fall, but his failed response to the pandemic is simply disqualifying.

  • Former GOP Chair Torches Bill Barr For Comparing Coronavirus Restrictions To Slavery
    by Sean Colarossi on September 18, 2020 at 00:00

    Instead of doing his job, which is to uphold the rule of law, Barr is actively seeking to prop up Trump’s flailing presidential campaign.

  • Former Model Accuses Donald Trump Of Sexual Assault
    by Jason Easley on September 17, 2020 at 23:38

    Former model Amy Dorris has come forward and accused Donald Trump of sexually assaulting her at the US Open tennis tournament.

  • Ted Lieu Roasts TN Sen. Marsha Blackburn Over Her Ignorance of the Constitution
    by Todd Neikirk on September 17, 2020 at 23:29

    Today was Constitution Day in the United States. Donald Trump celebrated the event by giving an incredibly sleepy speech at the National Archives Museum. Trump told attendees, “We embrace the vision of Martin Luther King where children are not judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. The left … Continue reading “Ted Lieu Roasts TN Sen. Marsha Blackburn Over Her Ignorance of the Constitution”

  • Scientists just discovered an “impossible planet” orbiting too close to its parent star
    by Matthew Rozsa on September 17, 2020 at 23:16

    Planets that come into close contact with white dwarfs are usually destroyed in the process. Why wasn’t this one?

  • Federal Judge Blocks Trump’s Sabotage Of The US Mail
    by Jason Easley on September 17, 2020 at 23:05

    A federal judge has sided with 14 states and blocked Trump’s intentional efforts to slow down the delivery of the mail.

  • Trump Called His Supporters Disgusting According To Former Top Pence Staffer
    by Jason Easley on September 17, 2020 at 22:44

    Vice President Pence’s former Homeland Security Advisor Olivia Troye claimed that Trump called his supporting disgusting people.

  • Mike Pence Rips Former Staffer Who Says She’s Voting for Biden
    by Todd Neikirk on September 17, 2020 at 22:25

    It is much easier to find an ex-Trump staffer who has something bad to say about the President than to find someone who is willing to praise him. This is especially true if that former staffer worked in national security. Olivia Troye was formerly the top homeland security aide to Vice President Mike Pence. Troye … Continue reading “Mike Pence Rips Former Staffer Who Says She’s Voting for Biden”

  • Ex-model Amy Dorris accuses Trump of 1997 sexual assault: “He just shoved his tongue down my throat”
    by Roger Sollenberger on September 17, 2020 at 22:25

    “This is our president,” Dorris says in a new interview. “This is the kind of thing he does”

  • Lawfare? O Judiciário influenciando eleições pela América Latina
    by Maurício Brum on September 17, 2020 at 22:03

    Em Quito e La Paz, decisões da Justiça têm sido decisivas para mudar a configuração de eleições que se aproximam. The post Lawfare? O Judiciário influenciando eleições pela América Latina appeared first on The Intercept.

  • Phosphine gas, seen on Venus, is also produced by bacteria on Earth — but we don’t know exactly how
    by Matthew Rozsa on September 17, 2020 at 22:00

    Phosphine is considered a marker of anaerobic life — but exactly how (Earth) bacteria create it is still a mystery

  • Right Wing Round-Up: Blame it on the Blue States
    by Kyle Mantyla on September 17, 2020 at 21:32

    Andrew Prokop @ Vox: The stunning hypocrisy of Bill Barr. Kate Riga @ Talking Points Memo: Barr Takes A Page From Trump And Urges Sedition Charges For Some Protesters. Josh Gerstein @ Politico: A conservative legal gadfly faces the music. David Badash @ The New Civil Rights Movement: Trump Falsely Claims He’s ‘Substantially Below’ His The post Right Wing Round-Up: Blame it on the Blue States first appeared on Right Wing Watch.

  • Right Wing Bonus Tracks: Amending the First Amendment
    by Kyle Mantyla on September 17, 2020 at 21:30

    E.W. Jackson wants to see a line added to the First Amendment stating that “the mere acknowledgement or accommodation of the Christian culture of America shall not be deemed an establishment of religion.” Dave Daubenmire was recently booted off a United Airlines flight for refusing to wear a mask, and he’s handling it well: “Muslims The post Right Wing Bonus Tracks: Amending the First Amendment first appeared on Right Wing Watch.

  • Civil Rights Commission Calls for End to Subminimum Wages for People With Disabilities
    on September 17, 2020 at 21:18

    Kenny Stancil, staff writer”Paying workers with disabilities a subminimum wage is discrimination—plain and simple—and it’s way past time we repeal this outdated policy.”

  • “Antebellum,” Janelle Monae’s cross-dimensional thriller, was literally born from a nightmare
    by Gary M. Kramer on September 17, 2020 at 21:00

    Directors Gerard Bush & Christopher Renz wanted to counter “Gone With the Wind,” which they deemed a horror film

  • House Passes ‘Historic’ Legislation to Protect Pregnant Workers From Discrimination, Prompting Calls for Senate to Follow Suit
    on September 17, 2020 at 20:55

    Julia Conley, staff writerLabor rights and women’s rights advocates called on the U.S. Senate to follow suit on Thursday after the Democratic-led House passed an historic bipartisan bill to protect the rights of pregnant workers—but expressed little hope that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would prioritize the legislation.

  • Trump’s Properties Billed Taxpayers $1.1 Million for Secret Service Rentals
    by Chris Walker on September 17, 2020 at 19:50

    The Secret Service often pays for rentals months in advance, due to Trump’s sporadic travel schedule.

  • With Eye on Biden Victory, Warren and Schumer Unveil Plan to Cancel Up to $50,000 for Federal Student Loan Borrowers
    on September 17, 2020 at 19:48

    Jessica Corbett, staff writer”Broadly cancelling student loan debt would be a game-changer for millions of people in this country and a lifeline when they desperately need it.”

  • A trama do presidente da Assembleia de SC para derrubar o governo salvando o próprio pescoço
    by Hyury Potter on September 17, 2020 at 19:45

    O que Julio Garcia tenta ganhar com a queda de Carlos Moisés e de sua vice? O foro privilegiado que o afasta das mãos do MPF. The post A trama do presidente da Assembleia de SC para derrubar o governo salvando o próprio pescoço appeared first on The Intercept.

  • ABC News and The Daily Beast…
    by <b>bob somerby</b> on September 17, 2020 at 19:40

    THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 17, 2020…show us how dumb it can get: How ridiculous can the “potted plants” be inside our major news orgs?How utterly lacking can they be in even the most basic skills? Readers, thank you for asking! This morning, we were shocked by this “Cheat Sheet” report at The Daily Beast:ROSS (9/17/20): Leaked FEMA Memo Reveals 17 Percent Jump in U.S. COVID Deaths Last WeekA leaked internal memo from the Federal Emergency Management Agency has reportedly revealed a near-17 percent spike in coronavirus-related deaths inside the United States last week. ABC News obtained the memo that showed the trend in new deaths has shot way up since the start of September. It said that 5,906 coronavirus-related deaths were recorded in the U.S. from Sept. 9-15, which represents a 16.6 percent increase compared with the seven days prior. That figure comes despite 261,204 new cases of COVID-19 being confirmed in the same period, which is a 0.7 percent decrease from the previous week.Read it at ABC News.The Beast’s link led to this bombshell report over at ABC News.It’s hard to believe, but it’s true! ABC News had come up with a leaked “internal memo” from FEMA. And not only that! Just as The Daily Beast was reporting,  this leaked internal memo “said that 5,906 coronavirus-related deaths were recorded in the U.S. from Sept. 9-15!” Meanwhile, that did “represent a 16.6 percent increase compared with the seven days prior”—or at least we’re assuming it did, based on an eyeball assessment. At any rate, ABC News had come up with the leaked internal memo, and The Daily Beast was passing the leaked information on.There was only one problem with this detective work. The very same numbers are available, on a daily basis, almost everywhere coronavirus news is sold. For example, you could have seen the same numbers being reported, on a daily basis, under the heading “New deaths reported per day” at the Washington Post’s coronavirus site. News flash! Daily deaths from Covid-19 aren’t exactly a government secret!  Sadly but unsurprisingly, journalists at ABC News and The Daily Beast seemed to be unaware of this fact.They seemed to think that they’d sniffed out some hidden, top-secret statistics. Meanwhile, concerning that 16.6 percent increase in deaths, let us offer a small minor warning:Daily deaths may be on the rise as the fall season begins. The University of Washington’s IHME site is predicting a substantial increase in daily and weekly coronavirus deaths between now and the end of the year.That said, the week of Wednesday, September 9 through Tuesday, September 15 immediately followed the three-day Labor Day weekend. And three-day holiday weekends almost always produce a short-term distortion in the official recording of deaths.The official recording of deaths will typically drop over a three-day weekend.  People continue to die, but the fact of their deaths may not be instantly recorded.Typically, this will produce artificially low numbers of deaths on the Sunday and Monday of the holiday weekend, but also on the following Tuesday. Typically, this also produces artificially high numbers of recorded deaths during the next few days, starting with the Wednesday after the holiday weekend.This creates an artificial blip in the recorded number of deaths. The number of deaths is artificially reduced in the week which includes the holiday weekend. The number is artificially increased for the week which follows.You can see that pattern in the Post’s recording of daily deaths for the days in question last week. That said, there’s  zero chance that an American journalist would ever know something like this. As we’ve told you again and again, American journalists are devoted to the proposition that all significant sets of statistics should studiously be avoided. That’s why our journalists are unable to talk about test score gains ot health care costs or about anything else where numbers are involved.American journalists will rarely know squat or squadoosh about the patterns which exist within any  set of important statistics. Even so, we had to laugh when ABC News came up with the secret data in that “leaked internal memo.”The data found in that leaked memo were sitting right there at the Washington Post! A person could see those very same data wherever virus news is sold.Someone over at ABC News just plain didn’t know that. At The Beast, they seemed to think that ABC News had come up with a scoop.It was foolishness all the way down. This is part of the know-nothing culture at major news orgs to which we sometimes allude. Donald J. Trump is in the White House. He’s critiqued by our major news orgs. As a nation, we’re condemned to go to war with a nutcase with the news orgs we have.Tomorrow morning: Leonhardt and Douthat do deaths

  • ‘Delay, Distract, and Derail’: New Report Reveals How Plastic Polluters Have Avoided Regulation Worldwide for Decades
    on September 17, 2020 at 19:36

    Lisa Newcomb, staff writer”This report is a damning exposé of the tactics employed by the plastics industry and shines a welcome light on the shadowy world of corporate lobbying.” 

  • Egg price-gouging accusations, a pandemic cheese “roller coaster”: Why food costs are still in flux
    by Ashlie D. Stevens on September 17, 2020 at 19:00

    Restaurants are trying to work within the “new normal,” but for a number of reasons, food prices haven’t stabilized

  • Is Bill Barr Trump’s Most Dangerous Sidekick?
    by Elie Mystal on September 17, 2020 at 18:48

    Elie Mystal The attorney general has been chipping away at the rule of law for 18 months. Last night, he made another big claim to unfettered power. The post Is Bill Barr Trump’s Most Dangerous Sidekick? appeared first on The Nation.

  • “Ridiculous”: Barr calls coronavirus lockdowns “greatest intrusion on civil liberties” since slavery
    by Igor Derysh on September 17, 2020 at 18:48

    Rep. Jim Clyburn called the comment “one of the most ridiculous, tone-deaf, god-awful things I have ever heard”

  • For the First Time Ever, the House Has Passed the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act
    by Bryce Covert on September 17, 2020 at 18:34

    Bryce Covert The bill would require employers to give pregnant employees accommodations so they can keep working while protecting their health. The post For the First Time Ever, the House Has Passed the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act appeared first on The Nation.

  • Trump May Have Just Lost Pennsylvania As Supreme Court Extends Ballot Deadline
    by Jason Easley on September 17, 2020 at 18:14

    The Pennsylvania Supreme Court responded to Trump’s mail sabotage by extending the deadline for ballots to be received to 5 p.m. the Friday after Election Day.

  • Meghan McCain fact-checked on “The View” over false claim that doctors lied to public about COVID-19
    by Sarah K Burris on September 17, 2020 at 17:59

    The Republican claims that doctors “lied” to her about the importance of wearing a mask early on in the pandemic

  • To Provide Public Alternative to ‘Predatory’ Wall Street Banks, Sanders and Gillibrand Unveil Postal Banking Act
    on September 17, 2020 at 17:44

    Jake Johnson, staff writer”No one in America should have to pay a 400% interest rate on a $375 loan from a payday lender.”

  • ‘Existential Threat to Our Democracy’: Trump Openly Telegraphs Intent (Once Again) to Delegitimize 2020 Election Results
    on September 17, 2020 at 17:42

    Brett Wilkins, staff writerThe president’s latest baseless attack on mail-in ballots drew yet another warning from Twitter.

  • Workplace Facial Screening is a Bad Idea
    by Anthony DiMauro on September 17, 2020 at 17:32

    Until emotional AI is shown to be free of racial and gender biases, it’s unsafe for use in a world already struggling to overcome inequalities.

  • Big Pharma gave more than $20,000 to Tillis campaign after he co-sponsored drug pricing bill: report
    by Alex Henderson on September 17, 2020 at 17:30

    Thom Tillis is among the incumbent Republican senators who are considered most vulnerable in the 2020 elections

  • Do Florida Democrats Want to Win the State Senate This Year?
    by Joan Walsh on September 17, 2020 at 17:26

    Joan Walsh Party leaders’ reluctance to support promising challengers, and a penchant for punishing those who complain about that lack of support, provokes the question. The post Do Florida Democrats Want to Win the State Senate This Year? appeared first on The Nation.

  • Noam Chomsky: We are facing the most dangerous moment in human history
    by Alex Henderson on September 17, 2020 at 17:24

    Chomsky believes that the “threat of nuclear war” is “probably more severe” now “than it was during the Cold War”

  • Trump’s properties have charged taxpayers at least $1.1 million since he assumed office: report
    by Brad Reed on September 17, 2020 at 17:14

    “They’re nickel-and-diming the American people at a moment when every penny counts”

  • Melania Trump Really Doesn’t Care
    by Katha Pollitt on September 17, 2020 at 17:10

    Katha Pollitt A new book by her ex–best friend shows how the first lady sold her soul. The post Melania Trump Really Doesn’t Care appeared first on The Nation.

  • Are You Participating in a Vaccine Trial? Are You Running One? We’d Like to Hear About It.
    by by Caroline Chen, Ryan Gabrielson and Isaac Arnsdorf on September 17, 2020 at 17:04

    by Caroline Chen, Ryan Gabrielson and Isaac Arnsdorf Are you participating in a coronavirus vaccine trial? Are you a scientist or manufacturer working to develop and bring a vaccine to market? Or do you work for or with a government agency charged with making sure a COVID-19 vaccine will be safe and effective? Help us understand what we should be covering or serve as an expert to make sure we’re on the right track. Our stories focus on holding the powerful accountable in service of the public. We have already reported on failures in testing, the effectiveness of popular hand sanitizers and hospitals retaliating against medical providers for bringing their own masks to work. The development and deployment of a vaccine will affect everybody on the planet. Let’s work together to identify and tell important stories. Want to talk to us about education during COVID-19? Head here. Want to give us coronavirus-related tips that are not about vaccines? Talk to us here.

  • ‘Best News in Quite a While’: Dramatically Lower Flu Rates in Southern Hemisphere Offer Hope
    on September 17, 2020 at 16:53

    Julia Conley, staff writerAn unusually low rate of influenza infections in the Southern Hemisphere during the region’s winter months this year suggests that Covid-19 restrictions are working to ensure health systems aren’t overwhelmed with both flu and coronavirus patients, public health experts said Thursday.

  • Former Writers for The Post Millennial Raise Concerns About the ​Right-Wing Outlet​
    by Jared Holt on September 17, 2020 at 16:45

    In the summer of 2019, Siddak Ahuja needed money to support his family, so he started writing for The Post Millennial​. Ahuja said that after​ ​the outlet reduced his base pay from $20 ​Canadian dollars per article to just ​CA$​5 ​per article, he left the outlet; the meager wage and lack of opportunity just “didn’t The post Former Writers for The Post Millennial Raise Concerns About the ​Right-Wing Outlet​ first appeared on Right Wing Watch.

  • ‘Completely Upside Down’: As Most Americans Struggled During First Six Months of Pandemic, Billionaire Wealth Surged by $845 Billion
    on September 17, 2020 at 16:41

    Kenny Stancil, staff writer “The difference is stark between profits for billionaires and the widespread economic misery in our nation.”

  • ‘Prophet’ Jeff Jansen Says Trump Was ‘Hand-Selected’ to Lead U.S. Back to Christianity, Election Is ‘Literally Good Versus Evil’
    by Kyle Mantyla on September 17, 2020 at 16:19

    Jeff Jansen, a self-proclaimed “prophet” who leads Global Fire Ministries International in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, appeared on the Destiny Image YouTube channel Friday where he declared that the choice in the upcoming election “is literally good versus evil.” Not be be outdone by fellow Trump-loving right-wing pastor Robert Henderson who on the same program compared the The post ‘Prophet’ Jeff Jansen Says Trump Was ‘Hand-Selected’ to Lead U.S. Back to Christianity, Election Is ‘Literally Good Versus Evil’ first appeared on Right Wing Watch.

  • Bolstering Calls for Climate Action, ‘Mutant Sloth’ Hurricane Sally Leaves Major Mess for Gulf Coast
    on September 17, 2020 at 16:06

    Jessica Corbett, staff writer”The planet, it’s screaming to us,” said one expert. “When are we going to start listening?”

  • This Billionaire Governor’s Coal Company Might Get a Big Break From His Own Regulators
    by by Ken Ward Jr. on September 17, 2020 at 16:00

    by Ken Ward Jr. ProPublica is a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. Sign up to receive our biggest stories as soon as they’re published. This story was co-published with Mountain State Spotlight, a new nonprofit newsroom covering West Virginia. West Virginia environmental regulators are proposing to reduce the fines that a coal company owned by the state’s governor could pay for water pollution violations that are the focus of a federal court case. The move comes after the company stopped paying penalties required as part of a settlement four years ago to clean up its mines across the Appalachian coalfields. Environmental groups allege that the Red Fox Mine, a large strip-mining site in southern West Virginia owned by Gov. Jim Justice’s Bluestone Coal Corp., continues to exceed discharge limits for harmful substances. The suit could result in substantial payouts — the maximum potential federal penalties are nearly $170 million — that would go to the U.S. Treasury. In the weeks before a trial in the case, lawyers for Bluestone filed documents detailing a draft deal worked out separately with the state’s Department of Environmental Protection. The state agency, whose administrator is appointed by Justice, has agreed to settle the violations for a fine of $125,000, according to a court filing by the environmental groups’ lawyers. (State and federal governments share the authority to enforce water pollution rules.) ProPublica is a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. Sign up to receive our biggest stories as soon as they’re published. Lawyers for Bluestone are asking the judge to throw out the federal case, saying the state settlement and hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal fines the company already paid for the same violations should resolve the matters. Lawyers for the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition and other groups say the state settlement doesn’t moot their suit, and they urged a federal judge not to grant Bluestone’s request to throw out the case. They called the state action “a self-dealing administrative order” and said the proposed penalties “are insufficient to deter future violations, leaving a realistic prospect of continued noncompliance.” At best, the lawyers say, the amount paid would offset potential fines in the federal court action. The fight to force Justice’s empire to follow pollution rules, the groups say, symbolizes the larger ongoing fight over how aggressively to regulate an industry that remains politically powerful, even as its economic influence declines. The state’s environmental regulators are seen as friendly to coal companies, so the reduced fines are in keeping with prior actions. In one significant example from a decade ago, a $20 million federal settlement with Massey Energy revealed that West Virginia officials were not even reviewing disclosures that Massey had filed reporting thousands of water pollution violations. “Coal companies pollute,” said Vivian Stockman, executive director of the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition. “There seems to be little consequence to carrying on business in disregard for the law. This has been the case over decades.” The proposed settlement is the latest in which government agencies overseen by Justice have had to regulate businesses owned by Justice, a billionaire whom Forbes has labeled the richest person in the state. He owns a vast array of businesses, including coal mines, resort hotels and agricultural interests, many of them regulated by the state agencies that report to him. An investigation this year by ProPublica found that companies run by the governor’s family have accumulated $128 million in judgments and settlements in cases brought by vendors and other businesses and government entities over unpaid bills. Justice companies that own or are affiliated with the historic Greenbrier Resort have said in court filings that they are “near financial insolvency.” Mike Carey, a lawyer for Bluestone Coal, called any suggestion that the company is getting preferential treatment “completely baseless.” The court records filed in the federal case indicate that state regulators first proposed the settlement more than a year ago, and that it then included a suggested penalty of $883,000. But in its new proposal, which must face public comment before it is finalized, WVDEP proposed a $2.1 million fine, but then dropped that to $125,000. The agency noted that’s the maximum allowed under state law but did not explain why it had earlier proposed a larger amount. While Justice’s adult children have day-to-day control over the family’s business operations, the governor continues to guide the empire. Justice has repeatedly said his role as governor poses no conflict, and he wants nothing from the state for his businesses or his family. The last tussle over the governor’s coal mines came to a head in 2016, when weeks before Justice won that year’s general election, his company agreed to pay a $900,000 fine for past violations, penalties for future violations and millions of dollars for new pollution control measures. The deal resolved more than 23,000 water pollution violations between 2009 and 2014 by Justice mines in West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky and Alabama, then under the umbrella corporate parent, Southern Coal Corporation, according to court records filed as part of that settlement. (Southern Coal, like Bluestone, was also owned by the Justice family.) “This settlement is designed to bring the companies into compliance with the Clean Water Act and requires actions that should prevent future violations,” Assistant Attorney General John Cruden said at the time. But hundreds of times since that 2016 federal deal, those mines discharged more solids, iron, manganese, aluminum and other pollutants than allowed by their environmental permits, the company’s own public reports show. Justice’s companies have paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines for those violations, which are fairly common and seen as a cost of doing business in the coal industry. In August 2019, the environmental groups filed suit against Bluestone, alleging excess discharges of selenium, which can be toxic to fish and other aquatic life. State and federal agencies have somewhat overlapping authority to regulate coal industry pollution. Federal law also allows citizens to file suit over Clean Water Act violations, both to seek fines, payable to the government, and to force measures to stop further violations. Then, this year, the Justice companies “apparently stopped paying” some of the stipulated penalties, citing the lawsuit, according to a court filing by the plaintiffs. In a May report to federal regulators, Bluestone Coal marked a list of some of those selenium violations as “in litigation payment not applied.” A federal judge has cited that report and noted unpaid stipulated penalties for 40 selenium violations that date back to July 2018. A spokeswoman for the Environmental Protection Agency said that the earlier settlement does not allow Bluestone to stop paying stipulated penalties, but she declined to say what action, if any, federal officials might take “because this is an active enforcement case.” Carey said that the report indicating those fine payments were being held back because of the litigation “was an error.” In a court filing Tuesday, Carey indicated that a $35,000 payment for some of the fines was made on Sept. 4. Carey also alleged that the environmental groups had offered during settlement negotiations to resolve their lawsuit, and give the company three years to come into compliance, if Bluestone Coal would donate $600,000 and 850 acres of land near the New River Gorge, a scenic area, to the West Virginia Land Trust, a group that tries to protect wilderness in the state. Bluestone Coal lawyers had earlier tried to have the selenium case dismissed, arguing that it was preempted by the 2016 settlement. But in a ruling in June, U.S. District Judge David A. Faber in Bluefield, West Virginia, declined to throw out the case, saying that the continuing violations, and Bluestone Coal’s failure to comply with a timeline for installing a treatment system, showed the need for the citizen suit. Then, in July, Faber issued a second ruling that found Bluestone liable for the selenium violations. The judge noted that Bluestone Coal could be liable for more than 3,000 days of water permit violations, which could amount to a maximum fine of $169.2 million, according to the citizen groups. On Tuesday, Faber postponed a Sept. 23 bench trial meant to determine a remedy for the violations. Instead, he scheduled a hearing that day on Bluestone’s request to have the case thrown out. Like his political ally President Donald Trump, Justice has been clear that he wants to curb government regulations meant to protect the environment, especially as those apply to the coal industry and other fossil energy operations. In his first State of the State address in February 2017, Justice said that, under his administration, the state Department of Environmental Protection would stop saying “no” to business and industry. A week later, he belittled WVDEP inspectors when he told a natural gas industry group that they would have to stop showing up for work with “a tank top and flip-flops on” and looking like they “haven’t shaved in three months.” At the WVDEP, Justice put in charge a former coal company executive and energy industry consultant, Austin Caperton. In an early speech once he took office as WVDEP secretary, Caperton said he “doesn’t trust” the science that says human activities such as burning fossil fuels are warming the planet, a position that puts him at odds with mainstream science. As recently as 2017, the federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement issued a report outlining continuing failures by the state to police water pollution by coal companies. OSMRE has said it is continuing to monitor WVDEP’s efforts to improve oversight of the coal industry. Over the years, selenium pollution has been especially tricky for coal companies to deal with, presenting expensive and long-term treatment challenges. Violations have prompted other citizen group lawsuits like the one against Bluestone and scientific studies that warned of stream damage from the selenium discharged by mining operations. In response to questions about Bluestone Coal and its policing of the coal industry more broadly, the WVDEP provided a statement that indicated it was considering a change in the selenium limits for the Red Fox permit that, if approved, would “resolve that component of the enforcement action for the site.”

  • ‘A Recipe for Disaster’: Democrats Worry Biden Campaign Missing in Action in Battleground States
    on September 17, 2020 at 15:26

    Lisa Newcomb, staff writerThe Democratic candidate’s campaign is sparking concern that a redux of 2016—including a lack of outreach and a dearth of voter excitement—is now underway.

  • Weed Killers: Bowing to Blue Dogs, Democratic Leadership Delays ‘Enormously Popular’ Marijuana Legalization Bill Until After Election
    on September 17, 2020 at 15:11

    Brett Wilkins, staff writer”If you’re trying to punt it as a result of a political calculation, I disagree with that calculation,” Rep. Ocasio-Cortez said earlier of the MORE Act.

  • Rich Nations Hoarding Potential Covid-19 Vaccine Doses, Warns Oxfam
    on September 17, 2020 at 15:06

    Andrea Germanos, staff writer”Governments will prolong this crisis in all of its human tragedy and economic damage if they allow pharmaceutical companies to protect their monopolies and profits.”

  • THE ROLE OF MISTAKEN BELIEF: You fight false belief with the press corps you have!
    by <b>bob somerby</b> on September 17, 2020 at 14:47

    THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 17, 2020ABC News does deaths: As the American experiment slides toward the sea, the sheer stupidity of our discourse seems to know no limits.In large part, the onus falls on the commander in chief, who has introduced stupidity into the discourse at a level not previously known. Below you see parts of one exchange from Tuesday night’s town hall forum, hosted by ABC News:TRUMP (9/15/20): But what we’re doing is, we’re going to be doing a healthcare plan…We’re going to be doing a healthcare plan very strongly and protect people with preexisting conditions.STEPHANOPOULOS: But you’ve been promising a new healthcare plan– We interviewed, I interviewed you in June of last year, you said the healthcare plan would come in two weeks. You told Chris Wallace that, this summer, it’d come in three weeks.[…]TRUMP: I have it all ready. I have it all ready. I have it all ready, and it’s a much better plan for [the person who posed the question], and it’s a much better plan.STEPHANOPOULOS: What is it?TRUMP: Obamacare was a disaster. Obamacare is too expensive, the premiums are too high. It’s a total disaster.You’re going to have new healthcare, and the preexisting condition aspect of it will always be in my plan. And I’ve said that loud and clear.STEPHANOPOULOS: But you haven’t come up with it.Sad! The alleged health care plan has been two weeks away for the past two years! Moments later, as Stephanopoulos tried to fight his way through the commander’s endless distractions, this further exchange occurred:TRUMP: We have other alternatives to Obamacare that are 50 percent less expensive, and they’re actually better.STEPHANOPOULOS: It’s been three and a half years.And sure enough, so it has! By now, the commander has been making this fraudulent promise for well over three years! Somehow, though, this claim survives within the American discourse.There’s no boundary to the commander’s willingness to generate transparent nonsense. On the other hand, here are the obvious questions Stephanopoulos never asked:THE QUESTIONS NOT ASKED: You’ve been saying this for more than three years. Why haven’t you ever presented this alleged health plan? Why should anyone believe that this plan exists?  Please answer my questions directly.Those are blindingly obvious questions, but they were never asked.There is no limit to the nonsense the fast-talking commander will sell. At yesterday afternoon’s press event, he discussed deaths from Covid-19 with the help of the world-class howler shown below.As he spoke, he pointed to a graphic whose contents he thoroughly jumbled:TRUMP (9/16/20): We’re down in this territory [pointing to the graphic], and that’s despite the fact that the blue states had tremendous death rates. If you take the blue states out, were at a level that I don’t think anybody in the world would be at. We’re really at a very low level, but some of the states, they were blue states and blue state management. Have the blue states “had tremendous death rates?” In fact, the so-called red states have recorded as many deaths from Covid-19 as the so-called blue states. As everyone but the commander knows, the pandemic hit several blue states first, but it has long since moved on to the red. As for current weekly death rates, these are the ten states with the highest death rates at present, after adjusting for population:States with the highest current death rates:Arkansas, Mississippi, South Carolina, Florida, Louisiana, Kansas, Tennessee, North Dakota, Nevada, Texas, GeorgiaBack in 2016, the commander won nine of those states. Our nation’s current (extremely high) death rate is being driven in states which are red, not blue. (At present, the two states with the lowest death rates are New York and Vermont.) In short, there’s no end to the stupidity of our discourse as our nation slides toward the sea. This numbing stupidity tends to start with our disordered commander in chief. Truly, we’re all “with Stupid” at this point in time! Then too, the historian must acknowledge the remarkable role being played by the various “potted plants” found in the upper-end press corps. For today, consider something  Stephanopoulos did as he struggled to question Trump about our nation’s death rate.In fairness, questioning Donald J. Trump isn’t as easy assignment! The commander spoke so fast and insistently on Tuesday night that he passed from the realm of the (stereotypical) used-car salesman to the realm of the star auctioneer.Stephanopoulos battled to keep him on track. On balance, the ABC host did a reasonably decent job.  That said, consider the way Stephanopoulos challenged Trump on the question of the nation’s death rate from the coronavirus. He did a remarkably poor job in an area where two major stars at the New York Times  catastrophically bombed just last week.A quick review! At present, there are two basic ways to describe a nation’s death rate from Covid-19. We’ve covered this bone-simply material before:Total deaths to date: On the one hand, we can talk about “total deaths to date”—the number of people who have died from Covid-19 dating back to the start of the pandemic. This is a perfectly valid measure. Then again, so is this:Ongoing daily or weekly deaths: By now, western nation have had more than six months to adjust to the sudden onset of the pandemic. How many people are still dying from the virus after six months of possible adjustments? This is a second major way to tabulate a nation’s “death rate.” It’s the better way to assess the success of a nation’s leadership structure in responding to the pandemic.Those are two obvious ways to report a nation’s “death rate.” What happened on Tuesday night as the commander praised himself for the brilliant job he’s done in beating back the pandemic? Gack! As Stephanopoulos tried to challenge the commander’s claims, he only referred to Total Deaths To Date. He never referred to the more relevant measure of presidential leadership. He never referred to Ongoing Daily or Weekly Deaths:TRUMP (self-praise joined in progress): So I feel that we’ve done a tremendous job actually, and it’s something that, I don’t think it’s been recognized like it should, but when you look at our testing, when you look at our swabs, when you look at our ventilators, when you look at what we’ve done with hospitals—and we’ve made a lot of governors look very good, and now some are in a shutdown and some aren’t. We’d like to see it open up and open up as soon as possible.But we’re very proud of the job we’ve done, and we’ve saved a lot of lives, a tremendous number of lives.STEPHANOPOULOS: Mr. President, you mentioned a number of things here. Let’s talk about the mortality first. You said we’re doing better in mortality than other countries.But here’s this chart right here. It says the United States is right here. This is number of deaths per million residents. Here’s Western Europe, here, Canada way down there. We’re not at the top of the list.The commander said he’s very proud of the job his team has done. To cite one example, they’ve done a great job with  swabs!There’s nothing so dumb that this fellow won’t say it! He also said that his brilliant work “has saved a tremendous number of lives.”When Stephanopoulos challenged this claim, he noted that the United States isn’t “at the top of the list” among comparable nations when it comes to Total Deaths To Date. That is certainly true. But Stephanopoulos never mentioned the more relevant “death rate” statistic—Ongoing Daily or Weekly Deaths at the Present Time. How do we look with respect to that measure of deaths? These are the embarrassing numbers ABC News didn’t present:Deaths from Covid-19, September 10-16:United States: 6,258United Kingdom: 78Canada: 35Japan: 68South Korea: 23Taiwan: 0 Australia: 46European Union: 1,325Those numbers haven’t been adjusted for population. Stating the obvious, there’s no real reason to do so.  (The U.K. is no longer part of the E.U., so we include it here.)For the record, the population of the European Union is about one-third larger than that of the United States. After adjusting for population, our nation’s ongoing death rate is almost seven times that of the E.U. Even given a recent rise in deaths in France and Spain, that vast disparity remains. How brilliant does our blue-eyed boy’s work with swabs look now?(For the record, Germany recorded thirty (30) Covid-19 deaths in the week under review. Its population is about one-fourth as large as ours.)Trump was praising the brilliant way he has vanquished the virus. The data say something vastly different, but George Stephanopoulos and ABC News went with the less relevant statistic. (The commander might say that they “choked!”)In a rational world, it would be hard to believe that a major news org could possibly be that incompetent. In our world, we have a genuine nut in the Oval Office, plus a collection of low-skill potted plants cluttering up our news orgs.On balance, Stephanopoulos did a decent job. That said, he fanned extremely badly when it came to this basic statistical question.In the past two weeks, two major figures at the New York Times tried to make a similar assessment about our nation’s death rate. Their haplessness was astounding. With this sort of work at the top of the pile, our endlessly failing national discourse continues to run on mistaken belief as we slip-slide toward the sea.Two major Timesmen tried to assess our nation’s death rate. One is a graduate of Yale; the other emerged from Harvard. Their haplessness was simply jaw-dropping, but according to major credentialed experts, this is the state of our world.Tomorrow: Douthat and Leonhardt do deaths

  • Amid Fears of False Victory Claim by Trump, Media Urged to Form Plan to Combat Election Night Lies
    on September 17, 2020 at 14:27

    Jake Johnson, staff writerThe National Task Force on Election Crises warned that “period of uncertainty” caused by surge in mail-in ballots could “allow bad actors to attempt to undermine our democratic process.”

  • Cuomo’s Choice: Tax the Rich or Starve the Schools
    by Ross Barkan on September 17, 2020 at 14:19

    Ross Barkan As New York’s schools struggle to reopen, America’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, has refused to fill a gaping budget hole by taxing the rich, instead threatening massive cuts. The post Cuomo’s Choice: Tax the Rich or Starve the Schools appeared first on The Nation.

  • North Carolina Nurses Win Union in Landslide After Bitter Opposition
    by Matthew Cunningham-Cook on September 17, 2020 at 14:09

    HCA Healthcare had brought in a phalanx of union-busting firms to intimidate nurses into voting no. The post North Carolina Nurses Win Union in Landslide After Bitter Opposition appeared first on The Intercept.

  • Whistleblower Report Alleges Military Police Sought Use of a Heat Ray to Disperse Crowd at White House Protest in June
    on September 17, 2020 at 14:07

    Julia Conley, staff writerThe ACLU once again Wednesday night demanded an independent investigation into the use of force against protesters outside the White House on June 1, after a whistleblower told members of Congress that U.S. military police in Washington, D.C. sought the use of a heat ray to disperse the crowd. 

  • Why Drug Overdoses Have Gone Up During the Pandemic
    by Mattea Kramer on September 17, 2020 at 14:00

    Mattea Kramer “It’s really hard to think about recovery, or putting down substances, when your basic human needs aren’t being met.” The post Why Drug Overdoses Have Gone Up During the Pandemic appeared first on The Nation.

  • ‘Tired of Being Quiet,’ Another Woman, Amy Dorris, Comes Forward to Accuse Donald Trump of Sexual Assault
    on September 17, 2020 at 14:00

    Kenny Stancil, staff writer”I’m sick of him getting away with this,” Dorris said. 

  • The Long, Disgraceful History of American Attacks on Brown and Black Women’s Reproductive Systems
    by Natasha Lennard on September 17, 2020 at 13:11

    Alleged medical abuses on immigrant women’s reproductive systems are as American as apple pie. The post The Long, Disgraceful History of American Attacks on Brown and Black Women’s Reproductive Systems appeared first on The Intercept.

  • Landslide Vote by Nurses in North Carolina Delivers Biggest Hospital Unionization Win in US South in 45 Years
    on September 17, 2020 at 12:41

    Lisa Newcomb, staff writer”I’m so grateful this victory will allow us to be better advocates for our community,” one nurse said.

  • Wake of the Giant
    by Dáreece Walker on September 17, 2020 at 12:30

    Dáreece Walker Prejudice against Black Americans is countered by unity and strength, a giant force to fight for justice. The post Wake of the Giant appeared first on The Nation.

  • Fool Me Twice: How Democrats Risk Repeating the Mistakes of the Financial Crisis in the Era of Covid-19
    by Deconstructed on September 17, 2020 at 10:15

    Economist James Galbraith explains what the U.S. economy will need to get back on its feet. The post Fool Me Twice: How Democrats Risk Repeating the Mistakes of the Financial Crisis in the Era of Covid-19 appeared first on The Intercept.

  • The Political Use and Misuse of ‘Mulan’
    by Han Zhang on September 17, 2020 at 09:45

    Han Zhang Each new adaptation says more about its own time and place than the story’s ancient setting. The post The Political Use and Misuse of ‘Mulan’ appeared first on The Nation.

  • Of Course Republicans Want to Suppress the Youth Vote
    by Asiah Williams on September 17, 2020 at 09:30

    Asiah Williams Republicans know the country is changing demographically and politically. That’s why they want to prevent young people from voting. The post Of Course Republicans Want to Suppress the Youth Vote appeared first on The Nation.

  • The Military’s Role in a Contested Election
    by Andrew J. Bacevich on September 17, 2020 at 09:30

    Andrew J. Bacevich Asking the armed forces to decide who won would be the first step on the road to rule by military junta. The post The Military’s Role in a Contested Election appeared first on The Nation.

  • The US Safety Net Is Degrading by Design
    by Mimi Abramovitz, Deepak Bhargava, Tammy Thomas Miles on September 17, 2020 at 09:15

    Mimi Abramovitz, Deepak Bhargava, Tammy Thomas Miles Covid-19 and its economic fallout have further exposed the need to radically reimagine this country’s safety net. The post The US Safety Net Is Degrading by Design appeared first on The Nation.

  • What Is Critical Race Theory and Why Is Trump Afraid of It?
    by Cheryl Harris on September 17, 2020 at 09:00

    Cheryl Harris His attacks are attempt to reach those who repudiate the symbols and premises of white supremacy but worry that anti-racist advocacy can go “too far.” The post What Is Critical Race Theory and Why Is Trump Afraid of It? appeared first on The Nation.

  • Mobilizing the National Guard Doesn’t Mean Your State Is Under Martial Law. Usually.
    by by Logan Jaffe on September 17, 2020 at 09:00

    by Logan Jaffe ProPublica Illinois is a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. Sign up to get weekly updates about our work. Hello, trusty newsletter readers. Perhaps you’ve noticed that it’s Thursday, not Friday, the day you would typically receive this newsletter. That’s because you’ll be hearing from us on Thursdays, starting today. Happy Thursday! I’ve been curious about the National Guard for months. It started in March, after a video that appeared to show a train loaded with military vehicles headed toward the Chicago area went viral. The video fueled a rumor that the Illinois National Guard was being sent to the city to put it on “lockdown.” This was shortly after Gov. J.B. Pritzker declared a state of emergency because of rising COVID-19 cases. Truth is: There was a train, but it was not coming to Chicago to put the city on lockdown. It was part of a routine military equipment delivery. An excerpt of a Facebook post from the Illinois National Guard dispelling rumors about putting Chicago on lockdown. The Illinois National Guard later made news for its efforts with COVID-19 relief and at protests against police violence. The more I read about it, the more I realized I did not understand what the National Guard does. Maybe you don’t either. So I called Brad Leighton, a lieutenant colonel and public affairs director of the Illinois guard, to get some clarity. We spoke about rumors vs. reality, fear and what “calling in the National Guard” means both in practice and in perception. In our interview, Leighton said each state has its own National Guard force made up of mostly part-time troops, though the guard can also be mobilized by the federal government during national emergencies. The interview below has been edited for clarity. We hear a lot about “calling in the National Guard.” Can you describe what that means and how it works? The Illinois National Guard falls under the command and control of the governor of Illinois. So, when the governor calls in the National Guard, it means that the state pays for the soldiers and the use of the equipment. Sometimes there are other states that will need assistance. That’s done through agreements between the states. Get stories about big issues that affect people living and working in the state of Illinois delivered straight to your inbox. Now, for example, during our COVID-19 response and the civil law enforcement support mission we did up in Chicago, that’s a case where the mayor of Chicago asked the governor for our assistance, and then the governor agreed to send us. Now, when we get on the ground, we’re still under the command and control of the governor and the adjutant general, the top military officer of the Illinois National Guard, but we’re generally placed under a civilian authority at the emergency. For example, when we went to Chicago [to assist the Police Department with protests after the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police], we fell under an incident commander with the Chicago Police Department. When we went to other places in the state [to assist with protests], we actually fell under the Illinois State Police as the incident commanders. If we went to a big fire, it could be the fire marshal. For elections, maybe the Board of Elections. But ultimately, we’re responding to the orders of the adjutant general and the governor of Illinois. Does the National Guard absorb some of the powers of whatever entity it’s called in to assist? For example, can the National Guard make arrests if an incident commander is with the Chicago Police Department? No. We’re not civilian law enforcement. And so we can’t really be used as an auxiliary police force. And we legally cannot make arrests. We can hold somebody for a bit until a fully licensed civilian police officer can come in and arrest that person. But if we’re detaining someone, that should be for a very short period of time. We’re not trained to investigate crimes. We’re really not trained in community policing. So when the governor calls in the National Guard, perhaps on behalf of a mayor to respond to a particular situation, you’re there to fulfill the vision of that municipality dealing with whatever emergency effort it is. Yeah. We communicate what we can do and what we can’t do. I would say that with civil disturbance type operations, we’re reluctant because there are many things that can go wrong. And again, we’re operating on limited legal authority. We can be eyes and ears for law enforcement and communicate back to them, but we’re not civilian law enforcement. We’re military. When you say that you’re reluctant when the National Guard is called in for a civil unrest situation, what do you mean? When I say we’re reluctant, it’s not that we don’t want to help maintain order. That’s what we’re there for. But the National Guard should be the last call. The National Guard is designed to come in when all other resources are exhausted. We’re the first military responders, but we’re the last one when the civilian capacity has been exhausted completely. Which I know can be scary for civilians — the idea that their police or health department needs military backup. Is that fear warranted? Well, I think when you call in the National Guard, it generally means that things are very, very serious. Honestly, if you’re pulling people out of their civilian lives and they’re putting on their uniform and they’re responding to something, whether that’s a flood or for law enforcement support or COVID-19, it’s an emergency. But it’s all determined by the legal status we’re in. And the fact is that we are subordinate to civil authorities, not coming in and operating independently of those civil authorities. It’s a structure. And you don’t see that underlying structure when you see soldiers out on the street. There seems to be a perception that the presence of the National Guard means that we’re one step closer to martial law. Is that actually the case? Martial law would be a case where the military is in control. Martial law could be a scenario [in which we operate], but martial law is used very, very rarely. [Note: An Aug. 20 report from the Brennan Center for Justice documents 68 incidents throughout U.S. history in which martial law was declared.] But that perception seems to influence policy. I’m thinking of what recently happened in Chicago: the City Council did not approve a proposal that would have allowed the Illinois National Guard to be stationed in Chicago for four months. The Chicago Sun-Times reported: “It was the stigma of a ‘military occupation’ of Chicago neighborhoods” that led to aldermen voting down the proposal. We were concerned about that perception as well. When you have armed soldiers on the streets, I think, as a public affairs officer, that’s a perception problem in and of itself. How do you address that? We try to educate and explain to people why we’re there and what our role is, and try to communicate that with the understanding that having a soldier who is armed and has body armor on can be intimidating. A lot of our soldiers come out of [local] communities. A lot of our soldiers certainly have ties to those communities [where we may be called]. But we’re a very small portion of the population. And the National Guard is even smaller because we’re just a fraction of the military. So people don’t have a lot of exposure to military people. There’s a disconnect with the civilian world. But with the National Guard, we can do a lot to bridge that disconnect because we are part of the community. Bridging that gap plays out online, too, right? I’m thinking about that Chicago train rumor that spread through Facebook in the spring. You wrote some pretty direct Facebook posts through the Illinois National Guard page to address those. I think this year has been unprecedented in a lot of ways, and when things are very different than what they have been, people are fearful. And I think in our reaction to, for example, the train that happened to go through the Chicago area, I think that you have to understand that people were seeing that from a completely different lens than me as a military person. Again, people don’t necessarily know how the military operates. A tweet from the Illinois National Guard. Screenshots of Facebook posts by the Illinois National Guard. I definitely think of [fighting online rumors and disinformation] as a military mission, especially for military public affairs officers. One of the tenets of that is to address disinformation or bad information with facts and what’s actually going on. It’s taught for wartime situations. So that’s what we’re trying to do by addressing [online rumors]. I think we’ve been effective at tamping down rumors and a lot is the tone. You have to strike a balance where you’re not telling people that what they’re saying is irrational, silly, crazy. You have to respect that they are genuinely afraid.

  • ‘One of the Most Callous Sentiments Ever Uttered’ by US President: Trump Falsely Says Covid Death Toll Not So Bad ‘If You Take Blue States Out’
    on September 17, 2020 at 08:54

    Jake Johnson, staff writer”Trump thinks of the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans like a poll number or a stock market price.”

  • How John Lewis’s Message of ‘Good Trouble’ Is Inspiring Change in Education
    by Yohuru Williams on September 17, 2020 at 05:00

    In his final days, Congressman John Lewis wrote a letter aimed at carrying forward the fight against injustice—now, that call is being taken up in Minneapolis schools.

  • Só dinheiro não basta para Joe Biden reconstruir a economia dos EUA
    by James K. Galbraith on September 17, 2020 at 04:02

    A simples injeção de dinheiro não trará de volta a feliz combinação de emprego e renda que foi perdida com a pandemia. The post Só dinheiro não basta para Joe Biden reconstruir a economia dos EUA appeared first on The Intercept.

  • Warning Trump Poses ‘Existential Threat’ to Social Security, Group Founded by FDR’s Son Endorses Biden for President
    on September 17, 2020 at 04:00

    Jake Johnson, staff writer”Many older Americans cannot afford—let alone survive—another four years of President Trump.”

  • ProPublica’s Pandemic Guide to Making Sure Your Vote Counts
    by by Susie Armitage on September 16, 2020 at 22:39

    by Susie Armitage Sign up for ProPublica’s User’s Guide to Democracy, a series of personalized emails that help you understand the upcoming election, from who’s on your ballot to how to cast your vote. If you’re anxious about running into problems exercising your right to vote this election, you’re not alone. According to a recent survey from the Pew Research Center, nearly half of registered voters expect casting their ballots will be difficult, a 34-point increase since the 2018 midterms. Like almost every aspect of our lives during the pandemic, voting may look a bit different than usual. But with a little planning, you should be able to vote either masked and socially distanced at the polls, or by mail without issue. Experts say that with proper COVID-19 precautions, the risk of voting in person is similar to shopping at a grocery store. However, election experts also anticipate record turnout, fewer polling locations and a higher-than-ever number of people choosing to vote by mail, so it’s important to plan ahead. In some states, voting by mail is a widespread, well-oiled process, but in others it was limited before the pandemic. This has left some states scrambling to ramp up mail-in voting while simultaneously preparing to hold socially distanced in-person elections on tight budgets. The uptick in mail votes threatens to overwhelm the cash-strapped Postal Service, which recently warned that some state absentee ballot deadlines may not allow for enough time for ballots to be delivered and counted. An internal USPS audit found that over a million ballots were mailed to voters late in the 2020 primaries, including hundreds that arrived after the election. As if election officials didn’t already have enough to deal with, the majority of U.S. poll workers are over 60 and face increased risk from the virus, creating staffing shortages. If you’re not in a high-risk group or household, consider doing your part by signing up to work the polls yourself. You can take some simple steps now to make the voting process smoother. Here’s what you need to know to be prepared. Make sure you are registered to vote. A computer displaying enthusiastic voter registration. Procrastinators take heed: Now is the time to confirm you’re registered. “Action now prevents issues at the polls or getting your ballot by mail,” said Tammy Patrick, senior adviser for elections at the Democracy Fund. Voter registration deadlines vary by state, but some are coming up in early October. If you’re a first-time voter or have moved to a new state since the last time you voted, you will need to register. If you’ve changed your name, moved within your state or want to change your party affiliation, you must update your registration or reregister in your new county. Even if you’ve voted before and don’t have changes, you should still check that your registration is current. Election officials are required by law to periodically update their records, removing individuals who have moved away, died or been newly convicted of a felony. Some states are also mandated to remove voters deemed “inactive,” meaning they didn’t respond to a mailer sent to confirm their address and haven’t voted in the last few elections. However, eligible voters have also been taken off the rolls in error. You can look up your registration status here. If you need to register or update your registration, start here. In most states, you can register to vote online. Plan how you’ll vote: by mail, in person during early voting if your state offers it or on Election Day. Doris Liou/ProPublica Voting procedures in your area may have changed because of the pandemic, so be aware of your options and make a voting plan now. If you decide to vote by mail, apply for your ballot early. A handful of states automatically mail all voters a ballot, but in most of the U.S., you’ll need to request one. In some states you can submit your request up until a few days before the election, but with demand for mail-in voting expected to surge, that doesn’t mean you should. Ohio’s secretary of state admitted that the state’s own deadline isn’t feasible to get voters their ballots in time, and election officials are urging voters not to procrastinate to flatten the “ballot request curve.” Don’t delay returning your ballot, either. The Postal Service recommends getting it in the mail at least a week before your state’s deadline, but the earlier, the better. Be clear on whether your ballot must arrive at the election office by the deadline or if it only needs to be postmarked by the deadline. If you’re worried about cutting it close, most states let you deliver your ballot to the local election office instead of mailing it. You may also be able to bring it to a designated drop-off site or place it in a secure dropbox. In-person early voting, which the CDC recommends to avoid crowds, may begin in your area as soon as late September. Experts say the first day and the last few days of early voting are often the busiest. Double-check polling locations and hours since there may be changes. If you do plan to go to the polls on Nov. 3, don’t expect them to be empty. According to a recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, 43% of voters plan to cast a ballot in person on Election Day. If you’re voting by mail, read the instructions carefully. Doris Liou/ProPublica Remember the Stevie Wonder song: “signed, sealed, delivered,” said Michael McDonald, a University of Florida professor who studies elections. Before you fill in any bubbles, carefully read the instructions that come with your ballot and follow them to a T. Mistakes like using the wrong color pen, putting marks in the wrong place or forgetting to sign the outside of the return envelope could mean your vote isn’t counted. Don’t try to fix a ballot with tape or correction fluid if you mess up, and don’t be embarrassed to ask for help. If you have a question or need a replacement ballot, call your local election office. Election officials have seen it all: McDonald says a voter in Georgia had to ask for a new ballot after their cat peed on it. Ballot designs and rules vary by state, but check that you’ve signed everywhere and sealed all the envelopes as instructed. If multiple people in your household are voting by mail, don’t put more than one ballot into the return envelope. Signature mismatch, when election officials determine the signature on your ballot doesn’t match what they have on file, is another common reason mail-in ballots are rejected. To avoid that problem, election experts say you should sign your ballot the same way you did when you got your driver’s license or registered to vote. Signatures change over time, so if you’re concerned the one on file could be out of date, ask your local election office how to update it. Out of stamps or not sure about where/how to buy them? Don’t worry. You can buy first-class stamps at any post office or even online. Your town or county might even have special drop-off locations for ballots that require no postage. But if all else fails, put your sealed ballot in a mailbox. Traditionally, USPS has delivered ballots sent without a stamp. Track your ballot. In many states, you can track your mail-in ballot online to confirm it’s en route to you and has been received by your election office and accepted. Check your state’s election website for details. If online tracking isn’t available, you can call your local election office to ask about the status of your ballot. Check your state’s ID requirements. Some states require ID to vote, but the acceptable forms may be broader than you expect. Gather or apply for any needed documentation. Keep in mind that some agencies that issue IDs, like the Department of Motor Vehicles or university ID offices, may be closed or have backlogs because of the pandemic, so don’t put it off. If you’re worried you won’t have proper ID in time, don’t assume you can’t vote. Depending on your state’s laws, it may be OK if your ID has expired. Contact your local elections office for advice. If you vote in person and don’t have the required ID when you go to the poll, you may need to cast a provisional ballot and return later to show ID before your vote is counted. Ask for help if you need information, and report any problems you encounter. Doris Liou/ProPublica Don’t hesitate to reach out to your local election officials if you have questions. You can look up their phone numbers and email addresses here. If you run into any issues at the polls during early voting or on Election Day, ask a poll worker for help. You can also call the free nonpartisan Election Protection hotline if you have questions about voting or to report a problem: 866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683) run by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (which provides data to Electionland) 888-Ve-Y-Vota (Spanish, 888-839-8682) run by the NALEO Educational Fund 844-Yalla-US (Arabic/English, 844-925-5287) run by the Arab American Institute 888-API-VOTE (888-274-8683) run by Asian and Pacific Islander Vote and Asian Americans Advancing Justice ProPublica’s Electionland project wants to hear from voters who encounter a problem when they try to vote. Here’s how to get in touch. SMS: Send the word VOTE, VOTA (for Spanish) or 投票 (for Chinese) to 81380 (standard text message rates apply). WhatsApp: Send the word VOTE, VOTA (for Spanish) or 投票 (for Chinese) to 1-850-909-8683. Facebook Messenger: Go to Complete this form to share your election experience so ProPublica and our partners can investigate. Make a backup plan. Doris Liou/ProPublica What if your absentee ballot doesn’t come in time? What if you need to quarantine during early voting or you wake up with coronavirus symptoms on Election Day? Preparing a backup plan may help set your mind at ease in unpredictable times. However, Patrick cautions, while having a Plan B is a good idea, “your options are limited if Plan A is vote in the evening of Nov. 3.” If you’re voting by mail, request your ballot ASAP. Know when your state begins mailing ballots, track your ballot and contact your local election office if you haven’t received yours. If it doesn’t arrive, you can still vote in person. If you can’t make it to the polls because of an unexpected illness, you may qualify for an emergency absentee ballot. But better yet, get your vote in well before Election Day. Beware of misinformation. Doris Liou/ProPublica Disinformation about voting designed to deter turnout dates back well before the internet, but in the age of social media, it can spread like wildfire. Texts, robocalls, mailers and flyers can also push false information about where or how to vote or what’s going on at the polls. With election conditions in flux because of the pandemic, it’s especially important to ensure you’re getting information from trustworthy sources such as state and local election websites. “Key voting information — including election dates, polling locations, and mail-in voting rules — are suddenly subject to change,” Ian Vandewalker, senior counsel for the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, wrote in a new report on digital disinformation. “Voters may not learn about such changes in time to comply, or they may receive conflicting information and not know which sources to believe.” Vandewalker says we all have a role to play in stopping the spread of false information. Pause and check out the source before hitting “share.” If something seems suspicious, search to see if the information has been posted elsewhere or already debunked. When in doubt, contact your local elections office. If you see friends or family sharing incorrect information, let them know, but avoid repeating falsehoods when you set the record straight, as this can amplify them. “Do not share the false post and do not retweet the false tweet,” Vandewalker said. You can also report misinformation to the Election Protection hotline (1-866-OUR-VOTE), so its staff can alert election officials and internet companies. Be patient when awaiting the results. Doris Liou/ProPublica Because of the large number of votes coming in by mail, “we may have to prepare for election week or even election month,” wrote Elaine Kamarck, director of the Center for Effective Public Management at the Brookings Institution. An NBC News/SurveyMonkey poll shows a clear partisan divide on voting methods, with more than half of Republicans planning to vote in person on Nov. 3 and half of Democrats planning to vote by mail. If the race is close, experts expect litigation, which could leave the results unknown for weeks. “Elections are never over on election night, even if the media declares a winner,” Patrick said. “Election officials will be working for days, even weeks, to make sure that every eligible ballot is counted.” Share your story of voting troubles with us here.

  • ‘Tyrannical and Un-American’: ACLU Rebukes Barr for Urging Sedition Charges Against Protesters
    on September 16, 2020 at 22:20

    Brett Wilkins, staff writer”Treating protest as a form of sedition won’t hold up in court,” said the ACLU. “But that is clearly not the point here.” 

  • Right Wing Round-Up: TPUSA’s Troll Farm
    by Kyle Mantyla on September 16, 2020 at 21:32

    Aaron Rupar @ Vox: Trump’s ABC town hall revealed a president disconnected from reality. Emily Singer @ The American Independent: The 7 dumbest things Trump said at his town hall. Will Sommer @ The Daily Beast: New QAnon-Allied GOP Senate Candidate Also Pushed Anti-Semitism, Flat Earthism, and 9/11 Conspiracies. Isaac Stanley-Becker @ The Washington Post: The post Right Wing Round-Up: TPUSA’s Troll Farm first appeared on Right Wing Watch.

  • Right Wing Bonus Tracks: An Enemy to Mankind
    by Kyle Mantyla on September 16, 2020 at 21:30

    Josh Bernstein insists that President Donald Trump “did everything right” in his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Andrew Wallace urges conservatives to vote to reelect Trump but also to prepare for a possible Joe Biden presidency: “The next most important thing you must do quickly, is to buy firearms, like the AR15, with a lot The post Right Wing Bonus Tracks: An Enemy to Mankind first appeared on Right Wing Watch.

  • Big Ten Football Players as ‘Guinea Pigs’? Critics Raise Concern Over Promises to Study Covid-19 Impacts
    on September 16, 2020 at 20:45

    Julia Conley, staff writerThe Big Ten Conference on Wednesday reversed its earlier decision to postpone its 2020 college football season in light of the coronavirus pandemic, even as it suggested it fully expects many student-athletes to contract the virus during the season.

  • Idris Elba drama “Concrete Cowboy” brings audience along for a crowd-pleasing ride
    by Gary M. Kramer on September 16, 2020 at 20:10

    This appealing new drama that premiered at TIFF offers a glimpse into a little-known subculture

  • Invisible company owned by Rudy Giuliani got taxpayer-backed PPP money — but where did it go?
    by Roger Sollenberger on September 16, 2020 at 20:00

    Giuliani’s payroll company got a PPP loan from a Trump-friendly bank — but lists no employees. Was it fraud?

  • Daniel Ellsberg Tells UK Court That US Seeks Both ‘Revenge’ Against Julian Assange and to ‘Crush’ Future Whistleblowers
    on September 16, 2020 at 19:35

    Brett Wilkins, staff writerThe Pentagon Papers leaker previously called Assange’s prosecution the most “significant attack on freedom of the press” since his 1971 case. 

  • Trump Confession He Was Ready to Assassinate Assad Condemned as ‘Disgusting Display’ of ‘Imperial Hubris’
    on September 16, 2020 at 19:18

    Jessica Corbett, staff writer”If he had indeed murdered Assad, then the Middle East, and the fate of U.S. soldiers in the region, would have exploded into even more violence and chaos,” said one anti-war advocate.

  • ‘Now, Before It Is Too Late’: Parents and Teachers Nationwide Call on Congress to Urgently Provide $250 Billion to Save Generation of Students
    on September 16, 2020 at 19:09

    Andrea Germanos, staff writer”In a world turned upside down by a global pandemic, these backbone institutions need ample financial resources and support to continue serving this generation, the next generation, and their families in ways that keep everyone safe.”

  • Woodward colludes with Anderson Cooper!
    by <b>bob somerby</b> on September 16, 2020 at 18:50

    WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 16, 2020A “perfect story” is told:  What did President Donald J. Trump know or believe and when did he know or believe it?With a disordered person like Donald J. Trump, such questions are hard to answer.  Trump rarely seems to know what he’s talking about. Beyond that, his general moral and psychological disorder has long been quite apparent.We bring that framework to our review of the various things Trump said to the Washington Post’s less than impressive Bob Woodward. Last night, Woodward appeared for the full hour with CNN’s Anderson Cooper. The ensuing discussion was fascinating—but is it possible that the two men were constructing a “Perfect Story?”When our “journalists” construct a Perfect Story, they simplify the events of the tale in such a way as to present perfect heroes and perfect villains behaving in the most obvious possible ways.  Is it possible that something like that was happening early in last night’s program? Woodward told a simple, clear-cut story to Cooper. The story starts in the Oval Office. This was the start of the tale:WOODWARD (9/15/20): And let me take you to the scene in the Oval Office at the end of January, January 28, when the national security adviser to the president, Robert O’Brien, said: “Mr. President, this virus is going to be the biggest national security threat to your presidency.”He said it with passion. This was a top-secret intelligence briefing. Matt Pottinger, the deputy, stepped in and said: “I agree.” Pottinger is the person, it turns out, almost perfectly placed by accident.He had been in China as a reporter for The Wall Street Journal for seven years. He knew the Chinese lie. He told the president this. Pottinger had contacts in China, reliable doctors, who said to him: “This is not just going to be a little problem. This is going to be a pandemic like the 1918 Spanish flu.”And the president asked questions.We’ve already met the word “perfectly!” According to Woodward, Pottinger was “perfectly placed” to tell the commander the truth about the coming pandemic.O’Brien and Pottinger called out a warning—”and the president asked questions!” As the story continues, Woodward takes himself off the hook for a recent criticism—explanation below—and he draws an assumption about what the commander believed and knew:WOODWARD (continuing directly): So, fast-forward to ten days later [to February 7], when he told me all of this [on the phone]. I thought he was talking about China, because he’d been on the phone with President Xi. I thought, for a long time, it was China. And it was the United States.And, tragically, unfortunately, he failed to tell the public the truth that he knew. On February 4, a few days before I talked to him and he told me this, he gave his speech, the famous State of the Union speech, to the Congress.When he gave his State of the Union address, the commander “failed to tell the public the truth that he knew,” Woodward says. In doing so, Woodward assumes that Trump agreed with what he’d been told by O’Brien and Pottinger. But why should anyone make that assumption? As is the norm within the guild, Robert Woodward didn’t explain, and Cooper didn’t ask.In the presentation we’ve posted, Woodward crafted a perfect moral tale. The president knew the pandemic was coming—but he didn’t tell us the people!That’s a perfect moral tale, with perfectly villainous conduct on the part of Trump. Woodward had constructed a classic Perfect Story. And who knows? It could even be true!That said, how do we know that Trump believed what O’Brien and Pottinger told him? Later in last night’s session with Cooper, Woodward added a bit of detail, even as he took himself off the hook again:WOODWARD: We are living in an Orwellian world. And this is not just about some political problem or some geopolitical problem. It’s about the lives of people in this country. And he was told. He knew. He told me about it [on February 7]. I thought it was about China.And quite frankly, it took me three months to find out about that key January 28 meeting in the Oval Office, which was a top-secret intelligence briefing. And the briefer from the intelligence community is saying: “Well, there are problems in China, but they’re working on it.”And that’s when the national security adviser and the deputy stepped in—I have witnesses to this, participants in this—and said, “No, no,” and pushed a very contrarian view, based on facts and experience.Uh-oh! The intelligence briefer said the situation wasn’t so dire. O’Brien and Pottinger disagreed, “push[ing] a very contrarian view.”We’ll assume that account is accurate. That said, how exactly do we know that Trump believed what O’Brien and Pottinger said? We ask that question for a reason. During his phone call with Woodward ten days later, this is the first thing the commander said:WOODWARD (2/7/20): And so what was President Xi saying yesterday?TRUMP: Oh, we were talking mostly about the virus, and I think he is going to have it in good shape. But you know, it’s a very tricky situation.Trump said his beloved Xi would have things under control.  Might that be what this dope really thought? How do we know it isn’t?On January 28, the briefer said that things would be under control. O’Brien and Pottinger took a much gloomier stance.How do we know that Trump agreed with the gloomier view?  Woodward offers zero evidence one way or the other.Is it possible that the commander thought O’Brien and Pottinger were full of old shoes, a stance he has often seemed to take with his ranking advisers? How do we know he thought they were right this time?How do we know he thought they were right? Last night, Woodward didn’t explain and Cooper didn’t ask. So it goes—so it always go—when the guild constructs  a Group Tale.Along the way, Woodward took himself off the hook for last week’s barrage of complaints. The self-pardon unfolded like this:Why didn’t Woodward tell the public, in real time, that Trump had always believed that the pandemic would hit us hard? Last night, on two occasions, Woodward offered a somewhat facile excuse:He said he didn’t know about that initial meeting in the Oval until three months later. (That certainly could be true.) Therefore, when Trump told him how difficult the virus was, he assumed that Trump was just talking about something that would happen in China! Now he sees that Trump was actually talking about what would happen here!Given the fearful reporting taking place at the time, that’s a less-than-convincing claim. But Woodward told this story twice, taking himself off the hook for seven months of silence.We’re left with our basic question. When Trump spoke to Woodward on February 7, he said he thought that the brilliant Xi would have things under control. How do we know that the constantly clueless commander in chief didn’t really believe that?The answer is simple—we don’t really know! It’s possible he had more faith in his strongman friend than in his two advisers. Trump behaved like an absolute clown from that early point forward. During his ludicrous press events, he made lunatic claims again and again as the potted plants from the mainstream press slumbered, snored and burbled.That said, how do we know what this idiot thought and believed as of February 4 and 7?Unless we’re crafting a Perfect Tale, we’d have to say that we don’t. But our “journalists” love to craft such tales. In the past three decades, they’ve behaved this way again and again and again.According to major anthropologists, this is the way our limited species has always played such games. Our human brains are wired to play this way, these despondent top experts have said.

  • ‘This Fight Is Not Over’: Activists Help ICE Detainee Avoid Deportation Following Alleged Sterilization Procedure at Georgia Facility
    on September 16, 2020 at 18:14

    Lisa Newcomb, staff writerPauline Binam, a Cameroonian who has lived in the U.S. since the age of two, was detained at an ICE facility where her fallopian tubes were removed, allegedly without her consent.

  • ‘Just… Tax the Rich’ to Avoid Austerity, Patriotic Millionaires Tells NY Gov. Cuomo After Mayor de Blasio Cuts City Spending
    on September 16, 2020 at 18:04

    Kenny Stancil, staff writer”The people of New York have sacrificed enough during this pandemic—it’s depraved to ask them to sacrifice even more to close our state’s budget gap while wealthy New Yorkers are richer now than they’ve ever been.”

  • Mexico’s Women Demand Justice on Gender Violence
    by Meaghan Beatley on September 16, 2020 at 17:47

    Meaghan Beatley Enraged at institutional failure to address the mounting crisis, they have occupied the National Human Rights Commission. The post Mexico’s Women Demand Justice on Gender Violence appeared first on The Nation.

  • Voting in the United States: A Constant Uphill Battle
    by Asher Luberto on September 16, 2020 at 17:45

    A new documentary produced by Stacey Abrams explores the history of voter suppression, today’s tactics, and what we need to do to fight it.

  • O governo deveria estocar arroz, não você
    by Victor Matioli on September 16, 2020 at 17:29

    Como a falta de planejamento, a austeridade e a fé cega no agronegócio tiraram o arroz do prato do brasileiro. The post O governo deveria estocar arroz, não você appeared first on The Intercept.

  • Western Wildfires Could Worsen Inequality
    by Melissa Jones on September 16, 2020 at 17:11

    As new threats compound old injustices, too many Americans are consigned to poverty and poor health.

  • Defense Contractors Don’t Need Another Covid Bailout
    by Mandy Smithberger on September 16, 2020 at 16:20

    Mandy Smithberger Despite their claims, defense spending isn’t driving major job growth. It just makes shareholders wealthier. The post Defense Contractors Don’t Need Another Covid Bailout appeared first on The Nation.

  • A Progressive Prosecutor Faces Off With Portland’s Aggressive Police
    by Alice Speri on September 16, 2020 at 16:04

    Portland’s new district attorney said he wouldn’t prosecute most protesters. Police kept arresting them anyway. The post A Progressive Prosecutor Faces Off With Portland’s Aggressive Police appeared first on The Intercept.

  • Trump’s Strategy to Upend the Election Is Being Implemented in Plain Sight
    by John Nichols on September 16, 2020 at 15:52

    John Nichols A multimillion-dollar legal strategy, egged on by President Trump, is erecting barriers to voting and creating chaos in battleground states. The post Trump’s Strategy to Upend the Election Is Being Implemented in Plain Sight appeared first on The Nation.

  • As Trump Sows Chaos, Sanders and Schumer Call on McConnell to Hold Public Hearings, Help Restore Confidence in Election Integrity
    on September 16, 2020 at 15:38

    Brett Wilkins, staff writer”We believe this issue is above partisan politics,” the senators wrote to the GOP Senate Majority Leader. 

  • ‘Ecological Disaster on Massive Scale’: Hundreds of Thousands of Dead Migratory Birds in Southwest Linked to Wildfires, Climate Crisis
    on September 16, 2020 at 15:38

    Julia Conley, staff writerA combination of factors—all related to the climate crisis—is believed to be behind one of the largest mass bird die-off events in recent memory in the Southwest, according to biologists.

  • THE ROLE OF MISTAKEN BELIEF: People believe the darnedest things!
    by <b>bob somerby</b> on September 16, 2020 at 15:18

    WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 16, 2020Many beliefs “don’t make sense:”  What did the late Herman Cain believe when he went to Trump’s Tulsa event?Trump’s Tulsa event was held indoors. Herman Cain wasn’t wearing a mask, and he wasn’t “social distancing.” In the weeks which followed the Tulsa event, he was diagnosed with Covid-19 and he died. No one knows where and how Cain contracted the virus. But what in the world was Herman Cain thinking—what in the world  did he think or believe—when he decided to go to the Tulsa event?There’s no way to answer your thoughtful question. But Cain was hardly alone. In fairness, most Trump supporters had enough sense to stay away from the Tulsa event. The sparse attendance was an embarrassment to the Trump campaign.That said, thousands of people did show up, and we know that at least one attendee has died. Meanwhile, attendees had to sign a waiver pledging that they wouldn’t sue the commander-in-chief if they contracted Covid-9 at his Tulsa event. The commander didn’t mingle with the masses at the Tulsa event. What in the world were those people thinking when they went to this event?Last week, Jim Acosta, CNN’s “big galoot,” finally did the right thing. Breaking every rule in the book, he asked at least three (3) Trump supporters why they went to a recent Trump rally without the help of a mask.The rally was held up in Michigan. To review the answers the three people gave, you can visit Monday’s report—but the second respondent said this:ACOSTA: Sir, please tell me. Why are you not wearing a mask?UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because there’s no Covid. It’s a fake pandemic created to destroy the United States of America.ACOSTA: But the president said to Bob Woodward that there is a virus, the coronavirus, and it is deadly.UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That’s his opinion. The truth is, is that CDC said only 10,000 people die from Covid. The other 192,000 have 2.6 or 2.8 other mortalities.In our view, that man is in the grip of several mistaken beliefs. Last Thursday night, Don Lemon played the videotape of Acosta’s three interviews. After the exchanges were aired, Lemon and his incredulous guests worked through their standard progressions.”I don’t really get it,” Lemon said, puzzled by a respondent who said he was putting his faith in the Lord. A bit later, he angrily moralized:LEMON (9/10/20): Kirsten, I’m going to get to you, but I wonder if I should get—bring my family out of a hot spot there in Louisiana to have a life, because they have a life.Guess what? We social distance. We wear masks and we keep moving. But my mom has been trapped in the house since March. And it’s heartbreaking, because there are these people, like these folks right here, who don’t care about anybody but themselves.Jim Acosta’s three respondents  “don’t care about anybody but themselves?” Which part of “I think the pandemic is fake” didn’t this cable news star understand?Finally, Lemon threw to Kirsten Powers. In our view, Powers has long been sharper than the average cable news bear. Powers didn’t get it either. To her, none of it made any sense:LEMON: [Trump’s] not downplaying the virus. He’s pretending the pandemic is over.POWERS: Yes. I mean, and this, it’s really—it is a tragedy on so many levels, but it is particularly sad to watch these people who believe him. […]And, you know, it was interesting listening to that man who said, “The good Lord is going to protect me, and I have to go on with my life.” I’ve heard some version of this from various Trump supporters. And yet, when the caravan is coming, allegedly, the good Lord is not going to protect them. When antifa is coming, the good Lord is not going to protect them, right? None of it makes sense.Trump does seem to be  spreading the notion that the pandemic is pretty much over. In our view, it is sad, or something like it, to watch the various people who believe Trump’s various  claims. That said, none of Acosta’s three respondents stated that particular point as a part of their answer.Powers then described a logical contradiction for which she could cite no specific example. But she was certainly right on one score:The things we humans say and believe quite frequently don’t make sense. Indeed, that has been true for a very long time within the American discourse.  Vast amounts of our modern discourse have been driven by false or mistaken belief. Examples:Was Barack Obama born in Kenya? It seems rather clear that he wasn’t, but millions of people seemed to believe that he actually was. With Greta Van Susteren serving as his caddy,  Donald J. Trump pimped that notion on Fox for years.Is the theory of  climate change really a hoax? Is it a hoax invented by the Chinese? We’d score those as  mistaken beliefs. But Trump and others have pushed such claims, and many people believe them. Indeed, the second of Acosta’s three respondents said he believes that Covid-19 is itself a hoax! He seems to be taking his beliefs from the lunatic QAnon crowd.In the politics of the past three or four decades, many false and mistaken beliefs have come from sources on the right. But other false and mistaken beliefs have come from the mainstream press:Did Al Gore said he invented the Internet? Do we “now know” that Gennifer Flowers was telling the truth all along?These claims were pushed by upper-end stars at the New York Times and the Washington Post. Many people believed those claims. We’d score them as false beliefs. (As first lady, did Hillary Clinton engage in seances? That came from top journalists too!)Our world is clogged with mistaken belief which arrives from the right. That said, our own self-impressed liberal/progressive tribe is rich with false belief too.Anthropologists have explained all this, though they’ve only done so in the future. They’ve said that we humans are really “the tribal animal.” We’re the animal which invents and repeats pleasing tribal tales.These experts say that our own liberal tribe is currently sunk in false, mistaken and extremely shaky belief. They say that people in the other tribe can sometimes  see this about our tribe, but that we ourselves pretty much can’t.They say that we (self-described) humans are wired that way. It’s the way things have always been.What happens when we humans try to create true belief? Tomorrow, we’ll look in on two New York Times stars as they try to handle some data. On Friday, we’ll take you to the origin point of the modern liberal framework:It all began with a flat misstatement in the New York Times. On line, to this very day, the misstatement stands uncorrected!Future Anthropologists Huddled in Caves, a collection of highly credentialed scholars, report to us from the future through the mysterious nocturnal submissions the haters refer to as dreams. These despondent experts moan about our own tribe’s current conduct.On Friday, we’ll start sharing their claims. It all began in the Times, they insist, as weeping is heard in their caves.Tomorrow: Douthat and Leonhardt tried

  • ‘Internationalism or Extinction’? Global Coalition Invites Progressives Worldwide to Attend Inaugural Summit
    on September 16, 2020 at 15:09

    Kenny Stancil, staff writer”The Progressive International is convening this emergency summit… to map our current crisis, to reclaim our shared future, and to strengthen our planetary front to do so.”

  • Biden Republicans Are a Political Illusion
    by Jeet Heer on September 16, 2020 at 14:43

    Jeet Heer The Democrats have tried hard to gain the love of disaffected conservatives—but now face diminishing returns. The post Biden Republicans Are a Political Illusion appeared first on The Nation.

  • Here Are the 50 ‘Most Egregious’ Ways Trump Has Attacked Workers While Falsely Claiming to Be Their Champion
    on September 16, 2020 at 14:30

    Jessica Corbett, staff writer”The administration has systematically promoted the interests of corporate executives and shareholders over those of working people and failed to protect workers’ safety, wages, and rights.”

  • ‘Everyone in America Should Be Outraged’: McConnell Quietly Rams Through More Lifetime Trump Judges While Blocking Covid Relief
    on September 16, 2020 at 14:19

    Jake Johnson, staff writer”It’s outrageous that McConnell continues to prioritize the Trump court takeover amid the pandemic. Enough.”

  • Lawmakers Demand Probe into ‘Horrifying’ Allegations of Neglect, Mass Hysterectomies at ICE Detention Center
    on September 16, 2020 at 14:13

    Lisa Newcomb, staff writer”These allegations are part of a larger pattern of reproductive injustices conducted by ICE officials.”

  • Unequal Justice: Trump’s Supreme Takeover
    by Bill Blum on September 16, 2020 at 13:00

    If the President gets to appoint another SCOTUS judge, we’ll be paying the price for decades to come.

  • WATCH: Journalist Daniel Dale Rattles Off Must-See Fact-Check of Trump ‘Fire Hose of Lying’
    on September 16, 2020 at 12:30

    Jake Johnson, staff writer”There was just so much lying,” said Dale. “I have hours of fact-checking tonight to do because there is even more than this.”

  • Caution Ahead
    by Andrea Arroyo on September 16, 2020 at 12:30

    Andrea Arroyo Schools reopening present many challenges. The post Caution Ahead appeared first on The Nation.

  • Indigenous Activists Arrested and Held Incommunicado Following Border Wall Protest
    by Ryan Devereaux on September 16, 2020 at 11:09

    Two O’odham women arrested at the border were taken to a private prison where they were denied access to the outside world. The post Indigenous Activists Arrested and Held Incommunicado Following Border Wall Protest appeared first on The Intercept.

  • ‘Why Is He Trying So Hard to Keep It a Secret?’ Postal Service Sued Over Refusal to Release DeJoy Calendar
    on September 16, 2020 at 10:34

    Jake Johnson, staff writer”The public is entitled to see how he’s spending his time and who has been influencing his decisions.”

  • Un nuevo informe de ingeniería encuentra que se derrumbará el muro fronterizo financiado con fondos privados
    by por Jeremy Schwartz y Perla Trevizo on September 16, 2020 at 10:00

    por Jeremy Schwartz y Perla Trevizo ProPublica es un medio independiente y sin ánimo de lucro que produce periodismo de investigación en pro del interés público. Suscríbete para recibir sus historias en español por correo electrónico. Este artículo se publica en conjunto con The Texas Tribune, medio noticioso sin fines de lucro y no partidista que se dedica a informar y a colaborar con los texanos. Suscríbase a The Brief Weekly para mantenerse al día con su cobertura esencial de asuntos texanos. Read in English. No cabe duda de que la valla fronteriza construida con fondos privados sobre la ribera del Río Bravo se va a derrumbar. La cuestión es cuando. Ésa es la conclusión de un nuevo informe técnico sobre el proyecto presentado ante un tribunal federal la semana pasada. El informe es uno de dos estudios nuevos que se presentaron ante un tribunal federal la semana pasada, en los que se descubrieron múltiples deficiencias en la valla fronteriza de 3 millas que construyó este año Fisher Sand and Gravel, una empresa con sede en Dakota del Norte. Los informes confirman los reportajes anteriores de ProPublica y The Texas Tribune, en los que se informó que se podrían desplomar ciertas partes de la estructura debido a la erosión extensa si no se reparaban o recibían el mantenimiento adecuado. Fisher descartó las inquietudes como problemas que eran de esperarse al finalizar un proyecto de construcción de ese tipo. ProPublica is a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. Sign up to receive our biggest stories as soon as they’re published. Los donativos que financiaron parte de la valla fronteriza son el enfoque de una acusación en contra de los miembros de We Build the Wall (Nosotros Construimos el Muro), una organización sin fines de lucro que recaudó más de $25 millones para ayudar al presidente Donald Trump a construir un muro en la frontera. Steve Bannon, quien fuera estratega principal de Trump, junto con Brian Kolfage, fundador de We Build the Wall, y otras dos personas conectadas con la organización, fueron acusados de desviar los donativos recibidos para liquidar adeudos personales y financiar estilos de vida lujosos. Los cuatro, que enfrentan hasta 20 años de prisión por cada uno de los dos cargos impuestos, se declararon inocentes, y Bannon lo calificó como un complot para frenar la construcción del muro fronterizo. We Build the Wall, cuyo consejo directivo incluye partidarios de línea dura antiinmigrante como Bannon, Kris Kobach y Tom Tancredo, aportó $1.5 millones del costo de $42 millones al proyecto privado de la valla fronteriza al sur de Mission, Texas. El año pasado, esta organización sin fines de lucro también contrató a Fisher para que construyera un segmento de valla de media milla en Sunland Park, Nuevo México, en las afueras de El Paso. Tommy Fisher, presidente de la empresa e invitado frecuente en el noticiero Fox News, dijo que su valla en el Río Bravo era el “Lamborghini” de los muros fronterizos, y presumió que los métodos de su empresa ayudarían a Trump a lograr su objetivo de construir 500 millas de barreras nuevas a lo largo de la frontera antes del día de las elecciones. Sin embargo, uno de los ingenieros que revisó ambos informes de parte de ProPublica y The Texas Tribune, comparó la valla de Fischer con un Toyota Yaris usado. “Parece que están haciendo recortes en todas partes”, dijo Alex Mayer, profesor de ingeniería civil de la Universidad de Texas en El Paso. “No es un Lamborghini, es un auto usado de $500”. Desde que las empresas de Fischer comenzaron a construir la valla del Río Bravo, la administración de Trump les ha otorgado unos $2 mil millones en contratos federales para construir segmentos del muro fronterizo en otros lugares. Fisher aceptó la inspección como parte de las demandas judiciales que están en curso en contra de Fisher Sand and Gravel, y que fueron presentadas el año pasado por el Centro Nacional de las Mariposas (National Butterfly Center) y la Comisión Internacional de Límites y Aguas (International Boundary and Water Commission, IBWC). Ambos trataron de convencer a un juez federal para que detuviera la construcción del proyecto hasta que se pudieran determinar los impactos que tendría el muro en el Río Bravo, sin embargo no tuvieron éxito. Mark Tompkins, un ingeniero ambiental contratado por el refugio de fauna silvestre, indicó en su informe que las grietas y la extensa erosión ocurrieron después de varios eventos de lluvias fuertes, como el huracán Hanna en julio, pero que la valla aún no había pasado por una inundación del Río Bravo. “La valla privada de bolardos de Fisher Industries se derrumbará durante eventos extremos de alto flujo”, concluyó Tompkins, quien se especializa en la administración de recursos pluviales. Fisher Industries instaló un camino de 10 pies de ancho con superficie de piedras para ayudar a abordar los problemas de erosión y al mismo tiempo dar acceso a los agentes de la Patrulla Fronteriza cortesía de Fisher Industries “Cuando los eventos de flujo extremo, repletos de sedimento y escombros, socaven completamente los cimientos de la valla y produzcan espacios por debajo por donde fluya el agua, o provoquen el derrumbamiento de un segmento de valla hacia el río, ocurrirán eventos hidráulicos impredecibles y dañinos”, añadió el ingeniero en una declaración jurada que se presentó ante el tribunal. La valla enfrentará una batalla interminable contra la erosión, según los expertos, dada su cercanía al agua y debido al material arenoso y sedimentoso de la ribera del río. En el Valle del Río Bravo, el gobierno federal por lo general construye el muro varias millas tierra adentro y encima de diques existentes, debido en parte a las inquietudes relacionadas con la erosión. Un segundo informe, basado en una inspección geotécnica y estructural llevada a cabo por Millennium Engineers Group de Pharr, Texas —también contratados por el Centro Nacional de las Mariposas— mostró que la valla se encuentra estable por ahora, pero que enfrenta una gama de problemas. Estos incluyen la erosión del suelo en la ribera del río, ya que en algunas partes hay grietas con espacios de tres pies de ancho y una altura hasta la cintura, grietas en el concreto, errores de construcción, y lo que la firma concluyó que es material de construcción de baja calidad que se utilizó debajo de los cimientos de la valla. Los ingenieros de Millennium recomendaron que se coloque una cubierta de arcilla para proteger la ribera contra la erosión, además de un monitoreo más minucioso del proyecto. Concluyeron que: “comparada con la curva del río, la geografía de la ubicación del muro no es un lugar de construcción favorable para un desempeño a largo plazo”. De acuerdo con una copia del plan de operaciones y mantenimiento, Fisher Sand and Gravel planea inspeccionar la valla en forma trimestral, así como revisarla después de que ocurran tormentas fuertes. Para reducir el problema de erosión, la empresa también dijo que sembraría pastos que ayudarían a mantener la ribera arenosa del río en su lugar, y que añadiría una capa de piedras. La capa de tierra nueva también será “tratada y llevará semilla” para llenarla de vegetación. No obstante, Tompkins dijo que el plan de mantenimiento era “completamente inadecuado”, además de ser “un mecanismo peligroso y poco profesional para abordar el mantenimiento a largo plazo”. La semana pasada, Fisher dijo que no podía comentar acerca de los informes porque no los había recibido. Sin embargo, añadió que su empresa había reparado toda la erosión, en parte al añadir un camino de 10 pies de ancho con superficie de piedras para que la Patrulla Fronteriza pueda circular con sus vehículos. Indicó también que los encargados de su construcción utilizaron piedras lo suficientemente grandes para que no se desplazaran fácilmente. Fisher calcula que el proyecto costará hasta $150,000. “Al final de cuentas, si quieren seguridad en la frontera, tenemos que pensar fuera de lo normal”, dijo. “Me siento muy cómodo con lo que hemos hecho”. En julio, Fisher participó en un podcast presentado por Bannon, quien dijo que Fisher era “una especie de mentor”, quien “realmente me enseñó cómo se debe construir un muro”. Cuando se le preguntó acerca de las inquietudes de los ingenieros, las cuales Bannon dijo que eran parte de un “periodicazo”, Fisher comentó que eran “puros disparates”. “Invito a cualquiera de esos ingenieros que dijeron que esto se caería, ahí los veo la semana próxima… Si no saben de lo que están hablando, probablemente no deberían hablar”, agregó. “Está funcionando increíblemente bien. Solo hay que hacer un poco de mantenimiento para la erosión”. Sin embargo, los expertos dicen que las reparaciones que Fisher planea no son adecuadas. “A mi parecer, es como ponerle un curita a una herida abierta”, dijo Adriana E. Martínez, profesora de la Universidad del Sur de Illinois en Edwardsville y geomorfóloga que revisó los informes a nombre de ProPublica y The Texas Tribune. Los funcionarios de la Comisión Internacional de Límites han dicho que ellos también encontraron “erosión importante”, sin embargo, la portavoz Sally Spener dijo que ella no podía dar más detalles sobre el tema ni sobre los planes de mitigación, en virtud de la demanda que sigue pendiente. Este organismo binacional regula la construcción en la planicie de inundación entre México y Estados Unidos, ya que las estructuras pueden empeorar las inundaciones y alterar el curso del río, violando además los tratados internacionales sobre las aguas. Algunos funcionarios de la sección mexicana de la comisión han expresado su inquietud de que el muro obstruya el flujo del río o que se derrumbe por la fuerza del agua, dijo Spener. Trump trató de distanciarse de la valla privada después de que se publicaran los reportajes de ProPublica y el Tribune, diciendo que nunca había estado de acuerdo con este proyecto y que habían construido la valla para que él se viera mal. También volvió a distanciarse del proyecto y de We Build the Wall cuando se levantaron los cargos contra Bannon y los demás. “No me gustó cuando leí al respecto”, comentó. “Era para presumir y quizás para buscar fondos. Pero tendremos que ver qué sucede”. El pasado noviembre, varios representantes de We Build the Wall se reunieron con funcionarios de Aduanas y Protección Fronteriza (Customs and Border Protection, CBP) para hablar acerca de la donación del primer proyecto de muro fronterizo de la organización, un segmento de valla de media milla en Sunland Park, Nuevo México, en las afueras de El Paso. De acuerdo con un memorándum que obtuvo The Nation, CBP dijo que “había sido una reunión en general positiva”. Aun así, la agencia federal identificó varias inquietudes dentro del proyecto de Sunland Park, entre otras la posibilidad de que se requiriera una evaluación medioambiental y el hecho de que Fisher Industries había exagerado la velocidad con la que podría terminarlo. “Su desempeño en este proyecto pequeño muestra que podrían haber exagerado varias de sus declaraciones debido a su falta de experiencia con este tipo de trabajo”, de acuerdo al memorándum. Fisher ha dicho que quiere donarle la valla del Río Bravo al gobierno federal, aunque no está claro si el gobierno la aceptaría. Si no la donan, la valla probablemente incluirá una cuenta de impuestos considerable, ya que en un avalúo reciente del condado de Hidalgo se determinó que el terreno tiene un valor de $20 millones de dólares. Fisher dijo que su empresa pelearía ese avalúo. La última audiencia del tribunal relacionada con las demandas federales pendientes se llevó a cabo el 10 de septiembre. Traducción de Mati Vargas-Gibson y Mónica E. de León

  • The Stories We Tell About Class
    by Taliah Mancini on September 16, 2020 at 09:45

    Taliah Mancini A conversation with Eula Biss about the nature of work, leisure, consumption, and her new book Having and Being Had. The post The Stories We Tell About Class appeared first on The Nation.

  • California’s Desert Fauna Will Never Recover
    by Mike Davis on September 16, 2020 at 09:30

    Mike Davis Fire in the Anthropocene has become the environmental equivalent of nuclear war. The post California’s Desert Fauna Will Never Recover appeared first on The Nation.

  • ‘We Are Civilization’s Anchor. We Are the Compass for Humanity and Conscience.’
    by Aja Beech on September 16, 2020 at 09:15

    Aja Beech In the midst of death, thinking about life, art, the water’s edge, and Paul Robeson. The post ‘We Are Civilization’s Anchor. We Are the Compass for Humanity and Conscience.’ appeared first on The Nation.

  • A Movement for Housing Justice Is Camped Out on Philly Streets
    by Chris Gelardi on September 16, 2020 at 09:00

    Chris Gelardi Activists gather to protect encampments and demand that the city transfer buildings to a community land trust. The post A Movement for Housing Justice Is Camped Out on Philly Streets appeared first on The Nation.

  • Jails Are Designed to Keep Inmates Hidden
    by Hannah La Follette Ryan on September 16, 2020 at 09:00

    Hannah La Follette Ryan A photographic record of the Tombs, one of New York City’s most notorious detention complexes. The post Jails Are Designed to Keep Inmates Hidden appeared first on The Nation.

  • “He’s Describing a Massacre”: Trump Touts Herd Immunity Approach to Covid That Experts Warn Would Kill Millions
    on September 16, 2020 at 08:38

    Jake Johnson, staff writer”‘Herd immunity’ without a vaccine is deadly,” said one epidemiologist. “Trump’s idiocy on science is killing us.”

  • For Palestinians and Their Supporters, Arab-Israeli Pacts Are ‘A Stab in The Back’ Amid Ongoing Oppression
    on September 15, 2020 at 22:19

    Brett Wilkins, staff writerFrom the West Bank and Gaza to Washington, D.C. and beyond, Palestinians and their allies stress that only an end to Israel’s illegal occupation can bring peace to the Middle East. 

  • “He Just Empties You All Out”: Whistleblower Reports High Number of Hysterectomies at ICE Detention Facility
    by José Olivares on September 15, 2020 at 21:22

    “People ask you why I got a hysterectomy. I couldn’t explain it. The only thing I have to say is that I’m sorry.” The post “He Just Empties You All Out”: Whistleblower Reports High Number of Hysterectomies at ICE Detention Facility appeared first on The Intercept.

  • Did Trump know what he was talking about?
    by <b>bob somerby</b> on September 15, 2020 at 19:54

    TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 15, 2020Plus, Hillary Clinton’s seances:  Did Trump know what he was talking about when he spoke with Woodward?Everything is possible! In yesterday’s report, we posted the transcript of Woodward’s first blockbuster excerpt—an excerpt from a phone conversation on February 7. Trump said several things that day. Did he know what he was talking about? Also, is it possible that the commander was speaking in good faith?Liberals were asked to get excited about Woodward’s shocking excerpt. Just for the record, Woodward has constantly played it this way, with his books dating back to the time when he pretended that Hillary Clinton, then first lady, had been conducting seances with Eleanor Roosevelt—all so the great former journalist could sell a few million more books.Concerning the February 7 excerpt, you can actually hear the tape of (one small part of) what Donald Trump said. Somewhat hazily, Trump told Woodward that the new virus “goes through the air.” He said “that’s always tougher than the touch.” Beyond that, he seemed to say that the virus would kill five percent of people who became infected, as compared to a death rate of one percent with people who contract the flu. Did he know what he was talking about?  Was he speaking in good faith? Did his statistical claims make sense? We can’t answer those questions. Meanwhile, were his numbers in any way accurate? As far as we know, they were not.Was the commander repeating things he’d actually been told? We don’t know that either. Could it be that he really believed the pandemic was going to fizzle—Xi “is going to have it in good shape,” he told Woodward in that same excerpt—and he was creating a future tale in which he’d be cast as the hero after the virus withered away in April?Everything is possible! Also, given the craziness of the commander, none of this can necessarily be known.Regarding “through the air” versus “the touch,” the notion that the virus was transmitted that way was already being reported in major newspapers. Did Trump mean “airborne” as opposed to “droplets?” We have no idea. There is, of course, a very good chance that he too had no idea.Trump is an inveterate hustler. With respect to his endless books, Woodward has been similarly accused. The early excerpts from this book have allowed us to tell the story we like—We now know that he knew all along!—in the most simplistic way possibleThe second of last week’s blockbuster excerpts came from a telephone call on March 19. By now, Trump had panicked. He  had flipped from his earlier rosy public stance. By now, he had declared a national emergency and was talking about the need to take measures to avoid several million possible deaths.By now, the commander in chief was in panic mode. Here’s what he told Woodward that day in the excerpt we’ve been shown:TRUMP (3/19/20): Now it’s turning out, it’s not just old people, Bob. But just today and yesterday, some startling facts came out. It’s not just old, older—WOODWARD: Yes, exactly. TRUMP: Young people, too. Plenty of young people. We’re looking at what’s going on—WOODWARD: So, give me a moment of talking to somebody, going through this with Fauci or somebody who kind of—it caused a pivot in your mind. Because it’s clear just from what’s on the public record that you went through a pivot on this, to “Oh my God, the gravity is almost inexplicable and unexplainable!”TRUMP: Well, I think Bob really, to be honest with you—WOODWARD: Sure, I want you to be.TRUMP: I wanted to— I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down—WOODWARD: Yes.TRUMP: —because I don’t want to create a panic.We’d like to hear what was said after that. But in public, Trump was now in full panic mode, a stance he would soon abandon.(“It’s clear that you went through a pivot on this,” Woodward said. “Oh my god, the gravity!”)Whatever Woodward’s intentions may have been, his early excerpts allowed us to tell The Story We Like in the most simplistic way possible. Trump knew it was horrible all along, but he kept playing it down!As of March 19, Trump was actually talking disaster. Before too long, he flipped all the way back. Let’s crowd into all our churches to celebrate Easter Sunday!Meanwhile, and just for the record, Hillary Clinton didn’t conduct any seances during her years as first lady. On the brighter side, Woodward’s amusing promotional claim helped sell a large shitload of books.Everyone enjoyed the tale. As is the norm within the guild, everyone played along!

  • ICE Deported a Woman Who Accused Guards of Sexual Assault While the Feds Were Still Investigating the Incident
    by by Lomi Kriel on September 15, 2020 at 18:30

    by Lomi Kriel ProPublica is a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. Sign up to receive our biggest stories as soon as they’re published. This article is co-published with The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan local newsroom that informs and engages with Texans. Sign up for The Brief weekly to get up to speed on their essential coverage of Texas issues. The U.S. government late Monday deported a crucial witness in an ongoing investigation into allegations of sexual assault and harassment at an El Paso, Texas, immigrant detention center, the witness’s lawyers said. The 35-year-old woman has been held in the facility, which is overseen by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, for about a year and told lawyers about a “pattern and practice” of abuse there, including that guards systematically assaulted her and other detainees in areas that were not visible to security cameras. Several guards “forcibly” kissed her, and at least one touched her intimate parts, often as she was walking back from the medical unit to her barrack, according to her complaint filed with law enforcement agencies. “If she behaved,” she said one guard told her, “he would help her be released.” This story is part of a collaboration between ProPublica and the Texas Tribune. Learn more The Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General launched an investigation into the accusations after ProPublica and The Texas Tribune first reported them last month. At least two more women have since come forward with similar allegations of assault. The inspector general requested that ICE not deport the woman and the FBI interviewed the woman extensively, according to her lawyers. Her attorneys also sent a complaint to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas and the El Paso County District Attorney’s Office, warning of a potential criminal investigation. Those government agencies did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Jeanette Harper, a spokeswoman for the FBI’s El Paso office, said the agency’s policy prevents it from commenting on an ongoing investigation. She said the lead agency into the woman’s allegations is now the Justice Department’s Inspector General, which oversees accusations of civil rights abuses. That office did not immediately return a call seeking comment. Last Friday, lawyers filed a habeas petition in federal court asking that the woman be freed on supervised release and held in an immigrant shelter in El Paso. They said in an interview that guards and inmates had been making intimidating comments to her following her accusations and that she felt unsafe. She gave investigators a tour of the facility, showing where the assaults occurred in security camera blind spots, her lawyers said. Shortly after she quoted one guard telling her: “You need to watch out for yourself.” “Everybody knows, and it just made things very difficult for her,” said her lawyer, Linda Corchado. Three days after her habeas was filed, DHS’ inspector general reversed its earlier position and told ICE that the agency could deport the woman and investigators would further interview her by telephone from Mexico if necessary, her lawyers said. Within hours, she had been sent back even though she says she fears persecution from drug cartels there. A high-ranking cartel member sexually assaulted her and threatened her after she reported the attack to police, according to statements she gave the U.S. government. The government “allowed their most powerful witness to be deported,” Corchado said. “How can we possibly take this investigation seriously now or ever pretend that it ever was from the outset?” Ranjana Natarajan, who directs the Civil Rights Clinic at the University of Texas at Austin’s School of Law and who filed the woman’s habeas petition, wrote in an email that the government’s decision was “extremely disappointing.” The woman had waived her right to appeal her deportation in July, long before the allegations became public. She told ProPublica in a telephone interview last month that she worried about being targeted in the detention center for speaking up about the abuse. In August, her lawyers filed an application with ICE requesting the agency not remove her and that it release her until the investigation is complete. She could also qualify for a legal status known as a U visa, which is intended for immigrant victims of crime. Instead, the government deported her. “We hope that the government does not abandon its investigation of disturbing and egregious allegations of sexual misconduct at the El Paso detention center,” Natarajan said. ProPublica and the Tribune are not identifying the deported woman because she said she is a victim of sexual assault. She repeatedly told reporters, lawyers and investigators the same account, identifying the officers who abused her and other detainees. When she complained to a captain, she said he dismissed her. One officer who had assaulted her briefly disappeared from her area of the detention center only to later return, becoming “increasingly aggressive and intimidating.” She told lawyers that the same officer was still working in her area of the facility last week. “She has lived in constant panic that he may do something against her again,” according to her complaint. The allegations detailed by her and two other detainees in that filing also involved a lieutenant who detainees said was promoted even after women complained. At least one other woman was deported after a guard assaulted her, detainees told lawyers. A spokesperson for ICE has said that those allegations would be investigated, including by its Office of Professional Responsibility. The agency has “zero tolerance” for abuse, she wrote in an email last month. “When substantiated, appropriate action is taken.” A spokesperson for Global Precision Systems, a subsidiary of Bering Straits Native Corporation, which contracts with ICE to run the El Paso facility, has said that she could not comment on pending legal matters. The El Paso allegations are the latest instance of sexual abuse complaints related to detention centers run by ICE, which imprisoned an average of 50,000 immigrants daily across the country in 2019. Most are operated by contractors at taxpayer expense. Another woman also said she was repeatedly harassed while in the El Paso detention center and that guards continued to reach out to her even after she was released. She told ProPublica and the Tribune in a telephone interview that officers encouraged detainees to sign up for anti-anxiety pills because they oversee the dispensing of medication at night and have access to an enclosed off-camera area. “Most women who are still there are scared of saying anything,” she said. “You don’t know what they can do.” Do you have access to information about sexual assault or harassment in ICE detention centers? Email Here’s how to send tips and documents to ProPublica securely. For more coverage, read ProPublica’s previous reporting on immigration.

  • “Cover Up”: House Democrats Subpoena Documents That NLRB Refused to Share in Ethics Investigation
    by by Ian MacDougall on September 15, 2020 at 16:37

    by Ian MacDougall ProPublica is a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. Sign up to receive our biggest stories as soon as they’re published. House Democrats are set to issue a subpoena Tuesday to compel the National Labor Relations Board to hand over documents as part of an inquiry into potential ethical lapses at the board, according to congressional aides. The move, by Democrats on the House Committee on Education and Labor, marks a significant escalation of a long-running investigation and follows the repeated refusal by the NLRB’s chairman, John Ring, to produce the documents voluntarily. The subpoena demands that the labor board produce a set of documents linked to its efforts, under the Trump administration, to undo one of the landmark decisions of the Obama-era NLRB, which expanded worker protections by broadening what is called the “joint employer” rule. That decision left companies on the hook for labor law violations against workers not directly employed by them, like temp staff and employees of fast-food franchisees. It meant that a parent corporation like McDonald’s, one of the companies embroiled in litigation over the rule, could be held liable for a franchise owner’s wrongdoing, such as retaliating against workers for trying to unionize. That had implications for the profits of corporations that operate on a franchise model and for contract-staffing firms, like cleaning services. ProPublica is a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. Sign up to receive our biggest stories as soon as they’re published. House Democrats see the documents, which include ethics reviews written by NLRB lawyers, as key to addressing their concerns that the actions by the Trump-era NLRB — the agency made three separate attempts to overturn or undermine the Obama-era rule before succeeding — were tainted by conflicts of interest, as well as potential violations of federal contracting law. In a Sept. 1 letter to Ring, Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., who chairs the House Committee on Education and Labor, accused the labor board of obstructing his committee’s oversight efforts and suggested that its refusal to produce certain documents indicated that the NLRB has “something to hide.” (ProPublica obtained a copy of the letter, which has not been reported previously.) “The Committee is left to conclude that the NLRB’s sole motivation for refusing to produce requested documents is to cover up misconduct,” Scott wrote. In a statement provided by NLRB spokesman Edwin Egee, the board called the committee’s subpoena “unprecedented” and noted that the agency had allowed the committee’s staff to review some documents at its headquarters in an effort to accommodate the committee’s requests while also “protecting the Agency’s legitimate confidentiality interests.” Other documents, the statement said, were withheld to protect the board’s internal deliberative processes. The statement included a quote attributed to Ring, which said that the NLRB had been “fully cooperative,” accused the committee of seeking documents it “knows it is not entitled to” and called the subpoena “a made-up controversy solely for political theatre.” The statement is consistent with Ring’s position in earlier negotiations with the committee. In a May 14 phone call with Scott, described in his letter, Ring refused to turn over documents sought by the committee unless a federal judge ordered him to. As other House committees have seen firsthand in recent months, resort to the courts would likely leave the subpoena in limbo for months. This fight is likely to persist. Because NLRB board members serve fixed five-year terms, the agency’s Trump-appointed majority will remain in place until August 2021. The NLRB has experienced periods of intense congressional oversight in the past. During Obama’s first term, for example, the Democratic-run board faced wide-ranging document requests and subpoenas from House Republicans. Although the board withheld some documents, it willingly turned over tens of thousands of pages to congressional committees, according to Wilma Liebman, who served on the NLRB across three administrations, from 1997 through 2011. “We always thought that, as excruciating and time-consuming as it was, we had an obligation to comply with requests from Congress,” Liebman said. “They’re the source of our budget, for heaven’s sake.” The documents the board held back in the past, according to Liebman, contained records of its internal deliberations in ongoing cases — documents that, if disclosed, could confer an advantage on one party to a labor dispute. In its statement, the NLRB points to this precedent to justify refusing to turn over the documents sought by the House committee. But, Liebman said, the logic that supported withholding documents doesn’t apply to the current fight because this one centers on allegations of conflicts of interest. The House inquiry began after the NLRB’s first attempt to roll back the Obama-era expansion of the joint-employer rule, in a 2017 decision titled Hy-Brand Industrial Contractors. A Trump appointee named William Emanuel cast the deciding vote in that case — only to have the NLRB undo that vote after its inspector general and an ethics officer concluded that Emanuel should have recused himself because of the involvement of the law firm where he had previously worked, Littler Mendelson, in the Obama-era case it overturned. The new subpoena focuses on the unusual lengths the labor board’s Trump-appointed majority subsequently went to as it sought to get rid of the more expansive joint-employer rule. House Democrats argue those efforts raise additional ethical concerns. Starting in 2012, workers at McDonald’s franchises claimed they were fired or otherwise retaliated against for their involvement in protests seeking union representation and higher wages as part of the “Fight for $15” campaign. The Obama-era NLRB filed complaints not only against the franchise owners but also against McDonald’s itself, as a “joint employer” of the franchisees’ workers. But once Trump appointees took control of the NLRB, the agency went in a different direction. By the spring of 2018, the NLRB’s then-new general counsel, Peter Robb, reached a settlement viewed as favorable to McDonald’s and its franchisees. That summer, an administrative law judge rejected the settlement, noting that, among other defects, it largely sidestepped a core question — whether McDonald’s was a joint employer. McDonald’s appealed, and last December, the labor board reversed the judge’s decision and authorized the settlement, with Emanuel again casting the deciding vote in a 2-1 opinion. Representatives of McDonald’s workers had asked Emanuel to recuse himself, citing Littler Mendelson’s legal work for McDonald’s as the fast-food behemoth sought to help franchisees fend off the protests over wages and unionization. Emanuel declined to recuse himself, on the grounds that Littler Mendelson had never represented McDonald’s before the NLRB. (A hotline the law firm set up to field questions from franchise owners remained active as of Monday.) Emanuel explained in a footnote to the majority opinion in the McDonald’s case that he sought an opinion from the labor board’s ethics officer — a document that is among those subject to the impending subpoena — but did not disclose the ethics officer’s advice. The House committee has sought to review the ethics memorandum, in part, to determine whether Emanuel complied with its recommendations. Concerns among Democrats on the committee grew after the NLRB issued an unusual report on its recusal process last November, spurred by the earlier controversy around Hy-Brand. The report observed that a board member could “insist on participating” in a case, even when the ethics officer has determined that the member should be recused. Ring refused to give the House committee a copy of the ethics memorandum in the McDonald’s case, but he agreed to let committee staff review it at NLRB headquarters. But Ring added a new caveat: The House staffers could only view the ethics memorandum after the McDonald’s case was completed. That has yet to happen, because representatives of the workers involved asked the board to reconsider its December ruling. In his Sept. 1 letter, Scott described that condition as an “indication that the NLRB is attempting to cover up malfeasance or misfeasance.” The subpoena also seeks a separate set of documents. In September of 2018, the NLRB majority moved for a third time to curtail the Obama-era joint-employer rule, this time through a rulemaking process. The labor board hired a contractor to help it categorize comments submitted in response to the new rule it had proposed. As ProPublica reported last year, contracting documents indicated the temp staff might be involved in substantively assessing the comments, which could violate federal contracting rules. The labor board, which denied that the temp staff had handled any substantive work, refused to disclose documents showing how the contractors were instructed to categorize the comments, claiming they reflected the board’s internal deliberative processes and so were shielded from disclosure. The new subpoena seeks those documents as well as another ethics opinion provided to Emanuel. Emanuel had decided to participate in the rulemaking after the ethics opinion cleared him to do so. A more permissive conflict-of-interest standard applies to rulemaking, and critics, including one of Emanuel’s fellow NLRB members, voiced concerns that the labor board’s resort to that process aimed to circumvent recusal rules. “By pursuing rulemaking rather than adjudication,” the board member, an Obama appointee named Lauren McFerran, wrote in a dissent from the proposed rule, “the Board is perhaps able to avoid what might otherwise be difficult ethical issues.” When staffers on Scott’s committee reviewed the ethics opinion at NLRB headquarters, they found it lacked substantive analysis of those concerns and of how Emanuel’s earlier conflicts of interest affected them. “A more fulsome public examination of that opinion is in order,” Scott wrote in comments he and a Senate colleague submitted to the NLRB. The plea went unheeded, and the NLRB issued its employer-friendly rule in February.

  • How the United States Could End the War in Yemen
    by Edward Hunt on September 15, 2020 at 16:36

    It’s in our power to stop the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

  • Smoking Gun: Crisis? What Crisis?
    on September 15, 2020 at 16:00

    A timeline of the pandemic warning signs ignored by the Trump Administration.

  • Why Are Democratic Super PACs Wasting Millions?
    by Steve Phillips on September 15, 2020 at 15:53

    Steve Phillips There’s minimal oversight and accountability, inadequate use of data, and their leaders have little insight into the communities they’re targeting. The post Why Are Democratic Super PACs Wasting Millions? appeared first on The Nation.

  • ProPublica Investigation on Newark Hospital Transplant Team Wins Deadline Club Award
    by by ProPublica on September 15, 2020 at 15:41

    by ProPublica The New York City chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists announced that ProPublica’s reporting won the Deadline Club Award in the science, technology, medical or environmental reporting category. The awards, which recognize the best work produced by journalists and news organizations in the New York City area, recognized Caroline Chen’s investigation on how the heart transplant team at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center kept a vegetative patient on life support to boost its lagging survival rate. Co-published with New Jersey Advance Media and WNYC, Chen’s investigation found that Newark Beth Israel’s transplant team was determined to treat the patient, Darryl Young, aggressively without adequately consulting his family members or offering them the option of palliative care, which focuses on comfort. Young suffered brain damage during his heart transplant operation, and the medical team believed he would never wake up again, Chen’s reporting found. Yet the transplant director told staff to keep Young alive and avoid conversations with his family about his prognosis because of worries about the program’s survival rate, the proportion of people undergoing transplants who are still alive a year after their operations. Federal regulators focus on this statistic to evaluate — and sometimes penalize — transplant programs, giving hospitals across the country a reputational and financial incentive to game it. Newark Beth Israel’s one-year survival rate for heart transplants had dipped, and if Young were to die too soon, the program’s standing and even its own survival might be in jeopardy. In response to Chen’s article, multiple federal and state regulators started investigations, including the FBI, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the New Jersey Department of Health and the state’s Board of Medical Examiners. The hospital also hired independent consultants to conduct an internal review and placed Dr. Mark Zucker, director of the hospital’s heart and lung transplant programs, on administrative leave. Two other ProPublica projects were Deadline Club Award finalists. The “Trump, Inc.” podcast, a collaboration with WNYC, was a finalist for radio or audio investigative reporting. “The Real Bosses of New Jersey” from WNYC, a project of the ProPublica Local Reporting Network, was a finalist for business investigative reporting. See a list of all the 2019 Deadline Club Award winners here.

  • It’s Going to Be a Long November
    by Katrina vanden Heuvel on September 15, 2020 at 15:05

    Katrina vanden Heuvel A game plan for every election outcome this year.  The post It’s Going to Be a Long November appeared first on The Nation.

  • No Democrats Allowed: A Conservative Lawyer Holds Secret Voter Fraud Meetings With State Election Officials
    by by Mike Spies, Jake Pearson and Jessica Huseman on September 15, 2020 at 14:45

    by Mike Spies, Jake Pearson and Jessica Huseman ProPublica is a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. Sign up to receive our biggest stories as soon as they’re published. Starting in early spring, as the coronavirus took hold, a conservative lawyer at the forefront of raising alarms about voting by mail held multiple private briefings exclusively for Republican state election officials, according to previously unreported public records. The lawyer, the Heritage Foundation’s Hans von Spakovsky, is a leading purveyor of the notion that voter fraud is rampant, claims that have been largely discredited. Among the participants in these meetings has been an official from the office of Georgia’s secretary of state; the secretary, Brad Raffensperger, recently elevated concerns about voter fraud by contending that 1,000 Georgians had voted twice in elections this year. GOP congressional staffers and a Trump administration appointee have also joined in these meetings, which were open to officials from states across the country, including Missouri and Nevada, the records show. No Democratic state election officials appear to have been invited. This article is part of Electionland, ProPublica’s collaborative reporting project covering problems that prevent eligible voters from casting their ballots during the 2020 elections. Learn more The “goal” of the meetings, held remotely, is to “gather the chief state election officials together to strategize on advancing their shared goal of ensuring the integrity of the elections they administer in their home states,” an invitation to an early August event reads. Most of the states declined to comment on the meetings, and it’s not clear what specifically was discussed. Von Spakovsky is highly influential in conservative circles. He has sent invitees copies of his published essays pushing for in-person voting and culling voter rolls as absentee balloting expands amid the pandemic, a situation that von Spakovsky argued will “make fraud far easier.” The meetings come as voting access has become one of the central flashpoints of the upcoming presidential election. More Americans are expected to vote by mail this year than ever before because of the health risks posed by COVID-19. President Donald Trump has repeatedly and baselessly asserted that mail-in voting is rife with problems. Echoing von Spakovsky, he asserted on Twitter in July that the upcoming presidential vote will be the “most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history.” Experts have said voting by mail carries little risk of fraud. Since it is widely believed that more Democractic voters will vote by mail than Republicans, von Spakovsky’s proposals, if adopted, could suppress Democratic turnout in one of the most consequential presidential elections in a generation. Secretaries of state, who oversee statewide voting and work with county election officials, have broad leeway to act in ways that can limit or expand the franchise. While most are partisan elected officials, they are expected to carry out policies that benefit everyone. The Heritage Foundation did not make von Spakovsky available for an interview and didn’t address detailed questions about the meetings. In a statement, the nonprofit’s media director, Greg Scott, said election security was “crucial to our country’s future.” “The Heritage Foundation is committed to making sure elections are free and fair,” he said. “Every eligible voter’s vote should be counted and not canceled out by fraudulent acts.” The remote gatherings are an outgrowth of private, in-person meetings von Spakovsky has held with Republican election authorities each year since Trump took office, the records show. Participants have hailed from at least a dozen states, including battlegrounds like Ohio and Georgia. They typically dovetail with the national conference of secretaries of state in Washington, D.C., and take place at Heritage’s headquarters. Those pre-pandemic meetings did not primarily address voting by mail. Jonathan Diaz, a lawyer for the Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan voting rights group, said it’s one thing for von Spakovsky to make dubious claims of voter fraud in public but “another thing entirely for him to be circumventing official channels and making these presentations in private, where they’re not subject to public scrutiny.” Diaz added that election authorities need to be “transparent about the information they’re relying on to make decisions about the ballot.” Von Spakovsky in 2007 at a nomination hearing to serve on the Federal Election Commission. Douglas Graham/Roll Call/Getty Images Von Spakovsky has hosted at least two of these remote meetings in recent months. In April, there was an hourlong “Election Administration Forum Conference Call” that covered, in part, the expansion of mail-in voting and “ways to message these concerns to your constituents,” according to the invitation. The event included the ranking member of the U.S. House of Representatives committee that oversees elections and five staffers, one of whom went on to work for the Trump campaign two months later. An August meeting, conducted through a secure, virtual video conferencing platform, was scheduled to last for two hours, according to an invitation. A staffer from the Georgia secretary of state’s office participated in the April call. Before that, the secretary himself, Raffensperger, met with von Spakovsky in the summer of 2019 at Raffensperger’s request. At the Georgian Club in Atlanta, the two discussed a new law that involved replacing the state’s voting machines, according to Raffensperger’s deputy, Jordan Fuchs. That statute contributed to problems during what was widely viewed as a troubled June primary. This month, around the time Raffensperger went public about double voting concerns in his state, he also appealed a federal judge’s ruling that the state must count absentee ballots postmarked by Election Day, the kind of policy change von Spakovsky has argued Democrats are using to “game the system” ahead of November. “Hans, to our office, is the ultimate voter integrity activist,” Fuchs told ProPublica. While von Spakovsky “hasn’t driven any policy decisions” that have taken place under the secretary, Fuchs said that she briefed von Spakovsky on her office’s actions regarding double voting and absentee ballots. There are indications that von Spakovsky has been influential within the Trump administration as well. During the August virtual briefing, state election administrators were told that Cameron Quinn, a Department of Homeland Security official, would now be their “liaison to the election community,” according to emails that a participant from Washington state sent to his colleagues. Quinn has worked as an elections official in Virginia with von Spakovsky and has co-taught a law school course with him. During the meeting, she provided her cellphone number to the attendees. The announcement of her role apparently came as a surprise to Washington officials, including the state’s director of elections, the emails show. The director, a member of a five-person committee that regularly interacts with DHS over election security matters, told her colleagues that there is a point of contact within the agency — and it’s not Quinn. It turned out Quinn participated in the meeting without notifying her new boss beforehand, according to people familiar with the matter. Her appointment to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, a division within DHS that monitors election systems for foreign hacking attempts and communicates with state officials about them, had only been announced within the agency a day earlier, they said. It’s not clear whether Quinn is still in contact with state elections officials. A division spokeswoman confirmed Quinn was not yet an employee in the division at the time she participated in the meeting but declined to answer additional questions. Beyond Quinn, it’s not clear whether any executive branch officials have participated in von Spakovsky’s remote briefings. But in 2019, during his annual in-person gathering, the then-head of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, John Gore, and its chief of staff and counsel, Omeed Assefi, attended in their official capacities, according to an attendee list. The division is responsible for protecting the rights of voters. An agenda from the event shows that Gore and von Spakovsky led an hourlong discussion on “election reforms in the states and messaging and update on civil rights division, U.S. Department of Justice.” “This is highly inappropriate,” Vanita Gupta, who ran the division under President Barack Obama, told ProPublica. “That kind of closed-door session, where a head of the Civil Rights Division is secretly speaking about enforcement with partisan state officials, is unprecedented. The DOJ isn’t accountable to just one party.” Gore declined to comment on what took place at the event or if he’d attended other von Spakovsky meetings in the past as head of the Civil Rights Division. The Justice Department didn’t respond to questions about the Civil Rights Division’s involvement in the meeting or Gore’s presentation at the 2019 event. At the Heritage Foundation, von Spakovsky maintains a database of voter fraud cases and, emails show, regularly urges secretaries of state to contribute to it. At the moment, the database encompasses some 1,300 cases, stretching over a period that begins in 1982. As Reuters recently noted, billions of ballots were cast during that time. Von Spakovksy’s writings on voter fraud carry the veneer of academic research. But when he was questioned about his work in a trial two years ago, he testified that none of it has undergone the stringent vetting process of peer review. The judge in that case dismissed his testimony, saying it was “premised on several misleading and unsupported examples” and included “false assertions.” Before coming to the Heritage Foundation, von Spakovsky served on both the Federal Election Commission and in the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, where he drew scrutiny after approving a voter ID law in Georgia that a federal judge likened to a Jim Crow-style poll tax. In May 2017, Trump appointed von Spakovsky to a voter fraud commission that disbanded less than a year later without producing any evidence of voter fraud. Do you have access to information about efforts by outside groups seeking to influence how election officials will administer the vote on Nov. 3 that should be public? Email Mike Spies at, Jake Pearson at or Jessica Huseman at Here’s how to send tips and documents to ProPublica securely. Help us report on voting. Are you a voter? A poll worker? An election administrator? We want to hear from you about any problems you’re experiencing or witnessing in the voting process. Complete this form to share your election experience with us.

  • Still No Answers to Lawmakers’ Questions About Children Stuck in Psychiatric Hospitals
    by by Duaa Eldeib on September 15, 2020 at 14:41

    by Duaa Eldeib ProPublica Illinois is a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. Sign up to get weekly updates about our work. In a hearing Monday, Illinois lawmakers pressed officials with the state’s child welfare agency to answer the same question they asked two years ago: What is the agency doing to find homes for the growing number of children stuck in psychiatric hospitals after they have completed treatment? The questioning followed reporting Friday by ProPublica Illinois that the number of children in state care held in psychiatric hospitals after being cleared to leave has continued to increase, even though the state vowed to fix the problem in 2018. The rise began in 2015, when the number of psychiatric hospitalizations that went beyond medical necessity reached 246, from 88 the year before, ProPublica Illinois found. That number climbed to 301 in 2017. During the most recent fiscal year, which ended in June, it rose again, to 314, according to the Cook County public guardian’s office. Get stories about big issues that affect people living and working in the state of Illinois delivered straight to your inbox. “This has not gone away,” state Sen. Julie Morrison, a Democrat from Chicago’s northern suburbs, said during Monday’s Senate Human Services Committee hearing. Morrison, who chairs the committee, said after the hearing that she hasn’t seen any progress even though the agency has known about the problem for years. “It’s completely frustrating,” she said. “I know this is a difficult population, but this is the mission of this department — to help those children — and they’re not,” Morrison said. “The cost is human lives. Those children, some of them are really young, will never recover from what we are putting them through.” The chief deputy director of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, Derek Hobson, told lawmakers the agency’s clinical team reviews each child’s case in detail and has attempted to find them homes but has run into obstacles. DCFS has looked for creative solutions, from federal legislation that focuses on prevention and early intervention to community-based services, in hopes of addressing the persistent issue, Hobson said. The challenge has been compounded in recent months by an increase in the number of children who have entered state care just before or at the time they are cleared for discharge, he said. That number has grown, Hobson said, as resources have diminished. “This is challenging for us as a state,” Hobson said. “I’m not going to sugarcoat it. … We’re struggling with it on a daily basis.” The loss of hundreds of beds at residential treatment facilities and the loss of more than 2,000 foster homes in the past several years also has left the agency with far fewer placements for children, an agency spokesman said last week. Cook County Public Guardian Charles Golbert, who filed a class-action lawsuit in late 2018 on behalf of some of the children, said the youngest child held during the last fiscal year was a 3-year-old girl. On average, children spent at least 50 days at psychiatric hospitals beyond medical necessity, he said. The lawsuit is pending, and DCFS has said that the children are covered by a federal consent decree. Hobson said DCFS is working to expand the number of foster homes, including those that provide more specialized care. The agency also is looking for ways to increase placements at group homes and institutional programs. Thirty-six children are currently waiting at psychiatric hospitals for DCFS to find them a place to go, the agency said Monday. In June 2018, ProPublica Illinois published an investigation that revealed hundreds of children in state care were confined in psychiatric hospitals after they completed their treatment. In response, lawmakers called a hearing two months later, during which doctors and other experts testified that children suffered emotional and mental distress during the weeks or months their release was delayed. One doctor said some patients attacked their peers or employees as a way to get out of the hospital, even if it meant going to jail. Some children reported being abused at the hospitals as they waited to be placed. During Monday’s hearing, state Sen. Sara Feigenholtz asked what the agency is doing to recruit foster parents for the children, many of whom have complex mental and physical health needs. “Whatever is going on, it’s not working,” said Feigenholtz, a Chicago Democrat. “It didn’t work before COVID. It’s not working during COVID.” Both Feigenholtz and Morrison said if the agency has a plan to reduce the number of children held in hospitals beyond medical necessity, they have yet to see it. Feigenholtz said she wants the agency to establish benchmarks on moving the children out of the hospitals and increasing specialized foster care, then report back to legislators. “It feels like inertia, and the inertia is stunning,” Feigenholtz said after the hearing.

  • Trump’s Nevada Rally Is a Mockery to Millions
    by Sasha Abramsky on September 15, 2020 at 14:39

    Sasha Abramsky It flies in the face of CDC guidelines and insults all Americans who have sacrificed to slow the pandemic’s spread. The post Trump’s Nevada Rally Is a Mockery to Millions appeared first on The Nation.

  • The Police Are Lying in LA and the Media Is Falling for It—Again
    by Elie Mystal on September 15, 2020 at 14:38

    Elie Mystal In the wake of the brutal shooting of two police officers, the sheriff’s department is trying to fabricate a case against Black Lives Matter, and journalists are playing along. The post The Police Are Lying in LA and the Media Is Falling for It—Again appeared first on The Nation.

  • THE ROLE OF MISTAKEN BELIEF: Many people believe Donald Trump!
    by <b>bob somerby</b> on September 15, 2020 at 14:37

    TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 15, 2020But who do we liberals believe?:  What did Donald Trump think or believe, and when did he think or believe it?More specifically, what did he believe about the risks associated with the virus?A standard answer came into being after release of the first excerpts from Bob Woodward’s new book. Near the start of his new column, Paul Krugman presents that account:KRUGMAN (9/15/20): [C]onsider the large (and illegal) indoor rally Trump held Sunday in Nevada.Before the release of Bob Woodward’s new book, you might have argued that Trump doesn’t believe the science and didn’t realize that his event might well sicken and kill many people. But we now know that he’s well aware of the risks, and has been all along. He just doesn’t care.Do we “now know” that Trump “is well aware of the risks” to the people who attend his rallies? Do we now know that he “just doesn’t care?” We’d say that we do know those things—but also that we’ve known those things for a long time. We aren’t sure that we could deduce those facts from Trump’s remarks to Woodward back on February 7.On that day, Trump told Woodward that the virus was five times as deadly as even the most strenuous flu. The heroic commander told the scribe that the virus “is deadly stuff.”(In fairness, he also said this—he said he thought that President Xi was “going to have it in good shape.”) Did Trump believe the things he said to Woodward when he said them? If he did, what might this crazy, disordered person have come to believe the next day?Does a disordered person like Donald J. Trump ever really “believe” or “know” anything at all, in any conventional sense? And since he revels in misstatement, how can the rest of us actually know what the commander believes?How can we actually know what he thinks? This morning, we give you an answer.At his Nevada rally this past Sunday night, did Trump believe that people in the crowd could contract the virus and die? It seems fairly clear that he did believe that! As everyone with a TV machine has seen, he made these remarks to a local reporter in the aftermath of the event:SAUNDERS (9/14/20): Trump said in his interview with the [Las Vegas] Review-Journal that he is not afraid of getting the coronavirus from speaking at the indoor rally.“I’m on a stage and it’s very far away,” Trump said. “And so I’m not at all concerned.”“I’m more concerned about how close you are, to be honest,” Trump told a Review-Journal reporter who thought she was socially distanced.Later, when she told Trump she had tested negative earlier in the day, Trump mugged that he felt “100 percent better.”Assuming he wasn’t joking, Trump revealed what he thinks and believes in that real-time exchange. He said he thinks he was safe that night because he was at a substantial remove from the madding crowd. Plainly, this means that his supporters could contract the virus, and die, if they were part of that crowd.Elsewhere in this morning’s Times, Annie Karni lays out the obvious logic of Trump’s unguarded remarks. That said, it’s long been obvious that Donald J. Trump believes that the virus is deadly. We didn’t need any excerpts from Woodward’s book to say we “now knew” this fact. We’ve known that fact for a long time, based on the commander’s astonishing conduct.As has been widely reported, the commander has only interacted with other people after they’ve been tested for the virus. The obvious meaning of that procedure has always been perfectly clear.For that reason, something else has long been clear. It’s long been clear, if poorly explained, that the commander is willing to let his supporters get sick and die in service to his pursuit of re-election. That even holds for the top supporters who crowded onto the White House lawn to hear the commander’s masterful speech during the GOP convention. Granted, that was an outdoor event, but those believers sat together, crammed cheek to jowl, for something like three hours.What else have we long known from behavior like this? Presumably, we’ve known know that the commander is some version of a sociopath—or at least, we’ve known he behaves in precisely the ways a sociopath typically would.That said, we liberals rarely hear such matters discussed by the people we trust. Our journalists have agreed that such ruminations aren’t fit for human ears. Alas! We’re all at the mercy of the sources we trust in all such public discussion. This is also true when it comes to the promulgation of false and mistaken belief.Why in the world would Republican poobahs have sat on the White House lawn that night to hear the commander’s speech? On Sunday, why did thousands of people crowd into that Nevada hall at risk of illness and death?Tomorrow, we’ll return to the man who told CNN’s Jim Acosta that Covid-19 is a hoax designed to bring down the U.S. For background, see yesterday’s report.That particular Trump supporter seems to trust and believe the QAnon crowd. His false and mistaken belief may yet lead to his death.False and mistaken belief is amazingly widespread these days; it’s been so for many years. At present, some of our nation’s mistaken belief may even be coming to these shores straight outta Vladimir Putin! That said, our own tribe is drenched in mistaken belief too. It’s all a matter of who we tend to trust and believe.Our tribe has been running on mistaken fuel too? We’ll start to detail that state of affairs by the end of the week.Tomorrow: Powers assesses Acosta’s third respondent: “None of it makes sense.”

  • Refugees Face Fire and Terror in Greece
    by Jesse Rosenfeld on September 15, 2020 at 14:00

    Jesse Rosenfeld Burned out of their homes, they now confront tear gas from police, beatings by fascists, and threats of imprisonment by the government. The post Refugees Face Fire and Terror in Greece appeared first on The Nation.

  • Justice Finally Comes for Perpetrator in Thirty-Year-Old Crime
    by Frank Smyth on September 15, 2020 at 13:00

    One of those who ordered killings of Jesuit Priests in El Salvador convicted in Spanish court.

  • I Voted, I Voted.
    by Brian Stauffer on September 15, 2020 at 12:30

    Brian Stauffer Illegal illegal. The post I Voted, I Voted. appeared first on The Nation.

  • The Inner Lives of the Accused in Emma Cline’s ‘Daddy’
    by Lizzy Harding on September 15, 2020 at 09:45

    Lizzy Harding Her new story collection is of apiece with the writer’s interest in the minds of the guilty, the complicit, and the canceled. The post The Inner Lives of the Accused in Emma Cline’s ‘Daddy’ appeared first on The Nation.

  • Young, LGBTQ Voters of Color Could Swing This Election
    by DeAsia Paige on September 15, 2020 at 09:30

    DeAsia Paige They constitute a crucial voting bloc: About 9 million LGBTQ adults are eligible to vote, and nearly half of them are under age 35. The post Young, LGBTQ Voters of Color Could Swing This Election appeared first on The Nation.

  • The Incantatory Power of Ayad Akhtar and Shahzia Sikander
    by Ayad Akhtar, Shahzia Sikander on September 15, 2020 at 09:00

    Ayad Akhtar, Shahzia Sikander The two artistic geniuses—a novelist and a visual artist—discuss US politics, Islamophobia, and their recent work. The post The Incantatory Power of Ayad Akhtar and Shahzia Sikander appeared first on The Nation.

  • Climate Change Will Force a New American Migration
    by by Abrahm Lustgarten, photography by Meridith Kohut on September 15, 2020 at 09:00

    by Abrahm Lustgarten, photography by Meridith Kohut ProPublica is a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. Sign up to receive our biggest stories as soon as they’re published. This article, the second in a series on global migration caused by climate change, is a result of a partnership between ProPublica and The New York Times Magazine, with support from the Pulitzer Center. August besieged California with a heat unseen in generations. A surge in air conditioning broke the state’s electrical grid, leaving a population already ravaged by the coronavirus to work remotely by the dim light of their cellphones. By midmonth, the state had recorded possibly the hottest temperature ever measured on earth — 130 degrees in Death Valley — and an otherworldly storm of lightning had cracked open the sky. From Santa Cruz to Lake Tahoe, thousands of bolts of electricity exploded down onto withered grasslands and forests, some of them already hollowed out by climate-driven infestations of beetles and kiln-dried by the worst five-year drought on record. Soon, California was on fire. Over the next two weeks, 900 blazes incinerated six times as much land as all the state’s 2019 wildfires combined, forcing 100,000 people from their homes. Three of the largest fires in history burned simultaneously in a ring around the San Francisco Bay Area. Another fire burned just 12 miles from my home in Marin County. I watched as towering plumes of smoke billowed from distant hills in all directions and air tankers crisscrossed the skies. Like many Californians, I spent those weeks worrying about what might happen next, wondering how long it would be before an inferno of 60-foot flames swept up the steep, grassy hillside on its way toward my own house, rehearsing in my mind what my family would do to escape. But I also had a longer-term question, about what would happen once this unprecedented fire season ended. Was it finally time to leave for good? I had an unusual perspective on the matter. For two years, I have been studying how climate change will influence global migration. My sense was that of all the devastating consequences of a warming planet — changing landscapes, pandemics, mass extinctions — the potential movement of hundreds of millions of climate refugees across the planet stands to be among the most important. I traveled across four countries to witness how rising temperatures were driving climate refugees away from some of the poorest and hottest parts of the world. I had also helped create an enormous computer simulation to analyze how global demographics might shift, and now I was working on a data-mapping project about migration here in the United States. So it was with some sense of recognition that I faced the fires these last few weeks. In recent years, summer has brought a season of fear to California, with ever-worsening wildfires closing in. But this year felt different. The hopelessness of the pattern was now clear, and the pandemic had already uprooted so many Americans. Relocation no longer seemed like such a distant prospect. Like the subjects of my reporting, climate change had found me, its indiscriminate forces erasing all semblance of normalcy. Suddenly I had to ask myself the very question I’d been asking others: Was it time to move? Firefighter Zach Leisure working to contain the Ranch 2 Fire near Azusa last month. Meridith Kohut for The New York Times I am far from the only American facing such questions. This summer has seen more fires, more heat, more storms — all of it making life increasingly untenable in larger areas of the nation. Already, droughts regularly threaten food crops across the West, while destructive floods inundate towns and fields from the Dakotas to Maryland, collapsing dams in Michigan and raising the shorelines of the Great Lakes. Rising seas and increasingly violent hurricanes are making thousands of miles of American shoreline nearly uninhabitable. As California burned, Hurricane Laura pounded the Louisiana coast with 150-mile-an-hour winds, killing at least 25 people; it was the 12th named storm to form by that point in 2020, another record. Phoenix, meanwhile, endured 53 days of 110-degree heat — 20 more days than the previous record. For years, Americans have avoided confronting these changes in their own backyards. The decisions we make about where to live are distorted not just by politics that play down climate risks, but also by expensive subsidies and incentives aimed at defying nature. In much of the developing world, vulnerable people will attempt to flee the emerging perils of global warming, seeking cooler temperatures, more fresh water and safety. But here in the United States, people have largely gravitated toward environmental danger, building along coastlines from New Jersey to Florida and settling across the cloudless deserts of the Southwest. I wanted to know if this was beginning to change. Might Americans finally be waking up to how climate is about to transform their lives? And if so — if a great domestic relocation might be in the offing — was it possible to project where we might go? To answer these questions, I interviewed more than four dozen experts: economists and demographers, climate scientists and insurance executives, architects and urban planners, and ProPublica mapped out the danger zones that will close in on Americans over the next 30 years. The maps for the first time combined exclusive climate data from the Rhodium Group, an independent data-analytics firm; wildfire projections modeled by United States Forest Service researchers and others; and data about America’s shifting climate niches, an evolution of work first published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences last spring. (A detailed analysis of the maps is available here.) What I found was a nation on the cusp of a great transformation. Across the United States, some 162 million people — nearly 1 in 2 — will most likely experience a decline in the quality of their environment, namely more heat and less water. For 93 million of them, the changes could be particularly severe, and by 2070, our analysis suggests, if carbon emissions rise at extreme levels, at least 4 million Americans could find themselves living at the fringe, in places decidedly outside the ideal niche for human life. The cost of resisting the new climate reality is mounting. Florida officials have already acknowledged that defending some roadways against the sea will be unaffordable. And the nation’s federal flood-insurance program is for the first time requiring that some of its payouts be used to retreat from climate threats across the country. It will soon prove too expensive to maintain the status quo. Residents of Azusa watching the Ranch 2 Fire. Meridith Kohut for The New York Times Then what? One influential 2018 study, published in the Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, suggests that 1 in 12 Americans in the Southern half of the country will move toward California, the Mountain West or the Northwest over the next 45 years because of climate influences alone. Such a shift in population is likely to increase poverty and widen the gulf between the rich and the poor. It will accelerate rapid, perhaps chaotic, urbanization of cities ill-equipped for the burden, testing their capacity to provide basic services and amplifying existing inequities. It will eat away at prosperity, dealing repeated economic blows to coastal, rural and Southern regions, which could in turn push entire communities to the brink of collapse. This process has already begun in rural Louisiana and coastal Georgia, where low-income and Black and Indigenous communities face environmental change on top of poor health and extreme poverty. Mobility itself, global-migration experts point out, is often a reflection of relative wealth, and as some move, many others will be left behind. Those who stay risk becoming trapped as the land and the society around them ceases to offer any more support. There are signs that the message is breaking through. Half of Americans now rank climate as a top political priority, up from roughly one-third in 2016, and 3 out of 4 now describe climate change as either “a crisis” or “a major problem.” This year, Democratic caucusgoers in Iowa, where tens of thousands of acres of farmland flooded in 2019, ranked climate second only to health care as an issue. A poll by researchers at Yale and George Mason universities found that even Republicans’ views are shifting: 1 in 3 now thinks climate change should be declared a national emergency. Policymakers, having left America unprepared for what’s next, now face brutal choices about which communities to save — often at exorbitant costs — and which to sacrifice. Their decisions will almost inevitably make the nation more divided, with those worst off relegated to a nightmare future in which they are left to fend for themselves. Nor will these disruptions wait for the worst environmental changes to occur. The wave begins when individual perception of risk starts to shift, when the environmental threat reaches past the least fortunate and rattles the physical and financial security of broader, wealthier parts of the population. It begins when even places like California’s suburbs are no longer safe. It has already begun. Pedro Delgado harvesting a cob of blue corn that grew without kernels at Ramona Farms in Pinal County, Arizona, last month. Meridith Kohut for The New York Times Let’s start with some basics. Across the country, it’s going to get hot. Buffalo, New York, may feel in a few decades like Tempe, Arizona, does today, and Tempe itself will sustain 100-degree average summer temperatures by the end of the century. Extreme humidity from New Orleans to northern Wisconsin will make summers increasingly unbearable, turning otherwise seemingly survivable heat waves into debilitating health threats. Fresh water will also be in short supply, not only in the West but also in places like Florida, Georgia and Alabama, where droughts now regularly wither cotton fields. By 2040, according to federal government projections, extreme water shortages will be nearly ubiquitous west of Missouri. The Memphis Sands Aquifer, a crucial water supply for Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas and Louisiana, is already overdrawn by hundreds of millions of gallons a day. Much of the Ogallala Aquifer — which supplies nearly a third of the nation’s irrigation groundwater — could be gone by the end of the century. It can be difficult to see the challenges clearly because so many factors are in play. At least 28 million Americans are likely to face megafires like the ones we are now seeing in California, in places like Texas and Florida and Georgia. At the same time, 100 million Americans — largely in the Mississippi River Basin from Louisiana to Wisconsin — will increasingly face humidity so extreme that working outside or playing school sports could cause heatstroke. Crop yields will be decimated from Texas to Alabama and all the way north through Oklahoma and Kansas and into Nebraska. The challenges are so widespread and so interrelated that Americans seeking to flee one could well run into another. I live on a hilltop, 400 feet above sea level, and my home will never be touched by rising waters. But by the end of this century, if the more extreme projections of 8 to 10 feet of sea-level rise come to fruition, the shoreline of San Francisco Bay will move 3 miles closer to my house, as it subsumes some 166 square miles of land, including a high school, a new county hospital and the store where I buy groceries. The freeway to San Francisco will need to be raised, and to the east, a new bridge will be required to connect the community of Point Richmond to the city of Berkeley. The Latino, Asian and Black communities who live in the most-vulnerable low-lying districts will be displaced first, but research from Mathew Hauer, a sociologist at Florida State University who published some of the first modeling of American climate migration in the journal Nature Climate Change in 2017, suggests that the toll will eventually be far more widespread: Nearly 1 in 3 people here in Marin County will leave, part of the roughly 700,000 who his models suggest may abandon the broader Bay Area as a result of sea-level rise alone. From Maine to North Carolina to Texas, rising sea levels are not just chewing up shorelines but also raising rivers and swamping the subterranean infrastructure of coastal communities, making a stable life there all but impossible. Coastal high points will be cut off from roadways, amenities and escape routes, and even far inland, saltwater will seep into underground drinking-water supplies. Eight of the nation’s 20 largest metropolitan areas — Miami, New York and Boston among them — will be profoundly altered, indirectly affecting some 50 million people. Imagine large concrete walls separating Fort Lauderdale, Florida, condominiums from a beachless waterfront, or dozens of new bridges connecting the islands of Philadelphia. Not every city can spend $100 billion on a sea wall, as New York most likely will. Barrier islands? Rural areas along the coast without a strong tax base? They are likely, in the long term, unsalvageable. In all, Hauer projects that 13 million Americans will be forced to move away from submerged coastlines. Add to that the people contending with wildfires and other risks, and the number of Americans who might move — though difficult to predict precisely — could easily be tens of millions larger. Even 13 million climate migrants, though, would rank as the largest migration in North American history. The Great Migration — of 6 million Black Americans out of the South from 1916 to 1970 — transformed almost everything we know about America, from the fate of its labor movement to the shape of its cities to the sound of its music. What would it look like when twice that many people moved? What might change? Americans have been conditioned not to respond to geographical climate threats as people in the rest of the world do. It is natural that rural Guatemalans or subsistence farmers in Kenya, facing drought or scorching heat, would seek out someplace more stable and resilient. Even a subtle environmental change — a dry well, say — can mean life or death, and without money to address the problem, migration is often simply a question of survival. By comparison, Americans are richer, often much richer, and more insulated from the shocks of climate change. They are distanced from the food and water sources they depend on, and they are part of a culture that sees every problem as capable of being solved by money. So even as the average flow of the Colorado River — the water supply for 40 million Western Americans and the backbone of the nation’s vegetable and cattle farming — has declined for most of the last 33 years, the population of Nevada has doubled. At the same time, more than 1.5 million people have moved to the Phoenix metro area, despite its dependence on that same river (and the fact that temperatures there now regularly hit 115 degrees). Since Hurricane Andrew devastated Florida in 1992 — and even as that state has become a global example of the threat of sea-level rise — more than 5 million people have moved to Florida’s shorelines, driving a historic boom in building and real estate. Similar patterns are evident across the country. Census data shows us how Americans move: toward heat, toward coastlines, toward drought, regardless of evidence of increasing storms and flooding and other disasters. Homes being rebuilt near Coffey Park, the California community that was ravaged during the Tubbs Fire in Santa Rosa. Smoke filled the air as a construction crew worked and wildfires raged nearby. Meridith Kohut for The New York Times The sense that money and technology can overcome nature has emboldened Americans. Where money and technology fail, though, it inevitably falls to government policies — and government subsidies — to pick up the slack. Thanks to federally subsidized canals, for example, water in part of the Desert Southwest costs less than it does in Philadelphia. The federal National Flood Insurance Program has paid to rebuild houses that have flooded six times over in the same spot. And federal agriculture aid withholds subsidies from farmers who switch to drought-resistant crops, while paying growers to replant the same ones that failed. Farmers, seed manufacturers, real estate developers and a few homeowners benefit, at least momentarily, but the gap between what the climate can destroy and what money can replace is growing. Perhaps no market force has proved more influential — and more misguided — than the nation’s property-insurance system. From state to state, readily available and affordable policies have made it attractive to buy or replace homes even where they are at high risk of disasters, systematically obscuring the reality of the climate threat and fooling many Americans into thinking that their decisions are safer than they actually are. Part of the problem is that most policies look only 12 months into the future, ignoring long-term trends even as insurance availability influences development and drives people’s long-term decision-making. Even where insurers have tried to withdraw policies or raise rates to reduce climate-related liabilities, state regulators have forced them to provide affordable coverage anyway, simply subsidizing the cost of underwriting such a risky policy or, in some cases, offering it themselves. The regulations — called Fair Access to Insurance Requirements — are justified by developers and local politicians alike as economic lifeboats “of last resort” in regions where climate change threatens to interrupt economic growth. While they do protect some entrenched and vulnerable communities, the laws also satisfy the demand of wealthier homeowners who still want to be able to buy insurance. At least 30 states, including Louisiana, Massachusetts, North Carolina and Texas, have developed so-called FAIR plans, and today they serve as a market backstop in the places facing the highest risks of climate-driven disasters, including coastal flooding, hurricanes and wildfires. In an era of climate change, though, such policies amount to a sort of shell game, meant to keep growth going even when other obvious signs and scientific research suggest that it should stop. That’s what happened in Florida. Hurricane Andrew reduced parts of cities to landfill and cost insurers nearly $16 billion in payouts. Many insurance companies, recognizing the likelihood that it would happen again, declined to renew policies and left the state. So the Florida Legislature created a state-run company to insure properties itself, preventing both an exodus and an economic collapse by essentially pretending that the climate vulnerabilities didn’t exist. As a result, Florida’s taxpayers by 2012 had assumed liabilities worth some $511 billion — more than seven times the state’s total budget — as the value of coastal property topped $2.8 trillion. Another direct hurricane risked bankrupting the state. Florida, concerned that it had taken on too much risk, has since scaled back its self-insurance plan. But the development that resulted is still in place. On a sweltering afternoon last October, with the skies above me full of wildfire smoke, I called Jesse Keenan, an urban-planning and climate-change specialist then at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, who advises the federal Commodity Futures Trading Commission on market hazards from climate change. Keenan, who is now an associate professor of real estate at Tulane University’s School of Architecture, had been in the news last year for projecting where people might move to — suggesting that Duluth, Minnesota, for instance, should brace for a coming real estate boom as climate migrants move north. But like other scientists I’d spoken with, Keenan had been reluctant to draw conclusions about where these migrants would be driven from. Last fall, though, as the previous round of fires ravaged California, his phone began to ring, with private-equity investors and bankers all looking for his read on the state’s future. Their interest suggested a growing investor-grade nervousness about swiftly mounting environmental risk in the hottest real estate markets in the country. It’s an early sign, he told me, that the momentum is about to switch directions. “And once this flips,” he added, “it’s likely to flip very quickly.” Cassidy Plaisance surveying what was left of her friend’s home in Lake Charles, Louisiana, after Hurricane Laura. Meridith Kohut for The New York Times In fact, the correction — a newfound respect for the destructive power of nature, coupled with a sudden disavowal of Americans’ appetite for reckless development — had begun two years earlier, when a frightening surge in disasters offered a jolting preview of how the climate crisis was changing the rules. On Oct. 9, 2017, a wildfire blazed through the suburban blue-collar neighborhood of Coffey Park in Santa Rosa, California, virtually in my own backyard. I awoke to learn that more than 1,800 buildings were reduced to ashes, less than 35 miles from where I slept. Inchlong cinders had piled on my windowsills like falling snow. The Tubbs Fire, as it was called, shouldn’t have been possible. Coffey Park is surrounded not by vegetation but by concrete and malls and freeways. So insurers had rated it as “basically zero risk,” according to Kevin Van Leer, then a risk modeler from the global insurance liability firm Risk Management Solutions. (He now does similar work for Cape Analytics.) But Van Leer, who had spent seven years picking through the debris left by disasters to understand how insurers could anticipate — and price — the risk of their happening again, had begun to see other “impossible” fires. After a 2016 fire tornado ripped through northern Canada and a firestorm consumed Gatlinburg, Tennessee, he said, “alarm bells started going off” for the insurance industry. What Van Leer saw when he walked through Coffey Park a week after the Tubbs Fire changed the way he would model and project fire risk forever. Typically, fire would spread along the ground, burning maybe 50% of structures. In Santa Rosa, more than 90% had been leveled. “The destruction was complete,” he told me. Van Leer determined that the fire had jumped through the forest canopy, spawning 70-mile-per-hour winds that kicked a storm of embers into the modest homes of Coffey Park, which burned at an acre a second as homes ignited spontaneously from the radiant heat. It was the kind of thing that might never have been possible if California’s autumn winds weren’t getting fiercer and drier every year, colliding with intensifying, climate-driven heat and ever-expanding development. “It’s hard to forecast something you’ve never seen before,” he said. For me, the awakening to imminent climate risk came with California’s rolling power blackouts last fall — an effort to preemptively avoid the risk of a live wire sparking a fire — which showed me that all my notional perspective about climate risk and my own life choices were on a collision course. After the first one, all the food in our refrigerator was lost. When power was interrupted six more times in three weeks, we stopped trying to keep it stocked. All around us, small fires burned. Thick smoke produced fits of coughing. Then, as now, I packed an ax and a go-bag in my car, ready to evacuate. As former Gov. Jerry Brown said, it was beginning to feel like the “new abnormal.” It was no surprise, then, that California’s property insurers — having watched 26 years’ worth of profits dissolve over 24 months — began dropping policies, or that California’s insurance commissioner, trying to slow the slide, placed a moratorium on insurance cancellations for parts of the state in 2020. In February, the Legislature introduced a bill compelling California to, in the words of one consumer advocacy group, “follow the lead of Florida” by mandating that insurance remain available, in this case with a requirement that homeowners first harden their properties against fire. At the same time, participation in California’s FAIR plan for catastrophic fires has grown by at least 180% since 2015, and in Santa Rosa, houses are being rebuilt in the very same wildfire-vulnerable zones that proved so deadly in 2017. Given that a new study projects a 20% increase in extreme-fire-weather days by 2035, such practices suggest a special form of climate negligence. It’s only a matter of time before homeowners begin to recognize the unsustainability of this approach. Market shock, when driven by the sort of cultural awakening to risk that Keenan observes, can strike a neighborhood like an infectious disease, with fear spreading doubt — and devaluation — from door to door. It happened that way in the foreclosure crisis. Keenan calls the practice of drawing arbitrary lending boundaries around areas of perceived environmental risk “bluelining,” and indeed many of the neighborhoods that banks are bluelining are the same as the ones that were hit by the racist redlining practice in days past. This summer, climate-data analysts at the First Street Foundation released maps showing that 70% more buildings in the United States were vulnerable to flood risk than previously thought; most of the underestimated risk was in low-income neighborhoods. Such neighborhoods see little in the way of flood-prevention investment. My Bay Area neighborhood, on the other hand, has benefited from consistent investment in efforts to defend it against the ravages of climate change. That questions of livability had reached me, here, were testament to Keenan’s belief that the bluelining phenomenon will eventually affect large majorities of equity-holding middle-class Americans too, with broad implications for the overall economy, starting in the nation’s largest state. Under the radar, a new class of dangerous debt — climate-distressed mortgage loans — might already be threatening the financial system. Lending data analyzed by Keenan and his co-author, Jacob Bradt, for a study published in the journal Climatic Change in June shows that small banks are liberally making loans on environmentally threatened homes, but then quickly passing them along to federal mortgage backers. At the same time, they have all but stopped lending money for the higher-end properties worth too much for the government to accept, suggesting that the banks are knowingly passing climate liabilities along to taxpayers as stranded assets. Once home values begin a one-way plummet, it’s easy for economists to see how entire communities spin out of control. The tax base declines and the school system and civic services falter, creating a negative feedback loop that pushes more people to leave. Rising insurance costs and the perception of risk force credit-rating agencies to downgrade towns, making it more difficult for them to issue bonds and plug the springing financial leaks. Local banks, meanwhile, keep securitizing their mortgage debt, sloughing off their own liabilities. Keenan, though, had a bigger point: All the structural disincentives that had built Americans’ irrational response to the climate risk were now reaching their logical endpoint. A pandemic-induced economic collapse will only heighten the vulnerabilities and speed the transition, reducing to nothing whatever thin margin of financial protection has kept people in place. Until now, the market mechanisms had essentially socialized the consequences of high-risk development. But as the costs rise — and the insurers quit, and the bankers divest, and the farm subsidies prove too wasteful, and so on — the full weight of responsibility will fall on individual people. And that’s when the real migration might begin. As I spoke with Keenan last year, I looked out my own kitchen window onto hillsides of parkland, singed brown by months of dry summer heat. This was precisely the land that my utility, Pacific Gas & Electric, had three times identified as such an imperiled tinderbox that it had to shut off power to avoid fire. It was precisely the kind of wildland-urban interface that all the studies I read blamed for heightening Californians’ exposure to climate risks. I mentioned this on the phone and then asked Keenan, “Should I be selling my house and getting — ” He cut me off: “Yes.” Senior citizens at a cooling center in Phoenix last month during Arizona’s record-setting heat wave. Meridith Kohut for The New York Times Americans have dealt with climate disaster before. The Dust Bowl started after the federal government expanded the Homestead Act to offer more land to settlers willing to work the marginal soil of the Great Plains. Millions took up the invitation, replacing hardy prairie grass with thirsty crops like corn, wheat and cotton. Then, entirely predictably, came the drought. From 1929 to 1934, crop yields across Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri plunged by 60%, leaving farmers destitute and exposing the now-barren topsoil to dry winds and soaring temperatures. The resulting dust storms, some of them taller than skyscrapers, buried homes whole and blew as far east as Washington. The disaster propelled an exodus of some 2.5 million people, mostly to the West, where newcomers — “Okies” not just from Oklahoma but also Texas, Arkansas and Missouri — unsettled communities and competed for jobs. Colorado tried to seal its border from the climate refugees; in California, they were funneled into squalid shanty towns. Only after the migrants settled and had years to claw back a decent life did some towns bounce back stronger. The places migrants left behind never fully recovered. Eighty years later, Dust Bowl towns still have slower economic growth and lower per capita income than the rest of the country. Dust Bowl survivors and their children are less likely to go to college and more likely to live in poverty. Climatic change made them poor, and it has kept them poor ever since. A Dust Bowl event will most likely happen again. The Great Plains states today provide nearly half of the nation’s wheat, sorghum and cattle and much of its corn; the farmers and ranchers there export that food to Africa, South America and Asia. Crop yields, though, will drop sharply with every degree of warming. By 2050, researchers at the University of Chicago and the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies found, Dust Bowl-era yields will be the norm, even as demand for scarce water jumps by as much as 20%. Another extreme drought would drive near-total crop losses worse than the Dust Bowl, kneecapping the broader economy. At that point, the authors write, “abandonment is one option.” Projections are inherently imprecise, but the gradual changes to America’s cropland — plus the steady baking and burning and flooding — suggest that we are already witnessing a slower-forming but much larger replay of the Dust Bowl that will destroy more than just crops. In 2017, Solomon Hsiang, a climate economist at the University of California, Berkeley, led an analysis of the economic impact of climate-driven changes like rising mortality and rising energy costs, finding that the poorest counties in the United States — mostly across the South and the Southwest — will in some extreme cases face damages equal to more than a third of their gross domestic products. The 2018 National Climate Assessment also warns that the U.S. economy over all could contract by 10%. That kind of loss typically drives people toward cities, and researchers expect that trend to continue after the COVID-19 pandemic ends. In 1950, less than 65% of Americans lived in cities. By 2050, only 10% will live outside them, in part because of climatic change. By 2100, Hauer estimates, Atlanta, Orlando, Houston and Austin could each receive more than a quarter million new residents as a result of sea-level displacement alone, meaning it may be those cities — not the places that empty out — that wind up bearing the brunt of America’s reshuffling. The World Bank warns that fast-moving climate urbanization leads to rising unemployment, competition for services and deepening poverty. A woman lost consciousness in a parking lot in Lake Charles after Hurricane Laura left her without electricity or air conditioning for several days. Meridith Kohut for The New York Times So what will happen to Atlanta — a metro area of 5.8 million people that may lose its water supply to drought and that our data also shows will face an increase in heat-driven wildfires? Hauer estimates that hundreds of thousands of climate refugees will move into the city by 2100, swelling its population and stressing its infrastructure. Atlanta — where poor transportation and water systems contributed to the state’s C+ infrastructure grade last year — already suffers greater income inequality than any other large American city, making it a virtual tinderbox for social conflict. One in 10 households earns less than $10,000 a year, and rings of extreme poverty are growing on its outskirts even as the city center grows wealthier. Atlanta has started bolstering its defenses against climate change, but in some cases this has only exacerbated divisions. When the city converted an old Westside rock quarry into a reservoir, part of a larger greenbelt to expand parkland, clean the air and protect against drought, the project also fueled rapid upscale growth, driving the poorest Black communities further into impoverished suburbs. That Atlanta hasn’t “fully grappled with” such challenges now, said Na’Taki Osborne Jelks, chair of the West Atlanta Watershed Alliance, means that with more people and higher temperatures, “the city might be pushed to what’s manageable.” So might Philadelphia, Chicago, Washington, Boston and other cities with long-neglected systems suddenly pressed to expand under increasingly adverse conditions. Erika González and her son, Kevin, evacuating their home in Sonoma County, California, as the LNU Lightning Complex Fire approached in August. Meridith Kohut for The New York Times Once you accept that climate change is fast making large parts of the United States nearly uninhabitable, the future looks like this: With time, the bottom half of the country grows inhospitable, dangerous and hot. Something like a tenth of the people who live in the South and the Southwest — from South Carolina to Alabama to Texas to Southern California — decide to move north in search of a better economy and a more temperate environment. Those who stay behind are disproportionately poor and elderly. In these places, heat alone will cause as many as 80 additional deaths per 100,000 people — the nation’s opioid crisis, by comparison, produces 15 additional deaths per 100,000. The most affected people, meanwhile, will pay 20% more for energy, and their crops will yield half as much food or in some cases virtually none at all. That collective burden will drag down regional incomes by roughly 10%, amounting to one of the largest transfers of wealth in American history, as people who live farther north will benefit from that change and see their fortunes rise. The millions of people moving north will mostly head to the cities of the Northeast and Northwest, which will see their populations grow by roughly 10%, according to one model. Once-chilly places like Minnesota and Michigan and Vermont will become more temperate, verdant and inviting. Vast regions will prosper; just as Hsiang’s research forecast that Southern counties could see a tenth of their economy dry up, he projects that others as far as North Dakota and Minnesota will enjoy a corresponding expansion. Cities like Detroit; Rochester, New York; Buffalo and Milwaukee will see a renaissance, with their excess capacity in infrastructure, water supplies and highways once again put to good use. One day, it’s possible that a high-speed rail line could race across the Dakotas, through Idaho’s up-and-coming wine country and the country’s new breadbasket along the Canadian border, to the megalopolis of Seattle, which by then has nearly merged with Vancouver to its north. Sitting in my own backyard one afternoon this summer, my wife and I talked through the implications of this looming American future. The facts were clear and increasingly foreboding. Yet there were so many intangibles — a love of nature, the busy pace of life, the high cost of moving — that conspired to keep us from leaving. Nobody wants to migrate away from home, even when an inexorable danger is inching ever closer. They do it when there is no longer any other choice. Al Shaw contributed reporting. Clarification, Sept. 16, 2020: This article was updated to clarify that the mapping of danger zones was done by ProPublica staff.

  • New Climate Maps Show a Transformed United States
    by by Al Shaw, Abrahm Lustgarten, ProPublica, and Jeremy W. Goldsmith, special to ProPublica on September 15, 2020 at 09:00

    by Al Shaw, Abrahm Lustgarten, ProPublica, and Jeremy W. Goldsmith, special to ProPublica According to new data from the Rhodium Group analyzed by ProPublica and The New York Times Magazine, warming temperatures and changing rainfall will drive agriculture and temperate climates northward, while sea level rise will consume coastlines and dangerous levels of humidity will swamp the Mississippi River valley. Taken with other recent research showing that the most habitable climate in North America will shift northward and the incidence of large fires will increase across the country, this suggests that the climate crisis will profoundly interrupt the way we live and farm in the United States. See how the North American places where humans have lived for thousands of years will shift and what changes are in store for your county. ProPublica is a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. Sign up to receive our biggest stories as soon as they’re published.

  • Trump Supporters Need a Reality Check
    by Tom Tomorrow on September 15, 2020 at 09:00

    Tom Tomorrow Climate change, racism, and mail-in voting are all conspiracies, I guess? The post Trump Supporters Need a Reality Check appeared first on The Nation.

  • As nuances do Brasil sob Bolsonaro: o ódio é volátil – e eleitores mudam de opinião
    by Rosana Pinheiro-Machado on September 15, 2020 at 04:15

    Muitos eleitores trocam de lado ao longo do tempo não por falta de coerência política, mas por que são sujeitos reflexivos. É nessas brechas que qualquer projeto de esquerda precisa atuar. The post As nuances do Brasil sob Bolsonaro: o ódio é volátil – e eleitores mudam de opinião appeared first on The Intercept.

  • Trump Scoffs at Plea to Take Climate Change Seriously Amid Fires, Mocks Science Instead
    by Robert Mackey on September 15, 2020 at 03:56

    Urged to slow the planet’s warming to save lives, the president said, “I don’t think science knows, actually.” The post Trump Scoffs at Plea to Take Climate Change Seriously Amid Fires, Mocks Science Instead appeared first on The Intercept.

  • A Slate of Insurgents Is Taking on the “Delaware Way” [Updated With Results]
    by Ryan Grim on September 15, 2020 at 00:37

    Delaware has evaded the national spotlight, but local progressives are vying to unseat Sen. Chris Coons and others down the ballot. The post A Slate of Insurgents Is Taking on the “Delaware Way” [Updated With Results] appeared first on The Intercept.

  • ‘O dilema das redes’: sair da internet não vai salvar a internet
    by Tatiana Dias on September 14, 2020 at 20:56

    Documentário no Netflix escancara o problema da tecnologia. Mas qual a solução? The post ‘O dilema das redes’: sair da internet não vai salvar a internet appeared first on The Intercept.

  • Emails Show the Meatpacking Industry Drafted an Executive Order to Keep Plants Open
    by by Michael Grabell and Bernice Yeung on September 14, 2020 at 18:43

    by Michael Grabell and Bernice Yeung ProPublica is a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. Sign up to receive our biggest stories as soon as they’re published. In late April, as COVID-19 raced through meatpacking plants sickening and killing workers, President Donald Trump issued a controversial executive order aimed at keeping the plants open to supply food to American consumers. It was a relief for the nation’s meatpackers who were being urged, or ordered, to suspend production by local health officials worried about the spread of the coronavirus. But emails obtained by ProPublica show that the meat industry may have had a hand in its own White House rescue: Just a week before the order was issued, the meat industry’s trade group drafted an executive order that bears striking similarities to the one the president signed. ProPublica is a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. Sign up to receive our biggest stories as soon as they’re published. The draft that Julie Anna Potts, the president of the North American Meat Institute, sent to top officials at the U.S. Department of Agriculture was written using the framework of an official executive order and stressed the importance of the food supply chain and how outbreaks had reduced production — themes later addressed in the president’s order. It invoked the president’s powers under a Korean War-era law known as the Defense Production Act and proposed that the president make a simple and straightforward proclamation: “I hereby order that critical infrastructure food companies continue their operations to the fullest extent possible.” Highlights added by ProPublica What happened next within the USDA and White House isn’t clear from the records. The USDA declined to answer questions, and the White House did not respond to requests for comment. But while the final wording wasn’t verbatim, Trump’s order emphasized the points the industry had proposed and furthered the same goal, directing the agriculture secretary to take action “to ensure that meat and poultry processors continue operations.” The order provided a lifeline for meatpacking companies stressed by dozens of plant closures, severe staffing shortages and supply chain disruptions that would cause fast food restaurants to run out of hamburgers and grocery stores to ration meat purchases. But it has also generated significant criticism from labor unions and Democratic senators who said it prioritized the bottom line of the nation’s meatpackers over the health of their workers. The executive order effectively provided a justification, sanctioned by the White House, for meat companies to continue operations even as tens of thousands of the industry’s workers contracted the disease. “It certainly gives rise to at least the appearance of favoritism that the executive order was done not because the White House thought it was the right thing to do but because they were getting pressure from outside groups that wanted it done,” said Stephen Vladeck, a constitutional law professor at the University of Texas at Austin. Highlights added by ProPublica In a statement, Potts said that the meat institute had been working as a liaison between the government and industry on many issues related to COVID-19. “Trade associations of all types routinely suggest legislative language, comment on proposed rules, and other provisions that are shared with the government,” she said. The documents obtained by ProPublica offer a rare look at the process of drafting an executive order and a glimpse into the meat industry’s influence and access to the highest levels of government. Such political support has been crucial for the industry, which had dismissed years of warnings from the federal government to plan for a pandemic, sowing chaos in rural communities as they battled local health departments over outbreaks in their plants. The draft executive order was one of hundreds of emails between the companies, industry groups and top officials at the USDA since March. Together, they show that throughout the coronavirus crisis, the meatpacking industry has repeatedly turned to the agency for help beating back local public health orders and loosening regulations to keep processing lines running. While special interest groups often submit draft legislation and regulations to policymakers, legal experts said executive orders are less common and aren’t subject to the same public scrutiny. In interviews, former White House lawyers from Democratic and Republican administrations said that there is great latitude in how executive orders are generated and it wasn’t unusual for private interest groups of all types to promote their causes by pushing for an executive order. It is also reasonable for the White House to seek input from outside entities during the process. But there would typically be an effort to consult a range of parties who might be affected by it before the order received legal scrutiny, they said. The quick seven-day turnaround, even amid an emergency like COVID-19, is notable, some said. “All policy is shaped by people who have a stake in it,” said Rakesh Kilaru, associate counsel and special assistant to President Barack Obama from 2015 to 2017. “But I can’t think of something that was so direct between the stakeholder asking for action and getting it.” Highlights added by ProPublica Jonathan Adler, a constitutional and administrative law professor at Case Western Reserve University, said there’s nothing “inherently inappropriate” about the industry helping to draft the order. “The concern is that, in a case like this, if the executive order is slanted to a particular interest rather than the public at large,” he said. The United Food and Commercial Workers union, which represents workers responsible for the majority of U.S. beef and pork production, said no one from the White House or the USDA sought its input before the executive order was issued. Mark Lauritsen, the UFCW’s director of food processing, packing and manufacturing, said he believes the Meat Institute “along with some of the other bigger players in the industry pulled every lever they could.” The order has been effective as a political tool because it is widely perceived to have far more legal force than it actually does. From a legal standpoint, the executive order gave Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue additional power to issue his own orders related to the food supply — something he hasn’t done. But many state and local health officials view the order as superseding their authority or decided to back off in the face of political pressure from the Trump administration. Within a week of the executive order, the USDA was working with companies and local health authorities to reopen shuttered plants. With workers back on the line, operations ramped up again. Pork production, for example, had fallen by more than half by the end of April, causing steep financial losses. But by early June, meatpacking plants were nearly back to capacity. Since the order, however, COVID-19 infections among meatpacking workers have multiplied. To date, there have been more than 43,000 cases and at least 195 deaths among meatpacking employees, according to data compiled by ProPublica from public health agencies and news reports. Documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show that almost from the start of the crisis, the meatpacking industry and the USDA were largely focused on how to keep workers on the line. Highlights added by ProPublica In March, governors across the country tried to stem the spread of COVID-19 with shelter-in-place orders, coming up with their own varied lists of essential industries. Companies were sometimes faced with unclear and conflicting directives. This was especially true in meatpacking, a highly consolidated industry where a handful of companies run multiple operations across the country with hundreds of employees working side by side. To seek clarity, 60 food and agricultural trade groups sent a letter on March 18 to federal, state and local officials asking for exemptions from curfews and public gathering bans so they could keep their businesses running. Copies of the letter were sent to the White House and members of Congress, and Tyson Foods circulated it among several governors. The next day, the Department of Homeland Security issued guidance and noted Trump’s previous comments that “if you work in a critical infrastructure industry, as defined by the Department of Homeland Security, such as healthcare services and pharmaceutical and food supply, you have a special responsibility to maintain your normal work schedule.” But the meatpacking companies soon found themselves facing another hurdle. By April, waves of workers who debone chickens or carve up pork elbow-to-elbow with their co-workers were falling ill from the virus. Some feared coming to work while others walked out of plants to protest the lack of infection control measures. With plant slowdowns came a backlog of pigs, cows and chickens waiting for slaughter. Millions of animals had to be euthanized. As some plants partially suspended operations or contemplated closing because of staffing shortages, Potts of the Meat Institute arranged an April 3 call between Perdue and top executives of major meatpacking firms Tyson, Smithfield Foods, Hormel, JBS, Seaboard and Cargill. Before the call, Potts emailed the USDA’s undersecretary for food safety, Mindy Brashears, with a list of discussion topics, including clear messaging that employees who failed to show up for work because they were scared would not qualify for unemployment benefits. “I want to re-emphasize that the slowdowns and shutdowns you heard described today are significant and getting worse each day,” Potts wrote in a follow-up email. “Hearing a strong and consistent message from the President or Vice President like that delivered by the Governor of Nebraska yesterday is vital: being afraid of COVID-19 is not a reason to quit your job and you are not eligible for unemployment compensation if you do.” Highlights added by ProPublica Two days later, the Labor Department, which had been hearing similar complaints from across the business community, issued guidance clarifying that workers who quit to avoid contracting the disease wouldn’t receive jobless benefits. As outbreaks overwhelmed hospitals in April, pressure from local public officials grew, leading to the rapid-fire closures of some of the nation’s largest slaughterhouses. The threat of closure led the meatpacking industry to ramp up its efforts to seek intervention not only from the USDA but from other government officials as well. Emails obtained by ProPublica show that as state and local health officials sought to order JBS to shut down its Greeley, Colorado, plant, the company appealed to Gov. Jared Polis and then to Vice President Mike Pence. State health director Jill Hunsaker Ryan told the head of the county Health Department that she had received a call from Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “JBS was in touch with the VP who had Director Redfield call me,” she wrote in an email, first reported by The Denver Post. “They want us to use CDC’s critical infrastructure guidance, (sending asymptomatic people back to work even if we suspect exposure but they have no symptoms) even with the outbreak at present level.” JBS said that it reached out to Pence because it was “receiving guidance from local authorities that conflicted with federal CDC guidance,” but that it ultimately agreed to shut down the plant to “stop any potential chain of infection.” Tyson and National Beef made similar appeals to the Kansas Department of Agriculture when the state Health Department wanted workers to stay off the line for two weeks if they had come in contact with a positive COVID-19 case, public records first reported by The Kansas City Star and The Wichita Eagle show. The state’s secretary of agriculture coordinated with meat companies and the director of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, who then agreed to follow the less-strict CDC guidance. Despite these varied efforts to keep plants open, absenteeism and public health orders continued to cripple production lines. Government experts had long predicted a pandemic would cause food shortages. And those worst-case scenarios were now playing out. The major meat and agriculture trade groups, including the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the Meat Institute, wanted the White House to get directly involved in preventing plant closures. In an April 17 letter to Trump, they detailed the disruptions caused by plant closures and the inconsistency of health and safety actions from state to state — a point later echoed in the executive order. “To ensure livestock producers, poultry growers, and all food processors and their workers can continue to feed the nation,” they wrote, “we respectfully request you emphasize the importance of allowing critical infrastructure food companies to responsibly and safely continue their operations to the fullest extent possible without undue disruption.” For emphasis, Potts of the Meat Institute followed up with an email to Stephen Censky, the USDA’s deputy secretary, who led the American Soybean Association before joining the Trump administration. She attached the letter to Trump and added, “The situation is continuing to get worse and worse at the local level (it’s hard to overstate how dire it is) and I want to explore with you what might be possible as a tool to help.” Early the next morning, Potts had a call with top officials from the USDA, and shortly after 9 a.m., she sent them an email, writing: “Attached is a draft EO for consideration.” Highlights added by ProPublica The records don’t include a reply, and White House and internal deliberative agency conversations are exempt from public records laws, making it difficult to verify how much or little influence the meat industry’s draft had on the final executive order. But over the next week, the drumbeat for action on behalf of the food and agriculture sector continued. Governors from the poultry producing states of Delaware, Maryland and Virginia wrote to Trump asking for the designation of one federal agency to lead on COVID-19 and poultry workers, access to protective equipment and financial relief for farmers and companies. Industry representatives convened a call with the USDA, the Food and Drug Administration and DHS about the impending disaster facing farmers, who would need to mass euthanize their animals if plants remained shuttered. In that conversation, utilizing the Defense Production Act was discussed, according to an industry representative on the call. Tyson took out a full-page ad in major newspapers to warn that the food supply chain was breaking. Even on the day the executive order was issued, there was still a flurry of activity to get the White House to help the meat industry. That afternoon, records show, the director of the Washington office for North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper forwarded a letter from pork producers to his counterparts in Michigan, Illinois, Minnesota, Colorado and Pennsylvania to ask their opinion on it and whether their governors were going to sign on. The draft letter, addressed to Pence, asks for his help in invoking the Defense Production Act to assist in “the humane euthanasia of animals,” to indemnify farmers and pork producers and to “utilize every authority available to keep plants open.” A representative from Michigan said her state would pass, noting the lack of worker protection language in the letter, while an aide to Pennsylvania’s governor cited the need for “advocacy on behalf of all sectors.” On April 28, a week after Potts sent the suggested language for an executive order, Trump issued the “Executive Order on Delegating Authority Under the DPA with Respect to Food Supply Chain Resources During the National Emergency Caused by the Outbreak of COVID-19.” Trump’s final order reflects what the meat industry had been requesting for weeks as the pandemic had unfolded: “It is important that processors of beef, pork, and poultry (‘meat and poultry’) in the food supply chain continue operating and fulfilling orders to ensure a continued supply of protein for Americans.” It also notes that “recent actions in some States have led to the complete closure of some large processing facilities” and that such closures “threaten the continued functioning of the national meat and poultry supply chain, undermining critical infrastructure during the national emergency.” The order invokes the Defense Production Act and orders the agriculture secretary to “take all appropriate action under that section to ensure that meat and poultry processors continue operations consistent with the guidance for their operations jointly issued by the CDC” and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. It had immediate effect. In June, the Bear River Health Department in northern Utah, where nearly 400 JBS workers have tested positive for COVID-19, told the press it couldn’t shut the plant down because of the executive order. In Virginia, state health officials had initially recommended that poultry companies close their plants for two weeks, “allowing deep cleaning and allowing symptomatic and asymptomatic infected workers to run their course of disease and recover,” records obtained under a separate public records request show. But the state backed off “to maintain the critical food production infrastructure.” Meanwhile, meat companies and their trade groups continued to seek help from the USDA when public health officials tried to take action. The day after the executive order was announced, the National Chicken Council wrote to the USDA with complaints that the county Health Department in Chattanooga, Tennessee, was requiring testing of all employees at poultry plants in the area. This would have the effect of closing down the plants, the trade group warned, because they were already short-staffed and testing could cause fear among the remaining workers. Weeks later, the Chicken Council wrote that local officials were threatening plant closures and issuing public notices because they believed the plants were “operating with an imminent health hazard.” “We want to push back on 100% testing and would like your assistance,” the trade group wrote. The Chicken Council didn’t return calls or emails seeking comment. Smithfield also went to the USDA for help dealing with a local public Health Department in Kane County, Illinois, which had closed the plant days before Trump’s executive order was issued. “The Kane County Illinois health department continues to be a challenge regarding our St. Charles processing facility,” Michael Skahill, Smithfield’s vice president of government affairs, wrote to Brashears, the USDA’s undersecretary for food safety. “I really did not want to have to get you involved but it has now come to the point where we need you to referee.” Asked why it had gone to the USDA to intervene, Keira Lombardo, Smithfield’s executive vice president for corporate affairs, said: “We are a leading American agriculture company. Considering that fact, why wouldn’t we engage with the United States Department of Agriculture amid an unprecedented pandemic?” Two days after Skahill’s plea for help, Smithfield continued to press the issue. Amy McClure, Smithfield’s associate general counsel, wrote to Brashears again, this time citing a central tenet of the executive order. “To reiterate our conversation, our St. Charles plant in Kane County, Illinois is in an urgent situation,” McClure wrote. “We need to reopen to prevent further disruption in the nation’s food supply.” Six hours later, Brashears and her chief of staff received a grateful email from Skahill. “Thank you for your support today with the Smithfield St. Charles Kane County issue,” he wrote. “I think we have a resolution that will allow us to process next week and put protein on America’s table.” Do you have access to information about COVID-19’s spread in the meatpacking industry or the government’s response that should be public? Email or Here’s how to send tips and documents to ProPublica securely. Mollie Simon and Claire Perlman contributed reporting. Graphics by Moiz Syed.

  • Treat the Disabled as People, Not Automatic Heroes
    by Erica Mones on September 14, 2020 at 18:10

    Having a disability is not an excuse for bad behavior.

  • What Trump actually said to Woodward!
    by <b>bob somerby</b> on September 14, 2020 at 17:43

    MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 14, 2020Let’s take a look at the record:  How dumb can our public discourse get?Our public discourse can get so dumb that the exchange shown below can occur. On yesterday’s Meet the Press, NBC’s Chuck Todd was speaking with RNC chairperson Ronna McDaniel.This exchange occurred:TODD (9/14/20): You just said that the WHO didn’t do enough to warn the world of a pandemic. The president of the United States has admitted that he’s purposely downplaying the severity of this virus to not panic the public. So both of your statements can’t be true.MCDANIEL: No, Chuck, he’s not. He’s saying he’s trying not to panic—TODD: He said that.MCDANIEL: No, he’s saying he wasn’t going to create a panic.Each person spoke in the present tense about a statement made in March. That said, when Todd said that Trump has admitted downplaying the virus to avoid creating a panic, McDaniel quickly responded by saying no, he was trying to avoid a panic!Last Wednesday, Bob Woodward released the excerpts which have launched a thousand faulty exchanges. Let’s back up a bit and say this:As of early March, Trump was making crazy statements about the virus on a daily basis.  This occurred night after night, week after week, for several months. Narcoleptic “journalists” slept through these nightly press events as the commander expounded and blathered in the craziest possible ways. No statement was dumb enough to rouse them. We’d finally found the “potted plants” of the old Ollie North era.How much worse did Woodward’s excerpts actually make this matter? Trump’s statements on February 7 have been taken to show that he always knew, that he knew all along, how bad the situation was.Given how crazy the gentleman is, we aren’t fully sure that’s true. But any such discussion has to start with an accurate transcript of the actual comments under review. Here’s what the commander said:WOODWARD (2/7/20): And so what was President Xi saying yesterday?TRUMP: Oh, we were talking mostly about the virus, and I think he is going to have it in good shape. But you know, it’s a very tricky situation.It’s the—it goes— It goes through air, Bob. That’s always tougher than the touch. You know, the touch, you don’t have to touch things, right? But the air, you just breathe the air and that’s how it’s passed.And so that’s a very tricky one. That’s a very delicate one.It’s also more deadly than your—you know, your, even your strenuous flus.You know, people don’t realize—we lose 25,000 to 30,000 people a year here. Who would ever think that, right?WOODWARD: I know. It’s much forgotten—TRUMP: I mean, it’s pretty amazing.WOODWARD: What are you able to do for—TRUMP: This is more deadly. This is five per— You know, this is five percent versus one percent and less than one percent. You know, so this is deadly stuff.Speaking with his usual mastery, Trump said the virus “goes through the air.” He said “that’s always tougher than the touch.”He also seemed to say that the death rate from contracting the virus would be something like five times the death rate from contracting even a “strenuous” flu. (Presumably, that’s what he meant.)Did Trump know what he was talking about when he made those statements? We can’t quite answer that.Was Trump ever asked, in subsequent calls, if he stood by that early “death rate” assessment? Did Woodward ever ask him why he wasn’t making such statements in public? Why he seemed to be contradicting that early assessment in his endless public remarks?We’ve seen no one ask about Woodward’s subsequent follow-up or lack of same. People have asked why Woodward didn’t report that first assessment offered by Trump. We’ve seen no one ask if Woodward ever asked Trump if he stood by his earlier statements.At any rate, there you see the transcript. You’ll note that Trump didn’t use the semi-technical term “airborne” about the way the virus spreads. Instead, he offered a somewhat odd contrast between “through the air” versus “the touch.”You’ll also note that the commander said that President Xi would have this dangerous virus under control. Is there any chance that he actually believed that assessment at that point? Is it possible that he believed the various crazy things he later said in public?We’ve seen no one ask.For ourselves, we regard the commander in chief as being essentially crazy. Wires are hanging loose in his head, as with other sociopaths.In the next few days, we’ll be looking at the conduct of the American press corps. Have the right questions been asked in the past few days? Were the right questions ever asked as our journalists snored and burbled through those lunatic press events during the past many months?Given the depth of our tribal divide, we’re past the point where good questions would be likely to help. But have the right questions ever been asked? Have they been asked in the past week?Remember, Trump wasn’t trying to avoid a panic—he was trying to avoid a panic! Along with several other things, that’s what McDaniel said.Tomorrow: The transcript from March 19

  • At Homeland Security, Anti-Muslim Activist Katharine Gorka Maintained Ties With Islamophobes
    by Alex Emmons on September 14, 2020 at 17:18

    Gorka worked on CVE programs, which have faced increased allegations of anti-Muslim bias under Trump, FOIA documents show. The post At Homeland Security, Anti-Muslim Activist Katharine Gorka Maintained Ties With Islamophobes appeared first on The Intercept.

  • A National Call to Remove Cops and Kochs from College Campuses
    by Eleanor J. Bader on September 14, 2020 at 16:01

    Student groups and university staff members across the country are demanding an end to on-campus policing and corrupt donor influence.

  • We’ve Entered the Era of ‘Branding for Black Lives’
    by Dave Zirin on September 14, 2020 at 16:00

    Dave Zirin Amid NFL-approved statements against racism, players fought to have a real message heard—and in another sport, a hero emerged. The post We’ve Entered the Era of ‘Branding for Black Lives’ appeared first on The Nation.

  • The Hospital System Sent Patients With Coronavirus Home to Die. Louisiana Legislators Are Demanding an Investigation.
    by by Annie Waldman and Joshua Kaplan on September 14, 2020 at 15:26

    by Annie Waldman and Joshua Kaplan ProPublica is a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. Sign up to receive our biggest stories as soon as they’re published. The Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus has called for an investigation into the practice of sending infected coronavirus patients into hospice facilities or back home to their families to die. The legislators’ demands follow reporting by ProPublica that found that while many hospitals around the country decided not to use home hospice care for coronavirus patients — due to the infectious nature of the disease and the unpredictable and sometimes difficult-to-control symptoms — Ochsner Health, the largest hospital network in Louisiana, sent COVID-19 patients in New Orleans home with hospice care. Several families said that Ochsner staff pressured them into discontinuing treatment, even as they pushed back. In the dozens of cases ProPublica examined, every patient who died after the hospital sent them home was Black. ProPublica is a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. Sign up to receive our biggest stories as soon as they’re published. “We have to make sure that we have a third party look at these things,” Louisiana state Sen. Troy Carter of New Orleans, a member of the caucus, told ProPublica. “We take this example and this opportunity to shine light on something that’s happening in real time, and we put in systems to make sure it never happens again — particularly when you have hospitals that receive state dollars.” Last Tuesday, Gov. John Bel Edwards met with members of the caucus, which includes 37 legislators, to discuss the findings of the article. Carter, who attended the meeting, said the governor and his staff were receptive to the caucus’s concerns. “They were very open and as eager to get to the bottom of this as we are,” Carter said. The governor’s office did not immediately respond to ProPublica’s questions about the inquiry. On Wednesday, the caucus sent a joint letter to the governor calling for a “full investigation” into the practices laid out in ProPublica’s reporting and citing “myriad of phone calls into [their] office.” In response to questions about the caucus’s letter, a spokesperson for Ochsner Health told ProPublica that it follows the guidance of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services when discussing end-of-life options. “Like other health systems in pandemic hot spots, we had patients who chose hospice care when leaving our facilities,” the spokesperson said. “Patients and their families make the choice that is best for them regarding hospice, including home hospice.” ProPublica analyzed data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the local coroner’s office and found that an abnormal number of elderly patients died at home in New Orleans. Nationally, coronavirus patients ages 85 and older died at home only 4% of the time. In New Orleans, it was 17%. ProPublica attempted to contact the families of everyone who died at home in the city through early May. These interviews revealed that before they died, about two dozen Black patients first sought care at a hospital, which then discharged them, in many cases sending them home to die with hospice care. The vast majority were sent by facilities owned by Ochsner Health. The families of eight patients told ProPublica that Ochsner staff pressured them into accepting hospice care for their loved ones who had COVID-19, even as some questioned or pushed back against the suggestion. Three families said they were told that there wasn’t enough space to continue treating the patient in the hospital, or that the hospital needed the bed for another patient. Once patients came home, family members said they did not receive protective gear from hospice companies, and several told ProPublica that hospice workers were absent during crisis moments when they felt unable to manage their loved one’s pain. At least two relatives got sick after being denied the proper protective gear. As capacity shrunk, several nurses told ProPublica, Ochsner employees adopted an unusual method to withhold life-sustaining care from patients with poor prognoses. In some cases, doctors gave patients do-not-resuscitate orders without family or patient consent, sometimes overruling families that wanted everything done for their loved one, three nurses said. Ochsner denies that this ever happened. While Ochsner Health did not respond to ProPublica’s questions about families feeling pressured into hospice, hospital officials later told a local newspaper, The Times Picayune and The Advocate, that in some cases, sending hospitalized patients home “had a positive effect,” according to the article’s summary of Ochsner’s comments. “Several patients who were sent home for palliative care rebounded and lived, thanks to the presence and support of their friends and family who couldn’t be with them inside of the hospital, the officials said.” Hospice involves halting curative treatment, and Medicare only permits it for terminally ill patients who have six months or less to live. State Sen. Gregory W. Tarver Sr., another member of the caucus, told ProPublica that Ochsner should be investigated in order to ensure that the issues are taken seriously. “You can’t just smooth it over, sweep it under the rug, when someone loses their life,” he said. In the letter to the governor, the caucus requested that the state scrutinize what was done to ensure that people who died at home “were properly attended to” and verify how many families received proper protective equipment when caring for home hospice patients. The letter also asked “who made the final call” on patients’ care when hospice was “not in line with what the family desired,” and it said that infectious patients should not be sent home for hospice. The legislators urged the state to determine if providers had any connection to the hospice companies they were referring to — whether Ochsner had any ownership stake in them or any hospital physicians were simultaneously affiliated with hospice companies. “This information is very disturbing for us as leaders of our state to read,” wrote state Sen. James Harris III and state Rep. Barbara West Carpenter, the chairman and vice chairwoman of the caucus. “Many people normally do not question medical practitioners because they feel they are right with their prognosis, diagnosis and decisions they share with the patients.” Ochsner did not answer ProPublica’s questions about doctor affiliations with hospice companies. The organization also did not respond when asked if it had investigated or planned to investigate potential racial disparities in discharge practices. Following the publication of ProPublica’s investigation, Dr. Robert Hart, Ochsner’s chief medical officer, told The Times Picayune and The Advocate that he was “disappointed at the tenor of the article trying to make it about race.” But Tarver said that racial disparities in medicine are well-established and must be addressed head on. “History has proven that there’s just as much racism per square inch in the hospital [as anywhere else],” he said. “You have to ask yourself, would they have done this if these people were white? I’m telling you they wouldn’t have. They would not have discharged them if they were white.”

  • Fires Prove the Climate Catastrophe Is a Constitutional Crisis Too
    by Jeet Heer on September 14, 2020 at 15:20

    Jeet Heer The Electoral College and the Senate both marginalize states that are the hardest hit by climate change. The post Fires Prove the Climate Catastrophe Is a Constitutional Crisis Too appeared first on The Nation.

  • Democrats Have Ignored Cities Like Kenosha for Too Long
    by John Nichols on September 14, 2020 at 14:47

    John Nichols Neglected cities across this country are desperate for a sincere and savvy politics of racial and economic justice. Biden has the chance to speak to every one of them. The post Democrats Have Ignored Cities Like Kenosha for Too Long appeared first on The Nation.

  • “A Silent Pandemic”: Nurse at ICE Facility Blows the Whistle on Coronavirus Dangers
    by José Olivares on September 14, 2020 at 14:24

    Irwin Detention Center, run by LaSalle Corrections, has refused to test detainees and underreported Covid-19 cases, the nurse says. The post “A Silent Pandemic”: Nurse at ICE Facility Blows the Whistle on Coronavirus Dangers appeared first on The Intercept.

  • THE ROLE OF MISTAKEN BELIEF: Acosta interviews three Trump supporters!
    by <b>bob somerby</b> on September 14, 2020 at 14:20

    MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 14, 2020Why weren’t they wearing masks?:  Last Thursday, it finally happened.CNN’s Jim Acosta descended from the heavens and walked among the mortals. He asked (at least) three Trump supporters an obvious  question:Why aren’t you wearing a mask?That’s the question Acosta asked. It was a very good question! That very day, we’d marveled telephonically about the way so many of The Others were crowding together at Trump events, risking grim Covid deaths. Also, about the way no journalists ever seemed to ask that obvious question. In fairness, it had long been marked as a sign of weakness when mainstream journalists asked The Others what they think or believe. Within our own ridiculous tribe,  we routinely criticized major news orgs which engaged in such (obvious) conduct.Within our own failing tribe, we’d long since agreed on who The Others were—they were and are racists. With this tribal assessment in the can, what else was there to learn?When news orgs interviewed groups of others, such orgs were treated with scorn. Now, though, Acosta had broken the rules—and he’d asked an extremely good question while sampling a very small N. Up in Michigan, he’d accosted at least three Trump supporters concerning the absence of masks.  As part of  Thursday night’s “cable news” program, Don Lemon set the scene:LEMON (9/10/20): A day after the [Robert] Woodward bombshells, the president held a rally in Michigan, No social distancing. A few masks. Our Jim Acosta caught up with some of the attendees. Listen to this.(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)ACOSTA: Why are you guys not wearing masks?CNN’s Acosta was wearing a mark. He was also asking a very good question! Continuing directly from above, the first answer he received didn’t necessarily scan:UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have one with me. It’s my prerogative.ACOSTA: But why not wear one to stay safe?UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have a hard time understanding people when they talk, so that’s why I don’t wear it.ACOSTA: But you can hear me right now?UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can hear you.That was the full exchange! This first respondent gave an answer which didn’t quite seem to make sense. Acosta refused to quit. He questioned (at least) two other people. This was the third exchange broadcast by Lemon this night:ACOSTA: Does it worry you guys at all to be in this crowded space with all these people?UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I’m not afraid. The good Lord takes care of me. If I die, I die.We got to get this country moving. Can’t— What are you going to do, wear masks and stay inside for another year? Huh? Where will that get us?This respondent seemed to acknowledge the risk of death while leaving it all in God’s hands. This answer seemed to baffle Lemon, as such things sometimes do.(Lemon: “OK. I, I don’t want to— If you wear a— He’s outside, first of all. He’s not inside. He can wear a mask. Right? That’s like—and he said, if I die, but what about the other people, your fellow man? He said the good Lord. Isn’t it you’re supposed to look out for— I don’t really get it.”)Lemon “didn’t really get it.” In our experience, this seems to possibly be the case a fair amount of the time.Acosta’s first respondent didn’t exactly make sense. This third respondent was leaving it all up to God. (He may not know that wearing a mask is also supposed to help others. Acosta didn’t inquire about that point, and we have no idea.)We thought Acosta’s second respondent gave the most striking response. A god was walking among the mortals, and one of the mortals said this:ACOSTA: Sir, please tell me. Why are you not wearing a mask?UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because there’s no Covid. It’s a fake pandemic created to destroy the United States of America.ACOSTA: But the president said to Bob Woodward that there is a virus, the coronavirus, and it is deadly.UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That’s his opinion. The truth is, is that CDC said only 10,000 people die from Covid. The other 192,000 have 2.6 or 2.8 other mortalities.This fellow was at a Trump rally, but he didn’t agree with the commander on this minor point!He said the pandemic is fake, a plot against the United States. He said that only 10,000 people have died from Covid so far.We’re prepared to grade that as a false or mistaken belief. (Others will disagree.) Concerning the CDC and the 10,000 deaths, the respondent was repeating a claim which had come to him live and direct from such sources as Pam Geller and/or the QAnon crowd.Just last night, the commander held a crowded indoor rally in Henderson, Nevada. One major American newspaper has described the scene as shown:MEDINA AND KARNI (9/14/20): Thousands of Trump supporters, the vast majority of them forgoing face masks, packed inside a manufacturing plant on Sunday night in a Las Vegas suburb, where President Trump brashly ignored a state directive limiting indoor gatherings to under 50 people.There were no signs of any attempts at social distancing inside the venue. Attendees wearing red MAGA caps sat in white folding chairs crammed together on the floor of the Xtreme Manufacturing plant, which said on its website that it had “restricted meetings and gatherings to no more than 10 people in large areas.”Out in the Vegas suburbs, there were more caps than masks!  Question:Why would so many people crowd together without wearing marks? Given the current state of the virus, why would so many people crowd together at all?Few reporters have bothered to ask. For our money, when Acosta managed to ask three people, he moved to the head of the pack!False and mistaken beliefs have persistently ruled our failing public discourse. This state of affairs is increasingly prevalent, but it’s been the norm for decades.(Did Al Gore say he invented the Internet? We’re willing to call that claim false!)Mistaken claims are widely sold; they’re also widely purchased. And that’s where the experts come in.According to major anthropologists, it’s easy for people to spot mistaken beliefs—but only when such destructive beliefs occur within The Other Tribe, especially at times of tribal war.Why do so many go without masks? Acosta was asking a blindingly basic question. But we’ve seen no one ask the question in a systematic way.”Things are in the saddle and ride mankind?” Emerson said it long ago. We aren’t perfectly sure what he meant.Emerson notwithstanding, false belief has been riding our corner of humankind for a very long time now. This may help explain why Candidate Trump is creeping up in some polls.We’ll be exploring the topic all week. We’ll even start to explore the false beliefs which have been driving our own failing tribe!Tomorrow: Douthat tried

  • Kenosha: Seven Bullets
    by Tom Arie Donch on September 14, 2020 at 12:30

    Tom Arie Donch Jacob Blake shot in the back by police, willfully deaf to the BLM movement. The post Kenosha: Seven Bullets appeared first on The Nation.

  • Éric Rohmer’s Most Underrated Masterpiece
    by Kristen Yoonsoo Kim on September 14, 2020 at 09:45

    Kristen Yoonsoo Kim His 1987 film Four Adventures of Reinette and Mirabelle receives a restoration—and hopefully a newfound reputation as classic in the canon of female friendship. The post Éric Rohmer’s Most Underrated Masterpiece appeared first on The Nation.

  • Why Are We Still Ignoring Former Foster Children’s Votes?
    by Alexandra Ellerbeck on September 14, 2020 at 09:30

    Alexandra Ellerbeck One out of every 20 children will spend some time in foster care. Yet their needs have largely been ignored during the presidential election. The post Why Are We Still Ignoring Former Foster Children’s Votes? appeared first on The Nation.

  • The Immokalee Way: Protecting Farmworkers Amid a Pandemic
    by John Bowe on September 14, 2020 at 09:00

    John Bowe While some companies do everything to escape accountability, the Fair Food Program proves there’s an alternative. The post The Immokalee Way: Protecting Farmworkers Amid a Pandemic appeared first on The Nation.

  • America Is About to Lose Its 200,000th Life to Coronavirus. How Many More Have to Die?
    by by Stephen Engelberg on September 14, 2020 at 09:00

    by Stephen Engelberg This column was originally published in Not Shutting Up, a newsletter about the issues facing journalism and democracy. Sign up for it here. As an editor, I’ve long had mixed feelings about the journalistic tradition of marking particular chronological or numerical milestones. No one wanted to avoid the “Sept. 11: One Year Later” package — and I was eager to do it given the six previous years I’d spent directing global coverage of al-Qaida — but the annual stories seemed far more forced by Sept. 11, 2005. More recently, we’ve seen stories like “World War I: A Century Later” or “The 75th Anniversary of the End of World War II.” They’re often illuminating, but they don’t have deeper meaning than stories that might have been published on the 99th or 74th anniversary of those events. And yet, there are milestones worth stopping to consider. At ProPublica, it was Andrea Wise, a story producer working for us on contract, who in early May asked: What are we planning for the 100,000th confirmed COVID-19 death? The result was a story we published on May 27 by Caroline Chen that looked back at how we got here and forward to how we might avoid reaching another grim milestone. As we wrote at the time: “The full tragedy of the pandemic hinges on one question: How do we stop the next 100,000?” Sign up for Not Shutting Up, a weekly note about the issues facing journalism and American democracy, from ProPublica’s leadership. The sad, infuriating answer for the country that spends more per capita on health care than any other in the world: We couldn’t. That makes this a moment worthy of some reflection. The United States will record the 200,000th COVID-19 death in days, just four months after the toll hit 100,000. Caroline pointed out in May that the best way to slow the spread of the virus would be to deploy “the oldest mitigation tactics in the public health arsenal.” That would have meant widespread testing to identify those who had caught the virus, quarantining and tracing the contacts of both symptomatic and asymptomatic carriers who could spread the disease to the most vulnerable. “Being slow to act comes with a terrible cost,” she wrote. Caroline and I had pulled together a list of many of the steps to slow down the virus in a road map we addressed to the nation’s governors back in April. Our advice was drawn from interviews with health authorities and experts in countries that were successfully battling the pandemic. Hardly any states followed the practices that had worked well elsewhere. Instead, we saw President Donald Trump convene an indoor political rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, attended by thousands of people, some of whom have since died of COVID-19. In Sturgis, South Dakota, motorcycle enthusiasts proudly refused to wear masks or socially distance; that gathering has recorded its first fatality from the virus. Inexorably, the novel coronavirus marched across the United States, spreading from New York City and Seattle into the smaller cities and then the suburbs and rural communities. It displayed no real preference for blue or red states, though it has disproportionately harmed Black, Latino and poorer communities. Our reaction? As a nation, we became inured to a national death toll that has only recently dropped below a thousand people a day. Think about that. Every week, we lose far more of our fellow citizens than died 19 years ago in the most devastating terrorist strike in American history. As the summer months turn to fall, and the science about the virus grows more definitive, the national conversation has drifted further and further from the basic science. The wearing of masks has somehow turned into just another symbol of partisan warfare, with Trump accepting the Republican nomination on the White House lawn before a tightly packed crowd in which few wore face coverings. As the numbers of cases slowly drift down toward a plateau well above most industrialized countries, senior officials have begun speaking of the virus in the past tense. Then there’s Trump’s expectation that there will be a vaccine approved “some time during the month of October.” The signs are encouraging. Multiple companies are reporting positive results from their phase 1 trials. But more than one promising pharmaceutical discovery has failed in phase 3. Just this week, AstraZeneca halted its trial after one of the volunteers who took the company’s experimental coronavirus vaccine developed neurological problems. (The company is now reviewing whether the symptoms are in any way related to the drug.) Americans were skeptical about vaccine safety before this week’s disclosure that Trump had privately acknowledged the dangers of the coronavirus to journalist Bob Woodward while publicly proclaiming COVID-19 a “hoax” that would soon disappear. Release of a drug before all the data is gathered risks undermining the foundational principle of vaccination, which depends on inoculating very large numbers of people. With pharmaceutical companies publicly pledging not to release a vaccine that has not been fully tested, the odds of a game-changing medicine before 2021 are slim. All of that brings us back to the things that are proven to work: the old-fashioned methods of social distancing, washing hands, wearing masks, tracing contacts and quarantining the sick. Many countries around the world, from Germany to South Korea to Singapore to Vietnam, have used these techniques to contain the virus. Yes, there are explanations for some of those successes. Islands, with the glaring exception of the United Kingdom, may have some advantages over countries with land borders (though plenty of African nations have very low death rates). Authoritarian governments have more options to coerce citizen cooperation. Asian countries lived through the SARS and MERS outbreaks. But one need only consider Germany, an industrialized nation of 83 million people, to see how much better the U.S. could have done. So far, only 9,336 Germans have died from COVID-19, a rate of 11.26 per 100,000 citizens. By contrast, our death rate is roughly 58 per 100,000 Americans, more than five times Germany’s per capita toll. And while the number of daily deaths is slowly falling here, it’s still far higher than most countries with comparable investments in health care. More than two decades ago, I wrote a book with my New York Times colleagues Judith Miller and Bill Broad called “Germs” that looked at the modern history of biological warfare. As a result, I was invited in the early aughts to play a Times reporter in a “tabletop” exercise organized by New York City. The health commissioner at the time, Dr. Tom Frieden, played the part of the health commissioner as we went through a dystopian scenario involving a mass anthrax attack on the subways. As the plot unfolded, various players were pushed into ethically uncomfortable questions. At one point, it was suggested that reporters like me had learned that the city lacked sufficient antibiotics to treat everyone who was dying. Would the Times agree to a request from Frieden to withhold that story from its readers? (I said I would not, but I wasn’t the boss.) The scenario turned darker. As word got out about the shortages, mobs began breaking into pharmacies to secure medicine. Health care workers refused to go to hospitals. The city fell into chaos. That exercise assumed that the city’s public health system continued to function reasonably well and that individual hospitals or doctors would not be left on their own to figure out what to do. It now seems clear that the U.S. approach, which was to let every state governor and many mayors set their own policies, was far from optimal. As we head into the fall, a number of the models are projecting an easing of the death toll, which was well over 1,000 Americans a day at its height. One of the most accurate models, by independent data scientist Youyang Gu, projects that the death rate will fall to 400 per day by Nov. 1, with a projected death toll of 218,000. We will continue to report on every aspect of this horror, from its disparate racial impact to the failures of corporations as well as city, state and federal governments. All we can ask of you, the readers, is that you not become accustomed to this grim routine. We were willing to put up with massive disruptions to our lives after the 9/11 attacks left 3,000 Americans dead. One of Gu’s most fascinating models shows that the deaths from COVID-19 in the United States would have been halved if just 1 in 5 people with active symptoms had self-quarantined. Here’s hoping that a trustworthy vaccine becomes widely available in the coming months or that more people find ways to self-isolate if they become ill. It is my dream that we will never have to write the story about 300,000th COVID-19 death.

  • Did US Lobbying Efforts Backfire for Hong Kong’s Pro-Democracy Movement?
    by Wilfred Chan on September 14, 2020 at 08:00

    Wilfred Chan Hong Kong activist Jeffrey Ngo defends his Capitol Hill photo-ops. The post Did US Lobbying Efforts Backfire for Hong Kong’s Pro-Democracy Movement? appeared first on The Nation.

  • Entrevista: ‘Não é possível continuar assistindo inerte a um governo genocida’, diz Douglas Belchior
    by Pedro Borges on September 14, 2020 at 04:05

    Para articulador da Coalizão Negra por Direitos, que pediu o impeachment de Bolsonaro, presidente radicalizou o ‘projeto histórico de genocídio negro’. The post Entrevista: ‘Não é possível continuar assistindo inerte a um governo genocida’, diz Douglas Belchior appeared first on The Intercept.

  • Commander commits dereliction of duty!
    by <b>bob somerby</b> on September 12, 2020 at 16:11

    SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 12, 2020Did Krugman and Brooks follow suit?:  This past Thursday, Donald J. Trump had finally absorbed sufficient abuse. At long last, the commander decided to take some credit for the masterful way he’s managed to handle the virus. Purveyors of fake news sat before him, gazing about in the garden. At long last, the commander made the following comments. We join his statement in progress:TRUMP (9/10/20): In the past five weeks, per capita cases doubled in France, surged to over 300 percent in Spain, which I’ve been hearing about and speaking to some of the leaders of Spain, and they were having a hard time, and increased more than 400 percent in Italy, again. And as you remember, I put a ban on people coming in from Europe, after the ban I imposed on China, Wuhan. Because of Wuhan, primarily, because that area was very infected. We also put a ban on Europe.So Spain is being heavily impacted, France, and 400 percent in Italy. Yesterday, European nations experienced 50 percent more deaths than the United States. You don’t hear these things. You don’t hear these statistics, but the United States has done really well. I’m very proud of everybody that worked on this, and I really do believe we’re rounding the corner and the vaccines are right there.Finally, the commander had been persuaded to mention his travel bans.  Also, European nations “experienced 50 percent more deaths than the United States” on September 9, the much maligned fellow said. “You don’t hear these things,” the gentleman sadly reported.”Cases” being a shaky statistic, we were struck by the commander’s statement about the deaths. Fifty percent more deaths in “European nations?” We’ll admit that the claim sounded wrong.Incomparable, we decided to fact-check. When we did, we once again saw the way the new rules typically work.Amazingly, the commander’s statement was almost technically accurate! There actually had been a day when “European nations” reported more deaths than the United States. That day had been Tuesday, September 8, not September 9. But the numbers that day looked like this:Confirmed deaths from covid-19 recorded on September 8, 2020 United States: 267 Europe: 376Given those numbers, there had only been 40.82 percent more deaths recorded in Europe. But according to the time-honored phrase, the commander’s statement had been “close enough for deceptive Rose Garden work!”What was “deceptive” about the commander’s statement? Let us count two ways!First, the commander had apparently been referring to “Europe,” not to “the European Union.” The difference there is large.According to the leading authority, there are roughly 750 million people in “Europe.”  Our own nation’s population—roughly 330 million—is ginormously smaller than that. At roughly 450 million, the E.U. also has a substantially larger population than the our nation does. Keeping these facts in mind, here’s the fuller set of numbers for the (cherry-picked) day in question:Confirmed deaths from covid-19 recorded on September 8, 2020United States: 267Europe: 376European Union: 192Even on that (cherry-picked) day, the substantially larger European Union had substantially fewer deaths.For our second point, we note the obvious cherry-picking of the day in question. As data sites explain in detail, the number of deaths recorded on a given day is not the number of deaths which actually occurred on that day.In this country,  the formal recording of covid-19 deaths ebbs and flows over the course of a typical week and weekend. That’s especially true with respect to  the days before and after a holiday weekend—and Monday, September 7 had been Labor Day in these parts.In part for those reasons, you can’t cherry-pick the numbers from a single day, unless you’re trying to run a con. You have to look at the numbers for a full seven-day cycle. As it turns out, the commander’s aides had cherry-picked a highly anomalous day. Here’s the way the numbers looked for the seven-day cycle ending on the day when the commander chastised the snakes in in the garden:Confirmed deaths from covid-19 recorded in the previous seven days, as of September 10, 2020United States: 5,071Europe: 2,301European Union: 1,246Adjusting for population, our death rate over the course of that week was roughly six times that of the European Union. So much for the commander’s mastery of the virus. But such is the way of The Con.Did the commander know that he was working a con? We can’t answer your question. We’ll guess that Stephen Miller has an army of worker ants who sift the numbers all day long looking for statements the commander can make—statements which can even be defended as “technically accurate.”(Earlier this year, we occasionally thought we saw Dr. Birx playing this slippery game.)Did the commander know that he was talking about “Europe,” not about the E.U.? Did he know that he was citing one highly anomalous day? Had he seen the weekly numbers?We have no way of knowing these things. Nor is it likely that the commander would actually care.The commander’s grossly misleading remark counts as a minor part of the ongoing game. His lunatic statements from February on, plus the lunatic behaviors which continue as he assembles his mass, unmasked in-person rallies are much more serious.People have been dying, and continue to die, in the wake of those lunatic statements and these ongoing behaviors. In this morning’s Washington Post, Colbert King refers to all this, and to other behaviors, as a “dereliction of duty” on the commander’s part.King’s column is very interesting; we strongly recommend it. That said, we keep thinking we might be seeing other derelictions as we scan the work of the upper-end press. Consider yesterday”s columns by Paul Krugman and by David Brooks. Like a wide array of colleagues, Krugman and Brooks will go to their graves pretending they can’t fathom why Trump behaves as he does. In print editions, Krugman’s headlines said this:Trump Wasn’t Oblivious. He Didn’t Care. / The coronavirus response was beyond incompetent. In print editions, the Brooks headlines said this:When A Heart Is Empty / The Consequences of Donald Trump’s Inability to FeelWhat kind of person is unable to feel and doesn’t care if other people die? Presumably, Krugman and Brooks both know one obvious possible answer. Presumably, they’re also playing by the guild rule which holds that they have to play dumb.Colloquially, sociopaths don’t care if thousands of other people die, and have an “inability to feel.” Presumably, journalists know that Trump seems to be so afflicted, but their guild forbids such discussion.Colloquially, narcissists care about nothing and no one but themselves. But for a more informed discussion of these formal psychiatric syndromes, people like Krugman and Brooks would have to speak with someone like Dr. Bandy X. Lee of Yale.Readers assume that major journalists are trying to tell them the truth as best they understand it. Many voters believe the commander is trying to do the same thing.When journalists follow the commander’s example in refusing to speak to scientific/medical experts, could that possibly be their own dereliction?Make no mistake. We’re past the point where any of this could possibly make any difference.The fight against climate change has long since been lost.  So has the fight, such as it was, to maintain “the American experiment.”These fights were steadily lost over the past gruesome decades—decades in which major “journalists” like Diane Sawyer were asking Marla Maples if sex with The Donald was the best sex she’d ever had.(Decades in which a whole generation of press corps lunatics spent twenty months wondering why the author of Earth in The Balance was wearing so many earth tones, not to mention those polo shirts.)From her interview with Maples, Sawyer went on to stage scripted campaign kick-off attacks against Candidate Gore (major liar) and Candidate Clinton (too rich). The commander seems to be “mentally ill,” but what the heck is Sawyer’s excuse? How about her owners and colleagues?At any rate, the die has been cast about those fights, or so we’re reliably told. In particular, we’re told that the fight to continue the American experiment is basically over—that there’s no way out of this mess.Yesterday, we decided to fact-check the commander’s latest claim anyhow. Earlier, the analysts had gnashed their teeth in sheer frustration as they read Krugman and Brooks.Dr. Lee waits in the wings—except for the fact that she’s been disappeared. “This is the way our species was wired,” future top experts have despondently said, speaking in the past tense. 

  • 59 Days Until the Election
    by Ann Telnaes, Rob Rogers, Bill Bramhall on September 12, 2020 at 12:30

    Ann Telnaes, Rob Rogers, Bill Bramhall There’s a monster under America’s bed. The post 59 Days Until the Election appeared first on The Nation.

  • How a U.S. Army Whistleblower Revealed ‘the Apparatus of a Police State’
    by Sarah Cords on September 12, 2020 at 05:00

    In the 1960s, the military had been illegally spying on protesters until Christopher Pyle, a former Army intelligence officer, spoke out.

  • The Trump Troops
    by Mark Fiore on September 11, 2020 at 21:00

    We already knew Trump didn’t have much regard for military service; we just didn’t know how awful and cruel he can be.

  • How and why do unarmed women get shot and killed by police?
    by <b>bob somerby</b> on September 11, 2020 at 19:10

    FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 11, 2020The Post’s first five examples:  How and why do unarmed women get shot and killed by police officers?We can’t exactly tell you. In Tuesday’s gruesome front-page report, the Washington Post examined seven such cases. We’ll start with two observations:First, it seems that this rarely happens. According to the Post’s Fatal Force site, only 26 unarmed women have been shot and killed by a police officer since the start of 2015. That figure was explicitly cited in Tuesday’s front-page report.That’s 26 unarmed women, out of the 247 women who have been shot and killed by police overall. Of the 26 “unarmed” women, 14 were “white” and seven were “black.”That isn’t a lot of examples. For that reason, it’s fairly silly when the Post, early on, offers a percentage-based summary of these events:IATA (9/8/20): Of the 247 women fatally shot, 48 were Black and seven of those were unarmed.[…]…Black women, who are 13 percent of the female population, account for 20 percent of the women shot and killed and 28 percent of the unarmed deaths.According to the Post report, black women “account for 28 percent of the unarmed deaths.” That was almost technically  accurate! In fact, seven out of 26 is 26.92 percent. Rounding that off to 28 is, in the time-honored phrase, “close enough for Washington Post top of the front page work.”In fact, black women account for just under 27 percent of the unarmed deaths. That said, it’s fairly silly to use percentages when we’re dealing with such small numbers.Meanwhile, what does it mean to be “unarmed?” For various reasons, this may not be as simple a matter as a person might imagine. Consider just one reason:In four of the first five examples the Post described, the women who were shot and killed were in fact unarmed. On the other hand, each was with a male companion (three boyfriends, one husband) who was armed, and who engaged in gunfire with police.In three of the four examples, the women were shot and killed as part of an inherently dangerous “no-knock” raid. In the other case, the woman’s boy friend was reportedly being surveilled in the manner described:IATA: On Sept. 5, 2015, Virginia Beach police officers in two unmarked cars were surveilling 35-year-old Angelo Perry, the father of [India] Kager’s child. Police said Perry was a suspect in two homicides and a home invasion, and they believed he was on his way to kill a member of a rival drug gang.The officers followed Perry, Kager and their 4-month-old son as they drove into a 7-Eleven parking lot. The police cars pulled up behind Kager’s Cadillac, blocking it in.An officer threw a flash-bang grenade toward the Cadillac to distract Perry, Virginia Beach Commonwealth’s Attorney Colin Stolle later told reporters. Four officers ran toward the car to arrest Perry and he shot at them.The officers fired 30 rounds in response, killing Perry and Kager. Police said the infant, sitting in the back seat, escaped injury. A nearby surveillance camera recorded the gun battle.Stolle concluded that the police shooting was justified.Was the shooting justified? That’s a matter of judgment. Is that an accurate account of what happened? We can’t even tell you that!That said, in three of the four cases to which we refer, the women who were shot and killed had been romantically involved with men who were being pursued on major criminal charges. One of the women was shot and killed when police were arresting her boyfriend, Andrew Jeff Coffee IV, whose three-generation family history is almost comically criminal. In our view, that remarkable history is skillfully sanitized by the Post’s report. In such ways, our major press organs are creating a new religion built around the (largely imagined) intersections of “race” and crime and punishment. In how many cases do police shootings involve misconduct by police? Are various demographic groups subjected to disparate treatment in police shooting events? If so, to what extent?It wouldn’t be easy to answer such questions in any serious way. At present, there’s little sign that our major press organs are actually trying to do so. Instead, they’re creating pleasingly novelized scripture filled with good guys and bad guys. This is silly, childish behavior. According to major anthropologists, it’s also very much who we are and who we’ve always been.For extra credit only: We recall the old Paul Reiser joke, the one in which Moses is invited to play a round of golf with the three persons of the Holy Trinity. Long story short, the joke ends with an exasperated Moses saying this:”Did we come here to play some golf? Or are we just f**king around?”These same questions might be asked of major upper-end journalism.

  • PERFORMATIVE BELIEF: Kirk Herbstreit is a good, decent person!
    by <b>bob somerby</b> on September 11, 2020 at 14:24

    FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 11, 2020Kirk Herbstreit goes to church:  Kirk Herbstreit seems like the world’s nicest person. It could be that he actually is.For that reason, we’ve always liked his work. That said, who is Kirk Herbstreit?Herbstreit, age 51, is a longtime college football analyst for ABC Sports and its corporate partner, ESPN.As a high school quarterback, he was the state of Ohio’s player of the year. As a senior in college, he was co-captain of the Ohio State team, as his father had been before him.Thirty years later, he’s still upbeat and youthful in his approach on the air. He’s a positive person who seems to like the game he covers and who seems to like the people who play and coach it.We like people who like other people. Last Saturday, Herbstreit wept.We weren’t watching the ESPN show in question. But by Monday morning, the Washington Post, on its web site, was pushing the incident hard. You see, the incident was already part of the Washington Post’s new religion. For ourselves, we think that religion is a bit misguided. We aren’t sure that the new religion leads to good results.We’ll briefly explain that assessment below. For now, the on-line column the Post was promoting had started off like this:BOREN (9/5/20): The college football season has begun and, during an era of protests and a coronavirus pandemic, ESPN’s first Saturday telecast was anything but usual.The hosts were far apart, broadcasting from their homes rather than appearing before a boisterous, sign-loving crowd on a campus somewhere, and “College GameDay” devoted time to the protests of systemic racism and police brutality that have taken place across the country.Kirk HerbHow do you listen to these stories and not feel pain and not want to help?” Herbstreit asked, weeping.streit broke down in tears as he spoke of the need to change. He shared a quote, attributed to Benjamin Franklin, that he had been given by Stanford Coach David Shaw and he wondered what will follow, asking, “What will lead to change?”“[He] said, ‘Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.’ The Black community is hurting. … How do you listen to these stories and not feel pain and not want to help?” Herbstreit asked, weeping.Like Jesus, Herbstreit wept. In corporate fashion, the column had started with a tweet from ESPN itself:”Heartfelt and powerful,” the corporate self-promotion said. Boren’s column started with that piece of scripture from the new feel-good religion.Just this once, we’ll be honest! At first, we were annoyed with Herbstreit himself.Herbstreit has been around college football for roughly 35 years. Young black guys have been exploited, have been bought and sold and discarded, within that corporate complex forever. Our first reaction to this heartfelt conduct was a bit uncharitable. Where the freak has this mofo been? we found ourselves starting to ask.Have reports of recent police shooting deaths really been Herbstreit’s introduction to question of racial justice? In a world where newspapers like the Washington Post have never given a flying felafel about the lives and the interests of the nation’s  black kids,we’ll admit that this was our first reaction.We’ll admit it—we were annoyed with Herbstreit himself. We’ll admit that his heartfelt conduct struck us as perhaps a bit faux.As the week has proceeded, we have reconsidered. The very next morning, the Washington Post filled its pages with various holdings of its new religion. We began to conjure a new assessment:It occurred to us that the villains here were ESPN, and more so the Washington Post!Our own religion stretches back to the liberal / progressive frameworks of the 1960s. Those frameworks stressed the phoniness of “race” as a basic concept. Those frameworks also stressed this philosophical / organizational idea:Black and white together!Today, those frameworks have been widely abandoned. Corporate ghouls who don’t give a damn have created a new religion.Tuesday’s garbage-can front-page report was part of that new religion. In manifestations of that garbage-can corporate conduct, the Post (and other mainstream organs) discuss the deaths of the innocent or the apparently innocent—but only if they’re “black!””Whites” and Hispanics get disappeared. So do all the “others.”The new religion is built around the deaths of the apparently innocent. If the decedents aren’t sufficiently innocent, the Washington Post and other news organs will start reinventing key facts. This is the deeply depressing process known as “sanitization.” We still plan to discuss the topic at length, but it will be a depressing endeavor.People like Herbstreit may have motored along not thinking about these things all that much. Suddenly, they’re hit with vast waves of the new religion.They may not know that they’re being misled and misinformed. Meanwhile, the basic precepts of the new religion encourage them to feel guilt.Tuesday’s Post was full of work out of the new sacred texts. Consider only what occurred in the endless, garbage-can report which led the paper’s front page:The paper published a sprawling report about the women who have been shot and killed by police officers across the nation since the start of 2015. According to the Post’s own data, 62.3% of these women have been “white.” But in the Post’s gigantic report, it described the shooting deaths of seven such women. Only one of those women was “white”—and the story gets worse after that, almost comically so.The one “white” decedent was Rhogena Nicholas, age 55 at death. She was shot and killed during a massively bungled no-knock raid in Houston just last year.(Her husband, Dennis Tuttle, age 59, was also shot and killed during the bungled raid.)Because Nicholas and Tuttle were “white,” the event has generated virtually no national coverage or discussion. And good God:When the Post’s reporters discussed this case in Tuesday’s report—starting in paragraph 76!—they seemed to be unaware of a major development in the case, a development which had occurred in late July of this year!That may simply reflect the sloth  involved in journalistic religions. It may reflect the lack of interest paid to the shooting deaths of the “white” and Hispanic and “other.”At any rate, regular people get fed this gruel on a regular basis. As a general matter, they don’t know that they’re being misinformed, misled.The Post has invented religions before. Readers didn’t know they were being conned when Ceci Connolly spent twenty months inventing sacred tales about the evils of Candidate Gore in 1999 and 2000.The apparent source of that (deeply destructive) religion was loathing of President Clinton. The apparent source of today’s new religion is a new conceptual strategy aimed at creating a vast racial guilt.People like Herbstreit have possibly skated along, looking the other way every step of the way. Suddenly, within the last decade, a new movement has come along and has flipped some basic scripts.In the 1960s, no one was dumb enough to think they were “privileged” because they hadn’t been shot and killed by the police for no earthly reason. Now, people are told that the very fact that they’re alive is a sign of their vast “privilege.”In the 1960s, the fact that you weren’t being shot and killed for no reason wasn’t seen as “privilege.” It was seen as the norm, as a basic part of citizenship.If others were being shot and killed, that was called “discrimination.” Liberals and progressives were supposed to fight against such discrimination, though on the whole nobody cared—certainly not the gang of strivers who ended up writing the Post.The production of racial guilt has become the new approach. People who never lifted a finger or thought about any of this are easily swept along.The Washington Post has been a cesspool concerning the lives of black kids. “But now, the heart is filled with gold, as if it were a purse.” The paper which didn’t care about “race” now cares about nothing else. And as in the past, so too today:The paper is willing to do and say anything to hold itself free of blame.We like Kirk Herbstreit’s work. He may be the world’s nicest person. In our experience, most people are.According to the corporate priests, his conduct was heartfelt that day. We aren’t here to say that it wasn’t.For ourselves, we would still argue for black and white together, even as various people are getting shot to death. We’d even recommend black and blue together—but that involves the ability to imagine yourself in the shoes of someone else!Still coming: Sanitizations—the misstatements our tribe has been soldWe didn’t get to it this week: We still recall it as one of the greatest questions ever asked on TV.”What difference does it make?” Professor Gates quickly asked, with an air of amusement. He was speaking with Ava DuVernay, who had said and done nothing wrong.In essence, Gates was challenging the very idea that people belong to “races.”  People will surely be treated that way. But here’s a question straight outta the past:Do you believe  “races” exist?

  • A Look at Two Crises: 9/11 and COVID-19
    by Mariah Clark on September 11, 2020 at 13:00

    Why aren’t we doing a better job taking care of today’s frontline workers?

  • On the Anger of Black Women
    by Vanessa Taylor on September 10, 2020 at 18:34

    An excerpt from Vanessa Taylor’s “Black in the Middle: An Anthology of the Black Midwest.”

  • Foreign Correspondent: Trump Plays Both Sides Against the Middle
    by Reese Erlich on September 10, 2020 at 18:14

    Is he a hawk? Is he a peacenik? The President keeps us guessing.

  • Which women get shot and killed by police?
    by <b>bob somerby</b> on September 10, 2020 at 17:51

    WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 9, 2020The Washington Post flails and flounders: Women get shot and killed by police a whole lot less often than men. Here’s the way the numbers track according to the Washington Post’s recent front-page report:IATI (9/8/20): Since The Washington Post began tracking fatal shootings by police in 2015, officers have fatally shot 247 women out of the more than 5,600 people killed overall.The names of these women are often not as well known as the men, but their deaths in some cases raise the same questions about the use of deadly force by police and, in particular, its use on Black Americans. Those were paragraphs 3 and 4 of the Post’s lengthy report. As you can see, women have constituted roughly four percent of the people shot and killed by police officers.In that early passage, we were told that these shooting deaths raise particular questions about the shooting deaths of black women, but we weren’t told why.  The explanation may lie in these subsequent passages:IATI:  Of the 247 women fatally shot, 48 were Black and seven of those were unarmed.[…]Since 2015, Black women have accounted for less than 1 percent of the overall fatal shootings in cases where race was known. But within this small subset, Black women, who are 13 percent of the female population, account for 20 percent of the women shot and killed and 28 percent of the unarmed deaths.Black women were only 20 percent of the women shot and killed by police. But that’s somewhat more than their share of the national population. This could raise an obvious question:Why do a disproportionate number of black women get shot and killed by police? Also, why do black women account for a slightly higher percentage of the unarmed shooting deaths?Was Iati trying to answer those questions in her sprawling report? She never quite said so, nor was it ever especially clear what she was trying to show. That said, she plainly did focus on black shooting deaths. As we noted on Tuesday, the numbers look like this:Women fatally shot by police officers, 2015 to present:White: 147 Black: 48Hispanic: 29Cases discussed in Iati’s report:White: 1Black: 5Multiracial: 1 According to the Post’s Fatal Force site, white women have constituted 62.3% of the women shot and killed by police officers from 2015 to the present. Black women have constituted 20.3% of the dead.But of the seven cases Iati discussed, only one decedent was white!  Unless you’ve given a clear explanation for such selective treatment, this strikes us as an unwise way to organize such a report.What’s wrong with that approach? As we explained on Tuesday, it may extend a misperception about who dies in such incidents. And since this is an important topic, a serious journalist would presumably want to avoid creating misperceptions.In our view, the racial imbalance of Iati’s roster was one of several major problems with this massive report. The fact that she bungled the facts of the one “white” case she discussed only adds to the problem.That said, a question remains. Why have black women been shot and killed at a higher rate than others? In a graphic, Iati offers these numbers, and we’ll assume they’re correct:Rates at which women are shot and killed by police, per yearWhite women: 1.5 per millionBlack women: 2.3 per millionHispanic women: 1 per millionWomen of other races/ethnicities: 0.8 per millionLet’s start with a bit of upbeat news; that famous “white privilege” only seems to extend so far! According to Iati’s numbers, white women are shot and killed at a substantially higher rate than Hispanic women or “others.”That said, black women get shot and killed at the highest rate of all. Does that result from selective treatment by police? Or could that highest rate be tracked to some other cause?Iati never really tried to address those questions. Instead, she offered accounts of seven fatal shootings, offering somewhat bowdlerized accounts of the events in question.No one can learn a freaking thing from the crummy work the Post published that day. Tomorrow, though, we’ll call your attention to one particular aspect of those seven deaths.Two hundred and forty-seven women have been shot and killed by police officers. In truth, there’s next to nothing we can learn from The Iati Seven.The Post should be ashamed of itself for publishing such a lousy report. But police shooting deaths are a form of blue tribe religion now, and the Post wants to be a high priest.Why are more black women shot and killed? After reading Iati’s report, we have no idea.Tomorrow, though, we’ll look at Iati’s first five cases. All five were tragic deaths, but if we want to start doing real journalism, we have to stop making offerings to The Woke Gods and we have to start looking at cases.Along the way, we might want to start being grown-ups. Anthropologists sadly report that this is unlikely to happen. 

  • The Greatest Country on Earth?
    by Daniel Zwerdling on September 10, 2020 at 15:35

    We love America. But Canadians have helped us see that, by many measures, it’s not the greatest country on Earth.

  • PERFORMATIVE BELIEF: What does it mean to be mentally ill?
    by <b>bob somerby</b> on September 10, 2020 at 15:08

    THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 10, 2020Trump/Krug and the end of the world: What does it mean to be mentally ill? As laypersons, we can’t quite answer your question. Mental illness is a fairly nebulous concept. Some people even say that it doesn’t exist. We can’t explain what mental illness “is,” but we know what it looks like. Today, we provide two examples. Our first example involves some conduct by Donald J. Trump. In this morning’s Washington Post, Philip Rucker’s discussion of Bob Woodward’s book includes this comical, pitiful passage: RUCKER (9/10/20): “I don’t think Obama’s smart,” Trump told Woodward. “I think he’s highly overrated. And I don’t think he’s a great speaker.” Trump added that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un thought Obama was “an asshole.” [Woodward’s book] includes the first reported excerpts of letters Trump exchanged with Kim, and quotes Trump in his interviews with Woodward using expletives to defend their pen-pal relationship. […]Trump was taken with Kim’s flattery, Woodward writes, telling the author pridefully that Kim had addressed him as “Excellency.” Trump remarked that he was awestruck meeting Kim for the first time in 2018 in Singapore, thinking to himself, “Holy shit,” and finding Kim to be “far beyond smart.” Trump also boasted to Woodward that Kim “tells me everything,” including a graphic account of Kim having his uncle killed. Trump did not share his letters to Kim—“Those are so top secret,” the president said—but Woodward obtained them independently. He writes that Trump sent Kim a copy of the New York Times featuring a picture of the two men on the front page. “Chairman, great picture of you, big time,” Trump wrote on the paper in marker. (Trump falsely boasted to Woodward: “He never smiled before. I’m the only one he smiles with.”) Kim Jong Un had “never smiled before”—and he thinks Obama’s an asshole. It’s always possible that the quoted remark was tongue in cheek, but the overall lunacy seems clear. The lunacy seems clear. For further elucidation, you’d have to speak with a (carefully selected) medical specialist. You’d have to speak with someone prepared to discuss the world of the sociopath without defaulting, in this case, to a political slant. We don’t know much about mental illness, but we know it when we see it! Unfortunately, the modern upper-end mainstream press has agreed that the commander’s apparent mental illness simply cannot be discussed. We’re left with a perpetual “cable news” Groundhog Day. We’re left with the sputtering, angry pseudo-discussions which unfolded for the ten millionth time on last night’s Anderson Cooper program. At CNN, it had fallen to Jamie Gangel to read Woodward’s book and report its contents. At 8:21 PM Eastern, she assessed Trump’s behavior in the standard way: “It’s inexplicable,” Gangel said, to her sputtering colleagues. Gangel said that Trump’s behavior has been inexplicable. No one suggested that the explanation for the commander’s remarkable conduct may lie in the realm of mental illness. Such rumination is not allowed within the tents of this guild. The commander in chief may be “mentally ill,” but our upper-end press corps has long been “rationally impaired.” They refuse to speak to medical specialists about their commander’s very strange conduct. They prefer to be newly shocked each day while saying it can’t be explained. Just a guess! The commander’s behavior makes perfect sense if we assume that he’s some version of a “sociopath,” as some people are. That said, someone else who seems to be mentally ill emerged on the scene last week. This second person is, or was, a mere professor. But her unfortunate case strikes us as highly instructive. We refer to the unfortunate case of Jessica Krug, who has resigned from her tenured position as an associate professor of history at George Washington University. Krug’s resignation followed the uproar over her recent essay at Medium. The leading authority on this matter offers this capsule account:Jessica A. Krug, a former associate professor of history at George Washington University lived for years under an assumed race and ethnicity until she disclosed the truth in a September 3, 2020, essay on the blog website Medium. Krug’s having assumed identities such as that of a Bronx-bred Afro-“boricua” (Afro-Puerto Rican) with the “salsa” name “La Bombalera”, she confessed within a blog post entitled “The Truth, and the Anti-Black Violence of My Lies”: “I have eschewed my lived experience as a white Jewish child in suburban Kansas City under various assumed identities within a Blackness that I had no right to claim: first North African Blackness, then US rooted Blackness, then Caribbean rooted Bronx Blackness.” Is Krug some version of “mentally ill?” If you watch this pitiable videotape, in which she speaks to the New York City Council in her La Bombalera persona, we’ll suggest that the question may seem to answer itself. That said, do modern Americans really believe that some people are “mentally ill?” Widespread reactions to people like Trump and Krug suggest that we secretly don’t. On the one hand, the modern journalistic elite has agreed that they mustn’t discuss the possibility that Trump is mentally ill.  In the case of Krug, her bizarre behavior has been met with anger more often than with some form of sympathy concerning the existence of some type of personal illness. Like Trump, Krug is aggressively scolded for her absurd behavior. Little thought is given to the possibility that she seems to be “ill” in some way. Little thought is given to the question of what “mental illness” means. Donald J. Trump could destroy the world. By way of contrast, Jessica Krug was merely a (highly-regarded) history professor. Krug didn’t hold the nuclear codes. But her craziness, and her academic success, may teach us about the end of the world, which experts say is approaching. If Krug is crazy, she has been crazy in the general area of “race.” Perhaps for that reason, her elite employers couldn’t discern that she was crazy, and the elite guild to which she belonged was crazy about her book: [Krug] is the author of the well-reviewed work of Columbian, Brazilian, and West African histories Fugitive Modernities: Kisama and the Politics of Freedom, which treats the Quiçama people, at home in Angola and within diaspora, especially in Brazil. The book was a finalist for the Frederick Douglass Prize and the Harriet Tubman Prize. Krug’s additional studies focus on African American history and Latin America. “Fugitive Modernities?” Yes, that’s the name of the (highly-praised) book! Because Duke is always involved in these matters, the book was published by the Duke University Press, by whom it’s described as follows: DUKE UNIVERSITY PRESS: During the early seventeenth century, Kisama emerged in West Central Africa (present-day Angola) as communities and an identity for those fleeing expanding states and the violence of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. The fugitives mounted effective resistance to European colonialism despite—or because of—the absence of centralized authority or a common language. In Fugitive Modernities, Jessica A. Krug offers a continent- and century-spanning narrative exploring Kisama’s intellectual, political, and social histories. Those who became Kisama forged a transnational reputation for resistance, and by refusing to organize their society around warrior identities, they created viable social and political lives beyond the bounds of states and the ruthless market economy of slavery.  Krug follows the idea of Kisama to the Americas, where fugitives in the New Kingdom of Grenada (present-day Colombia) and Brazil used it as a means of articulating politics in fugitive slave communities. By tracing the movement of African ideas, rather than African bodies, Krug models new methods for grappling with politics and the past, while showing how the history of Kisama and its legacy as a global symbol of resistance that has evaded state capture offers essential lessons for those working to build new and just societies.  Question: “By tracing the movement of African ideas, rather than African bodies,” does Krug really “model new methods for grappling with politics and the past, while showing how the history of Kisama and its legacy as a global symbol of resistance that has evaded state capture offers essential lessons for those working to build new and just societies?” In theory, everything’s possible! That said, we’ll sign on as skeptics. For one thing, we’ve read the book’s very first passage, in which Graf seems to be pretending that she grew up in a barrio. We’ve also read her Acknowledgements, which begin as shown and end by listing the elite financial contributors who bought into the overall con: KRUG: For years, I told everyone who knew I was writing a book that my entire acknowledgments section would be cribbed from Biggie: “This book is dedicated to all the teachers who told me I’d never amount to nothing . . .” And while there is no small part of me that is still tempted to leave it there, to stunt on every institution and person who has ever stood in my way, by framing my work or Biggie’s like this, we reinforce the pernicious idea that amounting to something can be measured by the metrics that I inherently reject. Whatever. We’ve also read her Notes on Cartography, the pompous section in which she explains why “the maps in this book depart from convention. They do not center the Atlantic Ocean. They do not orient north.” All in all, this book is pure pose from before Chapter One.  Scholarly elites gulped it whole.Conceivably, a disordered person could write an outstanding book. Our main thought here is this: Until the revolution occurs, nothing will ever be gained from this crazy person’s ruminations on Kiasma and the racism of maps which orient north. But even as major foundations shoveled money into this project, we’ve almost never seen a serious journalistic discussion of our nation’s low-income schools, or of the good, decent kids who attend them.As we’ve often noted, no one cares about the kids who attend those schools; few things could be more clear. Meanwhile, a serious crackpot is being funded by elite institutions as she writes the latest useless book from inside the one percent of the fewer than one percent. We also think of the endless, grotesque report on the front page of Tuesday’s Washington Post. If Trump is the craziness of the right, race is the craziness now being worshiped by our own failing tribe. There’s nothing our tribe won’t rush to accept as long as it seems to support the received wisdom of our new tulip craze. Newspapers which never cared a whit about race now pretend to care about nothing else. More on that to follow.As November’s election approaches, we seem to be observing the end of the world—the end of “the American experiment.” The rewards had simply become too damn high, and new technologies gave every lunatic in the nation a chance to affect what gets said and believed.Tomorrow (and later today), we’ll continue on from here. But our capsule account would be this: Donald J. Trump is almost surely mentally ill, but our “elites” are rationally impaired.  This reflects the way our species has always been wired, despondent anthropologists have said.Tomorrow: Herbstreit wept

  • It Wasn’t a Coincidence that the Kenosha Uprisings Happened in Wisconsin
    by Teighlor McGee on September 10, 2020 at 14:51

    The state has a long history of enforcing systemic racism—we can’t ignore that any more.

  • “Everything Fab Four”: Our new podcast about the life-changing power of the Beatles
    by Kenneth Womack on September 10, 2020 at 12:15

    How is a Beatles fan made? In this new series, everyone has a Beatles story of their own

  • PERFORMATIVE BELIEF: Stahl breaks every rule in the book!
    by <b>bob somerby</b> on September 9, 2020 at 15:58

    WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 9, 2020Drum makes (instructive) mistake: Everybody makes mistakes. Allegedly, this has been proven.Last night, Kevin Drum made a mistake. We call attention to this mistake because it might be instructive.Drum was discussing some of the things people do to alienate white suburban voters. He started by listed some of the things Donald J. Trump has done:DRUM (9/8/20): On one side we have President Trump tweeting a video of a black man shoving a white woman; defending Kyle Rittenhouse, the white man who allegedly killed two black protesters in Kenosha; banning the use of diversity training at federal agencies; and tweeting that the Department of Education is “looking at” the use of the Pulitzer-winning 1619 Project in public schools. These actions and others are almost laughably racist, obviously designed to appeal to Trump’s core base of supporters. But because they’re so obvious, they’re also likely to turn off moderate white suburbanites who aren’t willing to swallow such overt and toxic racism. The commander’s actions weren’t just racist. His actions were almost laughably racist. Indeed, the commander had displayed overt and toxic racism. We love to toss ourt R-bombs around, sometimes jacking the level of racism up.That said, did Trump display almost laughable racism when he defended Kyle Rittenhouse, “the white man who allegedly killed two black protesters in Kenosha?” We ask because the words we’ve quoited contain a basic mistake.Let’s start with a minor digression. Is Kyle Rittenhouse really a “man?” We ask this question because he’s only 17 years old. In earlier, major tribal narratives, being 17 made you a “boy,” even a “child.” For our money, it might be better to state a teenager’s age and pretty much leave it at that.That, of course, isn’t the instructive mistake to which we’ve been referring. Here’s the (possibly instructive) mistake:”Kyle Rittenhouse, the white man who allegedly killed two black protesters”In fact, Rittenhouse shot three people that night, two of whom died. But all of those people were “white!”Drum hasn’t been posting a lot of late. His mother had had a medical situation, and he’s been helping out. Beyond that, anyone can make a mistake. But this particular error strikes us as maybe instructive.In recent weeks, we’ve asked a question several times. Rather, we’ve floated a fantasy:We’ve wondered what people would say if they were surveyed about shooting deaths. More specifically, we’ve wondered if people have any idea about which “racial” or ethnic groups get shot and killed by police officers.How many “white” people get shot and killed by police officers? Because of the way such matters are now being reported, we’ll guess that quite a few people might think that the answer is basically none.That thought would of course be wrong. We’d be inclined to guess that quite a few people might think that. We’d love to see that survey done. We’d like to see it done several ways, with an array of well-formed questions. Drum may simply have had a brain cramp when he made that misstatement. On the other hand, the fact that he apparently thought that the white man in Kenosha shot and killed two black people may be a window into what we’ve been wondering about.Consider yesterday’s very strange front-page report in the Washington Post. The giant report claimed to be discussing “an often overlooked but consistent subset of people fatally shot by police—women.” We were finally going to learn about the women who get shot and killed by police officers. But how odd:In fact, 62.3% of women shot and killed by police officers are socially defined as “white.” Only 20.3% of such decedents are socially defined as “black.”Sixty-two percent are white! But of the seven women the Post discussed, only one was white. And you had to read to paragraph 76 to see her case get mentioned, with the Post’s report apparently containing major, embarrassing mistakes.An obvious rule of thumb now obtains with regard to fatal shootings by police officers. Some cases get tremendous coverage–but only if the decedent is black.If the decedent is white, Hispanic or other, the case gets disappeared. This is a fairly obvious fact. Let’s not pretend that it isn’t. Along the way, a certain inaccurate picture may start to form in the mind. We may start assuming that all shooting victims are black. That may explain why Drum seemed to have an inaccurate picture in his mind about what the white man did.Rittenhouse shot three people, one of whom was armed. But all of the people he shot were “white!” None of the three was “black.” We’ve asked and asked, then asked some more, whether the current press procedure might produce misperceptions. Because this topic is very important, misperceptions about this topic can be very harmful.We’ll guess that misperceptions do form when “white,” Hispanic and “other” deaths get disappeared. That’s why the analysts came out of their chairs when they visited Slate this morning.There they found Jeremy Stahl, breaking every rule in the book. Stahl was reporting a police shooting incident in Salt Lake City. And according to Stahl, the 13-year-old boy who got shot was “white!” He was white all the way down! Jeremy Stahl broke every rule in the book by discussing that incident. In our view, it’s a very good thing that he did. Once again, we recall what Professor cobb recently said, right there on The One True Channel:COBB (6/10/20): One other point that I have been making a lot, I have been making all the time, is that one of the reasons that this problem has been allowed to persist is that people have the perception that this is a black and brown problem.But if you were to discard all of the incidents involving black and brown people, what you would find is, there are a heck of a lot of white people, unarmed white people, who are killed by police each year.We have a fundamental problem with policing in this country, whose most extreme violent forms are witnessed in how we see black and brown people treated by law enforcement.According to Cobb, this isn’t just a black and brown problem. (For the record, Hispanic deaths get disappeared by the upper-end press corps too.) It’s a fundamental policing problem, Cobb says. He says we could address the problem better if we stopped pretending it only affects some groups.Black shooting deaths by police may get massive coverage. All other such deaths get disappeared.Can this ridiculous practice produce misperceptions? People, we’ll be here all week!Tomorrow: Kirk Herbstreit, Professor Krug, and the high academic eliteFriday: Do you believe in race? Recalling what Professor Gates said

  • Midwest Dispatch: The Gospel of School Choice
    by Sarah Lahm on September 9, 2020 at 13:00

    While Republicans peddle the myth that every student has access to ‘world-class schools,’ Democrats must start defending public schools.

  • Can you believe what you read in the Post?
    by <b>bob somerby</b> on September 8, 2020 at 20:43

    TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 8, 2020The state of play in Houston: No-knock raids are inherently dangerous. So are other types of raids staged in the middle of the night.In 2019, a married couple in Houston died in a late afternoon no-knock raid. This morning, the Washington Post’s Marisa Iati gave this account of what happened:IATI (9/8/20): On Jan. 28, 2019, Houston police were executing a no-knock warrant for heroin trafficking when they shot and killed Rhogena Nicholas, 58, and her 59-year-old husband, Dennis Tuttle, a disabled Navy veteran—both White—at the Houston couple’s home.About 4:30 p.m., roughly 12 narcotics officers and about six patrol officers, some of them in uniform, broke down the door while announcing themselves, police said.A pit bull charged at the first officer inside, who shot and killed the dog, according to police. Tuttle came from the back of the house and shot the officer in the shoulder, causing him to collapse on the living room sofa, police said. Three other officers were also shot by Tuttle, according to Chief Art Acevedo’s statements to reporters.Nicholas reached for the officer’s gun, according to police. Police told The Post that seven officers opened fire, striking and killing her and Tuttle.The officers had secured the warrant asserting that there was heroin trafficking at the home, but police said they found no heroin.In the following months, the official narrative unraveled: An internal police investigation found that an informant referenced in the search warrant said he had never bought drugs at the home.Acevedo accused the officer who led the raid of lying to justify it.The officer was charged with two counts of murder, while he and another officer were charged with tampering with government records for allegedly falsifying documents related to the raid, the Harris County Prosecutor’s Office said in statements. Both officers have pleaded not guilty, and the cases are ongoing.[…]“To this day, the chief of police hasn’t apologized,” John Nicholas said. “They still say there was a reason to be there, but nobody knows that reason.”Please note: In her first paragraph, Iati refers to a “no-knock warrant.” She then quotes police saying they announced themselves. The apparent confusion goes unexplained.That said, was there a good reason for this late afternoon no-knock raid? Was there any serious reason for the raid at all? We have no way of knowing. Were Nicholas and Tuttle actually engaged in heroin trafficking? Everything is possible! That said, Iati’s account sounds gruesome:According to Iati, “an informant referenced in the search warrant [has now] said he had never bought drugs at the home.” Also, Chief Acevedo “has accused the officer who led the raid of lying to justify it.”According to Iati, a second officer has been “charged with tampering with government records for allegedly falsifying documents related to the raid.” Also, “the officer who led the raid” has been charged with two counts of murder!Acevedo still says there was a good reason for the raid, but he hasn’t said what it was, nor has he apologized. As Iati told the story, it sounds like a mess all around.No-knock raids are inherently dangerous. Stating the obvious, the people being raided may open fire on unannounced police whether they were ever engaged in criminal conduct or not. That’s what happened in this case. That also happened one year later in the post-midnight raid in which Breonna Taylor was killed.To this day, there’s no public evidence that Tuttle and Nicholas were engaged in criminal activity when their home was raided. It’s always possible that they were. It’s also entirely possible that they weren’t.That said, a recent Associated Press report makes it sound like this was a much bigger mess than Iati’s account suggested. On July 31 of this year, NBC News published an AP report about new developments in the case.New indictments had been handed down. In the process, the case had become much more gruesome:FIELDSTADT (7/31/20): A grand jury on Thursday indicted six former Houston police officers with a total of 17 counts for their roles in a botched January 2019 drug raid that left a couple dead.The Jan. 28, 2019, raid came under scrutiny after police alleged then-officer Gerald Goines, who was shot during the raid, lied in a search warrant that a confidential informant had bought heroin at the home. Goines later acknowledged there was no informant and that he bought the drugs himself, authorities said.Oof. According to the NBC/AP report, six former officers have been formally charged with crimes. Iati’s account seemed to suggest that the number was two. Also, it sounds like the “informant referenced in the search warrant [who has now] said he had never bought drugs at the home” was actually Officer Goines himself! (Or something. We have no idea.) Horribly, that may be what Iati meant when she said that Chief Acevedo “has accused the officer who led the raid of lying to justify it.” (Repeat: we now have no idea what Iati, her two co-writers and her editors actually meant.)That said, can you believe a freaking thing you read in the Washington Post? We can’t answer your question! We aren’t experts on this case, which has generated virtually no national discussion in the 20 months since it occurred. (Obvious reason: Both people shot and killed in this instance were “white.”) But it sounds like, for whatever reason, the extent of the alleged misconduct goes well beyond the account which appeared in this morning’s Post.Oof! NBC also included this gruesome information in its version of the AP report:FIELDSTADT: Three former supervisors and a former senior police officer were also indicted on felony charges Thursday [in addition to Goines and Bryant].”The charges stem from allegations that include using false information to get judges to sign search warrants; falsifying time sheets, putting false information in offense reports and falsifying government documents to steal,” according to a statement released by Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg’s office Friday.[…]The district attorney’s Friday statement said that hundreds of defendants arrested by Goines have been notified that there may be problems with their convictions. The defendants have been provided court-appointed lawyers.The office has already found that two brothers convicted in a case in which Goines was the sole witness were “actually innocent of the charges.”Oof! At present, these are just allegations, of course.As noted, the seventeen charges against the six officers were announced in late July. More than five weeks have passed since that time. But based upon what she wrote today, Iati doesn’t seem to have been aware of these new indictments. She seems to have described the state of play as it existed before those new charges were filed.Everybody makes mistakes. With respect to this particular case, Iati and the Washington Post seem to have made some dillies. That said, the larger problem lies in the overt propaganda this morning’s report was selling. At present, the mainstream press is selling a particular story about the topic of police shootings. We’re not sure we’ve seen such a widespread journalistic con since the mainstream press spent twenty months inventing stories to make you believe that the deeply reviled Candidate Gore was the world’s biggest liar, just like Bill Clinton, his deeply reviled boss.At present, the mainstream press is selling a particular story about police shootings. In our view, Iati’s report was selling that preferred tribal story hard. We plan to tell you what we mean as the week progresses. This is all anthropology, of course. By now, it’s much too late to expect some sort of good outcome!

  • U.S. Food System Needs Reform
    by Anthony Pahnke on September 8, 2020 at 17:04

    The pandemic has exposed critical weaknesses in our food system.

  • PERFORMATIVE BELIEF: Jesus wept for the second time…
    by <b>bob somerby</b> on September 8, 2020 at 15:39

    TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 8, 2020…while reading this morning’s Post: Marisa Iati is a “storyteller who taps into the pulse of local communities.”We know that because that’s her self-description at her own web site. At that site, Iati also describes herself “a reporter on the General Assignment desk at The Washington Post, where I write about everything from prison violence to whether Catholics can eat the Impossible Burger during Lent.”We feel quite sure that Iati is also a good decent person. To position her within the annals of time, she’s six year out of college (Notre Dame, class of 2014).We feel sure sure that Marisa Iati is a good decent person. It’s also true that we’ve long warned you about journalists who understand themselves to be tellers of stories rather than writers of news reports or news analyses.Anthropologists routinely tell us that man [sic] has always been the story-telling animal. More specifically, these experts say that man [sic} has always been a teller of tribal tales—a creature wired to invent and repeat Standard Group Stories which serve the purposes, or reflect the beliefs, of some narrow group.Our view? This morning, Iati is the lead reporter in one such (mammoth) undertaking in the Washington Post.In print editions, it’s the featured news report on the Post’s front page. Inside the paper, the continuation of the “story” or the report devours two full pages, A12 and A13.The report consists of an uncounted number of words stretching over 127 paragraphs. It’s accompanied by four photographs and several graphics—and if we wanted to be judgmental, we’d call it a journalistic disgrace which is almost comically awful.What makes this morning’s ginormous news report almost comically awful? Consider the alleged topic of the report, as defined in its opening paragraphs:IATI ET AL (9/8/20): After Louisville police fatally shot 26-year-old Breonna Taylor during a nighttime raid at her home in March, her killing could have been just another in a long line of deadly police shootings of women that have drawn little publicity.But the death of Taylor, who was Black, fell between two high-profile killings of Black men. In February, a retired police detective, his son and a third man allegedly killed Ahmaud Arbery, 25, in a Georgia suburb. In May, a Minneapolis police officer knelt for nearly eight minutes on the neck of 46-year-old George Floyd, fatally injuring him.Taylor’s name has become a rallying cry—#SayHerName—for policing overhauls and racial justice nationwide. Her image is on magazine covers, her name emblazoned on WNBA uniforms and more than five months later, protests over her death continue in Louisville. Her killing has brought into focus an often overlooked but consistent subset of people fatally shot by police—women.According to those opening paragraphs, this morning’s report focuses on a “consistent subset of people fatally shot by police—women.” It starts with the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor, then pretends to move on from there to discuss the fatal shooting of women in general.In paragraph 4, the reader is told that women are fatally shot by police much less often than men. Here is the passage in question:IATI (continuing directly): Since The Washington Post began tracking fatal shootings by police in 2015, officers have fatally shot 247 women out of the more than 5,600 people killed overall.In short, women are only 4.4% of the people fatally shot by police. If readers make it all the way to paragraph 55, they’ll see the breakdown by race/ethnicity:IATI: By race, 147 of the women killed were White, 48 Black and 29 Hispanic. Five were Native American, four were Asian and three were other races. In 11 cases, race could not be determined. Those numbers all come directly from the Washington Post’s Fatal Force site. Just in terms of raw numbers, for every black woman shot and killed by police, the Post has found three corresponding white women.(The three women of “other races” all seem to have been women of Middle Eastern ancestry. The Fatal Force site has been disinclined to name a specific “race” or ethnicity for people of such ancestry.)At any rate, Iati starts by telling us that she’e exploring the topic of women shot and killed by police, full stop. If you read all the way to paragraph 55, you learn that this involves three times as many white decedents as compared to black decedents.Adjusting for population, a higher proportion of black women are killed. But in absolute numbers, three times as many white women are killed.Three times as many white women get killed–unless you consider the seven women whose specific cases Iati discusses. The roll call of those cases looks like this:Women decedents whose cases are discussed in today’s report:Breonna Taylor, age 26Alteria Woods, 21 India Kager, 27Geraldine Townsend, 72Rogena Nicholas, 58DeCynthia Clements, 34Hannah Williams, 17Those are the seven cases Iati specifically discusses. Meanwhile, here comes the racial breakdown:Only Nicholas is described as white in Iati’s report. Williams is described as multiracial; the other five women are all described as black.At this point, we summarize, while provisionally rolling our eyes:Of the 236 female decedents whose race or ethnicity is known, 62.3% were white. (20.3% were black.) But of the seven cases Iati discusses, only one is said to have been white—and you have to read to paragraph 76 before that discussion occurs.Meanwhile, Iati tells us that Hannah Williams “was described by her father as multiracial.” That may well be true, but the Fatal Force site from which she accepts all the rest of her information lists Williams as white. (For more on this case, see below.) Long story short:The Post is presenting yet another report about fatal shootings by police in which the decedents are people of color.In many such reports, no white decedents need apply. In today’s report, one white decedent was accepted.It’s possible that a newspaper could do a valuable report about fatal shootings by police in which the decedents were all black women. In this case, the Post has produced yet another report which may tend to reinforce a mistaken impression—the impression that police shoot and kill only, or almost only, people who are black.(As we’ve noted in the past, we’ll guess that that misperception is quite widespread. In our view, reports like this play an active role in advancing that misperception about this highly important topic.)Beyond that, this morning’s report frequently comes to us live and direct from Clown School. Along the way, These Police Stereotypes Today are comically featured, especially in the sub-section which is headlined, “Why fewer women are killed:”IATI: Why fewer women are killedThe Post began tracking fatal police shootings in a database in January 2015, months after a White police officer in Ferguson, Mo., killed Michael Brown, an unarmed Black man during a confrontation. Since then, police have shot and killed about 1,000 people a year.The starkest difference between women and men is the rate: Women account for about half the population, but 4 percent of the killings. Of those fatally shot every year, about 44 have been women.That difference may be explained in part by broader patterns in criminal justice regarding contact with law enforcement and police stereotypes about gender, experts said. Women in the United States account for about one-fourth of all arrests, according to FBI data.[…]Lawrence Sherman, director of the University of Cambridge’s Police Executive Program and the Cambridge Center for Evidence-Based Policing, agreed that police may feel less threatened by women. Police generally view men as more likely to commit homicides and carry guns, he said.In the hands of upper-end journalists. These Experts Today never quit! In Iati’s hands, we learn that “police stereotypes about gender” may help explain why so many fewer women get shot and killed.”Police generally view men as more likely to commit homicides,” one expert apparently said. Journalistically speaking, you simply can’t get dumber than that—or, of course, more scripted by prevailing Storyline.This morning’s report is awful. It pretends to span the globe looking for the fatal cases which most resemble Taylor’s—and, by some roll of the dice, its findings keep coming up black. The shooting death of Nicholas, which very close resembles the shooting death of Taylor, isn’t allowed to intrude until most readers have quit.(There’s at least one clear difference between the two cases. Check to see what it is!)The racial question concerning such fatal shootings goes something like this:Blacks are shot and killed at a higher rate than whites. To what extent does that occur because of racial animus on the part of some police officers? To what extent might it occur because of different conduct, on average, among relatively minor elements of different racial groups?In actual, competent news reporting, those would be blindingly obvious questions. It wouldn’t be easy to answer those questions, but they’d be a good place to start.It seems to us that the Post today is engaged in preapproved story-telling more than in competent news reporting. Once again, the numbers look like this:Women fatally shot by police (Fatal Force site):White: 147Black: 48Women fatally shot by police (Washington Post news report):White: 1Black: 5Multiracial: 1Iati says she’s “a storyteller.” According to leading anthropologists, so is the whole human race!Tomorrow: Herbstreit weptConcerning the late Hannah Williams: In Iati’s report, Hannah Williams’ father says that his late daughter had long struggled with severe mental illness, but seemed to be doing better shortly before she was killed. Iati describes the highly irrational conduct which preceded the fatal shooting.This tragic state of affairs is involved in a large percentage of police shootings. Meanwhile, to see the New York Times at work (or at play), you can just click here.In real time, knowing little, the Times piled atop the theme that the police keep shooting people for no known reason. In the Times, Williams’ parents were quoted saying they just can’t figure it out:”Hannah’s parents, however, cannot reconcile the news with the daughter they knew, who this summer started her first job as a lifeguard at a theme park, Knott’s Berry Farm; had been voted captain of her soccer team at Magnolia High School; and liked volunteering at events to support veterans.”According to experts, the human race is war-inclined and devoted to the proposition that tribal stories must be concocted and repeated. That’s true of our own tribe’s greatesdt newspapers, which are devoted to “storytelling” to an enormous extent.

  • A Tale of Two Veep Visits
    by Ruth Conniff on September 8, 2020 at 14:52

    Mike Pence and Kamala Harris hold dueling Labor Day events in Wisconsin.

  • PERFORMATIVE BELIEF: Jesus wept, the Bible says!
    by <b>bob somerby</b> on September 7, 2020 at 15:59

    MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 7, 2020Recently, so did Kirk Herbstreit: The most interesting sentence we read this weekend was found in a book review written by Walter Isaacson.The book in question is called Life Of A Klansman; it was written by Edward Ball. Yesterday, Isaacson reviewed the book in the New York Times Book Review.At one point, Isaacson directly quotes a rather peculiar statement Ball makes in his book. For whatever reason, the statement doesn’t seem to strike Isaacson as peculiar. The passage in question says this:ISAACSON (9/6/20): Near the end of his book, Ball makes a fascinating digression. It involves a prominent person of color who lived in New Orleans [in the 1870s]. Louis Charles Roudanez was a medical doctor, trained in France and at Dartmouth, who published The New Orleans Tribune, a daily newspaper for the Black community. An homme de couleur libre, Roudanez married a free woman of color. While researching his own family, Ball decided to look for the descendants of the Roudanez family.He finds one of the physician-publisher’s great-great-grandchildren, named Mark Roudané, living in a leafy subdivision of St. Paul, Minn. “He was raised white, and he appears white,” Ball writes of Roudané. “In middle age he learned that according to the one-drop rule of blackness, he was not white.” What a strange thing to say! For the record, Ball is discussing something Mark Roudané learned in the year 2006, when he was 55.What did Mark Roudané learn in 2006? Way up north in St. Paul, Roudané had grown up believing he was “white.”But “in middle age”—more specifically, in the year 2006, when he was 55—Mark Roudané “learned that according to the one-drop rule of blackness, he was not white.” According to the one-drop rule, Roudané learned that he wasn’t “white!” What an amazingly strange thing to write! And what a strange statement to quote!Presumably, most people have heard of the famous “one-drop rule.” As part of our nation’s benighted history, the following events occurred:For starters, our benighted ancestors created a taxonomy in which everyone belonged to a “race.” The two main “races” in question were the ones we now call black and white.The belief that these “races” exist comes to us, live and direct, from “the world the slaveholders made.” Several centuries later, we still believe in the taxonomy of that world with all our hearts. In the present day, no one believes in that world more than we liberals do.According to the world the slaveholders made, everyone belongs to a “race!” In most American instances, that means that a person is either “black” or “white.”As a further part of this benighted history, our ancestors also invented the one-drop rule. If a person has even one drop of “black blood” (African ancestry), the person in question is “black.”Let’s continue from there:According to Edward Ball, Mark Roudané learned the following in 2006. He learned that, according to the one-drop rule, “he was not white.” In Ball’s actual book, he quotes Roudané saying that a DNA test showed that he has or had 5% sub-Saharan African ancestry. We’ll guess that means that as much as 95% of his ancestry tracks to Europe, not to Africa, in the relevant time spans.(Everyone’s ancestry tracks to Africa if you go back far enough.) Mark Roudané has 5% African ancestry. What “race” does that make him?According to the one-drop rule, that makes him plenty “black!” But if we’re speaking in the year 2020, why would anyone be reporting what Roudané “learned” according to the one-drop rule? Unless we’re just having a whole lot of fun, that strikes us as extremely odd thing to say.The one-drop rule is one of the crazy “racial” notions which originated as part of “the world the slaveholders made.” The slaveholders insisted that everyone belonged to a “race,” and that one drop of African ancestry meant that the individual’s “race” was black.Walter Isaacson strikes us as a good, decent person. In his otherwise excellent biography of Einstein, he wasn’t able to make Einstein easy. Of course, even Einstein couldn’t do that, so why should we blame poor Isaacson?It would have been better if Isaacson had simply said that he couldn’t make Einstein easy. But Isaacson is almost always found in the saner end of the wading pool. Presumably, he’s a good, decent person. We’d be amazed if it turned out that he somehow wasn’t.That said, it struck us as very strange when we saw Isaacson quoting that strange statement by Ball. Except on a performative basis, it also strikes us as very strange to think that Ball ever published that peculiar statement in the first place.According to the one-drop rule, Roudané isn’t white? Crazy discussions of that type arise from adherence to the concepts which come to us, live and direct, from the world the slaveholders made. To wit:Is Roudané white or black at all? Does anyone actually have a “race?” Or is that belief simply part of the world our benighted ancestors made?Do people really belong to “race?” Or re we just treated that way?Granted, everyone is treated that way. But leaving aside the ways people get treated, does anyone really belong to a race? Do these “races” really exist?Do “races” really exist? At present, our own liberal / progressive tribe seems to love that part of the world the slaveholders made. We love it more than life itself. We believe that people do belong to a “race,” not just that they’ll be treated that way!We believe that people belong to a “race”—and we also seem to believe that your “race” constitutes your “identity.” We keep slicing “identity” finer and finer, as derived from various people’s gender and race!At present, our nation is engaged in a great conceptual war concerning the concept of “race.” As part of this ongoing war, many people who are defined as “white” are engaged in acts of performative virtue, or so it may sometimes seem.These many deeds of performative virtue will likely involve many deeds of performative belief. Before a member can act out his virtue, he must demonstrate his belief.Jesus wept, the Bible says. Over the weekend, so did Kirk Herbstreit! Over the weekend, Herbstreit wept? Where has this TV star been?Tomorrow: Where has this mofo been?

  • This Labor Day, ‘Black Lives Matter’ Means Justice for Black Workers
    by Tanya Wallace-Gobern on September 6, 2020 at 23:29

    The economy was failing Black workers before the pandemic—and now, even as many are deemed essential, they’re being treated as disposable.

  • Experts arrive at the scene of the crime!
    by <b>bob somerby</b> on September 5, 2020 at 17:38

    SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 5, 2020Which proles can we lock up now?: Thursday evening, on CNN, we heard from someone who was even described as an expert.The observer in question was Charles Ramsey, former police chief in Washington, D.C. and in Philadelphia. He was asked to state his view about the death of Daniel Prude.In an act of mercy, John Berman was sitting in for Anderson Cooper. As we sat and watched, the first exchange went like this:BERMAN (9/3/20): Joining us now is Charles Ramsey, CNN law enforcement analyst and former top cop in Washington and Philadelphia. Chief Ramsey, looking at it with your expert eyes. What’s your reaction to that video of Daniel Prude’s arrest?RAMSEY: Well, I mean, obviously, it is disturbing to watch, but if I may just kind of walk you through it very carefully. Obviously, he’s in mental distress. I mean, it’s winter time, you can see the snow falling and he’s naked. That tells you right there that he wasn’t in his normal state of mind. He was compliant initially. He put his hands behind his back as requested, he’s sitting on the ground, and then you do see him begin to spit. Now they use what’s called a spit hood, some call it spit mask, and put over his head. Some departments use that; some don’t. It’s a little on the controversial side, primarily because of the optics of it, as you can clearly see from the video. But you can breathe through it, it’s mesh, basically. But it does protect an officer against being bitten or being spat upon.Once they put that hood on, though, he becomes more agitated, and that’s when he tries to get up. They start to apply pressure to keep him on the ground.Now the autopsy showed, of course, asphyxia. But it also shows he had a high level of PCP in his bloodstream. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen a person or had to deal with a person high on PCP. They are very difficult to control, they can be incredibly strong. It is, it is not a pretty sight to see somebody being taken into custody so on PCP. I don’t know if that had anything to do with it or not. I’m not trying to justify this, that’ll all come out as part of the investigation. But I do know that having drugs in his system, I don’t know what his mental state is normally. But all those things combined, that was a very difficult situation. It was “a very difficult situation” for the police officers on the scene, Chief Ramsey said. At present, of course, our national discourse rarely runs on such fuel.At present, our national discourse, such as it is, runs on instant blame, preferably of the lowest players on the social-class totem pole. We don’t ask why the Rochester Medical Center released Prude without successful treatment. At newspapers like the New York Times, we wait for the police officers to show up in the middle of the night, at which point we interject talk about the way they conducted a “lynching.”Ramsey had already talked too long and with too little certainty, given the norms of our discourse. Incredibly, Berman, a batter than average cable player, invited him to say more:BERMAN (continuing directly): I get it. What you’re laying out is that this was a complicated situation with different factors here. But looking at the video, did you see anything that was done that you think could have or should have been done differently? RAMSEY: Well, it’s hard to tell, but the pressure on the back for a sustained period of time could cause positional asphyxia. According to what I read, he was still spitting while he had the hood on, plus he may have vomited. That of course could get in the airway and cause problems as well. Obviously if they had released some pressure, roll him over earlier, maybe things would have been different. Who knows whether or not that would have been the case? But it’s not like a George Floyd situation, where it’s obvious that that is totally inappropriate. This is a little different situation here. So it’ll be interesting as the evidence starts to come out during the course of the investigation, exactly what’s found.BERMAN: Charles Ramsey, as always, we do appreciate your time. Thank you very much. According to Ramsey, the officers were facing “a very difficult situation.” This isn’t “like a George Floyd situation, where it’s obvious that that is totally inappropriate.” Inexcusably, Ramsey even suggested that we should wait for additional evidence as the (real or ersatz) investigation(s) drag on. Cable news is much less entertaining and fun when people make statements like that.Did the officers in question do something wrong on that cold March night? More to the point, did they do something illegal?Seven officers have now been suspended based on what happened that night. Given the way our discourse works, various entities will be actively looking for a way to lock them all up. Perhaps they should lock Chief Ramsey up too, on a charge of avoiding stampede!Did the officers do something wrong that night? We’re forced to admit that, much like Ramsey, we can’t quite see it from the videotape. This morning, though, the Washington Post has called in the nation’s actual “experts” to get us all straightened out. Before we review what the experts have said, let’s recall the chronology which left it to those seven officers to handle this matter that night.The story starts with Daniel Prude boarding a train in Chicago. Amtrak couldn’t deal with his PCP-laced behavior, so they kicked him off the train in Buffalo.In Buffalo, he ended up in a shelter. From there, he called his brother in Rochester, who drove the 70 miles to Buffalo and picked Daniel Prude up.When the brother couldn’t deal with Prude’s PCP-laced behavior—there’s no reason why he should have been able—he called the Rochester police for the first time. The police had Daniel Prude taken to the University of Rochester Medical Center.At that point, the story becomes a bit strange. This morning, the Washington Post reported what happened next: KINDY AND CRAIG (9/5/20): On the evening of March 22, before his early-morning arrest, authorities had responded to a separate police call involving Prude. He was taken to the University of Rochester Medical Center, the Democrat & Chronicle newspaper reported. But the hospital released him. Stating the obvious, the hospital released Daniel Prude without providing successful treatment. When his brother still couldn’t control his behavior, Daniel Prude fled into the night at roughly 3 A.M.The brother called police again. It was left to a bunch of working-class cops to deal with this manic behavior.Let’s offer an unbalanced review of the chronology here:Amtrak kicked him off their train. The shelter let him depart.The hospital kicked him out of the hospital. In the end, seven policemen may yet get locked up because the weight of the case finally descended on them.According to this morning’s Post, “The University of Rochester Medical Center is now conducting an internal review of Prude’s case.” We expect to see little follow-up, but of one thing, you can be fairly certain. No one will be looking for ways to lock those people up, or to defund them.At present, we see no questions being asked about what happened at the medical center—about the judgment or the behavior of the medical staff. You see, those people come from the high-end professional class. Like college presidents and certain police chiefs, they’re largely immune from rebuke.Amtrak couldn’t deal with Prude, so they cut him loose. For whatever reason, the medical center sent him back to his brother.Eventually, police were called for the second time; entities are now begging to lock seven cops up. This morning, the Post brought the note of unintentional comedy in, placing its lengthy news report under this hard-copy headline:Union backs Rochester police as experts criticize tacticsThe Washington Post had spoken with the experts (plural)! Oddly, this comes close to being the totality of what the “experts” said:KINDY AND CRAIG: Mental health experts, who help train police officers in ways to de-escalate such encounters, said the officers should have maintained their distance from Prude while they calmly talked to him, asking how they could be of assistance. Handcuffs and the hood served to escalate the tension and fear, they said, causing Prude to tell the officers, “You’re trying to kill me.”[NAME WITHHELD], a vice president at Mental Health America, said instead of shouting orders, officers should ask, “How can I help you?” They should also not order a person having a mental health crisis to “calm down,” as officers repeatedly did with Prude, whose autopsy said he had the drug PCP in his system.As for the handcuffs, [WITHHELD] said, “They are already afraid. It also criminalizes people with a mental health condition.” It could be that WITHHELD’s expert advice is correct! On the other hand, this is the way the New York Times has reported the background events:NIR ET AL (9/4/20): The man, Daniel Prude, who was having a psychotic episode, was handcuffed by officers after he ran into the street naked in the middle of the cold night and told at least one passer-by that he had the coronavirus. Mr. Prude began spitting, and the officers responded by pulling a mesh hood over his head, according to police body camera footage.As you may have heard, people can die from the virus in question. Apparently, though, the officers, being mere proles, maybe shouldn’t have cared about that.”The officers seemed preoccupied with concern that they might catch something from Mr. Prude,” the Times report, at one point, may possibly seem to sniff. NAME WITHHELD, the Post’s top expert, said they should have played Mr. Rogers as Prude continued to spit, perhaps at risk to their lives. They shouldn’t have told him to calm down. They certainly shouldn’t have used handcuffs!In fairness, the Post’s report is full of interesting information. Much of it comers from people urging a nuanced look at this fatal event, not from the “mental health experts.”Much of it comes from Mark Mazzeo, head of the Rochester police union. Mazzeo sounds a great deal more sane than many such union heads sometimes do. Here’s part of what he said:KINDY AND CRAIG: Severe budget cuts for psychiatric services—by as much as 30 percent in some states in recent years—have created a vacuum that local police are increasingly asked to fill.Mazzeo referenced how New York has shut down many of its mental health institutions, which he said has strained police officers.“They put people out on the street, and who is one of the only agencies to deal with them—it’s the police,” he said. “We definitely need changes.”Governors and legislators eliminate psychiatric services. Medical personnel put psychotic people out on the street, asking young cops to mop up.In the case of Daniel Prude, it was the Rochester Medical Center which put him back on the street. That said, no one will try to lock their personnel up, nor are we saying they should.Whoever wrote the Post’s headline today went straight to the work of the “experts.” The expert quoted in the report seemed to be phoning home from a slightly make-believe realm.That said, the familiar story being told here involves a familiar format. We go in search of magical solutions to extremely difficult situation. When no magic solution appears, we try to lock up the lowest players on the totem pole.We lock up the college freshman, not the Stanford president and the Stanford provost who kept permitting the drunken brawls which were always destined to lead to disaster. (Note: to this day, no one has the slightest idea what actually happened that night.) We lock up the two rookie cops, not the politically skilled police chief who left the apparently crazy Derek Chauvin out on the street—as the rookie cops’ training officer, no less.It Atlanta, we lock up the second cop, the one who didn’t fire his gun. No one tried to lock up the corrupt DA who rendered that judgment as he ran a badly failed campaign for re-election. (For update, see below.)Yesterday, we read some of the comments to that Times report. We were struck by how many angry pseudo-liberals seem to reason exactly like Donald J. Trump.He promised that the virus would “magically” disappear. Over here in our own unimpressive tribe, many commenters seemed to want a magic solution to the problem which arose when Daniel Prude, on PCP, had another psychotic breakdown that night.Amtrak kicked him off the train. The hospital put him back on the street. When a bunch of cops didn’t have magic solution to this, we start trying to lock them up. This is the way we “rational animals” have always tended to reason. When he was interviewed by Berman, Chief Ramsey spoke with a great deal of nuance. Berman even called him an “expert.” Very few others will.We like our experts from La-La Land. We like our proles locked up. We like our tribal narratives neat. This is the way we’ve always been wired, major top experts now say.Atlanta DA goes down: Paul Howard was behind in the polls. Also, he was faced with several corruption charges. And so, he brought charges against both cops. That included the second cop, the one who didn’t even fire his gun.Last month, Howard lost his run-off by 45 points. On cable, no one is yelling to lock him up, but that second cop remains charged. This is the way the game is played over here in our self-impressed tribe!

  • The Doctor Is SO In
    by Mark Fiore on September 4, 2020 at 21:00

    This would again be funny if it weren’t for the fact that an unqualified doctor with no infectious disease experience is now on the White House team that is in charge of leading the coronavirus response.

  • Why would Donald Trump say such things?
    by <b>bob somerby</b> on September 4, 2020 at 18:26

    FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 4, 2020Concerning the problem with Us: This site became an anthropology site roughly three years back.At that time, we entered into regular consultation with Future Anthropologists Huddled in Caves, a despondent group of credentialed scholars who report to us from the years which lie beyond the cataclysmic global event they refer to as Mister Trump’s War.Under the tutelage of these experts, we’ve tried to explain the reasons for our badly failed national discourse.Tomorrow, we’ll visit the Nordic behaviors once described by Ahman ibn Fadlan. (For Slate’s recent description, click here.) We’ll flavor our discussion with cross-reference to old Inka customs. Also, we’ll let Professor Gates talk about Muslim-on-Muslim enslavement as practiced by African rulers.For today, we offer two points of elucidation:Why in the world would he say such things?: Almost surely, Donald J. Trump is some form of a “sociopath.” As far as we know, that isn’t his fault. But almost surely, it is what he is.Presumably, he’s saying the things, and giving voice to the experiences (or lack of same), which stem from that state of affairs. We’ll suggest you ask Dr. Bandy X. Lee, who the “press corps” decided to silence.Presumably, Donald J. Trump is badly impaired. The larger question would be this:Why is our utterly hapless upper-end press corps still so freaking surprised?A few years back, the press corps entered a tacit agreement. Under this agreement, they’ve refused to discuss the obvious possibility that Trump is psychiatrically impaired in some major way. They’ve all agreed that the situation mustn’t be directly discussed. Instead, they are constantly feigning surprise at the things he says and does.It’s Groundhog Day in Casablanca. They’re shocked, shocked every time out!More on the pleasures of looting: Earlier this week, we marveled at the astounding rumination on the rewards of looting published by National Public Radio.Over at The Atlantic, Graeme Wood has actually read the book in question—the apparently ludicrous In Defense of Looting: A Riotous History of Uncivil Action. Drawing on his international reporting experience, Woods tears the apparently ludicrous book to shreds, offering such perspectives as this:WOOD (9/2/20): I am also from recent-immigrant stock. [Author Vicki] Osterweil euphemizes looting as “proletarian shopping,” and no one from a place that has recently experienced this phenomenon can take seriously her assurance that it can happen justly and bloodlessly. When I think of riots and smashed storefronts, I think of Kristallnacht. I think of American businesses built by penniless immigrants who preferred to forfeit their vacations and weekends for 30 years rather than see their children suffer as they did; I think of these businesses ransacked in 30 minutes and left in ruins. Osterweil at least has the psychology right when she says that looting can be “joyous and liberatory.” I have never seen a sullen looter, but I have seen plenty of shop owners crying next to the smoking remains of their children’s future.We recommend Wood’s essay. Mainly, though, the question remains:What does it mean when NPR commissions such a ludicrous interview piece by a kid two years out of college? What editor read that youngster’s essay and thought it should be published?Our nation is crashing to the ground beneath our remarkable lack of mental and moral ability. Our press corps can’t see who Donald Trump is, or at least isn’t willing to say what it knows or presumes. Meanwhile, our allegedly brightest mainstream press organs keep publishing claptrap dreamed by kids just out of their swaddling clothes.It’s hard to get a whole lot dumber, or more faux, than our “press corps” routinely is. For the record, we’re discussing the way we behave Over Here. We aren’t discussing the ways of The Others, though they’ve crashed and burned too.Why would Donald Trump say such things? To us, the most likely answer seems to be blindingly obvious.The larger, much more relevant question concerns the behavior of the people within our failing elites. Simply put, we just don’t seem to have what it takes. This has been true for years.

  • Smart Ass Cripple: So What if Trump Can’t Ride a Bike?
    by Mike Ervin on September 4, 2020 at 17:12

    Insulting his abilities inevitably drags down disabled folks, too.

  • THE DISAPPEARED AND THE DEAD: Why was Ghaisar’s death disappeared?
    by <b>bob somerby</b> on September 4, 2020 at 16:26

    FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 4, 2020Our press corps’ astounding procedures: It will be interesting to track the discussion of the latest police shooting death.When he was only the leading suspect in last Saturday night’s shooting death in Portland, his identity was being reported by various conservative orgs. For example:On Monday and Tuesday nights, we saw his photograph on the largely unwatchable “cable news” show, Tucker Carlson Tonight. When we googled the topic on Wednesday, we saw his identity being discussed, but largely by conservative orgs.The other team had been hearing about this guy; we liberals had largely been shielded. We were largely shielded even though the original reporting tracked to The Oregonian, Portland’s biggest mainstream newspaper.Yesterday, this very same leading suspect was shot and killed by police. We can’t tell you if he committed the original shooting in question, or if so why he did.Also, we can’t tell you if the police behaved correctly in yesterday’s fatal incident. That said, this is the start of the New York Times report on the subject—a report which is amazingly elegaic concerning the moral greatness of the man who was shot and killed:GOLDEN ET AL. (9/4/20): Law enforcement agents shot and killed an antifa supporter on Thursday as they moved to arrest him in the fatal shooting of a right-wing activist who was part of a pro-Trump caravan in Portland, Ore., officials said.The suspect, Michael Forest Reinoehl, 48, was shot by officers from a federally led fugitive task force during the encounter in Washington State, according to the U.S. Marshals Service.“Initial reports indicate the suspect produced a firearm, threatening the lives of law enforcement officers,” the Marshals Service said in a statement. “Task force members responded to the threat and struck the suspect who was pronounced dead at the scene.” As the Times continues, its report makes Reinoehl sound like the greatest peacemaker on the planet since St. Francis fed all the birds. The news report by the Washington Post strikes us as a lot more balanced, a lot more informative, and a great deal less sanitized.(The Times suggests that this gentle giant spent all his time breaking up fights. “He was literally a guardian angel,” one of his friends is quoted saying. “He sometimes ran into trouble, though,” the Times at last concedes.)At any rate, Michael Reinoehl, age 48, has now become the latest police shooting death. Was any police misconduct involved?By normal standards of the press corps, no one would ever have asked.Why would no one have asked? Consider again the fatal shooting of the late Bijan Ghaisar, age 25 at the time of his death.Bijan Ghaisar was shot and killed in Washington’s Virginia suburbs in November 2017. In a series of angry editorials, the Washington Post editorial board has referred to his death as a virtual “execution.” The Post’s most recent editorial on Ghaisar’s shooting death, and on the subsequent “cover-up” by various agencies, was published just last month.The Washington Post is a well-known national newspaper. Despite its ongoing efforts, the shooting death of Bijan Ghaisar has provoked exactly zero reporting or discussion within the national press. With that in mind, we now report who this young decedent was within the current taxonomy of the upper-end national press corps. The leading authority on Ghaisar’s life answers the question like this:Bijan C. Ghaisar was born at Inova Fairfax Hospital in 1992 to Iranian immigrants. After graduating from Langley High School and Virginia Commonwealth University, he worked for his father’s accounting firm in Tysons Corner, Virginia. He was single with no children and had no criminal record. He had attended a Buddhist temple and made a Facebook post opposing guns. Inova Fairfac Hospital is located in Falls Church, Virginia, just outside D.C. On that basis, this young man began his life as an American citizen. He grew up an American kid.That said, his parents were Iranian immigrants. Many decedents with Middle Eastern roots are listed as “Other” in terms of race or ethnicity within the taxonomy of the Fatal Force site.Ghaisar, though, is listed as “white.” Either way, we’ve hit upon the taxonomic problem.For good or for ill, our public discussions of police shooting deaths are ruled by an obvious principle:Such shooting deaths will sometimes be widely discussed, as is completely appropriate. But they will only be reported / discussed if the decedent is black.The late Bijan Ghaisar wasn’t! Within the realm of the upper-end press corps, that means that his death—no matter how outrageous or irregular—wasn’t going to be discussed on the national level. It means that his death didn’t matter. Nationally, his death disappeared.We’ll let you assess the morality of that obvious prevailing press practice. We’ll let you assess the motives of the several million upper-end journalists who have agreed to play by those obvious rules.Borrowing from Lyndon Johnson, a person can teach that morality flat or round. But we won’t assess the morality here. Instead, we’ll discuss one possible outcome of that prevailing press practice.Once again, consider:In the six months since Breonna Taylor was shot and killed, her death has produced a very large public discussion, as is completely appropriate. But when Dennis Wayne Tuttle and Rhogena Ann Nicholas were shot and killed the very same way in the previous year, their deaths produced zero national discussion.When the late George Floyd was killed face down in the streets of Minneapolis, his death produced massive discussion, as it certainly should have. But when Tony Timpa died face down in the streets of Dallas, the national public heard crickets.John Geer was shot and killed in the doorway of his house, standing there with his “hands up.” The Post spent years attempting to start a discussion of this event. We’ll let you take it from there!For ourselves, we’re inclined to think that the disappearing of those “other” deaths represents gruesome journalistic malpractice. In fairness, anthropologists keep telling us that this is pretty much the best our deeply flawed species can do.Let’s put aside these moral judgments and ask a different question. That question goes like this:When one group of killings gets massive coverage, and all other killings are wholly ignored, is it possible that certain misperceptions might occur?More to the point, we ask you this:Is it possible that people may even get the impression that no one other than black people get shot and killed by police?That would be a false impression, as some adepts already know. Adding Reinoehl to the mix, and correcting for three “Unknowns” in Wisconsin, the numbers at the Fatal Force site currently look like this:People shot and killed by police officers in the U.S., 2015 to presentWhite: 2,537Black: 1,322Hispanic: 924Other race or ethnicity: 218Unknown race or ethnicity: 610 Quite a few whites and Hispanics also get shot and killed by police. That said, how many Asian-Americans have been shot and killed? How many Native Americans?We can’t answer your sensible questions! At the Washington Post’s Fatal Force site, such people are listed as “Other.”A lot of people get shot and killed by police officers in the U.S. We’ll repeat the points we feel we should make every day:As far as we know, no police misconduct is involved in the bulk of such cases. Our nation is often said to be “awash in guns,” and our large number of police shooting deaths stems, at least in part, from that part of our national culture.Most of these deaths don’t involve misconduct, but some quite plainly do. Is it possible that misperceptions may arise when our “journalists,” such as they are, decide that they will only report and discuss such incidents if the decedent is black? Could people get a mistaken idea from that kind of press conduct?Next week, our discussion of this matter will continue. Returning to the year 2012, we’ll review the ways certain high-profile police/”vigilante” shooting deaths have been reported in the upper-end national “press corps.”In our view, the misreporting has been routine and vast. It would almost be a comical matter if the subject wasn’t so important.For today, we’ll offer two points about the selective reporting of these incidents, in which one set of such deaths get widely reported and others get disappeared:Concerning that possible survey: Large numbers of “white” people get shot and killed by police. We wonder how many citizens might be unaware of that fact.We’d love to see a national survey concerning this question. Survey questions would have to be carefully constructed, but we wonder how many people might basically think that no white people ever get shot and killed by police.We’ll guess there would be quite a few such people. Serious misconceptions may arise when journalists play their reindeer games, as they so frequently do..Reasons for that disproportion: Black people get shot and killed by police in numbers which are disproportionate to their share of the national population. A lot of “others” get shot and killed too—but black people get shot and killed at the highest rate. To anyone but the most simple-minded, this raises an obvious question:To what extent does this disproportion result from police misconduct? Also, to what extent might this disproportion result from behavior by a small subset of the black population?How do we explain that disproportion? At present, our upper-end news orgs are devoted to the task of avoiding this obvious question.Instead of exploring that question, they disappear the deaths of people like Ghaisar and Geer. After that, they sanitize the behavior of the decedents whose shooting deaths they do discuss.In this way, they increase the impression that the police officers in question engaged in misconduct. Remember, though—according to major anthropologists, this is pretty much the best our “journalists” are able to do!At least since 2012, our news orgs have been highly selective in the police shooting deaths they agree to report and discuss. And sad! Among the cases they do discuss, they routinely misstate, invent and disappear highly relevant facts.Within this veil of tears, this passes for upper-end journalism. We would regard this as heinous behavior, except for that one saving grace:We’ve been told that this is the best they can do. That said, how bad can it get?Next week: In 2012, the era began with a flat misstatement of fact

  • Labor Day 2020: Workers Need Power
    by Kathy Wilkes on September 4, 2020 at 14:00

    Let’s think carefully about elected officials who really have our backs and who are just playing us.

  • What Is Antifa? Mostly a Myth
    by Joseph Hayden on September 3, 2020 at 16:22

    As the presidential election in November draws near, it’s clear that conservatives are using the myth of antifa to pander to their base. But is it working?

  • THE MISREPORTED AND THE DEAD: Shot and killed in Shasta County!
    by <b>bob somerby</b> on September 3, 2020 at 15:32

    THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 3, 2020Which deaths get discussed?: Within the modern press corps firmament, shooting deaths at the hands of police aren’t all created equal.Some shooting deaths at the hands of police are widely reported and discussed. Other, similar shooting deaths are completely ignored—disappeared.So it has been with the “execution” of Bijan Ghaisar. So it was with the earlier shooting death of John Geer.Even widespread coverage of these shooting deaths by the well-known Washington Post couldn’t persuade the national press corps to report or discuss them. For background on those shooting deaths, see yesterday’s report.This same principle obtained in 2019, when Dennis Wayne Tuttle and Rhogena Ann Nicholas, ages 59 and 58, a married couple, were shot and killed as they slept in their bed in a bungled no-knock raid in Houston.When George Floyd was killed by one or four Minneapolis police officers in May of this year, this particular (non-shooting) death at the hands of police occasioned massive coverage.Given the crazy ugliness of the event, that was completely appropriate. Earlier, though, when Tony Timpa, age 32, died facedown in the street as a group of Dallas policemen mocked him, that particular (non-shooting) death occasioned no national coverage at all.Within our upper-end press corps firmament, very similar deaths at the hands of police are treated very differently. Recently, we had occasion to read an essay about a recent shooting death in largely rural Shasta County, California, where police officers have shot and killed three people since December of last year.The shooting death to which we refer occurred on June 2 of this year in little-known Cottonwood, a census-designated place of roughly 3000 souls. The decedent, Robert James Lyon, was a 65-year-old man.In rural locales like Shasta County, there may be little local media to initiate discussion of a police shooting death. In the matter of Robert Lyon, the Washington Post’s Fatal Force site links to this online account by KRCR-TV, the Redding, California ABC affiliate:KRCR-TV (6/2/20): On Tuesday, at 10:39 a.m., Shasta County Sheriff’s Office deputies were dispatched to a home on Adobe Road in Cottonwood regarding a female calling 9-1-1 asking for help.When deputies arrived, they contacted the female who reported being threatened with a firearm by Robert Lyon, 65, who also lived in the home.[Shasta County Sheriff’s Office] says they learned Lyon was still inside the home, so they began making announcements from a PA system.Lyon then left his home holding a shotgun, refusing several commands given by deputies to comply. [Shasta County Sheriff’s Office] says a deputy was forced to fire several rounds from his rifle at Lyon, striking him.Medical aid was immediately provided to Lyon, but he was pronounced dead at the scene. The account continues briefly from there. There is no attempt to explain the manner in which the deputy was “forced” to shoot and kill Lyon, who was refusing to comply with the officers’ requests and commands.How did we stumble upon this case? You’re asking an excellent question! The answer goes something like this:According to the Washington Post’s mostly invaluable Fatal Force site, 679 people have been shot and killed by police officers so far this year. For the record, we assume that the majority of these incidents, and perhaps the large majority, involve no misconduct by police. That said, the total is what it is. As of this very day, the numbers break down like this:Number of people shot and killed by police officers in the current yearWhite: 245Black: 127Hispanic: 84Other race or ethnicity: 15Unknown race or ethnicity: 208Men: 654Women: 25 Unknown gender: 0At present, more than 200 of the dead are listed as being of “unknown” race or ethnicity. We decided to see how hard it might be to double-check those determinations. When we did, we stumbled upon the case of Robert James Lyon.We’d clicked around to see if we could determine Lyon’s “race” or ethnicity. In the process, we stumbled upon a long, fascinating essay by R.V. Scheide, who “has been a northern California journalist for more than 20 years.”Scheide had posted a long rumination on this particular shooting death. As journalists go, Scheide has an unusually complex personal history, starting with service as a machinist’s mate in the U.S. Navy with other stops to follow. That may account for the unusually wide range of Scheide’s ruminations and assessments, which started this day like this:SCHEIDE (6/8/20): I rarely find myself in agreement with right-wing conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh, but last week he said something interesting during an interview with African American radio host and author Charlamagne Tha God on Charlamagne’s YouTube radio show, “The Breakfast Club,” that warrants attention.George Floyd’s horrific death at the hands of Minneapolis police officers on June 2, and the protests, riots and looting that spread across America as a result, had brought the unlikely pair together. As you might expect, when pressed by Charlamagne on the subject of white privilege, Limbaugh denied that white privilege exists.Then el Rushbo offered this sad reflection on fatal encounters with the police.“If what happened to George Floyd had happened to a white man, we probably wouldn’t even have heard about it,” Limbaugh said.For once, he has a point, sort of. Thus spake El Rushbo, as he spoke to Tha God. Also, thus spake Scheide. Scheide went on to offer some assessments with which we’d be inclined to disagree. Eventually, though, he offered his own regionally informed account of this latest shooting death.Please note! Scheide still knows how to say “alleged.” In these days of tribal war and instant judgment, it’s a dying practice:SCHEIDE: [L]ast Tuesday, as hundreds of local residents prepared to take to the streets of Redding to protest the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, yet another shooting death involving Shasta County law enforcement officers was unfolding in rural Cottonwood.According to local news accounts, shortly before 11 a.m., Shasta County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to a 911 call from a woman who alleged a man had threatened her with a firearm. They met the woman, who lives in a trailer on the property, at the scene.She informed them that Robert Lyon, 65, was in the house on the property. She alleged that Lyon had verbally threatened her and discharged a shotgun earlier in the morning but hadn’t fired it in her direction. Lyon allegedly started a small fire on the property.The deputies called Lyon out of the house with their squad car’s PA system. He emerged allegedly carrying the shotgun. The deputies told Lyon to put down the weapon. Lyon allegedly failed to comply.It has not been stated if Lyon pointed the weapon at the deputies. At any rate, one deputy feared for his safety and shot Lyon five or six times with a rifle. Lyon died at the scene despite receiving immediate medical attention.Just like that, his life snuffed out.Later, Scheide would question the unexplained claim that the deputy had been “forced” to fire his gun, thereby killing Lyon. In our view, he should have used “allegedly” one more time in the passage we’ve just posted.That said, Scheide had already called attention to a possible irony. Even as local people, perfectly reasonably, ere protesting the killing of Floyd, no one was going to question or protest this local police shooting death.Indeed, Scheide described one quite different local reaction. He quoted a local official hailing local law enforcement for its wonderful work:SCHEIDE (continuing directly): We don’t know much about Lyon yet, and perhaps we never will. I’m presuming he was white, but his race hasn’t been released yet. He doesn’t appear to have had a criminal record, at least in Shasta County under that name.We don’t know what Lyon’s mental health status was, nor do we know if he abused drugs and/or alcohol. We don’t know how hard deputies worked to diffuse the situation or if they inadvertently escalated it.Sheriff’s deputies have planted the idea in local media, without offering hard evidence, that drugs may have been involved and that Lyon’s rural neighborhood is a problem area. The latter view is apparently shared by Shasta County 5th District Supervisor Les Baugh, who on Facebook posted his exuberant support for local law enforcement agencies shortly after the killing:“A huge ‘shout-out’ to our amazing Shasta County Deputies and the massive multi-agency response (LE/Fire) to a problem residence on Adobe Road. Glad you’re all safe. Just can’t find enough words to express how grateful we are for your actions today. On behalf of the entire neighborhood, our most sincere appreciation and deepest respect. You all rock!””Notice Baugh doesn’t mention that a deputy has just shot and killed one of the supervisor’s own constituents,” Scheide says s he continues. “To paraphrase Rush Limbaugh, if George Floyd had been a 65-year-old white guy named Robert Lyon, we probably wouldn’t be talking about him.”Scheide goes on to describe what happened when he sent a set of questions to Baugh about this instant judgment. A summary would be, not much.Stating the obvious, the killing of Floyd and the killing of Lyon were very different events. There’s no obvious direct comparison between police behavior in these two fatal events. That said, the shooting death of the late Breonna Taylor was very similar, in obvious ways, to the 2019 shooting deaths of Nicholas and Tuttle. The late George Floyd’s horrendous death, lying face down in the street, was remarkably similar to the earlier face down death of the cruelly mocked Tony Timpa.At this site, we’re interested in the journalistic conduct. In the main, we’re interested in asking a basic question:Under current press protocols, black deaths at the hands of police will often be widely reported and widely discussed, as is completely appropriate and perhaps even instructive. But on a national basis, it’s clear that the deaths of other “racial” or ethnic groups will, as a matter of pundit law, be wholly disappeared.It’s possible that this is being done from the noblest of motives. It’s also possible that this is being done because our reliably unimpressive journalists are involved in performative virtue or in self-referential acts of personal identity formation.Leave the question of motive to the side! Our basic question is this:When one group of deaths is widely discussed and all other deaths are disappeared, might this selective behavior perhaps create misperceptions? Might people end up “terrified,” perhaps even underinformed?Tomorrow: What made Ghaisar an “other?”

  • No one said Trump had a stroke!
    by <b>bob somerby</b> on September 2, 2020 at 21:06

    WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 2, 2020Except for the people who did: Don Winslow writes crime and mystery novels. Ten years ago, the New York Times’ Janet Maslin said he was pretty darn good:MASLIN (7/7/10): “Don Winslow is an author currently living in the United States, most recognized for his crime and mystery novels.” That’s the one-sentence entirety of the biographical notice Mr. Winslow has attracted on Wikipedia, though he has a dozen novels, a couple of movie deals, a slew of ardent reviews, a whip-cracking way with words and a whole lot of Southern California surfer baditude to his credit.Those earlier books (11 published here, one available in England with no set American publication date) have much sparkle to recommend them. But they aren’t “Savages,” the one that will jolt Mr. Winslow into a different league. “Savages” is his 13th and most boisterously stylish crime book, his gutsiest and most startling bid for attention.It’s clear that “Savages” has no dearth of nerve from the snow-white, one-page opening chapter, which consists of exactly two words…As opening gambits go, this one is pure kamikaze, and it could have backfired accordingly. But Mr. Winslow has written the killer book to back it up. It sounds like Winslow’s no slouch. In recent years, he’s also become a bit of an anti-Trump force. Back on August 1, he’s the one who tweeted the claim that Donald J. Trump has suffered a series of mini-strokes. This is what he said:WINSLOW (8/1/20): One of the benefits of making videos that garner 5 million+ views is that you hear from a lot of people, including whistleblowers inside Trump administration.I’ve received three communications saying that during his term Trump has suffered a “series” of “mini-strokes.”Winslow included a chunk of tape in which Trump was slurring his words.Has the commander-in-chief suffered a series of mini-strokes? It’s certainly a possibility, but we can’t really answer your question.At any rate, according to Reuters and U.S. News, Trump may have been responding to Winslow’s claim when he tweeted, yesterday, that he hasn’t suffered a series of mini-strokes. Early last evening, the New York Times published a version of the same Reuters report, making the connection to Winslow. For the record, here’s what the commander said:COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF DONALD J. TRUMP (9/1/20): It never ends! Now they are trying to say that your favorite President, me, went to Walter Reed Medical Center, having suffered a series of mini-strokes. Never happened to THIS candidate—FAKE NEWS. Perhaps they are referring to another candidate from another Party!Fox News also made the connection to Winslow. According to this report, “#TrumpStroke was trending on Twitter on Tuesday as Winslow’s tweet got renewed attention.” That renewed attention would have been created by discussion of a claim made in Michael Schmidt’s new book, which makes no specific reference to strokes or mini-strokes.Why did the commander say that “they” are now trying to say that he suffered a series of mini-strokes? We can’t tell you that. But last night, Rachel and Lawrence happily told us that no one had ever said that Trump suffered strokes or mini-strokes.The pair of pleasing cable stars assured us that Trump had made his latest blunder—that he had responded to a claim no one had actually made. Rachel specifically said that no one had said anything about a stroke.We’ll be perfectly honest. As experienced cable viewers, we saw no obvious reason to believe the presentations being made by these crowd-pleasing “cable news” stars.It’s true that Schmidt’s new book makes no reference to strokes or mini-strokes—but sure enough! On Monday night, Joe Lockhart had made such a reference, craftily tweeting this:LOCKHART (8/31/20): Did @realDonaldTrump have a stroke which he is hiding from the American public?Playing one of Trump’s favorite games, Lockhart later said he’d just been asking a question when he composed that tweet.We watched Rachel and Lawrence as they happily clowned last night. They pleasured us with the pleasing idea that Trump had responded to a claim no one had actually made.It’s true that Schmidt made no such claim, but Lockhart had floated the idea of a stroke and Winslow had alleged a “series of mini-strokes.” There’s no way Rachel and Lawrence, or at least their staffs, didn’t know those things by showtime—but as experienced as corporate entertainers, they knew they mustn’t tell. It was more fun to say that Trump had denied an allegation no one had ever alleged.We’d like to link you to the transcripts and show you the pair’s exact quotes. For better or worse, the corporation no longer offers transcripts, and we don’t want to waste our own time transcribing their pleasing remarks.MSNBC stopped transcribing its TV shows on Monday, July 13. In fairness, if we were paying millions of dollars to major cable stars like these, we wouldn’t transcribe their shows either.Winslow’s wiki today: According to Maslin, Winslow rated one sentence on Wikipedia back in 2010.Today, his entry is more extensive. You can peruse it here.According to Winslow, Trump has suffered a “series of mini-strokes.” Yesterday, he repeated that earlier claim. As with almost everything else, there is absolutely no doubt that it could be true.

  • THE MISREPORTED AND THE DEAD: The shooting deaths which get disappeared!
    by <b>bob somerby</b> on September 2, 2020 at 14:58

    WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 2, 2020Who was (the late) John Geer?: If you watched Rachel or Lawrence last night, there are certain things you weren’t told.In the process, you were misled. Rachel even said some things at the end of her TV show which were just plain false. (If we were like the rest of our tribe, we’d refer to those statements as “lies.”)We’re referring to the cable stars’ pleasing accounts of Donald J. Trump’s recent “mini-strokes” tweet. We’ll provide the basics this afternoon, along with the selectively reported basics about the leading suspect in last Saturday’s homicide in Portland.(Their tribe is allowed to hear about that; our tribe basically isn’t. So it tends to go at times of tribal war.)We’ll fill you in this afternoon on those recent topics. For now, we’ll tell you this:If you watched Rachel or Lawrence last night, there were certain things you were told. Other things were withheld.Certain facts were correctly reported. Others were disappeared.Across the sweep of the national press, a similar pattern has obtained in the matter of police shooting deaths. Certain such deaths have been reported and widely discussed. Others have been disappeared. The shooting death of Bijan Ghaisar is an interesting case in point. Yesterday, we outlined the basics:Ghaisar, a 25-year-old accountant, was shot and killed by Park Police just outside Washington, D.C. in November 2017.Since that time, the Washington Post editorial board has described the shooting death of this unarmed man as a virtual “execution.” The Post has further described the subsequent years of “stonewalling” by Park Police as part of a “cover-up,” driven by a “code of silence” designed to protect two officers who “gun[ned] down a man for no defensible reason.”We won’t be assessing those claims in anything we write. For the record, we’ll add this basic point:We would assume that most fatal shootings by police officers involve no police misconduct. Our nation is awash in guns, and this widely-noted state of affairs does have its effects.We won’t be trying to assess the conduct of police officers in this case. Our point is this:The Washington Post is a very well-known newspaper. It has been publishing angry editorials about this “execution” and “cover-up” over the past several years. Its most recent editorial about the shooting death of Bijan Ghaisar appeared just last month. But the shooting death of Bihan Ghaisar has occasioned exactly zero national discussion, even as the topic of police shooting deaths has come to dominate the public discourse.Some such deaths get widely discussed, as is completely appropriate. But on the national level, the shooting death of Bijan Ghaisar has been disappeared.So too with the late John Geer. Geer was shot to death by a Fairfax County, Virginia police officer on August 29, 2013.As with Ghaisar, so too here. Geer was shot and killed in Washington’s Virginia suburbs. For that reason, this shooting death was a “local” story for the widely-read Washington Post.On the national level, the issue of police shooting deaths had just begun taking off as Geer was shot and killed. Over the next few years, the topic came center stage, even as the Washington Post published angry editorials concerning the circumstances of this fatal shooting and the subsequent alleged cover-up.The Post is a well-known national newspaper. The glorious stars of the upper-end press read many accounts of Geer’s shooting death in the Washington Post.They read accounts of this shooting death in detailed news reports, and in detailed editorials. The angry editorial shown below appeared a year and a half after John Geer’s death, and it wasn’t the newspaper’s first.You’ll note that some details of this shooting death resemble those in other such deaths—in other deaths deemed worthy of national public discussion:WASHINGTON POST EDITORIAL (2/2/15): In broad daylight and at close range, three Fairfax County police officers saw a fourth officer, Adam Torres, shoot John Geer once in the chest in August 2013. Two other witnesses, Mr. Geer’s father and a friend, also saw it. All five of those witnesses agreed that Mr. Geer, who had a holstered handgun at his feet, had his hands up at the moment Officer Torres pulled the trigger.Mr. Geer, a 46-year-old father of two, committed no known crime that day. He had been speaking calmly with the officers for almost three-quarters of an hour when the lethal shot was fired. He then bled to death just inside the doorway of his home.That was more than 17 months ago, and still there has been no accounting for Mr. Geer’s death. No charges. No indictment. No prosecution. And no information until last week, when the police, complying with a judge’s order, finally released thousands of documents.Those documents provide a stark picture: Only Officer Torres contended that Mr. Geer made a sudden movement as if going for a gun.Everyone involved in this case has dropped the ball and dodged responsibility, enabling what now looks like a coverup in a case of police impunity.The police, who did not seek medical treatment for Mr. Geer or retrieve his body for more than an hour, falsely claimed Mr. Geer had “barricaded” himself inside his house after he was shot, then stonewalled prosecutors and the public for months.The top prosecutor in Fairfax, Ray Morrogh, punted the case to the feds over a supposed conflict of interest involving a courthouse shouting match between Officer Torres and a rank-and-file prosecutor. That seems a far-fetched reason not to pursue the case.The feds—first the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Alexandria, then the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division—sat on the case for months more, saying nothing.Fairfax’s County’s governing body, the Board of Supervisors, seems incapable of getting its own employees—namely the police and the County Attorney’s office—to conduct themselves responsibly and transparently…That mind-set seems to have infected virtually every agency in Fairfax, in addition to the feds, that should have stepped up to see that justice was done in the Geer case. The case should be presented to a jury, which can weigh Officer Torres’s account against those of other witnesses. The delay and obfuscation represent a travesty of justice.Some of these concerns and complaints have arisen in other police shooting deaths—in other deaths deemed worthy of national discussion.The police didn’t offer medical treatment, or retrieve Geer’s body, in timely fashion? In our view, there was an explanation for that which wasn’t crazy. In our view, the same was true in the case of the late Michael Brown.That said, in the shooting death of Geer, it seems that it actually was a matter of “Hands Up, Got Shot.” In this case, no one had to invent that claim in order to make a story read better. According to three (3) police officers on the scene, it seems that it actually happened that way in the case of the late John Geer.As Fairfax County’s alleged stonewalling dragged on and on and on and on, the Post wrote many editorials along this line. Here’s a bit of the paper’s first editorial, a full year after Geer’s shooting death.Headline included:WASHINGTON POST EDITORIAL (9/5/14): The unaccountable death of John GeerAt point blank range, a Fairfax County police officer a year ago fired one shot, killing an unarmed man standing inside his home. The man, John Geer, was distraught and had been drinking—his longtime [common law wife] had moved out and called police when he threw her things into the front yard—but he held no hostages, brandished no weapons and, so far as we have learned, posed no serious threat either to police or to public order. (Mr. Geer did own guns, which he apparently told police.)Shot in the chest, he was left to bleed to death inside his doorway while police officers, remaining outside the house, did nothing for an hour. Five and a half hours after the shooting, his body remained sprawled on the floor where he died.Incredibly, the authorities in Northern Virginia—including Fairfax County police and state and federal prosecutors—have refused to furnish any explanation for this stupefying sequence of events last Aug. 29 in Springfield. They have stonewalled.[…]At every juncture, the authorities appear to have abdicated their duty of accountability, both to Mr. Geer’s loved ones and to the public…Press poobahs read many such editorials in the Washington Post. (Or who knows? Maybe they didn’t bother!) Beyond that, they could have read many detailed news reports about what happened that day. For one early example, click here.As the year 2013 moved on into 2015, the topic of police shooting deaths became a major national focus. But the shooting death of John Geer was granted exactly zero attention within the national press.In the past few years, the shooting death of Bijan Ghaisar received the same treatment. Other such deaths were widely discussed, as is completely appropriate. But these other unimportant deaths were wholly disappeared.Now for a bit of a flier:We regard LeBron James and Doc Rivers as eminently sensible, decent, mature, intelligent men. We wish we could say the same for many national figures within our frequently ridiculous corporate press.We hold James and Rivers in high regard, as do the people who know them. We’re also willing to make a guess:James and Rivers strike us as very sensible and very decent. But we’ll guess they’ve never heard of the late Bijan Ghaisar or of the late John Geer.We’ll guess that they’ve never heard a single word about those shooting deaths. Is it possible that misperceptions might take root, then proceed to grow, in such journalistic soil?Tomorrow: Shot dead in Shasta County

  • The Accord Between Israel and the United Arab Emirates Will Preserve the Endless Wars
    by Shaan Sachdev on September 1, 2020 at 17:56

    A diplomatic agreement celebrated by the United States could end up making matters worse.

  • Poems: ‘The Spell’ and ‘Dispel’
    by Margaret Rozga on September 1, 2020 at 15:59

    The Spell

  • MoveOn Members Protest Nationwide on #SaveThePostOffice Saturday
    by Brian Stewart on August 24, 2020 at 20:06

    “Save the Post Office Saturday” was a huge success! On Saturday, as House Democrats passed measures to repeal Louis DeJoy’s actions and fully fund the post office, tens of thousands of us gathered in front of post offices at more than 800 actions in every state across the country. Together, we demanded that Donald Trump and Postmaster General The post MoveOn Members Protest Nationwide on #SaveThePostOffice Saturday appeared first on MoveOn.Org | Democracy In Action.

  • MoveOn on the Selection of Kamala Harris for the Democratic Vice Presidential Nomination 
    by Brian Stewart on August 11, 2020 at 20:28

    Statement from Rahna Epting, executive director of MoveOn, on the announcement of Senator Kamala Harris as the Democratic Vice Presidential nominee: “The nomination of Senator Kamala Harris by Joe Biden is a historic moment. As Harris takes the national stage as the nominee for vice president, she enters a long line of firsts for women The post MoveOn on the Selection of Kamala Harris for the Democratic Vice Presidential Nomination  appeared first on MoveOn.Org | Democracy In Action.

  • New Polls: Trump’s Use of Unidentified Federal Officers to Suppress Protest Is Backfiring in Senate and Presidential Battlegrounds
    by Nick Berning on July 24, 2020 at 15:28

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Majorities in Arizona, Maine, and North Carolina Oppose Trump’s Approach, Want Congress to Intervene Washington, DC — Voters in three key battleground states are closely following and by a significant majority oppose Donald Trump’s recent use of unidentified federal agents to suppress protests, according to new polling conducted by Public Policy Polling The post New Polls: Trump’s Use of Unidentified Federal Officers to Suppress Protest Is Backfiring in Senate and Presidential Battlegrounds appeared first on MoveOn.Org | Democracy In Action.

  • MoveOn Launches #MyAmericanFlag Campaign to Honor Immigrants and International, Multigenerational Heritages
    by Michele Watley on July 6, 2020 at 19:26

    “I know this country belongs to me and I to it. I am her steward, a guardian of the promise and the possibility of America.” –Alfre Woodard Previous Next Alfre Woodard “I am an AFRICAN American. This land is irrigated by deltas of sweat and rivers of the blood of my people, the stolen people The post MoveOn Launches #MyAmericanFlag Campaign to Honor Immigrants and International, Multigenerational Heritages appeared first on MoveOn.Org | Democracy In Action.

  • MoveOn Members Endorse Joe Biden for President
    by Brian Stewart on July 1, 2020 at 15:35

    Biden won the group’s fourth-ever presidential endorsement with 82% of votes cast. MoveOn members have voted overwhelmingly to endorse former Vice President Joe Biden in his campaign for the presidency—the most recent benchmark in the organization’s electoral plan that will mobilize volunteers, turn out voters, and work to defeat Donald Trump. Biden won 82.4% of The post MoveOn Members Endorse Joe Biden for President appeared first on MoveOn.Org | Democracy In Action.

  • Who we are: Demographic information about MoveOn’s staff
    by Julia Silbergeld on June 23, 2020 at 23:19

    We have been receiving an increasing number of questions from MoveOn members about the makeup of our staff, especially our racial demographics. With this post we are moving to make that information more transparent. As of June 12, 2020, 51% of our staff identify as people of color (16% identify as Black) and 49% identify The post Who we are: Demographic information about MoveOn’s staff appeared first on MoveOn.Org | Democracy In Action.

  • Progressives Mobilize to Pass Heroes Act, House COVID Relief Bill
    by MoveOn on May 12, 2020 at 20:09

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE PRESS CONTACT: Valerie Jean-Charles Progressives Mobilize to Pass Heroes Act, House COVID Relief Bill Groups Vow to Continue Fighting for Improvements and Additional Relief WASHINGTON, D.C. — Leaders of the country’s biggest progressive organizations pledged today to mobilize their millions of members to pass the HEROES Act relief package just proposed The post Progressives Mobilize to Pass Heroes Act, House COVID Relief Bill appeared first on MoveOn.Org | Democracy In Action.

  • Our Statement on Tara Reade’s Allegations Against Vice President Biden
    by MoveOn on May 1, 2020 at 22:06

    Believe survivors has always meant that people who come forward with allegations of sexual violence deserve the presumption of truth, and that their allegations should be heard and respected, not ignored or dismissed. Sexual violence is an epidemic in our country. We owe survivors a process where they are treated fairly, in a trusted system. The post Our Statement on Tara Reade’s Allegations Against Vice President Biden appeared first on MoveOn.Org | Democracy In Action.

  • MoveOn, Indivisible, Community Change Action Alarmed By ‘Inadequate Half Measures’ Proposed In Negotiations Between Trump, Pelosi and Schumer
    by Nick Berning on April 8, 2020 at 21:43

    “To be clear, it is the White House and Senator McConnell who are trying to force a business-only measure that completely ignores the needs of American families. But that is sadly expected. We need more from Democratic leaders. We call on Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer to use the profound power they hold in this moment to provide solutions that will save lives and help families survive this crisis.” The post MoveOn, Indivisible, Community Change Action Alarmed By ‘Inadequate Half Measures’ Proposed In Negotiations Between Trump, Pelosi and Schumer appeared first on MoveOn.Org | Democracy In Action.

  • We’re in this together
    by Tillie McInnis on April 3, 2020 at 20:27

    How MoveOn members came together in March in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic   It’s clear that we are living in an unprecedented moment. Within all of the uncertainty, MoveOn members across the country have pulled together to stand up for one another, keep each other safe, and hold decision-makers accountable.  There’s so much The post We’re in this together appeared first on MoveOn.Org | Democracy In Action.

  • Imagining A New World on the Other Side of the Pandemic
    by By Truthdig on March 20, 2020 at 21:08

    At The Nation, Atossa Araxia Abrahamian has a provocative piece that imagines how future historians may come to write the story of the Covid-19 pandemic. The speculative history takes the form of a “best-case” scenario that serves as both a challenge and a salve, an inspirational fantasy to help balance out the more easily imagined

  • Senator Dumped Up to $1.7 Million of Stock After Reassuring Public About Coronavirus Preparedness
    by By Robert Faturechi and Derek Willis / ProPublica on March 20, 2020 at 20:43

    Soon after he offered public assurances that the government was ready to battle the coronavirus, the powerful chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Richard Burr, sold off a significant percentage of his stocks, unloading between $628,000 and $1.72 million of his holdings on Feb. 13 in 33 separate transactions. As the head of the intelligence

  • If Trump Declares Martial Law Due to Coronavirus, Can He Suspend the Election?
    by By Martina Moneke / Truthdig on March 20, 2020 at 05:52

    Following the criticism that he has mismanaged the nation’s response to the coronavirus epidemic, Trump has declared himself a “wartime president.”  If martial law is next, what will happen to the November election?

  • Not Giving Up on Happiness: Care of the Self and Well-Being in a Plague Year
    by By Juan Cole / Informed Comment on March 19, 2020 at 23:32

    The specter of plague haunts our world, and it brings with it not only the ghouls of disease and death but vast economic and social uncertainty of a sort only the most elderly among us remembers (the Great Depression and World War II). My father is 90 and when I called him a child of

  • The Dem Primary is Over, and We Need Bernie Sanders to Lead on Health Care From the Senate
    by By David Faris / Informed Comment on March 19, 2020 at 22:56

    On Tuesday, I cast a joyless vote for the very much politically doomed Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in the Illinois primary, in an elementary school where hushed whispers and fearful glances had replaced the normal din of an election day. There was no one standing just outside the perimeter hustling me to vote for this

  • These Are the 51 GOP Senators Who Just Voted Against Expanding Paid Sick Leave to Protect Americans
    by By Jake Johnson / Common Dreams on March 19, 2020 at 20:17

    Republican senators on Wednesday teamed up to kill an amendment introduced by Democratic Sen. Patty Murray that would have expanded paid sick leave to millions of U.S. workers left out of a bipartisan coronavirus relief package. Every Republican present for the vote, 51 in total, voted against the amendment while every Senate Democrat voted in favor.

  • Elections May Have to Change During the Coronavirus Outbreak. Here’s How.
    by By Rachel Glickhouse / ProPublica on March 19, 2020 at 17:12

    As the novel coronavirus spreads through the U.S. during presidential primaries, election and government officials are scrambling to figure out how to allow voters to cast their ballots safely ― or postpone primaries altogether. Managing in-person voting during an unprecedented pandemic has forced authorities to overcome new virus-related hurdles: providing sufficient cleaning supplies to polling

  • 17 Years Later: The Consequences of Invading Iraq
    by Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J. S. Davies on March 19, 2020 at 15:10

    While the world is consumed with the terrifying coronavirus pandemic, on March 19 the Trump administration will be marking the 17th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq by ramping up the conflict there. After an Iran-aligned militia allegedly struck a U.S. base near Baghdad on March 11, the U.S. military carried out retaliatory strikes against five

  • Trump Uses Coronavirus to Spread Racism
    by By Sonali Kolhatkar / Truthdig on March 19, 2020 at 12:00

    There is nothing like a global pandemic to unleash the forces of racism in society. Trump is now routinely calling the novel coronavirus strain “the Chinese virus.”

  • Here’s Why Americans Need a Basic Income During the Coronavirus Outbreak
    by By Anne Kim / The Washington Monthly on March 18, 2020 at 19:53

    Dramatic action is needed now to blunt the immediate pain of vulnerable workers.

  • MoveOn Kicks Off $20 Million Effort to Win Progressive Governing Majority in Nov. Elections
    by Nick Berning on February 7, 2020 at 16:04

    MoveOn Political Action today announced the launch of its “America for All” 2020 election program to mobilize millions of members to defeat Donald Trump, end Republican control of the Senate, and help Democrats hold the majority in the House of Representatives. The post MoveOn Kicks Off $20 Million Effort to Win Progressive Governing Majority in Nov. Elections appeared first on MoveOn.Org | Democracy In Action.

  • MoveOn asked progressives around the country what they think about the 2020 election as part of a fundraising appeal. Here’s what they said.
    by Oscar De los Santos on January 10, 2020 at 15:43

    Progressives around the country strongly urge the 2020 candidates to take bold and fearless stances on several policy issues from immigration to a Green New Deal to Medicare for All. The results are in!  In recent weeks, MoveOn sent a 2020 National Presidential Survey to tens of thousands of MoveOn members and other progressives around The post MoveOn asked progressives around the country what they think about the 2020 election as part of a fundraising appeal. Here’s what they said. appeared first on MoveOn.Org | Democracy In Action.

  • MoveOn members in 2019: Putting our people power to work
    by Peyton Forte on December 31, 2019 at 19:41

    MoveOn members began 2019 with new hope for our future as a new Congress was sworn in—the most diverse House of Representatives in history, with many progressive champions MoveOn members played pivotal roles in electing. And we ended the year with the impeachment of Donald Trump—a critical achievement to help check his administration’s rampant abuses of power, even as his lawlessness and attacks on so many communities continue. The post MoveOn members in 2019: Putting our people power to work appeared first on MoveOn.Org | Democracy In Action.

  • Frequently Asked Questions: Our New Petition Platform
    by Tillie McInnis on December 4, 2019 at 00:00

    We are upgrading our petition system! Please take a look at the FAQs below: The new system: Will the petition site be down during the upgrade? Yes. Certain MoveOn petition pages will be down beginning Monday, December 9 while we complete the upgrade. This means you won’t be able to sign or share petitions or The post Frequently Asked Questions: Our New Petition Platform appeared first on MoveOn.Org | Democracy In Action.

  • MoveOn Criticizes Sen. Coons’ Reckless Comments on Iran
    by Brian Stewart on September 16, 2019 at 20:57

    After Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) appeared on Fox and Friends this morning and said military action may be called for against Iran, MoveOn had the following statement. Statement of MoveOn campaigns director Justin Krebs: “Senator Coons going on Fox and giving ammunition to Trump administration war hawks who are trying to push the U.S. into The post MoveOn Criticizes Sen. Coons’ Reckless Comments on Iran appeared first on MoveOn.Org | Democracy In Action.

  • Fox guest on possible troop withdrawal from Afghanistan: “The solution is more blood, sweat, and tears” 
    by Media Matters for America on August 2, 2019 at 16:02

    JOHN HANNAH (FORMER VP CHENEY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER): The president, you know, is signaling that he wants done with this. There may be some kind of remnant of counter-terror mission here, but I think the danger is that once we withdraw our support for the Afghan government on the basis of a very phony promise from the Taliban that they are not going to try and reestablish their jihadist tyranny — and in very much in cooperation still with Al Qaeda, that once that Afghan government is brought down, Taliban, Al Qaeda come back. It’s going to be infinitely hard for the United States to conduct an effective counter-terrorism mission without an Afghan government there.  BILL HEMMER (CO-ANCHOR): I apologize for the interruption there. Do you have a better solution then, John?  HANNAH: No, I mean, listen, the solution is more blood, sweat, and tears. I think the mission in Afghanistan, as frustrating and as long as it’s been, Bill, with those several thousand troops there supporting an Afghan government — we’re not in the front lines doing the fighting — I still think it’s a sustainable mission if you believe that things can actually get much, much worse. But it needs a president who actually believes that avoiding a Taliban/Al Qaeda resurgence in the place that spawned 9/11 is important enough to continue this kind of sacrifice. Previously: Fox & Friends guest says a war against Iran would be “pretty quick and easy” The Trump-Fox feedback loop could cause a war with Iran Tomi Lahren: “If the plan were to send a huge surge of land and war power to wipe out Iran and turn it into glass … that might actually solve the problem.”

  • Fox host defends Trump: “Just because you use harsh language doesn’t mean your intent is to denigrate another race”
    by Media Matters for America on August 2, 2019 at 15:48

    STUART VARNEY (HOST): Are you a racist if you criticize an African-American politician? The left says, oh, yes you are. The charge, Trump is a racist, is now an established theme in the Democrats’ 2020 campaign. I object. Just because you use harsh language doesn’t mean your intent is to denigrate another race. Throwing that word around, racist, shuts down the debate. You can’t solve problems if you can’t speak freely. The word racist is applied to just about anybody. It no longer has bite. Baltimore has brought the racist charge to a boil. In a series of tweets, the president has criticized Congressman Elijah Cummings. He is a Democrat who has represent a major — majority Black district for over 20 years. The president described Cummings’ district as quote, “A disgusting rat and rodent-infested mess where no human being would want to live.” Oh, that caused outrage. The media jumped on it, and from there on out, branded the president a racist and a bigot. Again, I object. The president was describing reality. Bernie Sanders has said exactly the same thing, but he wasn’t called a racist. Oh, no, he’s a socialist. Now we find that Congressman Cummings himself had used similar language. He said Baltimore was quote, “drug-infested, and the residents walked around like zombies.” He was saying same thing as the president. Nobody criticized him for telling it the way it is, but Trump is a racist. This smearing, this name calling is a deliberate political tactic, and I think it’s going to fail. The weak performance of Democrats running big cities can no longer be covered up. This president, unlike any other president, is prepared to call it how he sees it, and damn the consequences. The president wants the votes of African-Americans. He’s courting them. Instead of pandering with offers of money, he is asking what happened to the billions already spent? Baltimore got 1.8 billion just from the stimulus package. What happened to it? Where did the money go? The Democrats have opened Pandora’s Box without realizing it. They thought that calling him a racist would silence him. Wrong. They’ve given him a campaign theme. And that theme is, the Democrats failing their own supporters. Previously: Fox host defends Trump’s racist tweets: He was just saying Democrats and liberal policies have destroyed Baltimore  Fox’s Brian Kilmeade on Baltimore: “I don’t think anyone passed statewide tests in some of these inner-city schools” Fox host makes bizarre defense of Trump’s racism: Trump “probably never watched The Wire ”

  • Fox News is talking more about abortion than the Democratic debates did
    by Media Matters for America on August 2, 2019 at 15:21

    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters During the four nights of the two Democratic presidential primary debates in June and July, Fox News outpaced CNN and MSNBC in the amount of time it gave to abortion coverage even though the network didn’t host either debate. CNN moderators failed to ask a single question about abortion during the second primary debate this week. And even though MSNBC moderators asked the candidates questions about the topic during the network’s debate in June, Fox News spent more time discussing the issue than CNN, MSNBC, or the candidates themselves did. Right-wing media have been regularly dominating the conversation about abortion ahead of the 2020 elections, filling a void of abortion-related coverage by spreading misinformation and stigma about it. Fox News has been a frequent promoter of anti-abortion misinformation — including the allegation that Democratic support for abortion access is “extreme.” Given this emphasis, as well as the decreasing accessibility of abortion care across the United States, it is essential that moderators ask candidates specific and nuanced questions about abortion during the debates. This trend of right-wing media dominating abortion coverage continued during three of the four nights of the Democratic debates. Media Matters monitored both debates and live pre-debate and post-debate coverage on MSNBC, CNN, and Fox News and found that Fox News discussed the topic for almost 26 minutes total. In comparison, the topic was discussed on MSNBC for 11 and a half minutes and on CNN for about six minutes; this count includes the time when abortion was discussed on the debate stage as well as during pre-debate and post-debate coverage. CNN’s moderators failed to ask the candidates any questions about abortion during the network’s two nights of debates. The only time abortion was discussed during CNN’s July 31 debate night was when Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) asked former Vice President Joe Biden about his different positions on the Hyde Amendment. Notably, even when discussing the Hyde Amendment (which prohibits federal funds from supporting abortion care except in cases of rape or incest), neither Harris nor Biden used the word “abortion.” The topic was also essentially absent from the July 30 debate. Even though abortion was discussed during both nights of the MSNBC debate in June as moderators questioned candidates about it, Fox News still discussed the topic more each night than the debate participants and commentators on MSNBC or CNN did. During the first night of the June debate, Fox News discussed abortion for about nine minutes and 19 seconds between 8 p.m. and 1 a.m. In contrast, debate participants and commentators on MSNBC discussed the topic for only about four minutes and 15 seconds, and CNN commentators discussed abortion for only two minutes. This disparity was even greater during the second night of the MSNBC debate. During the same time period of 8 p.m. to 1 a.m., Fox discussed abortion for 15 minutes and 48 seconds, while debate participants and MSNBC commentators discussed the topic for four minutes and 44 seconds. Commentators on CNN discussed abortion for less than two minutes. Though there are many important topics that moderators should be raising during the 2020 Democratic presidential primary debates, Democratic voters are clear that they want to hear candidates discuss abortion. If moderators continue to prioritize optics, vacuous political theater, and right-wing talking points over substantive questions, right-wing media will continue dominating the discussion and will keep spreading anti-choice misinformation unabated on their own platforms. Methodology Media Matters searched the SnapStream video database for mentions of the following keywords: “abortion,” “Roe,” “reproductive rights,” “right to choose,” “pro-life,” “pro-choice,” “anti-choice,” “pro-abortion,” “decisions about her body,” “infanticide,” or “Hyde.” We searched on Fox News Channel, CNN, and MSNBC between 8 p.m and 1 a.m. for the June debates and between 7 p.m. and 1 a.m. for the July debates due to the earlier start time. We timed segments, which we defined as instances in which a speaker in the debate or on a network discussed abortion or a related topic. Segments included host monologues, news reports or packages, interviews, and guest panels. We did not include teasers for upcoming segments or rebroadcasts.

  • Fox & Friends touts Trump’s “connections to Ohio” without noting they involve housing discrimination
    by Media Matters for America on August 2, 2019 at 15:21

    STEVE DOOCY (CO-HOST): The president of the United States was in Cincinnati last night. You saw the rally right here on Fox News Channel. There were 17,500 people there at the U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati. The president has connections to Ohio, he’s talked about it in the past. Fifty years ago his father actually owned the Swifton Village housing complex in the Bond Hill area. So he’s got a connection, not only through his family, but also, he won Ohio last time. He needs to win Ohio again this time.   … AINSLEY EARHARDT (CO-HOST): He’s familiar with Skyline Chili and Graeter’s ice cream because he said to that entire audience, he said, “I worked for my dad in the Swifton Village.” He said, “Does anyone know where the Swifton Village is?” And some people, you know, clapped and got excited about it. It’s always nice when someone famous comes into your town and they can relate to the people, and that’s what he does there. 

  • The only Black Republican in the House announced he will not seek reelection. Fox News covered it for 20 seconds.
    by Media Matters for America on August 2, 2019 at 14:32

    Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX) announced on August 1 that he is not seeking reelection in 2020. I have made the decision to not seek reelection for the 23rd Congressional District of Texas in order to pursue opportunities outside the halls of Congress to solve problems at the nexus between technology and national security. — Rep. Will Hurd (@HurdOnTheHill) August 2, 2019 Politico described the importance of Hurd’s retirement: If you are a House Republican, this has been an absolutely gutting few weeks. And, truly, if someone is trying to spin you on how the political picture is not that bad for the House GOP right now — at this moment — you ought to discount them as a political professional or analyst. Because it’s really, really bad, deflating and discouraging. On Thursday night, Texas Rep. Will Hurd — the only black Republican in the House — announced he would not run for reelection. He beat Democrat Gina Ortiz Jones by fewer than 1,000 votes in 2018 in a large district that runs the stretch of the Texas-Mexico border — and she is running again. Republicans like to say this is an R+1 — fine, perhaps — but it’s an R+1 that Hillary Clinton won by 3 points, so it’s not much of an R+1. Others agreed. But while much of the political world is talking about the retirement announcement, Fox News is not as interested. Hurd was not mentioning at all during Thursday’s evening programming or Fox & Friends on Friday, and he has received only 20 seconds of coverage so far during Friday’s America’s Newsroom: Both CNN and MSNBC covered Hurd’s announcement on Thursday and Friday. Fox News has spent plenty of time touting President Donald Trump’s alleged support in the Black community despite polls showing widespread disapproval of the president. Hurd spoke about his decision not to run again with The Washington Post, calling out Trump’s racism: In an interview Thursday with The Post, Hurd criticized Trump’s racist tweets last month in which the president said four Democratic minority congresswomen should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.” Three of the women are from the United States; a fourth, Rep. Ilhan Omar (Minn.), is a Somali refu­gee who became a U.S. citizen as a teenager. “When you imply that because someone doesn’t look like you, in telling them to go back to Africa or wherever, you’re implying that they’re not an American and you’re implying that they have less worth than you,” Hurd said. Hurd recently told Meet The Press, “I shouldn’t be the only African-American Republican in the House of Representatives.”

  • Fox’s Newt Gingrich complains about Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren: “I don’t remember us electing an angry president literally in my lifetime”
    by Media Matters for America on August 2, 2019 at 14:31

    BILL HEMMER (CO-ANCHOR): Go ahead and frame the argument that the president is making there from last night, sir. NEWT GINGRICH (FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR): Look, I think Kim Strassel did a great job with the column where she said the choice is between the left and the crazy left, and the crazy left is winning. I watched the first night. It was amazing the level of anger that you got out of Bernie Sanders and Senator [Elizabeth] Warren. I mean, these are really angry people, and it was kind of amazing to watch them. It’s the opposite of how people normally win the presidency. You go back and you watch Barack Obama with a big smile. You watch Ronald Reagan with a big smile. I don’t remember us electing an angry president literally in my lifetime. And yet you have these people who were almost in a rage. You also had the fact that they’re all drifting towards cloud cuckoo land. I mean, when you have a number of moderate Democrats on the stage — and they’ll all be gone soon because they’re not getting enough support to survive. But they’re on the stage and they’re saying — one of them said if we go down this road of taking away everybody’s health insurance we’ll be lucky to carry two states. Now that was a Democrat in the debate warning his follow Democrats that they could be throwing away the presidency. And I think we have to take that seriously. And of course, the president is watching all this and he’s exactly right, and he wants to stoke the fire a little bit about Obama. What’s turned out is that President Obama is no longer radical enough for the left wing of the Democratic Party. So you’re going to end up with Biden defending Obama while the rest of the party attacks him. The truth is, on things like deportation, President Obama deported more illegal immigrants than any other president in American history. In terms of the Affordable Care Act, which was not affordable, but it didn’t cover everybody that left-wingers want to cover. And so you can go down a list and you realize there’s a real fault line in the Democratic Party, and we’re watching it play out in these debates.  Previously:  After Democratic debate, Fox’s Newt Gingrich calls Democrats “an anti-American party” Fox’s Jason Chaffetz on Democratic debates: “They were doing everything they could to take away your freedoms” Fox & Friends complains that “the thing that was lacking” in Democratic debates over immigration “was the word illegal”

  • Fox’s Stuart Varney: Electing a Democrat as president will lead to an economic contraction
    by Media Matters for America on August 2, 2019 at 12:52

    AINSLEY EARHARDT (CO-HOST): The president was touting the economy last night. STUART VARNEY (FOX BUSINESS HOST): No wonder the Democrats failed to mention the strong economy in their two debates this week, because they don’t have a growth plan, and obviously, President Trump does. The Democrats seem to me to have a contraction plan. No fossil fuels, no private health insurance. That’s a contraction of the economy, rather than the expansion that President Trump’s got. … EARHARDT: Stuart, you mentioned jobs reports, they’re coming out this morning. What can we expect? VARNEY: I think you’ll see the unemployment rate stay around 3.7%. EARHARDT: It’s amazing. VARNEY: Do you realize how low that is? I mean, I have lived in America for 40 odd years, I haven’t seen 3.7% before. Maybe [3.6%] under Trump, I don’t know, but that’s near historic level. EARHARDT: The president said 7 million Americans are off food stamps. Think about that. That’s wonderful. VARNEY: That’s right. That’s right. That’s right. And what is it, 125,000 extra employed people in the state of Ohio? STEVE DOOCY (CO-HOST): And the job number today is expected to be about 164,000 new jobs. VARNEY: About that. That’s still pretty strong. It might be stronger than that. But here’s something that was buried by the media. DOOCY: Shocking. VARNEY: Right. In the first two years of the Trump presidency, wages and salaries increased 42% more than in the last two years of the Obama administration. EARHARDT: That’s great. VARNEY: Forty-two percent more. EARHARDT: So people can ask themselves are you better off today? VARNEY: How about that? Yes. EARHARDT: Are you better off today and the answer for most people is yes. VARNEY: Well, it shows you — it’s the Trump presidency which turned the economy around. Don’t give me this, that Obama started the recovery. Well, maybe the recovery started in the Obama years, but the expansion, that started with President Donald J. Trump. Previously: Fox Business host Stuart Varney says repealing Trump’s tax cuts for the rich and corporations “would ruin the economy” After first Democratic debate, Fox’s Stuart Varney lashes out at candidates for promising to tax the wealthy: “They attacked the rich”  Fox Business host blames stock market decline on House Speaker Pelosi’s press conference

  • New Bureau of Land Management head complained that federal employees aren’t held “personally responsible for the harm that they do”
    by Media Matters for America on August 2, 2019 at 12:43

    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters William Perry Pendley, the new head of the Bureau of Land Management, complained in a 2018 interview that employees like the ones he now manages aren’t held “personally liable” or “personally responsible for the harm that they do” regarding federal land management. He also said that one thing that would prevent such problems in the future “is the federal government owning less land.”   President Donald Trump’s administration this week appointed Pendley, a right-wing lawyer and commentator, as the acting head of the Bureau of Land Management after he worked at the agency for just a few weeks. Media Matters documented that he has argued that climate science isn’t real, claimed that environmentalists want to “destroy” civilization, and once asked, “How many have died and how many more will die because of diversity and race-based decision making?” Conservation and environmental groups have heavily criticized Pendley’s hiring. Kayje Booker, the policy and advocacy director at Montana Wilderness Association, said: “It’s hard to imagine anyone in this position more dangerous or more conflicted than William Perry Pendley.”  Members of the Blackfeet Nation have also criticized the appointment. As The Washington Post summarized, Pendley is “still the counsel of record representing an aging businessman, Sidney Longwell and his small company Solenex. Solenex leased 6,247 acres in northwest Montana in 1982 during the Reagan administration for about $1 an acre. Longwell wants permission to build a six-mile service road and bridge over the Two Medicine River on lands considered sacred by the Blackfeet tribe. Interior wants to cancel the lease. He would use the road to bring in drilling rigs and other oil exploration equipment.”  Pendley takes over an agency that’s responsible for managing public lands even though he once wrote a 2016 National Review opinion piece which argued that the federal government should sell its public lands. In response to concerns about Pendley’s views, an Interior Department spokesperson claimed: “This administration has been clear that we are not interested in transferring public lands.”  However, Pendley also said in a previously unreported television interview that one of the ways to solve alleged problems with land management is for the government to own “less land.” He also criticized his future employees, saying they’re not held “personally liable” or “responsible for the harm that they do.”   Pendley appeared on the January 26, 2018, edition of the Colorado-based libertarian show Devil’s Advocate with Jon Caldara and talked about his cases against the federal government and the Bureau of Land Management. During the show, he said that “the federal government is the world’s worst neighbor. It absolutely is the worst neighbor.”    Later during the program, Pendley said that unlike private individuals, the federal government can dodge responsibility for their problems, alleging: “These agencies, these employees, they’re not personally liable, they’re not personally responsible for the harm that they do. They’re going to move down the hall, they’re going to move across the country.”  Pendley was then asked how to prevent such alleged problems with the federal government. He responded: “One of the things that prevents it is the federal government owning less land. We recognize the federal government, the United States government owns a third of the country, including especially here in the West.” 

  • Sean Hannity says one of his main criticisms of Republicans is that they aren’t more like Rush Limbaugh
    by Media Matters for America on August 2, 2019 at 02:35

    SEAN HANNITY (HOST):  I actually see similarities between you and Trump. Let me tell you what two of them are. Number one, you’ve got to be able to take a punch. You paved the way for a lot of us that are conservatives in the media. You’ve taken more than your fair share. And then, you’ve got to fight for what you believe.  My biggest criticism of Republicans is they are weak, a lot of them, and timid and afraid to do what you do every day. To do what Trump is doing. You’re right, showing them the way. Just fight for what you say you were going fight for.  … RUSH LIMBAUGH: This fear of the media, this fear of being called a racist, everyone needs to get over that now because all of us are racists. Everybody’s racist, they can’t talk about anybody now without labeling them racist. Previously:  Rush Limbaugh has ramped up his Fox News appearances in 2019 On Fox News, Rush Limbaugh says that “climate change is what allows them to poison the minds of young kids” On Fox, Rush Limbaugh complains about efforts to address the climate crisis: “There is no man-made climate change”

  • On Fox, Rush Limbaugh complains about efforts to address the climate crisis: “There is no man-made climate change”
    by Media Matters for America on August 2, 2019 at 02:13

    SEAN HANNITY (HOST): Three words I want to throw at you — Green New Deal. RUSH LIMBAUGH: Well, it’s — it is a trick, the Green New Deal. Even Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, her chief of staff, sackrat — sakreet — sakrot — whatever, Chakrabarti, admitted that it’s not even about the climate. It’s not even about the weather. It’s an economic plan, and it is. It’s designed to get massive federal power, grow the federal government, under the pretense that average Americans cannot be left to live their lives without ruining things, especially for the Democrat Party. It’s unaffordable, it will never happen, and the premise behind it is bogus. There is no man-made climate change. There is nothing we can do to stop whatever the weather is going to do. We can’t make it warmer, we can’t make it colder. We can’t change hurricanes’ directions, we can’t dissipate them. We can’t create them. And yet, they are campaigning and trying to convince people. I mean, look at millennials. It’s really sad, there’s a lot of young people that really think this planet is not going to be habitable by the time they hit 65. These people are ruining people’s lives, they’re ruining their futures all in the pursuit of power for themselves. It’s disgusting on one level to me, and I think that they need to be called out and I think they need — this stuff needs to be said point blank to them, because the media it is not — the media’s their best buddies, the media is their support group, and so forth. It’s a big battle. I’m just — I’m just optimistic, I’m confident that these people can be beat back. Previously: In Hannity segment attacking Green New Deal, climate denier Joe Bastardi says “people are ungrateful” for fossil fuels Hannity invites climate denier Joe Bastardi on his show to deny link between climate change and extreme weather — again Rush Limbaugh on Hurricane Florence: “The forecast and the destruction potential doom and gloom is all to heighten the belief in climate change”

  • On Fox News, Rush Limbaugh says that “climate change is what allows them to poison the minds of young kids”
    by Media Matters for America on August 2, 2019 at 01:51

    RUSH LIMBAUGH: Climate change is what allows them to poison the minds of young kids. To blame people for causing a problem and then offer them redemption, make them feel like they have meaning in their lives by saving the planet. Previously: Rush Limbaugh has dramatically ramped up his Fox News appearances in 2019 Less than 10% of questions were about climate change at CNN’s two-night debate in Detroit Rush Limbaugh shares fake story that sharks are flying around in Hurricane Florence

  • Lou Dobbs says Donald Trump can’t be racist because Mexico is helping the United States
    by Media Matters for America on August 2, 2019 at 01:02

    LOU DOBBS (HOST): This fellow can’t be too much of a quote-unquote “racist,” in point of fact embracing Mexico, its president, its government, because of all of the help they are providing America, acknowledging it, and doing so warmly. Previously: Lou Dobbs laughs at Fox’s effort to restrain anti-Semitism on his show Lou Dobbs guest: “We’ve seen this in Europe, we’re seeing it here, and they are attempting to replace us” Lou Dobbs Says People Should Credit Obama’s Race For His Election Lou Dobbs attacks the media for reporting on DeSantis’ racist comments Lou Dobbs asks if it’s “time for the Trump administration to outright defy the activist” Supreme Court over census ruling

  • Tucker Carlson: Cory Booker was “trying to sound like a Nation of Islam recruiter” 
    by Media Matters for America on August 2, 2019 at 00:27

    TUCKER CARLSON (HOST): Cory Booker meanwhile is in the process of transitioning to a brand-new identity, he spent most of the evening trying to sound like a Nation of Islam recruiter rather than the deeply privileged son of two IBM executives which is what he is. Previously:  Tucker Carlson’s descent into white supremacy: A timeline Tucker Carlson touts hardline approach of far-right ethnonationalists to immigration  Tucker Carlson and guest mock the term “person of color,” call it a racist term because “everyone has a color”

  • Amid unprecedented attacks on reproductive rights, CNN debate moderators completely ignore abortion
    by Media Matters for America on August 1, 2019 at 23:28

    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters During the July 30 and 31 presidential debates, CNN moderators Jake Tapper, Dana Bash, and Don Lemon failed to ask 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls a single question about abortion. Nationally, as state legislatures continue to push an increasing number of abortion restrictions — and with right-wing media already amplifying anti-abortion misinformation ahead of the 2020 elections — the primary debates are a crucial opportunity for moderators to ask precise, nuanced questions about how presidential candiates would protect abortion access. CNN’s failure to ask about abortion was out of step with what Democratic voters wanted to hear about during the debates and was a missed opportunity to break right-wing media’s dominance of abortion-related conversations on cable news. Abortion rights garnered hardly any recognition from moderators or candidates alike during the July 30 Democratic primary debate. Montana Gov. Steve Bullock briefly referred to himself as “pro-choice” in his opening statement. The only substantive conversation about abortion happened during the July 31 debate. On stage, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) confronted former Vice President Joe Biden over his past support of the Hyde Amendment, a legislative provision that forbids the allocation of federal funds for abortion care except in limited cases. This amendment disproportionately affects people of color and those of lower socioeconomic status who might depend on federal support to access health care. Although this short exchange was the only discussion of abortion during both nights of the CNN moderated debates, neither candidate said the word “abortion.” In fact, five hours of political discourse yielded a mere two minutes of abortion conversation without anyone — the 20 candidates or three moderators — saying the word “abortion.” This is not the first time CNN moderators have excluded discussion of abortion during presidential debates. After a 2016 Democratic primary debate, critics called out the network for not asking any questions about abortion despite coming days after the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, a case concerning anti-abortion restrictions in Texas. After this week’s debates, abortion rights groups were confounded again by the lack of action Given the already precarious state of abortion access, debate moderators need to ask candidates specific and nuanced questions on abortion — otherwise right-wing media and anti-choice outlets will continue to dominate the conversation with harmful misinformation.

  • Fox hosts shout down colleague Juan Williams when he notes that Trump’s racism is a fact
    by Media Matters for America on August 1, 2019 at 22:20

    JUAN WILLIAMS (CO-HOST): Let me tell you, it’s a fact, it’s a fact, it is a fact. GREG GUTFELD (CO-HOST): No, Juan, it’s an opinion, it’s an opinion. … That’s called an opinion Juan, it’s not a fact. I could keep saying it, he won’t listen. Previously: Fox & Friends guest attacks news outlets noting Trump’s racism: It is “an opinion, not a fact” Tomi Lahren previously pushed the same sexist smear about Kamala Harris on Fox Nation

  • MoveOn members demand Congress Close the Camps
    by Heather Kachel on July 3, 2019 at 18:38

    Every day immigrants are suffering from intentional inhumane conditions created by the Trump administration. News continues to pour out that the Trump administration’s escalation of brutal attacks against immigrants and refugees has reached new, even more horrific lows, with children being held in unspeakable conditions in concentration camps at the border. Just yesterday, more images and stories The post MoveOn members demand Congress Close the Camps appeared first on MoveOn.Org | Democracy In Action.

  • Seven actions you can take right now to help close immigrant detention centers.
    by Tillie McInnis on June 28, 2019 at 20:37

    In the last eight months, six migrant children are known to have died after being taken into U.S. immigration custody.  This tragic tally includes 16-year-old Carlos Hernandez Vásquez, 2 ½-year-old Wilmer Josué Ramírez Vásquez, 16-year-old Juan de León Gutiérrez, 7-year-old Jakelin Caal Maquin, 8-year-old Felipe Gomez Alonzo, and 10-year-old Darlyn Cristabel Cordova-Valle. And a 18-month-old The post Seven actions you can take right now to help close immigrant detention centers. appeared first on MoveOn.Org | Democracy In Action.

  • Elizabeth Warren in First Place, Bernie Sanders In Second In MoveOn’s Latest Member Straw Poll

    by Brian Stewart on June 25, 2019 at 10:00

    Members say they want a candidate who ‘inspires the public with deep progressive values’ and ‘makes the connections between racial, social, and economic injustice.’ WASHINGTON, DC — Sen. Elizabeth Warren leads a new MoveOn straw poll with the support of 38% of members nationwide, followed by Bernie Sanders with 17%. Warren is also in first The post Elizabeth Warren in First Place, Bernie Sanders In Second In MoveOn’s Latest Member Straw Poll
 appeared first on MoveOn.Org | Democracy In Action.

  • MoveOn 2020 Straw Poll Results, June 2019
    by Brian Stewart on June 25, 2019 at 10:00

    Nationwide First Choice Second Choice Elizabeth Warren 37.8% Bernie Sanders 16.5% Joe Biden 14.9% Pete Buttigieg 11.7% Kamala Harris 6.8% Undecided 2.2% Beto O’Rourke 1.8% Andrew Yang 1.1% Jay Inslee 1.1% Cory Booker 1.0% Amy Klobuchar 1.0% Tulsi Gabbard 0.8% Marianne Williamson 0.8% Someone Else 0.4% Michael Bennett 0.3% Julián Castro 0.3% John Hickenlooper 0.3% The post MoveOn 2020 Straw Poll Results, June 2019 appeared first on MoveOn.Org | Democracy In Action.

  • Clinton’s Lost Votes
    by Ron Chusid on May 30, 2019 at 17:57

    Establishment Democrats love to blame third party voters for Clinton losing, but The New York Times recently had data… Posted by Ron Chusid on Monday, May 20, 2019 Establishment Democrats love to blame third party voters for Clinton losing, but The New York Times recently had data disputing this. They looked at people who voted for