Liberal News

  • Breaking With AFL-CIO, Affiliated Labor Council May Vote to Expel Police Union
    by Candice Bernd on June 6, 2020 at 14:02

    Activists say that by continuing to affiliate with police unions, some labor leaders are betraying protesters’ demands.

  • Gay Porn Star Threatening To Out Homophobic GOP Senator ‘LG’
    by NewsHound Ellen on June 6, 2020 at 13:30

    It seems to have started with yesterday’s tweet in which Harding put out a call for sex workers to speak out against “a homophobic republican senator.” There is a homophobic republican senator who is no better than Trump who keeps passing legislation that is damaging to the lgbt and minority communities. Every sex worker I know has been hired by this man. Wondering if enough of us spoke out if that could get him out of office? — Sean Harding #BLM (@SeanHardingXXX) June 4, 2020 Just after midnight, Harding said, “EVERY major news network is in my inbox including high profile lawyers willing to take this case. Fellow sex workers I invite you to stand with me during this crucial time. EVERY major news network is in my inbox including high profile lawyers willing to take this case. There’s strength in numbers – I KNOW you’re out there because EVERYONE has a story about LG when we talk. https://t.co/PeKKvQSJAx — Sean Harding #BLM (@SeanHardingXXX) June 5, 2020read more

  • Here are 5 of the most appalling moments in the Steve King Hall of Shame
    by Alex Henderson on June 6, 2020 at 13:29

    On June 2, far-right Rep. Steve King lost a GOP primary battle to Iowa State Sen. Randy Feenstra

  • WSU Tech Abruptly Cancels Ivanka Trump’s Commencement Speech
    by Ed Scarce on June 6, 2020 at 13:03

    Associate Professor Jennifer Ray’s open letter which led to the campaign against Ivanka Trump said: “To many Americans, the [Trump] administration has to come to signify the worst of our country, particularly in its recent actions towards those peacefully protesting against racist police brutality.” Source: Kansas.com Wichita State University and WSU Tech canceled Ivanka Trump’s commencement speech without explanation Thursday in a late-night news release following a public outcry from faculty, students and alumni. The joint university statement, which posted online late Thursday night, said the school’s plans have “refocused more centrally on students” and that Trump will be replaced by nursing graduate Rebecca Zinabu. “Earlier today, WSU Tech announced that Ivanka Trump, advisor to President Donald Trump, is a planned speaker at the college’s virtual commencement this weekend,” said the statement by Wichita State president Jay Golden and WSU Tech president Sheree Utash. “The WSU Tech commencement plans have been refocused more centrally on students – student voices in particular. Rebecca Zinabu, WSU Tech practical nursing graduate, will now be the only commencement speaker during the ceremony.”read more

  • ‘These Unions Dishonor the Labor Movement’: Nearly 200 Academics, Lawmakers, and Activists Demand AFL-CIO Expel Police Unions
    on June 6, 2020 at 12:40

    Jake Johnson, staff writer”The AFL-CIO cannot stand for criminal justice reform, while at the same time allowing police unions to use your power to impede reform.”

  • It can’t happen here — and then it did
    by Joe Saltzman on June 6, 2020 at 12:29

    There have already been at least 100 instances of journalists being assaulted or harassed while covering protests

  • Mike’s Blog Round Up
    by M. Bouffant on June 6, 2020 at 12:01

    As the plague turns, we bring you the Build That Wall (Around The White House)! Edition. Video above via Miss Cellania. Second Amendment contradictions, observed by Responsible Statecraft. May not be a “center-right country” after all; another long one, from Honest Graft, examining the crisis in conservative confidence. The American Independent reports that statues of Confederate traitors are disappearing from the South. Money quote:’Richmond is no longer the capital of the Confederacy,’ said the city’s mayor. Vaguely comedic relief in the paranoid right-wing loon category from The Big, Bad & Bald Bastard. It hasn’t come to tanks in the street. Yet. Just a truck transporting National Guardsmen.

  • Georgia Protests Differently: A Dispatch From the Front Lines of Atlanta Divided
    by George Chidi on June 6, 2020 at 12:00

    The days of defiance here have been half police misconduct protest rally and half carnival. Incongruity abounds. The post Georgia Protests Differently: A Dispatch From the Front Lines of Atlanta Divided appeared first on The Intercept.

  • We are witnessing the birth of a movement — and the downfall of a president
    by Lucian K. Truscott IV on June 6, 2020 at 12:00

    We’ve reached a turning point in the Trump era. The 2020 campaign is in the streets and he’s losing

  • Fox News Displays Graphic Showing Stock Market Gains After Murders Of Black Men
    by Red Painter on June 6, 2020 at 12:00

    Fox News is pretty much the most disgusting propaganda channel on TV right now (except for OANN) Every night is filled with the Tucker Carlson White Power Hour, Hannity’s asskissing and Laura Ingraham’s rants. But on Friday night they really took their channel to a new low. They did a segment on how the stock market improved following 4 specific incidents of murder or assault on black people. Specifically, the murder of Martin Luther King Jr, the Rodney King case acquittal, the murder of Michael Brown and the murder of George Floyd. AND THEY USED A BAR CHART TO SEE WHICH CAUSED A GREATER INCRESE OF THE STOCK MARKET. Twitter erupted: Anyone at Fox News involved in airing this graphic needs to lose their job. pic.twitter.com/hbzm125yY2 — Andrew Weinstein (@Weinsteinlaw) June 5, 2020 I used bad language, sorry

  • Biden Formally Clinches Democratic Nomination
    by Taegan Goddard on June 6, 2020 at 11:29

    Joe Biden has clinched a majority of delegates to the Democratic convention, locking up the party’s presidential nomination, according to the Associated Press. Said Biden: “It was an honor to

  • A graduation speech for our age of collapse
    by Tom Engelhardt on June 6, 2020 at 11:29

    You’re graduating not into a world but into a conundrum.

  • Documentos vazados mostram que Abin pediu ao Serpro dados e fotos de todas as CNHs do país
    by Tatiana Dias on June 6, 2020 at 10:15

    Espiões terão acesso a um catálogo com informações de um terço da população. Especialistas temem uso autoritário do banco. The post Documentos vazados mostram que Abin pediu ao Serpro dados e fotos de todas as CNHs do país appeared first on The Intercept.

  • Police Attacks on Protesters Are Rooted in a Violent Ideology of Reactionary Grievance
    by Ryan Devereaux on June 6, 2020 at 10:00

    A peaceful protest movement confronts a lawless police culture. The post Police Attacks on Protesters Are Rooted in a Violent Ideology of Reactionary Grievance appeared first on The Intercept.

  • This powerful protest movement deserves more from the press: Ask those with power what will change
    by Dan Froomkin on June 6, 2020 at 10:00

    Journalists have access to the powerful. They must take the protesters’ message to those who can do something

  • Condemning Police Conduct as ‘Disgusting,’ Federal Judge Bars Denver Cops From Using Chemical Weapons on Protesters
    on June 6, 2020 at 09:55

    Jake Johnson, staff writer”Citizens should never have to fear peaceful protest on the basis of police retaliation, especially not when protesting that very same police violence.”

  • ‘Quietly Putting Hundreds of Species at Risk,’ Trump Opens 5,000 Square Miles of Atlantic Ocean to Commercial Fishing
    on June 6, 2020 at 09:11

    Jake Johnson, staff writer”Ancient and slow-growing deep sea corals, endangered large whales and sea turtles, and an incredible array of fish, seabirds, sharks, dolphins and other wildlife—these are the species and habitats that will pay the price.”

  • Republican elected officials are peddling a conspiracy theory that George Soros is paying protesters
    by Alex Samuels on June 6, 2020 at 09:00

    In racist Facebook posts, GOP officials accused George Soros of paying protesters to “destroy” the country

  • Amazon’s New Competitive Advantage: Putting Its Own Products First
    by by Renee Dudley on June 6, 2020 at 09:00

    by Renee Dudley ProPublica is a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. Sign up to receive our biggest stories as soon as they’re published. Until recently, when Amazon customers typed “melatonin” into the site’s search bar, a variety of sleep supplements would appear in the most coveted real estate on the listings results — top left on the first page. One of consultant Jason Boyce’s clients, a seller of natural supplements, often sought to outbid competitors for the best spots by promising Amazon about $6 each time someone clicked on the product. While the brand never attained the top left slot, it regularly landed in the top row. But in late March, Boyce noticed that Amazon’s own brand, Solimo, had taken over the top left, while his client’s product had been bumped to a lower row. Then Boyce typed “ground coffee” in the search bar, only to find AmazonFresh Colombia ground coffee in the top left, pushing down another client. “This is madness,” Boyce said. “They’re putting their own product right in the front of the line.” He said the clients, whom he declined to name because they feared retaliation from Amazon, were outraged. “They were thinking, ‘What is Amazon going to do next?’” he said. Get Our Top Investigations Subscribe to the Big Story newsletter. Don’t miss out on ProPublica’s next investigation. Sign up and get the Big Story email whenever we break news. Email address This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply. Although customers don’t necessarily realize it, brands have for years been able to bid on search terms to secure the most visible listing positions at the top of Amazon’s product search results pages, where their products carry a “sponsored” tag above the description. Now, they still bid for top-row placements, but the best spot — the top left on the first page — is unavailable across dozens of product search terms, according to consultants and ProPublica’s own review. During the pandemic, Amazon has begun to use that position for its own private-label products, without bidding, under the heading “featured from our brands.” The domino effect of Amazon’s new strategy has demoted competitors’ listings for products including diapers, copy paper, kids’ pajamas, mattresses, trail mix and lightbulbs. By putting its own private brands in some of the most valuable slots, Amazon is sacrificing short-term ad revenue to build up sales of its private brands over time, consultants said. The new approach violates Amazon’s mantra that every decision must put the customer first, said Tim Hughes, a consultant who used to work in product management at Amazon. “Why would their brand be a better option for consumers?” said Hughes, chief operating officer of a firm that helps brands manage Amazon accounts. “It doesn’t necessarily have to be cheaper, or better, or anything. So then what’s their justification to say, ‘We’re just going to put this up in front of everybody else’? This is just another example of Amazon being able to manipulate the platform for its own good use.” While Amazon has promoted its own private-label products in various prominent spots on its site over the years, consultants and legal experts said this latest iteration takes advantage of the surge in online buying during the pandemic and may accentuate antitrust concerns for a company already juggling domestic and global probes. Amazon’s share price has increased more than 30% this year, although the company missed earnings estimates for the most recent quarter because of higher costs. Amazon’s dedicating of prime positions to its own brands could be viewed under U.S. law as “exclusionary conduct” — which, along with proving a company has substantial market power, is a key element of antitrust cases, said Christopher Sagers, a professor of antitrust law at Cleveland State University in Ohio. “If I were their lawyer, this would definitely make me nervous,” Sagers said. “It’s hard to explain the search results finagling as anything besides a nasty, anticompetitive move.” Amazon acknowledged that it recently introduced this “featured from our brands” strategy, which the company described as “merchandising placement” rather than advertising. “Like all retailers, Amazon regularly makes decisions about how to use the space in our stores based on a variety of factors, centered on what customers will find most helpful,” a spokesperson said. “That’s a normal part of retail that’s happened for decades.” There is no real estate reserved for Amazon brands, and they may be placed anywhere, Amazon said. Amazon highlights its private-label brands because customers prefer them, the spokesperson added. “Amazon’s private brand products have on average higher customer review ratings, lower return rates and higher repeat purchase rates than other comparable brands in the Amazon store,” he said. “As a result, like other retailers, Amazon highlights its private brands in promotions and marketing.” Most private-label sales are for staples such as paper towels, baby wipes and batteries, Amazon said. Absent favored treatment by Amazon, though, its private-label brands sometimes don’t have enough sales under the algorithm’s criteria to justify a listing on the first page of search results, said consultant James Thomson, the former business head of an Amazon team that recruits third-party sellers. Amazon Essentials regular and slim-fit short-sleeve pocket Oxford shirts, both listed on the first page of results for “men’s shirts,” had about $4,400 and $1,600, respectively, in sales over a recent 30-day period, far less than the surrounding unpaid listings. Their sales should have put the Oxford shirts at best at the bottom of the second page, according to Thomson and Jungle Scout, a service that analyzes Amazon sales rank data. Amazon “confuses consumers into thinking these products are more popular than they really are,” Thomson said. Amazon said its shopping results don’t favor private brands, and sales is only one of many factors considered by its algorithm. A screenshot of a search for ground coffee on Amazon’s site shows the company’s private-label product in the top left slot below a headline ad. Amazon has 45 private-label brands with a total of 243,000 products available, accounting for about 1% of retail sales, the company said. “Private labels are playing an increasingly important role in Amazon’s overall strategy,” Coresight Research said in a report last month. Since people read from left to right, the top left is the most desirable spot in the search results. When we searched for “almonds,” Amazon’s Happy Belly brand whole raw almonds occupied that spot. In the “bra” results, it was Amazon’s Iris & Lilly brand. A search for “envelopes” revealed AmazonBasics security tinted version in the top left, ahead of three paid listings. A search for “shaving cream” featured Amazon’s Made For You shaving cream, to the left of two paid listings from The Art of Shaving brand. A spokesman for The Art of Shaving said “there aren’t any issues at the moment” with sales or how its products appear on Amazon. The prominent positioning for its own products enables Amazon to boost prices, Boyce said. When Boyce, who used to own a home recreation equipment company and remains interested in the category, happened to type “bocce” into Amazon’s search bar in April, he saw an Amazon brand bocce ball set featured at the top, before all the other listings, he said. When he checked again weeks later, the price of Amazon’s product — still top left — had gone up several dollars, he said. “We’re always looking to deliver consistently low prices to customers on all products we offer,” the spokesperson said, adding, “No amount of advertising will fool customers into paying more than they want if there are competitive offers for competitive products.” Amazon has an advantage over competitors because it doesn’t have to pay itself for the best placement, Boyce said. Brands pay between 10% and 30% of sales for a sponsored slot, he said. “The deck is hugely stacked in favor of Amazon,” he said. Read More Amazon Says It Puts Customers First. But Its Pricing Algorithm Doesn’t Amazon bills itself as “Earth’s most customer-centric company.” Yet its algorithm is hiding the best deal from many customers. Amazon is facing at least one European antitrust investigation and two in the U.S. The House Judiciary Committee last June announced an investigation into possible anti-competitive conduct by large tech companies including Amazon. The House investigation is ongoing, according to a spokesman for Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island, the chairman of the committee’s antitrust subcommittee. Cicilline last month threatened to subpoena Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos if he ignores a request to testify. The demand followed a Wall Street Journal report that Amazon used data about third-party sellers on its site to develop competing products under its private-label brands. In addition, the Federal Trade Commission has reportedly been looking into possible anti-competitive practices at Amazon for nearly a year. The FTC declined to comment. Other big tech companies also have been under scrutiny. Media outlets reported last month that the Justice Department and a group of state attorneys general are likely to file antitrust lawsuits against Google, focusing in part on its online advertising business. Amazon declined to comment specifically on the investigations. It said that it faces “intense competition in every segment” in which it operates. Amazon represents less than 4% of the U.S. retail market but nearly 40% of U.S. online sales. It’s the third-biggest player in the U.S. digital advertising market, behind Google and Facebook, with about $10 billion in U.S. digital ad revenues in 2019, according to market research firm eMarketer. Amazon’s share of that space is about 8% and growing, eMarketer said. Three-fourths of Amazon’s digital ad revenues come from keyword-targeted, cost-per-click search ads, including the “sponsored product” listings, according to eMarketer estimates. A desktop search on Amazon generally yields multiple pages of results. Each page may show a dozen or more rows of products, typically with three or four listings per row. The top row may feature between one and four paid listings, known as sponsored products. For example, a recent search for “curtains” showed AmazonBasics curtains in the top left spot, followed by two sponsored and one “organic” — or unpaid — listing across the row. Under what Boyce calls a “pay-to-play” system, brands compete for sponsored product placement on Amazon’s website, bidding on a specific search term such as “curtains.” Brands pay nothing upfront for these listings. Rather, they bid on what they’re willing to pay Amazon per click — amounts typically ranging from about a nickel to $20 per click, depending on the search term, consultants said. Many brands may be competing for the same limited ad space, and they can learn estimated winning bids before placing theirs. Having the highest bid doesn’t guarantee placement. When determining which brands will get the coveted spots, Amazon’s algorithm takes into account a brand’s sales and inventory availability, and the product’s relevance to the desired search term. Placement for individual brands is constantly changing. Amazon offers sponsored product ads at the bottom of the first search results page as well as on subsequent pages, but those are less expensive since they generally lead to fewer sales, consultants said. If products — like the sleep supplement sold by Boyce’s client — lose their sponsored position, they no longer have to pay for placement. Amazon began offering pay-per-click ads on its site in 2012, said Mike Ziegler, a former senior product manager for Amazon’s advertising program. Since then, it has gradually increased both the number of paid listings on product search results pages as well as the amount of space that features Amazon-brand products, said Thomson, who advises brands working with Amazon. In recent years, Amazon has sometimes featured its own products in headline ads that run across the top of the results page, just below the search bar. This area is now known as “sponsored brand” space and is available to brands willing to bid on it. In addition, Amazon has featured its brands in the middle of the results page in a section called “top rated from our brands.” It still sometimes promotes its products in this way. But, prior to the pandemic, Amazon’s private-label brands only entered the top row of listings through competitive bidding, the company said. By giving itself the top placement, Amazon is guaranteeing the success of its brands, Hughes said. Since customers are more likely to buy products listed at the top of the search results, Amazon is boosting sales for its products — and increasing, by the same token, their rating in the eyes of the algorithm. So even if Amazon ultimately cedes the top left, its products will end up in a better position relative to competitors than before, Hughes said. Amazon said this isn’t part of its strategy. Read More Amazon Defends Its Pricing Algorithm, But Leaves Out Billions in Sales When Hughes worked for Amazon between 2012 and 2015, his job was to maximize advertising revenue on the Amazon-owned website IMDb, a database of movies and TV shows that then had annual ad revenue of about $50 million, he said. For unpopular or unused advertising space, Hughes built relationships with so-called “remnant providers” that would fill the space with last-minute ads for a discounted rate. Although his job was to get the most revenue out of the available ad space, Hughes said his boss eventually told him to drop the remnant ad suppliers in favor of running unpaid ads for Amazon services including Prime Video. “I was told flat out we’re not doing remnant providers anymore, we’re just showing Amazon house ads,” he said. “There was no rationale. It came from senior leadership. You have to do it.” Amazon said it only shows house ads in the program described by Hughes when it doesn’t have a relevant paid ad. Hughes said that Amazon’s efforts to promote its own brands have become more aggressive over the years, first with the headline and middle-of-page placements and now with the top-left slot. “They don’t have to fight like everybody else to get positioning” for their private-label brands on the product search pages, Hughes said. “They just put ‘our brands’ there, and boom, instant sales. The difference between being in slot one versus slot 10, even on the first page, is going to be an order of magnitude different in terms of sales. It is an exponentially decreasing curve. It is a huge drop off.” Dan Brownsher, CEO of an agency that advises sellers on Amazon, said brands compete to be in the top row of search results because the “further down you go on a page, the less likely you are” to click on a listing and buy a product, he said. “If you’re on Page 2, you’re basically dead,” he said. “If Amazon is taking up key real estate, then that’s pushing everybody else down.” As a result, Amazon’s private-label sales are likely to increase, even on products that currently aren’t popular, Brownsher said. So while the company may forgo advertising revenue in the short term, as its own brand displaces a paid advertising slot, it’s “going to win in the long term,” he said. Brownsher also said Amazon may promote products that are overstocked and need to be sold quickly. The Amazon spokesperson said this isn’t its strategy. Not all sellers are upset. Ziegler, the former senior product manager who now advises brands who advertise on Amazon, said his clients — which include Unilever Food Solutions — accept that Amazon has in the past promoted its own brands alongside competitors and that it will continue to do so. “It’s a fact of life,” Ziegler said. Unilever did not respond to a request for comment. Randall Fields, CEO of retail advisory firm Park City Group, said grocery and discount chains have long created private-label products. Amazon putting its brands in the most lucrative web space is akin to a grocery store featuring its own brand of trail mix in the most prominent shelf space, he said. Like Amazon, brick-and-mortar stores also charge fees for premier display space. “They’re not doing anything that any other supermarket chain is not doing,” said Fields, co-founder of cookie maker Mrs. Fields. (He’s no longer involved with the company.) “It’s just the scale of it is so immense at Amazon.” There is an important difference, Thomson and Sagers said. Because of Amazon’s dominance over online retail, many sellers and suppliers rely on it as their primary or only source of sales revenue, they said. “An open marketplace means anybody can show up, anybody can sell their products, anybody’s got an opportunity,” Thomson said. “But what happens when prime real estate gets created and only Amazon can have access to it? It only pushes you further and further away from the marketplace actually being so-called ‘open.’ It’s not like somebody else can say, ‘I’m prepared to pay to have that real estate.’ Nope. That real estate is not available.”

  • Trump: The eternal, never-presidential campaigner
    by Stephan Richter on June 6, 2020 at 08:00

    How Trump has regulated the American public’s right to free speech: Every “Presidential” speech is a campaign event

  • Today’s Cartoon: Militarized Police
    by Steve Greenberg on June 6, 2020 at 03:00

    Open thread below…

  • “No way to find a bright spot”: Fox News poll has Martha McSally down 13% in must-win state for GOP
    by Roger Sollenberger on June 6, 2020 at 02:30

    The further into the poll you go, the worse it looks — for McSally, as well as for Trump and the Republican Party

  • Trump’s Inhumanity Is Deeper Than We Knew
    by Taegan Goddard on June 6, 2020 at 02:24

    George Conway: “It’s more than just narcissism that drives this failing, flailing president. However difficult they can be, even extreme narcissists can have consciences. They don’t necessarily cast aside behavioral

  • Ivanka Trump Dropped as Commencement Speaker
    by Taegan Goddard on June 6, 2020 at 02:18

    Ivanka Trump released the speech she had prepared to give at Wichita State University Tech’s commencement ceremony before she was dropped as a speaker.  Plans to have her speak there

  • Efforts to curb STDs falter in COVID’s shadow
    by Anna Maria Barry-Jester on June 6, 2020 at 02:04

    Rates of infection and death from congenital syphilis have been on the rise for years.

  • Electric utilities called out for slow-walking switch from natural gas to clean renewable energy
    by Alexandra Tempus on June 6, 2020 at 02:02

    Many electric utilities are continuing to plan for and invest billions in power generation from natural gas.

  • Science alone can’t solve COVID-19. The humanities must help
    by Anna Magdalena Elsner on June 6, 2020 at 01:59

    Scholars of society, language, and culture will be integral to addressing the broader issues raised by the pandemic

  • Biden’s Estimate That 10-15% Of Americans Are “Not Very Good People” Is Way Too Low
    by Aliza Worthington on June 6, 2020 at 01:52

    Former VP Joe Biden held a virtual town hall Thursday evening, moderated by Don Cheadle and joined by Atlanta CEO Ryan Wilson, during which they discussed the state of race relations in the nation. Wilson asked Biden how he would. contrast himself to Trump when it came to leading and unity. According to USA Today: Ryan Wilson, the CEO of the Gathering Spot in Atlanta, Georgia, had asked Biden how he was going to lead differently and what he would do for black Americans, “if it’s true that you can’t truly lead people if you don’t love people.” Biden responded, of course that he did love people, then launched into highlighting the myriad contrasts in style between him and the authoritarian orange toddler in the White House.read more

  • Barr Says He Didn’t Order Park Cleared
    by Taegan Goddard on June 6, 2020 at 01:19

    Attorney General William Barr told the AP “that law enforcement officers were already moving to push back protesters from a park in front of the White House when he arrived

  • Whole squad resigns in apparent show of support after force suspends cops filmed shoving elderly man
    by Roger Sollenberger on June 6, 2020 at 01:09

    The viral video shows two cops shoving a 75-year-old man to the ground. Blood could be seen coming out of his ear

  • ‘This Is the Story of a Coward’
    by Taegan Goddard on June 6, 2020 at 00:25

    The Lincoln Project is out with a new ad comparing President Trump to Jim Mattis on leadership.

  • Protests Created Surge In Voter Registration
    by Taegan Goddard on June 6, 2020 at 00:04

    “Voter registrations, volunteer activity and donations for groups linked to Democratic causes are surging in the midst of protests following the death of George Floyd,” CNBC reports. If you want

  • Hickenlooper Violated Gift Ban
    by Taegan Goddard on June 5, 2020 at 23:59

    An ethics panel found former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) violated the state’s constitutional gift ban by accepting private flights aboard company jets owned by his friends and during an

  • Former George W. Bush Staffers Create PAC Supporting Joe Biden
    by Alan Ryland on June 5, 2020 at 23:53

    A new super PAC, called 43 Alumni for Biden, has been formed by former staffers of George W. Bush, according to paperwork submitted earlier this week. The news comes just days after the former president issued a statement along with his wife, former First Lady Laura Bush, calling for Americans to unify as protests grip … Continue reading “Former George W. Bush Staffers Create PAC Supporting Joe Biden”

  • NFL Encourages Players to Peacefully Protest
    by Taegan Goddard on June 5, 2020 at 23:50

    “NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Friday he and the league strongly support players expressing their opposition to inequality and police misconduct, saying the league’s leadership was ‘wrong’ for ignoring players

  • Zuckerberg Says Facebook Will Revisit Policies
    by Taegan Goddard on June 5, 2020 at 23:44

    “Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg said Friday the social media giant will reexamine its policies against violent threats and voter suppression after facing intense backlash over its recent handling of incendiary

  • Republicans Argue Positive Jobs Report Means More Coronavirus Relief Can Be Put on Hold For Now
    by Alan Ryland on June 5, 2020 at 23:41

    A senior Trump administration official told CNN that the release of today’s job report from the Department of Labor (DOL), which shows a drop in the unemployment rate, could allow Republican leadership to make the case to put more coronavirus relief on hold for now. “Republicans generally want to be patient: There’s a lot of … Continue reading “Republicans Argue Positive Jobs Report Means More Coronavirus Relief Can Be Put on Hold For Now”

  • Democratic Group Launches Ads Aimed at Hispanic Voters Comparing Trump to Latin American Authoritarians
    by Alan Ryland on June 5, 2020 at 23:27

    An ad commissioned by Priorities USA, the country’s largest Democratic Super PAC, and aimed at Hispanic voters in Florida, compares President Donald Trump to Latin American authoritarians, or caudillos. “From threatening reporters and militarizing the streets, to weaponizing the Justice Department to exact political vendettas, this administration’s abuse of power is all too familiar to … Continue reading “Democratic Group Launches Ads Aimed at Hispanic Voters Comparing Trump to Latin American Authoritarians”

  • Henry Rollins calls U.S. men “the dumbest creatures” & Trump “wrongest possible” leader for pandemic
    by Andrew O’Hehir on June 5, 2020 at 23:00

    The hardcore punk legend spoke to Salon about life under lockdown and his amoral role in the creepy “Dreamland”

  • Trump In Free Fall As 62% Of Americans Support Floyd Protests
    by Jason Easley on June 5, 2020 at 22:16

    Trump tried to use the protests triggered by the murder of George Floyd to divide the country, but 62% of Americans support the protesters.

  • Blacklash
    by Brian Gilmore on June 5, 2020 at 22:11

    COVID-19 is taking a deadly toll on African Americans.

  • Silicon Valley goes mask off: Tech CEOs veer right amid political turmoil
    by Nicole Karlis on June 5, 2020 at 22:00

    Recent crises are exposing these powerful men for who they really are — and what they believe

  • Maine Newspaper Tells Trump To Resign As He Visits The State
    by Jason Easley on June 5, 2020 at 21:35

    The editors of the Portland Press-Herald welcomed Trump to the state on Maine with an editorial calling on him to resign.

  • “The American apartheid is coming to a head”: Ani DiFranco on oppression and “Prison Music Project”
    by Mary Elizabeth Williams on June 5, 2020 at 21:26

    DiFranco & Zoe Boekbinder spoke to Salon about collaborating with prisoners who tell their stories on a new album

  • End the Oppression of Native Women
    by Diana Oldham on June 5, 2020 at 21:15

    Indigenous women are killed at a rate ten times higher than the U.S. national average.

  • Trump and His Press Secretary May Have Voted Illegally
    by Taegan Goddard on June 5, 2020 at 21:13

    “Even as they both attack the idea of voting by mail, President Trump and his new press secretary may have voted by mail illegally, using residential addresses on their registrations

  • Joe Biden Annihilates Trump For Press Conference Disaster
    by Jason Easley on June 5, 2020 at 20:57

    Former Vice President Joe Biden called Trump despicable for putting any other words into George Floyd’s mouth besides I can’t breathe.

  • Don’t Believe Your Watering Eyes. Kayleigh McEnany’s Teargaslighting
    by spocko on June 5, 2020 at 20:54

    I coined a new term. Teargaslighting. It’s a version of gaslighting designed to sow seeds of doubt in the media on their definition of the chemical agents used to disrupt protesters. Here it is used in a sentence. “Trump Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany used teargaslighting on CNN’s Jim Acosta when he asked about how Trump cleared out the peaceful protesters outside St. John’s Church for his photo op.” Watch the clip of McEnany teargaslighting past the 30-second mark. I know what she was doing with her “teargaslighitng’ bit but I wondered, if it’s not her specific definition of tear gas, what was it?  What I found was educational and disturbing.read more

  • New Yorkers Confront de Blasio Over Defense of NYPD Violence as Calls Mount for Mayor’s Resignation
    on June 5, 2020 at 20:52

    Julia Conley, staff writerNew York Mayor Bill de Blasio faced angry New Yorkers who called in to the “Ask the Mayor” segment on WNYC’s “The Brian Lehrer Show” on Friday, demanding answers about the mayor’s response to racial justice protests in the city.

  • Ameaças de Trump aos grupos antifa afrontam os negros e põem todos os protestos em risco
    by Natasha Lennard on June 5, 2020 at 20:52

    Supremacistas brancos são responsáveis por 70% dos assassinatos ligados ao extremismo nos EUA, mas são os antifa que Trump quer chamar de “terroristas”. The post Ameaças de Trump aos grupos antifa afrontam os negros e põem todos os protestos em risco appeared first on The Intercept.

  • Trump Launches Massive Ad Buy
    by Taegan Goddard on June 5, 2020 at 20:45

    “President Trump’s reelection campaign is moving swiftly to capitalize on Friday’s unexpectedly favorable jobs numbers with a massive $10 million ad buy presenting the president as the protagonist in an

  • Mounting Death Toll and Confirmed Covid-19 Cases in Brazil Increase Anger Over Bolsonaro’s Response
    on June 5, 2020 at 20:44

    Jessica Corbett, staff writerThe rising number of confirmed Covid-19 cases and related deaths in Brazil is leading to further condemnation of how President Jair Bolsonaro has responded to the pandemic—which, as of Friday afternoon, had left over 34,000 Brazilians dead and nearly 615,000 infected, according to the Johns Hopkins global tracker.

  • Trump is celebrating a slight dip in unemployment. Here’s why that’s a mistake
    by Matthew Rozsa on June 5, 2020 at 20:43

    Economists say the slight drop in unemployment rate may be temporary and not indicative of deeper trends

  • ‘Toxic Culture’ of Police Departments Decried After 57 Buffalo Officers Resign in Support of Two in Unit Who Attacked Elderly Man
    on June 5, 2020 at 20:36

    Eoin Higgins, staff writer”So is 57 officers resigning at once just a few bad apples?”

  • With “Douglas,” Hannah Gadsby is a comedy pioneer with her whimsical, meticulous show about autism
    by Mary Elizabeth Williams on June 5, 2020 at 20:00

    The self-proclaimed Tasmanian lesbian comic is back to explain her full comedy set, sexism, and Louis C.K.

  • Trump Brings Back Jason Miller, Despite Scandals
    by Taegan Goddard on June 5, 2020 at 19:34

    “President Trump’s reelection team is tapping Jason Miller to serve as a senior adviser, bringing a controversial figure back into the fold as the campaign barrels towards a treacherous final

  • Harris County GOP Chairman-elect’s Racist Facebook Post Lands Him In Hot Water
    by Ed Scarce on June 5, 2020 at 19:25

    They just can’t stop themselves, can they? Source: KPRC, Houston The chairman-elect of the Harris County Republican Party Keith Nielsen is facing backlash for a social media post. In a now-removed post, the Harris County GOP Chair Facebook page posted a famous quote from Martin Luther King Jr. The words “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” were placed next to the image of a banana. “For hundreds of years, African Americans have been called monkeys, baboons, and so that symbolizes a derogatory term for African Americans,” said James Douglas, the president of the NAACP Houston. Nielsen has not yet started in his position as the Harris County’s party chair. In another post on Thursday afternoon, Nielson wrote in part: “It is unfortunate that the sentiment of the quote and my admiration for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. has been overshadowed by people’s misinterpretation of an image.” Earlier that same day, Nielsen told KPRC 2 that he has an app that “posts stuff,” and he thought that day “everything is going bananas.” @KevinNeilsenPatriot (they’re always “patriots”) later apologized on Facebook, saying, “It is unfortunate that the sentiment of the quote and my admiration for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. has been overshadowed by people’s misinterpretation of an image.”read more

  • Pentagon Disarms Guardsmen In Sign of De-escalation
    by Taegan Goddard on June 5, 2020 at 19:20

    “The Pentagon has told the District of Columbia National Guard and guardsmen from other states who have arrived in the nation’s capital as backup to not use firearms or ammunition,

  • Fauci Says Protests Will Help Spread Virus
    by Taegan Goddard on June 5, 2020 at 19:18

    Dr. Anthony Fauci said that many of the protests against racism and police brutality taking place across the country, involving congregation of large crowds, raises the risk for transmission of

  • Why People Don’t Trust the Police
    by Taegan Goddard on June 5, 2020 at 19:05

    This piece is only available to Political Wire members. Your support makes this site possible. Join today for the complete Political Wire experience and get exclusive analysis, new features and

  • Pentagon War Game Includes Scenario for Military Response to Domestic Gen Z Rebellion
    by Nick Turse on June 5, 2020 at 19:01

    The 2018 war game envisioned a “Zbellion” by a tech-savvy generation that no longer believed in the American dream. The post Pentagon War Game Includes Scenario for Military Response to Domestic Gen Z Rebellion appeared first on The Intercept.

  • #SayHerName: On Breonna Taylor’s 27th Birthday, Advocates Demand Justice in Shooting Death by Louisville Police
    on June 5, 2020 at 18:53

    Julia Conley, staff writerRacial justice advocates on Friday demanded the three Louisville police officers who shot Breonna Taylor to death in March be fired immediately and criminally charged for Taylor’s murder.

  • Polícia de Nova York ataca manifestantes porque sabe que não terá punições
    by Alice Speri on June 5, 2020 at 18:51

    As queixas da população se acumulam e, a cada ano, a cidade de Nova York precisa pagar indenizações milionárias. The post Polícia de Nova York ataca manifestantes porque sabe que não terá punições appeared first on The Intercept.

  • On the Minds of Black Lives Matter Protesters: A Racist Health System
    by by Akilah Johnson on June 5, 2020 at 18:49

    by Akilah Johnson ProPublica is a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. Sign up to receive our biggest stories as soon as they’re published. WASHINGTON — On Tuesday, when he decided to protest, William Smith, 27, used a red marker to write a message on the back of a flattened cardboard box: “Kill Racism, Not Me.” As he stood alone, somber, he thought about George Floyd, a fellow black man whom he’d watched die on video as a Minneapolis cop kneeled on his neck eight days earlier. “Seeing the life leave his body was finally the last straw that broke the camel’s back for me,” he said. But he also thought about people he knew, a handful of them, who died after catching the new coronavirus. “They were living in impoverished areas. Couldn’t get proper treatment. Lived in crowded conditions, so social distancing was hard to do. And they were still forced to go to work and be put in harm’s way.” Help Us Report on Coronavirus Are you a public health worker, medical provider, elected official, patient or other COVID-19 expert? Help make sure our journalism is responsible and focused on the right issues. Note: If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19, such as difficulty breathing or bluish lips, get medical attention immediately. The CDC has more information on what to do if you are sick. When speaking out against the loss of black lives, it is tough to separate those who die at the hands of police from those who die in a pandemic that has laid bare the structural racism baked into the American health system. Floyd himself had tested positive for the coronavirus. Eighteen black protesters interviewed by ProPublica were well aware that black lives were being lost to the virus at more than twice the rate of others, and that societal barriers have compounded for generations to put them at higher risk. It was fueling their desire to protest and their anxiety about joining the crowd. But they flocked to the White House on Tuesday afternoon, one day after peaceful protesters there were tear-gassed so that President Donald Trump could hold up a bible for a photo op at St. John’s Episcopal Church. There were tanks on the streets, along with a battalion of federal agents, military troops and police. Many of the protesters said they were willing to sacrifice their bodies, either to violence or the virus, to be heard. St. John’s Episcopal Church near Lafayette Square in Washington on Tuesday after peaceful protesters were tear gassed so that President Donald Trump could be photographed in front of the church. (Eric Lee) In front of the White House stood Caleb Jordan, who turns 21 on Saturday. He showed up with an overstuffed backpack to make sure his 62-year-old grandmother, Carolyn Jackson, had enough water to drink and a hoodie to protect her arms in case of violence. “I don’t know what I would do if anything happened to her,” he said. Some people had on masks. Some did not. Some pulled their masks down to talk or breathe. “I’m not comfortable with that,” he said. She’s got a chronic lung condition, and he had been so worried about her catching the coronavirus in the past few months that he wouldn’t hug her. But then she mentioned that she drove by the protests on Sunday, and immediately he asked, “Why didn’t you take me?” He had been losing sleep over what he was seeing in social media and on TV, having nightmares in which he was fighting a “real-Jim-Crow-looking white guy in a white button-down shirt, black tie, sleeves rolled up.” His mom told him he was fighting racism. “It’s like obstacle after obstacle,” he said. “If it’s not police beating us up, it’s us dying in a hospital from the pandemic. I’m tired of being tired. I’m so tired, I can’t sleep.” It was something he continued thinking about until he couldn’t help himself, sending a text at 3 a.m. asking his grandmother if they could attend together. “I thought about it and said, ‘This is a teachable moment,’ ” she recalled. Get Our Top Investigations Subscribe to the Big Story newsletter. Don’t miss out on ProPublica’s next investigation. Sign up and get the Big Story email whenever we break news. Email address This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply. So Jackson took the day off from her job as an accountant at a hospice organization and put on some peace sign earrings and a T-shirt from the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March. On the car ride into the city, her grandson asked about her struggles with race. She explained what it’s like being a professional black woman with over 30 years experience who still feels overlooked for opportunities because of questions about her qualifications. Her awareness of being treated differently dates back to how her white paternal grandmother favored her lighter-skinned cousins. She found solace in her black maternal grandmother, who would comb her hair while she sat between her legs. Jackson wants her grandson to feel that kind of comfort from her. That desire extends to her mission to help the black community understand palliative care is an option that can offer dignity and support at the end of life. “Because when people hear hospice, their hands go up and they say, ‘I don’t want to hear it.’” She’s also heard that resistance when it comes to getting tested for the coronavirus; she has gotten tested twice and plans to get tested again. She feared being exposed on Tuesday, but being here with her grandson was too important to miss. “We internalized a lot with my generation,” she said, “but I think it’s important for him to see this.” N.W.A.’s “Fuck Tha Police” blared from a nearby speaker outside St. John’s Episcopal Church until an interfaith group of men and women bowed their heads and began to pray. Among them was Timothy Freeman, pastor at Trinity African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, who wore a brightly colored kente cloth-inspired mask, its vibrant yellows and reds standing in stark contrast to his ministerial black suit and white clerical collar. Timothy Freeman, pastor at Trinity African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church in Washington. (Nate Palmer, special to ProPublica) Freeman, 42, knows eight people who have been diagnosed with the virus; one died. For two weeks, a sick friend had a fever and could barely move from fatigue but refused to get tested, running through all the scenarios of what might happen if he had it: What if he wound up isolated in an ICU with no one to advocate at his bedside? Another sick friend worried an ambulance would take him to a hospital that he didn’t trust. These conversations, the pastor said, are always infused with an awareness of the medical system’s record of neglect and abuse of black people, from dismissing their pain to using their bodies for research without consent. The virus has forced this all top of mind. A licensed occupational therapist for 19 years who spent a decade managing a skilled rehab facility, Freeman said he has seen racial disparities in health care firsthand and that access to adequate insurance coverage is crucial. “I have seen diagnostic tests not performed … and hospitalizations cut extremely short — or not happen at all — because of insurance.” COVID-19 is affecting black and brown people in disproportionate numbers, “and not just because we’re black and brown, but because of the social and economic conditions people are forced to live in,” he said. “All of it comes together. What happened with George Floyd publicized to the world the experience that we live,” he said. “It’s a conglomeration of everything.” Elizabeth Tsehai was pulled from her car and her wrists were zip-tied by the Secret Service at the protest in Washington. (Nate Palmer, special to ProPublica) A block away from the prayer group, Elizabeth Tsehai, 53, drove slowly in her BMW SUV, honking her horn, as federal agents in riot gear began to march past the crowd just behind her. She had a Black Lives Matter T-shirt displayed on the dashboard and a bike rack on the top of her car that she joked made her look like the “caricature of a soccer mom.” She stopped her car on the road and remained there as protesters to her left took a knee. There was some heckling from the crowd but no one was in anybody’s face. A Secret Service agent warned her to move. Her response: “Arrest me. I can’t breathe!” Agents then pulled her from her car and to the ground and handcuffed her. “I didn’t resist because I know they just arrest you for resisting arrest,” she said. “But the minute they pulled me up on my feet, I was talking all kinds of trash.” Watch the Video Elizabeth Tsehai was stopped in her car, honking in support of protesters, when Secret Service agents pulled her out and handcuffed her. Her car was left unlocked in the middle of the street, where it was protected by protesters. She was questioned and released. She said agents told her they were afraid she was going to hit protesters because people have been using their cars as weapons. They told her to move it and leave. The Secret Service did not respond to questions about this incident. “Ordinarily, I would not get involved,” Tsehai said. But George Floyd’s death was enraging, as were “all of the things that came before it.” All of the things. How a white nurse looked her up and down when she arrived at the hospital to give birth to her son and sneered, “Can we help you?” How her brothers, who live in Minneapolis, recount being pulled over by police for driving while black. How a black man couldn’t watch birds in Central Park last week without having the police called on him. “The pandemic is hitting black people hard and exposing these structural inequalities,” she said. “Then on top of that, you get Amy Cooper … weaponizing her white privilege at a time when he might end up in jail, where infection is rife. “But when they manhandled protesters who were peaceful, that was a bridge too far,” said Tsehai, who grew up in Ethiopia under an authoritarian regime during a period known as Red Terror. She didn’t know life without a curfew until she moved to the United States to attend Georgetown University 35 years ago. “Moments like this are quite unusual,” she said. They can also inspire change, a message she shared with her children, ages 12 and 14, when recounting her ordeal with them. “I want these children to live in a different world. It’s not enough to read about it and get outraged and talk about it at the dinner table. Silence makes you complicit.” Demonstrators on Tuesday protesting the death of George Floyd hold up placards by the metal fence recently erected in front of the White House. (Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images) Tell Us More About Coronavirus Are you a public health worker, medical provider, elected official, patient or other COVID-19 expert? Help make sure our journalism is responsible and focused on the right issues. This form requires JavaScript to complete. Powered by Screendoor.

  • Hunger Stalks New York’s Lower East Side
    by Winnie Wong on June 5, 2020 at 18:47

    Winnie Wong Thousands of businesses in Manhattan have closed, thrusting an untold number of people into economic precarity and food insecurity. The post Hunger Stalks New York’s Lower East Side appeared first on The Nation.

  • Schumer Exposes Trump’s Job Gains Stimulus Pumped Up Fraud
    by Jason Easley on June 5, 2020 at 18:32

    Senate Democratic Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) warned that the jobs numbers were pumped up by stimulus money, and without more, it will collapse.

  • North Carolina Is a Key Battleground
    by Taegan Goddard on June 5, 2020 at 18:31

    Just for members: A new edition of . The edition analyzes North Carolina as a key battleground state, includes key updates on key races after the recent primaries. This issue

  • Walter Ogrod Sees Wrongful Conviction Overturned After 23 Years on Pennsylvania’s Death Row
    by Jordan Smith on June 5, 2020 at 18:30

    Ogrod developed symptoms of Covid-19 as a Philadelphia judge repeatedly delayed his case. Now, he will finally be released. The post Walter Ogrod Sees Wrongful Conviction Overturned After 23 Years on Pennsylvania’s Death Row appeared first on The Intercept.

  • On Protesting During a Pandemic
    by Touré on June 5, 2020 at 18:25

    Touré I’ve been afraid of Covid-19 for three months, but I’ve been afraid of getting killed by police for four decades. The post On Protesting During a Pandemic appeared first on The Nation.

  • Collins misses Trump’s visit to Maine after Murkowski suggests she won’t back president in November
    by Roger Sollenberger on June 5, 2020 at 18:20

    Trump threatened to back any challenger with a “pulse” who takes on Murkowski after she publicly criticized him

  • Reporter Hits White House on Lack of Social Distancing
    by Taegan Goddard on June 5, 2020 at 18:16

    Jonathan Karl of ABC News slammed the White House for positioning reporters closer together than usual for President Trump’s remarks in the Rose Garden. Said Karl: “This is a flagrant violation

  • World Environment Day Provokes Warnings That ‘To Care for Humanity, We Must Care for Nature’
    on June 5, 2020 at 18:10

    Jessica Corbett, staff writerAs a pandemic that’s killed over 393,000 people rages on and demonstrations demanding racial justice continue across the globe, the international community on Friday marked World Environment Day with scientifically supported warnings about the importance of protecting nature for the future of humanity.

  • Hank Williams spoke of the “cold, cold heart!”
    by <b>bob somerby</b> on June 5, 2020 at 17:49

    FRIDAY, JUNE 5, 2020Last evening, we saw one with Lawrence: Long ago and far away, Hank Williams introduced the concept of the person with the “cold, cold heart.”Many such people are out and about playing on our own liberal team. Consider what happened last night on Lawrence O’Donnell’s program.Midway through the program, O’Donnell discussed the three new arrests in Minneapolis. He described a remarkable situation involving two of these officers:O’DONNELL (6/4/20): In Minneapolis today, a judge set a bail of $750,000 for each of the three police officers who were arrested and charged yesterday in the murder of George Floyd—Thomas Lane, Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao.Defense lawyers told the court that Thomas Lane and Alexander Kueng had been on the police force for only four days when the incident occurred and that Derek Chauvin, who pressed his knee into George Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, was a training officer.Defense lawyer for Thomas Lane said in court, “What is my client supposed to do other than follow what the training officer said?”As we’ve been noting this week, two of the officers—Lane and Kueng—were rookies. They found themselves at the scene of an incident with a superior officer who seems to be out of his mind.According to O’Donnell, defense lawyers tried to sharpen the moral dilemma. They said that Lane and Kueng were in their fourth day on the job, and that the crackpot Chauvin was a training officer.Had Chauvin been assigned as Lane’s training officer in some formal sense? We can’t answer your question. We’re not sure that Lawrence got every fact right. A fuller report of yesterday’s hearing appeared on the front page of today’s New York Times.Back to what happened on the day George Floyd was senselessly killed:Somewhat oddly, the two rookies seemed to be on patrol together. They arrived at the scene in the first car to respond to the call concerning a possible crime.Chauvin and Thao, both experienced officers, arrived in a separate car a bit later. Eventually, Chauvin took control of the situation and began choking Floyd to death.Were Lane and Kueng really in just their fourth day on the job? The Times report quotes Lane’s lawyer saying this:BARKER ET AL (6/5/20): Earl Gray, the lawyer representing Mr. Lane, 37, told the court that Mr. Chauvin was a training officer for new officers. He said that the day Mr. Floyd died was Mr. Lane’s fourth day on the force.“They’re required to call him ‘Sir,’” Mr. Gray told the court. “He has 20 years’ experience. What is my client supposed to do but to follow what the training officer said? Is that aiding and abetting a crime?”According to the Times report, Kueng’s lawyer said that Kueng was only on his third shift as a full-fledged officer.O’Donnell seemed to see a moral quandary here.. But O’Donnell’s guest has a cold, cold heart, and her responses to Lawrence’s questions provide a lesson for us modern liberals.O’Donnell’s guest was Professor Murray of the NYU Law School. Lawrence asked her what she thought about this unusual situation. Below, you see what was said:O’DONNELL (6/4/20): Professor Murray, what do you make of what we heard, from the defense attorney anyway, in Minneapolis today, saying that these two officers were only on the force for four days, and that they were simply obeying what their training officer was telling them to do?PROFESSOR MURRAY: Well, I guess we’re getting a glimpse of what the defense will be for these three officers as they mount their defense to these charges of aiding and abetting. And the idea here is that these are junior officers following the chain of command.Chauvin was a more experienced officer and he was setting the pace and the tone of this encounter.For starters, the august professor didn’t seem to have the basic facts right. Only two of the officers were rookies (junior officers), not three. Thao, an experienced officer, was patrolling with Chauvin that day. According to the Times, he has already “cooperated with investigators” in some undisclosed way.That’s a mere factual matter. We were more struck by the robotic way the professor offered a useless recitation, one an alert third grader could have provided for Lawrence.Aside from her mistake about Officer Thao, the professor simply regurgitated a few blindingly obvious facts. Most strikingly, she showed no sign that she was being asked about a situation which may have an unusual moral component.Later, Lawrence gave her a second bite at the apple. Again, she showed no sign of understanding. We give Lawrence some credit for seeming to see the moral dilemma here, but he didn’t require his august guest to address it.Let us explain what’s happening:Those four-day wonders have been assigned the role of scapegoats in this horrible matter. They’re being asked to pay the price for a wide range of failed elites.What happened can’t be the police chief’s fault. After all, he took a knee last weekend. CNN declared him a hero.It can’t be Attorney General Ellison’s fault. Heroically, he decided to lock them all up, the very task the crowd had once asked of Pilate.Last night, along came Professor Murray with a cold, cold heart. Warning to modern-day liberals:Our tribal elite are often like this. They’ll run with the current tribal line, full and complete total stop.They’ll recognize nothing else. They’ll display no wisdom and no compassion. They’ll offer no reaction which lie outside the current ideas of the tribe.Their tribal standing, and their career status, will always come first. Those rookie cops were in the wrong place. They’ll just have to get killed now in jail.More from the Times report: Much as we have noted:BARKER ET AL: [Kueng’s] lawyer also argued that Mr. Kueng, who is African-American, and Mr. Lane, who is white, had tried to stop Mr. Chauvin.“At multiple times, Mr. Kueng and Mr. Lane directed their attention to that 19-year veteran and said, ‘You shouldn’t do this,’” Mr. Plunkett said.We’re afraid that won’t be enough. And, of course, these basic facts have gone unreported and undiscussed all week.It can’t be the police chief’s fault for leaving a person like Chauvin on the force and in charge out on the street. Lane and Kueng have been cast in the scapegoat role, and no one will break with the tribe.

  • U.S. Park Police Walk Back Tear Gas Denial
    by Taegan Goddard on June 5, 2020 at 17:42

    A U.S. Park Police spokesperson told Vox it was a “mistake” to insist that it didn’t use tear gas the day before in Lafayette Square to disperse a crowd ahead

  • ‘Despicable’: Outrage After Trump Declares Friday a ‘Great Day’ for George Floyd
    on June 5, 2020 at 17:42

    Eoin Higgins, staff writer”A truly stunning level of tone-deafness.”

  • Trump Claims George Floyd Is Celebrating His Jobs Numbers In Heaven
    by Jason Easley on June 5, 2020 at 17:33

    Trump claimed that George Floyd was looking down from heaven at the latest jobs report and celebrating a great day for America.

  • “We Don’t Have Time to Wait”: Minneapolis Anti-Police Brutality Organizer Kandace Montgomery on Defunding the Police
    by Alleen Brown on June 5, 2020 at 17:30

    Minneapolis organizer Kandace Montgomery, who has been organizing against police brutality for years, discusses her work and efforts to defund police. The post “We Don’t Have Time to Wait”: Minneapolis Anti-Police Brutality Organizer Kandace Montgomery on Defunding the Police appeared first on The Intercept.

  • Economists Warn of Disastrous Consequences as GOP Cites One Positive Jobs Report to Say “We Don’t Need” More Relief
    on June 5, 2020 at 17:26

    Jake Johnson, staff writer”This is exactly backwards, like stopping an antibiotic prematurely because you start to feel better.”

  • Trump hopes George Floyd is “looking down” and admiring May jobs numbers: “It’s a great day for him”
    by Igor Derysh on June 5, 2020 at 17:20

    “Black unemployment went up,” one reporter told Trump. “How is that a victory?”

  • Buffalo Officers Suspended After Shoving 75-Year-Old Demonstrator to the Ground
    by Chris Walker on June 5, 2020 at 17:17

    The department’s initial statement on the protester’s fall failed to acknowledge officers’ involvement in pushing him.

  • Trump Directs U.S. Troop Reduction in Germany
    by Taegan Goddard on June 5, 2020 at 17:16

    “President Trump has directed the Pentagon to remove thousands of U.S. troops from Germany by September,” the Wall Street Journal reports. “The move would reduce the U.S. troop presence in

  • Leaked Document Details Force Protecting White House
    by Taegan Goddard on June 5, 2020 at 17:13

    “A leaked Trump administration document details the federal law enforcement and military personnel squaring off against protestors in Washington, D.C., including a 1,300-strong force currently deployed to the south side

  • Jim Cramer: Coronavirus Pandemic Triggered ‘One of the Greatest Wealth Transfers in History’
    on June 5, 2020 at 17:10

    Andrea Germanos, staff writer Small businesses are “dropping like flies,” said the “Mad Money” host.

  • Are protesters and public health officials being pandemic hypocrites? That’s not how it works
    by Amanda Marcotte on June 5, 2020 at 17:08

    Just because Trump claims the left wants “forever quarantine” doesn’t make it true — and the protests prove it

  • Employment Jumps 2.5 Million in May, as Unemployment Falls to 13.3 Percent
    by Dean Baker on June 5, 2020 at 17:07

    Seventy-three percent of the unemployed report being on temporary layoffs.

  • Right Wing Round-Up: George Washington’s Photo-Op
    by Kyle Mantyla on June 5, 2020 at 17:04

    John Fea: Robert Jeffress: “I imagine George Washington had his share of critics who accused him of a photo-op when he knelt down in prayer at Valley Forge.” Will Sommer @ The Daily Beast: Here Come the Insane Conspiracy Theories About George Floyd. Matthew Chapman @ Raw Story: Trump’s anti-Biden conspiracy theories dealt major blow

  • Right Wing Bonus Tracks: Obama’s Rebellion
    by Kyle Mantyla on June 5, 2020 at 17:02

    Scott Lively predicts that “we’re likely going to see the return of the Lord within a fairly short window of time: months perhaps, years probably, but not decades.” Bill Mitchell was a big fan of Gen. James Mattis until Mattis criticized President Donald Trump, after which Mitchell started claiming that he knew that Mattis was

  • How foreign presses are covering the George Floyd protests in the U.S.
    by Matthew Rozsa on June 5, 2020 at 16:49

    A glimpse at international coverage hints at how America is being perceived abroad

  • Trump Silences Black Reporter Who Asked About Systemic Racism
    by Jason Easley on June 5, 2020 at 16:39

    PBS’s Yamiche Alcindor asked Trump during his press conference about systemic racism and the President silenced the African-American reporter.

  • Even with positive jobs report, Latinas still hardest hit by COVID-19 slowdown. Here’s why.
    by Alexia Fernández Campbell on June 5, 2020 at 16:39

    The gap between the jobless rates of Latinas and white men was the largest: 8.3 percentage points

  • Trump Slimes Memory Of George Floyd To Brag About Jobs Report
    by John Amato on June 5, 2020 at 16:37

    You’d have to be mentally challenged to use a murder victim to promote your political agenda about the economy. The anger behind the murder of George Floyd has touched off massive peaceful protests for social injustice for black Americans. Today Donald Trump used his memory as a tool to brag about jobs numbers. And brag he did. Don’t forget, it was just earlier this week that Trump called in the military to attack civilians over their disgust at Floyd’s murder in DC. Trump has a built new fence around the White House. They’re calling it “the chicken coop.” Only Trump could be so callous and awful to use the murder of George Floyd to tout a jobs report. Seriously. This is mental. Trump said, “You all saw what happened last week. We can’t let that happen,” Trump continued. “Hopefully, George is looking down right now and saying this is a great thing happening for our country. A great day for him, a great day for everybody. This is great day for everybody. This is a great, great day in terms of the equality.” Driftglass got this exactly right: I have nothing to add but this. Republicans did this to us. Not “Trumpists” living in “Trump world”. Republicans. Republicans did this to us. Your Republican friends, neighbors, family members, co-workers, local business owners, cops and school teachers did this to us.read more

  • Authorities seized thousands of dollars of masks intended to shield protesters from COVID-19: report
    by Igor Derysh on June 5, 2020 at 16:31

    “It appears they want to ensure that people who protest are susceptible to the … deadly pandemic,” the group says

  • Omaha’s Republican Mayor Accuses Korean Woman On Facebook Of Hiding Behind Strange ‘Symbols’
    by Ed Scarce on June 5, 2020 at 16:12

    Soyeon Sohn uses Hangul characters to spell out her name on Facebook. The Mayor thought there was something not right about that, and called her a “Facebook troll” who “hides behind symbols.” Source: Omaha.com Mayor Jean Stothert, who frequently uses her Facebook page to respond directly to Omahans, apologized Wednesday after writing a Facebook comment earlier in the week in which she called a Korean woman a “Facebook troll” who “hides behind symbols.” The symbols to which Stothert was referring were letters of the Korean alphabet that spelled the name of Soyeon Sohn on her Facebook page. Sohn had commented on one of Stothert’s posts about the curfew the mayor ordered this week in the wake of protests over the deaths of George Floyd in Minneapolis and James Scurlock in Omaha. In the comment, Sohn said the mayor was demonstrating cowardice, not leadership. Stothert responded with the following: “a Facebook troll who hides behind symbols and doesn’t list their name, is a coward,” screenshots on social media show. During a press conference Wednesday, Stothert apologized, saying her comment was inappropriate. She said she was unfamiliar with the letters that Sohn had used on her profile page.read more

  • Activist Artists Get Boost from A Blade of Grass
    by Eleanor J. Bader on June 5, 2020 at 16:07

    Nonprofit group funds socially engaged programs and projects.

  • #WeveSeenEnough Images and Video of Police Violence, Activists Say in Call for Congressional Action
    on June 5, 2020 at 15:57

    Eoin Higgins, staff writer”We’re at the point of saturation. The question is, when is it enough?”

  • Hundreds of Activists and Elected Officials Call on Mayors and Cops to Decrease Police Power
    by Akela Lacy on June 5, 2020 at 15:57

    More than 200 people sent letters to mayors, police chiefs, and county and sheriffs’ associations on Friday demanding concrete policy changes to policing. The post Hundreds of Activists and Elected Officials Call on Mayors and Cops to Decrease Police Power appeared first on The Intercept.

  • Law Enforcement Seizes Thousands of Masks Sent to Protect Protesters From COVID
    by Jake Johnson on June 5, 2020 at 15:54

    The seizure of the masks sparked widespread outrage on social media.

  • Tom Cotton Is Preparing to Be Trump 2.0
    by Jeet Heer on June 5, 2020 at 15:53

    Jeet Heer The Arkansas senator is a master of trolling the media and could unite the Republican Party. That would make him much more dangerous than Trump. The post Tom Cotton Is Preparing to Be Trump 2.0 appeared first on The Nation.

  • Poll: 74 Percent Agree George Floyd’s Death Reflects Systemic Racism in Policing
    by Chris Walker on June 5, 2020 at 15:46

    Two-thirds of Americans are also upset with how President Donald Trump has acted since Floyd was killed.

  • Amazon Says Black Lives Matter, But It’s Helping Fund Police Foundations
    by Gin Armstrong on June 5, 2020 at 15:40

    One of Amazon’s charitable arms helps fund police foundations that purchase surveillance equipment and weaponry.

  • Minneapolis City Council Taking First Steps to ‘Dismantle’ Police Department
    on June 5, 2020 at 15:38

    Julia Conley, staff writerAiming to “dismantle” the Minneapolis Police Department, city councilors on Friday will vote on imposing a temporary restraining order for the city’s police department in response to the killing of George Floyd last month.

  • Former Federal Prosecutor: If Trump Refuses to Leave Office “They Will Drag His Flabby Butt Out of There in Handcuffs”
    by Darragh Roche on June 5, 2020 at 15:33

    Law enforcement will remove Donald Trump if he loses the election and refuses to leave office. That’s the opinion of former federal prosecutor and MSNBC legal analyst Glenn Kirschner. Kirschner spoke to SiriusXM’s Dean Obeidallah about the possibility of a defeated Trump refusing to leave. “In the past we’ve all said things about Donald Trump … Continue reading “Former Federal Prosecutor: If Trump Refuses to Leave Office “They Will Drag His Flabby Butt Out of There in Handcuffs””

  • How to Be an Antifascist From Your Couch
    by Talia Lavin on June 5, 2020 at 15:26

    Talia Lavin You don’t have to punch Nazis to fight fascism. The post How to Be an Antifascist From Your Couch appeared first on The Nation.

  • Don’t Stop Organizing
    by Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis on June 5, 2020 at 15:24

    Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis We’re at a breaking point in American history, and there is only one way to revive our society: from the bottom up. The post Don’t Stop Organizing appeared first on The Nation.

  • As CO2 Levels Build Up Like ‘Trash in a Landfill,’ Earth Has Hottest May on Record
    on June 5, 2020 at 15:24

    Andrea Germanos, staff writer”This is unquestionably an alarming sign.”

  • Bill Barr Thinks He’s in Command and Can Wage War in Our Cities
    by Heather Digby Parton on June 5, 2020 at 15:23

    Barr now has “federal troops” on the street in D.C. with no badges or insignia.

  • Trump Built His Own Green Zone. He Got the Wall He Deserves.
    by Peter Maass on June 5, 2020 at 15:14

    Concrete barriers have been placed around the White House, an echo of the Green Zone in Iraq where U.S. officials lived in fear behind walls. The post Trump Built His Own Green Zone. He Got the Wall He Deserves. appeared first on The Intercept.

  • President Trump tweets unhinged letter calling “phony” peaceful protesters “terrorists”
    by Igor Derysh on June 5, 2020 at 15:08

    The protesters “were not peaceful and are not real,” the bizarre letter from his Russia probe lawyer falsely claims

  • Dems Introduce Bill to Curb President’s Insurrection Act Powers After Trump Threatens to Send Troops to Cities Across US
    on June 5, 2020 at 14:59

    Jessica Corbett, staff writerAfter President Donald Trump threatened to deploy the U.S. military in response to ongoing protests against police brutality and systemic racism in cities across the country, a group of Democratic senators on Thursday introduced legislation to curb the president’s power to do so under the Insurrection Act of 1807.

  • Retired Admiral James Stavridis Warns Against America “Looking Like Tiananmen Square”
    by Darragh Roche on June 5, 2020 at 14:42

    Yet another retired senior military officer has warned against the use of military force to deal with protesters. Navy Admiral James Stavridis made a chilling comparison to Communist China. Stavridis is a former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO and wrote an article for Time magazine this week. “Our active duty military must remain above the fray of … Continue reading “Retired Admiral James Stavridis Warns Against America “Looking Like Tiananmen Square””

  • The Missing Element for Police Accountability: Political Will
    by Maurice Mitchell, Sochie Nnaemeka on June 5, 2020 at 14:42

    Maurice Mitchell, Sochie Nnaemeka If politicians are serious about challenging the ingrained problems of police departments, they’ll have to grow a backbone. The post The Missing Element for Police Accountability: Political Will appeared first on The Nation.

  • Move to Defund Police Gains Support Nationwide
    by Eoin Higgins on June 5, 2020 at 14:34

    The increasing support comes as images and videos of police attacking peaceful protesters continue to spread.

  • ADULTHOOD’S END: Along the way, did she do the right thing?
    by <b>bob somerby</b> on June 5, 2020 at 14:29

    FRIDAY, JUNE 5, 2020The beloved, the lovely, the others: For our money, it’s by far most interesting piece we’ve seen so far today.We refer to this column in the Washington Post by Michele Norris. From 2002 through 2015, Norris was a high-profile host and correspondent at NPR. Before that, she worked for ABC News. Judging from her public demeanor, she may be the world’s nicest person. (We’d call that a good thing to be,)We mention that because she writes today about Minnesota Nice. In print editions, her column appears beneath this headline:’Minnesota Nice’ is Different NowMinnesota Nice has changed.Norris was born and raised in Minnesota. Early on, she offers this snapshot of her home state:NORRIS (6/5/20): I am so proud to hail from a place that nurtured such a long line of openhearted, civic-minded luminaries and humanitarians: Hubert H. Humphrey, Roy Wilkins, August Wilson, Bob Dylan, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Yara Shahidi, Sinclair Lewis, Gordon Parks and, of course, Prince. With superior schools, a solid standard of living, a thriving arts culture, a gaggle of Fortune 500 companies, and some of the best hospitals in the world, the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul have consistently been named among the best places to live in America.That is . . . unless you’re black. African Americans are worse off in Minnesota than in almost every other state in the nation. A report released by the NAACP in December found that “racial disparities are among the worst in the nation in every key indicator of quality of life: Employment, Education, Criminal Justice, Juvenile Justice, Income, Poverty, homeownership and Health.”The Twin Cities’ numbers tell the story. The black poverty rate is five times higher than for white residents. A quarter of black residents own their homes compared with three-quarters of whites. Only 57 percent of black students in Minneapolis and 70 percent of black students in St. Paul complete high school in four years, compared with around 85 percent of their white peers. We’ll stop right there because we want to focus on public school issues. Employing gentle humor, Minnesota’s Garrison Keillor invented the fictional town of Lake Wobegon, “where the children are all above average.” Was it once that way all over the state? As she continues, Norris seems to suggest that the gap in public school attainment in her home state is perhaps an attribute of Minnesota Now:NORRIS: How did this happen in a state that was known as a model for integration throughout the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s?Minnesota made a determined effort to avoid the mistakes other northern cities made during the Great Migration as African Americans who fled the Jim Crow South were funneled into declining communities. The Twin Cities adopted a plan where the cities and the suburbs created their fair share of affordable housing to avoid minorities being cordoned off in warrens of blight and decay. And the Twin Cities created an aggressive and impressive model for integration that helped ensure that school funding and resources were equally distributed. In those years, Minneapolis was a mecca for middle-class blacks drawn by integrated schools and a strong white-collar employment base.But beginning in the 1990s, Minneapolis and St. Paul began abandoning the integration model under pressure from parents and political groups that argued that there was “no compelling government interest in K-12 education absent intentional discrimination.” Instead, the schools moved to a system based on open enrollment and the promise of increased funding for lower-income schools. That coincided with an increased population of immigrants and poor black families and a subsequent wave of “Blight Flight,” as white and middle-class blacks abandoned once-integrated classrooms for the suburbs or higher performing city schools. It was an extreme example of a trend that has taken hold elsewhere—a shift toward segregation in schools, in housing, in elder care and early childhood education.The killing of George Floyd and the resulting protests have put an international spotlight on resulting disparities…From that, a person might almost think that the children really were all above average way back then in 1990, before the deluge. A person might think that black-white public school achievement disparities in Minnesota have resulted from the abandonment of “the integration model,” a shift which began in the 1990s.That doesn’t seem to be true. Black-white achievement gaps were very large in Minnesota all the way back in 1990. In that year, the first reliable data appear, courtesy of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (Naep), the long-standing federal program widely regarded as the “gold standard” of domestic educational testing.Where did things stand back in 1990? Below, you see the size of the gap in Grade 8 math in the first three available years of Naep testing for Minnesota, and in the three most recent years:Black-white achievement gap, Minnesota public schoolsDifference in average scores, Grade 8 math, Naep1990: 40.57 points1996: 38.66 points2003: 44.13 points[…]2015: 40.14 points2017: 42.88 points2019: 45.27 pointsFor all Naep data, start here.According to an extremely rough rule of thumb, ten points on the Naep scale is said to be roughly equivalent to one academic year. That is a very rough rule of thumb, especially in this type of application. But by any measure, those are very large Grade 8 achievement gaps—and the gaps were very large in 1990, before the changes Norris describes.(It might also be noted that Minnesota’s black kids are scoring much higher today than in 1990. Applying that very rough rule of thumb, the average score of the state’s black kids in Grade 8 math in 2019 was almost two years higher than it was in 1990.)We make these points because an extremely bad taste lingers in mouths around here. We continue to think, with something resembling contempt, of the comment we mentioned on Wednesday:ELLISON (5/31/20): Well, Minnesota is a kind of a tale of two cities. It really is a beautiful, wonderful place. I love it here. I’ve raised all four of my kids here. There’s so many great things about it. So many great people. And yet we have very stark disparities when it comes to African-Americans. Health disparities in health care, health disparities in housing, health disparities when it comes to employment. And disparities all around.I’ll give you a quick example, about 70 some percent of Minnesotans own their own homes. But only about 27% of African Americans do. African Americans are in a fragile economic position in this state. And we need massive investment. And what I say to people is, “Look, if we can have some of the highest SAT scores in the country, if we can have some of the highest voting participation in the country, highest voter—home-ownership in the country for whites, we can do it for everyone. We just have to have the will to do it for everybody. And I think that this sad, tragic situation might give us the energy to really, really make those kind of commitments because they are absolutely needed.One thinks of Ben Johnson’s weary comment in The Last Picture Show: I’ve been putting up with this trashy behavior my whole life.Minnesota’s “hang ’em high” attorney general also grew up in Minnesota. What he tells people is this:”Look, if we can have some of the highest SAT scores in the country”—if we can do that for whites—”we can do it for everyone.” They just have to have the will! That’s what he tells people!On last Sunday’s Meet the Press, Keith Ellison said that’s what tells people. After all these decades, it’s hard not to think of Ben Johnson when you see a comment like that.People like Ellison have been making such comments at least since the late 1960s. That said, Ellison has been a political leader in Minneapolis, and in Minnesota, for a large number of years.That said, what has Ellison ever proposed about the situation—a situation which would apparently be easy to correct? If it would be so easy to straighten this out, why hasn’t he done so by now? In place of all the happy talk, why hasn’t he offered a plan?Do you mind if we make a rude comment? Lurking within “Minnesota Nice” this past week, we think we sometimes have possibly heard a hint of “Minnesota Who Cares?”We think we possibly heard a bit of “Minnesota Doesn’t Give a Godd*mn. We think we might perhaps have heard some “Minnesota Strike A Pose” action.When we see the Minneapolis police chief take a knee and get hailed as a hero on CNN, we wonder what the freak he was doing as all these people were being rendered unconscious by all these Minnesota Chokeholds during the years of his tenure.We even wonder what he did about reviewing the demeanor of veteran cops with eighteen citizen complaints in as many years. As cable stars hail him as a hero for taking a knee and locking the least among his department up, we wonder if we’ll ever see such questions explored.When we see Senator Klobuchar rush to be the first to tweet the glorious news that the rookie policemen would be locked up too, we wonder if she’s doing that to salvage her newly fraught standing, both as a former prosecutor and as a possible VP pick.The mayor and the governor are also quite concerned. What did they do all those years? What did they do about the chokeholds, about the complaints, about the achievement gaps which we suddenly care about now?Those gaps have been there forever, but Norris had left the state. She was involved in NPR Nice, which has always carried a certain hint of NPR Nobody Cares.For ourselves, we spent our first dozen adult years in and around the Baltimore City Schools. We taught fifth grade for seven years, eighth grade math for two more.In the missing years, we did some substitute work, and we worked on research projects. The gaps were large in Baltimore then, but in Minnesota too.Our point? In all the years which have passed since then, we’re not sure that we’ve ever seen a serious discussion of the problems which exist in low-income schools—of the patterns and practices which fail to serve the good decent kids who attend them.We’ve read tons of material which makes no sense, especially in the New York Times. But has anyone ever set foot in a school? We’re not sure anyone has.Outside the reach of the public schools, is that 30 Million Word Gap for real? No one knows, because no one cares. Candidate Clinton proposed Too Small To Fail, and no one discussed the ideas it contained—no one, including her.In the upper ends of our journalism, no one has ever cared about any of this; few, things could be more clear. Among our wider liberal elites, no one cares about low-income kids—until the time comes to poster and pretend.When that time comes, the time also comes to lock the scapegoats up. To lock up the veteran cop who crazily killed a person, but also to lock up the rookie cop who told him he should stop.We don’t lock the police chief up—after all, he took a knee—nor would we say that we should.We don’t lock up the governor or the mayor, the fellows who let all those choking incidents go. We don’t inquire about the training programs to which those rookie cops were exposed. We don’t lock up cable stars.We do lock up the rookie cops. Similarly, we prosecute the college freshmen, not the college presidents who stage the drunken brawls which eventually lead to disaster. We do so because, as the poet once wrote, “The lovely shall be choosers.” Complicit people at the top of the heap will lock up those below.The famous wisdom of crowds isn’t always real wise. With respect to the heinous killing of George Floyd, the subsequent crowd could have used a bit of perspective, and a lot of reporting, from the nation’s journalists.That perspective has been lacking. Along the way, we’ve also possibly seen a large amount of Minnesota Look Over There, otherwise known as Minnesota Keister Covering.Dr. King’s beloved community must be built around such values as wisdom and mercy. It must be built around good judgment.The beloved community must include others, even the lesser among us. Have we seen a lot of upper-end posing in the past week? A lot of Minnesota Newly Concerned?Tomorrow: “Who Killed Davey Moore?” Lessons from a Minnesotan…For what it’s worth: How large are the gaps in Minnesota? In Grade 8 math, only Wisconsin has a (slightly) larger gap. As Norris notes, various types of sub-demographics may play a role in this.Meanwhile, why no specific reference to the Minneapolis Public Schools? Simple story! Minneapolis has never agreed to take part in the Naep’s urban district study (the TUDA). Rightly or wrongly, we’re always a bit unimpressed with such bashful districts. Rightly or wrongly, we tend to wonder about their interest in transparency and also about their good faith.

  • Kenneth Copeland Says Christians Who Vote Correctly Will Be ‘Blessed Financially’
    by Kyle Mantyla on June 5, 2020 at 14:26

    Multimillionaire prosperity gospel preacher and Trump evangelical adviser Kenneth Copeland held a “virtual victory campaign” at his Eagle Mountain International Church in Texas last weekend, during which he declared that God will financially reward people who vote according to the Bible. Copeland, who has been a key supporter of President Donald Trump throughout his first

  • ‘Deeply Disturbing’: New York Supreme Court Judge Rules Protesters Can Be Detained Indefinitely
    on June 5, 2020 at 14:15

    Jake Johnson, staff writer”This is suspension of habeas corpus, it is unconstitutional,” said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

  • Lindsey Graham Tries to Rebuke Democrats: “You Think I’m in Trump’s Pocket”
    by Darragh Roche on June 5, 2020 at 14:06

    Senator Lindsey Graham inadvertently gave his critics a soundbite on Thursday while trying to shame Democrats. The South Carolina Republican was defending himself from Democratic criticism. Former deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein was testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee about Robert Mueller’s investigation. Graham chairs the committee and he was pursuing the GOP position that … Continue reading “Lindsey Graham Tries to Rebuke Democrats: “You Think I’m in Trump’s Pocket””

  • Noam Chomsky: Trump Has Adopted a “Viva Death!” Approach to the Presidency
    by George Yancy on June 5, 2020 at 14:00

    Trump’s guiding maxim is the one articulated by Franco’s general in 1936: “Down with intelligence! Viva death!”

  • Trump Campaign Pulls “Make Space Great Again” Ad After Complaints from Astronauts
    by Alan Ryland on June 5, 2020 at 13:56

    President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign pulled a space-themed YouTube ad amid complaints that it violated NASA guidelines and after a former astronaut complained she appeared in the ad without her consent. The Trump campaign’s “Make Space Great Again” ad violated strict regulations for ads posted on its website, NASA said. “As a government agency, NASA … Continue reading “Trump Campaign Pulls “Make Space Great Again” Ad After Complaints from Astronauts”

  • Trump Celebrates Unexpected Drop in Unemployment Rate as Both the Pandemic and Protests Continue
    by Alan Ryland on June 5, 2020 at 13:46

    President Donald Trump celebrated after the Department of Labor (DOL) released a jobs report showing an unexpected drop in the unemployment rate. The United States added 2.5 million jobs during the month of May as businesses began to reopen. Additionally, the unemployment rate dropped to 13.3 percent from 14.7 percent in April. The president, who … Continue reading “Trump Celebrates Unexpected Drop in Unemployment Rate as Both the Pandemic and Protests Continue”

  • Trump’s Antifa Conspiracy Theory Attempts to Erase Powerful Black-Led Organizing
    by Spencer Sunshine on June 5, 2020 at 13:46

    White supremacy cannot accept that Black Americans are capable of forming and leading their own liberation movements.

  • Retired Navy Admiral William McRaven: “Nothing Morally Right” About Trump Bible Photo-Op
    by Alan Ryland on June 5, 2020 at 13:19

    Speaking on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe, retired Navy Admiral William McRaven criticized President Donald Trump’s decision to use tear gas to clear peaceful protesters for a photo-op in front of St. John’s Church in Washington, D.C. “In the military, there are three criteria for every decision we make,” McRaven said. “It has to be moral, legal, … Continue reading “Retired Navy Admiral William McRaven: “Nothing Morally Right” About Trump Bible Photo-Op”

  • Operation Photo Op
    by Mark Fiore on June 5, 2020 at 13:00

    The George Floyd protests have laid bare the underlying horriffic racism that has marred the United States throughout our history.

  • Buffalo Police Said Protester With Head Wound “Tripped and Fell.” Video Shows They Lied.
    by Robert Mackey on June 5, 2020 at 12:47

    Police officers in Buffalo, New York were caught on camera shoving a 75-year-old protester to the ground, injuring him at a protest against police brutality. The post Buffalo Police Said Protester With Head Wound “Tripped and Fell.” Video Shows They Lied. appeared first on The Intercept.

  • We’re in This Together
    by Liniers on June 5, 2020 at 12:30

    Liniers It’s wise to be prepared. The post We’re in This Together appeared first on The Nation.

  • Bill Barr thinks he’s in command and can wage war in our cities. Worse yet, he may be right
    by Heather Digby Parton on June 5, 2020 at 12:30

    Barr now has “federal troops” on the street in D.C. with no badges or insignia. There’s a word for that

  • Jayapal Condemns ‘Autocratic Frenzy’ of Police After Video Shows Cops Shoving Elderly Man to the Ground, Knocking Him Unconscious
    on June 5, 2020 at 12:03

    Jake Johnson, staff writer”Absolutely horrific.”

  • Trump sued for “criminal” assault on peaceful protesters
    by Jake Johnson on June 5, 2020 at 11:30

    ACLU sues Trump over “shameless, unconstitutional, unprovoked, and frankly criminal” assault on peaceful protesters

  • Electionland 2020: June Super Tuesday, Trump’s Voter Registration, Election Bills and More
    by by Rachel Glickhouse on June 5, 2020 at 11:30

    by Rachel Glickhouse 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. Sign up to receive updates about our voting coverage and more each week. New From ProPublica and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Law Enforcement Files Discredit Brian Kemp’s Accusation That Democrats Tried to Hack the Georgia Election Kemp’s explosive allegation, just days before the closely contested 2018 election, drew wide attention. But newly released documents show that there was no such hack. Read the story. June Super Tuesday On Tuesday, in the midst of a pandemic and civil unrest, primary elections were held in Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Montana, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota and Washington, D.C., plus local elections in Mississippi and Missouri. In several cities like Philadelphia, Providence and D.C., curfews overlapped with voting hours, causing confusion. Plus, a pattern emerged: Some voters who showed up at the polls only went because their absentee ballots never arrived, with such reports coming out of Indiana, Maryland, D.C. and Pennsylvania. In D.C., some election officials allowed voters who didn’t receive ballots to submit their votes by email, a method not recommended by security experts. In Maryland, one district reportedly sent out the wrong mail ballots. There were even calls for Maryland and D.C. election officials to resign. Pennsylvania, which used new machines, experienced far fewer technical issues than last year, though one Philadelphia suburb had ballots that were too big for the scanners. In Allegheny County, some voters had completed absentee ballots returned to their homes instead of the elections office. Confusion and long lines arose from poll consolidation, particularly in Philadelphia. And while measures were in place to try to protect public health, such as enforced social distancing, there were reports of poll workers at one Lehigh County site who refused to wear personal protective equipment and of poll workers at a Philadelphia site who had to bring their own. The Latest on Vote by Mail President Donald Trump continued to talk and tweet about vote by mail, claiming without proof that it would lead to “massive fraud and abuse.” This week, a public records request revealed that Trump originally tried to register to vote in Florida, claiming his legal residence was in Washington, D.C. (The Washington Post) Attorney General William Barr said in a New York Times Magazine interview that “one of the issues that I’m real worried about” is a foreign operation to mail in fake ballots. Experts say that’s virtually impossible. (New York Times Magazine, The Washington Post) A Reuters/Ipsos poll found that half of Republicans were confident their mail ballot would be counted, compared with three-quarters of Democrats. Overall, nearly 60% of Americans think their state should expand mail voting. (Reuters) Some Republican officials and strategists worry that the president’s attacks on vote by mail could hurt GOP candidates. (The New York Times) Mail ballot signature requirements vary by state, as some require a witness signature or notarization in addition to the voter’s signature. (NPR) “I can tell you porch pirates aren’t stealing my absentee ballot. They’re stealing my Amazon package hoping there’s something good in there,” said Nancy Miller, political science professor at the University of Dayton. (Columbus Dispatch) “It feels much more that you’re out there doing it,” a Baltimore voter said about why she came to the polls instead of casting her absentee ballot. “Mail-in should be for people who are physically unable to come out and vote. … People fought for us to be able to vote. It’s our right.” (The Baltimore Sun) States Expanding Vote by Mail California’s governor issued an executive order that allows counties to limit in-person voting for the general election because of public health concerns — as long as they offer three days of early voting. (The Los Angeles Times) In the week before Pennsylvania’s primary, Republicans made up just 29% of absentee ballot requests. (The Philadelphia Inquirer) Nevada is holding its first all-mail election for the state primary in June, after only 9% of voters cast absentee ballots in 2018. (The Washington Post) Following the primary with a mail voting option, Indiana’s governor and secretary of state wouldn’t say if mail voting will be available during the general election. (The Times of Northwest Indiana) Georgia’s June 9 Primary More Republicans than Democrats have requested absentee ballots. (WABE) Stacy Abrams launched an initiative to track mail voting problems during the primary. (CBS) The relocation of more than 10% of polling places because of the pandemic — plus poll closures statewide due to a lack of federal oversight — could lead to lines and crowding during the primary. (GPB News) Coronavirus Voting Impacts The Texas secretary of state issued an eight-page recommendation of health protocols ahead of elections in July, including that voters bring their own masks and pencils and take advantage of “curbside voting.” (The Texas Tribune) Some counties in Iowa allowed for drive-thru and curbside voting, and several counties in Missouri and Iowa offered voters single-use pens in order to protect against the coronavirus. (Missouri Information Corps, Des Moines Register) Because of fewer poll workers and locations withdrawing as poll sites, South Carolina is experiencing large consolidation of polling sites for its June 9 primary, which could cause confusion on Election Day. (The Greenville News) Texas Democrats plan to use Zoom to deputize volunteers to conduct voter registration drives, once it’s safe to do so. (The Guardian) The Native American Rights Fund issued a report warning of the challenges Native American voters will face in the pandemic, including spotty or no internet service to register online, limited access to mailboxes and other challenges with vote by mail. (The Associated Press) During the 1918 flu pandemic, rural communities were hit hard by the illness following in-person voting, according to a historian. (NBC News) The Latest Election Lawsuits Alabama: Several advocacy groups are suing the state alleging it isn’t protecting voters’ health under its current voting rules. Absentee voting requires sending a copy of ID and getting the ballot notarized or signed by two witnesses. (WFSA) Kansas: The attorney general said the state will ask the Supreme Court to rule on its voter registration law, which requires proof of citizenship to vote and was struck down in 2018. (The Wichita Eagle) Nevada: A judge declined to block the state’s mail-in primary at the request of a conservative group. (The Associated Press) Pennsylvania: Judicial Watch is suing Pennsylvania over its voter rolls, following similar suits in North Carolina and Maryland. In another suit, a judge ordered the state to allow visually impaired voters to use a new voting method for the primary. (The Intercept, PA Post) Texas: The state government owes around $6.8 million in court fees for its court battles over voter ID, a judge ruled. (The Texas Tribune) Wisconsin: The state Supreme Court agreed to hear a case that could potentially remove more than 100,000 people from the voter rolls. (WPR) National: The law firm of one of Trump’s personal lawyers is handling a series of GOP-linked lawsuits targeting mail voting and voter rolls. (The Washington Post) Election Legislation News North Carolina’s House approved bipartisan legislation to make it easier to vote by mail and to provide funding for absentee voting. The bill is expected to pass the Senate. (News & Observer) Ohio’s Legislature advanced a bill to authorize the secretary of state to use federal funds to send mail ballots to all registered voters and removed language that could have prevented early voting. (Cleveland.com) Republican Tennessee state legislators blocked a bill that would have allowed mail-in ballots for anyone afraid to vote in person because of the pandemic. (News 4) Since 2018, six states expanded voting rights to people with felony convictions, but challenges to access remain, especially because of coronavirus. (The Appeal) 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.

  • When Shelter Comes Down to the Luck of the Draw
    by Rebecca Burns on June 5, 2020 at 11:00

    Rebecca Burns As eviction moratoriums expire, lotteries determine who gets rent relief. The post When Shelter Comes Down to the Luck of the Draw appeared first on The Nation.

  • Small Businesses Failed by Federal Bailout Program Turn to Cash-Strapped Local Governments for Help
    by by Perla Trevizo on June 5, 2020 at 11:00

    by Perla Trevizo 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. In the 17 years Irma Corado has run her international package delivery service, she had never asked any government agency for help. When her youngest son told her about a small-business county loan to help those affected by the coronavirus, she reluctantly agreed to apply. “I was leery,” she said in Spanish, but decided to leave it “in God’s hands.” She hadn’t worked in more than two months, and her business rent and utilities were due. The Harris County resident had reason to be doubtful. Corado said she struggled with and did not complete an online application for the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program, or PPP. She got to the point where the system asked about payroll, she said, and because she uses the money-transfer tool Zelle to pay her salary, she didn’t think she qualified. This story is part of a collaboration between ProPublica and the Texas Tribune. Learn more The PPP has approved nearly 4.5 million loans worth about $500 billion, but it continues to leave out many business owners who don’t have an accountant on speed dial, are not computer savvy, lack the language skills to navigate the banking system or opt not to try. That has particularly affected very small businesses and those owned by people of color. The SBA acknowledged that established businesses “knew how to work the system” to get the loans, but mom-and-pop merchants were always at a disadvantage because they lacked the resources to quickly tap into that capital. “We are the advocate for the underdog, the smaller business that doesn’t know that these resources are available, we are doing the best we can, we only have 14 on our staff,” said Charles Abell, a spokesman for the SBA’s Houston district office, which oversees 32 counties in Southeast Texas with 600,000 small businesses. That’s one employee for 42,000 small businesses. In an unprecedented move, local governments across Texas have rushed to fill the void. They have poured millions of taxpayer funds into a patchwork of loan and grant programs to help small merchants that are a major driver of the local economy and tax base. Unlike the federal program, these local efforts have far fewer hoops to jump through. Applicants don’t have to show proof of payroll, as there are no restrictions on how the money can be spent as long as it’s tied to the business. All they need is to be in good standing with their property taxes and located in that jurisdiction. The demand for the loans has been overwhelming. In just 28 hours, Harris County, the third-largest in the country and home to Houston, received more than 7,000 applications requesting $150 million in April. Only $10 million was available, taken from the county’s rainy day fund. Meanwhile, the string-laden federal PPP program still has an untapped $120 billion. “The federal government is so far removed from the local community that it didn’t think about, and it can’t think about, simplicity,” said Harris County Commissioner Adrian Garcia, who spearheaded the county’s loan program. “My charge to my staff was to keep it simple,” he said. “We got to make this easy to apply for and user friendly.” There are 2.7 million small businesses in the Lone Star State, according to the SBA, and about 40% are owned by people of color, among the highest rates in the nation. In Harris County alone, there are more than 90,000 Hispanic-owned businesses. The key to recovery in many towns in Texas and across the country is small businesses, local leaders and experts say. But nationwide, nearly 7.5 million may be forced to close over the next five months, according to a survey by Main Street America, a program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “It’s a ripple effect, small-business owners generate revenue for the state, employ others in their community who utilize that money to put food on their table,” said Janie Barrera, CEO and president of LiftFund, a Texas community development financial institution working with some of the local governments. “When forced to close their doors for health and security reasons, that economic activity is paused or lost,” she said. Swift Fallout The economic fallout from the COVID-19 shutdown coupled with the crash in the oil and gas industry continues to reverberate. More than 2 million Texans have filed for unemployment relief since mid-March. Sales tax revenue in the state dropped about 13% in May, the largest year-over-year decline in a decade. Before COVID-19, “there was a thriving economy of first-, second-generation folks running small entrepreneurial shops, paying their bills, feeding their families, but not necessarily in the banking system,” said David Marquez, executive director of the economic development department in Bexar County, which allotted $5.25 million to a loan and grant program. Many are self-employed or only employ one or two people. Like Corado, they might rely on a son or a neighbor to fill out their loan applications. They are the type of owners who might not have the time or fit the mold to readily apply for federal loan programs. “By the time they even began figuring it out, other people had accountants, lawyers, bankers pushing them through the process, and our folks were stuck out,” said Laura Murillo, president of the Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. An April report from the Center for Responsible Lending found that about 90% of businesses owned by people of color “stand close to no chance of receiving a PPP loan through a mainstream bank or credit union” for the reasons the local Texas officials cite: a lower likelihood of having a relationship with banks, a lack of digital skills, a distrust of government. The center was started with support from the Sandler Foundation, which provided most of the original funding for ProPublica and remains its largest donor. A federal watchdog concluded last month that the SBA failed to direct private lenders to prioritize businesses in rural markets and those owned by people of color and women, as Congress intended. It didn’t require the collection of demographic information either, which means the agency won’t be able to know whom the loans went to. Since the Inspector General’s report, the SBA started to do webinars about the program in multiple languages, which some offices in Texas were already doing, according to Abell. He said they are working with other groups including chambers of commerce to spread the word that there is still funding available, along with other resources small-business owners can apply for, and to encourage them to reach out to their local SBA office for help. The pandemic is “accentuating the problem of why we should pay more attention to those small businesses from the standpoint of access to capital,” said Al Salgado, executive director of the South-West Texas Border Small Business Development Center. “We need to really take a look at ourselves introspectively and look for those gaps, the cultural gaps, location gaps, high-risk areas.” A Bumpy PPP Rollout Initially, Congress approved $349 billion to help small businesses, those with 500 employees or fewer, to help keep employees on company payroll and off unemployment. The money was gone in two weeks. Many large corporations, including some that are publicly traded, signed up for the program, requesting millions of dollars. A Dallas-based hotel network run by a prominent Texas Republican donor got $58 million. He returned the money after public backlash. Gulf Island Fabrication, a publicly traded Houston company that makes ships and other heavy equipment for offshore oil and gas drilling, got $10 million. Last month, House Democrats asked that it return the money. Last month, the Treasury Department ruled that businesses with access to other sources of capital weren’t eligible for the forgivable loans and asked public companies to return the money. The SBA has so far refused to release the full list of recipients. ProPublica is among a group of media outlets suing over the delay. On April 24, Congress poured an additional $310 billion into the fund, but more than a month later, there is about $120 billion left. After missing out during the first round, a pain-management therapist in Tyler was approved during the second round in April, but by then, he had let go of his two employees. “Now the problem is I can’t afford to bring back my employees yet, and 75% has to be used for employees within eight weeks of the time you get the money,” the therapist, Kenneth Shepherd, said. Under the SBA’s requirements, employers have to use three-fourths of the money to pay employees. “This has been a joke, and most are in the same boat: Many got the loan while they were closed. This wasn’t well thought out. … I wish I’d never applied for it.” The challenges extend beyond applicants. The SBA’s Abell said his office has had to adjust daily to Congress’ changes to the program. “They keep amending it, trying to open it up for smaller businesses, minorities that haven’t been able to be served because the bigger businesses were able to jump in on the program,” he said. Congress passed a bill adding flexibility to the loan program, including giving business owners more time to spend the funds and lower the share they have to use for payroll. The bill has gone to President Donald Trump for his signature. Stepping In Trying to address some of the PPP deficiencies, cities and counties across Texas created their own versions of the PPP, by partnering with groups such as LiftFund to administer the public funds in the form of small grants and loans of up to $25,000 with 0% interest, with payments deferred for three months. In the case of Harris County, the money lent is reimbursed if the business remains open after five years. The agencies must report back to the local governments, which have oversight over how the funds were allocated. “We wanted to have locals feel comfortable, to have access to a human being, to give small-business owners who may not be sophisticated with some of these federal programs the ability to not feel intimidated to access credit,” said Peter Zanoni, city manager of Corpus Christi. In every case, hundreds of businesses flooded the application process, requesting millions more than were available. “It was really almost eye-opening when you saw 618 applications totaling more than $178 million in requests” for a $2 million program, said Jessica Herrera, El Paso’s director of economic development. “It gives you a snapshot for the need that was out there.” Corado, the small-business owner from Harris County, has had no income since flights to her native Honduras stopped after its government closed its borders because of COVID-19. From a small office in a strip mall in a largely immigrant and Hispanic part of Houston, clients drop off shoes, clothes, cellphones, important documents and other goods she personally delivers to their relatives in Honduras several times a week. Left: A menu of services outside of Corado’s business. Right: A picture from her community in Honduras, where she delivers items for customers in the U.S. (Annie Mulligan for The Texas Tribune) She applied for $10,000 from the county to cover the rent and her utilities after depleting her savings of $4,000. Corado, as did many in the immigrant community, learned about the federal PPP through Spanish-language TV news stories. She wrote down the website and handed it over to her son to help her apply. She speaks English, but not enough to fully understand the legal and banking documents. While the PPP’s first round opened April 3, sole proprietors like Corado weren’t allowed to apply until April 10, six days before the first round of funding ran out. When a second round of money was made available, Wells Fargo sent her a standard email saying it was continuing to process applications, but by then, she had been approved for the county loan and her son suggested it was best to leave it alone. If the county loan hadn’t been there, she said, she would have had to ask one of her sons for money or to borrow it from somewhere else. Whether the local government’s efforts pay off remains to be seen. Not only is the amount of funds available limited, but because it was first-come, first-served, it meant that it also favored those who were quickest to get their applications ready. Garcia, the Harris County commissioner, said this was because he knew speed was critical to make sure that businesses about to close would get some support. “I didn’t want perfection to be the enemy of the good. I knew we had to move fast.” Since May 1, the county has approved 177 loans totaling nearly $4 million. “There are lots of people out there who need the money,” said Robert Stein, a Rice University professor who has co-authored a book and several articles on federal assistance programs that included small-business loans and grants. “My question is, would this make an appreciable difference in the overall economy of Harris County? It will make an appreciable difference in some of these people’s lives.” While in most places support for the programs was unanimous, in Harris County, the two Republican commissioners voted against it. One of them, Jack Cagle, declined an interview request through his spokesman. Commissioner Steve Radack, the other Republican member, said it was an issue of fairness in how the program was rolled out and that it was forgivable. “We should do what we can to aid those small businesses, but not on a first-come, first-served basis. There have to be other factors looked at such as credit, how a business was doing before this,” he said. “But in the rush to give away the money, a whole lot of people didn’t get a shot in even submitting a loan application,” he added. That includes Pedro Cordero, who runs Curazao, what he calls a multiservice business where a mostly immigrant clientele goes in to do everything from getting documents notarized to buying car insurance. Cordero didn’t apply for either the PPP or the county’s program. He said he didn’t know enough about either and was told by his bookkeeper that he didn’t qualify because he didn’t use payroll. His four employees are contractors. The county’s loan didn’t have any payroll restrictions, and sole proprietors may qualify for the federal loan. Meanwhile, he’s lost 80% of his business as people are afraid to leave their houses and to spend on anything that’s not essential. Families have stopped paying their car insurance and have delayed filing their taxes. Hardly anyone drops by anymore, he said from behind a plexiglass barrier he had installed because of the coronavirus. When asked how he’s been affected, he pulled a small sheet of paper where he was jotting down his monthly expenses. Salaries: $12,000. Rent: $2,700. Electricity: $700. The list went on. He estimated he needed more than $16,000 a month to cover expenses. If business doesn’t pick up, he is not sure how much longer he can go. “I don’t even want to say.” The business will continue, Cordero said in Spanish, but at best, it will be stagnant. He has been at that same spot since 1992. Local governments are now setting aside some of the federal COVID-19 relief funds for small businesses in the form of grants. But now they are doing so with an eye toward equity to ensure some of those who need it the most have a shot at applying for it, acknowledging limitations from the initial programs. In Travis County, officials are printing out applications and have a number where people can call directly for more information on the grants for those with limited access to the internet. In Bexar County, they are partnering with grassroots organizations that can do more on-the-ground marketing outreach. For Corado, the Houston business owner, whether business returns is beyond her control. Customers keep calling, asking when she will take packages again to Honduras, but all she can say is “not yet.” Disclosure: The Texas Tribune, as a nonprofit local newsroom and a small business, applied for and received a loan through the Paycheck Protection Program in the amount of $1,116,626. ProPublica has not applied for or received a loan through the program. Tell Us More About Coronavirus Are you a public health worker, medical provider, elected official, patient or other COVID-19 expert? Help make sure our journalism is responsible and focused on the right issues. This form requires JavaScript to complete. Powered by Screendoor.

  • ‘This Is Criminal’: Law Enforcement Seizes Thousands of Masks Sent to Help Protect Protesters From Coronavirus
    on June 5, 2020 at 10:17

    Jake Johnson, staff writer”It appears they want to ensure that people who protest are susceptible to the same deadly pandemic that they have failed miserably at stopping.”

  • New Trump Appointee to Foreign Aid Agency Has Denounced Liberal Democracy and “Our Homo-Empire”
    by by Yeganeh Torbati on June 5, 2020 at 10:00

    by Yeganeh Torbati ProPublica is a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. Sign up to receive our biggest stories as soon as they’re published. A new Trump appointee to the United States’ foreign aid agency has a history of online posts denouncing liberal democracy and has said that the country is in the clutches of a “homo-empire” that pushes a “tyrannical LGBT agenda.” In one post, Merritt Corrigan, who recently took up a position as deputy White House liaison at the U.S. Agency for International Development, wrote: “Liberal democracy is little more than a front for the war being waged against us by those who fundamentally despise not only our way of life, but life itself.” Corrigan’s new position in the Trump administration, confirmed by two officials, has not been previously reported. Corrigan previously worked for the Hungarian Embassy in the United States and tweeted that Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban is “the shining champion of Western civilization,” Politico reported last year. An embassy spokesman, Béla Gedeon, said Corrigan left her position there in mid-April. Orban, a far-right politician, has cracked down on civil society, academic freedom and other liberties. USAID has recently partnered with Hungary to help Christians in Iraq, a pairing that some career USAID officials said they found unsettling. Asked about Corrigan’s writing, acting USAID spokesperson Pooja Jhunjhunwala said the agency has a “zero-tolerance policy of any form of discrimination or harassment based on gender, race, sexual orientation, religion or any other possible distinguishing characteristic that can define any of us.” Read More Tear Gas Is Way More Dangerous Than Police Let On — Especially During the Coronavirus Pandemic In the middle of a respiratory pandemic, law enforcement agencies have used tear gas in especially dangerous ways. “All employees are held to the highest of standards and are expected to treat one another with dignity and respect. Period,” she said. “This includes political appointees, civil servants, foreign service officers and contractors.” Corrigan did not respond to emails asking about her past comments. Politico reported last year that Corrigan wrote on her Twitter account that “our homo-empire couldn’t tolerate even one commercial enterprise not in full submission to the tyrannical LGBT agenda.” Corrigan’s Twitter account is now private. In October, Corrigan wrote an op-ed in The Conservative Woman, a London publication, decrying “the false song of feminism” and calling for women to take up traditional roles of mother, wife and homemaker. “A woman today is expected by society to come to marriage and motherhood in physical and spiritual decline, if ever,” she wrote. “This is the life women have been offered by those who would rather us toil away as isolated economic units for faceless corporations, far from the natural pleasures of the domestic, far from the guardianship of a loving husband, and far from the life-giving experience of motherhood.” Corrigan’s biography on the website described her as a “conservative political strategist.” She was on the payroll of the Republican National Committee between 2016 and 2018, according to campaign finance records. Get Our Top Investigations Subscribe to the Big Story newsletter. Don’t miss out on ProPublica’s next investigation. Sign up and get the Big Story email whenever we break news. Email address This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply. Her stated positions put her directly at odds with the stated goals of her new employer. USAID uses a “liberal democracy index” as one of its metrics in deciding whether a country is self-reliant, and it has an entire office dedicated to gender equality and women’s empowerment. The agency’s website says it is working for a world in which LGBT people are “respected and able to live with dignity, free from discrimination, persecution, and violence.” Beirne Roose-Snyder, director of public policy at the Center for Health and Gender Equity, said, “An appointee who eschews gender equality, meaningful democracy and LGBTI rights cannot possibly fulfill the mission of USAID.” Corrigan’s appointment is the latest example of the Trump administration bringing in officials to USAID whose stated views put them at odds with the agenda the agency says it promotes. USAID’s new deputy chief of staff, Bethany Kozma, was previously an anti-transgender activist who wrote in 2016 that transgender girls are boys “claiming gender confusion.” Kozma was formerly a senior adviser for women’s empowerment at the agency. And last week, The Washington Post reported that a Tea Party activist with a history of making and sharing anti-Islamic comments on his personal social media profiles would be the agency’s new religious freedom adviser. News of the appointment sparked criticism from Muslim groups in the U.S. and the Anti-Defamation League.

  • This Is the Sound of Gentrification
    by David Hajdu on June 5, 2020 at 09:45

    David Hajdu Ted Hearne and Saul Williams’s Place captures the volatile energies of a changing city beset by the forces of late capitalism.  The post This Is the Sound of Gentrification appeared first on The Nation.

  • A Vast Array of Emergency Powers. Zero Self-Control.
    by Sasha Abramsky on June 5, 2020 at 09:45

    Sasha Abramsky Trump’s disregard for democracy is so blatant, top military leaders have started to intervene. The post A Vast Array of Emergency Powers. Zero Self-Control. appeared first on The Nation.

  • We Reported on Corporate Tax Breaks in the Rust Belt. Now Officials Want Tougher Enforcement.
    by by Dan O’Brien, The Business Journal on June 5, 2020 at 09:30

    by Dan O’Brien, The Business Journal 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 Business Journal, based in Youngstown, Ohio, which is a member of the ProPublica Local Reporting Network. State and local elected officials in Ohio are reassessing one of the state’s marquee economic development programs and calling for tougher regulation of corporate tax breaks after a Business Journal and ProPublica investigation raised questions about the effectiveness of so-called enterprise zones. Under the program, struggling communities like Youngstown are empowered to award property tax breaks to companies that agree to invest a certain amount of money and create a targeted number of new jobs. But in a report published last month, the news organizations found that half of the 94 projects that have received millions of dollars in tax abatements from the city since 1991 have failed to deliver on their job promises. One in four didn’t create a single position. All of the tax breaks, however, remained intact. Get Our Top Investigations Subscribe to the Big Story newsletter. Don’t miss out on ProPublica’s next investigation. Sign up and get the Big Story email whenever we break news. Email address This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply. Now, City Council members are urging the administration of Mayor Jamael Tito Brown to stiffen its approach to the enterprise zone program and to crack down on companies that violated their tax break agreements. “It would seem as the city is running on autopilot,” said 1st Ward Councilman Julius Oliver, who has been critical of firms that underdeliver on jobs. “We have to get these numbers up. We have to hold these companies accountable.” Separately, the councilman is pushing for firms to increase the number of city residents they hire. Current law only requires companies to undertake their “best efforts” to hire city residents. According to a city report, in 2018, 1,046 employees worked at businesses receiving tax breaks; just about a fifth lived in Youngstown. Brown did not respond to requests for comment, but his aides have defended the administration’s handling of the enterprise zone program. “It’s not something we’re sleeping on. We’re aware of it,” Nikki Posterli, Brown’s chief of staff and director of planning and economic development, said this year. “I think we need to just figure out ways to work within what we’ve offered to make it work for both sides. The last thing you want is for a business to pack up and go when we could have built that relationship.” Some City Council members, however, disagree. The current system has led to an environment where companies “use you, use you and use you,” said Samantha Turner, the city’s 3rd Ward councilwoman. As an example, she cited the stalled Chill-Can development on the city’s long-suffering East Side. The project, which was featured in the Business Journal-ProPublica investigation, touts itself as the world’s first self-chilling beverage can. In exchange for its promise of jobs, developer Joseph Co. International received a 75% abatement on real estate taxes over 10 years, as well as a $1.5 million grant from the city’s water and wastewater funds. The city also spent more than $360,000 to relocate residents who once lived at the site. But more than three years after breaking ground, the company has yet to create any of the positions it pledged in its enterprise zone agreement, according to its most recent report to the city in 2019. Company chairman Mitchell Joseph said on Wednesday that the firm has since hired three security guards and is now interviewing candidates for engineering positions. Under the terms of the tax deal, the company has until August 2021 to create at least 237 jobs. Infrastructure problems, such as aging utility lines, and the coronavirus have delayed the project, Joseph has said. Site work on a third building is underway. “Announcements will be made by the beverage industry in the next several months on our technologies as well as our plans to produce in Youngstown in spite of this pandemic,” he said in an email. Still, the developer now faces a bill for $15,111.65 in delinquent property taxes, according to records from the Mahoning County auditor’s office. The company has filed an appeal, challenging the valuation of improvements on the site. Meanwhile, some state lawmakers are pressing legislation that they say would increase transparency around the enterprise zone program, which is subject to little oversight from the state. Under Ohio law, local governments award the tax breaks and simply report the results to a state clearinghouse. But The Business Journal and ProPublica found that reporting can be spotty, obscuring the total cost of tax incentives to local communities. In Youngstown, for example, city officials maintained that they could not say how much was forgiven under the enterprise zone program there. In response to public records requests, they provided cost projections for just a third of the agreements they granted over the past three decades, saying they could not locate many of the earlier contracts. The estimate of forgiven taxes for the pacts with documentation: $15.3 million. State Rep. Jim Hoops, a Republican representing northwest Ohio, is advocating for a bill that would expand the power of the state’s Tax Expenditure Review Commission to examine local enterprise zone agreements and other property tax exemptions. Currently, the advisory commission limits its biennial reviews to state tax breaks, he said. “It will show people how much is exempted on a local level,” Hoops said of the proposed analysis of local abatements. “It puts more information out there.” Some advocates, however, are calling on lawmakers to go further by tightening the rules around the enterprise zone agreements themselves. Today, local officials have the power to terminate tax breaks and seek back taxes from companies that fail to deliver on their job pledges. But in Youngstown, they rarely use it. During its most recent session in December, the city’s Tax Incentive Review Council voted to allow all 20 active enterprise zone agreements to continue, including five with firms that substantially missed their job targets. To boost compliance, Hannah Halbert, executive director of Policy Matters Ohio, a Cleveland-based think tank, said the state could eliminate that discretion and mandate a “trigger” provision that would suspend tax incentives for companies that fail to fulfill job commitments after a certain amount of time. “There would be automatic consequences,” she said. “The state could place different guardrails” in the program. State Sen. Sean O’Brien, a Democrat who represents nearby Trumbull County, said he would be wary of legislation that could erode the authority of local officials. But he added that tax incentives should come with stricter rules on new investment and job creation. “We want to help certain businesses, because they need help getting started. It’s like fertilizer in the ground,” he said. “But, if it doesn’t grow, you can’t keep putting fertilizer on it.” Dan O’Brien is a reporter and associate editor of The Business Journal, based in Youngstown, Ohio. He has covered business in the Mahoning Valley for more than 20 years. Agnel Philip contributed reporting. The Business Journal in Youngstown, Ohio, and ProPublica are investigating economic development incentives in the Mahoning Valley. If you know something about how these programs were used — or abused, we would like to hear from you. We’d particularly like to hear from: • Past or present employees of companies that received development incentives. • Government and economic development officials, providing additional information and insights on how incentives can be better deployed and monitored for compliance. • Business leaders with suggestions on the types of incentives that small businesses need. If you have something to share with us, here’s how to do it: • Via email: dobrien@business-journal.com • Via phone call or text message: 330-406-9132‬‬ • Via our online form: https://businessjournaldaily.com/submit-your-story/

  • We Cannot Postpone Climate Talks Until 2021
    by Ilana Cohen on June 5, 2020 at 09:30

    Ilana Cohen Lawmakers need to wake up: Climate change and the injustices it generates won’t break for Covid-19. So the United Nations Climate Change Conference can’t, either.  The post We Cannot Postpone Climate Talks Until 2021 appeared first on The Nation.

  • Shouldn’t Congressional Approval Be Required to Deploy Troops at Home Too?
    by John Nichols on June 5, 2020 at 09:15

    John Nichols Congressional Progressive Caucus leaders promise action after Trump threatens “to weaponize the US military against its own citizens.” The post Shouldn’t Congressional Approval Be Required to Deploy Troops at Home Too? appeared first on The Nation.

  • Police Brutality, COVID-19 and Overdoses in Chicago Follow the Same Deadly Pattern
    by by Duaa Eldeib and Melissa Sanchez on June 5, 2020 at 09:00

    by Duaa Eldeib and Melissa Sanchez ProPublica Illinois is a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. Sign up to get weekly updates about our work. Hello, readers. This is Duaa and Melissa. We had planned to write this week’s newsletter about a story we published examining a sharp increase in opioid overdoses in Cook County at the same time the death toll from the coronavirus pandemic continues to rise here. But the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and subsequent civil unrest have us thinking about what those seemingly separate crises have in common. Opioid-related deaths, police brutality and COVID-19 are all disproportionately killing black Americans, including in Chicago. That brutal trend became clear as we began reporting on overdoses after getting a tip that the number of opioid-related fatalities was up this year. We analyzed death records from the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office and found a stunning increase: More than twice as many people have died or are suspected to have died from opioids so far this year than this time last year. Dive Deeper Into Our Reporting Our newsletter is written by a ProPublica Illinois reporter every week Discover what makes Illinois tick from our team of investigative journalists covering the state. Delivered every Friday. Email address This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply. As with so many stories we’ve both reported, it was impossible to not see the disparities. More than half of the dead were African Americans, many of them from Chicago’s West or South sides. Kathleen Kane-Willis, a researcher with the Chicago Urban League who has written about the impact of opioids on African Americans, told us black drug users have higher overdose mortality rates for many of the same reasons that they’re more likely to die from COVID-19: higher rates of poverty, less access to effective medical treatment, more underlying health conditions. This echoes a story Duaa worked on recently that investigated why so many of the first 100 recorded COVID-19 victims in Chicago were black. The underlying causes driving Chicago’s opioid crisis and COVID-19 are sadly relevant to the national conversations we’re all having now about police violence and racial inequity. Our colleague Mick Dumke likes to remind us that police brutality and disparate enforcement in black communities are symptoms of broader inequities and white supremacy. Our country’s long history of structural racism — and the segregation, disinvestment, loss of job opportunities and chronic stress that come with it — stands at the center. This is what we’re thinking about as we consider Floyd’s death and the ensuing protests, and decide on a reporting path for ourselves as a news organization. Here are some of the recent stories we’re reading that are helping us get to the heart of these issues and offer context on how we got to this point. This week, WBEZ and City Bureau partnered to report on modern-day redlining, as banks have invested more in a single white Chicago neighborhood than all of the city’s black neighborhoods combined. The Chicago Tribune wrote about why police reform takes so long. Chicago magazine had an interesting piece on how one elected official in suburban Evanston was able to do something that had been a political non-starter for decades: pass legislation approving reparations for African Americans. Going back to our own colleagues’ work, Jodi Cohen has written a lot about police accountability in Chicago, including this story on the controversial officer who’s now the head of the union for rank-and-file police officers and an analysis (reported with the Tribune) on why so many misconduct grievances are overturned. Last fall, our colleague Logan Jaffe wrote about so-called sundown towns, focusing on one community in southern Illinois with a lengthy history of racism where many black people continue to feel unwelcome. And nationally, this story about becoming a parent in the age of Black Lives Matter from The Atlantic was especially poignant. As was this Q&A in The New Yorker with Bryan Stevenson, a civil rights lawyer and author of “Just Mercy.” There’s still much work to be done. Please let us know if you have ideas or tips about what we should be reporting on at duaa.eldeib@propublica.org and melissa.sanchez@propublica.org. We’d love to hear from you. Thank you for reading, and stay safe. —Duaa Eldeib and Melissa Sanchez Reporters, ProPublica Illinois

  • ACLU Sues Trump Over ‘Shameless, Unconstitutional, Unprovoked, and Frankly Criminal’ Assault on Peaceful Protesters
    on June 5, 2020 at 08:41

    Jake Johnson, staff writer”The First Amendment right to protest is under attack, and we will not let this go unanswered.”

  • Amy Coopers Are Everywhere
    by Rann Miller on June 5, 2020 at 05:00

    As a black educator, it’s appalling that I’ve been called by white co-workers to remove black students from class.

  • Ex-White House Chief Of Staff John Kelly Says Trump Is Confused And Losing His Memory
    by Sean Colarossi on June 5, 2020 at 02:01

    Some of Donald Trump’s loudest critics are the folks who worked closely with him in the past – and it’s clearly driving him nuts.

  • Trump Suggests The Peaceful Protesters He Gassed In D.C. Were Actually Terrorists
    by Sean Colarossi on June 5, 2020 at 01:44

    Trump’s decision to share an inflammatory letter from his former lawyer is a laughable way to respond to criticism from a four-star general.

  • Trump Goes Ballistic And Announces Plans To Campaign Against Lisa Murkowski In 2022
    by Sean Colarossi on June 5, 2020 at 00:59

    Even though the 2020 election hasn’t taken place yet, Donald Trump is announcing plans to campaign against Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski

  • Kamala Harris Burns Rand Paul To The Ground For Blocking Anti-Lynching Legislation
    by Sean Colarossi on June 4, 2020 at 23:59

    Sen. Kamala Harris took to the Senate floor to blast Sen. Rand Paul for standing in the way of bipartisan anti-lynching legislation.

  • John Boyega spoke out against racism, but Hollywood has punished actors for that in the past
    by Melanie McFarland on June 4, 2020 at 23:53

    Make no mistake, the “Star Wars” actor is risking his career by speaking out in blunt terms. We love him for it

  • Donald Trump Committed Voter Fraud By Mail In Florida
    by Jason Easley on June 4, 2020 at 23:08

    Donald Trump voted in the Florida primary but announced this week that he really lives in New York, which means he committed voter fraud.

  • Republicans Are Rebelling Against Trump As Grassley Puts Hold On 2 Nominations
    by Jason Easley on June 4, 2020 at 22:38

    The Republican rebellion against Trump is growing as Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) placed a hold on two Trump nominations over the IG firings.

  • Brooklyn Man Was Arrested for Curfew Violation. The FBI Interrogated Him About His Political Beliefs.
    by Ryan Devereaux on June 4, 2020 at 21:48

    After Trump’s assertion that anti-fascists are terrorists, FBI agents are conducting interviews with arrested protesters about their political beliefs. The post Brooklyn Man Was Arrested for Curfew Violation. The FBI Interrogated Him About His Political Beliefs. appeared first on The Intercept.

  • Right Wing Round-Up: A Threat to the Constitution
    by Kyle Mantyla on June 4, 2020 at 21:34

    Jeffrey Goldberg @ The Atlantic: James Mattis Denounces President Trump, Describes Him as a Threat to the Constitution. Josh Feldman @ Mediaite: Jesse Watters Slams Obama: ‘Jarring’ to ‘Hear the Black President Talk About How Racist the Country Is That Elected Him Twice.’ Lowell Feld @ Blue Virginia: 2021 VA GOP Gubernatorial Candidate Amanda Chase

  • Right Wing Bonus Tracks: Another Glenn Beck Prediction Comes True
    by Kyle Mantyla on June 4, 2020 at 21:33

    Josh Bernstein declares that if Black Lives Matters wants to prove that it isn’t a racist organization, it needs to change its name to All Lives Matter. Bill Mitchell says that if systemic racism exists, it’s largely the fault of former President Barack Obama because he “really did nothing in eight years for the black

  • Shut Down the Death Traps
    by Mike Ervin on June 4, 2020 at 21:04

    COVID-19 is setting people with disabilities back—more than they already were.

  • As Americans Rise Up Against Racial Injustice, International Crisis Group Calls on Trump to ‘Stop Making Situation Worse’
    on June 4, 2020 at 20:54

    Julia Conley, staff writer”Sometimes, sitting by quietly and saying nothing is not an option,” the International Crisis Group wrote.

  • A Progressive Challenger Was Attacked for Calling to Defund the Police. She Won Anyway.
    by Rachel M. Cohen on June 4, 2020 at 20:48

    Janeese Lewis George’s opponents in her D.C. city council race sent mailers attacking her for being too radical on policing. The post A Progressive Challenger Was Attacked for Calling to Defund the Police. She Won Anyway. appeared first on The Intercept.

  • How Protests Over George Floyd’s Killing Exposed Trump as a Lame-Duck Authoritarian
    by Murtaza Hussain on June 4, 2020 at 20:44

    As any authoritarian knows, a real strongman needs to govern either through love or fear. Trump has done neither. The post How Protests Over George Floyd’s Killing Exposed Trump as a Lame-Duck Authoritarian appeared first on The Intercept.

  • Groups Denounce Gutting of Environmental Rules ‘When Trump Thinks No One is Paying Attention’
    on June 4, 2020 at 20:42

    Eoin Higgins, staff writerOrder denounced as “latest in string of outlandish authoritarian acts” from the U.S. president.

  • ProPublica Wins RFK Human Rights Journalism Award for Border Patrol Coverage
    by by ProPublica on June 4, 2020 at 20:33

    by ProPublica The Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights announced Thursday that ProPublica’s “Inside the Border Patrol” series won the RFK Journalism Award in the new media category. For more than a decade, the Border Patrol — the nation’s largest federal law enforcement agency with some 20,000 agents — has been dogged by allegations of corruption and violence by poorly screened agents. Then, in 2017, an unprecedented surge of thousands of desperate migrants arrived at the southern border. Suddenly, agents were tasked not only with apprehending and screening migrants, but for the first time with separating families, guarding toddlers and caring for the sick, often on their own with scant training and oversight. Yet even as the agency’s role and power expanded, the Border Patrol remained closed to public scrutiny, even from Congress. For “Inside the Border Patrol,” a team of ProPublica reporters dug into the agency from different angles, developing sources that gave them access not only to a deeply troubling culture that had been allowed to fester virtually unchecked, but to agents breaking under the strain of their new reality. Perhaps the most revealing, and disturbing, insight into the agency came last July just before a group of Latino members of Congress were to tour a Texas detention center. ProPublica reporter A.C. Thompson obtained screenshots from a secret Facebook group of some 9,500 current and former Border Patrol agents that showed that several agents and at least one supervisor had joked about the death of migrants, called Latina lawmakers “hoes” and “scum buckets” and posted a vulgar illustration depicting Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez engaged in oral sex with a detained migrant. Among those in the group: Carla Provost, the agency’s chief. The story exploded in the media. Joaquin Castro, head of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, said the story “confirms some of the worst criticisms of Customs and Border Protection. These are clearly agents who are desensitized to the point of being dangerous to migrants and their co-workers.” The Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General quickly launched an inquiry, and within weeks, Customs and Border Protection had opened investigations into 62 current and eight former employees. ProPublica followed up with stories that further explored the agency’s culture. Thompson dove deep into the case of a Border Patrol agent caught on camera ramming his Ford truck into a Guatemalan migrant to document that the agent had a well-known pattern of excessive force and overt racism. Reporters also sought to capture what it was like for agents assigned to work in detention centers some had likened to concentration camps. At the height of the influx last summer, ProPublica senior reporter Ginger Thompson convinced one agent to speak candidly and at length. His chilling assessment: “Somewhere down the line people just accepted what’s going on as normal.” Other stories by reporter Melissa del Bosque showed how the agency was allowed to accuse migrants of being criminals without having to reveal the evidence for the claim or where it came from, and she revealed the agency’s use of secretive, questionable gang databases to deny asylum. Finally, reporters Robert Moore, Susan Schmidt and Maryam Jameel investigated the Border Patrol’s account of the controversial death of a 16-year-old migrant boy in its custody. The agency said the boy had died from the flu and had been discovered by a staffer. ProPublica filed a public records request with local police to obtain hours of surveillance video that showed the teenager collapsing and dying over several hours, while no one offered aid. The boy’s body was finally discovered by his roommate. The video starkly contradicted the Border Patrol’s public account and the assertions of agents that they’d checked on the boy three times during the night. In addition to the article, video journalists Lucas Waldron and Katie Campbell produced a visual investigation of the death. Doctors who advocate for immigrants called the video evidence of medical neglect. Members of Congress, including House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, promised further investigation. Reporter Dara Lind and senior data reporter Jeff Ernsthausen also contributed to the series. Taken together, the stories reveal an agency amassing power and increasing control over the lives of vulnerable migrant families, even as its own culture shows many of its agents are the last people who should be trusted with the job.

  • We Crunched the Numbers: Police — Not Protesters — Are Overwhelmingly Responsible for Attacking Journalists
    by Trevor Timm on June 4, 2020 at 20:00

    Protests over the killing of George Floyd have seen attacks on the press spike. Our data shows police are responsible for more than 80 percent of them. The post We Crunched the Numbers: Police — Not Protesters — Are Overwhelmingly Responsible for Attacking Journalists appeared first on The Intercept.

  • There Can Be No Getting Along Without Reform
    by Shukria Dellawar on June 4, 2020 at 19:23

    Let us show each other — and the world — that we can rise above this moment.

  • Ed Martin Declares ‘War’ and Smears Black Lives Matter
    by Peter Montgomery on June 4, 2020 at 19:16

    “It’s a War,” right-wing activist Ed Martin declared in the subject line of an email to supporters Thursday morning after mass protests against the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd, a black man, continued for a ninth night. Martin’s email linked to a tweet in which Martin declared, “It’s a war – Us v. Those that Hate

  • By Pouring Billions Into Fossil Fuel Industry, EU’s Central Bank Accused of ‘Playing Both Firefighter and Arsonist’
    on June 4, 2020 at 18:56

    Jessica Corbett, staff writerAfter the European Union’s central bank on Thursday approved what Reuters called “a bigger-than-expected” expansion of an economic stimulus package necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic, climate campaigners expressed concern that planet-destroying fossil fuel companies could get tens of billions of dollars in the Eurozone relief funding.

  • “When They Say We Don’t Have the Right to Protest,” Says Naomi Klein, “That’s the Moment to Flood the Streets”
    on June 4, 2020 at 18:45

    Jon Queally, staff writerAs Trump declares “law and order” clampdown against peaceful demonstrations, author and activist reminds people of most important lesson she’s learned studying history of shock doctrine tactics.

  • ‘A Funny, Brilliant Writer’: The Life of Mark Anthony Rolo
    by Mrill Ingram on June 4, 2020 at 18:39

    Author, journalist, playwright, educator, and ‘Going Native’ columnist passes from the world far too soon.

  • New PFAS Chemical Contamination Discovered in New Jersey
    by Sharon Lerner on June 4, 2020 at 18:00

    Eight variations of a newly identified group of PFAS compounds were found near a Solvay plant in West Deptford, New Jersey. The post New PFAS Chemical Contamination Discovered in New Jersey appeared first on The Intercept.

  • Foreign Correspondent: The Rest of the World Sees Uprisings, Not Riots
    by Reese Erlich on June 4, 2020 at 17:54

    The United States is paying the price for denying people what Malcolm X called ‘the right to be a human being.’

  • GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski Suggests She May Not Support Trump Versus Biden
    by Jason Easley on June 4, 2020 at 17:44

    Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) became the first Republican Senator to admit that she is struggling with supporting Trump for reelection.

  • Amid Covid-19 and Nationwide Protests, America’s Billionaires Got $79 Billion Richer Over the Last Week
    on June 4, 2020 at 17:37

    Jake Johnson, staff writer”Surging billionaire wealth juxtaposed with the suffering and plight of millions undermines the social solidarity required for us to recover together in the years ahead.”

  • Rudy Giuliani Gets Called Crazy On Live British TV Interview
    by Jason Easley on June 4, 2020 at 17:18

    Rudy Giuliani went off on his Ukraine conspiracies and Good Morning Britain host Piers Morgan told Trump’s lawyer that he sounded mad.

  • Ingraham tattles on The Lancet!
    by <b>bob somerby</b> on June 4, 2020 at 17:16

    THURSDAY, JUNE 4, 2020The things they hear while we don’t: What is the nature of tribalized news?Consider the Lancet study. Also, consider the study in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM).The studies appeared in May. Especially in the liberal world, they received a lot of attention. As we look at the start of this New York Times report, we can quickly see why:GRADY (5/23/20): The malaria drugs hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine did not help coronavirus patients and may have done harm, according to a new study based on the records of nearly 15,000 patients who received the drugs and 81,000 who did not.Some were also given the antibiotic azithromycin, or a related medicine.Hydroxychloroquine is the drug that President Trump has advocated, and that he said he has been taking in hopes of preventing coronavirus infection.People who received the drugs were more likely to have abnormal heart rhythms, according to the study in the The Lancet. They were also more likely to die. But the findings were not definitive, because the study was observational, meaning that the patients were not picked at random to receive the drug or not, and may have had underlying differences that affected their outcomes.The Lancet is a very big deal; so is the NEJM. These studies seemed to blow a large hole in Mister Trump’s Favorite Pharmaceutical, so they got major play on CNN and MSNBC.We know that because we watched a bit of Laura Ingraham’s program last night. When we flipped over, Laura was playing tape from some of our favorite cable shows and laughing at what had been said.Laura Ingraham was blowing the whistle on The Lancet! Her source was a news report in yesterday’s New York Times.Uh-oh! The NEJM has now expressed doubts about the study it published. So too with The Lancet:RABIN (6/3/20): Since the outbreak began, researchers have rushed to publish new findings about the coronavirus spreading swiftly through the world. On Tuesday, for the second time in recent days, a group of clinicians and researchers has questioned the data used in studies in two prominent medical journals.A group of scientists who raised questions last week about a study in The Lancet about the use of antimalarial drugs in coronavirus patients have now objected to another paper about blood pressure medicines in the New England Journal of Medicine, which was published by some of the same authors and relied on the same data registry.Moments after their open letter was posted online Tuesday morning, the editors of the N.E.J.M. posted an “expression of concern” about the paper, and said they had asked the paper’s authors to provide evidence that the data are reliable.The Lancet followed later in the day with a statement about its own concerns regarding the malarial drugs paper, saying that the editors have commissioned an independent audit of the data.You can read yesterday’s full report for yourselves. We don’t know if those studies will be vindicated. Instead, our point is this:Last evening, Fox viewers heard all about the problems with these studies. They got to laugh at the way cable hosts on CNN and MSNBC had touted the studies’ findings, sometimes in a slightly triumphalist way..On CNN and MSNBC, the walk-back by these major journals didn’t get much play at all. This is the nature of tribalized “news” in a tribalized corporate news era.Telling the news in a slanted fashion is now extremely big business. In such an environment, the facts will sometimes be misleading or wrong, and the logic may not be much better.On Fox, they heard about the two journals’ walk-backs. Over Here, not so much.

  • The American Experiment Is in Peril
    by Ruth Conniff on June 4, 2020 at 17:10

    Trump’s Inaugural description of a hellscape strewn with ‘American carnage’ now reads like prophecy.

  • Jim Mattis vs. Tom Cotton: No Contest
    by Joan Walsh on June 4, 2020 at 17:02

    Joan Walsh The former defense secretary’s scathing attack on Trump’s shredding the Constitution showed how wrong The New York Times was to publish Cotton. The post Jim Mattis vs. Tom Cotton: No Contest appeared first on The Nation.

  • Ilhan Omar Criminal Justice Reform Bills Offer ‘Systemic Solutions to Systemic Problems’
    on June 4, 2020 at 17:00

    Eoin Higgins, staff writer”If we are to change this pattern of violent racism, we need to fundamentally restructure our criminal justice system.”

  • Tear-gassing protesters “is a very effective way of spreading coronavirus,” doctors say
    by Nicole Karlis on June 4, 2020 at 16:55

    Tear gas can worsen COVID-19 symptoms or increase the chance of the virus spreading in crowds

  • What is the Goal of the Protests, and Which Tactics are Morally Justified and Strategically Wise?
    by Glenn Greenwald on June 4, 2020 at 16:46

    Two guests who have been providing illuminating commentary on the protests, Chloé Valdary and Ben Dixon, explore these questions. The post What is the Goal of the Protests, and Which Tactics are Morally Justified and Strategically Wise? appeared first on The Intercept.

  • Terrified Trump Expands The Fence Around The White House
    by Jason Easley on June 4, 2020 at 16:34

    Trump is so afraid of the protesters that he has expanded the fence around the White House in an effort to keep the protests away from him.

  • ‘This is Huge’: Move to Defund Police Gains Support Nationwide
    on June 4, 2020 at 16:34

    Eoin Higgins, staff writer”In moments of crisis, people want services and resources that go directly to help people rather than police that surveil, brutalize, and kill us.”

  • Tear Gas Is Way More Dangerous Than Police Let On — Especially During the Coronavirus Pandemic
    by by Lisa Song on June 4, 2020 at 16:25

    by Lisa Song ProPublica is a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. Sign up to receive our biggest stories as soon as they’re published. When Amira Chowdhury joined a protest in Philadelphia against police violence on Monday, she wore a mask to protect herself and others against the coronavirus. But when officers launched tear gas into the crowd, Chowdhury pulled off her mask as she gasped for air. “I couldn’t breathe,” she said. “I felt like I was choking to death.” Chowdhury was on a part of the Vine Street Expressway that ran underground. Everyone panicked as gas drifted into the dark, semi-enclosed space, she said. People stomped over her as they scrambled away. Bruised, she scaled a fence to escape. But the tear gas found her later that evening, inside her own house; as police unleashed it on protesters in her predominantly black neighborhood in West Philadelphia, it seeped in. “I can’t even be in my own house without escaping the violence of the state,” said Chowdhury, a rising senior at the University of Pennsylvania. On Wednesday, she said her throat still felt dry, like it was clogged with ash. Help Us Report on Coronavirus Are you a public health worker, medical provider, elected official, patient or other COVID-19 expert? Help make sure our journalism is responsible and focused on the right issues. Note: If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19, such as difficulty breathing or bluish lips, get medical attention immediately. The CDC has more information on what to do if you are sick. The Philadelphia protest was one of many instances in recent days in which police launched tear gas — a toxic substance that can cause lung damage — into crowds. In a statement, Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said that officers had no choice but to release it after protesters threw rocks at them and refused to disperse, and that officers also used nonchemical white smoke to minimize the amount of the irritant “while maintaining a deterrent visual effect.” She called it “a means to safely [defuse] a volatile and dangerous situation.” But tear gas is not safe, according to a number of experts interviewed by ProPublica. It has been found to cause long-term health consequences and can hurt those who aren’t the intended targets, including people inside their homes. This would be enough of a problem in normal times, but now, experts say, the widespread, sometimes indiscriminate use of tear gas on American civilians in the midst of a respiratory pandemic threatens to worsen the coronavirus, along with racial disparities in its spread and who dies from it. Get Our Top Investigations Subscribe to the Big Story newsletter. Don’t miss out on ProPublica’s next investigation. Sign up and get the Big Story email whenever we break news. Email address This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply. “As an immunologist, it scares me,” said Dr. Purvi Parikh, an allergy and immunology doctor at NYU Langone Health. “We just got through a brutal two months, and I’m really scared this will bring a second wave [of COVID-19] sooner.” It puts black communities in an impossible situation, said Dr. Joseph Nwadiuko, an internist and researcher at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine. Thirteen of the 15 coronavirus patients in the intensive care unit where he works are black, he said. “I worry that one of the compounding effects of structural racism is you’ll see a second wave of black patients, including those who were out there defending their lives.” On Tuesday, an open letter signed by nearly 1,300 medical and public health professionals urged the police to stop using “tear gas, smoke, or other respiratory irritants, which could increase risk for COVID-19 by making the respiratory tract more susceptible to infection, exacerbating existing inflammation, and inducing coughing.” Here’s what you need to know about tear gas and how it’s being used by law enforcement in recent days. Tear gas can cause long-term harm, by making people more susceptible to contracting influenza, pneumonia and other illnesses. Tear gas is the generic term for a class of compounds that cause a burning sensation. Most law enforcement agencies in the U.S., including the Philadelphia Police Department this week, use a chemical called CS, short for 2-chlorobenzalmalononitrile. CS activates a specific pain receptor, one that’s also triggered by eating wasabi, said Sven-Eric Jordt, a professor of anesthesiology at Duke University. But CS is much more powerful, up to 100,000 times stronger than the sting from wasabi, he said. “They are really pain nerve gases. They are designed to induce pain.” CS is particularly painful when it gets on your skin or in your eyes. (Doctors have advised protesters not to wear contact lenses.) When inhaled, the pain induces people to cough. The compound degrades the mucus membranes in your eyes, nose, mouth and lungs — the layers of cells that help protect people from viruses and bacteria. Scientists know little about how CS affects the general public. The most comprehensive studies were conducted by the U.S. military on thousands of recruits who were exposed to tear gas during training exercises. Afterward, it left them at higher risk for contracting influenza, pneumonia, bronchitis and other respiratory illnesses. The soldiers were generally healthier than the average person, with fewer underlying conditions like asthma or heart disease. Studies of civilians in Turkey found that people who are repeatedly exposed to tear gas are more likely to have chronic bronchitis or chest pains and coughing that can last for weeks. It may also be linked to miscarriages. The effects worsen as people are repeatedly exposed to higher doses, Jordt said, but it’s hard to measure the concentrations of tear gas during chaotic protests, and many who are affected will be reluctant or afraid to seek medical help. Parikh, the Langone Health doctor, is particularly worried about children at the protests. Their lungs and immune system are still developing, and tear gas could lead to neurological problems or permanent skin or eye damage if it’s not washed off quickly. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, severe tear gas poisoning, particularly if the gas was released in an enclosed space — can blind or kill people through chemical burns and respiratory failure. Prisoners with respiratory conditions have died after inhaling tear gas in poorly ventilated areas. On Wednesday, an inmate at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn died after guards sprayed him with pepper spray, another kind of tear gas that causes similar health effects as CS. In a statement, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Prisons said the inmate, Jamel Floyd, was caught “breaking the cell door window with a metal object” and “became increasingly disruptive and potentially harmful to himself and others.” Medical staff “immediately responded to assess the inmate, found Mr. Floyd to be unresponsive, and instantly initiated life-saving measures.” An investigation is underway. Tear gas can increase the spread of the coronavirus and might make some people more vulnerable to catching it. It’s too early to know exactly how tear gas affects coronavirus patients. But Parikh said they both cause lung inflammation. “Anything that’s an irritant can cause that same inflammatory response,” she said. “Your lungs can fill with mucus and it can be very difficult to breathe. The muscles narrow; it’s almost like breathing through a straw.” People with asthma and other respiratory illnesses already have higher baseline inflammation that makes them more susceptible to catching infections like the flu or the common cold, Parikh said, so tear gas could trigger an asthma attack or weaken the body’s ability to stave off COVID-19. “If your lungs are already wheezing and coughing, working hard to expel this tear gas or this irritant, it’s unable to have that reserve to fight off any infection, whether a virus or bacteria,” she said. Read More Senior Citizens in Subsidized Housing Have Been Dying Alone at Home, Unnoticed Because of Coronavirus Distancing The patchwork system of well-being checks in some of Chicago’s public and subsidized housing was not enough to prevent deaths in heartbreaking circumstances. Talia Smith, a graduate student at the University of Nebraska, said it only took a whiff of tear gas to trigger an asthma attack when she was protesting in Omaha last Friday. She could barely feel it in her eyes, but her throat “just immediately started closing,” she said. Smith had brought her inhaler, but the medication inside was running low. She’d only had one asthma attack in her life before this. Smith had a burning feeling in her chest for days afterward, and she went to get tested for the coronavirus; the results are pending. She worries that if she catches the virus while still feeling the effects of the gas, she’d be fighting off the disease while her lungs aren’t at full capacity. Parikh said there’s not enough data on asthma and the coronavirus in general. While asthmatics are at higher risk for all respiratory infections, asthma isn’t among the top chronic conditions for the most severe coronavirus patients. “We are still seeing many asthmatics get it,” so it’s too soon to say there’s no risk at all, she said. Tear gas weakens the demonstrators’ protections against the coronavirus, said Dr. Abraar Karan, a physician at Harvard Medical School who’s working on the coronavirus response. Infections increase when people cough or talk loudly, he said, and even if someone is wearing a mask, when they’re hit with tear gas, they’ll take off the mask as they’re coughing. “Not only are you vigorously coughing, you’re vigorously inhaling to try and get more air in.” Panic can cause a stampede, forcing people into close proximity as they’re expelling large droplets from their mouths, he said, perfectly describing the situation that Chowdhury experienced on Monday. Karan said he’s worried that protests could turn into superspreading events, yet he also understands why people feel they must be there. “At the same time, I’m worried about my patients who’ve been destroyed by systemic racism. So racism is killing them as much as a pandemic is.” It will take at least another week before researchers can study whether the protests led to outbreaks. Even then, it will be hard to tell whether the infections were caused solely by the large gatherings or whether tear gas contributed to the increase. Protesters aren’t the only people at risk. Tear gas is entering homes and businesses. Jordt said he was surprised by the sheer quantity of tear gas used by police in recent days, based on what he’s seen in online videos and news clips. Instead of reserving it for the most extreme situations, “it’s more like fumigating and flushing people out,” he said. “Tear gas has become a 1st line response, not a last resort,” he added in an email. Because many protests are occurring in residential neighborhoods, tear gas is now seeping into homes. Parikh compared it to secondhand smoke. “It’s a terrible situation,” she said. “To be honest there’s not much you can do.” Chowdhury, the UPenn student who participated in the Philadelphia protest, said she couldn’t keep out the gas, even when she stuffed T-shirts and towels under the doors and windows. She could still smell it the next morning. If the gas gets indoors, people should wipe down their countertops and other surfaces with large amounts of water and soap, Jordt said. Any food that wasn’t in a closed container could be contaminated and should be thrown out, and in extreme cases with large amounts of tear gas, residents and business owners may need to contact fire departments for recommendations of professional cleaning services, he added. Companies like Aftermath offer services for biohazard and infection control. Its website’s section on “tear gas removal” says the chemical “leaves behind residue that can present serious health hazards if not properly treated. … Tear gas residue can seep into porous materials like furniture, mattresses, clothing, carpet and even hardwood floors, and continue to irritate the mucous membranes of anyone residing in or visiting the property long after the incident.” Police tactics and tools can make matters worse. There are many different forms of tear gas and many ways to use it, said Anna Feigenbaum, the author of a recent book on the history of tear gas and an associate professor of communication and digital media at Bournemouth University in England. Police can spray it from cans, shoot canisters or throw grenades. Manufacturers sell grenades that produce light and noise as they expel tear gas and “triple-chaser” canisters that break into multiple pieces when they land so the gas can cover a larger area. The technology for deploying tear gas is advancing far more quickly than scientists’ understanding of the impacts, Jordt said. “While use of these [compounds] is escalating, there is a vacuum of research to back up the safety of high-level use.” Feigenbaum said the current situation is dangerous because law enforcement has used tear gas “at close range, in enclosed spaces, in large quantities, fired directly at people, used [it] offensively as a weapon and in conjunction with rubber-coated bullets as a force multiplier.” Last weekend, a college student in Indiana lost his eye when a tear gas canister hit his face. Read More Overdose Deaths Have Skyrocketed in Chicago, and the Coronavirus Pandemic May Be Making It Worse Opioid-related deaths in Cook County have doubled since this time last year, and similar increases are happening across the country. “If you’re alone, there’s nobody to give you the Narcan,” said one coroner. Tear gas is banned in international warfare, but it is classified as a “riot control agent” that law enforcement can use for crowd control. Yet instead of calming the situation, tear gas can sometimes “cause counter aggression,” Jordt said. “It just doesn’t work well, and it hits the weakest people the most, and causes the most complications in them.” One of the most controversial events occurred on Monday, when law enforcement in Washington, D.C., used tear gas on peaceful demonstrators to clear the way so President Donald Trump could walk to a nearby church for a photo op. A statement from the U.S. Park Police said they used “pepper balls” with an unspecified irritant powder and “smoke canisters.” (A reporter with WUSA9 tweeted photos on Thursday of CS containers that he and his team said they found at the site.) The CDC uses “tear gas” as the catch-all term for many “riot control” compounds with similar effects. Monica Sanders, who lives across the river in Alexandria, Virginia, said she could see the smoke from her house, like something from a “dystopian reality.” A University of Delaware professor who specializes in disaster management, Sanders said she’d thought about attending that protest but decided against it because her lungs were still weak from an earlier infection that might have been the coronavirus. Although she never got tested, Sanders said she came down with a respiratory illness in mid-February that almost sent her to the emergency room. She is a triathlete with no history of asthma. Last October, she swam a 5K race. Today, she can’t even swim a mile. She said, “There are other ways to do crowd control that don’t involve creating respiratory ailments during a pandemic, in a city that doesn’t have enough [medical] supplies.” Maya Eliahou and Caroline Chen contributed reporting. Tell Us More About Coronavirus Are you a public health worker, medical provider, elected official, patient or other COVID-19 expert? Help make sure our journalism is responsible and focused on the right issues. This form requires JavaScript to complete. Powered by Screendoor.

  • ProPublica Reporter Caroline Chen Wins Livingston Award
    by by ProPublica on June 4, 2020 at 16:21

    by ProPublica The University of Michigan announced Thursday that ProPublica reporter Caroline Chen won the Livingston Award for local reporting. The awards, which honor journalists under the age of 35, recognized her 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 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 or treatment options 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 focused 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. Audio recordings that Chen obtained included Dr. Mark Zucker, the program director, describing the failure to offer Young’s family other treatment options, like palliative care, as “very unethical” but justifying it as essential “for the global good of the future transplant recipients.” Chen followed up by revealing that the transplant team had disregarded the family’s wishes for another brain-damaged patient, Andrey Jurtschenko. Knowing that he never wanted to be a burden on them, his children sought a do not resuscitate order, which could potentially have lowered the hospital’s survival rate. The medical team deflected the request. The transplant team’s elevation of statistics over empathy caused a furor, in New Jersey and beyond. In response to Chen’s article about Darryl Young’s plight, 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 Zucker on administrative leave. Following its investigation, CMS found that Newark Beth Israel placed patients in “immediate jeopardy” by repeatedly failing to implement corrective measures after botched surgeries, and by violating the rights of patients and their families after not obtaining informed consent and inquiring about advance directives. It required the hospital to submit a plan of correction, which Newark Beth Israel has now completed. Learn about all of this year’s Livingston Awards winners here.

  • Ocasio-Cortez Endorses Jamaal Bowman’s Progressive Primary Challenge Against Longtime Rep. Eliot Engel
    on June 4, 2020 at 16:12

    Julia Conley, staff writer”This moment requires renewed and revitalized leadership across the country AND at the ballot box.”

  • Staffer Outrage, Sickout Spurred by NYT Publication of Sen. Cotton ‘Send in the Troops’ Op-Ed
    on June 4, 2020 at 15:51

    Andrea Germanos, staff writer”Running this puts @nytimes’ Black staff in danger.”

  • Rick Wiles Hopes Trump Will Round-Up Liberal Activists and Torture Them
    by Kyle Mantyla on June 4, 2020 at 15:48

    End Times broadcaster Rick Wiles has been warning for years that liberals intend to use the power of government to round up conservative Christians, place them in concentration camps, and kill them. Though such plans exist only in the fevered minds of right-wing conspiracy theorists, Wiles was aghast that anyone would ever plan such horrible

  • Democratic Candidates Should Be Campaigning to End Toxic Policing
    by John Nichols on June 4, 2020 at 15:44

    John Nichols Kentucky US Senate candidate Charles Booker gets it right when he says, “If you are saying you are going to stand up for people, then do it.” The post Democratic Candidates Should Be Campaigning to End Toxic Policing appeared first on The Nation.

  • Fossil Fuel Industry Could Face $25 Trillion Collapse Due to Clean Tech, Climate Policies, and Covid-19 Pandemic
    on June 4, 2020 at 15:36

    Jessica Corbett, staff writerIn a new analysis welcomed by climate campaigners, the London-based financial think tank Carbon Tracker warned Thursday that declining demand and rising investment risk due to cheaper renewable technologies, more aggressive government policies, and the coronavirus pandemic could cause a $25 trillion collapse in future fossil fuel profits.

  • Trump Says Robert Mueller Proved “I Must Be the Most Honest Man in America”
    by Darragh Roche on June 4, 2020 at 15:31

    Donald Trump went on a tweeting and retweeting spree on Thursday, sharing praise of himself and criticism of his opponents. The President was particularly keen to highlight former deputy AG Rod Rosenstein. Rosenstein testified before the Senate on Wednesday. Republicans grilled him as part of their continued push to undermine the Russia probe and the … Continue reading “Trump Says Robert Mueller Proved “I Must Be the Most Honest Man in America””

  • AFL-CIO’s Veteran Council Demands Resignation of Defense Secretary and Joint Chiefs Chair Over Violent Clearing of Lafayette Square
    on June 4, 2020 at 15:16

    Jon Queally, staff writer”President Trump has set a violent and misguided tone in the wake of George Floyd’s tragic murder. It is time for our leaders at every level to challenge and repudiate this dangerous rhetoric—and for those at the top of our military, who failed in this responsibility, to step down.”

  • Chris Loesch Determines Man With Neo-Nazi Tattoos is ‘ANTIFA’
    by Jared Holt on June 4, 2020 at 15:10

    Chris Loesch, an outspoken right-wing activist, assessed a contextless photo of a man with neo-Nazi tattoos ​at a protest against the police killing of George Floyd, a black man, and determined that the individual pictured must be ​an anti-fascist activist. The husband and manager of right-wing broadcaster and former National Rifle Association spokesperson Dana Loesch​, Chris

  • ‘The Planet Is at Stake’: DNC Panel Pushes Biden to Back $16 Trillion Plan to Fight Climate Crisis
    on June 4, 2020 at 15:00

    Jake Johnson, staff writer”Trump’s going to call Biden a lefty no matter what, right? So let’s energize our base, let’s energize the middle. Let’s do what’s right.”

  • Trapped at Sea, Alone With Her Assailant, He Told Her “You’re Mine for the Week”
    by by Kyle Hopkins, Anchorage Daily News on June 4, 2020 at 15:00

    by Kyle Hopkins, Anchorage Daily News 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, a member of the ProPublica Local Reporting Network. Hearing the boat motor click off, she burrowed deep into her sleeping bag. It was 4:30 a.m. one August morning in 2013 and they had been traveling for hours. Just Cathleen and the captain aboard a fishing boat little bigger than a minivan, now bobbing somewhere in Prince William Sound. She had met the captain a few months earlier. Old enough to be her father, he liked to sit for hours drinking coffee at the cafe where she worked, chatting with townies. But soon after setting off from harbor, as Cathleen’s cellphone lost service and the shoreline fell away, he began to talk about how much he’d always wanted to kiss her, she said. When he let her steer the boat, the fisherman’s hands crept under her shirt. Stop, she told him. She was just here to work. She had a boyfriend at home. “What happens on the boat stays on the boat,” the captain said. At 24, Cathleen, who asked to be identified here only by her middle name for fear of retribution, had already launched herself on countless Alaska adventures. Hunting, fishing and camping side by side with rough-and-tumble outdoorsmen. The guys had always acknowledged unspoken boundaries; kept their hands to themselves. This time was different. It felt scary and wrong. Barely able to keep her eyes open, Cathleen told the captain she was going to bed. They previously agreed that she’d get the only bunk, and he’d sleep elsewhere. Now, the boat quiet and adrift, she cinched the mummy bag tight. “Oh shit. Ohshit ohshit ohshit.” The captain appeared above her. The sound of his zipper. Cathleen told him no. She fought. The fisherman yanked her hands apart and forced open the sleeping bag, she said. She was still fully clothed and reached into her jeans pocket for a 2.5-inch blade, a gift from her brother. The captain wrested the knife away and it clattered across the cabin floor. “He grabbed both my wrists with just one hand and put them behind my neck so I couldn’t move my arms,” Cathleen said. “Then he started undoing my pants.” The captain raped her and then spooned her, his arms and legs wrapped around her body. He whispered: You’re mine for the week. They were five hours into a multi-day fishing trip. In the morning the man made coffee as if nothing had happened. “I asked him to take me home a thousand times. I said I would pay him,” Cathleen said. “I said, ‘‘You don’t have to pay me.’ I said I’d do anything just to go home.” No, he said. They had work to do. The next night Cathleen slept on the wet deck. Sometimes she thought he might kill her. In other moments, sitting on the deck and watching the sea, she thought of killing herself. “I was thinking, ‘There’s no way that I’m going to get out of here because I have no cell service and nobody knows where we are,” she said. “I don’t even know where I am.” When the boat returned to harbor, Cathleen immediately told her boyfriend what had happened. The boyfriend, in an interview, said the couple then drove to Anchorage to report the sexual assault to Alaska State Troopers. Cathleen underwent a sexual assault exam. An investigator told her prosecutors wouldn’t charge the boat captain with rape unless they recorded the man confessing to the crime. Cathleen tried to get troopers what they needed. The fisherman had never paid her for the week, giving her an excuse to meet with him in person. (He eventually gave her $300 of the promised $500, saying she didn’t end up doing much work.) In a post office parking lot she wore a microphone under her bra and asked him why he forced sex on her. He admitted to making a mistake, but the detectives told her they didn’t have enough evidence. No charges were filed. What’s more, because she had willingly agreed to be on the boat, investigators said they couldn’t arrest him for kidnapping. Almost seven years have passed. Cathleen said she’s heard about other potential victims and shared that information with a detective in 2018. A trooper spokeswoman declined to discuss details of the case, saying it is still considered an open investigation. When contacted by a reporter, the boat captain declined to speak on the phone but denied, by email, that he had ever had nonconsensual sex with anyone on his boat. Cathleen, meantime, said her body and mind have never been the same. She snaps awake some nights to panic attacks. Her thoughts race and scatter. Shiny scars line her forearms from a suicide attempt, and she hasn’t had a serious relationship since the rape. “I’m angry all the time,” Cathleen said. “So fucking angry.” Mostly, she said, she wonders about the other women.

  • Trump Is Deploying Troops Against Americans, and Military Leaders Are Abetting Him
    by Andrew J. Bacevich on June 4, 2020 at 14:58

    Andrew J. Bacevich High-ranking military officials have a choice: Obey the orders of your commander in chief or your oath to the Constitution. The post Trump Is Deploying Troops Against Americans, and Military Leaders Are Abetting Him appeared first on The Nation.

  • ‘Starve the Beast’: A Q&A With Alex S. Vitale on Defunding the Police
    by Zachary Siegel on June 4, 2020 at 14:00

    Zachary Siegel We spoke to Vitale about the failures of Obama-era police reform efforts and why reducing police power is one of the best solutions available. The post ‘Starve the Beast’: A Q&A With Alex S. Vitale on Defunding the Police appeared first on The Nation.

  • ADULTHOOD’S END: Did Kathleen Parker do the right thing?
    by <b>bob somerby</b> on June 4, 2020 at 13:43

    THURSDAY, JUNE 4, 2020Could the monsters be something like us?: We’ve noted the fact that, in cases like this, the facts are always wrong.The logic is often cockeyed too! Consider what happened yesterday when CNN anchor Brianna Keiler interviewed CNN correspondent Omar Jimenez.Excitement was running high in this, the 2 P.M. Eastern hour. It had been announced that Minnesota’s attorney general had reached a decision concerning possible charges against all four officers on the scene at the time of George Floyd’s death.Keilar began the hour with an exchange in which she and correspondent Josg Campbell pretended that they didn’t know what the decision would be. They also pretended that the community had so much confidence in Ellison that they would accept his decision whatever it might turn out to be.Surely, everyone already knew what the decision would be—what it would have to be. But Keilar was now engaged in the active play-acting which passes for journalism among such creatures as we.Campbell played his assigned role well. Then, Keillor turned to Jimenez and she offered this:KEILAR (6/3/20): And Omar, you’ve spoken with so many people there in Minneapolis. And we’ve heard from them over and over again, right? They say, if these were three people who were not police officers and they witnessed someone, they just stood by, feet away, doing nothing for minutes and minutes, and they witnessed third-degree murder, they would be held accountable. So why aren’t these police officers being held accountable? Say what? In fact, various people who weren’t police officers had done exactly that! As they “stood by, feet away,” they witnessed Officer Chauvin choking the life from Floyd.None of them intervened, though several of them had videotaped the events. But to say what is blindingly obvious, none of those people are going to be “held accountable” for failing to intervene, and no one has ever suggested that they should be.Except as an example of outrage- and narrative-formation, Keilar’s statement made no earthly sense. In fairness, she seemed to have conflated a few mandated talking points, creating a ludicrous muddle.Keilar’s statement made no earthy sense. That said, Jimenez, a good decent person who’s also quite sharp, knew how he had to respond:JIMENEZ (continuing directly): Well, that’s right, Brianna… At one time, the customer was always right. Today, the anchor is. Meanwhile, because the facts are always wrong, Jeffrey Toobin soon pitched in with a statement “based on the video I’ve seen,” a statement which plainly seems to be wrong. We don’t know what video he has been seeing. But you can search that one out for yourselves. At any rate, so it goes on cable where, along with everything else, the facts are always wrong. We expect to explore the wrongness of facts in the week or so to come. For today, we ask two important questions:In the course of human events, how do monsters get invented? Also, did Parker do the right thing?We have no doubt that Kathleen Parker is a good, decent person. Long before these current events, before she was hired by the Washington Post, we reviewed her syndicated columns with respect to a certain topic.We were surprised to see that Parker hadn’t demonized Naomi Wolf during Campaign 2000 in anything resembling the way other columnists had. This was back in the days when the mainstream journalists we’re trained to respect were sliming Wolf in ways which were often openly misogynistic and were absurdly misleading or bogus.The “liberal” persons and groups we’re trained to respect made no attempt to challenge this horrible conduct. A war against Candidate Gore was on—he was a stand-in for President Clinton—and the people we’re trained to respect were almost all complicit in the wildings which occurred.We were surprised to see that Parker hadn’t played that game with respect to Wolf in the way others had done. We refer to the game which sent George W. Bush to the White and the army into Iraq.Parker had played it much more straight with respect to Wolf and Gore. We had a different reaction to yesterday’s column in the Washington Post.In that column, Parker discussed the presence of monsters in our lives. Along the way, she also showcased the manner on their invention.We all have nightmares involving monsters, Parker wrote at the start of her column. When we startle awake, we realize that monsters aren’t real.Now, though, we see that monsters are real. Today, these monsters even have names. In this passage, Parker named one:PARKER (6/3/20): Now we wake, if we sleep at all, and the nightmare is real—and the monsters have names.Chauvin, charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, is surely the loneliest man on the planet. How does he sleep at night? I try to imagine what he thinks about in those dark hours when the wolf closes in, sniffing the hollowness at the threshold of his cell. Does he replay those nine minutes trying to understand why he did what he did? Does he even care? Former officer Derek Chauvin is one such monster, Parker said. Indeed, Chauvin’s videotaped behavior last week does indeed seem monstrous.”Does he even care?” Parker asked. We’d offer this provisional answer:According to a pair of high-profile studies, 3-5 percent of adult males could be diagnosed as sociopaths—and it’s commonly said that sociopaths have no ability to care. If we substitute that slightly more grown-up term, it may be that Chauvin doesn’t care—though we’d rather see a medical specialist discuss this matter as opposed to ourselves or to Parker.Is Derek Chauvin a sociopath? We have no way of saying. But as she continued, Parker seemed to spot three additional monsters. In the course of making her accusation, did Parker do the right thing?PARKER (continuing directly): We don’t have to second-guess what happened to George Floyd. We saw the video and recoiled in horror. Nor do we have to deploy euphemisms or dodgy words like “apparently” or “allegedly” to recount how Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes, cutting off blood and oxygen as the prone and cuffed man begged for air and his life.From the video, it’s easy to see that Chauvin not only kept his knee in place despite outraged pleas from onlookers; he pressed his full body weight into Floyd’s neck. Why didn’t the other three officers stop this horror? What fear or evil allowed them to look away? Why didn’t the people taking video compel Chauvin or his brethren to stop? That’s impunity, incarnate.The minds of monsters are hard to read. They are not like us. Monsters are without qualms, hesitations, empathy or remorse. Certitude animates the beast; power feeds its lust for more. Monsters “aren’t like us,” Parker writes. We’re not sure we agree with that.You’ll note a remarkable point. Parker almost seems to include those civilian bystanders among her list of monsters. They didn’t compel Chauvin or his brethren to stop, the way we would have done. The people who were taping the incident didn’t force Chauvin to stop! If one of them had done such a thing—if one of them had pushed Chauvin off his handcuffed victim—then George Floyd might be alive today, but the person who behaved that way would likely be in jail.Do we really expect people to do things like that? Apparently, that’s what we would have done. Do we really call them monsters when they don’t do that?As emotion runs off with her wisdom, Parker seems to say that. But she certainly says that the other three officers are monsters. As her column ends, there’s no Little about that:”The monsters in this nightmare are real, sure enough. But we know their names,” Parker writes.According to Parker, the other three officers “were without qualms, hesitations, empathy or remorse.” She says that those monsters weren’t like us.We’re not sure we agree with that. Consider a few of the things you weren’t told in Parker’s column. These are things you haven’t been told pretty much anywhere else:Chauvin, an 18-year veteran, was the senior officer in the group. His partner, Tou Thau, was also an experienced officer.The other two officers—Richard Lane and J. Alexander Keung—were rookies. They were new to the force.As we noted yesterday, one of the rookies, Thomas Lane, suggested to Chauvin on several occasions that he ought to stop. According to Parker, good people “like us” would have gone even further. We would have shoved our superior officer off the neck of Floyd.Really? How often does anyone actually do something like that? We will guess that the examples are few and far between.Are Minneapolis police cadets trained to do that when confronted with such crazy behavior? We’ve seen no such discussion.Back in the days of the war against Gore, Parker certainly didn’t do something like that. She didn’t oppose what her higher-ranking colleagues were doing when they conducted their long, ugly war. But dearest darlings, use your heads! That might have harmed her career!Is former officer Lane a monster? Parker tells us that he is. As she does, she withholds elementary facts about his rookie status and about his statements to Chauvin, the superior officer.In doing so, she is creating the kind of fairy tale which has often been built around cases of this type in the past eight years. She is creating the fairy tale in which the wolf drops down on the little girls’s back, or the one in which an innocent party is shot dead as he tries to surrender, hands over head, for the crime of walking down the street.In withholding complexity from her readers, is Parker herself a monster? Should she be locked up in jail? Should she be hauled off next?That way lies perdition, but such is the way of our modern-day upper-end “press.” Every such situation must be dumbed down. All complexity must disappear. We must give consumers heroes and demons. We must feed them childish fairy tales in a version of adulthood’s end.Should former officer Lane have been charged with a crime? We have no idea. We have no legal expertise around here. Instead, we write about the press corps, and concerning the press, we’ll say this:Concerning the press corps, there Parker goes again. Our journalists have created monsters in many of these high-profile, high-emotion cases over the past eight years. They’ve done so by inventing false facts; by disappearing actual facts; and by stressing completely irrelevant facts.This is the life style they have chosen. According to major anthropologists, it’s also the way we’re all wired.People are dead all over the world because they’ve done these things. Because we’ve been trained to respect these people, it may not occur to us that we’re being misled as they do this.When in her life did Kathleen Parker ever do the right thing? When did she ever behave in the way she says those rookie officers—even those civilian bystanders!—should have behaved that day?We assume we all know the answer to that. But our pundits and our anchors keep feeding us monsters. This lets us pretend that we’re better than them, better than them by far.Sad! In our view, the monsters of Parker’s imagination may be a great deal like the people who steal our discernment from us.Tomorrow: Snapshots of modern-day Minnesota. “Who killed Davey Moore?”

  • Donald Trump Is an Autocrat. It’s Up to All of Us to Stop Him.
    by James Risen on June 4, 2020 at 13:32

    Each incremental step toward dictatorship can be explained away. While it is happening, no one can quite believe that they are on the road to serfdom. The post Donald Trump Is an Autocrat. It’s Up to All of Us to Stop Him. appeared first on The Intercept.

  • Unrecommended Cures
    by Sanika Phawde on June 4, 2020 at 12:30

    Sanika Phawde Beware of snake-oil salespeople. The post Unrecommended Cures appeared first on The Nation.

  • ‘What Authoritarianism Looks Like’: Trump Condemned as Busloads of US Soldiers Arrive in Nation’s Capital
    on June 4, 2020 at 11:02

    Jake Johnson, staff writer”The numbers of U.S. military security forces in D.C. right now is just ridiculous. This is pure intimidation. Trump is very afraid. The longer we stay in the streets, the more frightened he gets.”

  • She Paid Thousands for a Visa to Work in the U.S. Then She Got Laid Off. Now, She’s Trapped.
    by by Bernice Yeung on June 4, 2020 at 11:00

    by 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 the middle of March, L., a 23-year-old culinary school graduate from the Philippines, was scrambling eggs in her kitchen when her supervisor called. L. sensed trouble was coming. As part of the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program overseen by the U.S. Department of State, she had a job setting up the breakfast buffet at a luxury resort in Virginia. For weeks, as COVID-19 spread across the United States, she had noticed the guest count dropping on the white board in the kitchen. It was still a shock to be told she was being laid off. L., who spoke on the condition that she be identified by only an initial, felt the disbelief crest into panic. L. was trapped. She was ineligible for government assistance and her visa status limits her to U.S. jobs approved by her visa sponsor, which she said went silent. L., who had a few hundred dollars to her name, could no longer afford to stay in the United States. She also didn’t have the money to fly home. Help Us Report on Coronavirus Are you a public health worker, medical provider, elected official, patient or other COVID-19 expert? Help make sure our journalism is responsible and focused on the right issues. Note: If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19, such as difficulty breathing or bluish lips, get medical attention immediately. The CDC has more information on what to do if you are sick. More than 5,000 foreigners with J-1 visas have been stranded in the U.S. since the pandemic struck, according to an estimate from the Alliance for International Exchange, which promotes cultural-exchange programs. ProPublica interviewed 13 of them, from India, Vietnam, China, the Philippines and Peru, and they described the same phenomenon as L.: They’re suddenly jobless as a result of the economy’s collapse, effectively unable to find new jobs. Many can’t afford to stay in the country — or to leave it. Critics say the plight of the stranded J-1 visa holders represents an acute version of the long-standing problems associated with a State Department program that receives little oversight and amounts to a privatized guest-worker program — one in which the worker pays to obtain a job — disguised as cultural exchange. The federal government “does not fund or administer” the J-1 program, a State Department spokesperson said. But he said the agency will “continue to offer support and assistance” by authorizing visa extensions and making sure foreigners have updated and accurate information if they choose to return home. The State Department’s hands-off approach means there is minimal instractructure to make sure J-1 workers receive meaningful assistance, even in a global crisis, said David Seligman, director of the nonprofit law firm Towards Justice who is representing Filipino J-1 workers who say they faced labor trafficking and wage and hour law violations. “The current situation exposes their vulnerabilities as they are stranded halfway across the world,” Seligman said. More than two months after losing her job, L. remains unemployed, passing her days in the apartment she has shared with four other J-1 visa holders. She can no longer afford to send support checks to her parents back home. She can no longer make payments on the $8,900 in debt that remains on what she borrowed to enter the J-1 program and come to the U.S. L., who used to work in a Japanese restaurant in the Philippines, preparing bowls of ramen noodles, now survives on vegetables, canned goods and packaged ramen from a food bank. “If only I could turn back time,” she said, “I would not come here knowing that this would happen.” Fixated with American movies, L. always dreamed of coming to the United States. But that seemed like an impossible fantasy. L. made the equivalent of $150 a month in her restaurant job in the Philippine province of Cebu. She was her family’s primary breadwinner, and most of her earnings went to rent and groceries. The constant pressure to provide for her parents made her anxious. She saw a future of hard work for not enough money. A friend told her about the J-1 program. It would give her a year of international work experience, the friend said, and an opportunity to improve her financial prospects. Living in the Philippines, which lacks work and encourages outbound migration, getting a J-1 and working in the U.S. seemed like a way to save money and gain competitive advantage. “If you have experience in other countries,” L. said, “you have advanced knowledge.” The same day, L. went to a recruitment agency to see if she qualified. The program required an investment. She would have to pay a placement fee of $5,500. From there, the recruiter would connect her with a U.S.-based visa sponsor, who would help her find a job in the culinary department at an American hotel. She would also have to pay for all of the travel to and from the United States, plus the visa and incidental costs. L. couldn’t afford anything close to what it would cost. So the recruiter connected her with a local lending company, which arranged a $10,000 loan. That was the equivalent of three years’ salary. She said she was assured that she would easily make back the placement fee — and more — once she got to the United States and started earning in dollars. Get Our Top Investigations Subscribe to the Big Story newsletter. Don’t miss out on ProPublica’s next investigation. Sign up and get the Big Story email whenever we break news. Email address This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply. But once she arrived in the U.S. in June 2019, the money L. earned didn’t add up to enough. She was paid $10 an hour and usually worked around 32 hours a week. In an average month, with occasional overtime, she took home $1,200 after taxes. She paid about $320 a month for her share of the apartment rent, spent a few hundred dollars for groceries and incidentals, and the rest went toward paying off her debt and to her family back in Cebu. “Rent, debt, and I still send money home,” L. said. “It’s the reason why I wasn’t able to save money.” The educational component of her program was also disappointing. She had visions of gaining an insider’s view of a resort’s culinary operations. Her training plan said she would learn banquet menu planning, work on four different food preparation stations in the main kitchen and learn fine-dining cooking techniques. Instead, for the first five months, L. reported for work at 3 a.m. to take croissants and pies out of cardboard boxes for reheating for the breakfast buffet. “Mostly all of the products came from a box, so I wasn’t able to see how you do it from scratch,” she said. “I wanted the privilege of learning more.” She found the early-morning shift wearing. L. has anemia, and she said the lack of sleep made her sick several times. She was eventually assigned to work the dinner shift, where she plated pre-made desserts for three months. Just before she was laid off, more than nine months into her internship, she spent several weeks on the midday shift to bake cupcakes and layer cakes. The cultural events described in the training plan included invitations to staff events such as the year-end holiday party, a winter ski trip, a spring golf outing and Fourth of July festivities complete with fireworks. None of those panned out either, L. said. Instead she joined a group of J-1 workers when they piled into a rental car to see New York City and later, a whiskey distillery. “There were so many things that I expected, like cultural exchange,” she said. “We were not able to experience that. We found ways to visit different states, but we had to spend our own money.” The J-1 visa includes some illustrious programs. It was created in 1961 by the terms of the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act. Even today, it is best known as the visa used by an elite exchange program — the Fulbright scholars — that has brought top-flight education to thousands of foreigners and Americans. But there are many other programs under the same umbrella. The J-1 visa offers foreigners 14 ways to visit the U.S. for cross-cultural purposes. The phrase “cross-cultural purposes” turns out to have a very broad definition. In the 2018 fiscal year, nearly 193,000 of the more than 340,000 people holding a J-1 visa participated in cultural exchange programs that involved some kind of low-wage job, such as working as an au pair, lifeguarding or hotel or kitchen jobs. The increase in low-level J-1 jobs dates to the mid-1990s, according to Catherine Bowman, a visiting assistant research professor at Penn State who has studied the J-1 program. That’s when the State Department loosened regulations and allowed private-sector visa sponsors to take a more active role. That change coincided with increased interest in travel to the U.S. from people in Eastern Europe and Asia. As demand for the visa increased from both U.S. employers and foreign visitors, new J-1 categories were added and the number of visas issued each year increased. Unlike the Department of Labor, which oversees various guest-worker programs, the Department of State does not require employers of J-1 visitors to pay for worker housing or travel. The placement fee, which is central to maintaining the J-1 as a self-funding program, is also forbidden in guest-worker programs overseen by the Labor Department. The Department of State also does not require employers who take on J-1 workers to conduct a market analysis to show that U.S. workers are unavailable for the positions they are seeking to fill. Nor does the agency require employers to pay J-1 workers the prevailing wage. These provisions have put it in the crosshairs of some policymakers who worry that the J-1 program takes jobs away from American workers. Donald Trump, for example, vowed to eliminate the program during the 2016 presidential campaign and then considered limiting it early in his presidency with the Buy American and Hire American executive order, but he has not done either. In the wake of the economic fallout from the pandemic, the notion of restricting J-1 visas has come up again. (Trump Tower in Chicago also reportedly used J-1 workers at eateries and at the reception desk prior to Trump’s election.) Even without a global pandemic, J-1 visitors can have a hard time finding help, said Daniel Costa of the Economic Policy Institute and co-author of a 2019 report on a J-1 summer work-and-travel program for college students. Like L., other J-1 student workers have reported that their actual work assignments don’t match what is promised in their official training plans. Sometimes they are assigned to unskilled jobs — like the kitchen work L. was doing — that is expressly prohibited by the State Department. The State Department relies on visa sponsors to ensure that the J-1 program regulations are followed by employers and recruiting agencies. Bowman, the visiting professor at Penn State, said that many sponsors rely on automated surveys to monitor participants’ experiences with the J-1 program. “It’s a recipe for neglect in the cases where the cultural sponsor doesn’t have a really high ethic when it comes to what they see as their obligations to the participants,” she said. “And it’s a bad formula for a crisis like this one.” Costa said J-1 recipients often feel ignored by the sponsors, which are neither incentivized to disrupt their business relationships with U.S. host employers nor empowered by the federal government to resolve workplace concerns. “This whole structure that is set up leaves workers completely unprotected,” said Costa, who authored one of the first reports in 2011 on the use of the J-1 as a work program. The State Department spokesperson said the agency “monitors sponsors’ programs for adherence to federal regulations, and we take very seriously any report made to us concerning the health, safety or welfare of exchange participants. We expect sponsors to manage their designated programs in a manner detailed in the federal regulations and by sound business and ethical practices.” Ilir Zherka of the Alliance for International Exchange, which promotes and lobbies for cultural exchange programs like the J-1, said that visa sponsors are concerned about the well-being of J-1 participants and that research commissioned by the organization shows that the vast majority have a positive experience. “That’s why the programs are popular and the State Department enables them, and why there is bipartisan support,” he said. But as early as 2000, the State Department’s inspector general found that the agency’s “lax monitoring has created an atmosphere in which program regulations can easily be ignored and/or abused.” A 2005 report by the Government Accountability Office raised similar concerns. Accounts of labor violations in the J-1 program began surfacing widely a decade ago. First came a 2010 Associated Press exposé about participants in the J-1 summer-work-travel program who were forced to work as strippers; others earned less than $1 an hour. Some were made to live in overcrowded apartments and eat on the floor. Then there were a series of highly publicized walkouts by hundreds of J-1 summer workers at a Hershey’s factory in Palmyra, Pennsylvania, and more than a dozen J-1 students at a McDonald’s franchise in nearby Harrisburg, organized by the National Guestworker Alliance. The State Department has since begun requiring sponsors in some programs to vet employers — though it continues to primarily rely on sponsors for quality control — and the agency prohibits work in “positions that could bring notoriety or disrepute to the Exchange Visitor Program.” The department also does a small number of on-site and compliance reviews. (It declined to provide statistics related to enforcement-related reviews.) The extent of the exploitation of J-1 students is unknown because some may feel unable to come forward, said Robyn Magalit Rodriguez, a professor of Asian American studies at the University of California, Davis. “You stay compliant between the threat of losing one’s status and also the fact that for many J-1s, they have paid exorbitant fees to recruitment agents,” Rodriguez said. “When J-1s try to articulate concerns, they have many demands because there are so many actors involved — visa sponsors, then recruitment agencies, then the two governments that helped create the conditions for migration. Who is going to take responsibility? At the end of the day, no one is taking responsibility. They are bearing it on their own.” Rodriguez has studied Filipino J-1 workers, which make up the largest number of college interns who come to the U.S. on J-1 visas. She said that the country’s colonial relationship with the United States, coupled with its labor export policies, has made the J-1 program a popular vehicle for Filipino migrants like L. “For many, they have no idea that this is very much a false hope,” she said. “The investment they think they are putting toward their futures is actually feeding into a highly exploitative system.” The 13 J-1 students ProPublica spoke with say they’re caught in a vise: Out of work, dependent on their sponsor for any work opportunities, running short of cash or facing logistical barriers to returning home during the pandemic. Humanitarian flights sponsored by their governments are expensive and have long waitlists. Commercial flights, when available, are too costly. Some countries’ borders have closed in the wake of the pandemic. (Many students insisted on anonymity, which made it impossible to discuss their accounts with their employers and sponsors.) But remaining in the U.S. has created financial strains. Some J-1 recipients told ProPublica they are having difficulty covering the cost of rent, utilities and groceries; others are able to draw on savings or family resources. The response from their visa sponsors has run the gamut. A group of Filipino interns in Florida said that a representative of their visa sponsor drives an hour to check in on them each week. The Alliance for International Exchange said it had been coordinating donations and repatriation efforts for J-1 students, and sponsors have chartered planes, provided travel reimbursements and helped J-1 participants find temporary housing. Most of the J-1 recipients contacted by ProPublica, however, said their visa sponsors had urged them via email to return home but had offered little practical or financial assistance. “Some of the sponsors are essentially trying to wash their hands of these students, saying your program is over and you should go home,” said Meredith Stewart, a senior supervising attorney with the Southern Poverty Law Center. “For students who paid thousands of dollars to a sponsor for the purpose of supporting them in challenging situations like this one, I think it’s immoral.” A hospitality student from Hanoi, Vietnam said he was able to work in an Arizona resort only a month before he was laid off because of the pandemic. His visa sponsor sent him an email instructing him to leave the country within 30 days. He asked for a partial refund of the $4,500 placement fee so he could afford a plane ticket home. The sponsor didn’t respond, he said. “It is really unfair that when we do the interview with the sponsor, they said that if anything happens in the U.S., don’t hesitate to contact us,” he said. In this instance, it all worked out: The hotel re-opened in late May and gave him his job back. L. said she has also received frequent emails from her visa sponsor (which she shared with ProPublica) with recommendations for flights home. She has written to them to ask what she should do if she doesn’t have funds to buy the ticket. She said she has not received a response. J-1 workers have turned to GoFundMe and Facebook to make pleas for assistance. Community organizations like the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns and North American Association of Indian Students have gathered food donations and helped interns negotiate with landlords on reduced or delayed rent payments. The J-1 participants contacted by ProPublica said they paid between $3,000 and $6,600 each in placement fees. For some, it’s a major reason they’re unable to quickly return home — and it creates a seemingly impossible calculus as they sort out when and whether to cut their losses. Another intern from Vietnam arrived in January with $10,000 in debt to start an internship at a hotel in Missouri. He has a wife and two young children in Ho Chi Minh City, and he planned to send them as much of his earnings as he could. But after a month on the job, he was laid off. The hotel provided him and other workers with food for a couple of weeks, he said, but now he’s on his own. He has quietly sought help from a few friends in the U.S. and Vietnam, but he hasn’t told his family about his predicament. “They cannot help me, but they feel worried about me, so I don’t want to tell them,” the intern said. “It doesn’t help. I have to resolve it for myself.” He doesn’t have money for a plane ticket, the intern said, but he also can’t think about going home because of his debts. So he scraped bus fare together and went to live with friends in Philadelphia for a while. He checks in regularly with the hotel to see if they will give him his job back. “I decided to stay here and wait for the sun to shine tomorrow,” he said. Other J-1s have also fended for themselves, in some instances managing to make it back home. L. finds herself in a similar situation. She had planned to start putting money aside for her return trip in the final months of her program but then she was laid off. Instead, she’s stuck in Virginia with no income, fretting about her compounding debt. L’s landlord has taken pity on her and her roommates and has cut the rent in half. She finds herself vacillating between finding a way home — maybe by borrowing from her brother, who has his own family to support and is cash-strapped — to sticking things out in Virginia until her visa expires at the end of July. There’s always a chance, however slight, that she can get a new job to earn a few more dollars. “I’m torn between the two,” she said. “I want to go home. But if I go back, how am I going to pay?” Tell Us More About Coronavirus Are you a public health worker, medical provider, elected official, patient or other COVID-19 expert? Help make sure our journalism is responsible and focused on the right issues. This form requires JavaScript to complete. Powered by Screendoor.

  • Is This Trump’s Reichstag Fire Moment?
    by Deconstructed on June 4, 2020 at 10:15

    Is the president taking advantage of nationwide protests to advance an even more authoritarian agenda? The post Is This Trump’s Reichstag Fire Moment? appeared first on The Intercept.

  • I Cover Cops as an Investigative Reporter. Here Are Five Ways You Can Start Holding Your Department Accountable.
    by by Andrew Ford, Asbury Park Press on June 4, 2020 at 10:00

    by Andrew Ford, Asbury Park Press 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 Asbury Park Press, which is a member of the ProPublica Local Reporting Network. The death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis has drawn historic levels of interest in police misconduct and drawn condemnation from law enforcement leaders nationwide. As a reporter covering law enforcement for the Asbury Park Press in New Jersey, and now in partnership with ProPublica’s Local Reporting Network, I use investigative reporting techniques to strengthen police accountability. Other journalists do the same. But, in truth, any citizen can apply the same methods to ensure the law enforcement system they’re funding is serving them well. Police culture can be insular and tough to penetrate. But I’ve been surprised by how often it’s possible, though time consuming, to expose important issues by requesting and examining records and data from police departments and other government agencies and engaging citizens and key leaders. So here are five techniques concerned citizens, journalists and policymakers can use to examine police conduct in their communities. 1. Understand the policies and laws that govern police conduct. If you’re alarmed by what you saw in Minneapolis, or other recent incidents of apparent police misconduct, the first step is to find out if the agency in question has a written policy on the use of force. Does the policy dictate when officers should or shouldn’t use force? What tactics are they allowed to use? Is there any rule against choking a suspect? It’s important to know if the officers involved were following the policies and procedures that are supposed to guide their behavior. Police actions that strike an onlooker as inappropriate may actually be within a department’s rules. It’s possible the rules themselves are inconsistent with best practices elsewhere. Get Our Top Investigations Subscribe to the Big Story newsletter. Don’t miss out on ProPublica’s next investigation. Sign up and get the Big Story email whenever we break news. Email address This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply. Ask the department for its policies on the practices that concern you, like restraining suspects or the use of pepper spray or Tasers. You may also need to request rules set by a county or state authority. Ask for written copies. You may be required to file a formal public records request, which I will describe below. And if there is no existing written policy, that might be something worth questioning itself. If you’re having trouble understanding a policy, try running it by an attorney, academic, elected official or a journalist in your community. How I did it: I did a deep dive into policies about drug testing after a police captain was killed in a car crash in 2016, and I exposed that he was drunk and on drugs at the time. I spoke to his chief and learned their department didn’t have a policy for random drug testing. I wondered why that was the case and looked to the state attorney general’s office, which sets many police rules. The rules allowed departments to choose whether they wanted to do random testing, and my reporting identified more than 100 that did not. After our story, the state attorney general mandated random drug testing for cops across the state. 2. You are entitled to public records that can show whether rules are being followed. Get them. Your tax dollars pay for just about everything a police department does, which includes generating tons of reports, dispatch logs, video recordings and data about what officers do every day. Any citizen is entitled to see those public records to understand how the government works. The agency may say the public records law does not allow you to have access to some documents — information about confidential informants and medical records, for example. The laws that dictate what’s considered public vary by state, so check out the national guide by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. Information the agency considers off limits may also be redacted, and it may take time to get a response. Get Involved Tell Us About Police Misconduct in New Jersey We want to hear from police officers, public employees and community members who can help us learn more about police misconduct in New Jersey and why it’s allowed to continue. Even with the hassles and limitations, public records laws are empowering and I’ve been surprised by how much I can obtain. My policy is always to ask and make a records clerk explain why I can’t have taxpayer-funded records. Follow up to ensure important requests aren’t lost or ignored. Assume you should be able to see everything. Your state’s public records law may even include a presumption that records are open and exemptions are an exception. You may run into roadblocks that you can’t overcome on your own. In some cases, journalism organizations have had to sue to obtain public records. Your budget may not allow for an attorney, but some states have mediators that you can go to if you think your request is being wrongly denied. It’s striking how much information the government collects but then does not review. So you might be the first person to ask for a particular body of records and put them together to identify an important trend which you can share with leaders who weren’t paying attention to the issue. Your local journalists may also be very interested in the information you have gathered. Sometimes it’s hard to even know which records exist. That’s where documents commonly known as records retention schedules come in handy. Government agencies use these to track which records they keep and how long they hold onto them. Use the schedules to help you see what you might be able to obtain. These are available all over the country. Just for fun, I looked up the city of Los Angeles — they call them records disposition schedules and found them for agencies ranging from the Police Department to the zoo. The agency of interest to you might use a different name for the document, so call them and ask if they have a written guide that shows which records they maintain and for how long. How I did it: I started investigating police car chases after I saw the government keeps summaries of those incidents, including how many people are arrested or injured. I saw I could add up those figures and see if the benefits of the chases outweighed the risks and harm. I discovered that chases in recent years usually didn’t end with an arrest, and that lots of people get hurt, including cops and bystanders. If you’re interested in scrutinizing the type of misconduct we saw in Minneapolis, you could request use of force reports. New Jersey made those public a few years ago, and Newark Star-Ledger journalists used them to great effect. ProPublica has that data available here for a fee. If I were investigating a case of violence by the police I’d ask for: The use of force reports filed by the officers involved. Related incident reports. Computer-assisted dispatch reports. 911 phone call recordings. Body-worn and vehicle-mounted camera recordings. I might also request policies that dictate how an agency handles complaints against officers. Some states consider substantiated complaints against individual officers to be public records, so you could request them, depending on where you live. WNYC has a helpful breakdown of where that information is public. If you’re looking for video from police body cameras, the Reporters Committee has a guide that shows the places where those are considered public. If you want to obtain recordings of 911 calls, they have a guide for those, too. You could also be more general and ask the relevant department for substantiated internal affairs complaints alleging excessive force in the past year or so, if those are public in your state. Departments might keep summary data on internal affairs complaints, so ask for the most recent copy of that, too. 3. Identify the power players and engage them. Engaging law enforcement leaders is essential to understanding policing, and their involvement is key to fixing problems. My access and experience as a white man who works for a news organization may be different than someone else’s experience. It also depends on who you talk to and their openness to criticism. But I think we stand the best chance of a good outcome if we deal with each other respectfully. Many policing issues are handled at the local, county or state level. Part of your work will involve figuring out who is responsible for the issue you’re concerned about. “All policing is local,” former Milwaukee police Chief Edward A. Flynn told me. Like many cities, Milwaukee is also experiencing unrest and criticism of the police. Flynn, a well-known law enforcement leader, encouraged conversations between citizens and cops, possibly aided by a neutral third party like a local faith leader. “The key to changing policing is on the ground level,” he said. He added that it helps for citizens to praise the good work they see from their officers. He encouraged the public to consider crime statistics when scrutinizing police tactics. I have found that the police themselves are often open to talking to me about the problems in their profession. Many I have talked to feel bad when things go wrong. How I did it: I’ve been amazed at who is willing to talk to me when I simply take the time to ask. As part of my investigation into police car chases, I talked to a former cop who lost her police officer husband when his vehicle was struck during a high-speed pursuit. I was touched by the way she took hours from her busy life to tell me some of her most painful memories and share her insights as a former cop. I took my findings to the attorney general, the state’s largest police union and to lawmakers who vowed action. “It appears to me there’s a lot more harm done than good right now,” one of them said about the high-speed incidents. “If the community has an issue either positive or negative with their law enforcement, then they should definitely have a conversation with the mayor, council and police chief,” said New Jersey Assemblyman Gordon Johnson, a former cop who has participated in community discussion about police issues. Contact information for law enforcement leaders is often available online. They may regularly attend meetings that are open to the public. 4. Presenting findings in a fair and persuasive manner is a powerful way to spur reform. Show police leaders the problem that concerns you, using specific examples and quantifying the damage broadly. Show them the harm. Be careful to be fair. Frame the violations by showing how they go against policies or laws or best practices. Back up what you’re saying with the evidence you’ve acquired. How I did it: To highlight the dangers of police car chases, I introduced readers to Eric Larson, a young father killed when his car was hit by a motorcyclist fleeing police. Then I quantified the harm based on the records I had obtained: “New Jersey police pursuits killed at least 55 people in the past decade and injured more than 2,500.” Remember that there’s always a different view to your perspective. Integrate it into your presentation if it is legitimate. Acknowledging the counterpoints helps you focus and ask tougher questions. In the car chase story, I made sure to also note incidents in which police chased a suspected killer and men wanted in connection to a shooting. Sometimes police chase violent criminals, but is it worthwhile for cops to chase someone for a traffic violation? Policing is tough work, and there are times when cops use justified force. Differentiate how the issue you identified deviates from what’s appropriate. 5. Follow up relentlessly until change is made. Change is incremental and can take years. You will likely have to repeat yourself and persist in your efforts. But if you’ve found an issue of serious public importance — like the use of force incidents we’ve seen lately from the police — there may be ongoing examples you can point to as you make your case to decision-makers. Read More Law Enforcement Files Discredit Brian Kemp’s Accusation That Democrats Tried to Hack the Georgia Election Kemp’s explosive allegation, just days before the closely contested 2018 election, drew wide attention. But newly released documents show that there was no such hack. It may be worthwhile to reach out to local journalists with what you’ve found. News outlets often have a tip line you can call. Or, find a reporter who covers similar issues and call or email them with what you’ve found. I take calls like this frequently and look forward to them. Academics who study criminal justice may also be interested. You can look them up at your local college or university. When reaching out to reporters or academics, keep it brief and focus on the facts. The wave of protests is hitting home for many people, including in my newsroom in New Jersey. On Monday, police arrested my Asbury Park Press colleague Gustavo Martínez Contreras after he filmed officers tackling two minors to the ground in Asbury Park. I’m continuing to investigate police accountability problems in New Jersey this year in partnership with ProPublica’s Local Reporting Network. If you have a tip for me, please share it. If you have questions about applying the suggestions in this column, please email me at aford3@gannettnj.com. And if you find anything interesting as you start to investigate law enforcement practices, please let me know. I may want to follow up or promote your work online. Tell Us About Police Misconduct in New Jersey We want to hear from police officers, public employees and community members who can help us learn more about police misconduct in New Jersey and why it’s allowed to continue. This form requires JavaScript to complete. Powered by Screendoor.

  • Larry Kramer’s Righteous Rage
    by Alisa Solomon on June 4, 2020 at 09:45

    Alisa Solomon His jeremiads against the state and those complacent during the AIDS crisis galvanized generations of activists. The post Larry Kramer’s Righteous Rage appeared first on The Nation.

  • A Lavender League of Their Own
    by Peter Dreier on June 4, 2020 at 09:35

    Peter Dreier Just in time for Pride Month, a new documentary brings an episode in baseball history out of the closet. The post A Lavender League of Their Own appeared first on The Nation.

  • The Pandemic Is a Threat. The President Is Worse.
    by Gregg Gonsalves on June 4, 2020 at 09:30

    Gregg Gonsalves Going to demonstrations isn’t risk-free, but we have a duty to resist. The post The Pandemic Is a Threat. The President Is Worse. appeared first on The Nation.

  • These Hospitals Pinned Their Hopes on Private Management Companies. Now They’re Deeper in Debt.
    by by Brianna Bailey, The Frontier on June 4, 2020 at 09:30

    by Brianna Bailey, The Frontier 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 Frontier, which is a member of the ProPublica Local Reporting Network. At least 13 hospitals in Oklahoma have closed or experienced added financial distress under the management of private companies. These companies sold themselves to rural communities in Oklahoma and other states as turnaround specialists. Revenues soared at some rural hospitals after management companies introduced laboratory services programs, but those gains quickly vanished when insurers accused them of gaming reimbursement rates and halted payments. Some companies charged hefty management fees, promising to infuse millions of dollars but never investing. In other cases, companies simply didn’t have the hospital management experience they trumpeted. Below are examples of rural hospitals that pinned their hopes on private management companies that left them deeper in debt. They are based on interviews, public records and financial information from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the American Hospital Directory. Memorial Hospital of Texas County Location: Guymon in Oklahoma’s Panhandle Number of hospital beds: 25 Status: Open. Currently managed by a chief executive officer hired by the hospital board. Financial status in 2019: Total assets, including real estate, cash on hand, investments and inventory: $4.5 million Total liabilities, including mortgages and other loans, payroll costs and money owed to vendors: $5.9 million Net income: -$331,493 Management history and finances: The county-owned hospital has cycled through four management companies in the past eight years. Oklahoma City-based Synergic Resource Partners, the most recent management company, failed to meet the emergency needs of patients, according to a 2018 investigation by the Oklahoma State Department of Health. The investigation found instances in which patients were not given critical life-saving medications, including antivenom for snake bites and a common clot-busting drug used to treat stroke patients. Synergic Resource Partners began managing the hospital in October 2017, but it took full control of operations in April 2018. In March 2019, Doug Swim, the company’s CEO, sent a series of emails to the hospital board saying he would close the facility if the board didn’t agree to take back ownership. One email asked the hospital board to sign a new $60,000 monthly management agreement with the company. Fearing Swim would close the hospital, the governing board filed a lawsuit in April 2019. The board settled with the company and regained control of the hospital the same month. Company response: Swim declined an interview request. He said he would only answer questions if The Frontier and ProPublica granted him anonymity. The news organizations declined. Latimer County General Hospital Location: Wilburton in southeast Oklahoma Number of hospital beds: 33 Status: Closed in October 2018. Financial status in 2017: Total assets: $10.9 million Total liabilities: $1 million Net income: -$580,400 Management history and finances: In September 2018, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Oklahoma dropped the hospital from its network, citing allegations of billing fraud involving its management company. The hospital was run by the now-defunct Missouri-based EmpowerHMS. When Latimer closed a month later, the hospital owed more than $1 million in unpaid payroll taxes and outstanding vendor invoices, former Chairman Danny Baldwin said. Company response: Attempts to reach a representative for the company and for Empower were unsuccessful. Empower has denied allegations of wrongdoing in response to a federal lawsuit filed by insurance companies. Pauls Valley Regional Medical Center Location: Pauls Valley, about 60 miles south of Oklahoma City Number of hospital beds: 64 Status: Closed in October 2018 Financial status in 2018: Total assets: $6.6 million Total: $14.4 million Net income: -$8.1 million Management history and finances: The governing board gave Alliance Health Southwest Oklahoma control of the hospital in July 2018. Officials say no written contract exists. Alliance pledged to invest millions of dollars with a plan to eventually purchase the hospital, according to town leaders. The board believed the investment from Alliance would help the hospital pay its debt to the former management company, NewLight Healthcare, giving it a chance to start fresh. The multimillion-dollar investment never arrived. Company response: Frank Avignone, CEO of the now-defunct Alliance Health Partners Southwest Oklahoma, said he planned to seek a bank loan and use the hospital’s future payments as collateral. But Avignone said he was unable to secure financing because of the lien that the prior management company had placed on the incoming payments. Seiling Regional Medical Center Location: Seiling in northwest Oklahoma Number of hospital beds: 18 Status: Open. The hospital is currently managed by Shawnee, Oklahoma-based Cohesive Healthcare Management and Consulting. Financial status in 2019: Total assets: $1.2 million Total: $2.7 million Net income: -$85,956 Management history and finances: Town leaders say the hospital’s former management firm Alliance Health Southwest Oklahoma entered into contracts and paid for services that were not approved by the board. The company hired an accounting firm for nearly $100,000 despite stating that it had a financial expert on staff that would be available as part of its contract with the town. It signed a five-year pharmacy services contract for up to $4,500 a month, plus the cost of drugs. And it entered into another contract for medical billing software that town leaders say they didn’t approve. Officials in Seiling said they learned of the contracts when bills began appearing on the hospital’s monthly financial reports. Seiling ended its relationship with Alliance in February 2019. Cohesive Healthcare has since taken over management of the hospital. Company response: Alliance Health Southwest Oklahoma did not respond to written questions about its management of the Seiling hospital. The company has denied any wrongdoing in its management of three Oklahoma hospitals. Sayre Community Hospital Location: Sayre in western Oklahoma Number of hospital beds: 31 Status: Closed in August 2018. Financial status: Financial information is not available for the hospital. Management history and finances: The chronically troubled hospital, which closed in 2016, was revived the following year by SMH Acquisition, an Oklahoma-based management company. It continued to struggle financially. The company failed to pay at least three employees’ health and dental insurance premiums despite deducting them from paychecks, according to a ruling on wage claims by the Oklahoma Department of Labor. The hospital landed in court for unpaid bills and was sold to pay creditors in May 2018. Another management company, Synergic Resource Partners, purchased the hospital only to abruptly close the facility three months later. Company response: In an email, Robert Hicks, the owner of SMH Acquisition, said that despite the Oklahoma Department of Labor ruling that his company was responsible for unpaid insurance, he was no longer in charge of the hospital at the time. Swim, the CEO of Synergic Resource Partners, declined interview requests. Swim said he would only answer The Frontier and ProPublica’s questions on the condition of anonymity. The news organizations declined. Mangum Regional Medical Center Location: Mangum in southwest Oklahoma Number of hospital beds: 18 Status: Open. The hospital is currently managed by Cohesive Healthcare Management and Consulting. Financial status in 2018: Total assets: $5.8 million Total liabilities: $11.3 million Net income: -$1.8 million Management history and finances: Officials in the town of Mangum allege in an ongoing lawsuit that Alliance Health Southwest Oklahoma enriched itself and other companies controlled by its owners at the hospital’s expense. The town’s hospital board fired Alliance in December 2018. In a letter severing the relationship, the board said the company repeatedly breached its management agreement, citing a decision to use a $4 million cost reimbursement from the federal government to pay down the line of credit without the board’s consent. It highlighted payments to companies owned by Alliance’s partners. The hospital now owes Medicare a projected $3.5 million and is being sued by a bank for $1.8 million to repay the line of credit. The lawsuit is also ongoing. Cohesive Healthcare has since taken over management of the hospital. Company response: Alliance Health Southwest Oklahoma has denied wronging. Avignone, the company’s CEO, said Alliance saved the hospital from closing. Carnegie Tri-County Municipal Hospital Location: Carnegie in western Oklahoma Number of hospital beds: 17 Status: Open. The hospital is currently managed by Cohesive Healthcare Management and Consulting. Financial status in 2019: Total assets: $7.2 million Total liabilities: $20.6 million Net income: $2.4 million. Management history and financial situation: The Carnegie hospital board and the Oklahoma City-based First Physicians Capital Group cut ties in 2017. That year, state inspectors found violations of patient care so severe that they determined the facility no longer met the minimum requirements to receive Medicare payments. Violations included a lack of security and monitoring for psychiatric patients in the emergency room and failing to provide adequate nursing staff. Cohesive Healthcare has since taken over management of the hospital. Company response: First Physicians did not respond to interview requests. Newman Memorial Hospital Location: Shattuck in northwest Oklahoma Number of hospital beds: 25 Status: Open. The hospital board hired a full-time CEO instead of another private management company. Financial status in 2018: Total assets: $11.9 million Total liabilities: $10.9 million Net income: -$3 million Management history and financial situation: Under Illinois-based People’s Choice Hospital, a management company, Newman Memorial falsely claimed that it was performing a large number of blood and urine tests to collect more than $21 million in payments, according to allegations made by the insurer Aetna in an ongoing federal lawsuit. Between January 2016 and April 2017, the hospital billed the insurer for thousands of samples tested at laboratories in other parts of the country, the lawsuit claims. The strategy allowed the hospital to collect $2,250 per test instead of the standard $120 that the insurer would normally pay larger facilities. The town’s hospital board fired People’s Choice in 2017 and sued the company for fraud and breach of contract because of the lab billing. The company and the hospital settled out of court in 2018. The terms of the settlement were not made public. Company response: Attempts to reach a representative for People’s Choice were unsuccessful. In response to the lawsuit, the company denied the allegations from Aetna, stating that it saved the hospital from bankruptcy. Cimarron Memorial Hospital Location: Boise City in Oklahoma’s Panhandle Number of hospital beds: 25 Status: Open. The hospital board hired a full-time CEO instead of another private management company. Financial status in 2018: Total assets: $1.2 million Total liabilities: $3 million Net income: -$493,157 Management history and financial situation: Austin, Texas-based NewLight Healthcare ran the hospital for about a decade before deciding in January to end its relationship with the county. In 2017, the hospital increased lab testing to bring in more money, but the insurers questioned a high volume of charges and halted payments. To save money, the hospital stopped providing health insurance for nurses and other employees in December 2018. The hospital owed NewLight more than $1 million from deferred management fees as of February 2020. It has since paid its debt to the company, according to hospital officials. Company response: NewLight Healthcare did not answer detailed questions from The Frontier and ProPublica. Instead, it responded with a statement: “NewLight Healthcare, LLC has consistently worked alongside community leaders, providers, state associations, and other leaders to attempt to create new models and programs that will improve the business climate for rural hospitals. Ultimately, in order to maintain quality rural healthcare, leaders in government will need to make additional funding sources available to rural hospitals.” Get Our Top Investigations Subscribe to the Big Story newsletter. Don’t miss out on ProPublica’s next investigation. Sign up and get the Big Story email whenever we break news. Email address This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply. Haskell County Community Hospital Location: Stigler in southeast Oklahoma Number of beds: 25 Status: Open. The hospital is currently managed by Indiana-based Boa Vida Healthcare. Financial status in 2019: Total assets: $6.3 million Total liabilities: $3.8 million Net income: -$2.4 million Management history and financial situation: The hospital laid off about 85% of its staff last year, leaving it with only eight nurses, who double as the cleaning crew. The cuts were part of an effort to make the hospital more appealing to buyers. Haskell County was among four Oklahoma hospitals that entered bankruptcy in 2019 after insurance companies stopped reimbursing for laboratory tests that they alleged were part of a billing scheme conceived by EmpowerHMS, the management company that ran the hospitals. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Oklahoma booted Empower hospitals from its network in 2018 after allegations of fraud against the company. While under the management of Empower, the hospital stopped paying employee salaries and health benefits, according to testimony at a state hearing in November 2019. During the hearing, Haskell hospital employees questioned why no one was held responsible for their lost wages, benefits and money that was supposed to be paid into employee retirement plans. Company response: Attempts to reach a representative for Empower were unsuccessful. The company has denied allegations of wrongdoing in its response to a federal lawsuit filed by insurance companies. Drumright Regional Hospital Location: Drumright in northeast Oklahoma Number of beds: 15 Status: Open. The hospital is currently managed by Missouri-based Rural Hospital Group. Financial status in 2018: Total assets: $12.1 million Total liabilities: $13.7 million Net income: -$821,484 Management history and financial situation: In February 2019, a state court judge appointed a representative to oversee spending at the hospital. The hospital, one of four in Oklahoma that filed for bankruptcy in 2019 under the management of EmpowerHMS, lacked money to purchase medicine and supplies. It was getting toilet paper from the local Fire Department, according to court documents. Insurers flagged increased laboratory for blood and urine tests as possible fraud at Empower hospitals. Company response: Attempts to reach a representative for Empower were unsuccessful. The company has denied allegations of wrongdoing in its response to a federal lawsuit filed by insurance companies. Fairfax Community Hospital Location: Fairfax in northeast Oklahoma Number of beds: 15 Status: Open. The hospital is currently managed by First Physicians Capital Group. Financial status in 2019: Total assets: $1.2 million Total liabilities: $3.6 million Net income: -$6.7 million Management history and financial situation: After the hospital entered bankruptcy in March 2019, a skeleton crew of nurses worked without pay to staff the emergency room, according to Donna Renfro, the former chief nursing officer. Not doing so could have put the hospital at risk of losing its operating license under state law. The hospital, one of four in Oklahoma run by EmpowerHMS, ran out of money after insurance companies accused the company of fraud. Empower sought reimbursements for blood and urine tests that were not performed at the hospitals the company managed, insurance companies allege in a federal lawsuit. Company response: Attempts to reach a representative for the Empower group were unsuccessful. The company has denied allegations of wrongdoing in its response to a federal lawsuit filed by insurance companies. Prague Community Hospital Location: Prague in eastern Oklahoma Number of hospital beds: 25 Status: Open. The hospital is currently managed by Cohesive Healthcare Management and Consulting. Financial status in 2019: Total assets: $8.2 million Total liabilities: $3.7 million Net income: -$812,868 Management history and financial situation: The hospital was forced to rely on food donations to feed its patients in January 2019 after Empower stopped paying its bills, according to news reports. The hospital and three others in Oklahoma run by Empower entered bankruptcy in 2019 when insurers accused the company of a lab billing scheme that charged for blood and urine tests performed elsewhere. Cohesive Healthcare has since taken over management of the hospital. Company response: Attempts to reach a representative for the company were unsuccessful. The company has denied allegations of wrongdoing in its response to a federal lawsuit filed by insurance companies.

  • ‘This Isn’t Going Away’: Defying Curfews and Police Brutality in Relentless Push for Justice, Uprising Over Killing of George Floyd Keeps Growing
    on June 4, 2020 at 09:04

    Jake Johnson, staff writer”Essential workers are exempt from the curfew, and what we are doing here is essential.”

  • The Forgotten Workers of Tiananmen Square
    by Tobita Chow on June 4, 2020 at 09:00

    Tobita Chow The 1989 massacre didn’t just end China’s democracy movement. It ushered in a new era of US-inspired worker suppression. The post The Forgotten Workers of Tiananmen Square appeared first on The Nation.

  • The Only Hospital in Town Was Failing. They Promised to Help but Only Made It Worse.
    by by Brianna Bailey, The Frontier on June 4, 2020 at 09:00

    by Brianna Bailey, The Frontier 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 Frontier, which is a member of the ProPublica Local Reporting Network. It was the sort of miracle cure that the board of a rural Oklahoma hospital on the verge of closure had dreamed about: A newly formed management company promised access to wealthy investors eager to infuse millions of dollars. The company, Alliance Health Southwest Oklahoma, secured an up to $1 million annual contract in July 2017 to manage the Mangum Regional Medical Center after agreeing to provide all necessary financial resources until the 18-bed hospital brought in enough money from patient services to pay its own bills. But about a month later, hospital board members were summoned to an emergency meeting. Early one morning in August 2017, Alliance’s CEO Frank Avignone told hospital board members that his company, which had boasted of access to up to $255 million from well-heeled investors, was out of money. Get Our Top Investigations Subscribe to the Big Story newsletter. Don’t miss out on ProPublica’s next investigation. Sign up and get the Big Story email whenever we break news. Email address This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply. Alliance needed a line of credit, and the bank required the board’s permission to use the hospital’s incoming payments as collateral. If board members didn’t agree, paying nurses and other health care workers would be a “slight miracle,” Avignone said, according to an audio recording of the meeting that was obtained by The Frontier and ProPublica. “There were supposed to be so many millions available,” Staci Goode, chairwoman of the hospital board, said during the meeting, asking what happened to the promises made just weeks earlier. Investors needed to see an improvement in the hospital’s finances before committing their money, Avignone replied. “We’re in a bad spot right now with our investors just like you are,” he said. “We’re out over our skis a little bit.” Exasperated, Mangum’s hospital board approved the line of credit. Over the next year and a half, Alliance borrowed millions of dollars from the bank. The company paid itself and businesses tied to its partners a significant chunk of the money and then used $4 million from Medicare to help pay down the line of credit, according to interviews with town leaders and court records obtained by The Frontier and ProPublica. Financial pressures have forced the closures of 130 rural hospitals across the country in the past decade, leaving communities grasping for solutions to avoid losing health care in areas with the most need. Rural health experts fear many more won’t survive the coronavirus pandemic. An investigation by The Frontier and ProPublica found that some private management companies hired to save the most vulnerable hospitals in rural Oklahoma have instead failed them, bled them dry and expedited their demise. It starts like this: Rural communities desperate to protect their hospitals hand the reins to management companies that portray themselves as turnaround experts and vow to invest millions of dollars. Those companies are often hired without background checks or any requirement that they have experience running hospitals. They operate under nearly nonexistent state and local regulations with little oversight from volunteer governing boards. After they extract hefty monthly fees, they sometimes cut ties and leave rural communities scrambling. In Mangum, a prairie town of 2,800 people in southwestern Oklahoma, the hospital is fighting several ongoing lawsuits stemming from Alliance’s management. It also has filed its own litigation, accusing Alliance of fraud and of siphoning away millions of dollars from the hospital. Alliance disputes the allegations and is countersuing to collect $1 million in management fees it claims the hospital still owes for its services. Mangum Regional Medical Center in Mangum, Oklahoma. (Nick Oxford for ProPublica) Leaders from the Oklahoma towns of Seiling and Pauls Valley, who relied on Alliance’s assurances that it could revive their hospitals, similarly accuse the company of making lofty promises and leaving them deeper in debt. Alliance’s failure to produce promised investments for the Pauls Valley Regional Medical Center made it harder for the hospital to escape the debt it had incurred under its previous management company, said Jocelyn Rushing, the town’s mayor. The hospital closed in October 2018 under Alliance’s management. “What I can tell you is that Frank is a smooth talker, and he definitely knows how to play the media to his side,” Rushing said, referring to Avignone. “And he left Pauls Valley high and dry.” Avignone denies wrongdoing. He said leaders in Mangum and other small towns have no experience running hospitals and don’t understand enough about the industry to appreciate the work done by his management company. “At the end of the day, we did save the hospital but, you know, no good deed goes unpunished,” Avignone said of Mangum. “The local municipality decided they didn’t want us and called us crooks and ran us out of town.” In the end, Avignone said, his company did the best it could given the economic pressures facing rural hospitals. “Vulture Capitalists” Across the country, rural hospitals struggle under crushing financial realities. They are more dependent on Medicare and Medicaid, which generally provide lower reimbursement rates than private insurance companies. They also treat higher percentages of uninsured patients and struggle to recruit doctors and nurses. And they have millions of dollars in costs for basic maintenance and repairs that are often deferred for years because of razor-thin profit margins. A study released in February by the Chartis Center for Rural Health estimates that about 450 rural hospitals across the country are vulnerable to closure. The challenges are magnified in states like Oklahoma that have opted against expanding Medicaid for the working poor, as encouraged under the Affordable Care Act, hospital advocates and researchers say. On June 30, Oklahoma voters will decide whether to expand Medicaid through a constitutional amendment. The state’s Republican leadership has previously blocked expansion, but a petition drive supported by the Oklahoma Hospital Association landed the question on the primary ballot. “Clearly, had these hospitals not been in such a precarious situation, these companies wouldn’t even be in the picture,” said Patti Davis, president of the hospital association. Last year, the hospital association released guidance urging local officials to carefully assess the financial standing of management companies by requesting records that include tax returns and audited financial statements. The records, which offer a glimpse into a company’s liabilities and assets, are not required under state law, but the association said refusing to produce them can be a red flag. The guidance came as multiple rural hospitals struggled under the control of Missouri-based EmpowerHMS. One Oklahoma hospital run by the company closed in 2018 and four more entered bankruptcy in 2019. Empower had boasted of its ability to increase revenue by entering into deals with outside toxicology laboratories that allowed flailing rural hospitals to bill at higher rates for blood and urine tests performed elsewhere. But insurance companies soon flagged ballooning laboratory bills as possible fraud and the U.S. Department of Justice launched a criminal investigation. It’s not clear if the investigation is still ongoing. Empower has denied allegations of wrongdoing in response to a federal lawsuit filed by insurance companies. The vast financial challenges facing rural hospitals can make it difficult to determine how much strain resulted from the management companies. A recent federal report found that hospitals owned by for-profit companies have a particularly high closure rate. Such hospitals represented 11% of rural medical facilities but 36% of closures from 2013 through 2017, according to a 2018 report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office. Struggling hospitals can be good business for companies seeking to turn a quick profit, said Tom Getzen, professor emeritus of risk, insurance and health management at Temple University. “What you’ve got is management companies that are vulture capitalists,” Getzen said. “These are organizations that know that entities that are in difficulty probably would never be profitable but can have their assets stripped out and can therefore make money. It’s important to recognize that troubled company management is actually a very profitable business.” A sign directs visitors toward the Mangum Regional Medical Center. (Nick Oxford for ProPublica) As the coronavirus threatens to further hamstring rural hospitals, forcing them to cancel lucrative elective procedures and purchase additional medical supplies, concerns grow that more communities will fall prey to promises of magical turnarounds. “You have these communities that are desperate, and they are willing to sign a deal with the devil,” said Casey Murdock, a Republican state senator whose district includes nine of Oklahoma’s more than 80 rural hospitals. “These companies strip the hospital down, make all they can make and move on to the next one.” “The Company Was Founded on a 1 a.m. Phone Call” Alliance Health Southwest Oklahoma formed four days before the company signed a contract to manage the Mangum hospital. In fact, Avignone, a co-owner of Praxeo Health, a Dallas-based laboratory services company, had never run a hospital. But with help from Larry Troxell, a well-known Oklahoma hospital manager, as well as a company providing surgery services in Mangum, Alliance persuaded board members that it could provide a breadth of financial resources that no other company could. “The company was founded on a 1 a.m. phone call,” said Avignone, adding that a former business partner called to tell him the hospital would close the following day without assistance. Avignone didn’t name the former partner. This was not Mangum’s first experience with a management company. In June 2017, right before it struck the deal with Alliance, the town had wrested control of the hospital from Little River Healthcare, a now-defunct company that filed for bankruptcy the following year. In order to take over the operating license for the hospital, the governing board, which at the time was Mangum’s city commission, had to absorb $2.1 million of debt accrued by the previous operators. Town leaders didn’t have money to run the hospital, but they knew that its closure would leave about 80 employees without jobs. Residents would have to travel at least 25 miles to get to the nearest emergency room if the hospital closed. That’s when they turned to Avignone. Two months before the town took charge of the hospital, Troxell reached out to Avignone for help. The two had met in 2014 at Medical University of South Carolina while pursuing doctoral degrees in health administration. According to Troxell, who served as the interim CEO for the Mangum hospital during the transition, Avignone called him two years later to say he had a group of investors interested in buying hospitals. Troxell was an investor in Greenfield Resources, a company that claimed to have developed new technology to treat wastewater. Greenfield, Praxeo Health and Alliance Management Group, owned by Darrell Parke, later partnered to form Alliance Health Southwest Oklahoma. Troxell said that while he invested in Greenfield, he had no ownership stake in any of the companies. After Alliance was hired, it quickly became apparent that Avignone didn’t have the money he had promised, said Troxell, who remained at the Mangum hospital working as an administrator. He said he went without pay in Mangum and used his personal credit card to purchase supplies. Alliance did not respond to questions about his claim. “The only thing I can tell you about Frank is he misled me. He misled everybody,” said Troxell, now the CEO of a rural hospital in Texas. “And I believe that he had partners that had money that could bring it to the table at Mangum. And he didn’t do it.” “I’m So Angry” Tammy Sandifer never had a hard time trusting people until she accepted a job as a lab technician at the Pauls Valley Regional Medical Center, about 60 miles south of Oklahoma City. In November 2017, Sandifer moved her family from Mississippi to Oklahoma on the assurance that the town’s 64-bed hospital was financially stable. Nearly a year later, a national television news crew that was in Pauls Valley to report on the financial pressures facing rural hospitals filmed as employees learned that they no longer had jobs. Wearing a crisp white lab coat and medical scrubs, Avignone, who isn’t a doctor, rubbed his face as he announced that the hospital was immediately closing its doors. “You can only live on borrowed time for so long,” Avignone told employees. The hospital closed on Oct. 12, 2018. Five days later, Sandifer was diagnosed with cancer. Tammy Sandifer and her husband Alan. (Courtesy of Tammy Sandifer) A mother of two and the primary breadwinner in her family, Sandifer had learned just weeks earlier that she didn’t have health insurance. The hospital had been deducting $566 from Sandifer’s paycheck for health benefits for her family of four. An additional $70 a month was pulled from her paycheck for a supplemental cancer policy. NewLight Healthcare, a different management company, was running the hospital when Sandifer was hired. It had missed payments for the self-funded employee health insurance plan, even as money continued to be deducted from workers’ paychecks, according to interviews and a May 2018 letter from the hospital’s health benefits administrator. Alliance Health Southwest Oklahoma took charge of the hospital in July 2018. The company made some payments but never caught up. The money to pay for insurance just wasn’t available because “the previous manager let all of that lapse,” Avignone said, referring to NewLight. NewLight Healthcare did not answer detailed questions from The Frontier and ProPublica about the lapse in insurance payments at Pauls Valley, but it said in a statement that the company “consistently worked alongside community leaders, providers, state associations, and other leaders to attempt to create new models and programs that will improve the business climate for rural hospitals.” The company added that rural hospitals will continue suffering until government leaders provide additional funding. Under Alliance, the hospital also stopped paying payroll taxes, according to city leaders who provided The Frontier and ProPublica with a spreadsheet indicating how much the hospital owed employees after the closure. “None of the payroll taxes were being paid. Nothing — state, federal — nothing,” said James Frizell, the city manager for Pauls Valley. “How do you do that? How do you with a good conscience even think about doing that?” At least seven rural hospitals in Oklahoma run by management companies stopped paying workers’ wages or failed to pay for health insurance benefits in 2018 and 2019, The Frontier and ProPublica found. In the past year, the Oklahoma Department of Labor awarded more than $1 million in unpaid wages, benefits and damages to workers at rural hospitals that have either closed or experienced financial distress. But the agency doesn’t have the power to enforce the judgments or make employers pay workers. “It’s been disappointing to see the number of claims this past year that we’ve had to investigate,” said Don Schooler, general counsel for the Labor Department. “We recognize it has affected entire communities and huge, huge portions of the state.” Downtown Mangum on March 17. (Nick Oxford for ProPublica) Since the money had already been pulled from her paycheck, Sandifer spent weeks trying to gather enough to purchase health insurance through the federal exchange under the Affordable Care Act. Sandifer said she signed up the first week in October but had to wait until November for the plan to take effect. She now pays $700 a month for an individual plan. The lapse in insurance coverage meant Sandifer had to wait a month to start treatment at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. By then, Sandifer had to have a portion of her pancreas removed. She said a tumor on her pancreas grew from about the size of a nickel to a silver dollar during the time spent waiting for treatment. Since her surgery, the cancer has spread to her liver and her spine. She is undergoing clinical trials, hoping for good news. Sandifer, who returned to Mississippi to be close to her family, said she can’t help but feel betrayed. “I had uprooted my entire family and trusted that everything was the way it was supposed to be because that’s what they told me to my face,” Sandifer said. “The fact that somebody could just look me in my eye and just lie, you know a baldfaced lie, I’m so angry but probably hurt more than anything.” Millions at Stake but No Written Contract The experience of Pauls Valley and Mangum illustrate the consequences of nearly nonexistent state regulations and little oversight from local governing boards. The state has few laws that govern hospital management companies, and those that exist are rarely enforced. In Oklahoma, a management company can either own the license to operate a hospital or it can run a hospital for which a local government or nonprofit organization holds the license. Under state law, the owner of a hospital license must be “of reputable and responsible character.” State officials could not provide The Frontier and ProPublica with clear criteria for disqualification and were unable to identify any companies that were denied an operating license. They said such information was confidential. Even the lax state regulations that exist don’t apply to management companies running hospitals owned by Oklahoma towns and counties. Read More This Hospital Has Only 8 Nurses. They Are Also the Janitors. Eight nurses are the overwhelming majority of employees who remain at Haskell County Community Hospital in Oklahoma. The future of the 25-bed hospital, which has been whittled down to operating only an emergency room since 2019, is increasingly grim. In such cases, local governing boards are responsible for vetting companies and providing oversight. Many such towns hire management companies on little more than their word that they can reverse spiraling finances. “No matter how much money you give these small towns, they’re going to hire a management company,” said T.J. Marti, a Republican state representative from Tulsa who supports legislation that would encourage nonprofit health care chains to take on management of rural hospitals. “They don’t understand how health care works, and the management company literally takes every penny they can out of the hospital and reinvests nothing.” The Mangum hospital board didn’t ask for proof that Alliance had the money it promised or get in writing how much investors were willing to commit. It approved a line of credit in Alliance’s name but did not require that the company have board authorization when withdrawing money. By comparison, the town of Seiling also approved a line of credit but insisted on keeping tight control over how the money would be spent. The hospital kept the line of credit in its name and required a vote of the board to withdraw money. In Pauls Valley, the governing board handed control to Alliance on little more than a handshake. City leaders say no written contract exists despite minutes from a July 2018 meeting indicating that the hospital board approved a management agreement with Alliance. “Unfortunately, most of it was implied,” Frizell said. NewLight loaned the hospital more than $1 million, charging it 9.75% interest annually. The hospital also owed the company for management fees that had been deferred. By April 2018, the hospital owed NewLight more than $2 million, according to the company. Ready to cash out, the company cut ties with Pauls Valley and enforced a lien on the hospital’s incoming payments, which meant it would be paid before employees and bills for medical supplies. As town leaders scrambled to find a buyer for the hospital, a representative from Alliance contacted them to pitch the company’s services. Alliance would manage the Pauls Valley hospital with the goal of eventually buying it. “Frank Avignone, he comes and sells us a song and dance,” Frizell said. “That he could infuse $1 million immediately in the hospital and $4 or $5 million in 90 days. That sounded good.” The multimillion-dollar investment never arrived. Two months after taking over, Avignone instead sought to raise money by appealing to celebrities on social media. “My friends and I that work at Pauls Valley Hospital in Oklahoma are reaching out to all the Hollywood stars to ask for your help in saving our little hospital,” Avignone posted on the Facebook pages of television host Ellen DeGeneres and movie director Steven Spielberg in September 2018. “The hospital has been in danger of closing for some time and we need help just getting the word out,” Avignone wrote on country music star Shania Twain’s Facebook page. In a more personal Facebook plea to Darius Rucker, the lead singer of Hootie & the Blowfish, Avignone said: “Believe it or not you and I went to USC (University of South Carolina) at the same time! Now I find myself in a different part of the world trying to save a little country hospital in Pauls Valley Oklahoma.” “Little hospitals like this all over the country are in danger and I can only save one at a time,” he wrote in the post. “So far my team and I have saved two others but right now I need help getting the word out about this one.” In an interview with The Frontier, Avignone said his plan to save the Pauls Valley hospital was pinned on his ability to tap the funding stream he discovered in Mangum. He wanted to obtain a line of credit by using the hospital’s incoming payments as collateral. But Avignone said the plan was thwarted when he learned that NewLight had a stranglehold on the hospital’s assets. The Frontier and ProPublica requested any written contracts or agreements between the hospital and Alliance stipulating payments or promises and all financial records for the hospital. The city provided partial financial records but said many of the records were either lost or never existed. Former Pauls Valley Mayor Gary Alfred said he knows the city should have done more to document Alliance’s promises. But, he said, the town was desperate to save its hospital. “If somebody comes in under the guise that they’re going to provide for the hospital, that’s not a stone you want to leave unturned,” Alfred said. “He’s That Smooth” In the year and a half that Alliance managed the Mangum hospital, the company and other businesses run by its owners were paid more than $3 million. Alliance collected more than $1.2 million in fees and reimbursements, financial records show. Some employees were also reimbursed for expenses that included mileage to travel to the other two hospitals that the company managed in Oklahoma. Mangum officials claim in litigation that Alliance lied about the hospital’s financial position, skirting a provision in its contract that required the company to wait until all other financial obligations were met before collecting its management fee. Board members said that because they trusted the company’s expertise, they relied on such representations when approving several payments they now dispute. Praxeo Health, the laboratory services company co-owned by Avignone, was paid more than $350,000, records show. Avignone says the company was owed money after it paid employees in July 2017. Two other companies, Medsurg Consulting and Surgery Center of Altus, which the Mangum hospital board says were co-owned by Darrell Parke, a partner in Alliance, collected $1.7 million, according to records. Records show Parke signed contracts on behalf of both Medsurg and Surgery Center of Altus. Medsurg is registered in Oklahoma under Parke’s name. While Surgery Center of Altus is registered under the name of a law firm, a contract Parke signed with Mangum lists him as a member of the company’s ownership. An attorney for Parke said his client denies the Mangum hospital board’s claims. He declined to answer detailed questions from The Frontier and ProPublica. In a May phone call, Avignone said he and his company were “being unfairly crucified by a lot of people.” He also declined to answer detailed questions, saying instead that he would forward them to his attorneys, who would respond to The Frontier and ProPublica. They did not. Mangum’s hospital board fired Alliance in December 2018. In a letter severing its relationship with Alliance, the board said the company repeatedly breached its management agreement, citing a decision to use a $4 million cost reimbursement from the federal government to pay down the line of credit without the board’s consent. It also highlighted payments to companies owned by Alliance’s partners. Alliance never disclosed that its members were financially connected to some of those businesses, the board alleges in court documents. A month later, the board voted to allow its attorneys to report Alliance to state and federal law enforcement. A formal complaint was never filed. Instead, the hospital board opted to sue Alliance. “He’s the greatest con man of all time,” said Corry Kendall, Mangum’s city attorney. “He would convince you that despite what all the paperwork says and what all the documents say and all the anecdotes say, that he’s right. He’s that smooth, and you want to believe that because he is one of those people that you want to believe.” Corry Kendall, Mangum’s city attorney. (Nick Oxford for ProPublica) Making matters worse, it turns out that Medicare had overpaid the hospital based on flawed calculations, reimbursing it for a full year of costs instead of for the partial year that it was owed. The hospital board currently projects it will have to repay the federal government about $3.5 million, which will likely have to be returned with 10.25% interest, according to the current management. The bank that provided the line of credit to Alliance is suing the hospital for $1.8 million that has yet to be paid. And Surgery Center of Altus and Medsurg Consulting are suing the hospital, seeking the return of medical equipment and alleging about $1 million in damages. Both lawsuits are ongoing. The hospital has returned some equipment, according to court documents, but disputes that it owes the companies any money. “I understand where they were coming from, but nobody stole any money from that hospital,” Avignone said in an interview in October 2019. “Every dime went back into that hospital. We did everything that we could, as good stewards of municipal money, to make sure that that hospital not only stayed open but grew.” “Blind Hope” The Mangum hospital is again out of money. And, once again, the town has pinned its turnaround hopes on a for-profit company: Oklahoma-based Cohesive Healthcare Management and Consulting. Barry Smith, Cohesive’s chief executive officer, said he believes a turnaround is possible but cautioned that the hospital can’t afford any more lawsuits. A prolonged outbreak of the coronavirus could also further strain finances, he said. “When you have a huge hole, it just takes a very long time to dig out of,” Smith said. At the end of March, Mangum owed Cohesive $6.7 million in unpaid management fees and payroll expenses for the hospital’s medical staff. The company absorbed many of the hospital’s costs after it took over from Alliance. Alliance Health Southwest Oklahoma is no longer operating. Avignone is now the CEO of Affinity Health Partners. The company operates the Washington Regional Medical Center in Plymouth, North Carolina, which entered bankruptcy in 2019 after the collapse of its former operator, EmpowerHMS. In December, Affinity announced it couldn’t come up with the money to pay hospital employees. Avignone blamed billing problems and a delay in funds from Medicare. The hospital later received a loan to cover payroll. Kendall, Mangum’s city attorney, said he’s happy Alliance is no longer managing hospitals in Oklahoma, but he warned that the town’s experience should encourage rural communities across the country to be more vigilant as they consider hiring for-profit companies. “I’m hoping other communities elsewhere won’t make the same pitfalls, fall in the same traps and mistakes, have the same lapses of judgment, the same blind hope that we had,” Kendall said. Benjamin Hardy contributed reporting.

  • White House Forced to Retract Claim Viral Videos Prove Antifa Is Plotting Violence
    by Robert Mackey on June 4, 2020 at 04:29

    Within minutes, journalists discovered that most of the viral clips of bricks included in a White House video had already been investigated and debunked. The post White House Forced to Retract Claim Viral Videos Prove Antifa Is Plotting Violence appeared first on The Intercept.

  • On TV, protesters are faceless rabble while cops are bestowed with humanity
    by Melanie McFarland on June 4, 2020 at 01:17

    If there’s a tendency to dismiss demonstrations as chaotic and violent, that may be due to how they’re played on TV

  • Right Wing Round-Up: A Tiny Little Short Period of Time
    by Kyle Mantyla on June 3, 2020 at 21:37

    Ian Millhiser @ Vox: The 3 former officers who aided Derek Chauvin are charged in George Floyd’s killing. John Fea: Court Evangelical Johnnie Moore Brings the Spin on Trump’s Appearance at St. John’s Church. David Edwards @ Raw Story: ‘Like George W. Bush after 9/11’: Kayleigh McEnany declares Trump Bible photo op a historic moment.

  • NYT Rebuked for Tom Cotton Op-Ed Calling for US Military to Use ‘Overwhelming Show of Force’ Against Protests
    on June 3, 2020 at 21:37

    Andrea Germanos, staff writer”This is the most openly authoritarian piece of writing I’ve read from an American politician who has been in power during my lifetime.”

  • Right Wing Bonus Tracks: The Man Is Sending a Message
    by Kyle Mantyla on June 3, 2020 at 21:33

    Curt Landry claims that activists can go to George Soros’s website and sign up to be paid to riot. You can’t. Dan Bongino is outraged that the media is painting President Donald Trump as a coward for hiding in a bunker during the recent protests, especially after Trump showed his “stones” by staging his Bible

  • As groceries board up amid protests, food inequality worsens for communities of color
    by Ashlie D. Stevens on June 3, 2020 at 21:30

    “What we’re advocating for is a place that is not going to close the doors when the community needs them most”

  • ‘Yes, I Will Name Names’: AOC Leads Charge Against Empty Corporate Claims of #BlackLivesMatter
    on June 3, 2020 at 21:29

    Julia Conley, staff writerRep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez set the record straight for wealthy corporations on Wednesday, rejecting what she called “bland statements” of support for the Black Lives Matter movement and calling on the companies to take concrete action to further racial justice.

  • Olympian Gwen Berry to the USOC: ‘Where’s My Apology?’
    by Dave Zirin on June 3, 2020 at 21:26

    Dave Zirin The US Olympic Committee is speaking out against racism. Gwen Berry, who raised her fist on the medal stand in 2018 and was punished, wants to see their words matched with deeds. The post Olympian Gwen Berry to the USOC: ‘Where’s My Apology?’ appeared first on The Nation.

  • Failure to Protect: How Minneapolis Police Cater to White Privilege
    by Ally Nissen on June 3, 2020 at 20:57

    Even in protests against racial policing, the city’s cops have shown more concern for the safety of white people.

  • Majority of Americans Believe Actions and Anger of George Floyd Protesters Justified, Polling Shows
    on June 3, 2020 at 20:45

    Eoin Higgins, staff writer”The current findings represent a marked change in public opinion from prior polls.”

  • Putin Declares Federal Emergency After Diesel Fuel Spill in Arctic River That Could Take Decades to Recover
    on June 3, 2020 at 20:33

    Jessica Corbett, staff writerRussian President Vladimir Putin declared a federal emergency Wednesday to help clean up an estimated 20,000 tonnes of diesel fuel that poured into Ambarnaya River Friday after an accident at a power station near Norilsk, an industrial city in the eastern Siberian region of Krasnoyarsk.

  • ‘Should Be Bigger News’: Analysis Finds Nearly One Third of Owed Unemployment Benefits Have Not Been Paid
    on June 3, 2020 at 19:34

    Jake Johnson, staff writerBloomberg found a $67 billion gap between the sum of benefits paid out by the Treasury Department and the amount that is owed to jobless Americans.

  • Sen. Warren Demands Federal Probe Into Attorney General Barr’s Order to Tear-Gas Peaceful Protesters
    on June 3, 2020 at 19:33

    Julia Conley, staff writerSen. Elizabeth Warren demanded answers on Tuesday evening regarding the Trump administration’s violent dispersal of protesters near the White House the previous night, when federal police sprayed tear gas and flash-bang grenades to clear Lafayette Park of dozens of demonstrators.

  • Statistics can be very hard!
    by <b>bob somerby</b> on June 3, 2020 at 19:30

    WEDNESDAY, JUNE 3, 2020Locking up rookies is easy: Earlier today, we linked to a recent post by New York magazine’s Eric Levitz. Levitz began his post with an inaccurate statement. Overall, he made a good point about the absurdity of a narrative which quickly emerged in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd.Where looting occurred, so did this peculiar story line. Plainly, the looting was being done by people from out of state:LEVITZ (6/1/20): The account was first articulated by officials in the Twin Cities. “The people that are doing this are not Minneapolis residents,” Mayor Jacob Frey said of the violence in his city Friday night. “They are coming in largely from outside of this city, outside of the region, to prey on everything we have built over the last several decades.”Mayor Melvin Carter of St. Paul echoed this assessment, announcing that “every single person” who’d been arrested on his city’s streets Friday night had been “from out of state.”In Minnesota, both major mayors made the charge. In fairly ridiculous fashion, so did Governor Walz, who somehow escaped being named by Levitz.Levitz went on from there. But the claim traveled far and wide, possibly seeming to defy several points of logic.There is some truth to the claim, Levitz said. But when he offered his overview of the matter, a statistical claim was observed:LEVITZ: Fundamentally, the very concept of the “outside agitator” is incoherent in the context of nationwide protests over a nationwide problem. America saw 1,004 of its people killed by police officers last year, a higher tally than any nation besides Brazil, Venezuela, the Philippines, or Syria. A majority of those killed had light skin. There is no one in the United States who lacks standing to protest this state of affairs. Police departments may be local, but their capacity to use force is expanded or constrained by federal policy. If one wishes to see one’s representatives in D.C. pursue police reforms, traveling to the Twin Cities to join in its protests—and thus amplify its message of discontent with the status quo—is a reasonable thing to do.Police killings are indeed a problem in this country. We base that claim on the assumption that we’d rather not have any such killings in a given year, as opposed to 1,004.Is it true that “a majority of those killed had light skin?” Since we don’t quite know what the statement means, we aren’t sure how to answer. We assume this is away to say, without saying that police kill many more “white” people as opposed to people who are “black.”Within the next week, we may review the data on police killings compiled by the Washington Post. Earlier this year, the Post abandoned its multiyear effort, perhaps acknowledging an obvious fact:No one cares about this topic. At least, no one cares about it enough to ever discuss such data, or to attempt to say what such data might mean.Indifference to suffering, disadvantage and death is part of the modern condition. Our guess? In Minnesota, politicians were leaping to blame outsiders, sometimes to an absurd degree, as a way of dodging the role they themselves may have played in the Twin Cities’ ongoing problems.Unflattering reports about the Minneapolis police department have continued to emerge. What did Walz or Frey do, over the years, to address these ongoing problems? To address the state’s widely-discussed public school “achievement gaps,” the largest in the nation?So too perhaps with Amy Klobuchar and with Keith Ellison. What have those two ever done? Or were they merely standing around all these years, perhaps a bit like the rookie police officers they now want to send off to prison?For all we know, Ellison may be the world’s nicest person. On Sunday’s Meet the Press, he made the remark we’ve liked the least of all the remarks we’ve seen this past week:ELLISON (5/31/20): Well, Minnesota is a kind of a tale of two cities. It really is a beautiful, wonderful place. I love it here. I’ve raised all four of my kids here. There’s so many great things about it. So many great people. And yet we have very stark disparities when it comes to African-Americans. Health disparities in health care, health disparities in housing, health disparities when it comes to employment. And disparities all around.I’ll give you a quick example, about 70 some percent of Minnesotans own their own homes. But only about 27% of African Americans do. African Americans are in a fragile economic position in this state. And we need massive investment. And what I say to people is, “Look, if we can have some of the highest SAT scores in the country, if we can have some of the highest voting participation in the country, highest voter—home-ownership in the country for whites, we can do it for everyone. We just have to have the will to do it for everybody. And I think that this sad, tragic situation might give us the energy to really, really make those kind of commitments because they are absolutely needed.It’s what he says to people! If Minnesota can have some of the highest SAT scores in the country, Minnesota can do it for everyone!We’ve seen people making jive remarks of that type since the 1960s. Such jive remarks convey the sense that the speaker just really believes and cares.Out in cable land, we liberals are dumb enough to buy it. It doesn’t occur to us to wonder what Ellison has ever done to achieve this nirvana over the past many years.Or has he just been standing around? To us, his comment seemed very familiar and very faux. To us, his comment was the standard remark of the fake and the uncaring.Meanwhile, statistics can be hard! According to Levitz, Amerika “saw 1,004 of its people killed by police officers last year, a higher tally than any nation besides Brazil, Venezuela, the Philippines, or Syria” (our italics).Here we go again! That italicized claim is only true because of the fact that Amerika has the world’s third largest population. If you adjust for population size, Amerika falls behind a much longer list of nations when it comes to the rate of police killings.We also rank at the very top among fully developed, first-world nations. At that point, you might want to starting adjusting for the number of guns in circulation. But also perhaps for the overall rate of violent crime.We’ll have more on this in the week ahead. Meanwhile, statistics and caring can be hard. Locking up scapegoats is easy.

  • Global Meat Giants Fuel Major Future Risk of Creating Next Pandemic, Investor Group Warns 
    on June 3, 2020 at 19:20

    Andrea Germanos, staff writer 

  • After Nearly 10,000 Arrested During Week of Protest, Three Other Police Officers Finally Charged Over Murder of George Floyd
    on June 3, 2020 at 18:27

    Eoin Higgins, staff writer”All you had to do was arrest three more.”

  • Jane Goodall Warns Humanity Will Be ‘Finished’ After Covid-19 Without Ending ‘Absolute Disrespect for Animals and the Environment’
    on June 3, 2020 at 17:56

    Jessica Corbett, staff writerIn a webinar Tuesday about pandemics, wildlife, and intensive animal farming, world renowned primatologist and conservationist Jane Goodall warned of dire consequences if humanity fails to reform the global food system and keeps destroying natural habitats.

  • Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Buddy Used His “Shadow” Sway Over the VA to Promote His Comic Book Empire
    by by Isaac Arnsdorf on June 3, 2020 at 17:26

    by Isaac Arnsdorf ProPublica is a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. Sign up to receive our biggest stories as soon as they’re published. Two and a half years ago, top officials from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs rang the closing bell of the New York Stock Exchange. Standing on the podium with them was a cheering, flexing Captain America. Spider-Man waved from the trading floor below. The event had been billed as a suicide prevention awareness campaign. No one could figure out what the Marvel characters were doing there. David Shulkin, the VA secretary at the time, said in a memoir about his tenure that he was as surprised as anyone. Captain America on the podium at the New York Stock Exchange while top officials from the Department of Veterans Affairs ring the closing bell. (GIF: ProPublica; Source Video: New York Stock Exchange) The answer, it turns out, lies with the sweeping influence over the VA that President Donald Trump gave to one of his biggest donors, Marvel Entertainment chairman Ike Perlmutter. Before the event, Perlmutter emailed senior VA officials that he had “arranged” for Marvel characters to be there, according to a newly released yearlong audit by the Government Accountability Office, Congress’ independent watchdog. Recognizing the potential for ethical questions, a VA official sought advice from the agency’s lawyers. “Marvel Communications is doing this and we don’t, as far as I know, do business with them,” the unnamed official wrote in an email cited in the GAO report. The report reinforces the findings of ProPublica’s investigation into the sway that Perlmutter and his friends held at the VA, even though none of them had experience serving in the U.S. military or government. After the election, Trump asked Perlmutter, an intensely private billionaire, to advise him on veterans issues, and Perlmutter enlisted the help of a doctor, Bruce Moskowitz, and a lawyer, Marc Sherman. The trio “created a ‘shadow reporting structure’ in which they were stakeholders without a formal role,” an unnamed former official told the GAO. Trump, accompanied by Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, center, hands his pen to Perlmutter after signing an executive order on disciplining VA employees on April 27, 2017. (Andrew Harnik/AP) They became known inside the VA as the “Mar-a-Lago Crowd” because they met at Trump’s club in Palm Beach, Florida, where Perlmutter is a paying member. Perlmutter, Moskowitz and Sherman communicated with VA officials as often as every day from late 2016 until mid-2018, the GAO said, giving advice and recommendations on VA policies, programs and personnel. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Brian Schatz, who requested the GAO’s review after ProPublica’s coverage, said the report confirms that Trump empowered his friends to secretly steer the second-largest government agency without any accountability or oversight. “Three unqualified, unaccountable cronies used their personal relationship with the president and membership at his country club as leverage to exert personal influence over health care, technology, personnel and other key decisions at the Department of Veterans Affairs,” Warren, D-Mass., said in a statement. “The VA must make decisions based only on the best interests of veterans — not on the whims of private individuals with special access to the president.” Get Our Top Investigations Subscribe to the Big Story newsletter. Don’t miss out on ProPublica’s next investigation. Sign up and get the Big Story email whenever we break news. Email address This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply. In a statement, Perlmutter, Moskowitz and Sherman said they provided assistance to the president and VA officials who asked for it. “We volunteered to assist the VA solely because we wanted to help America’s veterans get the best possible care,” they said. Disney, which owns Marvel, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. The VA told the GAO it had no comments on the report. In a statement to ProPublica, VA press secretary Christina Noel said, “This report vindicates the department and completely undermines the sensational way many media outlets covered this story.” In more than 1,000 email exchanges, as well as interviews with current and former officials, the GAO found that the trio interacted with the VA about a large number of issues: hiring of senior executives, a $10 billion contract to overhaul the agency’s electronic medical records, suicide prevention and mental health efforts, a conference on registries for medical devices, and a government partnership with Apple to develop a mobile app. The trio also discussed “veterans’ ability to seek health care outside of VA facilities,” the GAO said. That issue — which Trump calls “choice” and critics call a march toward privatization — was a campaign promise and political priority for the president. The GAO did not make any conclusion about the propriety of the trio’s involvement in the VA. A federal judge has rejected a claim by a liberal activist group that the trio’s involvement violated a Watergate-era sunshine law regulating how agencies can seek outside input. The group, VoteVets, has appealed. The House Veterans Affairs Committee has its own investigation into Perlmutter, Moskowitz and Sherman. In particular, House investigators have shown interest in a possible connection to a risky antidepressant that Trump has personally promoted for preventing veteran suicides. A spokesman for the trio has said they weren’t involved in the VA’s consideration of the drug. Do you have access to information about the VA that should be public? Email Isaac Arnsdorf at isaac@propublica.org. Here’s how to send tips and documents to ProPublica securely. For more coverage, read ProPublica’s previous reporting on Trump’s VA. Update, June 3, 2020: This story was updated to add a comment from the VA’s press secretary.

  • The Corona Class War
    by Sam Pizzigati on June 3, 2020 at 17:12

    Will the crisis reduce economic inequity or just be another sop for the rich?

  • Pandemic Ramps Up Risks for the Homeless
    by Hank Kalet on June 3, 2020 at 16:35

    Situation becomes more precarious as COVID-19 shuts down access to shelters.

  • Sanders Calls on Democrats to Embrace 8-Point Plan to End Police Brutality, Protect Communities
    on June 3, 2020 at 16:28

    Jake Johnson, staff writer”We have got to act boldly to eradicate systemic racism and police violence. I am calling for sweeping policy reforms to protect people—particularly communities of color—who have suffered violence for far too long.”

  • ‘Deplorable Monument to Racism’ Gone After Philadelphia Removes Statue of Former Mayor Frank Rizzo
    on June 3, 2020 at 16:14

    Eoin Higgins, staff writer”While we are glad that the symbol is removed, we will continue to fight until the white supremacy that allowed Rizzo to come to power in the first place is eradicated.”

  • Trump’s War on the Hungry
    by Karen Dolan on June 3, 2020 at 16:13

    The Trump administration has waged war on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, commonly called food stamps.

  • Trump Is Using the Military to Hide His Weakness
    by Jeet Heer on June 3, 2020 at 15:23

    Jeet Heer The president’s show of strength demonstrates the precariousness of his authority. The post Trump Is Using the Military to Hide His Weakness appeared first on The Nation.

  • Hope for Other Cities to Follow After Minneapolis School Board Votes Unanimously to End Police Contract
    on June 3, 2020 at 15:21

    Julia Conley, staff writerThe Minneapolis school board unanimously voted Tuesday evening to terminate the district’s $1.1 million yearly contract with the city’s police department, a week and a half after the police killing of George Floyd. 

  • To the White People Who Keep Asking How to ‘Help’
    by Elie Mystal on June 3, 2020 at 15:18

    Elie Mystal Spare me the sympathy. It’s outrage that matters. The post To the White People Who Keep Asking How to ‘Help’ appeared first on The Nation.

  • ACLU Lawsuit Accuses Police in Minnesota of ‘Targeting and Attacking Journalists’ Covering George Floyd Protests
    on June 3, 2020 at 15:01

    Jessica Corbett, staff writerThe ACLU of Minnesota filed a class-action lawsuit overnight Tuesday against the city of Minneapolis and local and state law enforcement for “targeting and attacking journalists” covering ongoing protests over police violence toward people of color sparked by the May 25 killing of George Floyd.

  • D.C. Statehood Is the Answer to Trump’s Abuse of Washington
    by John Nichols on June 3, 2020 at 14:00

    John Nichols The president says he is determined to “dominate” Washington with military might. Democrats must rise to D.C.’s defense. The post D.C. Statehood Is the Answer to Trump’s Abuse of Washington appeared first on The Nation.

  • Just Like Covid-19, Racial Justice Is a Climate Story
    by Mark Hertsgaard on June 3, 2020 at 14:00

    Mark Hertsgaard And Joe Biden’s possible endorsement of a Green New Deal is a good way to tell it. The post Just Like Covid-19, Racial Justice Is a Climate Story appeared first on The Nation.

  • ‘We Need to Put Guardrails in Place’: Senator Unveils Plan to Bar Use of US Military Force Against Protesters
    on June 3, 2020 at 13:46

    Jake Johnson, staff writer”I thought that would seem obvious to everyone. But as we take up the NDAA next week, I’m going to be pushing to ensure the president can’t treat the U.S. military as his personal palace guard.”

  • ADULTHOOD’S END: Did Officer Lane try to do the right thing?
    by <b>bob somerby</b> on June 3, 2020 at 13:42

    WEDNESDAY, JUNE 3, 2020The facts are still always wrong: Yesterday morning. we shared a highly important though somewhat surprising fact:The facts are always wrong! We refer to the standard sets of facts which emerge as our own tribe’s sachems describe emotional incidents involving race and gender. Yesterday, it was Chris Wallace whose factual statement seemed to be wrong. In fairness to Wallace, he was simply repeating a claim which had been widely stated all over “cable news” during the preceding week.Wallace’s highly familiar statement may well have been wrong. In fairness, the facts always are! Consider what happened next:After we finished yesterday morning’s report, we proceeded to read this post at New York magazine. Below, you see the very first paragraph of the very first post we read after noting that the facts are always wrong:LEVITZ (6/1/20): A white police officer pinned a handcuffed black citizen to the ground by the neck. The black citizen said that he could not breathe. Some bystanders asked the officer to cease obstructing the man’s breath; the three uniformed bystanders made no such suggestion. The officer kept kneeling for eight minutes and 46 seconds—long enough to take the life out of George Floyd’s body and George Floyd out of the lives of his friends and family. The three uniformed bystanders made no such suggestion? Wearily, we turned to the analysts, and they were crying:The facts are always wrong, we told them again, with aplomb.In the videotape of the incident in question, the behavior of Officer Derek Chauvin looks remarkably heinous. We remind you that, according to a pair of authoritative professional studies, 3-5 percent of adult males could be diagnosed as sociopaths.Chauvin’s behavior that day would have been astonishing in the dark of night, at 2 A.M., behind some abandoned warehouse. It’s astounding to think that he did the things he did right there, in broad daylight, with bystanders taping his actions.In this morning’s Washington Post, Kathleen Parker calls Chauvin a “monster.” To our ear, she seems to say that the other three officers are monsters too. After all, “the three uniformed bystanders made no such suggestion.” By now, the whole nation knows that!That said, who are the monsters—is it them, or could it be us? We ask because we’ve read the official “Statement of probable cause”—the criminal complaint which charged Office Chauvin with murder and manslaughter.In places, that document is very murkily written. But along the way, as you can see, the document says this:STATEMENT OF PROBABLE CAUSE (5/29/20):[…]The defendant pulled Mr. Floyd out of the passenger side of the squad car at 8:19:38 and Mr. Floyd went to the ground face down and still handcuffed. Kueng held Mr. Floyd’s back and Lane held his legs. The defendant placed his left knee in the area of Mr. Floyd’s head and neck. Mr. Floyd said, “I can’t breathe” multiple times and repeatedly said, “Mama” and “please” as well. The defendant and the other two officers stayed in their positions.The officers said, “You are talking fine” to Mr. Floyd as he continued to move back and forth. Lane asked, “Should we roll him on his side?” and the defendant said, “No, staying put where we got him .” Officer Lane said, “I am worried about excited delirium or whatever.” The defendant said, “ That’s why we have him on his stomach.” None of the three officers moved from their positions.[Body camera] video shows Mr. Floyd continue to move and breathe. At 8:24:24, Mr. Floyd stopped moving. At 8:25:31 the video appears to show Mr. Floyd ceasing to breathe or speak. Lane said, “want to roll him onto his side.” Kueng checked Mr. Floyd’s right wrist for a pulse and said, “I couldn’t find one.” None of the officers moved from their positions.”Lane” is former officer David Lane, one of Parker’s apparent monsters. At the time of the awful events in question, he was a rookie policeman in his probationary period. Chauvin, who had his knee on the neck of the late George Floyd, was am 18-year veteran of the force. Because we ourselves aren’t monsters yet, we think what follows should perhaps and possibly matter:Readers of New York magazine now know, or think they know, that none of the uniformed monsters suggested that Chauvin should stop. According to the document which charged Chauvin with murder, that seems to be another one of those familiar facts, the ones which are always wrong..The fact that the document makes an assertion doesn’t prove that the assertion true. But according to that official document, Lane seems to have made that suggestion at two or three different points. As noted above, Lane was a rookie officer in his probationary period. Chauvin was an 18-year veteran.What else should the rookie cop have done? To date, we’ve seen no such discussion. What kind of training do police cadets receive to prepare them for such situations? We haven’t seen that discussion either.We mention these points for one main reason. We mention them to help establish our basic award-winning point:The facts are always wrong.The facts are always wrong, at least in these types of cases. The facts are always part of a novelized tribal account, a moralized rendering of some situation which may even start to resemble a fairy tale. In these moralized renderings, we are the very good people; targeted others are vile. If facts must be changed to establish such narratives, the facts will just have to be wrong.Once again, we recommend our basic finding—the facts are always wrong. As we do, we look ahead to tomorrow, when we’ll ask the following question about this appalling event:Did Officer Lane try to do the right thing on that terrible day? If we don’t want to be monsters ourselves, it’s a question we maybe should ask.Tomorrow, we’re going to broaden that question, skillfully asking this:Has Kathleen Parker ever done the right thing during her journalistic career? Beyond that, how many people in the upper-end press corps have ever done the right thing in a similar situation?Go ahead! Can you name even one? (We can think of a few.)What should Officer Lane have done that day? We’ve seen few discussions of that question. Are rookie cops trained for such situations? If not, why not? Have you seen a discussion of that?We’ve seen no such discussions. Instead, we’ve seen attorney Crump spreading a claim which is probably false, trying to get Lane arrested too. We the people want to see the very bad others locked up!Crump has spread misinformation before. Has Kathleen Parker ever done the right thing when it comes to matters like this?Tomorrow: Parker is a good decent person. Her column is highly instructive.Expected on Saturday: “Who killed Willie Moore?” (Way back when, Bob Dylan asked.) Featuring major Minnesotans of the present day!

  • Injustice
    by Sylvia Hernández on June 3, 2020 at 12:30

    Sylvia Hernández Black Lives Matter, always. (Additional artwork provided by Miguel Hernández) The post Injustice appeared first on The Nation.

  • ‘One Racist Down. Hundreds in Office to Go’: Applause as Bigot Steve King Ousted in Iowa Primary
    on June 3, 2020 at 11:00

    Jake Johnson, staff writer”Goodbye, Rep. Steve King. You are certainly not the only white supremacist in federal government, but you were among the most prominent,” tweeted Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

  • Debt Relief for Tyrants Is a Terrible Idea
    by Helen C. Epstein on June 3, 2020 at 10:05

    Helen C. Epstein Bernie Sanders and Ilhan Omar want to cancel the debts of the world’s poorest countries. In some cases, that’s a big mistake. The post Debt Relief for Tyrants Is a Terrible Idea appeared first on The Nation.

  • Masha Gessen on Trump’s ‘Autocratic Attempt’ on America
    by Stephanie deGooyer on June 3, 2020 at 10:00

    Stephanie deGooyer The author of Surviving Autocracy argues that ideals are needed to defeat Trumpism but they’re missing from the Democratic Party. The post Masha Gessen on Trump’s ‘Autocratic Attempt’ on America appeared first on The Nation.

  • Moses Sumney’s Songs of Freedom
    by Stephen Kearse on June 3, 2020 at 09:45

    Stephen Kearse His immersive album græ explores the costs of personal and artistic autonomy. The post Moses Sumney’s Songs of Freedom appeared first on The Nation.

  • Covid-19 Is Straining the Concept of the Family. Let’s Break It.
    by Sophie Lewis on June 3, 2020 at 09:30

    Sophie Lewis The care and love we extend to one another can no longer be confined to house-sized pockets. The post Covid-19 Is Straining the Concept of the Family. Let’s Break It. appeared first on The Nation.

  • Could Covid-19 Mean the End of Asylum Law in the United States?
    by Jack Herrera, Quito Tsui on June 3, 2020 at 09:30

    Jack Herrera, Quito Tsui “Public health” fears are being used to keep out asylum seekers and immigrants—will they ever be let back in? The post Could Covid-19 Mean the End of Asylum Law in the United States? appeared first on The Nation.

  • ‘Justice Does Not Equal Convictions’
    by Anna Simonton on June 3, 2020 at 09:15

    Anna Simonton Scenes from a pandemic: 10 The post ‘Justice Does Not Equal Convictions’ appeared first on The Nation.

  • ‘They’re Afraid’: GOP Ripped for Enabling Trump as McConnell Blocks Resolution Condemning Assault on Peaceful Protesters
    on June 3, 2020 at 09:07

    Jake Johnson, staff writer”They’re afraid of Donald Trump. And that leads to Donald Trump getting worse and worse and worse. It’s appalling.”

  • The President Wants You to Be Misinformed
    by Rebecca Gordon on June 3, 2020 at 09:00

    Rebecca Gordon Trump’s presidency is the culmination of decades of misinformation emanating from the White House. The post The President Wants You to Be Misinformed appeared first on The Nation.

  • How White People Can Step Up—and Step Back—Right Now
    by Joan Walsh on June 3, 2020 at 09:00

    Joan Walsh Listen, learn, and do what you’re asked to do. The post How White People Can Step Up—and Step Back—Right Now appeared first on The Nation.

  • How Germany Saved Its Workforce From Unemployment While Spending Less Per Person Than the U.S.
    by by Alec MacGillis on June 3, 2020 at 09:00

    by Alec MacGillis ProPublica is a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. Sign up to receive our biggest stories as soon as they’re published. The global coronavirus pandemic threw Petra Hamann’s job into peril faster than just about any other. She is a physical therapist, a profession that is all about close proximity to others, with a clientele that leans toward older people, exactly the population most vulnerable to the virus. In March, she and the rest of the 10-person therapy group that employed her lost virtually all of their clients, first as a result of clients’ fears about coming in for appointments, then as a result of government stay-at-home orders. But neither Hamann nor anyone else in her group lost their job. Instead, they were kept on and, even while having zero clients, received 60% of their normal pay. As about half her clients gradually started to return in recent weeks, she began making 80% of her usual pay (including compensation for the clients who had not come back). And she was able to do so without having to negotiate any paperwork or online bureaucracy; she and her co-workers simply signed a form from their employer. The upshot is that, even amid an existential threat to her job, Hamann and her colleagues were able to adjust to the new circumstances with minimal stress. Her brother is benefiting from the same program at his auto-manufacturing job, where he’s been getting 70% of his usual pay despite sharply reduced hours. “We’ve found it all pretty good,” Hamann said. “As a way to bridge the gap, it’s a good deal.” Help Us Report on Coronavirus Are you a public health worker, medical provider, elected official, patient or other COVID-19 expert? Help make sure our journalism is responsible and focused on the right issues. Note: If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19, such as difficulty breathing or bluish lips, get medical attention immediately. The CDC has more information on what to do if you are sick. If this experience sounds foreign to most Americans, that’s because it is. Hamann lives in Paderborn, a city of 148,000 in north-central Germany, and she is benefiting from that country’s trademark approach to economic downturns. Instead of leaving employers to lay off workers en masse during hard times, and then have the workers apply individually for unemployment benefits, the German government subsidizes employers’ payrolls directly. Workers at a given firm or business agree to all work fewer hours, to spread what work remains among the whole staff instead of having some people laid off. But through government subsidies, they continue to receive a sizable share of their usual pay, as high as 87%, even if circumstances have them working few hours for the time being. When the economic crisis passes, they return to work full time, without the upheaval of losing a job and filing for unemployment on their own. Some 10 million Germans are currently benefiting from Kurzarbeit, as it’s called there — literally, short-work. It has been adopted in similar form during the pandemic crisis by several other countries, including France, Spain and the U.K. But in the U.S., despite half-hearted efforts in some states, the workshare approach, as it’s typically referred to here, is barely a blip on the horizon. Americans have filed more than 40 million claims for unemployment benefits in the past 10 weeks. Meanwhile, there are fewer than 200,000 Americans benefiting from workshare payments while remaining employed, according to a tally by Susan Houseman, an economist with the nonpartisan W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research in Michigan. It might be tempting to view workshare as a luxury of the stronger safety nets in Europe and the high taxes that pay for them. But the lofty tax rates in Germany mostly fund generous coverage for illness, disability and pensions. When it comes to unemployment, according to Houseman and other economists, the U.S. and Germany spend comparable amounts per person. Both approaches are costing governments on either side of the ocean tens of billions of dollars. If anything, the U.S. is now spending more, proportional to the size of its population, on its safety net for the unemployed. (More on that later.) “Somehow, there’s a notion that there’s a huge expenditure that we can’t handle, or that the Germans are fundamentally different,” Houseman said. “No, right now we’re paying people to sit at home and the Germans have workers being paid while they’re still on the job and that has long-term benefits.” The difference in approaches has helped contribute to wildly different levels of economic fallout and social upheaval in response to the same pandemic. In Germany, the unemployment rate has increased from 5% to 5.8% from March to April. In the U.S., it surged from 4.4% to 14.7%. One of the millions of newly unemployed in the U.S. is Keri Woloszynski. Like Hamann, she is a physical therapist and mother in her 40s who before the pandemic was working a part-time schedule. Like Hamann, she worked in a small practice, with four other physical therapists and physical therapy assistants. Like Hamann, Woloszynski saw her practice, which is in Palm Harbor on the Florida Gulf Coast, essentially shut down for a couple weeks. The clientele had already been shrinking for several weeks, when, on March 21, the staff learned that another employee at the practice, in the billing department, had gone to the emergency room and been tested for COVID-19. The practice shut for two weeks. When it reopened, it was agreed that Woloszynski would defer to another physical therapist to handle the clients that had returned, since Woloszynski had kids to watch at home now that school was closed. She would, it was agreed, apply for benefits under the Family and Medical Leave Act. But a few days later, on April 11, her employer informed her by mail that as a health care employee, she did not qualify for FMLA. They would have to lay her off. Even though it was plain to her that the layoff was driven by circumstance and not performance, it came as a shock. Woloszynski, whose husband works for the local municipal government, had come back to work only 13 months earlier after taking a lengthy break while her kids were young, and after retaking the national licensing exam as a requirement to return. “I cried for hours — I love my job,” she said. “I worked so hard to get this license again after 11 years off. So to then get tossed aside, and be the only one tossed aside, I was emotional about that. It’s definitely affected my self-confidence. Even though the letter said it had nothing to do with your performance, I took it personally.” And then came the nightmare of applying for unemployment benefits. She managed to get two $600 payments of federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance for gig workers. But when she applied for regular unemployment benefits, the state deemed her ineligible. She couldn’t ascertain why but thought it was perhaps because she hadn’t worked at the job long enough. She logged on to the website every other day to try to press forward with her application. In early May, she got an ominous-sounding online notice stating that “the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) has received information that may affect your claim for reemployment assistance” and that as a result of that information, “an investigation of your eligibility for unemployment benefits may be necessary.” The notice explained that “as a result of the investigation, you are disqualified from receiving benefits.” It was all completely bewildering. At last, a couple of regular unemployment insurance payments came through. All told, she has received $2,900 in federal and state unemployment payments since the start of the crisis, less than half of what her pay would have been over that period. For her, the challenge has been less financial — her husband’s job has carried her family through — than the sheer uncertainty and time lost to the unemployment system. Get Our Top Investigations Subscribe to the Big Story newsletter. Don’t miss out on ProPublica’s next investigation. Sign up and get the Big Story email whenever we break news. Email address This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply. Almost 1,000 miles to the north, Jamie Meteer has been in similar limbo with the unemployment system. She is a physical therapy assistant, also in her 40s, and has spent the past five years working for the Baltimore-area branch of a nationwide home health company. The local team consisted of four physical therapists and four physical therapy assistants. As a result of the pandemic, the company decided to cut one of the former and two of the latter. The cuts were supposed to be by seniority, but the PTA behind Meteer in seniority was her own husband. They were given the choice, and they decided that he would keep working and that she would care for their kids while school was closed. Meteer went to file for state unemployment benefits and was quickly in a morass. Early in the crisis, as her caseload was already being reduced, she had filed for benefits for a temporary reduction in hours, which would have paid her about a third of her weekly gross pay. But she never received those payments, because a couple weeks later, the system deemed her in violation because she had been slightly over the allowed threshold of 50% of normal hours worked, a threshold she hadn’t been aware of. She was still trying to resolve that by the time she filed for regular benefits after being laid off, and the earlier dispute kept her from being able to do so. “I’m stuck in this position where I can’t get unemployment at all,” she said. Making matters worse is that Maryland’s website for filing claims kept breaking down. Meteer has spent several hours on the phone or online every day trying to get her benefits. On May 15, she said, she ended up calling from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. until she finally got through to someone. “You can’t do anything online — you can’t get through to anybody,” she said. “I give myself breaks, or I’ll go insane.” Her family is just managing its mortgage and car payment on her husband’s income, but it has economized on everything else. “We’ve had to cut back a lot on regular spending,” she said. “All extras have been suspended. Anything that isn’t a bill or groceries is on a spending freeze until we can either get unemployment or I can get back to work.” The debate over the workshare approach first came to the fore during the Great Recession, when some U.S. elected officials and policy advocates made a big push for making it a major part of the Obama administration’s economic stimulus, to no avail. Larry Summers, Obama’s chief economic adviser, argued in the fall of 2009 that the administration had been correct to leave workshare out of the mix. “I think we got the Recovery Act right,” he said. “The primary objective of our policy is having more work done, more product produced and more people earning more income. It may be desirable to have a given amount of work shared among more people. But that’s not as desirable as expanding the total amount of work.” More recently, though, Summers has expressed regret that the Obama administration didn’t try to do more in late 2009, including on the unemployment front, although he doesn’t mention workshare explicitly. “By the end of 2009, however, driven by misguided concern about budget deficits and a desire to get to long-run agendas, we declared that the green shoots of recovery were at hand and left the battlefield,” he said in a 2019 speech at the Brookings Institution. “Demand was still too weak to drive a robust recovery, and as a consequence, the expansion was substantially slower than it could have been, with less capital investment and more people unemployed for a longer period of time. The lost output certainly cast a shadow forward.” (Summers did not respond to a request for comment for this article.) Opinions on workshare do not break down along standard ideological lines. For example, Kevin Hassett, then director of economic policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute and now a top economic adviser to President Donald Trump, published a study in 2014 arguing that “worksharing should be at the top of the list” of policies to prevent long-term unemployment. Some studies credited workshare with helping Germany maintain higher employment rates than the U.S. during the Great Recession. That, however, was not a unanimous view. In the decade since, nine states have adopted some form of a workshare option for employers, on top of 17 that already had it. Kentucky has started it up during the current crisis, as well; the 27 states that now have it on the books account for about 70% of the country’s population. But many employers are unaware of the programs, and many state officials aren’t exactly enthusiastic about promoting them, since administering them can mean extra work for understaffed state unemployment offices. The underutilization is especially striking because, under the CARES Act passed in April, the federal government will cover 100% of workshare costs, which should make it much more appealing to employers than unemployment benefits, which are paid for in part by employers’ own taxes. Making workshare even more attractive now is that workers entering the program will also collect $600 per week for enhanced unemployment benefits, even if they’re still collecting most of their paycheck. Yet a tiny fraction of employers are using the program. Some have instead availed themselves of forgivable loans from the Paycheck Protection Program, but that money is available only to smaller employers and was initially depleted amid a rush in demand. The underutilization of workshare has been maddening for those who believe in the approach, such as Houseman, of the Upjohn Institute. She notes that workshare is more efficient for employers when it comes to staffing back up after a recession, and far less traumatic for workers, who can avoid the well-documented emotional and financial “scarring” effects of long-term unemployment, not to mention the risk of losing their health insurance in a country that ties coverage to employment. And she challenges the main rap against workshare, that it defers the inevitable by allowing employers to keep from making the tough decisions to restructure to adapt to systemic changes in the economy. That may be the case in a regular recession, she said, but in this case, the downturn was the result of a public health emergency that will eventually subside. “This had nothing to do with problems in the economy. Businesses were not in trouble because they were not economically viable,” she said. “It’s that they had to slow down, and we want to keep people in place.” Critics of workshare argue that the pandemic will in fact cause systemic changes in the economy, leaving some industries, such as travel and restaurants, facing major troubles for months if not years to come. In that case, workers should be encouraged by the brute reality of unemployment to seek out new sorts of work. But Houseman differs. “I truly believe that there will be systemic changes, but we don’t know what they are right now, so to be making those pronouncements after two months and say, we’re not going to set it up is wrong,” she said. “There may be businesses that will end up going under, but there will be others that will be salvaged and this could reduce a lot of pain.” Meanwhile Houseman and Werner Eichhorst, with the Institute of Labor Economics in Germany, point out that, even if you add in ongoing administrative costs that fund the superior German unemployment infrastructure, the U.S. is on track to spend way more per job than Germany during the pandemic. The surge in unemployment has been so large that experts at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center estimate the U.S. will end up spending far more on additional unemployment insurance than the $260 billion that Congress estimated when it passed the CARES Act. That’s on top of the $660 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program and the $1,200-per-person relief checks in the CARES Act. In Germany, which has a population a quarter the size of the U.S., the full cost of Kurzarbeit for the crisis is expected to exceed current government estimates of about 30 billion euros (about $33 billion), according to Eichhorst. Add in the cost of unemployment benefits for those who have been laid off in that country, and the total cost comes to about $40 billion. But that’s still significantly less than the U.S. is spending on unemployment insurance, adjusted for the country’s size. In Florida, Woloszynski has received word that she might be able to go back to 12 hours per week in June — far less than the 25 she was doing before, but something. “All that angst and emotional rollercoaster are for nothing,” she said. Asked what she thinks about the workshare alternative, she said: “Oh, my gosh, that would be wonderful. It would take care of so much of my stress and the whole question mark of, ‘Am I going to be able to go back to this job.’ I wish we could have something like that and our system could be run differently.” In Maryland, Mateer agreed. “To me, it just makes so much more sense for the government to bring the employers on so they can pay their employees and maintain staff. It just makes more sense to bypass an unemployment system that doesn’t work.” In Germany, Hamann got word of what her American counterparts were going through. She responded with a couple expletives. And then: “Wahnsinn.” Insanity. Tell Us More About Coronavirus Are you a public health worker, medical provider, elected official, patient or other COVID-19 expert? Help make sure our journalism is responsible and focused on the right issues. This form requires JavaScript to complete. Powered by Screendoor.

  • Why Punks Need the Post Office
    by Mark Hassenfratz on June 3, 2020 at 05:00

    DIY record labels have long relied on the Post Office for cheap shipping—it must be defended, not defunded.

  • The FBI Finds ‘No Intel Indicating Antifa Involvement’ in Sunday’s Violence
    by Ken Klippenstein on June 2, 2020 at 23:18

    Ken Klippenstein Trump wants to designate antifa a terrorist organization, despite lack of authority and evidence of wrongdoing. The post The FBI Finds ‘No Intel Indicating Antifa Involvement’ in Sunday’s Violence appeared first on The Nation.

  • Military Leaders Have an Extraordinary Choice to Make as the Nation Protests
    by Andrew McCormick on June 2, 2020 at 22:13

    Andrew McCormick Officers swear an oath to the Constitution, not to the president. Trump’s threat to deploy the military domestically challenges that. The post Military Leaders Have an Extraordinary Choice to Make as the Nation Protests appeared first on The Nation.

  • Life on the Edge
    by Frances Moore Lappe on June 2, 2020 at 21:54

    The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown the world into uncharted territory, with challenges that we have never seen before, but also fresh opportunities.

  • Overtly Racist Trump Brags No President Has Done More Than Him for Black Community ‘Since Abraham Lincoln’
    on June 2, 2020 at 21:21

    Common Dreams staffLatest gaslighting efforts comes less than one day after order to have nonviolent civil rights protesters swept off the streets of Washington, DC in a volley of rubber bullets, tear gas, and flash grenades.

  • Of Plowshares and Protests: The Moral Obligation to Resist
    by Kathy Kelly on June 2, 2020 at 20:40

    On nuclear weapons and police brutality, what’s our excuse not to do more?

  • Donald Trump’s lunacy seems to deepen!
    by <b>bob somerby</b> on June 2, 2020 at 20:31

    TUESDAY, JUNE 2, 2020The problem which can’t be named: Donald Trump’s manifest lunacy seemed to deepen last night. Paul Krugman was left saying this at the end of this morning’s column:KRUGMAN (6/2/20): On one side, he’s effectively inciting violence by his supporters. On the other, he’s very close to calling for a military response to social protest. And at this point, nobody expects any significant pushback from other Republicans.Now, I don’t think Trump will actually succeed in provoking a race war in the near future, even though he’s clearly itching for an excuse to use force. But the months ahead are still likely to be very, very ugly.After all, if Trump is encouraging violence and talking about military solutions to overwhelmingly peaceful protests, what will he and his supporters do if he looks likely to lose November’s election? Krugman is tougher on Trump’s supporters than we’re inclined to be. But what might Trump himself decide to do if it looks like he’s going to lose in November?We don’t have the slightest idea! But that’s a question we’ve been asking for more than a year. What makes us so sure that there’s going to be an election this year at all?Over at Slate, Fred Kaplan seems to misconstrue the problem. During Campaign 2016, our sachems refused to interview Kaplan when he explained the foolishness of the claim that Candidate Clinton had exposed our nation’s most priceless secrets in a handful of meaningless emails.Our sachems just gamboled and played. Now, in response to King Donald’s growing madness, Kaplan has offered a piece which explains that Trump couldn’t get away with trying to stay in office if he loses to Biden. Presumably, that’s true. But that isn’t the (possible) problem.The problem is what he might do to try to forestall such a loss—a loss which would make him a “loser.” That’s the problem Krugman cites at the end of this morning’s column.Behind all this lies a public madness; the upper-end press corps has agreed that they mustn’t discuss Trump’s madness. It’s the growing problem which has no name—which can’t be named, by high-end agreement.Bandy X. Lee, a failing nation with flailing elites turns its eyes to you!

  • The New York Times reports on Reade!
    by <b>bob somerby</b> on June 2, 2020 at 19:38

    TUESDAY, JUNE 2, 2020″Tends to dissemble,” Times says: Yesterday, under cover of mayhem, the New York Times ran a lengthy front-page report concerning Tara Reade.In the understatement of the century, three Times reporters say this:RUTENBERG, SAUL AND LERER (6/1/20): In many ways, The Times’s findings comport with the autobiography Ms. Reade, now 56, has rendered in cinematic detail across blog posts, online essays and court statements. But in the dramatic retelling of her life story she has also shown a tendency to embellish—a role as a movie extra is presented as a break; her title of “staff assistant” with clerical responsibilities in Mr. Biden’s office becomes “legislative assistant” when his shepherding of the Violence Against Women Act is an asset for her expert-witness testimony in court.At this point, saying that Reade has displayed “a tendency to embellish” is akin to saying that swordfish have a tendency to be found at various spots in the ocean. In our view, people who “have [fairly obvious] problems” shouldn’t be trashed for that fact. But the Times records examples of Reade’s “embellishing” which go on and on and on and on, as have other news orgs which have explored the outlines of her life.By now, you’d have to be crazy to think of Reade as someone whose word a person can trust. Having said that, where does someone like Biden go to get his reputation back? And when will Professors Mann and Hirshman be asked to explain what they think of their latest truth-teller now?The answer to that last question is simple. The professors will never be asked, and they’ll never be criticized or critiqued for their knee-jerk insistence that Reade’s claim about Biden should be believed. At this point, the higher-end liberal world will simply sidle away from Reade, and everyone will agree to forget how deeply unwise our highest-end academic elites have once again turned out to be. The Times report goes on and on with accounts from the three million people Reade has duped in the past. Along the way, the three reporters engage in some classic examples of journalistic bad judgment.Please don’t make us discuss them. But by the way, make no mistake:The next time an accuser comes along to insert herself into a White House campaign, the usual suspects will once again stand in line to insist that we have to believe her. (If it’s plain that she’s seeking a massive pay day, we’ll dub her a “feminist icon!”)Our tribe is skilled at spotting the lunacy which takes place in the other tribe. We refuse to see our own foolishness, and our own tribe’s foolishness is viral, virile and vast.We’re dumb as rocks, and at the same time we’re convinced of our tribe’s sacred narratives. Nothing will ever cure us of that, and the others can see this about us.Way back when, Emily Bazelon warned the well-behaved boys with whom she spoke that Reade might turn out to be be a “liar” or that she might “have problems.” We’re disinclined to savage people who have problems, but the problems of people like Mann and Hirshman will never be going away.The true beliefs of our truest believers have caused the deaths of people all over the world. They helped elect Bush, then they helped elect Trump. But they are never going to stop, and we dummies will never rebuke them.Go ahead—read the report. It goes on for quite a long time.How do you like your blue-eyed [accuser] now? The Post’s Paul Farhi asked Ryan Grim. You can read all about it here.

  • Unequal Justice: Trump, Twitter, and the Narrative of Chaos
    by Bill Blum on June 2, 2020 at 18:56

    Trump now has a pathway to reelection—by repackaging himself as the champion of law and order.

  • The Question Isn’t Whether Trump Will Go Full Authoritarian—It’s How We’ll Respond
    by Elie Mystal on June 2, 2020 at 18:32

    Elie Mystal We know that no one is coming to save us from Trump. So how will we save ourselves? The post The Question Isn’t Whether Trump Will Go Full Authoritarian—It’s How We’ll Respond appeared first on The Nation.

  • Poem: Jesus and the Black Body
    by Linda Wiggins-Chavis on June 2, 2020 at 18:26

    Arms and legs of burnished bronze

  • Contractors for Trump’s Controversial $3 Billion Food Aid Program Have Hired a Longtime Lobbyist to Tout Their Work
    by by Isaac Arnsdorf on June 2, 2020 at 18:14

    by Isaac Arnsdorf ProPublica is a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. Sign up to receive our biggest stories as soon as they’re published. Companies receiving taxpayer dollars as part of President Donald Trump’s signature food aid program hired a longtime lobbyist to push back on criticism that the government is relying on unqualified contractors, such as an event planner. “We’re working to take the stories of the impact this is having on farmers, processors, distributors and end users and making sure some positive aspects of the program, from both the economic and social standpoints, are out there too,” said the lobbyist and industry consultant, Dale Apley, who reached out to ProPublica on behalf of the contractors. “It’s not all just certain stories about certain companies that maybe shouldn’t have been awarded contracts.” The Farmers to Families Food Box Program is supposed to deliver fresh fruit, vegetables, meat and dairy to food banks and other nonprofits. But, as ProPublica has reported, private distributors selected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture through an unusually fast bidding process have raised eyebrows because some of them lack relevant experience or even proper licenses. Help Us Report on Coronavirus Are you a public health worker, medical provider, elected official, patient or other COVID-19 expert? Help make sure our journalism is responsible and focused on the right issues. Note: If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19, such as difficulty breathing or bluish lips, get medical attention immediately. The CDC has more information on what to do if you are sick. At least one contract has already fallen through. Ben Holtz, a California avocado grower who lacked a USDA produce-dealing license, saw his $40 million contract canceled on May 22. The USDA didn’t give a specific reason for yanking Holtz’s deal, but the federal government generally has broad discretion to back out of contracts. Holtz said he plans to pursue the government’s dispute resolution process to seek USDA compensation for work he’d already done. “They owe me,” he said in a text message. A USDA spokesman said no other contracts had been terminated and the agency will audit companies to make sure they meet the contract requirements. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, said the USDA should also cancel the $39 million contract awarded to a San Antonio-area wedding planner called CRE8AD8 after the San Antonio Express-News reported inconsistencies in the company’s representations. “This contract was issued without a credible background check with a company not licensed to perform and with no work history indicating a capacity to perform at a time of urgent public need for competent delivery,” Doggett said in a May 26 letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. “CRE8AD8 was given until June 30 to complete distribution of the 750,000 boxes in a seven-state region, but to date it has apparently failed to distribute a single box.” A spokeswoman hired by CRE8AD8 to handle media questions said she was no longer working for the company. The company’s CEO, Gregorio Palomino, didn’t respond to requests for comment. Lawmakers have also voiced concerns about how the Trump administration is implementing the $3 billion program. “We share USDA’s goal of providing effective and timely assistance to families, farmers, and food supply businesses like food distributors,” Reps. Stacey Plaskett, Jim Costa and Marcia Fudge said in their own letter to Perdue, dated May 22. “We are concerned, however, that contracts were awarded to entities with little to no experience in agriculture or food distribution and with little capacity to meet the obligations of their award.” The letter asks Perdue to explain how the USDA wound up picking contractors without relevant experience or proper licenses. Some organizations across the country reported difficulty working with unfamiliar distributors who won the USDA contracts. Meanwhile, well-established firms said their bids were rejected on mistaken grounds. The Democrats also asked if the USDA thought about apportioning funding to regions based on population. Out of $1.2 billion in the program’s first round, just $46 million is going to the Northeast. Even though the region has the most coronavirus cases, it received the least money of any region except the Mountain Plains, which has almost half as many people. Maine and Alaska were left out of the program altogether. Food banks in the Northeast told ProPublica the imbalance makes it harder to find food for hard-hit communities. The USDA said it’s evaluating how to reach “underserved” areas in future funding rounds. The controversy mobilized some contractors who wanted to change the narrative. Apley declined to specify which companies he’s represented or what they’re paying him. He said the companies pay a membership fee to be in the coalition he represents. While Apley is currently focused on shaping news coverage, he said direct lobbying of Congress could come later. “Our initial interest right now is getting the story out,” he said. Lobbying “is a possibility being discussed as we proceed.” Apley’s firm, Black Watch Agribusiness, advises companies on USDA contracting opportunities, according to its website. Apley has been a registered lobbyist on and off for two decades, including as recently as last year, according to congressional records. Federal contracting rules prohibit using taxpayer dollars on lobbying or political expenses. Contractors are, however, free to use their own funds to lobby, and routinely do. Trump, his daughter Ivanka and Perdue have personally praised the program. “USDA’s Farmers to Families Food Box Program is an example of Americans helping Americans, and something we should all be proud of,” Perdue tweeted on Thursday. Tell Us More About Coronavirus Are you a public health worker, medical provider, elected official, patient or other COVID-19 expert? Help make sure our journalism is responsible and focused on the right issues. This form requires JavaScript to complete. Powered by Screendoor.

  • These Kids Are All Right: From Tragedy to Activism
    by Ed Rampell on June 2, 2020 at 17:42

    A review of the new documentary ‘Parkland Rising.’

  • We Really Need to Tax the Rich
    by Jane McAlevey on June 2, 2020 at 15:00

    Jane McAlevey In California, they’re making it happen. The post We Really Need to Tax the Rich appeared first on The Nation.

  • Time to Fundamentally Rethink What Trump Means by Security
    by Katrina vanden Heuvel on June 2, 2020 at 14:34

    Katrina vanden Heuvel The challenge for his successor will be how to dig out from the rubble. The post Time to Fundamentally Rethink What Trump Means by Security appeared first on The Nation.

  • ADULTHOOD’S END: Had Chris Wallace done the right thing?
    by <b>bob somerby</b> on June 2, 2020 at 14:16

    TUESDAY, JUNE 2, 2020The facts are always wrong: It’s a fact which has been widely noted. In recent years, Chris Wallace has possibly been the best performer among the hosts of the five Sunday morning shows.Because Wallace is host of Fox News Sunday, this fact has occasioned surprise. That said, Wallace has often been tougher on Trump-aligned guests than other Sunday hosts have been. He’s often done the best work.Wallace has often done the best work—though this past Sunday, he may have messed up at one point. On the brighter side, his apparent error helps us establish a basic point:In emotional matters involving race and sex, the basic facts you’re led to believe will almost always be wrong.The facts are always wrong! In this instance, Wallace was interviewing Andy Skoogman, executive director of the Minnesota Chiefs of Police. At one point, Wallace said this:WALLACE (5/31/20): I want to pick up, though, because the police report that was filed after the incident said that George Floyd, the man who was killed, resisted arrest. And it also said that he died at the hospital, when in fact it appears clear that he was dead at the scene.Those were both lies, which raises the question, if there had mot been a video in this case, isn’t it possible, even likely, that these four officers would still be on the street? In the end, does it even matter? Quite possibly not.Presumably, it wouldn’t matter, in the present case, whether George Floyd resisted arrest at some point. Rather plainly, the police behavior which led to his death seems to have been egregious. If Floyd had resisted arrest in some way at some previous point, that subsequent police behavior would still seem egregious.That said, you’d like to think that someone like Wallace was keeping abreast of the facts, insofar as the facts could have been known on Sunday. In this instance, we got the distinct impression that he hadn’t yet read the official “Statement of probable cause” in which former officer Derek Chauvin was charged with murder and manslaughter in the matter of Floyd’s death.We had read that official statement; it had been filed on Friday. While charging Chauvin in the manner described, it seems to say, at several points, that Floyd had resisted arrest.Quite sensibly, Wallace was criticizing the initial police report, a masterwork of deception. But here are some passages from the criminal complaint, the document which charged one of the officers with murder:STATEMENT OF PROBABLE CAUSE (5/29/2020):[…]While Officer Kueng was speaking with the front seat passenger, Officer Lane ordered Mr. Floyd out of the car, put his hands on Mr. Floyd, and pulled him out of the car. Officer Lane handcuffed Mr. Floyd. Mr. Floyd actively resisted being handcuffed.[…]Officers Kueng and Lane stood Mr. Floyd up and attempted to walk Mr. Floyd to their squad car (MPD 320 ) at 8:14 p.m. Mr. Floyd stiffened up, fell to the ground, and told the officers he was claustrophobic.[…]The officers made several attempts to get Mr. Floyd in the backseat of squad 320 from the driver’s side. Mr. Floyd did not voluntarily get in the car and struggled with the officers by intentionally falling down, saying he was not going in the car, and refusing to stand still.At various places, that “Statement of probable cause” is poorly written, to a remarkable degree. Also, the fact that this document makes a particular claim doesn’t prove that the claim is accurate.Still, this criminal complaint seems to say that Floyd resisted arrest at at least two separate junctures. Presumably, that can’t and doesn’t justify Chauvin’s subsequent conduct—but we evaluate the work of journalists here, not that of police officers.Everybody makes mistakes. Wallace’s work on many Sundays has been “best in class.” That said, we got the definite impression this Sunday morning that Wallace might be behind on his background reading. Even worse, he didn’t denounce the particular statements in question as being “false” or “wrong,” which it probably wasn’t.He denounced the statement as “a lie.” Given the rules of modern speech, this proves that he’s one of ours!In fairness to Wallace, the claim that Floyd never resisted arrest had been bruited all over cable news in the preceding week. That said, the document charging Chauvin with murder had seemed to say something different.As we’ve long noted, high-profile cases of police shootings or alleged sexual assaults have consistently featured bogus facts over the past eight years. Again and again, we liberals have invented false facts, disappeared real facts, and called attention to irrelevant facts as we’ve created the novelized tales which show the world how much we care and how strikingly moral we are.Beyond that, we now describe all misstatements as lies, excluding only the many misstatements which have come from within our own tents. In such ways, we announce adulthood’s end—the end of the need to pay attention to the complexity of many events which actually happen out there in the real world.We’ve done this for the past eight years; we’re never going to stop. Despondent anthropologists repeatedly say that this is the best our species can do, that this is the way we’re wired.At any rate, Wallace’s surprising statement extended this long campaign, this war on unsanitized facts.Does it matter if Floyd resisted arrest at some point? In our view, it doesn’t seem that it does.That said, this claim will likely play a role in Chauvin’s defense if this matter goes to trial. Also, Wallace’s statement reminds us of a remarkably stable state of affairs:In emotional matters of this type, the facts are always wrong!Had Wallace failed to do the right thing prior to Sunday’s program? We’re guessing that he had. That said, everyone makes mistakes, including the four officers we now want to ship off to jail.One of the four has already been charged. Concerning one of the other three, we were struck by several things we read in that same statement of probable cause. The document is amazingly jumbled at several points; the writing is strikingly bad. Still, we were struck by something we hadn’t heard about one of the other three policemen whose heads we now want on a pike.Did one of them try to do the right thing? Also, what would doing the right thing have looked like in that circumstance?Tomorrow: Did Officer Lane try to do the right thing? Why haven’t you seen this discussed?Coming: Can you name anyone in our own tribe who has ever done the right thing?

  • Letters From the June 15/22, 2020, Issue
    by Our Readers on June 2, 2020 at 14:00

    Our Readers Don’t blame the Boasians… Tilting at windmills… Dark recesses… The road already taken… Submerging the valley… The post Letters From the June 15/22, 2020, Issue appeared first on The Nation.

  • Little Donald’s Sneeze
    by Peter Kuper on June 2, 2020 at 13:44

    Peter Kuper The post Little Donald’s Sneeze appeared first on The Nation.

  • 105
    by Ennio Moltedo on June 2, 2020 at 13:41

    Ennio Moltedo The post 105 appeared first on The Nation.

  • A Fourth Inspector General Bites the Dust
    by Calvin Trillin on June 2, 2020 at 13:38

    Calvin Trillin The post A Fourth Inspector General Bites the Dust appeared first on The Nation.

  • Black Lives Matter, Tribute to Breonna Taylor
    by Andrea Arroyo, Steve Brodner, Peter Kuper on June 2, 2020 at 12:30

    Andrea Arroyo, Steve Brodner, Peter Kuper On March 13, Breonna Taylor was  murdered in her own home by Louisville, Ky., police officers. Read the article. The post Black Lives Matter, Tribute to Breonna Taylor appeared first on The Nation.

  • Senior Citizens in Subsidized Housing Have Been Dying Alone at Home, Unnoticed Because of Coronavirus Distancing
    by by Mick Dumke and Haru Coryne on June 2, 2020 at 10:00

    by Mick Dumke and Haru Coryne ProPublica Illinois is a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. Sign up to get weekly updates about our work. Someone needed to check on Leonard Graves. The 57-year-old lived alone in a senior building on Chicago’s North Side, and no one had seen him in at least two days. Volunteers called community ambassadors usually checked on fellow residents in the Edith Spurlock Sampson Apartments, a 394-unit Chicago Housing Authority complex. But after the coronavirus began spreading in Chicago, leaders say the CHA suspended the program. With the help of a building maintenance worker, a worried friend entered Graves’ apartment on March 14. Inside, they found him face down on the kitchen floor. From the condition of his body, it was clear he had been dead for some time. He appeared to have died of natural causes. Help Us Report on Coronavirus Are you a public health worker, medical provider, elected official, patient or other COVID-19 expert? Help make sure our journalism is responsible and focused on the right issues. Note: If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19, such as difficulty breathing or bluish lips, get medical attention immediately. The CDC has more information on what to do if you are sick. Graves’ death — and how it was discovered — offers a heartbreaking snapshot of how the coronavirus pandemic has left some seniors dangerously isolated in public and subsidized housing around the city, with only a patchwork support system in place to make sure they’re OK. About 10,000 people live in CHA senior buildings, and another 10,000 reside in privately owned properties in Chicago that are subsidized by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Unlike residents of nursing homes and assisted living centers, most people in these senior buildings live independently in their own apartments. Building owners and managers — some of them for-profit companies — do not always provide support services and are not required to. As the coronavirus outbreak moved into Chicago, managers at some federally subsidized but privately owned buildings cut staffing and security. Informal systems of care that residents had organized for themselves over the years were disrupted by social-distancing guidelines and fear of the virus. At CHA buildings, outreach workers were not required to check on most residents until late April, well after Graves and others died alone and unnoticed. From mid-March through early May, at least seven senior residents were found dead in their units days after they were last seen alive, often discovered by janitors or pest control workers making their rounds, according to investigative reports from the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office. These cases are part of a larger spike in deaths in public and subsidized housing. More than 80 senior residents of these buildings died between March 14 and May 10 — four times the average over that same period each year since 2015, according to the medical examiner’s data. With the pandemic, the medical examiner is investigating deaths that it may not have looked at in the past, making it hard to precisely compare this year with previous ones. Still, even non-COVID-19 deaths appear to be on the rise. Owners and managers of the senior buildings, including the CHA, emphasize that their residents live on their own. While these buildings are not care facilities, owners say they have increased efforts to contact and assist residents during the pandemic. Clearly, though, gaps remained. Reduced Staffing On March 20, the same day Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued his stay-at-home order, HUD officials in Illinois announced that they would work remotely for the foreseeable future. William O. Dawson III, HUD’s director of public and Indian housing for the state, asked the leaders of local housing agencies to let him know if any of their employees or residents were infected with COVID-19. At the same time, Dawson stressed the need for local officials to handle day-to-day resident concerns themselves. “If you are able to resolve a complaint without referring the participant to the Field Office it would be greatly appreciated,” Dawson wrote in an email obtained by ProPublica Illinois through an open-records request. A HUD spokesperson said in a statement last week that the agency is “fully operational” and that “addressing issues begins at the local level where they are usually resolved. The public are welcome to contact HUD for further assistance.” Dive Deeper Into Our Reporting Our newsletter is written by a ProPublica Illinois reporter every week Discover what makes Illinois tick from our team of investigative journalists covering the state. Delivered every Friday. Email address This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply. By the middle of March, the managers and owners of some subsidized buildings in Chicago had already cut back their own on-site staff in response to the coronavirus. Among them was UPholdings, a private company that owns Evergreen Towers, a pair of Near North Side buildings for seniors. “Front desk attendants will not be working temporarily,” the company announced in letters dated March 12 and distributed to Evergreen Towers residents. “Property Management is working to quickly implement a system so that we may efficiently and safely conduct wellbeing checks.” Jackie Reynolds, a 67-year-old resident leader at Evergreen Tower I, was troubled by the announcement. Each apartment in the building is equipped with an emergency cord, she said; when pulled, it activates a flashing light alert at the front desk. But the system wouldn’t work if attendants weren’t on duty to see the alerts. Residents had already set up a network to check on one another, Reynolds said. “Last year, one of my neighbors on my floor passed away and no one knew about it because no one was doing well-being checks,” she said. As the pandemic spread, she found fewer people willing to make the rounds with her. “Everybody was scared.” Several weeks later, on April 15, Reynolds noticed a package slip near the building’s front entrance for one of her neighbors, Emily Mandley, who was 88 and had some health problems. Reynolds said she put on a mask and knocked on Mandley’s door three times over the next day and a half. She didn’t get an answer. Reynolds then reached out to her cousin, who works at the building as a maintenance man and was able to get into Mandley’s apartment. As Reynolds had feared, Mandley was dead. In an emailed statement, a spokeswoman for UPholdings acknowledged that the Evergreen Towers buildings no longer had front door attendants. She said the company is upgrading the security camera systems at both buildings. In late March, building managers organized a system of daily well-being checks, she said. Residents who don’t want to be contacted were provided with door tags that say “I’m OK” or “Not Home” to let others know they’re fine. “This process is ongoing,” the UPholdings statement said. But Reynolds said she and other tenants came up with the tag system. In the week after Mandley was found, building managers called to check on residents, Reynolds said. But she hasn’t heard of any staff wellness checks since then. “No one has come to check on us but one time,” Reynolds said. Overlooked As many of the CHA’s employees switched to working from home, outreach workers stayed on site at senior buildings “to provide support, information and referrals” to residents, according to a March 18 email to staff from James L. Bebley, then the CHA’s acting CEO and now its chief operating officer. The outreach workers, known as resident service coordinators, or RSCs, are staffed by Catholic Charities under a $9 million, two-year contract with the CHA. Under the contract, 54 coordinators work in the CHA’s 55 senior buildings. Some of the coordinators are responsible for properties with hundreds of units. Before the pandemic, the coordinators focused on organizing activities for seniors and connecting those in need to social services. They were also supposed to check on residents they or building managers deemed sick or frail, especially during extreme weather. Over the last three months, their work has only become more challenging — and potentially dangerous. One coordinator, who asked not to be named because she wasn’t authorized to speak to the media, said that she initially had to get her own protective gloves and mask so she could help deliver food to residents. Catholic Charities gave masks to coordinators starting April 2, when federal health officials began recommending their use, according to Brigid Murphy, a spokeswoman for the organization. On March 23, coordinators were instructed to check in every day with the 1,100 residents on the frail list, either by phone or in person, according to the coordinator. A log of the check-ins was supposed to be submitted to their supervisors at Catholic Charities. But under the Catholic Charities contract, coordinators were not expected to check in with other seniors unless they had specific needs. “CHA and Catholic Charities really didn’t put much emphasis on checking on non frail residents” at that time, the coordinator wrote in an email. “However, some RSCs such as myself took the initiative to check on all residents.” Murphy said the coordinators staffed by Catholic Charities were not required to conduct wellness checks of all residents, though they have stepped up to help those who need food or other special assistance. “During the pandemic, our Resident Service Coordinators (RSCs) have provided services without reimbursement above and beyond the duties outlined in our contract,” Murphy wrote in a statement. In late March, members of the Jane Addams Senior Caucus, an advocacy group, began pressuring the CHA and the city to provide more services to seniors. On March 24, an aide to Mayor Lori Lightfoot emailed Bebley a list of the caucus’ demands, which included conducting daily wellness checks of all residents and staffing every senior building with nurses or health care workers. All of the CHA’s buildings are managed by private companies. Two days after the email from Lightfoot’s aide, CHA instructed the property management firms to post new informational flyers in building common areas. “It is geared for our older residents to call if they have a need,” Mary Howard, the CHA’s chief resident services officer, wrote in an email to agency officials who worked with the property managers. The flyer was in English and 12 other languages. Howard and Eric Garrett, chief property officer for the CHA, also sent a letter to the presidents of the local advisory councils, the tenants’ groups for each CHA development. The letter said property managers were still working on site at each development, and that resident service coordinators were available by phone, if not always in person. The letter did not mention wellness checks. No Help Needed For weeks in February and March, 25th Ward Alderman Byron Sigcho-Lopez forwarded the CHA complaints his office received about inadequate heat, security concerns and poor communication with residents of Las Americas, a 211-unit building for seniors in the Pilsen neighborhood. CHA officials repeatedly promised to follow up with the building’s managers and its resident service coordinator, emails show. On March 27, Sigcho-Lopez emailed again, this time proposing to organize more well-being checks at senior buildings, including Las Americas. “Our Most Vulnerable” Alderman Byron Sigcho-Lopez writes to the Chicago Housing Authority that his office plans to check on seniors who might be experiencing anxiety or depression. Read the full exchange. View note His message made its way to Howard. In an email to her colleagues, she noted that the CHA already had an outreach program: “Catholic Charities is in our buildings conducting more than 1100 wellness checks a day.” But at that time coordinators still weren’t required to conduct regular checks of residents unless they were on the “frail” list. Still, Scarleth Lever Ortiz, director of the CHA’s office of diversity and inclusion, discouraged Sigcho-Lopez from proceeding with his plan, reminding him the CHA already had resident service coordinators doing outreach while practicing social distancing. “We think it may be confusing to have others do the same, and we are trying to limit the number of persons who come to our buildings,” she wrote. In an interview, Sigcho-Lopez said his office has continued to make check-in calls. “Our seniors, if anything, need more attention, not less,” he said. Daniel La Spata, alderman of the 1st Ward, on the city’s near Northwest Side, said CHA leaders also rejected his suggestion that they add staff to check on residents at senior buildings. During an April 3 video conference with CHA officials, La Spata said he asked if the agency could place a nurse or health care worker at each senior residence during the pandemic. He said he was told no because the presence of health care staff at senior buildings “would only create panic.” His conclusion: “I think we need stronger systems of accountability in place.” It was mid-April before the CHA decided to conduct regular checks of residents who weren’t on its sick and frail list. Even then, not everyone involved with carrying out the checks was communicating with one another. First, CHA employees who were working at home were asked to start calling tenants to supplement the work of the coordinators staffed by Catholic Charities. But in early May, the coordinators were also directed to check in with every resident at least once a week, even though they weren’t told who was being contacted by CHA employees, according to the coordinator who spoke with ProPublica Illinois. In a statement, CHA leaders said they have worked during the pandemic to make sure seniors are not cut off from essential needs. Over the last month, the agency says, it has expanded its check-in system, which now reaches 3,000 seniors a day, including the most vulnerable. “The health and safety of residents are the highest priorities for CHA and the City of Chicago, most notably seniors, whom we commit significant staff and resources to support their daily activities,” CHA spokeswoman Molly Sullivan wrote in a statement. In the past, officials at the CHA have stressed the agency is a provider of housing and is not fundamentally a social service agency, though it offers residents some education and support programs and is widely viewed as more than just a landlord. Advocates remained concerned that some residents were not being reached. Maria Hadden, alderman of Chicago’s far North Side 49th Ward, introduced an ordinance at the April City Council meeting that would require managers of CHA and other senior buildings to conduct more wellness checks, maintain staffing levels and limit access from nonresidents during health emergencies. It was assigned to the council’s Health Committee, which is next scheduled to meet on June 4. Hadden said she understands that the CHA now has a system for conducting checks. “But a lot of residents haven’t heard from them,” she said. “It’s not time to sit on our hands.” Fatal Gaps In its statement, CHA leaders did not answer questions about deaths in their buildings. But by the time the ordinance was introduced, they were aware that gaps in the work of resident service coordinators could have fatal consequences. “Please note during this time of COVID we have begun to find residents deceased in their apartments,” Catholic Charities officials wrote on April 14 in an email to employees working in CHA buildings. “Immediately CHA is contacting Catholic Charities to see if a well-being check was completed on the resident by the RSC and holding us accountable. We are held very much accountable for contact if the resident is on the sick and frail list.” The email also told workers that if they couldn’t reach a resident with two phone calls, they should let the property managers know so they could conduct a well-being check of the apartment. The email was sent to remind the coordinators that they needed to check on residents on the sick and frail list, Murphy wrote in her statement, even though the people found dead were not on the list “and therefore, our RSCs would not have made wellness phone calls to them.” At that point, several deaths in CHA and other subsidized apartments had already gone unnoticed for days before being found. No one claimed responsibility for checking on those residents. A particularly sad and gruesome situation unfolded on April 22, when a resident at Hollywood House, a high-rise senior building in Chicago’s Edgewater neighborhood, called the property manager to report that maggots were crawling out of her kitchen vent. Other residents of the high-rise senior building had noticed a strong, foul odor in the 12th floor hallway. A maintenance worker eventually opened an apartment where he found 72-year-old Oscar Medina sitting in his kitchen, dead, according to an investigative report from the medical examiner’s office. Owned and managed by the Heartland Alliance, a prominent social service agency, Hollywood House is home to both market-rate and low-income renters, with 51 of its 197 apartments subsidized through federal vouchers. The building has also received city funding. Medina had lived at Hollywood House for 13 years, neighbors said. He had immigrated from Cuba more than four decades ago and was known for being kind and friendly. Yvonne Requena, one of his friends in the building, said her family is from Belize and they bonded over their similar cultural backgrounds. They both liked music and dancing, and they would sometimes eat together and talk in the building’s dining room. “He would say hi to everyone he meets — a very nice man,” she said. But Medina spent most of his time by himself. “He didn’t really talk about family,” said Requena, who is 73. “He would go and walk outside all night, even when it got cold. Or he would sometimes get on the bus and ride the bus all night.” In recent weeks, as coronavirus infections spread, Hollywood House closed its dining room. Medina, a diabetic who sometimes had breathing problems, rarely left his apartment except to get sandwiches from the convenience store on the first floor. “I said, ‘They’re high in sodium — you can’t eat that every night,’” Requena said. “He stopped going out. He just stopped taking care of himself because he was depressed.” A few weeks ago, Medina told Requena he was concerned that nonresidents might be able to come into the building because no one was working at the front door during much of the day. It was the last time they spoke. Some Hollywood House residents say more should be done to communicate with tenants. The property manager is only in the building two days a week, they said, and a social worker has been working remotely to limit person-to-person interactions. “Some people said she’s called them, but she hasn’t called everyone. She hasn’t called me,” said resident Nanna Cross, 77. Cross, who is a member of the Jane Addams Senior Caucus, said she knows of a nearby senior building where tags outside each unit indicate whether anyone has opened the door that day. Hollywood House needs a way to conduct wellness checks, especially during periods when many tenants rarely leave their apartments, she said. “That hasn’t been happening in our building, and it’s been real upsetting,” she said. A spokesman for the Heartland Alliance said in a statement that the company has staggered work shifts at its buildings since the stay-at-home order, but “maintenance staff and security are on-site daily.” “Although Hollywood House is an independent living facility where residents may choose to seek services from outside partners, for the well-being of our residents we have elected to initiate periodic resident wellness checks. In fact, these checks have been bolstered during the COVID-19 pandemic,” the statement read. Since many residents are elderly, “although it is hard, it is not uncommon to experience multiple resident deaths in a year.” Medina was last seen alive a week before his body was found, according to the report from the medical examiner. It was at least the second time since March that a resident at Hollywood House had been discovered days after dying, according to medical examiner records. Requena learned about Medina’s death from another neighbor. “It hit me so hard,” she said. “It’s very sad that when you live alone, something like this can happen.” Tell Us More About Coronavirus Are you a public health worker, medical provider, elected official, patient or other COVID-19 expert? Help make sure our journalism is responsible and focused on the right issues. This form requires JavaScript to complete. Powered by Screendoor.

  • Where Does America Go From Here?
    by Sasha Abramsky on June 2, 2020 at 09:45

    Sasha Abramsky As protesters face off with militarized police across the country, Trump’s ineptitude and cruelty feel more painful than ever. The post Where Does America Go From Here? appeared first on The Nation.

  • The Troubling Origins of Birthright Politics
    by Nathan Perl-Rosenthal on June 2, 2020 at 09:30

    Nathan Perl-Rosenthal Two new works of history examine how the politics of birthright citizenship can be a vehicle for liberation and equality and serve the cause of exclusion. The post The Troubling Origins of Birthright Politics appeared first on The Nation.

  • The Fight for the Soul of the Democratic Party Is a Fight for the Future
    by John Nichols on June 2, 2020 at 09:15

    John Nichols Henry Wallace, FDR’s vice president, argued 75 years ago that Democrats had to go big on economic and social and racial justice. That’s still true. The post The Fight for the Soul of the Democratic Party Is a Fight for the Future appeared first on The Nation.

  • The Suburban Commute Is a Soul-Crushing, Environment-Destroying Invention
    by Elie Mystal on June 2, 2020 at 09:15

    Elie Mystal The last few months have shown us that we can do away with it forever. The post The Suburban Commute Is a Soul-Crushing, Environment-Destroying Invention appeared first on The Nation.

  • The Year of Making America Great
    by Tom Tomorrow on June 2, 2020 at 09:00

    Tom Tomorrow The first half of 2020 shows Trump’s true incompetence. The post The Year of Making America Great appeared first on The Nation.

  • This Treasury Official Is Running the Bailout. It’s Been Great for His Family.
    by by Justin Elliott, Lydia DePillis and Robert Faturechi on June 2, 2020 at 09:00

    by Justin Elliott, Lydia DePillis and Robert Faturechi ProPublica is a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. Sign up to receive our biggest stories as soon as they’re published. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have become the public faces of the $3 trillion federal coronavirus bailout. Behind the scenes, however, the Treasury’s responsibilities have fallen largely to the 42-year-old deputy secretary, Justin Muzinich. A major beneficiary of that bailout so far: Muzinich & Co., the asset manager founded by his father where Justin served as president before joining the administration. He reported owning a stake worth at least $60 million when he entered government in 2017. Today, Muzinich retains financial ties to the firm through an opaque transaction in which he transferred his shares in the privately held company to his father. Ethics experts say the arrangement is troubling because his father received the shares for no money up front, and it appears possible that Muzinich can simply get his stake back after leaving government. Justin Muzinich, deputy Treasury secretary, in 2019. (Wolfgang Kumm/Picture Alliance via Getty Images) When lockdowns crippled the economy in March, the Treasury and the Fed launched an unprecedented effort to buy up corporate debt to avert a freeze in lending at the exact moment businesses needed to borrow to keep running. That effort has succeeded, at least temporarily, with credit continuing to flow to companies over the last several weeks. This policy also allowed those who were heavily invested in corporate loans to recoup huge losses. Muzinich & Co. has long specialized in precisely this market, managing approximately $38 billion of clients’ money, including in riskier instruments known as junk, or high-yield, bonds. Since the Fed and the Treasury’s actions in late March, the bond market has roared back. Muzinich & Co. has reversed billions in losses, according to a review of its holdings, with 28 of the 29 funds tracked by the investor research service Morningstar Direct rising in that period. The firm doesn’t publicly detail all of its holdings, so a precise figure can’t be calculated. Help Us Report on Coronavirus Are you a public health worker, medical provider, elected official, patient or other COVID-19 expert? Help make sure our journalism is responsible and focused on the right issues. Note: If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19, such as difficulty breathing or bluish lips, get medical attention immediately. The CDC has more information on what to do if you are sick. The Treasury is understaffed, and Muzinich was overseeing two-thirds of the department before the crisis hit. He spent his first year as the Trump administration’s point man on its only major legislative achievement, the landmark $1.9 trillion tax cut that mainly benefited the wealthy and corporations. As the markets panicked about the economic impact of the coronavirus, Muzinich’s responsibilities expanded. The Treasury worked with the Fed on the emergency lending programs, and the agency has ultimate power to sign off. Muzinich was personally involved in crafting the programs, including the effort to bail out the junk bond market, The Wall Street Journal reported in April. He communicates with Fed officials daily by phone, email or text, the paper said. That effort has many skeptics. The Fed has never bought corporate debt in its more than 100 years of existence, much less that of the indebted and fragile companies that raise money through the sale of junk bonds. Private equity firms, hedge funds and specialty investment firms like Muzinich & Co. dominate the market for junk-rated debt. In effect, the Fed has swooped in to protect the most sophisticated investors from losses on some of their riskiest bets. Muzinich & Co. Profited From the Government’s Actions Muzinich & Co.’s largest fund, with over $10 billion in assets, jumped in value when the Treasury and the Federal Reserve announced plans to buy bonds. Data from Morningstar Direct for the Muzinich Enhanced Yield Short-Term Fund Justin Muzinich’s ongoing ties to the family firm present a thicket of potential conflicts of interest, ethics lawyers said. Instead of immediately divesting his stake in the firm when he joined the Trump administration in early 2017, Muzinich retained it until the end of that year. But even then, he did not sell his stake and use the proceeds to buy broad-based securities such as index funds, as is common practice. Instead, he transferred his piece of the company to his father, who owns Muzinich & Co. In exchange, he received what amounts to an IOU — a written agreement in which his father agreed to pay him for the shares, with interest, but with no principal due for nine years. “This is something akin to a fake divestiture,” said Kathleen Clark, a law professor and ethics specialist at Washington University in St. Louis. “It sure looks like he is simply parking this asset with a relative, and he will likely get it back after he leaves the government.” A Treasury spokeswoman declined to say whether Muzinich has pledged not to take back the stake in the family firm once his public service ends. Muzinich “takes his ethics obligations very seriously” and “any suggestion to the contrary is completely baseless,” she said. She added the arrangement with his family firm was approved by the Office of Government Ethics and agency ethics lawyers, who recently reexamined the setup given Muzinich’s role in the economic crisis response. They concluded that there is no currently envisaged scenario in which Muzinich would make decisions as a government official that would affect his father’s ability to repay the money he owes under the IOU. “Treasury’s career Designated Agency Ethics Official has determined that there is no such conflict of interest, as there are no current or reasonably anticipated matters in which Deputy Secretary Muzinich would participate that would affect the note obligor’s ability or willingness to satisfy its financial obligations under the note,” she said in a statement. (The note obligor is Muzinich’s father.) Muzinich & Co. did not respond to multiple requests for comment. Muzinich’s relationship with the family firm also creates potential conflicts related to Muzinich & Co.’s clients. The firm makes money by charging investment management fees to several dozen wealthy individuals, insurance companies, pension funds, as well as what filings describe as a “quasi foreign government corporation.” The client list is not public and it’s unclear whether Muzinich would know about clients that came on board since he left. But any large investor has much to gain, or lose, from decisions being made by the Treasury about the bailout policies. “The clients of this firm, I imagine, must be thrilled that Muzinich has this vitally important, powerful position with a huge amount of discretion and authority,” Clark said. The Treasury spokeswoman declined to answer a question about the firm’s clients. Even as Justin Muzinich has presided over bailout policies criticized by some observers, Muzinich & Co. executives have praised the government’s actions in recent briefings for investors. One described the interventions “as providing somewhat of a floor underneath the high yield market.” Another Muzinich executive, David Bowen, who manages one of the firm’s high-yield bond portfolios, said during a May 20 webinar, “The Fed has been about as supportive, helpful, accommodative — whatever word you want to use — as anyone could imagine.” Untangling the Financial Relationship When Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin hired Justin Muzinich as counselor in early 2017, in many ways he was selecting a younger version of himself. Justin Muzinich, center left, then a top adviser to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, center, on Capitol Hill on Sept. 12, 2017. (Al Drago/The New York Times/Redux) Like Mnuchin, Muzinich grew up in New York City, the son of a wealthy finance executive. Also like his boss, Muzinich spent years collecting a series of elite credentials: He attended Groton and holds degrees from Harvard College, the London School of Economics, Yale Law School and Harvard Business School. He worked at Morgan Stanley and spent a few months at a hedge fund associated with billionaire Steven A. Cohen, followed by a few years at EMS Capital, which invests the money of the wealthy Safra family. Colleagues praise Muzinich as hardworking and serious, and Democrats have expressed relief that he isn’t as inflammatory as many other Trump appointees. Powell, the Fed chair, called Muzinich “creative and extremely capable” in a statement to The Wall Street Journal in April. In 2010, he joined the family firm and became its president. His father, George, founded the company in 1988, specializing in handling portfolios of American high-yield bonds for European pension funds. The company expanded to offer funds to other institutional investors and wealthy individuals, but it stuck to its focus on corporate credit — particularly the riskier type that pays higher interest rates. Headquartered in New York and London, the firm has eight offices across Europe and one in Singapore. “Talking about credit all the time might sound boring, I’m sure it does,” Justin Muzinich said in a 2014 interview, “but that is what makes you good.” As he rose in the family business, Muzinich also launched himself into GOP policy circles, advising the presidential campaigns of Mitt Romney in 2012 and Jeb Bush in 2016. He owns a $20 million ultramodern beachfront house in the Hamptons and a $4.5 million Park Avenue apartment and commutes from New York City to work in Washington. When Muzinich entered the Trump administration, he reported owning stock and stock options in the family firm collectively worth at least $60 million. The true value could be much higher, but disclosure rules don’t require officials to give a specific figure for any asset worth more than $50 million. The Treasury’s ethics officers are frequently called on to rule on complex questions, given that the department tends to attract people from careers on Wall Street who have large, complicated financial holdings — from ex-Goldman Sachs Chairman Hank Paulson to banker and Hollywood financier Mnuchin. Get Our Top Investigations Subscribe to the Big Story newsletter. Don’t miss out on ProPublica’s next investigation. Sign up and get the Big Story email whenever we break news. Email address This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply. Stakes in individual companies can create conflicts of interest. So incoming Treasury officials typically sell those stocks and invest in broad-based options like mutual funds. Ownership in private investment funds can be particularly thorny because ethics rules treat each of the fund’s investments in specific companies as sources of potential conflicts. Sarah Bloom Raskin, who preceded Muzinich as deputy secretary in the Obama administration, reported holding only a collection of index and mutual funds that either track the whole stock market or a large basket of companies. But government ethics officials did not require Muzinich to sell his stake in the family firm through his first year in office as counselor to Mnuchin. According to ethics filings, Muzinich said that he did not divest it until December 2017, the month the tax law was signed. (Several months later, in April 2018, Trump nominated him to be deputy secretary.) Muzinich did not receive cash for most of his stake in the family firm. Instead, his more recent financial disclosures show that the stake, held in a family trust, was replaced with an opaque asset described as a “receivable from family,” valued at over $50 million. Muzinich’s disclosure filings don’t reveal much about this asset at all. They don’t say who the family member is or explain the arrangement. They don’t say how the terms were negotiated, or even if the valuation of the deal was vetted by an independent third party. It turns out that Muzinich transferred his stake to his father. But his father didn’t have to pay him right away. According to a Senate Finance Committee memo obtained by ProPublica, Justin received two promissory notes from his father in return for the shares. The notes pay Justin between $1 million and $5 million in interest over a year, at a rate of 2.11%. Moreover, his father does not have to pay any principal on the loan for nine years. Neither the financial disclosure forms nor the Senate memo say how long the agreement is supposed to last. Neither addresses the possibility of his getting the shares back after he leaves the government. The Treasury says the transaction is “not reversible” but did not elaborate. In other words, Justin still has an ongoing long-term stake in the financial well-being of Muzinich & Co., since his father now owes him more than $50 million. If the company were to plummet in value or even go under, it could cost Justin. Actions the Treasury and the Fed take can either enhance the chances he gets his money back or lower them. The Treasury defended the IOU transaction as an appropriate remedy for any conflicts of interest. The agency provided a statement from Elizabeth Horton, an ethics attorney who left the agency in 2019 and who worked with Muzinich on the divestiture from his family business. Horton said that when Muzinich first joined the agency, “the Treasury ethics office correctly advised him that he did not need to divest his holdings in his family business because of the generalized nature of his work on tax reform legislation.” She said that when his duties changed, “I advised Mr. Muzinich that an exchange for a fixed value note was an appropriate way to divest.” Horton said that advice was “consistent with practice in previous administrations” — though the Treasury declined to cite similar cases. “Muzinich worked very closely with the ethics office and was extremely attentive to his ethics obligations,” Horton said. ProPublica reached out to four ethics officials, including two former Treasury ethics lawyers. None could recall a similar divestment transaction. Three of the four disagreed that it resolved Muzinich’s conflicts, while one said that turning it into an asset with a value that doesn’t fluctuate with future developments should shield him from any allegations of impropriety. The deal does not look like an arms-length transaction, said Virginia Canter, who served as a career ethics attorney at Treasury during the George W. Bush administration and is now at the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. “The terms of the loan suggest something less than a bona fide transaction,” she said. “Once he leaves office, nothing in the arrangement appears to preclude Muzinich from forgiving the debt owed to him by his father so they can amicably agree on returning to Muzinich the interest in the Muzinich family business.” As ranking member of the Finance Committee, Sen. Ron Wyden opposed Muzinich’s nomination as deputy secretary because of his role in crafting the tax bill. Although he would have preferred a cash sale of the Muzinich & Co. stock, Wyden said in a statement that in July 2018 Muzinich had agreed to “strengthen his recusal commitments to include matters where his family’s company is a party.” That satisfied Wyden at the time, but it is a very narrow restriction. A vast range of issues before the Treasury could affect Muzinich & Co. regardless of whether the firm was directly a party to any of them. How Justin Muzinich treated the transaction for tax purposes could reveal whether it was a true and final sale or not. Ordinarily, a sale of an asset such as equity in a company would trigger a capital gains tax bill. In Muzinich’s case, that could run into the tens of millions of dollars, even though his father paid him no cash upfront. But there is an exception if the asset in question is merely transferred with a commitment to have it returned, said Steve Rosenthal, a tax law expert at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center. “If you are merely parking or pledging securities, and you are going to get them back, that’s not viewed as a taxable transaction,” he said. It is not clear how he reported the transaction to the IRS, and whether he was left with a huge tax bill. The Treasury declined to comment on the tax issues. Tax Reform — for Friends and Family Through his first year in the administration, even as Muzinich continued to own his stake in the family firm, he met with a wide range of business executives to hash out major tax provisions that would affect them, according to his 2017 calendars that ProPublica obtained after suing the Treasury last year under the Freedom of Information Act. Others were obtained by the watchdog group American Oversight. The Treasury redacted large sections of the calendars, saying that they required consultation with the White House before they could be released. One of the most important principles in the federal government ethics rules covers whether an official is dealing with a “particular matter” that would affect a discrete group of people with specific interests or a “general matter” that affects a larger and more diverse group. The Treasury spokeswoman said the tax reform bill was to affect a very large and diverse group, so ethics rules did not prevent Muzinich from working on it. He was allowed to keep his equity in the company while working on the tax bill because his “duties did not include particular matters that required divestiture of certain assets.” But many industries had specific interests in the tax bill that they lobbied on — industries that may include clients of Muzinich & Co. Insurance companies, for example, featured prominently. Muzinich met with trade groups representing insurers as well as Liberty Mutual, The Hartford, Zurich and Blue Cross Blue Shield. In the final tax bill, property and casualty insurers fared particularly well by dodging new limitations on deductions that applied to other companies. Insurance companies invest their premiums in order to increase their profits. In its regulatory filings, Muzinich & Co. reports that 17 of its 89 clients are insurance companies, which have given the firm more than $1.4 billion to invest. Muzinich & Co. did not provide a list of its clients. Some of the companies Muzinich & Co. has stakes in also have been lobbying the Treasury on their own behalf. For example, Muzinich & Co. helps its clients invest in business development companies, a type of investment fund that enjoys lower taxes in exchange for providing capital to medium-sized companies. The firm itself owns stock in BDCs, many of them run by private equity companies such as Ares Capital Corporation, which has paid millions of dollars to lobby for looser rules governing the BDC industry. Even beyond any overlap with the family firm’s interests, Muzinich’s calendars, which cover the period from February to September of 2017, reflect the administration’s priorities in negotiating the tax deal. Muzinich spent long days in meetings with private equity titans, energy company CEOs and heavy-hitting interest groups like the Business Roundtable and the anti-tax group Americans for Prosperity. His calendar shows no meetings with labor unions or progressive groups. Muzinich did meet often with the Treasury’s in-house tax experts but frequently didn’t follow their recommendations. Richard Prisinzano, who served in the agency’s tax analysis office until August 2017, recalled trying to tell Mnuchin and Muzinich that drastically lowering corporate tax rates would likely prompt businesses to transform into C corporations, which often pay lower rates under the new law. He argued that such a change would further reduce tax revenues. Muzinich disagreed, Prisinzano said, protesting that businesses wouldn’t change their corporate form just to lower their taxes. “He really pushed back,” Prisinzano recalled. “He said to me, ‘The secretary is a numbers person, and the numbers don’t make sense to him.’” “‘I’m a numbers person, and they make perfect sense to me,’” Prisinzano said he responded. “That was not an answer that they liked.” In the following two years, many large businesses did indeed convert into C corporations, including private equity giants Ares, Blackstone and KKR. The government hasn’t produced an estimate of how big a hit taxpayers took from these conversions. During his confirmation hearing as deputy secretary in July 2018, Democratic senators pressed Muzinich on whether he agreed with the White House that the tax bill would “pay for itself,” despite the dire projections of independent forecasters such as the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. “Yes,” Muzinich responded. It has not come close, as corporate tax collections plunged and left the national debt at historic levels on the eve of the pandemic. Muzinich Takes on the COVID-19 Crisis As the economic response to the novel coronavirus consumed Washington in March, Mnuchin turned again to Muzinich to negotiate with Congress over the shape of a bailout intended to sustain companies as they weathered the worst part of the crisis. Ultimately, Trump administration officials and lawmakers settled on a package worth more than $2 trillion, divided into aid regimens for different sectors of the economy. While setting general parameters, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act gives the Treasury wide latitude over how the money is to be distributed. It calls for $50 billion in grants and loans for the airline industry, for example, with few rules on who should get what. (In another potential intersection with Muzinich’s Treasury work, Muzinich & Co. started a new business line to loan money to airlines to buy planes in February.) Perhaps the greatest power the Treasury now has is the authority to sign off on Fed loan programs funded with CARES Act money. The Fed has said it will leverage that money to lend up to several trillion dollars. Among their biggest decisions: Which firms to include in the $600 billion Main Street Lending Program, which will lend directly to mid-sized businesses, and how to structure two programs that will purchase up to $750 billion in corporate bonds. The Main Street program, which has yet to launch, changed substantially after it was first announced to sweep in bigger companies and those with heavier debt loads. Offering a glimpse into how the Treasury directly shaped the Fed programs, Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette told Bloomberg the change was made in part to make sure beleaguered oil companies had access to the program’s favorable terms. Muzinich & Co.’s U.S.-based funds include dozens of energy companies. Mnuchin also deputized Muzinich to fix problems that arose during the first round of funding for the Paycheck Protection Program, which offers forgivable loans to small businesses. The government hasn’t said who got money through the program, but Muzinich & Co.’s portfolio includes many companies that are small enough to be eligible. The Fed’s bond purchasing programs will go even further to help companies with poorly rated credit. On March 23, the Fed and the Treasury announced a sweeping stimulus program that would involve buying hundreds of billions of dollars of investment-grade bonds. Selling bonds is a way for large companies like Boeing or PepsiCo to raise money for new investments, to fund day-to-day operations or to pay back older loans. Companies that are strong and profitable are expected to be able to pay back the borrowed money. Their bonds are deemed “investment grade” and come with lower interest rates. The news of the Fed program on its own heralded a dramatic recovery in the bond market, which in three weeks recovered nearly all of the 13.6% it had lost since the plunge began on March 6, according to one index. Then, on April 9, the Fed announced, with the Treasury’s approval, that it would expand its efforts to buy some junk bonds. These carry higher interest rates because the borrowing companies are viewed as riskier and may already be heavily in debt. One index tracking that market segment surged nearly 8% on the news, the most in a decade. This risker category of bonds has expanded dramatically in recent years as companies took on higher debt burdens to do things like acquire competitors and buy back stock. These are the bonds in which Muzinich & Co. has long specialized. At the end of 2019, Muzinich & Co. reported it had $2.8 billion of assets under management in its U.S. high-yield bond strategy. A Muzinich fund that focuses specifically on those bonds took significant losses in March, as companies like oilfield services provider Targa Resources and Caesars Entertainment saw the price of their bonds fall 30% and 35% respectively. The government’s announcement buoyed Muzinich & Co.’s high-yield holdings along with everyone else’s. The portfolio manager for the firm’s U.S. high-yield offering also praised CARES Act’s tax provisions that would “help high yield companies.” In a separate development in May, the Fed expanded another Treasury-backed lending program in a way that could help Muzinich & Co.’s portfolio. The central bank said May 12 it would support “syndicated loans,” another form of corporate debt often in which riskier firms borrow money from multiple lenders. Muzinich & Co. had more than $3 billion in assets under management in U.S. and European syndicated loans at the end of last year. The good news for Muzinich & Co. keeps coming. As the firm’s head of investment strategy, Erick Muller, told investors in a May 13 webcast about the junk bond market: “The recovery is pretty spectacular.” Doris Burke and Hannah Fresques contributed reporting. Do you have access to information about the economic crisis response by the Treasury or Fed that should be public? Reach Justin Elliott at justin@propublica.org or via Signal at 774-826-6240 and Lydia DePillis at lydia.depillis@propublica.org or via Signal at 202-913-3717. Here’s how to send tips and documents to ProPublica securely. Did Your Company Get Bailout Money? Are the Employees Benefiting From It? ProPublica is reporting on the government’s various programs to support businesses amidst the epidemic. We want to know what these programs mean for your workplace. Please help us report. This form requires JavaScript to complete. Powered by CityBase.

  • Police Need Real Reform, a Fresh Start
    by David C. Couper on June 1, 2020 at 20:49

    Because policing has for so many years been the realm of white males, there are still vestiges of white supremacy and racism within its ranks.

  • Midwest Dispatch: White People, Do Something
    by Sarah Lahm on June 1, 2020 at 20:30

    As protests and riots spread to cities across the world, white people are being asked to join the fight against police brutality.

  • ‘I Believe in Building Systems’
    by John Nichols on June 1, 2020 at 18:51

    Stacey Abrams outlines a vision for a fairer and more democratic society.

  • Adams describes one of the groups!
    by <b>bob somerby</b> on June 1, 2020 at 18:27

    MONDAY, JUNE 1, 2020You may not hear this on cable: Eric Adams is Brooklyn borough president. Before that, he spent 22 years in the NYPD.In this interview with New York magazine, he describes who you’re currently seeing each night in scenes from Gotham’s streets:ADAMS (6/1/20): We’re at a unique place, and many people don’t understand: The righteous protesters who deal with police abuse—what’s different now is that we have professional agitators, and their goal is not police abuse but to burn our cities. And that’s why you see fire-bombings—the people who are doing the Molotov cocktails. These are professionals who know how to do incendiary devices. They carry bags of rocks and stones so they can resupply agitators. We found a vehicle on Eastern Parkway in Crown Heights that had incendiary devices, a trunkful of gasoline. New York may not realize it, but they’ve never been here before. I’ve been speaking with some of the organizers and telling them they have to identify the people who are from outside the city that are here to hijack their movement, to destroy and harm the city.Last night, someone on cable defined the three groups now in the streets. Those three groups are these:The protestersThe agitators/arsonistsThe lootersIn the passage posted above, Adams is discussing the second group. We can’t tell you much about any of this, and some of our stars seem to be trying to keep our tribe from breaking through the Pabulum Curtain.On CNN and MSNBC, you’re being deluged with propaganda which says that the looters are only stealing all that stuff because they’re so hurt and upset. When others see our tribunes saying such things, they line up to vote against whoever our tribe prefers.That interview with Adams is well worth reading. In our view, Cuomo and Lemon spent hours last night turning our brains to mush. More on the agitators: The next exchange reads like this:NEW YORK MAGAZINE: So are those people sympathetic to the cause or are they alt-right people, or something else?ADAMS: No, they’re—I think it’s an interesting combination, with similar goals at opposite ends of the spectrum. There are far-right people who want to see a race riot between cops and young blacks, and they’re doing everything they can to aggravate that, throwing stones, throwing liquid substances that burn the skin. And then there are these sorta anarchists who are saying We want to destroy government, because government has been unfair, as they see it, to the poor. You have this mixture that’s really infiltrated these organizations.Adams is Brooklyn borough president. There’s every chance that he knows whereof he speaks. Or you can listen to Lemon as he flogs his disappointment with his know-nothing Hollywood friends.

  • Did Val Demings do the right thing?
    by <b>bob somerby</b> on June 1, 2020 at 17:59

    MONDAY, JUNE 1, 2020The facts are always wrong: Val Demings is very impressive.Today, she’s a member of the House, representing Florida’s 10th congressional district. Earlier, she was chief of police in Orlando, a major American city located in the South.We’re going to guess that people have always found Val Demings impressive. We get that impression from a story in her column in yesterday’s Washington Post:DEMINGS (6/31/20): I joined the Orlando Police Department when I was 26 years old—a young black woman, fresh out of an early career in social work. I am sure you can imagine the mental and physical stress of the police academy. Not only exams and physical training, but the daily thoughts of, “What am I doing here?” as I looked around and did not see many people who looked like me.But I made it. I was elected class president and received the Board of Trustees’ Award for overall excellence. I proudly took an oath to the Constitution and to protect and serve. I was on my way to fulfill my dream of “saving the world.” Of course, I went straight to the midnight shift, but I loved the job. I truly felt like I was serving my community, responding to calls from people in distress. Val Demings was 26 in 1983. (Today, she’s 63.) Way back then, she was elected class president at the Orlando police academy. If such assessments were fashionable, that might be seen as a very large sign of progress way back then.Demings was “a young black woman” in a Southern jurisdiction. Beyond the racial dynamic, she was entering a profession which had always belonged to the men.She says that when she looked around, she didn’t see “many people who looked like [her].” She doesn’t say whether that means that there were few black women, or few black recruits at all. Personally, we aren’t fans of that rapidly trending “looks like me” locution. Personally, we think it may be more constructive to say that we all pretty much look alike, what with the two eyes, the nose and the mouth, and the ear on each side of the head.We think it may be more constructive to emphasize similarity rather than to keep insisting on perceived difference. That doesn’t mean that Demings isn’t impressive, because she plainly is.All the way back in 1983, a bunch of guys at the Orlando police academy were willing to notice this fact. If seeing the glass half full was more fashionable today, this might look like a marker of long-ago progress.That said, current fashion favors seeing the glass as shockingly empty. This leads us to ask if, in one particular matter, Demings has done the right thing.We refer to a major break from tradition which has been occurring in the past week. That break from tradition can perhaps be seen in this part of Demings’ thoroughly sensible column:DEMINGS: My heart goes out to the families of those who have lost loved ones. But we must also offer justice through full and swift accountability—not just for their loved one, but for the future.In Minnesota, we have no choice but to hold the officers accountable through the criminal-justice system. But we cannot only be reactive. We must be proactive. We must work with law enforcement agencies to identify problems before they happen.[…]As law enforcement officers, we took an oath to protect and serve. And those who forgot—or who never understood that oath in the first place—must go. That includes those who would stand by as they witness misconduct by a fellow officer.Four officers came to the scene last week when a clerk called police accusing George Floyd of a (possible) crime. One of the four, Derek Chauvin, has been charged with murder and manslaughter.That’s where the break with tradition starts coming in.From Governor Walz on down, has any official in the state of Minnesota not prejudged this criminal case? Starting with Governor Walz, we’ve seen one office-holder after another announce that George Floyd’s death was a murder, full stop, with no possible need for “alleged.”In that way, these officials have broken with two long traditions. They’ve broken with the presumption of innocence, and they’ve broken with the insistence that public officials not make public statements prejudging a criminal case.We were once shocked when Nixon did that. This past week, everyone has.Has Demings broken with that tradition when she says that we should hold the officers (plural) “accountable through the criminal-justice system?” Beyond that, did she recommend, in the passage we’ve posted, that all four officers should be charged with crimes, not just the current one?Judgments on those questions may differ. But given the current state of play, it’s hard to imagine any politician arguing for the older way, in which office holders were never supposed to prejudge criminal cases.Did Rep. Demings prejudge the case against the other three officers? If she has, could that mean that she has failed to do the right thing?On those questions, opinions will differ. That said, we the people have been howling for the necks of the three officers who haven’t yet been charged with a crime. Full disclosure! It doesn’t seem obvious to us that the other three officers should be charged with a crime. One thing does seem perfectly clear:As we the people continue to howl, it’s unlikely that you will ever see a serious discussion of that question. Or of anything else, of course!Tomorrow morning, we’re going to take you through the official document in which Chauvin was charged with murder and manslaughter (the “statement of probable cause”). We’re going to guess that you might be surprised by some of what that document says.We’ll start with a statement Chris Wallace made on yesterday’s Fox News Sunday. He joined the mob that’s out for blood—and as he did, it seemed quite clear that he hadn’t yet read the official criminal complaint.Do you watch CNN or MSNBC? If so, you heard accounts of this case, all last week, which are contradicted by statements made in that official complaint. These contradictions don’t come from Chauvin’s defense attorney; they come from the man who has charged him with murder. When we read that official document, we were surprised—but in another way, not surprised—by some of the things we read.The facts you’re handed are always wrong. It’s been this way for years.Also, this statement by Demings: We liked Demings even more when we read this unusual statement in the passage we’ve posted above:I was on my way to fulfill my dream of “saving the world.”In the summer of 83, Demings was dreaming of saving the world! We had that goal at 26 too. It was a difficult burden.

  • Days of Rage in Milwaukee
    by Isiah Holmes on June 1, 2020 at 16:34

    City rocked by weekend of protests and clashes.

  • ADULTHOOD’S END: The New York Times comes out of its shell!
    by <b>bob somerby</b> on June 1, 2020 at 14:13

    MONDAY, JUNE 1, 2020We hear Norman Brown singing: We’ve never met Tanya Faison of Sacramento, California.That said, Tanya Faison of Sacramento is a good, decent person. Also, she has made a difficult choice, due to a need she feels.In this morning’s editions, the Washington Post describes the choice Faison has made. Decent people have made such decisions at various times in world history:BAILEY ET AL (6/1/20): Less visible is the private weariness and anguish felt by many black people in the country, some of whom are either too fearful for their health to join the protests or who may disagree with the methods of some of the most riotous demonstrators.“I’m exhausted,” said Tanya Faison, an activist in Sacramento. “All of these things build up, and they make your soul feel such unrest. And then you add that to all the lives that nobody got justice for.”For months, Faison has been sheltering in place at home, worried that if she catches the virus, she may die because of a preexisting respiratory condition. But the fear of the coronavirus, she said, is outweighed by the urgent need to push for change while political leaders and nonblack communities are paying attention.“There comes a time when you need to figure out what’s more of a risk,” she said. “So I’m going to put my mask on, I’m going to put my gloves on, and I’m going to protest.” Decent people have put themselves at risk many times in the planet’s past. Then too, there’s the remarkable conduct being put on display by the Hamptons-based upper-end sociocrats who parade about, announcing their virtue, at the Gamptons-based New York Times.This very morning, the New York Times’ front page represents a type of coming out. From this day forward, nothing is hidden. The Hamptons-based paper is no longer trying to hide who and what it is.Tanya Faison is a good, decent person. We’d be inclined to suggest that folk at the Times may, by contrast, be lost.Today’s front page strikes us as astounding, yet perhaps as refreshingly undisguised. For starters, though, and with possible reference to Faison, or to other decent people like her, let’s recall what we saw on the paper’s front page just two days ago.The report appeared on the Times front page. Right there in paragraph 6, the New York Times offered this:FURBER ET AL (5/30/20): The case has become part of a now-familiar history of police violence in recent years in which African-American men have died in encounters that were shockingly mundane in their origins—Eric Garner, who died after a 2014 arrest in New York for selling cigarettes without tax stamps; Michael Brown, who died in an encounter with the police the same year in Ferguson, Mo., after walking in the street instead of using the sidewalk. Amazing, isn’t it? You’ll have to admit that it is!More specifically, is it true? Did the late Michael Brown die in an encounter with police which was “shockingly mundane in [its] origins?”Plainly, that’s what three reporters said, abetted by unnamed editors. According to Furber, Burch and Robles, Brown died in an encounter with police “after walking in the street instead of using the sidewalk.” Full and complete total stop!As you know, those statements by the three reporters were technically accurate. Assuming even minimal competence, they were also baldly dishonest.We don’t believe that Furber, Burch and Robles are really that unaware. Similarly, we don’t believe that their unnamed editors could possibly be that clueless.According to the formal Justice Department report which Attorney General Eric Holder explicitly endorsed, Brown was killed after assaulting a (much smaller) convenience store clerk and subsequently attempting to seize a (somewhat smaller) police officer’s gun.He was spotted walking in the street, but he was being sought because of the earlier assault. For whatever tragic reason, he was charging the (somewhat smaller) police officer when the fatal shots were fired. According to the formal report which Attorney General Holder endorsed, every shot the officer fired was justified, given the circumstances.(We’re not sure we agree with that judgment, but the Obama officials who reached that conclusion know much more about police work than we do. At any rate, we’re familiar with the basic facts which are described in their lengthy, report. Assuming even the tiniest competence, the New York Times knows those facts too.)We find it hard to believe that Matt Furber, Audra Burch and Frances Robles don’t know those basic facts. We don’t believe that their unnamed editors are ignorant of these facts.On the other hand:Many good, decent people are ignorant of those facts. As Saturday’s front-page report helps us see, newspapers like the New York Times are still working to keep things that way.What goes through the mind of a journalist who puts such a baldly misleading passage in print? We don’t know, and no one is ever going to ask Furber, Robles or Burch.Our upper-end news orgs don’t engage in such conduct. Homey don’t play it that way!At any rate, our point this morning is very simple. It goes exactly like this:Counterintuitive though it may be, our nation’s upper-end journalists have been doing this forever. More specifically, they’ve been misreporting and disappearing basic facts in cases of this type ever since the shooting death of Trayvon Martin launched the movement of which decent people like Faison are part.Those decent people have repeatedly been misled and misinformed by our upper-end journalists. As they’re handed childish, fabulized accounts of these very important milestone cases, they’re robed of the chance to understand the complexity of the world, and their anxiety and sense of anguish may tend to grow.We cover journalism at this site. We don’t pretend to have expertise concerning police conduct and/or misconduct.For more than twenty years, we’ve been describing the behaviors in which our nation’s upper-end journalists engage. This morning, we’re going to tell you this:People like Faison have been misled and misinformed by people like Furber every step of the way over the past eight years. We refer to cases involving police shootings, and to cases of alleged or proven sexual assault.In this instance, readers can see what the New York Times wrote. Last Saturday, the report appeared above the fold on the newspaper’s front page.Why was such an absurdly deceptive presentation on the paper’s front page? We’ll be asking such questions all this week as we discuss adulthood’s end—as hear Norman Brown singing.On this morning’s front page, we’d say the New York Times has fully come out of its shell. We’d say it reveals itself, without any hint of disguise, as an upper-class organ of disinformation and performative Hamptons-based virtue.When you read the New York Times, upper-end reporters are happy to signal that they themselves, and chosen others, are the good decent people, while targeted others are not. And by the way, while we have you here:Is this perhaps a tiny bit like the way President Nixon got elected? Is it possible that President Trump could be getting himself re-elected as folk at the Times, and on the two cables, play these eternal games? We can’t answer that question—but the Furbers misstate, and many good people writhe. Complexity has been taken from them in this, the eternal way of the guild, the clan and the tribe.By the way, who the heck was Norman O. Brown? He started out as a classicist, but you’re asking a very good question.His books became very big in the mid to late 1960s (Life Against Death, Love’s Body). He seemed to think that he could hear our culture’s end drawing near.Tomorrow: Adulthood’s end continues

  • Havoc Comes to Madison
    by Alice Herman on June 1, 2020 at 05:00

    A weekend of protest, and an excessive police response.

  • This has been happening for a long time!
    by <b>bob somerby</b> on May 30, 2020 at 15:36

    SATURDAY, MAY 30, 2020We don’t mean that as a compliment: In print editions, this front-page report in the New York Times appears beneath this headline:Fatal Encounter Wasn’t First Time Paths CrossedEye-catching! But in the actual report, readers seem to be told that there’s no particular reason to think that their paths ever had crossed:FURBER, BURCH AND ROBLES (5/30/20):Mr. Floyd had been a star football and basketball player in high school, moving to Minneapolis about five years ago. When he returned to Houston for his mother’s funeral two years ago, he told a cousin that Minneapolis had come to feel like home. “He was such a happy guy, he loved to be around people, loved to dance and he loved Minneapolis,” said Jovanni Thunstrom, who owned the Conga Latin Bistro where Mr. Floyd worked security on salsa nights. “He walked in every day with a smile on his face.”It was another club, El Nuevo Rodeo, where both Mr. Floyd and Mr. Chauvin worked. Maya Santamaria, who sold the club in January, said she doubted that the two men interacted.Mr. Floyd worked the occasional weeknight, she said, while Mr. Chauvin worked security on weekends over the past 17 years.That was the full discussion of whether their paths had ever crossed. That said, what the heck! It was close enough for New York Times front-page headline work!Through a pair of links, the report connects to the formal criminal complaint in which Officer Chauvin is charged with murder and manslaughter. The document tells a more complicated story than any we’d previously heard.None of that is why we offer this post. We offer this post because of the following sleight-of-hand:FURBER, BURCH AND ROBLES: The case has become part of a now-familiar history of police violence in recent years in which African-American men have died in encounters that were shockingly mundane in their origins—Eric Garner, who died after a 2014 arrest in New York for selling cigarettes without tax stamps; Michael Brown, who died in an encounter with the police the same year in Ferguson, Mo., after walking in the street instead of using the sidewalk.The second highlighted passage is stunningly disingenuous.As has been widely noted, the original police report about George Floyd’s death was remarkably deceptive. Everything included was accurate. But dear God! The facts which got left out!So too with that highlighted passage, which omits the reason why Michael Brown was being sought on the fateful morning when he was spotted “walking in the street instead of using the sidewalk.” As someone at the Times surely knows, he was being sought because he’d just assaulted, and stolen from, a much smaller convenience store clerk. First the police report, then the Times! This is the world we all live in.

  • Chait and Flynn and the Post oh my!
    by <b>bob somerby</b> on May 30, 2020 at 14:18

    SATURDAY, MAY 30, 2020The end of competent journalism: We’ve read and seen some horrible journalism in the past 24 hours.For one example, consider this lengthy front-page report in today’s Washington Post. More specifically, consider two of the various things you never learn about the fatal police shooting incident with which the report begins:Did the late Wayne Reyes have a shotgun with him when he was shot and killed? Also, had he in fact “stabbed his girlfriend and another friend” in the minutes, or perhaps in the hour, before he was shot and killed?Despite the length of this front-page report, you’re never told such things. We’d give this report a failing grade, except as an example of unfortunate story-shaping.We’re going to make a confession today. Like you, we’ve never been a police officer.Unlike Jeronimo Yanez (see Post report); unlike Mohamed Noor (see Post report); we’ve never been dispatched, in the dead of the night, to police an incident in which a gun eventually appeared, or in which a sexual assault was said to have occurred right out in the street.We’ve never had to do that! For that reason, we’re slow to judge people who are required to do such things. We ourselves have never made the brave, dead-of-night decision, as everyone else has done.It’s hard to imagine any excuse for Derek Chauvin’s recent conduct. He’s been charged with murder and with manslaughter, and the conduct in which he engaged does in fact seem to have been deranged and depraved.(How do people end up that way? We’ve wondered about that all week. So far, there’s been little background reporting.)In other cases involving police officers, we’re inclined to be slower to judge. Luckily, everyone else is willing to leap, and reporters like Bailey and Berman are prepared to sift the information we’re given about various events.That front-page report is terrible work, but it’s also a sign of the times. As a matter of anthropology, it may be the best our species can be expected to do. It may be that, at times ;like these, we human beings are hard-wired to novelize such reports.A second report, from the Post’s page A2, is shorter and more straightforward. Now that transcripts have been released, it reports what Michael Flynn said to Russkie ambassador Kislyak in December 2016.This second, shorter report was written by Barrett and Miller, a pair of experienced, top-level reporters. Barrett and Miller do not report that Flynn was “undermining” the Obama administration’s policy on sanctions. (In the report which appears in our hard-copy Post, the word does not appear.)Jonathan Chait does make that claim. As he does, we weep for the species.In the end, of course, it all depends on what the meaning of “undermine” is. Chait is certain that “undermining” occurred. He says so in this paragraph:CHAIT (5/29/20): The transcripts today quote Flynn telling Kislyak, “Do not, do not uh, allow this (Obama) administration to box us in, right now, okay?” If that does not constitute “undermin[ing] the outgoing administration’s policy,” what does?What would have constituted undermining the policy? Frankly, we’re not sure.The outgoing Obama administration had three more weeks to serve. The incoming Trump administration was going to have every right to adopt a different sanctions policy.The existing policy stayed in effect right through inaugural day. On that day, President Trump addressed the largest, most admiring crowd in solar system history. Nothing Flynn said to the Russkie affected, or could have affected, the continuing operation of the Obama policy until such time as Obama was no longer president. We have no idea what it means to say that Flynn “undermined” that policy, nor does Chait, full of certainty, bother to explain why he says it did.By way of contrast: In the fall of 1968, President Johnson may have been on the verge of a peace deal with the North Vietnamese. By common understanding, Candidate Richard M. Nixon tried to keep a peace deal from happening. So it says in this factually accurate New York Times news report:BAKER (1/2/17): Richard M. Nixon told an aide that they should find a way to secretly “monkey wrench” peace talks in Vietnam in the waning days of the 1968 campaign for fear that progress toward ending the war would hurt his chances for the presidency, according to newly discovered notes.In a telephone conversation with H. R. Haldeman, who would go on to become White House chief of staff, Nixon gave instructions that a friendly intermediary should keep “working on” South Vietnamese leaders to persuade them not to agree to a deal before the election, according to the notes, taken by Mr. Haldeman.The Nixon campaign’s clandestine effort to thwart President Lyndon B. Johnson’s peace initiative that fall has long been a source of controversy and scholarship. Ample evidence has emerged documenting the involvement of Nixon’s campaign. But Mr. Haldeman’s notes appear to confirm longstanding suspicions that Nixon himself was directly involved, despite his later denials.It’s easy to see why someone would say that Nixon and/or the Nixon campaign sought to undermine Johnson’s possible peace deal. For all we know, they may have kept it from happening!But in what way did Flynn’s remarks to the Russkie undermine the Obama policy? To this day, we have no idea—nor does Chait attempt to explain. To Chait, it’s just blindingly obvious!So it tends to go at highly tribal times such as these. We were similarly stunned, but also dismayed, by the peculiar way this early report from Minneapolis ended, a report about the use of tear gas.Unlike everyone else, we’ve never been a police officer. But we think we can answer the following questions, at least on a provisional basis:Why might a police department use tear gas in a situation where arson and looting were occurring? Also, why might a police department decline to use tear gas in a situation where as far as we know, for better or worse, no crimes were being committed?Despite our lack of experience, we think we can answer those questions! At New York magazine, but also in this remarkable piece at Slate, these behaviors indicate the existence of preferential racist behavior on the part of police.The woods are lovely, dark and deep—but our species isn’t, and never was, “the rational animal.”According to reams of decorated top major anthropologists, man (sic) was always the tribal animal. Our war-inclined species was always wired to generate stories which favor the clan or the tribe. This is now happening all over “the news.” It’s even happening Over Here, among the admittedly good smart brilliant thoughtful unbiased humans.How did we ever make it this far? For all their brilliance and erudition, despondent major anthropologists are completely unable to say.Postponed today: The decline of the once seminal book, The Family of Man (sic). Also, postponed again: What did Rachel Maddow say? On that same night, Adam Schiff!The Post, in print and online: The online version of the Post’s report about Flynn includes material in which an “analyst” seems to say that Flynn’s phone calls did undermine the Obama policy. The professor in question doesn’t explain why he uses that term.In the report which appears in our print edition, the word (and the analyst) never appear. The report appears on page A2 of our hard-copy Post.The online report is longer. On the other hand, it isn’t included on the list of reports you access by clicking the link, “Today’s print stories.” Online, the report is longer—but you have to hunt it down!

  • Smart Ass Cripple: Going to the Doctor While Deaf
    by Mike Ervin on May 29, 2020 at 22:49

    If you’re deaf and need to communicate with hospital staff during the pandemic, that’s when the nightmare really begins.

  • From the rubble (and death) of Minneapolis…
    by <b>bob somerby</b> on May 29, 2020 at 20:24

    FRIDAY, MAY 29, 2020…standardized narratives form: We still owe you an account of what Rachel Maddow said about Deborah Birx last Friday night.As of yesterday, our leading slacker cable news channel had posted the transcript from last Friday’s shows. We still promise to show you what was said, but for today, let’s defer to events from Minneapolis.We’re not sure that we’ve ever been glad to hear that someone has been arrested and charged with a crime. That said, if anyone was ever going to get arrested and charged with a crime, it would have to be Officer Chauvin. Many questions remain to be asked about his remarkable conduct, and about the conduct of the other three officer on the scene.That said, we cover the public discourse here, not the mysteries of (some) police conduct. In these latter days of our failing republic, we’ve been amazed by some of the scripts which have emerged from our own struggling tribe.Remember, this site is all anthropology now. We no longer expect to see any sensible, sound discussions, whether about this or about some other important topic.At this site, it’s all about the ancient wiring which leads us to behave in the tribal ways we do. With respect to that ancient questions, highly expert anthropologists wake us on a nightly basis to contradict Aristotle:Man [sic] is the tribal, script-reading animal, these despondent future scholars all say.At some point, we’ll offer examples. For today, we’ll only say this, after watching CNN. We really don’t think that Crispus Attucks is part of what happened this week.How did we ever make it this far? Can anyone riddle us that?

  • Trump’s Dangerous Drug of Choice
    by Rachel Charlton-Dailey on May 29, 2020 at 17:09

    Trump’s advocacy of taking hydroxychloroquine to combat COVID-19 is putting vulnerable people in unnecessary danger, at the potential expense of people who need the medication to live.

  • IMITATIONS OF DISCOURSE: Candidate Mondale’s etiquette gaffe!
    by <b>bob somerby</b> on May 29, 2020 at 14:02

    FRIDAY, MAY 29, 2020As gaffe culture emerged: We self-defined, self-impressed “human beings” can be amazingly dumb.Let’s make that observation a bit more interesting. The intellectual leaders among us humans can be amazingly dumb!Wittgenstein sketched one of the ways that dumbness can work among the highest academic elites. This morning, though, the New York Times seems to go out of its way to showcase this hard-wired dumbness.How dumb can the dumbness get? Consider the way this letter begins. The New York Times chose to publish this letter at the very top of today’s letters column:LETTER TO THE NEW YORK TIMES (5/29/20): Amy Cooper is surely a Karen (an entitled white woman), and a bad dog owner, and probably a little racist, but does she deserve to have her life ruined over this incident—and perhaps be permanently banned from the park, as the Central Park Civic Association has asked?So the letter begins. It begins by normalizing a mocking, derogatory term which is applied to a wide swath of people on the basis of race (and gender).In fairness, this writer says a “white woman” is only a “Karen” if she is “entitled.” Only a fool would think that a group denigration of that type can be contained in such ways.This morning, the Times helps enable the current superspread of this derogatory race- and gender-based term. In doing so, it joins The Atlantic, and the Central Park birder himself, along with that Harvard man’s sister and a growing cast of thousands.(Stating the obvious: in terms of misogyny and woman-hating, the term plays a role similar to that of the previous term, “dumb blonde.” You’d think that anyone could see that, but our brightest lights routinely won’t.)In The Atlantic, a Kaitlyn offered this chirpy analysis back on May 6. (She referred to the term as “a popular joke.”) Her piece was linked to this very week by a David Graham. It should be hard to be this dumb, but our high-end journalists are up to the task. Such observations help us recall the birth of the modern-day gaffe.Michael Kinsley explained the emerging phenomenon in the trivia-pimping year of 1984. The whole point of the gaffe, he claimed, was that the much-maligned statement in question had to be trivial, pointless.In that sense, the ensuing pseudo-discussion had to be defiantly dumb. The ensuing bafflegab would therefore, by definition, be an imitation of discourse, even perhaps of life.Back in 1984, modern gaffe culture had begun to emerge. Today, it helps define the simple-minded world of our upper-end press corps, many of whose silly-Bill members have “gone to the finest schools.”(Stating the regrettable: When Bob Dylan presented that phrase in what may be his most famous song, he was, by fairly obvious inference, perhaps and possibly tilting toward the denigration of women.)Today, the press corps [HEART] gaffes! Over the past three or four decades, gaffe culture has expanded to include a wide array of monumentally pointless missteps.As we’ve noted, the press corps will seize on the spoken gaffe, but also on the wardrobe or hairdo gaffe. They’ll note the cheese on the cheesesteak gaffe. For decades, they’ve discussed the gaffe which involves asking for the wrong type of beverage when in a bar or saloon.In 2008, the Wall Street Journal’s Amy Chozick discovered the “too skinny to get elected” gaffe. In a sensible world, this would have meant that no serious newspaper would ever have wanted to hire any such Amy.In our world, the reverse was true. When the New York Times saw her “too skinny” piece, they knew they had to recruit her! (Or so perhaps it went.)We’ve listed many kinds of gaffes this week, but we haven’t yet mentioned the etiquette gaffe. According to a report by Gay Jervey, that gaffe was invented by a Maureen. It happened in 1984, the year of Kinsley’s excavations.Jervey’s report was sourced to Bill Kovach, Washington bureau chief at the New York Times during the era in question. Kovach’s story appeared in Jervey’s profile of Dowd in the late, lamented Brill’s Content.Kovach had a major career. But good God! This story:JERVEY (June 1999 issue): Even as a young reporter Dowd had an eye for telling detail and nuance…“We were on deadline,” Kovach explains. “Mondale and Ferraro had just been nominated…As the candidates stood on the platform, Maureen jumped up and grabbed me and said, ‘Look! Look! There is the story. Mondale doesn’t know whether to hug his wife or Ferraro. He doesn’t know what to do.’ She saw that signaled a new era, with women playing a whole new role in politics and men not quite knowing what to do.” That keen observation…crystallized for Kovach just how clairvoyant a reporter she was.In this way, Dowd’s brilliance was discovered by her newspaper’s power brokers. Sixteen years later, she built seven (7) columns around Candidate Gore’s bald spot. Candidate Bush won by a hair, then sent our army into Iraq. People are dead all over the world because of the gaffe of the bald spot.Concerning Mondale’s etiquette gaffe—he didn’t know which Karen to hug!—please consider the following:On that same evening, Candidate Mondale was caught in public making an accurate statement. During the speech in which he accepted his party’s nomination for president, Mondale said that he would have to raise taxes—and that his opponent, Ronald Reagan, was going to do the same thing, although he wouldn’t tell us.In this emerging age, this was the ultimate gaffe. No, it wasn’t a trivial statement, but it was an accurate statement—and according to Kinsley’s various definitions, a gaffe occurs when a politician says something that’s actually true.This spoken gaffe dealt with a major policy topic. For many years thereafter, Mondale was ridiculed, by reporters and pundits, for having made that accurate statement.That said, up in a sky box, a Karen had reportedly spotted a gaffe—in this case, an etiquette gaffe. It didn’t get a lot of play as campaign reporting unfolded, but it presumably led to this Karen’s ascent, and onward to the “Creeping Dowdism” which came to engulf the Times.It was a Katherine, Katherine Boo, who stood up on her two hind legs and tried to warn us about that creeping investment in trivia. In the years which followed his disregarded warning, trivia may be their most important product as the Samsons of the guild proceeded to dumb the world down.That said:Regarding Aperol Spritz and Taylor Swift, you can check the original document here. We don’t want to offer that document as a criticism of the youngish reporter who wrote about Candidate Biden’s gaffe last week, linking it to Candidate Clinton’s previous “hot sauce” gaffe. Boo tried to serve the nation well, and so will that youngish reporter.To us, that document showcases something else. It documents the way New York Times editors seem to love our nation’s trivia and those who pursue it well!No, you can’t run a modern nation this way. In the words of a famously average Joe, just “take a good look around.”Tomorrow: The Family of Man, the book

  • Immigrants in Limbo Speak Out
    by James Goodman on May 29, 2020 at 12:00

    DACA and Temporary Protected Status holders seek road to citizenship.

  • Human Capital Stock
    by Mark Fiore on May 29, 2020 at 09:00

    The Trump Administration is handling the COVID-19 pandemic in the same way the Trump Organization has handled the real estate business—with bluster, overconfidence, and fudged numbers.

  • Mourning and Organizing
    by Sarah Jaffe on May 28, 2020 at 21:46

    Collective grief, from Minneapolis to vigils for victims of COVID-19, is inseparable from rebellion.

  • Speaking of “mentally deranged”…
    by <b>bob somerby</b> on May 28, 2020 at 21:41

    THURSDAY, MAY 28, 2020…this is our species on journalism: We’re big fans of [the bulk of] Kevin Drum’s work. We think his body of work on lead abatement has been about the best work to emerge form the Internet.That said, today he said this, at the end of a short post. We’ll explain below:DRUM (5/28/20): Is Trump mentally unstable? I don’t know. But he’s sure not mentally all there, is he? What kind of leader decides he can just shut his eyes to a deadly pandemic and instead spend all his time plotting revenge on enemies both real and imagined? Only a mentally deranged one. When will the Republican Party finally realize just what kind of trouble they’ve gotten us into?Within one paragraph, Kevin said this:He doesn’t know if Trump’s “mentally unstable.” But he does know he’s “mentally deranged.” (The headline on the post says this: “Donald Trump Is Mentally Unhinged.”)Our best guess concerning a translation:Mainstream news orgs won’t let their employees discuss Trump’s possible mental illness. “Journalistically,” it’s against the rules to discuss what’s right there in front of our faces.This is our species on journalism! Mental health issues are widely discussed in all other contexts. They just can’t be discussed here.Fuller disclosure: Donald J. Trump, who can’t be discussed, holds the nuclear codes.

  • Journalists keep offering “links to nowhere!”
    by <b>bob somerby</b> on May 28, 2020 at 18:23

    THURSDAY, MAY 28, 2020Links which don’t support claims: Yesterday afternoon, we discussed the recent adventure in which we labored to compare New York City’s experience with Covid-19 to that of Los Angeles.Due to an oddity in the far west, it was hard to learn how many people had died of Covid-19 in Los Angeles. As you may recall, our search began with this short paragraph from this op-ed column in the New York Times:WILENTZ (5/25/20) And indeed, the pandemic in Los Angeles has not been anywhere as intense as in New York, where as of this week the number of deaths was about eight times what it was in Los Angeles. We know people in New York who’ve died of Covid-19; here, so far, we know no one.In fact, as of last weekend, the number of deaths in New York City was about sixteen times what it was in Los Angeles. That said, in discussing our recent adventure, we forgot to mention one point:We forgot to mention where our adventure began. It began with a “link to nowhere.”As you can see from the online version of the column, that one short paragraph carries three (3) separate links. We clicked the link beneath the words “about eight times” to see if we could validate that claim about New York City and Los Angeles deaths.As you can see from clicking that link, the link in question took us to this news report. The report supplied the number of coronavirus deaths in Los Angeles County, but it didn’t give the number for New York City or for the city of Los Angeles itself.In short, that link didn’t support the claim it seemed designed to support. It seems to us that “links to nowhere” of this type are appearing more and more often in work at upper-end news orgs.Consider the latest example:The first report we read this morning was this report at Slate. The piece adopts a somewhat tendentious approach to the recent phone call to 911 from inside New York’s Central Park.The author took us inside the mind of Amy Cooper, the person who made the unfortunate phone call in question. The writer tells us what Cooper thought and felt as she made the call. This seems a bit presumptuous to us, given Cooper’s extremely disordered behavior and apparent state of mind.For ourselves, we’d be slow to read the mind of such a disordered person. At any rate, in paragraph 4, the author moves on to say this:GRUBER (5/27/20): For decades, conservative and liberal women alike have been taught that the key to empowerment against men who pose a threat, real or imagined, is to call the police. As high as the stakes were for Christian, they were nonexistent for Amy. For upper- and middle-class white women, the demographic least likely to be arrested or face state violence, a call to the police appears to be a no-lose proposition.Is it true that “upper- and middle-class white women” are “the demographic least likely to be arrested?” On its face, we didn’t (and don’t) find that hard to believe. (We’d be curious to see the corresponding rate for Asian-American women.) We’d also be curious to see how different the rates of arrest might be for other groups of women.Meanwhile, is it true that “upper- and middle-class white women” are “the demographic least likely to face state violence?” We wondered what that term might mean. Skillfully, we proceeded to click that paragraph’s two links.The first link seems designed to support the claim about rates of arrest. As best we can see, nothing in the lengthy report to which we were taken says anything about the socioeconomic status of the three groups of women under discussion (white, black, Latina).As such, the report to which the link leads doesn’t support the pleasing claim in question. Nor does the report explicitly say that white women are arrested less often than Latinas!Indeed, based on what the report does say, it seems possible that white women are arrested more often than Latinas. (Asian-American women aren’t included in the report.) Meanwhile, there’s no attempt in the report to discuss socioeconomic status of the three groups in question. The report to which we were taken doesn’t address, let alone support, the claim it’s supposed to support. As such, the link in question is another link to nowhere! It seems to us that we’re finding them more and more often these days.So how about that second link—the link designed to support the claim that “upper- and middle-class white women” are “the demographic least likely to face state violence?” Slate’s link in apparent support of that claim takes us to this study, whose title refers to “police violence.” Rather, it takes us to the abstract for that study, whose full text we weren’t able to access. Based on the abstract, that study doesn’t seem to include socioeconomic status either. Nor does it include data for Asian-American women.Meanwhile, good news! According to the first linked report, Latinas are less likely than white women to experience a traffic stop. They’re also less likely than white women to experience a “street stop” by police. Overall, it isn’t clear who gets arrested more often.Out of all this, the author came up with a pleasing claim about upper- and middle-class white women. Again and again, more and more often, this is the way our politicized journalism seems to work in these latter days of extremely high tribalization. (More examples to come.)Links to nowhere seem rather common. Do “editors” ever check those links before they put essays in print?For extra credit only: According to the essay in Slate, Amy Cooper’s crazy phone call poaed no threat to her. “As high as the stakes were for [her target], they were nonexistent for Amy.”Amy Cooper has lost her job and she’s lost her dog. Compare and contrast. Discuss.

  • IMITATIONS OF DISCOURSE: Did Joe Biden commit a gaffe?
    by <b>bob somerby</b> on May 28, 2020 at 14:05

    THURSDAY, MAY 28, 2020Are more such vile comments to come?: In this morning’s New York Times, a letter writer in Los Angeles discusses Joe Biden’s alleged gaffe.The New York Times published his letter.The writer is a recent graduate of the law school at the University of the Pacific. We’re sure that he’s a good, decent person—but his letter helps us contemplate the logic of modern gaffe culture:LETTER TO THE NEW YORK TIMES (5/28/20): How does The New York Times decide which offensive comments made by presidential candidates are worth writing full articles about? Joe Biden’s comment on “The Breakfast Club” radio show—that voters “ain’t black” if they are torn between him and Donald Trump—was obviously a gaffe and he was right to apologize for it, but it was not the worst thing said by a presidential candidate this past week.The day before, President Trump visited a Ford factory and stated that the Nazi sympathizer Henry Ford had “good bloodlines.” The comment was not even mentioned in your article about Mr. Trump’s factory visit, despite being arguably more vile than anything Mr. Biden said during his “Breakfast Club” interview.Will The New York Times repeat its missteps of 2016, or will Mr. Biden’s gaffes, of which there are sure to be more, be put into their proper context and held up against the words and actions of his opponent? The writer agrees that Biden committed a gaffe. Indeed, he says it’s “obvious” that he did so. As he closes, he even says that there are sure to be more to come!The writer seems to say that a “gaffe” is an “offensive comment.” At one point, he even seems to say that Biden’s comment was “vile.” It’s just that something Trump said about Henry Ford was “arguably more vile.”(Warning! The writer says that Trump’s remark was arguably more vile than “anything Mr. Biden said” during last week’s radio program. This seems to imply the possibility that Biden may have made other vile comments that day!) That’s what the letter writer said. If we might adapt Wittgenstein’s first sentence in Philosophical Investigations:”These words, it seems to me, give us a particular picture of the essence of [modern gaffe culture].”Those who adhere to modern gaffe culture see the world as a brutal place. They are constantly being assailed by the vile, offensive remarks made by politicians.It falls to them, in their goodness, to rank these comments in order of their vileness. The writer scolds the New York Times for failing to see that Trump’s remark about Henry Ford was arguably more vile than anything Biden said.The letter writer sketches the essence of modern gaffe culture. That said, the gaffe was a different animal back in 1984, when Michael Kinsley began trying to define its emerging role in pseudo-journalistic culture.Thanks to Jonathan Chait, we can see one of the original New Republic columns in which Kinsley began his discussion of this blossoming art form. The backstory goes like this:While seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, Candidate Gary Hart had made a snide remark. He’d complained about having to campaign in New Jersey while his wife got to campaign in California. “Journalists” seized upon this obvious gaffe. Kinsley stood apart from the crowd, as he frequently did at that time. Michael Kinsley wasn’t buying! His second column on gaffe culture started off like this:KINSLEY (6/18/84): We have reached a political nadir of some sort if the Democratic Party candidate for the leadership of the free world is chosen on the basis of a casual remark about New Jersey. Yet it seems possible history will record that Gary Hart lost his chance to be President when he stood with his wife, Lee, on a Los Angeles terrace and uttered these fateful words: “The deal is that we campaign separately; that’s the bad news. The good news for her is she campaigns in California, and I campaign in New Jersey.” Lee Hart mentioned that in California she’d held a Koala bear, and the Senator added in mock rue that in New Jersey he’d held “samples from a toxic waste dump.”The TV networks played this incident very big, the analysts of the print media went to work on it, and it appears to have blossomed into a gaffe. This could cost Hart the New Jersey primary—and therefore, everyone agrees, any hope of the nomination.The “gaffe” is now the principal dynamic mechanism of American politics, as interpreted by journalists. Each candidacy is born in a state of prelapsarian innocence, and the candidate then proceeds to commit gaffes. Journalists record each new gaffe, weigh it on their Gaffability Index…and move the players forward or backward on the game board accordingly. In this morning’s New York Times, we seem to learn that the modern gaffe is a statement which is offensive and vile. This follows our emerging brain-dead culture over here on the pseudo-left, in which our lives are built around performative virtue in response to obvious, grotesque moral failures on the part of pretty much everyone else on the face of the earth. We liberals and progressives! In large part, we have our assistant, associate and adjunct professors to thank for this loud, self-admiring culture, in which we trumpet our own moral greatness while issuing amazingly broad denunciations of large swaths of dveryone else.(See the astoundingly broad constructions which drive today’s column by an Australian author and doctoral candidate. The New York Times chose to publish it. It appears in this morning’s Times, opposite the letter.)To this morning’s letter writer, the modern gaffe seems to be a vile, offensive remark. That isn’t what a gaffe was said to be back in Kinsley’s day.To Kinsley, there were two defining characteristics of the classic gaffe. According to Kinsley, for a statement to be a gaffe, the statement had to plainly true, and it had to be trivial, pointless. So Kinsley craftily said as he continued his column:KINSLEY (continuing directly): Hart’s Jerseyblooper contained both of the key elements of the gaffe in its classically pure form. First, as explained in this space three weeks ago, a “gaffe” occurs not when a politician lies, but when he tells the truth. The burden of Hart’s remark was that, all else being equal, he’d rather spend a few springtime weeks in California than in New Jersey. Of course he would. So would I. So would Walter Mondale, no doubt, along with the vast majority of Americans, including, quite possibly, most residents of New Jersey…The second element of the classic gaffe is that the subject matter should be trivial…[T]he ideal “text” for political journalism to chew on is an episode of no real meaning or importance—such as a small joke about New Jersey—which can then be analyzed without distraction exclusively in terms of its likely effect on the campaign. Kinsley refers to the classic gaffe. This implies that this journalistic monster predated the 1984 campaign, which ended with Reagan winning big after Mondale had been observed in public making several accurate statements.At any rate, Kinsley said the classic gaffe had to satisfy two criteria. The classic gaffe was plainly true, and it was wholly trivial.In the Jerseygate matter, the gaffe might also be a joke. That’s how some people, including Paul Krugman, saw Biden’s vile remark last week—as a quip, a joke, a jest, a jibe or possibly just a sally.We’ve come a long way since 1984! Today, the tendency is to see the gaffe as a statement which reveals some vile hidden moral belief. According to the letter writer, Biden made at least one such remark last week, and he will surely make more.Have we mentioned the fact that the letter writer is surely a good, decent person? For ourselves, we’d have to say that we regard Biden’s remark as trivial. Roughly three million blue-leaning pundits, observers and nutcakes have made similar remarks in the past. As we noted yesterday, we wouldn’t make such a remark ourselves. But we don’t regard it as a window into a soul more offensive and vile and than our own.That said, it’s all anthropology now—and it’s close to becoming all vanity. Our warlike species is highly tribal. We’re wired to denigrate others, and possibly to find such specimens under every rock. Our assistant professors have come a long way and have given us many new tools. Tomorrow, we’ll look behind the journalistic trivia which might be said to lie behind this latest front-page gaffe. We might even visit the high-profile news site Kinsley founded to see what they care about now.There are still mountains of trivia out there. Much of it comes straight from us.Tomorrow/still coming: Aperol Spritz and Taylor Swift! Plus, who authored the first modern-era gaffe? Did JFK ever commit one?For extra credit only: Does Trump know anything about Henry Ford? We can think of no reason to think so.

  • How many people have died in L.A.?
    by <b>bob somerby</b> on May 27, 2020 at 18:32

    WEDNESDAY, MAY 27, 2020Also, where are last Friday night’s transcripts?: This Monday, we were struck by the highlighted statement in a New York Times opinion column:WILENTZ (5/25/20): For years, New Yorkers like me have mocked and reviled Los Angeles because of its messy residential sprawl and its out-of-control car culture. They’ve asked: Can you even call that a city? But sprawl and cars means Los Angeles doesn’t have much in the way of virus vectors like subways and residential elevators.And indeed, the pandemic in Los Angeles has not been anywhere as intense as in New York, where as of this week the number of deaths was about eight times what it was in Los Angeles. We know people in New York who’ve died of Covid-19; here, so far, we know no one. The column was written by Amy Wilentz. According to the leading authority, she actually grew up in New Jersey, though that could always be wrong. Today, though, she’s a professor at Cal Irvine and is the author of well-received books.We were struck by the highlighted sentence because it referred to “deaths” rather than to death rates. To some, this will seem like a trivial point. To others, this will recall the remarkable problems our upper-end news orgs often have with the simplest types of statistical constructions.New York is much larger than Los Angeles. For that reason, it doesn’t exactly make sense to compare the number of deaths which have occurred in the two famous cities.We’ll guess that Wilentz presented a more sensible comparison, and that some editor changed it. At any rate, we decided to take a look at the record! We decided to see how many people have died in the two famous cities, and also to see how the two cities’ death rates compare.How many people have died in L.A.? You’d think it would be easy to get that information. In fact, it took us roughly half an hour on Monday morning, though we found the figure more easily today. The problem was the surprising dominance of a jurisdiction known as Los Angeles County. Frankly, who knew? The story goes like this:The City of Los Angeles—the jurisdiction commonly known as L.A.—currently boasts a population of roughly 3.96 million. (Good luck finding any such figure at the city’s own web site.) That said, the city is part of the much larger jurisdiction we’ve cited above—the County of Los Angeles. As of last year, the county’s population had nudged up just over 10 million—and to our surprise, it dominates the more famous city which shares its name, statistical information-wise.Go ahead! If you go to the Los Angeles Times, they will tell you the number of deaths for Los Angeles County. If you go to the web site for the city itself, they’ll do the same darn thing! (Once you’re able to find any statistic at all.)The city will tell you how many people have died in Los Angeles County; as of yesterday, the number was 2,143. But how many people have died in Los Angeles itself? How many people have died in the world-famous city?The number is remarkably hard to find, even at the city’s own web site.Eventually, we did manage to find it, although we had to leap one more rather comical hurdle. You’ll be able to find it too, if you’re willing to struggle a bit. Assuming the accuracy of the city web site’s data, the number of deaths by coronavirus currently stands at 1,051 in the very famous city commonly known as L.A.By way of contrast, deaths for New York City currently stand it 16,410, as you can easily learn. This means that New York City has roughly sixteen rimes as many deaths as Los Angeles, not the eight the Times reported, if we’re discussing what everyone means when they refer to “Los Angeles.”New York City has sixteen times the number of deaths, but its population is slightly more than twice as large as L.A.’s. That means its death rate is roughly eight times that of L.A. We’ll assume that’s what Wilentz wrote, and that some editor changed it, hoping to make things easier for people who read the Times.Does this matter? As the past three decades have made clear, virtually nothing does! We paraphrase pols in the ways which feel good. We generate gaffes to keep script alive. Routinely, the simplest kinds of statistical matters are simply too much to deal with.There’s one other point we should mention:We tell you these things in our afternoon post because the all-time slacker “cable news” channel still hasn’t posted transcripts for last Friday’s night’s programs. We’ll show you what Rachel said about Dr. Birx if the slackers at that channel ever find their way back to work from their three-day weekend.At the upper end of the social scale, nothing much actually matters. It’s been this way for a rather long time, and it helped give us our Trump.

  • IMITATIONS OF DISCOURSE: Krugman calls it a harmless gaffe!
    by <b>bob somerby</b> on May 27, 2020 at 13:20

    WEDNESDAY, MAY 27, 2020A statement of opinion: Just for starters, let it be said:Paul Krugman’s assessment of Biden’s remark is a matter of judgment—a matter of opinion.Last week, Biden was speaking with a radio host who calls himself Charlamagne Tha God. According to the New York Times, the radio host “has been called out for his own gaffes and homophobic, transphobic and sexist comments.”Not that there’s anything wrong with it! That said, Biden forgot the basic rule of modern outrage-era politics: The politician has to be especially careful about what he says to someone named Tha God.Ignoring this well-known rule, Biden proceeded to make a remark which had been made about three million times by blue-leaning pundits before him. Because we live in The Age of the Gaffe, this set off storms of complaint, largely among a certain subset of blue-leaning pundits. Krugman was stating his view about this set of events. Midway through his column, he referred to Biden’s fleeting remark as “a harmless gaffe”—but as he started, he stated his basic view of the matter:KRUGMAN (5/26/20): Last week Joe Biden made an off-the-cuff joke that could be interpreted as taking African-American votes for granted. It wasn’t a big deal—Biden, who loyally served Barack Obama, has long had a strong affinity with black voters, and he has made a point of issuing policy proposals aimed at narrowing racial health and wealth gaps. Still, Biden apologized.And in so doing he made a powerful case for choosing him over Donald Trump in November. You see, Biden, unlike Trump, is capable of admitting error. Was Biden’s off-the-cuff remark actually a “joke?” In the hubbub which has ensued, contradictory views have been stated.Was Biden’s possible joke “a big deal?” Krugman said the comment wasn’t a big deal; he also said it was “harmless.” Others expressed alternate views. Last Saturday, the controversy hit the front page of the Washington Post. One day later, it led the National section of the New York Times—and in the Times, inevitability struck: Readers were told that Biden’s remark recalled Candidate Clinton’s “hot sauce” remark. That remark touched off a gaffe watch during our last presidential campaign, the one which (ever so barely) sent Donald J. Trump to the White House. So it has gone in our White House campaigns during this, The Age of the Gaffe. During this, The Age of the Gaffe, our journalists have helped us that the gaffe can take many forms. As we noted yesterday, there is the spoken gaffe. But there’s also the wardrobe gaffe and the hairdo gaffe, and there’s the gaffe of the cheese placed on the cheesesteak.There’s the spousal imperfection gaffe. There’s the gaffe of what you order to drink while campaigning in a saloon, lounge, dive, restaurant, private club, hell-hole or bar.Closely related to the gaffe is the question of whether the politician knows the price of a loaf of bread or a gallon of milk. There’s the gaffe of crying or seeming to cry, even if major journalists have to dream tears up.Long ago and far away, when the gaffe was being invented, Michael Kinsley defined the emerging phenomenon. According to Kinsley’s formulation, “A gaffe is when a politician tells the truth.” Kinsley stated that view in 1984, a year in Walter Mondale was caught making accurate statements in public on at least several occasions. By now, the frontiers of the gaffe have been expanded. Indeed, the leading authority on the topic now offers this gaffe catalog:The term gaffe may be used to describe an inadvertent statement by a politician that the politician believes is true while the politician has not fully analyzed the consequences of publicly stating it. Another definition is a statement made when the politician privately believes it to be true, realizes the dire consequences of saying it, and yet inadvertently utters, in public, the unutterable. Another definition is a politician’s statement of what is on his or her mind—this may or may not be inadvertent—thereby leading to a ritualized “gaffe dance” between candidates…A propensity to concentrate on so-called “gaffes” in campaigns has been criticized as a journalistic device that can lead to distraction from real issues. The Kinsley gaffe is said to be a species of the general “political gaffe.” Etcetera and so forth and so on! We’ll only note that this catalog of gaffes fails to mention a wide array of possible gaffes, including the wardrobe gaffe, the hairdo gaffe, and the gaffe which occurs when the politician tells a joke which is then excitedly treated as a serious comment.(See Candidate Gore, September 2000, “union lullaby” joke. See giant mainstream press hubbub which followed. See subsequent extremely narrow win by Candidate Bush.)Was Candidate Biden telling a joke on that radio show? Did he possibly author a jest or a jibe? Was his comment “harmless?” Those are all matters of opinion. And Biden’s remark was made in this, the tribalized era characterized by the deathless cry, No Offense Left Behind.Because of the nature of the age, offense was instantly taken. This sent Biden to the front page of the Washington Post, the same front page which, today, is discussing the latest pathological insults delivered by the other presumptive candidate in our coming White House election, assuming some such election actually happens.For ourselves, we wouldn’t have made Biden’s comment. We think so-called race is correctly regarded as a “suspect category,” and not just under strictures of constitutional law.We would be extremely loath to make joking remarks in the general area of “race.” It’s generally a bad idea for a pol to do so, even if he’s talking to someone who calls himself Tha God.For the record, we don’t mean to criticize Charlamagne by making such comments. He isn’t one of the people who turned Biden’s off-the-cuff comment into a front-page gaffe. Tomorrow, we’ll look at a few who did. They were expressing their opinions, just as Krugman later did. Such behavior is of course allowed, though it may not always be helpful or wise.We’re going to close by repeating something we just said. For ourselves, we wouldn’t have made Biden’s comment.His comment dealt with so-called race, and for reasons which are blindingly obvious, our brutal history has made that an extremely difficult topic. It’s also true that people of various “races” are allowed to support Donald J. Trump. Clarence Thomas’ views, and those of the grandfather who raised him, are part of the American experience too. No group of people has ever agreed on any one topic. No group can sensibly be expected to do so, and no group ever will. That said, long before Biden spoke, three million blue-leaning pundits had offered some version of his remark, often while killing time on 24-hour cable. Such remarks are occasionally part of the dumbness of Our Own Tribe. Everyone says what Biden said! Still, a basic reason to avoid joking as Biden did was captured in the account given above:The term gaffe may be used to describe an inadvertent statement by a politician that the politician believes is true while the politician has not fully analyzed the consequences of publicly stating it. We’d advise against making a comment like Biden’s because you know exactly how a bunch of people will quickly and loudly react.Later in his column, Krugman expressed a view about Biden’s opponent this fall, assuming we have an election. Intriguingly, Krugman said this:KRUGMAN: Trump’s pathological inability to admit error—and yes, it really does rise to the level of pathology—has been obvious for years, and has had serious consequences. For example, it has made him an easy mark for foreign dictators like North Korea’s Kim Jong-un…Is Biden’s possible opponent caught in the grip of an actual “pathology?” We’d like to see some major journalist stand on his or her hind legs and examine that question in a serious way.We’d like to see medical and psychological specialists consulted on that difficult question, but only if they’re non-partisan. But until the time when someone is willing to take that route, gaffe culture is going to work its eternal will:Over the weekend, it had the guy who doesn’t seem to be mentally ill on the front page with the guy who apparently is. We liberals often refer to that as “moral equivalence,” until we ourselves want to spout.The age of the gaffe is the age of the quick declamation. Tomorrow, we’ll ponder an historical question:Which politician authored the very first modern gaffe? When was modern gaffe culture born? Who stands as its very first victim?Tomorrow: Exploration of “the star-making machinery behind the Aperol Spritz,” along with “a standout piece on [a journalist’s] change of sides in the Kanye vs. Taylor Swift debate.”Plus, who authored the first modern gaffe? Does it go back to Muskie?

  • What explains those varying deaths rates?
    by <b>bob somerby</b> on May 26, 2020 at 19:23

    TUESDAY, MAY 26, 2020Some comparisons you’ve never seen: What explains the varying death rates from coronavirus in different nations? In today’s Washington Post, this report seeks to explain Germany’s relative success as compared to its major European neighbors.Canada is often praised too. On the other hand, if we consider death rates from various states, here’s how some numbers look:Coronavirus deaths per million population, as of May 26Canada: 176Arizona: 116Missouri: 113Florida: 110Germany: 101California: 97Wisconsin: 89North Carolina: 75Texas: 55Oregon: 36California’s right there with Germany. Texas has them both beat.Those are some of our less afflicted larger states. Meanwhile, Europe’s most afflicted nations don’t look quite so bad when compared to our most afflicted states:Coronavirus deaths per million population, as of May 26:New York: 1443New Jersey: 1260Connecticut: 1045Massachusetts: 939Belgium: 806Spain: 580United Kingdom: 546Italy: 545Michigan: 526France: 437United States: 303Presumably, many factors go into those widely varying numbers. At any rate, we’ve never seen such comparisons before. We compile, you ponder/rue this terrible affliction/seek to explain.

  • Chris Wallace batters McEnany!
    by <b>bob somerby</b> on May 26, 2020 at 17:48

    TUESDAY, MAY 26, 2020Maddow slimes Dr. Birx: Friday afternoon’s White House press briefing was a genuine lollapalooza.At the start of the event, President Trump came storming out to insist that churches reopen. He threatened to override any governor who tried to stand in the churchhouse door, failing to say on what authority he thought he’d be able to do so.The president stormed away after roughly two minutes. At that point, Kayleigh McEnany praised the president for his brilliant remarks. Thirty-five minutes later, near the end of the briefing, McEnany slimed the press with an inane remark about the way they seem to hate religious belief. “And boy,” she thoughtfully said. “It’s interesting to be in a room that desperately wants to seem to see these churches and houses of worship stay closed.”To his vast credit, Reuters’ Jeff Mason directly challenged McEnany’s remark. That said, the dumbest was yet to come.McEnany then sought, and received, a ludicrous “question” from OAN’s half-crazy Chanel Rion. To be specific, Rion asked whether President Trump is planning to pardon President Obama for his Obamagate crimes. Yes, that’s what she asked! Thus emboldened, McEnany ended the briefing with several minutes of snide and stupid remarks. Her condescending diatribe started like this:MCENANY (5/22/20): I have not spoken to the president about that, but who I did speak to about President Obama and unmasking Michael Flynn were the men and women in this room. I haven’t spoken to him on that specific point. Have spoken to him about the matter generally. And I laid out a series of questions that any good journalist would want to answer about why people were unmasked, and all sorts of questions. And I just wanted to follow up with you guys on that.Did anyone take it upon themselves to pose any questions about Michael Flynn and unmasking to President Obama’s spokesperson? [DRAMATIC PAUSE]Oh, not a single journalist has posed that question. Okay!So I would like to lay out a series of questions. And perhaps if I write them out in a slide format, maybe we’re visual learners, and you guys will follow up with journalistic curiosity.So, number one…From there, McEnany listed five questions the journalists would certainly want to ask. Just in case the reporters are a bunch of visual learners, she had prepared her five questions in a slide format.For the record, yes. As McEnany took her dramatic pause, Jonathan Karl tried to object to her premise. He tried to note that reporting has said that Flynn’s name had actually never been masked, and therefore had never been unmasked. Skillfully, McEnany ignored what Karl was saying and continued with her scolding.You can read the transcript of the full briefing at this site. You can watch the tape of the full briefing here, with accompanying transcript.For the record, no—McEnany actually isn’t that dumb. She proved that again and again during her time as a CNN contributor.Presumably, this is the persona she has adopted in service to her new boss. And hallelujah! On Sunday morning, Chris Wallace let McEnany have it, but good, right there on Fox News Sunday.Wallace berated McEnany up one side and down the other. Reports of this matter have tended to focus on McEnany’s one remark questioning the reporters’ attitudes about religion. Plainly, Wallace was also battering McEnany for the stupid, condescending list of questions with which she ended her briefing.The session had begun with Trump the Avenger; it ended with Kayleigh the Scold. That said, the bulk of the session belonged to Dr. Deborah Birx and the unending stream of slides she flashed before the reporters.By our count, Dr. Birx presented 23 slides, many of which were poorly explained, as part of a 23-minute presentation. She then took a few questions.That night, Rachel Maddow characterized Birx’s presentation in about as phony a way as you’ll ever see. We aren’t big fans of Dr. Birx, but Maddow’s account of her presentation was absolutely crazy. Assuming MSNBC emerges from its weekend stupor and posts the transcript of Maddow’s remarks, we’ll show you what she said tomorrow.Trump and McEnany acted like clowns. Maddow may have topped them. This is where our discourse goes as we split into warring tribes.Presumably, Maddow’s conduct is good for corporate ratings. Throughout the course of human history, such conduct has also been the stuff of our highly tribal species’ destructive tribal wars.We get conned by our stars too! We continue to think that you ought to know that.

  • IMITATIONS OF DISCOURSE: “No big deal,” the Times seems to say!
    by <b>bob somerby</b> on May 26, 2020 at 13:55

    TUESDAY, MAY 26, 2020Earlier, the Times had spotted the latest gaffe: We were surprised by something we read in this morning’s New York Times, print edition only.It seemed to come right at the start of today’s featured editorial. At any rate, we were surprised to read this:APPARENT NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL (5/26/20): Last week Joe Biden made an off-the-cuff joke that could be interpreted as taking African-American votes for granted. It wasn’t a big deal—Biden, who loyally served Barack Obama, has long had a strong affinity with black voters, and he has made a point of issuing policy proposals aimed at narrowing racial health and wealth gaps. Still, Biden apologized. Biden’s remark was no big deal, the apparent editorial said. We were surprised by that assessment, in part because we’d read the New York Times over the weekend, on Saturday and Sunday both.On Saturday, the Times had devoted this full-length news report to Biden’s troubling remark. On Sunday, things got worse.On Sunday, there was no way to move the topic to the New York Times front page. On Sunday, the Times front page was wholly devoted to a bit of performative mourning on the part of what has become our most tribal blue newspaper. That said:On Sunday, the featured report in the paper’s National section concerned Biden’s remark. The topic led the National section. A youngish writer had been assigned the task of analyzing Biden’s comment. In fairness, yes, this is the guild this youngish reporter has chosen. Despite that fact, we can’t blame the youngish reporter for what you’ll see below. The youngish reporter didn’t invent the journalistic world into which she has emerged after graduating from college in 2014. But with a pitch-perfect ear for her newspaper’s gaffe culture, she wrote this about the radio show on which Biden committed his comment:MZEZEWA (5/24/20): “The Breakfast Club” airs every weekday from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. Eastern and from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Saturdays on Power 105.1. Before the pandemic, its three hosts welcomed guests into their studio in Manhattan to discuss everything from music to celebrity gossip to politics. Many fans of the show listen to it on podcast apps, too.Interviewees have been known to walk out if they don’t like a question. Even DJ Envy, a host, once walked out on the show. No one who enters the studio or, now, joins a video call with any member of the hosting trio is safe from commentary and criticism. And when the hosts upset listeners, people take to Twitter, where Charlamagne has been called out for his own gaffes and homophobic, transphobic and sexist comments.In its nearly decade-long run, the show has created viral moments with rappers, actors, and politicians. As it has carved out a space for serious conversations about politics, it has become an important stop for candidates who desperately want to appeal to black voters. After all, it was on this show that Hillary Clinton said that she carried hot sauce in her bag, just like Beyoncé.Mrs. Clinton appeared in April 2016, and since then the show has become an even more crucial campaign stop for presidential hopefuls who want to reach the show’s mostly black, young listeners and viewers. The radio host with whom Biden spoke “has been called out for his own gaffes”—also, for his homophobic, transphobic and sexist comments. For now, let’s forget about that.Also, and much more significantly, “it was on this show that Hillary Clinton said that she carried hot sauce in her bag, just like Beyoncé.” Candidate Clinton made this remark in April 2016, the youngish reporter now said.The youngish reporter didn’t seem to feel the need to explain the inclusion of such a trivial matter in her news report. She (and her editor) possibly thought that readers would remember the candidate’s “hot sauce” remark.Mind-reading skillfully, she did suggest that this remark by Candidate Clinton had signaled her “desperate” desire to appeal to black voters. Reporters have long been able to discern the motives behind such otherwise trivial comments.For those condemned to recall such matters, Candidate Clinton’s “hot sauce” disclosure touched off one of the braindead gaffe-based culture wars which have increasingly defined our presidential politics over the past several decades. It was right up there with Candidate Kerry’s terrible gaffe when he ordered the wrong kind of cheese to go on his Philly cheesesteak during Campaign 2004. It was right up there with the three million sartorial gaffes committed by Candidate Gore during Campaign 2000, when he even wore suit jackets with three buttons instead of the much-preferred two.Braindead members of the upper-end guild have patrolled such campaign gaffes for decades. They’ve patrolled the candidates’ spoken gaffes. They’ve patrolled the candidates’ wardrobe gaffes.They’ve patrolled an array of hairdo gaffes, including those committed by spouses. Here was Maureen Dowd, patrolling the various gaffes of Candidate Dean’s unacceptable wife, once again during Campaign 2004:DOWD (1/15/04): Even by the transcendentally wacky standard for political unions set by Bill and Hillary Clinton, the Deans have an unusual relationship.[…]The first hard evidence most people had that Howard Dean was actually married came with a startling picture of his wife on the front page of Tuesday’s Times, accompanying a Jodi Wilgoren profile.In worn jeans and old sneakers, the shy and retiring Dr. Judith Steinberg Dean looked like a crunchy Vermont hippie, blithely uncoiffed, unadorned, unstyled and unconcerned about not being at her husband’s side—the anti-Laura [Bush]. You could easily imagine the din of Rush Limbaugh and Co. demonizing her as a counterculture fem-lib role model for the blue states.”Judith Steinberg has shunned the role of helpmeet,” Dowd reported as she continued. And not only that! Dearest darlings, the clothing in that startling photo! And that uncoiffed hair!Dowd went on to pen a second column discussing Candidate Dean’s living, breathing gaffe of a non-Stepford wife. In fairness to Dowd, she wasn’t the only major pundit frisking Dean’s inexcusable spouse. Sadly, this is an integral part of the braindead culture into which youngish reporters must emerge when they join the upper-end press corps.This morning, we were surprised! We were surprised when it seemed that the Times editorial board had declared that Candidate Biden’s recent remark “wasn’t a big deal.” As it turned out, that wasn’t the editorial board voicing that judgment at all! In fact, the essay was written Paul Krugman. It was his regular Tuesday column. The authorship of the piece is clear if you read the Times online. In print editions, the Krugman column is positioned in such a way that it may appear to be the day’s featured editorial. This is a type of unwise visual misdirection in which the routinely unwise editorial board has recently begun to engage.We can’t blame that youngish reporter for becoming a part of gaffe culture. Nor was the New York Times alone in treating Biden’s “off-the-cuff joke” as a major topic. On Saturday morning, Biden’s remark was the subject of a full-blown front-page news report in the Washington Post’s print editions. On Sunday, the opinion columns followed. So it long has gone within the press corps’ prevailing gaffe culture, a culture maintained by a circle of adepts who are devoted to The Cult of the Offhand Comment.Unfortunately, there’s more to say about Biden’s remark and its coverage. There’s a great deal more to say about the guild’s never-ending gaffe culture.Such discussions are nothing but anthropology now, of course. Nothing will ever change this guild’s attraction to trivia and the irrelevant.For decades now, this low-IQ culture has produced the imitations of discourse which pose as campaign coverage. You might even refer to these manifestations as “imitations of life.”We’ll explore this culture all week. Krugman’s comments about Biden’s remark are, of course, matters of opinion and judgment. That said, the press corps’ judgment has often been amazingly poor down through these many long years. As Sunday’s report in the Times helps us see, the judgment of us the people is often even worse. All hail social media, with its rampaging furious Dowdism! All hail the three million ways we humans will wander off point!Coming: Rational animals are asked to recall the book called “The Family of Man [sic]”

  • Also, there was no Professor Reade!
    by <b>bob somerby</b> on May 23, 2020 at 14:04

    SATURDAY, MAY 23, 2020Donald Trump as his state’s greatest baseball player: When the New York Times reported on Tara Reade’s apparent misstatement, they cited CNN as the original source of their report.Reade had always claimed to be a graduate of Antioch University. But, as CNN had reported, the university has now said that it just isn’t so.As we noted yesterday, this is emerging as a rather familiar pattern. But when we read CNN’s lengthy report, the problem seemed to be even worse:LEE AND KAUFMAN (5/19/20): Reade has said that she changed her name to Alexandra McCabe and fled from her ex-husband [in 1996]. Some details of Reade’s personal life are hazier after that.Reade told CNN that she received a bachelor of arts degree from Antioch University in Seattle under the auspices of a “protected program,” personally working with the former president of the school to ensure her identity was protected while she obtained credits for her degree. She also said that she was a visiting professor at the school, on and off for five years.Presented with this, Karen Hamilton, an Antioch University spokesperson, told CNN that “Alexandra McCabe attended but did not graduate from Antioch University. She was never a faculty member. She did provide several hours of administrative work.”An Antioch University official told CNN that such a “protected program” does not exist and never has.Oof! According to Antioch, Reade doesn’t hold a degree from the school—and she was never a professor there! For whatever reason, CNN didn’t start discussing these problems until paragraph 17 of its largely ho-hum report. When they did, they only said that the facts here seem to be “hazy.”We can’t swear who’s right about these matters, but in this morning’s Washington Post, the story seems to get worser. In this passage, the reporters are discussing assertions by Reade in her work as an alleged “expert witness” in various court proceedings:VISER AND SCHERER (5/23/20): While Reade told the court she had worked as a legislative assistant to Biden, she actually held the job of staff assistant, a more junior role, according to Senate records. And while her résumé, shared with the defense by the district attorney before she appeared in court, said she worked in Biden’s office from 1991 to 1994, records show she was there only eight months, from Dec. 2, 1992, until Aug. 6, 1993.A spokeswoman for Antioch University said that, contrary to Reade’s claim, she did not graduate from the school, as first reported by CNN. The spokeswoman also said that Reade never worked as an “online visiting professor,” as she claimed on the résumé shared as part of the court proceedings.In testimony that she gave in December 2018, she was asked if she was licensed to practice law in California, and she responded that she had not taken the bar exam.But Reade herself published a blog in 2012 documenting her third attempt to pass the California bar exam. The blog was titled “California Bar Exam: Three Times A Charm.”Oof! According to the Post’s report, Reade misstated the nature of her job with Biden. She misstated the length of time she worked for Biden, turning eight months into three or four years.She falsely claimed to be a graduate of Antioch. She falsely claimed that she had been a professor at the school.Beyond that, she claimed that she’d never taken the bar exam. Earlier, she’d apparently said that she had taken the exam three times. We can’t straighten out these various contradictions. But we can recall the headlines on Professor Manne’s highly instructive essay:I Believe Tara Reade. And You Should, Too.We already knew that Biden is the type. Had we as voters and had the Democratic Party taken this seriously, we wouldn’t be in this mess nowProfessor Manne believed Tara Reade. She said that you should too. Why did she believe Tara Reade? In part because, as the headline explained, Biden is “the type!”Appallingly, Professor Manne is a ranking philosophy professor, at Cornell. Her essay appeared in The Nation.Each of these facts should tell us something about the way our absurdly self-impressed tribe has been contributing to our failing nation’s breakdown in intellectual order. Concerning Reade, the pattern which seems to be emerging is quite familiar. As we tell you every time, none of this can possibly prove that Reade’s claim about Biden is false. But, for whatever reason, some people do make false accusations of this type. At this point, does Reade really seem like someone you’d be inclined to trust?(For the record: Natasha Korecki’s report about Reade stressed her endless money problems. Could Reade be on the Putin payroll? Yes, of course she could! She’s written at least one crazy essay about the sexy Russkie hunk. Also, everything’s possible, and it always has been!)Does Reade seem like someone you can trust? Instead, might she be a person who “has problems,” as Emily Bazelon suggested at Slate way back in April, speaking to a pair of hopelessly scripted male colleagues?In the the words of the embarrassing Manne, does Reade seem like someone you should believe? Sadly, Professor Manne is a real professor, and she’s part of our own failing tribe!This brings us to the question of President Trump, whose statements are generally semi-coherent but rarely seem to be accurate.This morning, perusing the Washington Post, we were struck by the headline above Colbert King’s weekly column. We became even more intrigued when we saw the way King began:KING (5/23/20): All the president’s liesWhen President Trump announced this week that he is taking the drug hydroxychloroquine, I was working my way through The Post’s new book, “Donald Trump and His Assault on Truth,” written by the newspaper’s Fact Checker staff.The thought that Trump would ignore warnings from the Food and Drug Administration and deliberately ingest a drug that could have serious side effects was disturbing. Equally upsetting, however, was the thought that the president may have taken to the airwaves to tell a flat-out lie. Why should we believe he’s taking the drug? After all, America has come to this: a president of the United States whose word cannot be trusted.As a general matter, it’s certainly true that President Trump’s “word cannot be trusted.” President Trump emits bogus, false and misleading statements in much the way dark storm clouds will toss off showers of rain.That said:If Trump is taking hydroxychloroquine, that would seem to indicate that he actually hasn’t been lying when he’s said that he thinks it’s safe. If he thought the drug was going to kill him, we’ll guess that he wouldn’t be taking it.Is he actually taking the drug? There’s no way to be sure. But that headline talks about the president’s “lies,” and the Washington Post’s Fact-Checker site has never used that term. Playing by older, sounder rules, the site continues to tabulate the president’s “false or misleading claims.” And, as everyone used to know, a false statement isn’t a lie if the speaker believes the statement is true.The Fact-Checker site has bowed to that old understanding. Until today, when King proceeds to quote Glenn Kessler, the site’s major player:KING (continuing directly): Fact Checker editor and chief writer Glenn Kessler labels Trump “the most mendacious president in U.S. history.” And the 344-page book backs up that charge.Mendacity is a form of lying. It may be that Kessler is held to one set of rules in the Post itself, but has been able to state a different judgment in this new book.We haven’t seen the new book. We do recommend the possibility that Trump is disturbed and disordered—that the fellow “has problems.” Consider two apparent misstatements by Trump. Just this week, at a public event, he claimed, apparently falsely, that he was honored as Michigan’s “Man of the Year” a few short years ago.It seems quite clear that there is no such prize, and that Trump wasn’t so honored. But was Trump lying when he said that? Is it possible that he’s so delusional that he believes that claim?In asking that question, we refer you to another absurdly swollen claim Trump has made down through the years. Linking to a fascinating report in Slate, Tyler Lauletta summarized the lunacy here:LAULETTA (5/6/20): President Trump’s recollections of his career as a high school baseball player have come under scrutiny.Trump has claimed that he was a standout player, capable of making the big leagues had he desired.”I was captain of the baseball team,” Trump said in a 2010 interview with MTV. “I was supposed to be a professional baseball player. Fortunately, I decided to go into real estate instead. I played first base and I also played catcher. I was a good hitter. I just had a good time.”In a 2013 tweet, Trump went as far as to say that he was the best player in the state of New York in his high school days.Actually, Trump only said in that 2013 tweet that he was said to be the best player in the state. Exaggerations and misstatements are part of the human condition!That said, was Trump the best baseball player in the state of New York during his high school days? Asking a slightly different question, was he any darn good at all?Wonderfully, Leander Schaerlaeckens decided to check it out! In his lengthy, detailed report for Slate, it becomes fairly clear that Trump wasn’t an especially good high school player at all, let long the best player in the state.Question: When Trump made this ridiculous claim, was he actually lying? Or could it be that he’s so disordered that he thought his false claim was true?If he knew his claim was false, he was lying. If he actually thought it was true, does some larger problem exist?Is Donald J. Trump a liar, or might he simply “have problems?” We think that question is worth exploration. This seems to put us in the minority in our own infallible tribe.Like all tribes in all of human history, our tribe likes to make the sweeping moral denunciation. We tend to opt for the simplest accusation against the other or others.You can’t believe a thing Trump says, but how often is he actually lying? We’d like to see medical specialists tease that question out, if they can be nonpartisan in their discussions.Concerning Reade, it seems that a certain familiar pattern has emerged. Our big news orgs are actually discussing that pattern this time. They were never willing to do so in the history-altering cases of Gennifer Flowers and Kathleen Willey, who never stopped being regarded as the most credible people on earth.An unfortunate pattern has also emerged among some of our tribe’s professors. Recent essays by Professors Hirshman and Manne constitute an embarrassing indictment of one branch of our own failing tribe..The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but our self-impressed species is deeply tribal. At times like these, we aren’t inclined to be real bright—and that cab even be true Over Here, among our most brilliant sachems.

  • 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 covidresponse@fenton.com 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 Staff 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. https://t.co/GeZ4Hh264f — 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

  • What Mueller Did Not Say Today
    by Ron Chusid on May 29, 2019 at 15:55

    What Mueller did not say today:1) When he said Russia interfered in the election, he left out the important… Posted by Ron Chusid on Wednesday, May 29, 2019 What Mueller did not say today: 1) When he said Russia interfered in the election, he left out the important perspective that interference in foreign elections is common

  • Rahna Epting Will Be MoveOn’s Next Leader
    by Nick Berning on May 29, 2019 at 14:06

    MoveOn announced today that after an intensive multi-month search process, its boards have selected Rahna Epting to serve as the next executive director of MoveOn Political Action and MoveOn Civic Action, beginning this fall. The post Rahna Epting Will Be MoveOn’s Next Leader appeared first on MoveOn.Org | Democracy In Action.

  • Castro, Gillibrand, Harris, Sanders, and Warren To Appear On Stage At MoveOn’s “Big Ideas Forum” June 1 In San Francisco
    by Brian Stewart on May 9, 2019 at 17:02

    2020 Democratic presidential candidates Secretary Julián Castro, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Senator Kamala Harris, Senator Bernie Sanders, and Senator Elizabeth Warren will all appear on stage at MoveOn’s “Big Ideas Forum” in San Francisco, California, on June 1. At the event, each candidate will present “One Big Idea” that will change people’s lives for the better. The post Castro, Gillibrand, Harris, Sanders, and Warren To Appear On Stage At MoveOn’s “Big Ideas Forum” June 1 In San Francisco appeared first on MoveOn.Org | Democracy In Action.

  • MoveOn’s First Endorsement of 2020 Cycle: Ilhan Omar for Congress
    by Iram Ali on April 24, 2019 at 16:16

    The results are in: With 77% of votes cast in favor, MoveOn members in Minnesota’s 5th District have voted overwhelmingly to endorse Ilhan Omar for re-election to Congress! Representative Ilhan Omar’s endorsement for re-election marks MoveOn’s very first endorsement for the 2020 cycle. Rep. Omar is a uniquely powerful, compelling member of Congress. She ran The post MoveOn’s First Endorsement of 2020 Cycle: Ilhan Omar for Congress appeared first on MoveOn.Org | Democracy In Action.

  • 2020 Candidates Skip AIPAC!
    by Iram Ali on March 22, 2019 at 21:28

    After MoveOn members asked candidates to skip the AIPAC conference, no 2020 Democratic presidential candidates are yet publicly committed to attend the AIPAC conference in DC this weekend! The story comes after a number of leading candidates—Sen. Bernie Sanders, Sen. Kamala Harris, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Beto O’Rourke, Mayor Julián Castro, Governor Jay Inlsee, and Mayor The post 2020 Candidates Skip AIPAC! appeared first on MoveOn.Org | Democracy In Action.

  • MoveOn: 2020 Presidential Candidates Should Not Attend AIPAC Conference
    by Iram Ali on March 20, 2019 at 18:21

    NEW SURVEY: Over 74% of MoveOn Members Believe 2020 Presidential Candidates Should Not Attend AIPAC Conference AIPAC conference to be headlined by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Vice President Mike Pence, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Mitch McConnell, Sen. Chuck Schumer & Rep. Kevin McCarthy A new survey from MoveOn Political Action asked members if they The post MoveOn: 2020 Presidential Candidates Should Not Attend AIPAC Conference appeared first on MoveOn.Org | Democracy In Action.

  • My Vote
    by Ron Chusid on March 1, 2019 at 19:55
  • A Good Sign For Bernie
    by Ron Chusid on March 1, 2019 at 19:51
  • Russiagate And Censorship
    by Ron Chusid on March 1, 2019 at 19:47
  • Democrats Can’t Take Progressive Votes For Granted
    by Ron Chusid on March 1, 2019 at 19:45
  • Russiagate Nonsense
    by Ron Chusid on March 1, 2019 at 19:43
  • How To Get Rid Of Donald Trump
    by Ron Chusid on March 1, 2019 at 19:41
  • A Younger, Fresher Progressive Candidate
    by Ron Chusid on March 1, 2019 at 19:39
  • Delegitimatizing Anti-War Candidates
    by Ron Chusid on March 1, 2019 at 19:36
  • Politician For Sale
    by Ron Chusid on March 1, 2019 at 19:34
  • The Damage From Russiagate
    by Ron Chusid on March 1, 2019 at 19:31
  • Partisanship
    by Ron Chusid on March 1, 2019 at 19:29
  • Mueller Wrapping Up Soon
    by Ron Chusid on March 1, 2019 at 19:28

    I will be glad when we stop hearing Russiagate conspiracy theorists say “wait for Mueller to finish.” What will they say if he finishes and still has provided zero evidence to support their claims? Hopefully they will be satisfied with the overwhelming evidence that Trump is a crook, and drop the Russia conspiracy theories about

  • Con Men And Liars Of Hollywood
    by Ron Chusid on February 25, 2019 at 16:59
  • PHOTOS: Amazing Fake Trump Emergency Protests
    by Brian Stewart on February 19, 2019 at 02:58

    277 events. 48 states. At least 50,000 attendees. That’s what power looks like. Donald Trump may control the White House for the moment, but we are not giving up on what this country can be. And on Presidents Day, tens of thousands of MoveOn members and allies hit the streets to build a vision of a country where all people—including those seeking The post PHOTOS: Amazing Fake Trump Emergency Protests appeared first on MoveOn.Org | Democracy In Action.

  • MoveOn Statement on Deal to End the Government Shutdown with No Wall
    by Brian Stewart on January 25, 2019 at 21:02

    “Congress must not give into Trump’s demand for increased funding for a wall, his deportation machine, or border militarization in the next round of this fight” WASHINGTON, DC — Moments ago, Donald Trump announced a deal with Congress to end the government shutdown and reopen the federal government for three weeks with no funding for The post MoveOn Statement on Deal to End the Government Shutdown with No Wall appeared first on MoveOn.Org | Democracy In Action.

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