dropped for teen who took photo of crowd at Georgia high
(2-min. video; CNN, August 8, 2020)
The mother of a student who was suspended after posting a
photo on Twitter that showed her high school's crowded
hallways this week tells CNN that her daughter's suspension
has been reversed. The School Superintendent explained,
"Wearing a mask is a personal choice and there is no practical
way to enforce a mandate to wear them."
[Who will suspend HIM?]
are the problems with Covid-19 testing accuracy.
video; CNN, August 8, 2020)
CNN's Randi Kaye reports on the problems with the rapid
coronavirus testing and what contributes to the inaccurate
Dr. Gupta reacts to video at Trump's club.
video; CNN, August 8, 2020)
A crowd of people at President Trump's country club in
Bedminster, New Jersey, gathered to hear his speech. Many
people in the audience were not wearing masks despite masks
being required in the state of New Jersey.
Truths: Inside Trump’s Battles With U.S. Intelligence
(New York Times, August 8, 2020)
Last year, intelligence officials gathered to write a
classified report on Russia’s interest in the 2020 election.
An investigation from the magazine uncovered what happened
The document discussed Russia’s ongoing efforts to influence
U.S. elections: the 2020 presidential contest and 2024’s as
well. The N.I.E. began by enumerating the authors’ “key
judgments.” Key Judgment 2 was that in the 2020 election,
Russia favored the current president: Donald Trump.
The intelligence provided to the N.I.E.’s authors indicated
that in the lead-up to 2020, Russia worked in support of the
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders as well. But
this reflected not a genuine preference for Sanders but rather
an effort “to weaken that party and ultimately help the
current U.S. president.” To allay any speculation that Putin’s
interest in Trump had cooled, Key Judgment 2 was substantiated
by current information from a highly sensitive foreign source
described by someone who read the N.I.E. as “100 percent
On its face, Key Judgment 2 was not a contentious assertion.
In 2017, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence,
the umbrella entity supervising the 16 other U.S. intelligence
agencies, released a report drawing on intelligence from the
C.I.A., the F.B.I. and the National Security Agency that found
Russia had interfered in the 2016 presidential election and
aspired to help Trump. At a news conference with Trump in
Helsinki in July 2018, President Vladimir Putin of Russia
denied interfering in the election. But when asked by a
reporter if he had wanted Trump to win, he replied bluntly:
“Yes, I did.”
Yet Trump never accepted this and often actively disputed it,
judging officials who expressed such a view to be disloyal. As
a former senior adviser to Trump, speaking on the condition of
anonymity, told me, “You couldn’t have any conversation about
Russia and the election without the president assuming you
were calling his election into question. Everyone in the White
House knew that, and so you just didn’t talk about that with
postmaster general overhauls USPS leadership amid probe into
(The Hill, August 7, 2020)
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy announced an overhaul of the
U.S. Postal Service (USPS) on Friday, removing the top two
officials in charge of day-to-day operations as Democrats in
Washington call for an investigation into changes that have
slowed mail delivery. According to a new organizational chart
released by USPS, 23 postal executives were reassigned or
displaced and five staffers joined the agency’s leadership
from other positions.
“This organizational change will capture operating
efficiencies by providing clarity and economies of scale that
will allow us to reduce our cost base and capture new
revenue,” said DeJoy. “It is crucial that we do what is within
our control to help us successfully complete our mission to
serve the American people and, through the universal service
obligation, bind our nation together by maintaining and
operating our unique, vital and resilient infrastructure.”
DeJoy announced there would be a hiring freeze and a request
for voluntary early retirements. The USPS will also configure
itself into three “operating units” of retail and delivery,
logistics and processing, and commerce and business solutions
and will cut back from seven regions to four.
The reshuffling comes as Democrats clamor for an investigation
into USPS amid concerns over the agency’s ability to handle
what is expected to be a flood of mail-in ballots this year.
Lawmakers have warned that changes DeJoy has made, including
reducing overtime and adjusting delivery policies, may leave
the agency even more unprepared.
The reshuffling comes as Democrats clamor for an investigation
into USPS amid concerns over the agency’s ability to handle
what is expected to be a flood of mail-in ballots this year.
Lawmakers have warned that changes DeJoy has made, including
reducing overtime and adjusting delivery policies, may leave
the agency even more unprepared. “We believe these changes,
made during the middle of a once-in-a-century pandemic, now
threaten the timely delivery of mail — including medicines for
seniors, paychecks for workers, and absentee ballots for
voters — that is essential to millions of Americans. While it
is true that the Postal Service has and continues to face
financial challenges, enacting these policies as cost-cutting
or efficiency measures as the COVID-19 public health emergency
continues is counterproductive and unacceptable,” Speaker
Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles
Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a letter to DeJoy on Thursday.
We Get It, We Chose to Be Here’: Despite Virus, Thousands
Converge on Sturgis for Huge Rally.
(New York Times,
August 7, 2020)
Tens of thousands of motorcyclists roared into the western
South Dakota community of Sturgis on Friday, lining Main
Street from end to end, for the start of an annual rally that
kicked off despite objections from residents and with little
regard for a public health emergency ravaging the world.
It could have been any other past summer rally in Sturgis,
with herds of R.V.s, bikers and classic cars converging for
the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, a 10-day affair that was
expected to attract roughly 250,000 enthusiasts this year —
about half the number who attended last year but a figure that
puts it on track to be among the country’s largest public
gatherings since the first coronavirus cases emerged in the
spring. Save for a few hard-to-spot hand-sanitizer stations,
it could have been any other major festival in pre-pandemic
times. “Screw Covid I went to Sturgis,” read a black T-shirt
amid a sea of Harley Davidson and Trump 2020 outfits sported
by the throng of people walking along Main Street. Their gear
did not include face masks, and social distancing guidelines
were completely ignored.
South Dakota is among several states that did not put in place
a lockdown, and state officials have not required residents to
wear masks, giving attendees who rode in from outside the
state fewer restrictions than they may have had back home.
Attendance on Friday was on par with previous years, said Dan
Ainslie, City Manager for Sturgis. “It’s kind of like a
typical rally,” Mr. Ainslie said of the number of people
coming into town, “and the crowds are still building.”
While the most recent Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention guidelines do not suggest a specific limit for the
number of attendees at gatherings or community events, they
encourage organizers to maintain a capacity conducive to
reducing the spread of the virus. The agency encourages people
to socially distance at six feet apart and wear masks.
“Attendees will be asked to be respectful of the community
concerns by practicing social distancing and taking personal
responsibility for their health by following C.D.C.
guidelines,” the news release said.
But on Friday, throngs of ralliers parked their bikes and
walked shoulder to shoulder along the downtown streets, nary a
mask in sight. Police officers stationed at the intersections
also were not wearing masks.
Bruce Labsa, 66, drove from North Carolina last week to be
among the first in town. This was the first year he would be
able to attend the rally since retiring, and he did not want
to miss it. On Friday, he was not wearing a mask, and he said
he had no concerns about catching the coronavirus. “I don’t
know anyone who’s had it,” Mr. Labsa said.
rejected COVID-19 testing for all detainees at facility
because it would be too much trouble.
(Daily Kos, August
There’s really no bottom when Immigration and Customs
Enforcement (ICE) and private prison profiteers join
forces—just consider the latest example. Internal emails
obtained through an ongoing lawsuit show the mass detention
agency and private prison operator GEO Group rejected a plan
to test all detained people at one California facility for
COVID-19 “because they would be unable to adequately isolate
those who tested positive,” a coalition of groups said in a
19 coronavirus: US Government issues New Zealand travel
warning due to its '23 active cases'.
Herald, August 7, 2020)
Despite the US recording more than 2 million cases and 160,000
deaths, the US Government has warned its citizens to be very
cautious about traveling to New Zealand because of our "23
active cases" of Covid-19. "As of August 7, 2020, New Zealand
has had 1,569 confirmed and probable cases of Covid-19 within
its borders. Currently, there are 23 active cases in New
Zealand," the post states.
The website, however, doesn't explain all 23 active cases are
in managed isolation. However, New Zealanders need not worry
about Americans entering the country given only New Zealand
citizens or residents with valid travel conditions can
last fully intact Arctic ice shelf collapses.
Today, August 7, 2020)
The Milne Ice Shelf lost some 40 percent of its area — and the
last known epishelf lake in the northern hemisphere — over two
days, late last month. The Milne Ice Shelf is at the fringe of
Ellesmere Island, in Nunavut.
“Above normal air temperatures, offshore winds and open water
in front of the ice shelf are all part of the recipe for ice
shelf break up,” the Canadian Ice Service said on Twitter when
it announced the loss on Sunday.
The shelf’s area shrank by about 80 square kilometers. By
comparison, the island of Manhattan in New York covers roughly
60 square kilometers.
The Arctic has been warming at twice the global rate for the
last 30 years, due to a process known as Arctic amplification.
But this year, temperatures in the polar region have been
intense. The polar sea ice hit its lowest extent for July in
40 years. Record heat and wildfires have scorched Siberia.
Summer in the Canadian Arctic this year in particular has been
5 degrees Celsius above the 30-year average. That has
threatened smaller ice caps, which can melt quickly because
they do not have the bulk that larger glaciers have to stay
cold. As a glacier disappears, more bedrock is exposed, which
then heats up and accelerates the melting process.
A 2017 study predicted the ice caps were likely to disappear
within five years. The ice caps were believed to have formed
several centuries ago.
Anthony Fauci says chance of coronavirus vaccine being
highly effective is ‘not great’.
(CNBC, August 7, 2020)
Scientists are hoping for a coronavirus vaccine that is at
least 75% effective, but 50% or 60% effective would be
acceptable, too, Fauci, director of the National Institute of
Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said during a Q&A with
the Brown University School of Public Health. “The chances of
it being 98% effective is not great, which means you must
never abandon the public health approach. You’ve got to think
of the vaccine as a tool to be able to get the pandemic to no
longer be a pandemic, but to be something that’s well
intelligence report on Trump-Biden election meddling reveals
who Russia, China and Iran want to win.
(CNBC, August 7,
Russia is trying to “undermine” presumptive Democratic nominee
Joe Biden’s candidacy, a leading U.S. intelligence official
But China and Iran want President Donald Trump to lose the
election, said William Evanina, director of the National
Counterintelligence and Security Center.
Evanina warned that “foreign states will continue to use
covert and overt influence measures” to affect the
long has relied on nondisclosure deals to prevent criticism.
That strategy may be unraveling.
August 7, 2020)
For decades, Donald Trump has relied on broadly worded
nondisclosure agreements as a powerful weapon against anyone
who would say something critical of him. Among those who have
signed agreements are a porn star, two ex-wives, contestants
on “The Apprentice,” campaign workers and business associates.
But this key element of Trump’s corporate and political
strategy has shown signs of unraveling, even as his campaign
spends heavily to enforce such agreements. He and his allies
recently have lost initial rounds in legal battles to stop
damaging books by former top White House officials and his
niece Mary L. Trump.
Now, in one of the most sweeping efforts by a former associate
to undo nondisclosure agreements, the Trump campaign’s former
Hispanic outreach director last week filed her latest effort
in a class-action suit to void all such campaign contracts.
She says they are so broad that they deny individuals their
First Amendment right to say anything critical of the
president — even as he routinely takes to Twitter to mock and
deride his critics.
In a motion for summary judgment in the case, the former
campaign worker, Jessica Denson, said the campaign sought a
$1.5 million claim against her for violating an NDA. She said
that came after she filed a lawsuit alleging sex
discrimination by campaign officials. (That separate case is
ongoing.) “These NDAs are representative of the levers of fear
that this campaign and administration wield over people,”
Denson told The Washington Post. “And if this lever of these
NDAs is lifted, it is significant not only for the direct
effect it has on people who have signed it, but for a general
environment of people who are afraid to speak out.”
country clubs and celebrities like Kanye West received loans
from PPP program.
(1-min. video; CNBC, August 7, 2020)
Billionaires, country clubs and celebrities were among those
businesses that applied for and received small business loans
of $150,000 or greater. Here’s a look at some of the notable
Sanders proposes one-time tax that would cost Bezos $42.8
billion, Musk $27.5 billion.
(2-min. video; CNBC, August
Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Kirsten
Gillibrand, D-N.Y., on Thursday introduced the “Make
Billionaires Pay Act,” which would tax tech’s top leaders tens
of billions of dollars in wealth made during the
pandemic. The “Make Billionaires Pay Act” would impose a
one-time 60% tax on wealth gains made by billionaires between
March 18, 2020, and Jan. 1, 2021. The funds would be used to
pay for out-of-pocket health-care expenses for all Americans
for a year.
last of the Zoroastrians
(The Guardian, August 6, 2020)
A funeral, a family, and a journey into a disappearing
cats test positive for coronavirus in Texas.
August 6, 2020)
Texas A&M University researchers said both cats were
asymptomatic and lived with people who have also tested
positive, according to a statement from the university. The
results suggest transmission is possible for pets in
“high-risk” environments, researchers said.
The statement comes the same week Louisiana officials
confirmed a dog has tested positive for the virus. The Bronx
Zoo reported in May that several tigers and lions had
contracted the virus after contact with an asymptomatic person
who had the disease. The first dog in the U.S. to test
positive for the virus died in July.
House speaker was hospitalized for COVID-19. Governor
criticizes what he did next.
(Wichita KS Eagle, August
Kansas House Speaker Ron Ryckman disclosed Thursday he had
been hospitalized for the coronavirus, prompting Gov. Laura
Kelly to criticize his decision to attend a July meeting where
Kelly and other officials were present without revealing his
diagnosis. Ryckman, an Olathe Republican, is the
highest-ranking Kansas official known to have caught the
virus. He worked with other lawmakers to craft a compromise
with the Democratic governor in June that limited her power
over the summer to close businesses and limit mass gatherings
to slow the spread of the virus.
“Speaker Ryckman’s decision to attend the State Finance
Council meeting after being released from the hospital, while
concealing his diagnosis from those of us in the room and
taking his mask off, was reckless and dangerous,” Gov. Kelly
said in a statement. “As elected officials, we have a unique
responsibility to set the right example for the people of
Kansas, and to follow the commonsense guidance from medical
experts. While I’m dismayed by his actions, I wish Speaker
Ryckman good health and I’m glad he’s on the road to
Says He Wouldn't Stand In The Way Of A Trump Prosecution.
(3-min. video; NPR, August 6, 2020)
Joe Biden says that he believes prosecuting a former president
would be a "very unusual thing and probably not very ... good
for democracy," but he would not stand in the way of a future
Justice Department pursuing criminal charges against President
Trump after he leaves office. "Look, the Justice Department is
not the president's private law firm. The attorney general is
not the president's private lawyer. I will not interfere with
the Justice Department's judgment of whether or not they think
they should pursue the prosecution of anyone that they think
has violated the law," Biden told NPR's Lulu Garcia-Navarro.
Biden made clear that any future prosecution against Trump
would not be directed by him if he's elected president. "In
terms of saying, 'I think the president violated the law. I
think the president did this, therefore, go on and prosecute
him' — I will not do that," he said. "If [a case] prove[s] to
be a criminal offense, then in fact, that would be up to the
attorney general to decide whether he or she wanted to proceed
with it. I am not going to make that individual judgment,"
Trump has been connected with alleged illegal activity by his
former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen and investigators
working for former special counsel Robert Mueller. What isn't
clear is whether federal authorities are investigating the
president or whether prosecutors might take action against
Trump if he no longer enjoyed the privileges that protect him
from being indicted as a sitting president.
claims Biden is 'against God' and will 'hurt the Bible'.
(2-min. video; The Hill, August 6, 2020)
President Trump on Thursday claimed presumptive Democratic
presidential nominee Joe Biden, a practicing Catholic, is
"against God" as he levied a stream of attacks on his likely
opponent in the November election. "Take away your guns, take
away your Second Amendment. No religion, no anything," Trump
said, standing behind a podium with the presidential seal.
"Hurt the Bible. Hurt God. He’s against God. He’s against
guns. He’s against energy."
Biden was among those who chastised Trump for clearing out
peaceful protesters near the White House in early June before
the president walked across the street to pose for a photo
outside the damaged St. John's Episcopal Church. Trump did not
speak outside the church, instead holding a Bible in the air
while surrounded by administration officials.
"Joe Biden's faith is at the core of who he is; he's lived it
with dignity his entire life, and it's been a source of
strength and comfort in times of extreme hardship," Andrew
Bates, a spokesman for the Biden campaign, said in a
statement. "Donald Trump is the only president in our history
to have tear-gassed peaceful Americans and thrown a priest out
of her church just so he could profane it - and a Bible - for
his own cynical optics as he sought to tear our nation apart
at a moment of crisis and pain," Bates added. "And this comes
just one day after Trump's campaign abused a photo of Joe
Biden praying in church to demean him, in one of the starkest
expressions of weakness throughout this whole campaign."
on Presidential Debates rejects Trump campaign call for
(1-min. video; The Hill, August 6, 2020)
The Commission on Presidential Debates is rejecting the Trump
campaign’s request to modify the presidential debate schedule
so the first debate occurs before states begin early voting.
The commission rebuffed the campaign’s argument that the
current debate schedule would deprive voters of seeing the
candidates debate one another before the first ballots are
cast. “You state that such a debate is necessary because some
states begin sending out mail-in ballots before the first
scheduled debate. There is a difference between ballots having
been issued by a state and those ballots having been cast by
voters, who are under no compulsion to return their ballots
before the debates,” wrote co-chairs Frank Fahrenkopf, Dorothy
Ridings and Kenneth Wollack in the letter to Giuliani
Thursday. “In 2016, when the debate schedule was similar, only
.0069% of the electorate had voted at the time of the first
debate. While more people will likely vote by mail in 2020,
the debate schedule has been and will be highly publicized.
Any voter who wishes to watch one or more debates before
voting will be well aware of that opportunity,” the letter
The commission also rejected the campaign's list of reporters
to moderate the debates.
removes troll farm posing as African-American support for
(NBC News, August 6, 2020)
Facebook removed hundreds of accounts on Thursday from a
foreign troll farm posing as African-Americans in support of
Donald Trump and QAnon supporters. It also removed hundreds of
fake accounts linked to conservative media outlet The Epoch
Times that pushed pro-Trump conspiracy theories about
coronavirus and protests in the U.S. The foreign pro-Trump
troll farm was based in Romania and pushed content on
Instagram under names like “BlackPeopleVoteForTrump” and on
Facebook under “We Love Our President.”
Facebook took down the accounts as part of its enforcement
against coordinated inauthentic behavior, which is the use of
fake accounts to inflate the reach of content or products on
social media. Troll farms — groups of people that work
together to manipulate internet discourse with fake accounts —
are often outsourced and purchased by foreign governments or
businesses to push specific political talking points.
are struggling more than people in other wealthy nations
during the coronavirus pandemic.
(The Hill, August 6,
The United States is No. 1 in the world for coronavirus cases,
but — or perhaps as a result — falls below a number of other
wealthy nations in a new analysis of mental health and
economic consequences. Research by the Commonwealth Fund
compared responses from adults in the United States to those
from Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Netherlands, New
Zealand, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom. One-third of
U.S. adults reported stress, anxiety and great sadness that
was difficult to cope with by themselves, compared to about a
quarter or less in other countries.
The mental toll of the coronavirus pandemic is exacerbated by
harsh economic realities for many Americans. More than 30
percent of U.S. respondents said they have struggled
economically and were unable to pay for basic necessities,
used up all their savings, or borrowed money, according to the
survey. In Canada, 24 percent said the same, followed by 21
percent in Australia, but on the other end, only 6 to 7
percent of respondents reported the same in Germany and the
Despite their trademark patriotism, Americans aren’t too happy
about how their country has handled the coronavirus pandemic
either. Only 33 percent of U.S. adults said President Trump
has done either a “good” or “very good” job in his handling
the coronavirus pandemic, compared to between 49 percent and
95 percent of respondents in other countries who approved of
how their president or prime minister has dealt with the
crisis. But the one common feeling across countries was an
appreciation for health care workers’ response to the
pandemic, with 78 percent to 96 percent of all countries
saying that hospitals, nurses and doctors had done a good or
very good job.
“As our country struggles with the surging number of cases and
the economic havoc that the pandemic is wreaking, people in
other countries are living a different, better, reality.
Americans should realize that our country can do better, too.
We can start by ensuring everyone can get and afford the
health care they need, and by implementing public health
measures, like mask-wearing, social distancing, and robust
testing and tracing that can help us stop COVID-19 as so many
others have effectively accomplished,” said David Blumenthal,
President of the Commonwealth Fund.
Fujitsu announces permanent work-from-home plan.
News, August 6, 2020)
Technology firm Fujitsu has said it will halve its office
space in Japan as it adapts to the "new normal" of the
coronavirus pandemic. It says the "Work Life Shift" programme
will offer unprecedented flexibility to its 80,000 workers in
the country. Staff will be able to work flexible hours, and
working from home will be standard wherever possible.
is what coronavirus will do to our offices and homes.
(BBC Visual and Data Journalism Team, August 6, 2020)
One day, the virus will subside. It could be eradicated. But
even then, life will not simply return to the way it was
before Covid-19. Spurred on by the coronavirus crisis,
architects have been rethinking the buildings we inhabit.
Scroll down to find out how the future might look.
Los Angeles to shut off water and power to party houses.
(BBC News, August 6, 2020)
The mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti, has said the city
will be authorised to shut off water and power to properties
where large parties and gatherings are held despite
restrictions imposed to curb the spread of coronavirus. He
said house parties had become "nightclubs in the hills" and
that the focus would be on gatherings "posing significant
public dangers". The rule comes into force on Friday.
California is the worst-affected US state with over 532,000
Covid-19 cases. State authorities have also reported 9,872
deaths resulting from coronavirus. Los Angeles county
continues to report the highest number of infections in the
state - 197,912 as of Wednesday.
a ship abandoned by its owner brought deadly cargo to
(Irish Times, August 6, 2020)
The countdown to catastrophe in Beirut started six years ago
when a troubled, Russian-leased cargo ship made an unscheduled
stop at the city’s port. The ship was trailed by debts, crewed
by disgruntled sailors and dogged by a small hole in its hull
that meant water had to be constantly pumped out. And it
carried a volatile cargo: more than 2,000 tonnes of ammonium
nitrate, a combustible material used to make fertilisers – and
bombs – that was destined for Mozambique.
The ship, the Rhosus, never made it. Embroiled in a financial
and diplomatic dispute, it was abandoned by the Russian
businessman who had leased it. And the ammonium nitrate was
transferred to a dockside warehouse in Beirut, where it would
languish for years, until Tuesday, when Lebanese officials
said it exploded, sending a shock wave that killed more than
130 people and wounded another 5,000.
The Rhosus, which flies the flag of Moldova, arrived in Beirut
in November 2013, two months after it left the Black Sea port
of Batumi, Georgia. The ship was leased by Igor Grechushkin, a
Russian businessman living in Cyprus. Prokoshev, the captain,
joined the ship in Turkey after a mutiny over unpaid wages by
a previous crew.
In Lebanon, public rage focused on the negligence of the
authorities, who were aware of the danger posed by the storage
of 2,500 tonnes of ammonium nitrate in a warehouse on the
Beirut docks yet failed to act.
Senior customs officials wrote to the Lebanese courts at least
six times from 2014 to 2017, seeking guidance on how to
dispose of the ammonium nitrate, according to public records
posted to social media by a Lebanese lawmaker, Salim Aoun. “In
view of the serious danger posed by keeping this shipment in
the warehouses in an inappropriate climate,” Shafik Marei, the
director of Lebanese customs, wrote in May 2016, “we repeat
our request to demand the maritime agency to re-export the
materials immediately.” The customs officials proposed a
number of solutions, including donating the ammonium nitrate
to the Lebanese army or selling it to the privately owned
Lebanese Explosives Co. Marei sent a second, similar letter a
The judiciary failed to respond to any of his pleas, the
records suggested. Lebanese judicial officials could not be
reached for comment on Wednesday.
Images Show Aftermath Of Beirut Blast.
(NPR, August 5,
Several warehouses appear to be flattened and a cruise ship
called the Orient Queen can be seen listing to one side. Heavy
damage extends for over half a mile into the city. The blast
killed at least 100 people and injured thousands more.
Reports suggest that the incident was triggered yesterday when
a fire in one section of the port reached an enormous cache of
ammonium nitrate fertilizer that had been offloaded months
earlier. The explosion was so large that the U.S. Geological
Survey registered it as a magnitude 3.3 earthquake.
Fauci: My family gets death threats.
August 5, 2020)
Dr. Anthony Fauci tells CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta that he has had
to get security protection after his family received threats
Richard Blumenthal Tweets an Ominous Message - Time for a
(Daily Kos, August 4, 2020)
"In advance of the classified briefing I’ll hear later today,
I reviewed classified documents this morning. They are
chilling. Declassify this information. Americans deserve &
need to know about ongoing foreign interference (even
sabotage) in our election system."
[See Pelosi et al, below on July 24, 2020.]
judge basically begs the Supreme Court to overturn qualified
(Daily Kos, August 4, 2020)
The Supreme Court has drawn the doctrine of qualified immunity
so broadly that police officers can almost never be held
accountable in civil court for their abuses on the job. Since
what the Supreme Court says, goes, lower-court judges are
forced to let violent or racist or violent and racist police
off the hook time after time. U.S. District Judge Carlton
Reeves is apparently sick of that, and made
it very clear in a new 72-page decision
—even as he
granted qualified immunity to an officer who violated the
Outrage pours out of every line from the judge forced to make
an unjust decision. “Let us not be fooled by legal jargon,”
Reeves wrote. “Immunity is not exoneration. And the harm in
this case to one man sheds light on the harm done to the
nation by this manufactured doctrine.”
Judge Reeves goes deep on the sordid history of qualified
immunity, before taking the traffic stop at issue before him
step by step and concluding both that it involved “an
unreasonable search in violation of the Fourth Amendment”
involving involuntary, coerced consent—and that McClendon is
protected by qualified immunity until the Supreme Court
overturns it. His decision is a sustained plea to the court to
do exactly that, concluding “I do not envy the task before the
Supreme Court. Overturning qualified immunity will undoubtedly
impact our society. Yet, the status quo is extraordinary and
unsustainable. Just as the Supreme Court swept away the
mistaken doctrine of ‘separate but equal,’ so too it should
eliminate the doctrine of qualified immunity.”
A majority of voters want to end qualified immunity. Reps.
Ayanna Pressley and Justin Amash have sponsored legislation to
end it. But for now—until either Congress or the Supreme Court
acts—it gives police the right to commit gross abuses against
civilians, abuses that in many cases are obviously and
outrageously racist. It must go.
with state of the US at 9-year low.
(The Hill, August 4,
National satisfaction amid the COVID-19 pandemic has dipped
considerably since the virus arrived stateside. New data from
Gallup reveals that just 13 percent of U.S. adults are
satisfied with the current state of the nation.
Previously, national satisfaction registered a higher 20
percent in early June, falling seven percentage points. The
metric has consistently fallen from its 15-year high, which
was 45 percent in February.
Satisfaction has not been this low since November 2011, when
it was about 12 percent. Contextually, 2011 was the year U.S.
credit dropped as the country worked to manage its debt
accumulation. The satisfaction rating also stands 6 percentage
points above the lowest national satisfaction rate ever
recorded by Gallup, 7 percent in October of 2008, amid The
“Americans have rarely been less satisfied with the state of
the nation than they are now,” the report authors write.
On a deeper demographic level, data suggests that the drop in
national positivity primarily occurred among Republicans.
Gallup notes that among respondents who identified as
Republican, satisfaction looms around the 20 percent mark,
roughly half of last month’s reading of 39 percent
Interestingly, despite broad dissatisfaction among
Republicans, party support of President Trump is still
remarkably high, with Gallup noting a 91 percent approval
rating, although this sentiment is not shared by Democrats or
Independents, who reported a 4 percent and 34 percent,
This balances out to an overall national approval rating of 41
percent for President Trump.
Researchers propose that given the party’s general approval of
Trump, dissatisfaction may stem more from the regional
outbreaks of the coronavirus, the subsequent economic
contraction and discussion of systemic racism that has entered
the national spotlight following the police killing of George
Media Availability with Leader Schumer Following Meeting
with Trump Administration on Coronavirus Relief Legislation
(Nancy Pelosi, August 4, 2020)
Leader Schumer: We spent an hour and a half. We really
went down issue by issue by issue, slogging through.
They made some concessions, which we appreciated. We
made some concessions, which they appreciated. We are
still far away on a lot of the important issues, but we’re
continuing to go at it.
In my view, the fundamental disagreement is the scope and
depth of the problem and its solution. This is the
greatest crisis America has faced in 75 years economically, in
a hundred years health-wise. We believe it needs a big,
They are still wrapped in this idea that the government
shouldn’t do much and leave it to the private sector.
And it just doesn’t work. They’re also not
unified. They admit that there are a large number of the
Republicans in the Senate will not vote for anything.
And we don’t exactly know where Donald Trump is. He says
a different thing every day.
But we’re still slogging through step by step by step, and
we’re making progress. It’s not easy, but we’re going to
keep at it until we get the kind of bill the American people
demand and need, which is a bold, strong bill.
Speaker Pelosi: To that end, a bold, strong bill, we agree
that we want to have an agreement, and in that case, we then
say that’s our goal, let’s engineer back from there as to what
we have to do to get that done.
Now, Leader Schumer and I are legislators, with long
experience in writing legislation. We know that the
devil is in the details. So are the angels. And
it’s very important that we have a complete understanding of
each other of what we are agreeing to. It’s not a
conversation, it’s a legislative interaction.
So, this takes time, and it takes specificity. And you
call each other back, ‘Well, you bring more of your
information tomorrow. We’ll bring more of ours,’ so that
we have the clearest understanding of what is going to be in
the bill and what the consequences are – what are the
ramifications of that.
This is a different legislative negotiation than any we’ve
been engaged in because there’s a fuse out there of people
being infected and dying because we have not had an effective
strategic plan. The Administration has resisted
that. We’re insisting on that, in terms of a strategic
plan for testing, tracing, treatment, isolation, masks,
sanitation, all that it takes to hold this in check until,
God-willing and science-providing, we have a vaccine soon.
So, this is – it’s hard. In some cases we’re inching
along, in others, we’re making more progress, but it takes
time and we’ll take more time tomorrow.
Cuts All Counting Efforts Short By A Month.
These last-minute changes to the constitutionally-mandated
count of every person living in the U.S. threaten the accuracy
of population numbers used to determine the distribution of
political representation and federal funding for the next
decade. With roughly 4 out of 10 households nationwide yet to
be counted, and already delayed by the coronavirus pandemic,
the bureau now has less than two months left to try to reach
people of color, immigrants, renters, rural residents and
other members of historically undercounted groups who are not
likely to fill out a census form on their own.
Democrats in Congress and many census advocates have become
increasingly concerned that the White House is pressuring the
bureau to stop counting soon in order to benefit Republicans
when House seats are reapportioned and voting districts are
‘Probably Illegal’ for Biden to Only Consider a Black Woman
(Daily Beast, August 3, 2020)
Carlson, who is currently facing the ire of his own colleagues
over his racist rhetoric, devoted his opening monologue to
calling Black female veep candidates unqualified.
astronauts aim for Florida coast to end SpaceX flight.
(1-min. video; Associated Press, August 2, 2020)
The first astronauts launched by Elon Musk’s SpaceX company
departed the International Space Station on Saturday night for
the final and most important part of their test flight:
returning to Earth with a rare splashdown. NASA’s Doug Hurley
and Bob Behnken bid farewell to the three men left behind as
their SpaceX Dragon capsule undocked and headed toward a
Sunday afternoon descent by parachute into the Gulf of Mexico.
Despite Tropical Storm Isaias’ surge toward Florida’s Atlantic
shore, NASA said the weather looked favorable off the coast of
Pensacola on the extreme opposite side of the state.
It will be the first splashdown for astronauts in 45 years.
The last time was following the joint U.S.-Soviet mission in
1975 known as Apollo-Soyuz.
Germany troops pullout may be his last gift to Putin before
(CNN, August 2, 2020)
Since he came to office, US President Donald Trump has
obsessively picked at the ties that bind America to its
This week in one apparently wanton yank, he ripped one of
those cords by announcing a plan to withdraw nearly 12,000
troops from Germany. This thin green thread of forces, woven
through Germany's historic towns, rolling fields and dense
forests, has for three generations helped ensure peace in
Europe, embodying an unbreakable commitment between the former
The relationship now though, particularly if Trump is
reelected later this year, is in freefall, destination
His decision, if his tweets have been correctly divined, seems
to be to punish Germany. His undiplomatic data grenades were
tossed out in a few moments in the middle of the night, but it
could take years to undo the damage German officials fear it
will inflict on the military alliance.
Trump is the gift that keeps on giving for the Kremlin: his
unpredictability, while often a pain, for them is continual
grist for their propaganda mill.
It has taken America's 45th president almost four self-serving
and destructive years to reach this point, but in pulling the
trigger on withdrawing troops from Germany, one-third of the
total stationed in the country, he has signaled an end to what
Franklin D. Roosevelt, America's 32nd president, conceived as
a post-World War II order based on common interest and
collective aspirations. Roosevelt and other leaders of his
generation witnessed the worst of times as the great powers
collided, propelled by a few evil self-possessed men; assuming
Trump is not completely ignorant, he has chosen to ignore this
Perhaps a new American president will be elected this November
with enough time and persuasive powers to repair the rift
Trump has caused with his country's allies. It won't be easy,
as Trump's trust deficit is compounded by all those who stood
by his side.
Renomination of Trump to be held in private!
Press, August 2, 2020)
The vote to renominate President Donald Trump is set to be
conducted in private later this month, without members of the
press present, a spokeswoman for the Republican National
Convention said, citing the coronavirus.
[And if you believe THAT...]
While Trump called off the public components of the convention
in Florida last month, citing spiking cases of the virus
across the country, 336 delegates are scheduled to gather in
Charlotte, North Carolina, on Aug. 24 to formally vote to make
Trump the GOP standard-bearer once more.
Nominating conventions are traditionally meant to be media
bonanzas, as political parties seek to leverage the attention
the events draw to spread their message to as many voters as
possible. If the GOP decision stands, it will be the first
party nominating convention in modern history to be closed
"Joe Biden's A Secret Radical Leftist."
The Young Turks, August 1, 2020)
in time for school, 2 new studies conclude small kids carry
and transmit COVID-19 just fine.
(Daily Kos, August 1,
Donald Trump and his billionaire heiress and non-educator
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos continue their relentless push
for school reopenings, even threatening to cut off federal
funds to those schools that hesitate to throw open their
doors, exposing millions of public school children, parents
and teachers to the potentially lethal effects of COVID-19.
One of their loudest talking points has been the supposedly
low rate of transmission of the virus by children.
New research indicates that, although they don’t suffer the
same degree of ill effects as adults, children aged 5-17
are actually bastions of COVID-19 contagion to other
children, as well as adults such as parents, grandparents,
the monster is everywhere’: Health experts urge dramatic
reset to halt virus.
(Washington Post, August 1, 2020)
The coronavirus is spreading at dangerous levels across much
of the United States, and public health experts are demanding
a dramatic reset in the national response, one that recognizes
that the crisis is intensifying and that current piecemeal
strategies aren’t working.
This is a new phase of the pandemic, one no longer built
around local or regional clusters and hot spots. It comes at
an unnerving moment in which the economy suffered its worst
collapse since the Great Depression, schools are rapidly
canceling plans for in-person instruction and Congress has
failed to pass a new emergency relief package. President Trump
continues to promote fringe science, the daily death toll
keeps climbing and the human cost of the virus in America has
just passed 150,000 lives.
With COVID: My Health Choices Are Up To Me. Critics: That’s
What Women Assert.
(Huffington Post, August 1, 2020)
Rep. Louie Gohmert, who believes women should be forced to
carry unwanted pregnancies to term, is suddenly all about
(his) freedom of choice.
law enforcement out of sight, Portland sees second peaceful
night of protest.
(Washington Post, August 1, 2020)
Unlike Thursday evening, when there was an air of celebration,
the tone of the protest on Friday evening seemed more somber
and, at times, conflicted.
Without the federal officers sent by the Trump administration
to rally against — not to mention the threat of tear gas,
rubber bullets and arrests they brought with them — the
protesters tackled more complicated questions among
themselves. Some favored a confrontation, setting off
firecrackers or throwing projectiles at the still-fenced-off
courthouse. Others argued that a more measured approach was
needed. When a group of black-clad protesters set an American
flag on fire, a group of mothers quickly moved to extinguish
it and sparked a shouting match. “You’re on the same side!”
one protester on the sidelines yelled, trying to de-escalate
the situation as a small group nearby sang: “There’s no such
thing as a bad protester.”
official to be reassigned after intelligence collection on
(CNN, August 1, 2020)
The Department of Homeland Security official who oversaw the
intelligence division at the department is being reassigned
after it was revealed his office had gathered intelligence
reports on two US journalists, according to a source familiar
with the matter. Brian Murphy, who served as the acting under
secretary for the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis, was
summoned to acting Homeland Secretary Chad Wolf's office
Friday night. Murphy is a career official who filled the
position after the Senate-confirmed Under Secretary David
Glawe left DHS earlier this year.
On Thursday, The Washington Post reported that DHS had sent
Open Source Intelligence Reports to federal law enforcement
agencies summarizing tweets sent by two journalists -- New
York Times reporter Mike Baker and Benjamin Wittes, the
editor-in-chief of the blog Lawfare
-- who had
published leaked unclassified government documents while
covering the unrest in Portland, Oregon.
The collection and dissemination of information on journalists
was carried out by lower level officials acting on broad
guidance, the source told CNN, adding that Murphy was not
fully aware until after the fact.
Wolf, who has led the department in an acting capacity since
last November, sought to distance himself from the incident.
"In no way does the Acting Secretary condone this practice,
and he has immediately ordered an inquiry into the matter,"
the DHS spokesperson said in a statement earlier this week.
Trump Battles Ghost of Reagan in New Rap Cartoon.
(7-min. video; Hollywood Reporter, July 31, 2020)
As part of a new political initiative by Meme2020 — a
collective of social media content creators founded by Jerry
Media CEO Mick Purzycki — the group has released an animated
short film today in which President Donald Trump engages in a
rap battle with the ghost of Ronald Reagan. The seven-minute
piece, funded by LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, is the
first of a half dozen rap cartoons — all poking fun at Trump —
that will be rolled out over the course of the next few weeks,
says Beau Lewis, the founder and CEO of Rhyme Combinator,
which conceived and produced Reagan vs. Trump Debate. The
videos are part of a larger Meme2020 campaign that began
rolling out social media content this week with a focus on
promoting vote-by-mail registration. (Trump has repeatedly
criticized widespread voting by mail and made unfounded claims
that it leads to voter fraud.
Pitched it seems mostly to Republican audiences (and some
independents), the first video delves into questions of
political legacy and loyalty within the party, as debated by
caricature versions of the current and former presidents, with
animated cameos by Mitch McConnell, Susan Collins, Lindsay
Graham, Rudy Giuliani and Mike Pence.
Election Delay Tweet, Influential Trump Ally Now Demands His
(NPR, July 31, 2020)
After voting for President Trump in 2016 and staunchly
defending him in conservative publications, a Federalist
Society leader appears to be having some very public buyer's
remorse. Steven Calabresi, co-founder of the powerful
conservative legal organization, is now calling on the House
of Representatives to do again what it has already done once
this year: impeach Trump. In a scathing opinion piece in The
New York Times published online Thursday, the Northwestern
University law professor points to what ignited his newfound
ire with the president: a tweet Trump sent out shortly after
news broke Thursday morning that the U.S. economy had suffered
its biggest recorded contraction ever last quarter.
Calabresi declared himself "appalled" by the tweet, which he
characterized as "seeking to postpone the November election."
"Until recently, I had taken as political hyperbole the
Democrats' assertion that President Trump is a fascist," the
conservative legal scholar wrote. "But this latest tweet is
fascistic and is itself grounds for the president's immediate
impeachment again by the House of Representatives and his
removal from office by the Senate."
It was a remarkable turnaround for a man who as recently as
November had accused House Democrats of conducting an
"unconstitutional" and "Kafkaesque 'trial' " in their Trump
Calabresi also had some stern advice for Republican lawmakers,
many of whom have routinely approved conservative judicial
nominees endorsed and promoted by the Federalist Society.
"President Trump needs to be told by every Republican in
Congress that he cannot postpone the federal election. Doing
so would be illegal, unconstitutional and without precedent in
American history," Calabresi warned. "Anyone who says
otherwise should never be elected to Congress again."
Calabresi's public distancing from the 45th president was
applauded by other conservatives critical of Trump. "Steve
Calabresi, welcome to the Resistance," tweeted Washington
attorney George Conway, the famously Trump-bashing husband of
senior Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway.
holds mini-rally at Florida airport.
(1-min. video; The
Hill, July 31, 2020)
The president landed in Tampa, where he is participating in a
fundraiser, and was greeted by dozens of supporters who had
gathered along barricades. Few were seen wearing masks.
The president, who was flanked by local law enforcement
officials, painted a dystopian picture of the country should
presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden win
election in November. "If Joe Biden is elected president, the
chaos and bloodshed will spread to every community in our
land. You’ll have a Portland everywhere," he said, referencing
clashes between protesters and federal agents deployed to
Oregon. "There will be no safety, no security, no peace, no
justice, no one to protect you and no one to defend the
American way of life. People like the ones standing behind me
will not be considered primetime. With me, they're considered
The president made only a fleeting mention of the coronavirus
pandemic during his 30-minute remarks, even though Florida is
the new epicenter of the outbreak in the United States.
Florida has reported more than 470,000 cases, the second-most
of any state, according to data compiled by The New York
Times. Roughly 70,000 of those cases have been reported in the
last seven days, and Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), a staunch Trump
ally, has been forced to roll back some business reopenings to
try and contain the virus. Trump spoke about the border and
boasted of investments in the military. But most of his focus
was on his support for law enforcement, attempting to paint
Biden as a candidate who will cave to the left wing of his
party and oversee chaos in the streets.
The persistent pandemic has forced Trump to forgo his standard
rallies in large arenas with thousands of people packed
together. He held a rally last month in Tulsa, Okla., but
attendance was underwhelming and local officials cited the
event as a cause for a subsequent increase in virus cases. A
scheduled rally in New Hampshire earlier this month was
scrapped, with campaign officials citing a poor weather
forecast. But sources close to the campaign acknowledged that
turnout was expected to fall short of expectations, much like
Biden issued a statement earlier Friday condemning Trump's
handling of the pandemic and criticizing his agenda while he's
in the Sunshine State. "While Floridians, including our
frontline health care workers, continue to struggle every day
with the far-reaching impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their
lives, Donald Trump comes to Florida with no apparent
intention of addressing these issues and instead is there to
raise money for his campaign with his Mar-a-Lago crowd," Biden
said. "Throughout this pandemic, Donald Trump has ignored the
problem, blamed others, tried to shield the magnitude of the
pandemic, rewarded his friends while American families are
struggling, and actively tried to divide our country," he
added. "This isn’t the behavior of a leader."
compiled ‘intelligence reports’ on journalists who published
(Washington Post, July 30, 2020)
The Department of Homeland Security has compiled “intelligence
reports” about the work of American journalists covering
protests in Portland, Ore., in what current and former
officials called an alarming use of a government system meant
to share information about suspected terrorists and violent
Over the past week, the department’s Office of Intelligence
and Analysis has disseminated three Open Source Intelligence
Reports to federal law enforcement agencies and others,
summarizing tweets written by two journalists — a reporter for
the New York Times and the editor in chief of the blog Lawfare
— and noting they had published leaked, unclassified documents
about DHS operations in Portland. The intelligence reports,
obtained by The Washington Post, include written descriptions
and images of the tweets and the number of times they had been
liked or retweeted by others.
ULA Launch Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover Mission to Red
(NASA, July 30, 2020)
NASA's Mars 2020 Perseverance rover mission is on its way to
the Red Planet to search for signs of ancient life and collect
samples to send back to Earth. Humanity's most sophisticated
rover launched with the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter at 7:50 a.m.
EDT (4:50 a.m. PDT) Thursday on a United Launch Alliance (ULA)
Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral
Air Force Station in Florida.
The ULA Atlas V's Centaur upper stage initially placed the
Mars 2020 spacecraft into a parking orbit around Earth. The
engine fired for a second time and the spacecraft separated
from the Centaur as expected. Navigation data indicate the
spacecraft is perfectly on course to Mars.
The Perseverance rover's astrobiology mission is to seek out
signs of past microscopic life on Mars, explore the diverse
geology of its landing site, Jezero Crater, and demonstrate
key technologies that will help us prepare for future robotic
and human exploration.
"Jezero Crater is the perfect place to search for signs of
ancient life,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator
for NASA's Science Mission Directorate at the agency's
headquarters in Washington. "Perseverance is going to make
discoveries that cause us to rethink our questions about what
Mars was like and how we understand it today. As our
instruments investigate rocks along an ancient lake bottom and
select samples to return to Earth, we may very well be
reaching back in time to get the information scientists need
to say that life has existed elsewhere in the universe."
"There is still a lot of road between us and Mars," said John
McNamee, Mars 2020 project manager at JPL. "About 290 million
miles of them. But if there was ever a team that could make it
happen, it is this one. We are going to Jezero Crater. We will
see you there Feb. 18, 2021."
interesting Perseverance links, here.
it happened: Nasa rover launches on Mars life mission.
(various videos and links; BBC, July 30, 2020)
Nasa's Perseverance heads for Mars.
Need to Talk About Ventilation.
(The Atlantic, July 30,
How is it that six months into a respiratory pandemic, we are
still doing so little to mitigate airborne transmission?
Might Try to Postpone the Election. That’s Unconstitutional.
He should be removed unless he relents.
(New York Times,
July 30, 2020)
Stephen Calabresi, past Trump advisor, co-founder of the
Federalist Society, and a professor at Northwestern
University’s Pritzker School of Law.:
"I have voted Republican in every presidential election since
1980, including voting for Donald Trump in 2016. I wrote
op-eds and a law review article protesting what I believe was
an unconstitutional investigation by Robert Mueller. I also
wrote an op-ed opposing President Trump’s impeachment.
"But I am frankly appalled by the president’s recent tweet
seeking to postpone the November election. Until recently, I
had taken as political hyperbole the Democrats’ assertion that
President Trump is a fascist. But this latest tweet is
fascistic and is itself grounds for the president’s immediate
impeachment again by the House of Representatives and his
removal from office by the Senate."
Jared Kushner’s Secret Testing Plan “Went Poof Into Thin
(Vanity Fair, July 30, 2020)
Experts are now warning that the U.S. testing system is on the
brink of collapse. “We are at a very bad moment here,” said
Margaret Bourdeaux. “We are about to lose visibility on this
monster and it’s going to rampage through our whole country.
This is a massive emergency.”
First, "the White House" (NOT an authorized government
purchaser) apparently ordered $52M of test kits from a United
Arab Emirates company; they proved to be contaminated, and
have not yet been paid for.
This spring, a team working under the president's son-in-law
produced a plan for an aggressive, coordinated national
COVID-19 response that could have brought the pandemic under
control. So why did the White House spike it in favor of a
shambolic 50-state response?
A new Rockefeller Foudation plan sought to do exactly what the
federal government had chosen not to: create a national
infrastructure in a record-short period of time. “Raj doesn’t
do non-huge things,” said Andrew Sweet, the Rockefeller
Foundation’s managing director for COVID-19 response and
recovery. In a discussion with coalition members, Dr. Anthony
Fauci called the Rockefeller plan “music to my ears.”
Reaching out to state and local governments, the foundation
and its advisers soon became flooded with calls for help from
school districts, hospital systems, and workplaces, all
desperate for guidance. In regular video calls, a core
advisory team that includes Shah, former FDA commissioner Mark
McClellan, former National Cancer Institute director Rick
Klausner, and Section 32’s Mike Pellini worked through how
best to support members of its growing coalition.
Schools “keep hitting refresh on the CDC website and nothing’s
changed in the last two months,” Shah told his colleagues in a
video meeting in June. In the absence of trustworthy federal
guidance, the Rockefeller team hashed out an array of issues:
How should schools handle symptomatic and asymptomatic
students? What about legal liability? What about public
schools that were too poor to even afford a nurse?
(Last week, the CDC issued new guidelines that
enthusiastically endorsed reopening schools and downplayed the
risks, after coming under heavy pressure from President Trump
to revise guidelines that he said were “very tough and
It may seem impossible for anyone but the federal government
to scale up diagnostic testing one hundred-fold through a
painstaking and piecemeal approach. But in private
conversations, dispirited members of the White House task
force urged members of the Rockefeller coalition to persist in
their efforts. “Despite what we might be hearing, there is
nothing being done in the administration on testing,” one of
them was told on a phone call.
Despite the Rockefeller Foundation’s round-the-clock work to
guide the U.S. to a nationwide testing system essential to
reopening, the foundation has not yet been able to bend the
most important curve of all: the Trump administration’s
determined disinterest in big federal action. Shah delivered a
stark warning: “We fear the fall will be worse than the
spring.” He added, putting it bluntly: “America is not near
the top of countries who have handled COVID-19 effectively.”
Just three days later, news reports revealed that the Trump
administration was trying to block any new funding for testing
and contact tracing in the new coronavirus relief package
being hammered out in Congress. As one member of the
Rockefeller coalition said of the administration’s response,
“We’re dealing with a schizophrenic organization. Who the hell
knows what’s going on? It’s just insanity.”
On Friday, July 31, the U.S. House Select Subcommittee on the
Coronavirus, which is investigating the federal response, will
hold a hearing to examine the “urgent need” for a
comprehensive national plan, at which Dr. Fauci, CDC director
Robert Redfield, and Admiral Brett Giroir will testify. Among
other things, the subcommittee is probing whether the Trump
administration sought to suppress testing, in part due to
Trump’s claim at his Tulsa, Oklahoma, rally in June that he
ordered staff to “slow the testing down.”
The gamble that son-in-law real estate developers, or Morgan
Stanley bankers liaising with billionaires, could effectively
stand in for a well-coordinated federal response has proven to
be dead wrong. Even the smallest of Jared Kushner’s solutions
to the pandemic have entangled government agencies in
confusion and raised concerns about illegality.
in COVID Reporting Contract Award Process Raise New
(NPR, July 29, 2020)
Among the findings of the NPR investigation:
- The Department of Health and Human Services initially
characterized the contract with TeleTracking as a no-bid
contract. When asked about that, HHS said there was a "coding
error" and that the contract was actually competitively bid.
- The process by which HHS awarded the contract is normally
used for innovative scientific research, not the building of
- HHS had directly phoned the company about the contract,
according to a company spokesperson.
- TeleTracking CEO Michael Zamagias had links to the New York
real estate world — and in particular, a firm that financed
billions of dollars in projects with the Trump Organization.
failed my fellow Americans.': the white women defecting from
(The Guardian, July 29, 2020)
After four years of tumult, there are signs Trump hasn’t been
able to hang on to college-educated white women in crucial
Trump wants to lose by even more.
(Daily Kos, July 28,
Conservatives are livid at the “betrayals” they see in Supreme
Court Justices John Roberts and Neil Gorsuch after a term that
delivered brutal conservative defeats on topics like LGBTQ
rights, immigration, and abortion rights. Therefore, they
aren’t just cheering Trump’s promises to release a “list” of
future judicial candidates: They are demanding it be whittled
down through a purity filter.
There are lots of ways to illustrate the GOP’s suburban
collapse, but none communicates the dynamic better than this
one simple stat: 38 of the 41 House seats Democrats picked up
in 2018 were suburban districts. It was suburban voters
(again, mostly women) who helped Democrats win 2019 governor
races in blood-red Kentucky and Louisiana. Those formerly
Republican women aren’t swinging back. Instead, they’ve put
Trump deep in the hole, created an opportunity for a massive
Democratic landslide in the Senate, and shored up both those
2018 House pickups while giving Democrats several dozen new
And what do those suburban female voters want? A NARAL poll on
the eve of the 2018 midterm elections showed that on choice,
what they want is certainly not aligned with “hardline
A new Public Policy Polling survey finds that 78% of women
across all political parties in suburban swing Congressional
districts polled said they don’t believe government should
prevent a woman from having an abortion, while just 20% of
those polled said they think abortion should be illegal,”
according to the polling memo. “A majority of suburban women
in swing districts -52%- say they are also more likely to vote
for a candidate for Congress who supports reproductive
freedom, including access to abortion. Only 29% of suburban
women said they would be less likely to support a candidate
who supports reproductive freedom.”
How about immigration? A Priorities USA (Democratic Super PAC)
poll found that “while Trump’s record and rhetoric on
immigration, border security, race relations and corruption
are top issues for Trump’s base to support him, they are also
reasons for a majority of suburban voters to vote for somebody
else.” Indeed, those 2018 Democratic victories came after a
concerted effort by Trump and his party to ramp up
The third issue in which the Supreme Court “betrayed” those
“hardcore conservatives” was LGBTQ rights, and once again,
those conservatives are on the wrong side of the suburbs. On
same-sex marriage, a great proxy for questions revolving
around equality issues, suburban Americans approved
59-39, not too far off from the 63-35 numbers among urban
Americans. It was 46-52 in rural America, home to the
dwindling number of “hardcore conservatives.”
So in the suburbs, key to the GOP’s electoral collapse, voters
are pro-LGBTQ rights, pro-immigration, and pro-choice. And the
Republican response is to weed out any conservatives who might
harbor any such sympathies?
I’ve been arguing that Trump is incapable of doing the things
he needs to do to win. Throw this in the pile of evidence that
when it comes to charting a path toward Election Day, Trump
and his party are still incapable of broadening their
coalition. They don’t want to do it, and so they won’t.
Quite the opposite, in fact.
tucks $8 billion for military weaponry in virus bill.
(Associated Press, July 28, 2020)
A new $1 trillion COVID-19 response package by Senate
Republicans is supposed to give the government more weapons to
battle the surging coronavirus pandemic. But GOP lawmakers
have more than just the “invisible enemy” in mind. The
Republican measure includes billions for F-35 fighters, Apache
helicopters and infantry carriers sought by Washington’s
powerful defense lobby. Overall, the proposal stuffs $8
billion into Pentagon weapons systems built by defense
contractors like Boeing, Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics
— corporate titans that sit atop the Washington influence
“They turned the appropriations portion of the bill into a
spending spree on weapons systems and a new federal building
designed to block competition to the president’s hotel,” said
House Appropriations Committee Chair Nita Lowey, D-N.Y. “It’s
clear to me that amphibious ships don’t feed hungry children.”
NASA found the ideal hole on Mars to land in
Times, July 28, 2020)
Jezero Crater, the destination of the Perseverence rover, is a
promising place to look for evidence of extinct Martian life.
Sixteen years ago, Caleb Fassett, then a graduate student at
Brown University, spotted an intriguing hole in the ground on
Mars. Mars today is cold and dry, but it was not always that
way. Here was one of the places with clear signs that liquid
water flowed when the planet was warmer and wetter. The image,
taken by NASA’s Odyssey orbiter, showed a sinuous dried-up
river channel leading into one side of the crater. On the
other side of the crater, part of the rim has collapsed, as if
it had been swept away by flowing water. In between these two
features was a large circular depression. “The only way that
could form geometrically was for it to be a lake,” said Dr.
Fassett, now a planetary scientist at NASA’s Marshall Space
Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.
This one-time lake named Jezero, a crater close to 30 miles
wide, is the next stop on NASA’s search for possibilities of
life elsewhere in the solar system. On July 30, the space
agency’s new Mars rover, Perseverance, is scheduled to launch
on a six-and-a-half-month trip to the red planet, arriving at
Jezero in February.
Guard officer says Trump and AG Barr are lying about his
botched Bible photo op.
(Daily Kos, July 27, 2020)
An Army National Guard officer is contradicting everything
Donald Trump, Attorney General William Barr, and U.S. Park
Police have told Americans about their disastrous effort to
forcefully clear protesters away from the White House last
month so Trump could hoist an upside-down Bible over his head
for the cameras.
The protesters were "behaving peacefully,” says Adam DeMarco,
an Iraq War vet and major in the D.C. National Guard, and the
Park Police deployed an "excessive use of force" against them,
according to a written statement provided to the Natural
Cox Richardson: Attorney General William Barr - de facto
leader of the Executive Branch - will testify before the
House Judiciary Committee tomorrow for the first time.
(Letters From An American, July 27, 2020)
The Attorney General of the United States is, of course, not
the president’s lawyer. The AG is supposed to be the attorney
for the United States, protecting the rule of law.
Today conservative commentator Tom Nichols noted that Barr
has emerged as the de facto leader of the Executive Branch,
since Trump is “functionally incapacitated.” It is,
Nichols says “a total collapse of constitutional order
within the Executive branch” as Barr is using federal law
enforcement officers against U.S. citizens. Nichols urges
courts, state attorneys general, and state authorities to
step into Barr’s way.
Nichols is an advisor to The Lincoln Project, which is
hammering on Trump’s mental incapacity to perform the duties
of the president. It must be acknowledged that Trump is giving
them plenty to work with.
Tomorrow, as Barr testifies, a new book about him by Norman
Eisen, who served as special counsel to the Judiciary
Committee during the impeachment hearings, will come out. It
examines how Barr’s misleading summary of Mueller’s report
derailed the public inquiry into the relationship between the
Trump campaign and Russian operatives, because no one wanted
to believe the new Attorney General would “be willing to
sacrifice his reputation for the sake of Trump. Now,” Eisen
said in an interview with Just Security, “over a year and many
lies later, we know much better.” Eisen says that Barr’s
summary made Americans think—incorrectly—that Mueller had
exonerated Trump, when in fact, the opposite was the case.
In a piece in Newsweek today, Representative Eric Swalwell
(D-CA) expanded on this idea. He noted Barr’s lies about
Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russia’s
interference in the 2016 election; his attempts to dismiss
the charges against Trump’s former National Security Advisor
Michael Flynn and lighten the sentence against Trump’s
friend Roger Stone; as well as his firing of the U.S.
Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Geoffrey
… and concluded that Barr has simply taken the
place of Michael Cohen as Trump’s fixer.
Krugman: The Cult of Selfishness Is Killing America.
(New York Times, July 27, 2020)
The right has made irresponsible behavior a key principle.
America’s response to the coronavirus has been a lose-lose
The Trump administration and governors like Florida’s Ron
DeSantis insisted that there was no trade-off between economic
growth and controlling the disease, and they were right — but
not in the way they expected. Premature reopening led to a
surge in infections: Adjusted for population, Americans are
currently dying from Covid-19 at around 15 times the rate in
the European Union or Canada. Yet the “rocket ship” recovery
Donald Trump promised has crashed and burned: Job growth
appears to have stalled or reversed, especially in states that
were most aggressive about lifting social distancing mandates,
and early indications are that the U.S. economy is lagging
behind the economies of major European nations.
So we’re failing dismally on both the epidemiological and the
economic fronts. But why?
For one thing, people truly focused on restarting the economy
should have been big supporters of measures to limit
infections without hurting business — above all, getting
Americans to wear face masks. Instead, Trump ridiculed those
in masks as “politically correct,” while Republican governors
not only refused to mandate mask-wearing, but they prevented
mayors from imposing local mask rules.
Also, politicians eager to see the economy bounce back should
have wanted to sustain consumer purchasing power until wages
recovered. Instead, Senate Republicans ignored the looming
July 31 expiration of special unemployment benefits, which
means that tens of millions of workers are about to see a huge
hit to their incomes, damaging the economy as a whole.
So what was going on? Were our leaders just stupid? Well,
maybe. But there’s a deeper explanation of the profoundly
self-destructive behavior of Trump and his allies: They were
all members of America’s cult of selfishness.
You see, the modern U.S. right is committed to the proposition
that greed is good, that we’re all better off when individuals
engage in the untrammeled pursuit of self-interest. In their
vision, unrestricted profit maximization by businesses and
unregulated consumer choice is the recipe for a good society.
Support for this proposition is, if anything, more emotional
than intellectual. I’ve long been struck by the intensity of
right-wing anger against relatively trivial regulations, like
bans on phosphates in detergent and efficiency standards for
light bulbs. It’s the principle of the thing: Many on the
right are enraged at any suggestion that their actions should
take other people’s welfare into account.
This rage is sometimes portrayed as love of freedom. But
people who insist on the right to pollute are notably
unbothered by, say, federal agents tear-gassing peaceful
protesters. What they call “freedom” is actually absence of
Rational policy in a pandemic, however, is all about taking
responsibility. The main reason you shouldn’t go to a bar and
should wear a mask isn’t self-protection, although that’s part
of it; the point is that congregating in noisy, crowded spaces
or exhaling droplets into shared air puts others at risk. And
that’s the kind of thing America’s right just hates, hates to
Indeed, it sometimes seems as if right-wingers actually make a
point of behaving irresponsibly. Remember how Senator Rand
Paul, who was worried that he might have Covid-19 (he did),
wandered around the Senate and even used the gym while waiting
for his test results?
Anger at any suggestion of social responsibility also helps
explain the looming fiscal catastrophe. It’s striking how
emotional many Republicans get in their opposition to the
temporary rise in unemployment benefits; for example, Senator
Lindsey Graham declared that these benefits would be extended
“over our dead bodies.” Why such hatred? It’s not because the
benefits are making workers unwilling to take jobs. There’s no
evidence that this is happening — it’s just something
Republicans want to believe. And in any case, economic
arguments can’t explain the rage.
Again, it’s the principle. Aiding the unemployed, even if
their joblessness isn’t their own fault, is a tacit admission
that lucky Americans should help their less-fortunate fellow
citizens. And that’s an admission the right doesn’t want to
Just to be clear, I’m not saying that Republicans are selfish.
We’d be doing much better if that were all there were to it.
The point, instead, is that they’ve sacralized selfishness,
hurting their own political prospects by insisting on the
right to act selfishly even when it hurts others.
What the coronavirus has revealed is the power of America’s
cult of selfishness. And this cult is killing us.
thinks tweeting mean things about him is 'illegal'.
(Daily Kos, July 27, 2020)
Unmasked March comes up about 999,850 marchers short.
(Capitol Fax, July 27, 2020)
A group of about 150 people gathered outside the Illinois
Capitol Complex Saturday for the “Million Unmasked March.” The
group of parents and guardians argue their children shouldn’t
be forced to wear masks to attend school this fall.
An organizer of the event said Americans have the right to
choice and children shouldn’t be “tortured” with masks. “This
is a free country. If I don’t want to live in Illinois, I can
move,” said Michael Rebresh. “But no state owns my child. I’m
not an indentured servant to the state. They don’t get to tell
me what to do.”
Coronavirus Unleashed Along the Amazon River
Times, July 26, 2020)
Brazil now has the second-highest death toll in the world,
second only to the USA. The pandemic is taking an
exceptionally high toll on the Amazon region.
global standing is at a low point. The pandemic made it
(Washington Post, July 26, 2020)
Under Trump, the United States retreats from collaborative
leadership at a time of global crisis. America’s standing in
the world is at a low ebb. Once described as the indispensable
nation, the United States is now seen as withdrawn and
inward-looking, a reluctant and unreliable partner at a
dangerous moment for the world. The coronavirus pandemic has
only made things worse.
President Trump shattered a 70-year consensus among U.S.
presidents of both political parties that was grounded in the
principle of robust American leadership in the world through
alliances and multilateral institutions. For decades, this
approach was seen at home and abroad as good for the world and
good for the United States.
In its place, Trump has substituted his America First doctrine
and what his critics say is a zero-sum-game sensibility about
international relationships. America First has been described
variously as nationalistic, populistic, isolationist and
unilateralist. The president has demeaned allies and
emboldened adversaries such as China and Russia.
Trump Foreign Policy Scandal In One Tweet
" (Daily Kos,
July 26, 2020)
That is a new Twitter thread by Seth Abramson, drawing on the
research he did for his 3 books on Trump. That’s one tweet per
scandal. There are 20 Tweets covering issues with the EU and
some two-dozen-plus individual nations.
It is disgusting. It includes some of his stupidity as
President; e.g., N. Korea, Iran nuclear agreement, Covid-19...
There are so many grounds for impeachment, and probably for
indictments as well. There are more than enough grounds to
reject not only Trump’s re-election, but that of his enablers
in the House and Senate. Take a look.
Battle for Local Control Is Now a Matter of Life and Death.
(The Atlantic, July 26, 2020)
Why states won't let cities save themselves; the coronavirus
has raised the stakes of a long-simmering conflict between red
states and blue cities. “We are about to see a shit storm of
state and federal preemption orders, of a magnitude greater
than anything in history,” Mark Pertschuk of Grassroots
Change, which tracks such laws through an initiative called
Preemption Watch, told me in 2016. The storm has arrived,
carried in on the ill winds of a pandemic.
This week, Governor Brian Kemp pleaded with Georgians to cover
their faces in public. “Today, I am encouraging all
Georgians—from every corner of our great state—to do four
things for four weeks to stop the spread of COVID-19,” he
said. “If Georgians commit to wearing a mask, socially
distancing, washing their hands regularly, and following the
guidance in our executive order and from public-health
officials, we can make incredible progress in the fight
This request would be unremarkable on its own, but it came
just days after Kemp sued Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms
and the city council for attempting to enact their own mask
mandate. Atlanta’s mandate defied an order from Kemp banning
cities from creating rules stricter than his own.
Viewed in narrow terms, Kemp’s battle with Bottoms is strange
and self-defeating. The governor wants residents to wear
masks, yet he is litigating against an attempt to require them
to do so in the state’s most populous city.
But the fight in Georgia is not unique. Across the nation, and
in particular in the South and the Sunbelt, there have been a
string of skirmishes like this between local and state
governments. Typically, Republican governors have couched
their crackdowns on strict city ordinances as a defense of
liberty and personal responsibility: They want people to wear
masks, but believe that mandating it oversteps government’s
These conflicts really are about citizens’ right to make
choices for themselves, just not in the way the governors
claim. They test whether residents of red-state cities, more
minority-heavy and liberal than the state overall, should be
able to make their own choices about governance. Over the past
decade, there’s been a sharp increase in cases of states
preempting city rules on everything from Happy Meals to bike
lanes to vaping. While the stakes of coronavirus mask
ordinances are more immediate, the clashes over masks are the
logical extension of that steadily building conflict.
Kemp’s suit against Atlanta’s leaders comes after weeks of
building tensions. In April, he issued an order on COVID-19
that blocked enforcement of any local or city rules that were
“more or less restrictive” than his own. At that early stage
in the pandemic, before masks were a common topic of
discussion, this sort of preemption occasioned mostly
grumbling from local authorities.
But as the virus spread—exacerbated in part by Kemp pushing a
hasty, premature reopening of the state, over the objections
of leaders in Georgia cities—masks came to the fore, and the
ban started to become more contentious. At the beginning of
July, Savannah Mayor Van Johnson announced a mask mandate
despite of Kemp’s order. A week later, leaders in Clarke
County, home to Athens, instituted a mask mandate. The next
day, July 8, Bottoms signed an executive order requiring
masks. Other local leaders have done the same.
Initially, Kemp held his fire. But on July 15, President Trump
visited Atlanta’s airport, where—as per his practice—he did
not wear a mask. Bottoms told CNN that Trump had broken the
law by defying the mandate. That evening, Kemp, a close Trump
ally, issued a new order that explicitly preempted local mask
ordinances. The following day he filed suit over Atlanta’s
Local leaders are furious. “It’s officially official. Governor
Kemp does not give a damn about us,” said Savannah’s Johnson.
Bottoms said her order remained in effect. Atlanta seem to be
banking on tying up the discussion in litigation for as long
as possible, buying time for mask mandates to do their work.
(Helpfully for the dilatory strategy, two judges have already
recused themselves from the case.)
is Not Burning. Portlanders Are Pissed.
(Daily Kos, July
Portland Oregon is alive and well. The city is not burning.
The protests are not out of control. Yes, there are some
people bent on destruction of property. They are a minority
and do not represent the vast majority of Portlanders or
The mayhem covers a small area of downtown Portland. It is not
widespread. It is not out of control. It is nothing like many
of the images shown in the media portray. Portland may have no
shortage of problems, but we love the city and love living
here. We are a city filled with people of conscience. A city
filled with ordinary Americans who are politically astute,
fiercely independent and heavily community oriented. Take a
closer look at the number of moms in yellow shirts who have
come out to stand between the the hodgepodge of Federal agents
borrowed from Federal prisons, ICE and Border Patrol and the
protestors who assemble to reject their intrusion into the
city and continue to call for racial justice. There are more
moms and dads in these protests than agents. Many more than
the few unwelcome vandals and anarchists who distract from the
BLM protests that have been taking place nightly for almost
Federal agents in Portland amount to a goon squad. They are
indiscriminate about who they attempt to attack or beat up. We
have witnessed the same thing across the country since the
murder of George Floyd. Police across the country have
responded to the right to assemble and protest like berserkers
or a Viking horde that has lost all sense of decency and
humanity and that only by maiming and crippling people who
stand in front of them will their own fears and thirst for
blood be quenched. Portland has received the dregs of Federal
law enforcement. Bashing innocent Americans, causing grievous
harm physically and psychologically with their excessive
violence and unwarranted beatings is out of control, but not
due to Portland protestors.
Agents Push Into Portland Streets, Stretching Limits of
(7-min. videos; New York Times, July
Federal agents are venturing blocks from the buildings they
were sent to protect. Oregon officials say they are illegally
taking on the role of riot police.
Peaceful protests were already happening for weeks in
Portland, when federal officers arrived on July 4. Our video
shows how President Trump’s deployment ignited chaos: Federal
officers in military gear … … clouds of tear gas … … crowd
control munitions … [shots fired] … and locals who want those
officers gone. “What are you guys protecting?” “Get the
[expletive] out of our city!”
In just over a week, the chaotic scenes in Portland grabbed
the nation’s attention and raised questions about whether the
U.S. government is exceeding its authority and violating civil
rights. The officers came because of an executive order signed
by President Trump in late June to protect federal property
from destruction. “If we didn’t take a stand in Portland, you
know, we’ve arrested many of these leaders. If we didn’t take
that stand, right now you would have a problem like — they
were going to lose Portland.”
So what’s going on here? And what methods are the officers
using to protect federal sites?
The protests against racism and police brutality, which
started in May, had largely been peaceful and were held across
Portland. But after federal officers arrived in the city on
July 4, demonstrations became centered around this U.S.
District courthouse and this building housing federal
agencies. Both are property of the U.S. government. The
buildings have clearly been vandalized, and the Department of
Homeland Security has a mandate to protect them. That’s
usually done by officers from the Federal Protective Service.
But on the ground in Portland, we have seen a new task force,
including U.S. Marshals … … BORTAC, a unit of Customs and
Border Protection … … and a special response team from ICE,
the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.
According to a government memo leaked to The Times, these
units are insufficiently trained to perform crowd control. But
that hasn’t stopped them from trying. Night after night,
videos show these officers emerging from the two federal
buildings as protesters draw near. Hundreds of videos reviewed
by The Times show that although protesters were antagonistic,
officers often responded with disproportionate force. They
blanketed streets with tear gas. They struck protesters with
batons … … and used flash bangs, pepper balls and other
less-lethal munitions to clear the streets. Their actions
often appeared to escalate rather than de-escalate matters.
And in some instances, they attacked when there was no
apparent threat. On July 11, protester Donavan La Bella was at
the federal courthouse when an officer appears to have fired
at his head in retaliation for tossing a spent tear gas
canister. Later that night when field medics sought officers’
help for a wounded protester, they were aggressively cleared
away. On July 18, a Navy veteran was batoned and
pepper-sprayed in another unprovoked attack. His right hand
was broken, and he needs surgery. Sometimes members of the
press were hit.
In the middle of all this, protesters were detained in ways
that alarmed civil rights advocates and former Homeland
Security officials. “Can your people identify themselves as
law enforcement?” On July 15, several federal officers were
filmed driving in unmarked vehicles in the blocks around the
courthouse. “How are we supposed to know who you are? How are
we supposed to know you’re not kidnapping us and you’re
civilians kidnapping us?” One protester was detained at this
location nearby. Federal officers wouldn’t identify
themselves, but patches on the right and left sides of their
uniforms match those used by members of BORTAC, the tactical
unit from Customs and Border Protection. They drove the
protester away in an unmarked car. D.H.S. says federal
officers have made 43 arrests since July 4. Agents do have the
authority to make arrests if they believe that a federal crime
has been committed, like damaging federal property or
In recent days, the controversy mobilized a larger and more
diverse crowd of protesters. A so-called wall of moms led
marches through Portland’s streets and to the federal
courthouse where officers cleared them away.
On Wednesday, July 22, Portland’s mayor joined the protests
and was caught in a cloud of tear gas. “This is a egregious
overreaction on the part of the federal officers. This is not
a de-escalation strategy. This is flat-out urban warfare.” At
around the same time, a Customs and Border Protection plane
was spotted circling overhead. C.B.P. officials told The Times
it was sending a live video feed of the crowd to law
enforcement on the ground.
Protesters and local officials say this is all a case of
federal overreach. Oregon’s attorney general has sued the
federal government to stop arresting people. The president has
doubled down, promising to send more federal officers to
cities governed by his political rivals. “Because we’re not
going to let New York and Chicago and Philadelphia, Detroit
and Baltimore, and all of these — Oakland is a mess — we’re
not going to let this happen in our country. All run by
liberal Democrats.” The results could look like a national
police force acting under presidential orders, able to ignore
local demands and arrest residents. In Portland, it has been a
recipe for chaos.
of an Election ‘Meltdown’ in Georgia
(New York Times,
July 25, 2020)
Regarding the hazards of voting in a pandemic-challenged
election year, consider Georgia where, as one poll worker put
it, a “complete meltdown” took place during the state’s June
primary. Voters waited for hours, only to be met with
A Times examination found that Georgia’s top elections
official, the secretary of state, remained passive despite
repeated warnings about the roll-out of a highly complex
voting system. Questions have also emerged about the accuracy
of the vote count.
America Benefit from Covid? Ask 14th-Century Florence.
(Politico, July 25, 2020)
We may be getting some of the most positive lessons of plagues
F.B.I. Pledged to Keep a Source Anonymous. Trump Allies
Aided His Unmasking.
(New York Times, July 25, 2020)
After a Russia expert who had collected research on Donald
Trump for a disputed dossier agreed to tell the F.B.I. what he
knew about it, law enforcement officials declassified a road
map to identifying him. The Justice Department has said that
Attorney General William P. Barr determined that declassifying
the report about an F.B.I. interview was in the public
Crises Confront Trump With An Outage In The Power Of
(NPR, July 25, 2020)
President Trump has long been a champion of what's been called
positive thinking — the power to make things that you want to
see happen actually happen. "Affirm it, believe it, visualize
it, and it will actualize itself." Such mantras have
characterized much of the Trump story from his childhood when
he first absorbed it from the man who first spoke it, Norman
Vincent Peale. Peale was a minister and author much admired by
Trump's father. His most famous book, The Power of Positive
Thinking, sold millions of copies in multiple languages and
helped spawn a self-help movement and industry that has
flourished ever since.
The Trumps attended Peale's Marble Collegiate Church on Fifth
Avenue in Manhattan, and Peale officiated at the first of
Donald Trump's three marriage ceremonies.
It has been argued that Trump stands as the single most
successful practitioner to date of Peale's philosophy. Surely
his careers as a builder and businessman, TV reality show star
and media-dominating politician seemed to prove what Peale
preached: "What the mind can conceive and believe, and the
heart desire, you can achieve."
Emulating Peale's ferocious focus on attitude probably helped
Trump plow ahead when his presidential prospects seemed
hopeless just weeks before Election Day in 2016. The candidate
appeared behind in polls and a now-infamous audio recording
revealed his toxic comments about women. But "there are no
hopeless situations," Peale had counseled, "only people who
take hopeless attitudes." Obstacles, Peale taught, should
never be a deterrent: "You will find they haven't half the
strength you think they have."
Until this year, it is possible Trump took this literally.
Arguably, he was getting away with it far more often than not.
He seemed to have been experimenting with this parallel
universe approach all his life. It was not just the ups and
downs of his business and personal life. It was his dogged
insistence that there had only been ups and never any downs.
He seemed to be demonstrating that an individual truly could
ignore obstacles, defy norms and scoff at official rules and
Even impeachment was not a wall that stopped him but rather a
hurdle he managed to clear — with the help of his party in the
Still, never is a long time, and the year 2020 has ultimately
brought greater challenges than impeachment. Our present
moment compounds the coronavirus pandemic, ensuing quarantines
and economic strains and the moral crisis prompted by the
nationally witnessed killing of George Floyd by police.
For months, Trump has tried to deny or minimize the gravity of
all of these events. Yet they loom as large as ever — and
insightful Politico essay in October 2017
analyst Michael Kruse found Peale's imprint on every phase of
Trump's career. But near the end, Kruse noted that Trump's
success story remained unfinished, like a study in which some
results have yet to be counted. "From a scientific
perspective," Kruse wrote, "Trump is an incomplete
experiment." Kruse then quoted the self-help author Mitch
Horowitz, who called Trump's story an example of what, in at
least the short run, "you can attain through self-help,
through self-assertion and people's willingness to believe
what they think that they see." To which Kruse added: "Trump's
version of his own reality, some insist, ultimately will crash
against something more real." And that something might well be
the COVID-19 crisis and the sequence of events that has
Watching the president this week as he renewed his
late-afternoon briefings on the virus, we all saw a man much
altered from the one who convened similar sessions in the
early spring. For one thing he was alone, no longer surrounded
by a posse of doctors and research scientists and responsible
officials arrayed on stage in the White House briefing room.
Beyond that, the lone figure of the president seemed besieged
and becalmed. He admitted the situation would get worse before
it got better. He gave ground on the mask requirement. He
canceled the Republican National Convention's final night
speeches and celebration in Jacksonville, Fla. — a concession
to the persistence of the virus he'd earlier hoped would go
away by Easter and insisted had passed its peak in April.
So what happens when positive thinking fails? What happens
when the power goes out? In common experience, when the power
goes out, it gets darker.
Trump Is the Best Ever President in the History of the
(New York Times, July 25, 2020)
That’s no more fantastical than the rest of his re-election
It’s no longer interesting, or particularly newsworthy, to
point out that Donald Trump lies. It stopped being interesting
a long time ago. He lied en route to the presidency. He lied
about the crowd at his inauguration. His speech itself was one
big lie. And the falsehoods only metastasized from there.
Why? We’ve covered that, too, most recently in all the chatter
about “Too Much and Never Enough,” by Mary Trump, who is not
only his niece but also a clinical psychologist. He lies
because he grew up among liars. He lies because hyperbole and
hooey buoy his fragile ego. He lies because he is practiced at
it, is habituated to it and never seems to pay much of a price
What intrigues me is that last part: the impunity. I want to
understand how he has gotten away with all of the lying,
because I’m desperate to know whether he’ll continue to.
That’s the question at the heart of his re-election bid,
because his strategy isn’t really “law and order” or racism or
a demonization of liberals as monument-phobic wackadoodles or
a diminution of Joe Biden as a doddering wreck. All of those
gambits are there, but they spring from and burble back to a
larger, overarching scheme. His strategy is fiction. His
strategy is lies.
He got away with lies in 2016 because of social media, because
show business and politics had finally fused to the point
where one was indistinguishable from the other, and because
many Americans had grown so skeptical of traditional
candidates that an utterly untraditional one seemed more
trustworthy on some level. Trump was the diet that hadn’t yet
failed them. They were ready to believe.
But to believe now is to ignore the receipts. About 150,000
Americans have died from Covid-19. Tens of millions have
tumbled into financial ruin or are on the precipice of it.
Racial tensions are at a palpable boil. And Trump keeps having
to double back to correct his predictions and retrace his
missteps. Charlotte, Jacksonville, Charlotte: I’ve lost track
of where the Republicans are convening next month and of who’s
on board, though I remain primed for Trump’s remarks. He alone
can fictionalize it.
So while this election is indeed a contest between two men
with two visions, it’s also something else. It’s the tallest
tale Trump has ever scaled, the greatest story ever told. It’s
a referendum on the reaches of his persuasion. It’s a judgment
of the depths of Americans’ gullibility.
Have we cut the cord to reality? Then Trump has a chance. And
America hasn’t a prayer.
[The Lyin' King.]
ravaged Florida, as Ron DeSantis sidelined scientists and
(Washington Post, July 25, 2020)
As Florida became a global epicenter of the coronavirus, Gov.
Ron DeSantis held one meeting this month with his top public
health official, Scott Rivkees, according to the governor's
schedule. His health department has sidelined scientists,
halting briefings last month with disease specialists and
telling the experts there was not sufficient personnel from
the state to continue participating.
"I never received information about what happened with my
ideas or results," said Thomas Hladish, a University of
Florida research scientist whose regular calls with the health
department ended June 29. "But I did hear the governor say the
models were wrong about everything."
DeSantis (R) this month traveled to Miami to hold a roundtable
with South Florida mayors, whose region was struggling as a
novel coronavirus hot spot. But the Republican mayor of
Hialeah was shut out, weeks after saying the governor "hasn't
done much" for a city disproportionately affected by the
As the virus spread out of control in Florida, decision-making
became increasingly shaped by politics and divorced from
scientific evidence, according to interviews with 64 current
and former state and administration officials, health
administrators, epidemiologists, political operatives and
hospital executives. The crisis in Florida, these observers
say, has revealed the shortcomings of a response built on
shifting metrics, influenced by a small group of advisers and
tethered at every stage to the Trump administration, which has
no unified plan for addressing the national health emergency
but has pushed for states to reopen.
Coronavirus Cases Soar as 18 States Set Single-Day Records
(New York Times, July 25, 2020)
Friday was the fourth day running that the United States
reported over 1,100 deaths. New research sheds light on male
vulnerability to severe Covid-19.
the U.S. Compares With the World’s Worst Coronavirus Hot
(New York Times, July 24, 2020)
With its cases surging since mid-June, the United States is
squarely in the top 10.
vaccine is already a sure loser, and also a sure winner, in
the race to inoculate the world.
(Daily Kos, July 24,
While Phase 1/2 trial results on Moderna, Pfizer, and Oxford
vaccines showed over 90% of people developing high levels of
neutralizing antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 proteins, with China's
CanSino that number was just 59%. Meaning that almost half the
people might not be getting any real immunity from the
vaccine. The overall level of antibody production also appears
to be significantly lower than that seen with other leading
CanSino is never going to provide the level of coverage that
would be needed to provide herd immunity. Still, expect this
vaccine to be used, at minimum, millions of times. That’s in
part because CanSino is being developed in conjunction with
China’s Central Military Commission, which has already
approved the vaccine for use in the armed forces. As Reuters
reported in June, it’s unclear whether using the vaccine will
be “mandatory or optional,” but expect it to be used. China
has selected two different vaccine candidates for use by other
parts of the government.
There’s another reason why Chinese vaccines like CanSino may
get widespread use around the world even if they prove to be
significantly less effective than other leading candidates. As
CNN reported on Thursday, China announced a $1 billion loan to
countries in Latin America and the Caribbean expressly for
them to buy Chinese-made COVID-19 vaccines. With vaccines in
high demand, and nations like the United States already laying
out billions for access to the Oxford, Moderna, and Pfizer
vaccines, the availability of these leading candidates may be
months away for much of the world. So China is offering a
bargain candidate to other countries—with low, low financing.
A 50% effective vaccine doesn’t sound so bad, if it’s the only
vaccine you can afford.
spread may be a greater challenge for environmentalists than
(Daily Kos, July 24, 2020)
Fake 'Extinction Rebellion' fliers were part of a campaign by
British eco-fascists to disguise their agenda within the
officials take over Chinese consulate in Houston.
(Houston TX Chronicle, July 24, 2020)
U.S. officials took over the Chinese consulate in Houston on
Friday afternoon, less than an hour after the eviction
deadline ordered by the Trump Administration earlier this week
amid accusations of espionage activity.
Forty minutes after the 4 p.m. eviction deadline passed, a man
believed to be a State Department official entered the
consulate, along with others, after a small back door was
pried open. Officials had earlier tried three separate
entrances, but were not able to gain entry. Security teams,
wearing shirts emblazoned with the words U.S. Department of
State, stood watch at the back entrance. The fire department
also entered and exited the consulate.
Moments before the eviction deadline, Houston police had set
up barricades at the compound, closing off streets near the
building the Chinese government has occupied for four decades.
Within minutes of the deadline, three white vans pulled out of
the consulate, at least two of which had consul plates.
The Trump Administration confirmed the closure on Wednesday,
citing a need to protect American intellectual property and
private information. The Chinese government threatened to
retaliate and early Friday announced the closure of a U.S.
consulate in Chengdu.
Schumer, Schiff, Warner Joint Statement Following ODNI
Announcement Regarding Election Security and Foreign Threats
(Nancy Pelosi, July 24, 2020)
Almost exactly four years ago, we first observed the Russians
engaging in covert actions designed to influence the
presidential race in favor of Donald Trump and to sow discord
in the United States. Now, the Russians are once again
trying to influence the election and divide Americans, and
these efforts must be deterred, disrupted and exposed.
The statement just released by NCSC Director William Evanina
does not go nearly far enough in arming the American people
with the knowledge they need about how foreign powers are
seeking to influence our political process. The statement
gives a false sense of equivalence to the actions of foreign
adversaries by listing three countries of unequal intent,
motivation and capability together. The statement, moreover,
fails to fully delineate the goal, nature, scope and capacity
to influence our election, information the American people
must have as we go into November. To say without more, for
example, that Russia seeks to ‘denigrate what it sees as an
anti-Russia 'establishment' in America’ is so generic as to be
almost meaningless. The statement omits much on a subject of
In our letter two weeks ago, we called on the FBI to provide a
defensive briefing to the entire Congress about specific
threats related to a concerted foreign disinformation
campaign, and this is more important than ever. But a
far more concrete and specific statement needs to be made to
the American people, consistent with the need to protect
sources and methods. We can trust the American people
with knowing what to do with the information they receive and
making those decisions for themselves. But they cannot do so
if they are kept in the dark about what our adversaries are
doing, and how they are doing it. When it comes to
American elections, Americans must decide.
by NCSC Director William Evanina: 100 Days Until Election
(U.S. Office of National Intelligence, July 24,
Election security remains a top priority for the Intelligence
Community and we are committed in our support to DHS and FBI,
given their leadership roles in this area. In recent months,
the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) has
been providing robust intelligence-based briefings on election
security to the presidential campaigns, political committees,
and Congressional audiences. In leading these classified
briefings, I have worked to ensure fidelity, accountability,
consistency and transparency with these stakeholders and
presented the most timely and accurate information we have to
With just over 100 days until the election, it is imperative
that we also share insights with the American public about
foreign threats to our election and offer steps to citizens
across the country to build resilience and help mitigate these
threats. We will strive to update Americans on the evolving
election threat landscape, while also safeguarding our
intelligence sources and methods.
Judge Won’t Force Federal Officers In Portland To Identify
Themselves When Making Arrests.
(BuzzFeed, July 24,
The judge found the Oregon attorney general’s office could not
bring a lawsuit against the Trump administration over the
federal presence in Portland.
A federal judge on Friday denied a request by the Oregon
attorney general’s office for an order that would require
federal law enforcement officers in Portland to identify
themselves when making arrests and place limits on the
detention and arrests of protesters. US District Judge Michael
Mosman found that state Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum
lacked standing to bring a lawsuit on behalf of Oregon
residents because her office hadn’t articulated any specific
state interest beyond the constitutional rights of
convention cancellation is costing GOP donors millions.
(NBC News, July 24, 2020)
Of the $38 million raised by the host committee for Charlotte,
North Carolina, most has been spent, according to Republicans
familiar with the finances.
Following President Donald Trump’s whipsaw decisions to first
move the Republican National Convention’s in-person main
events, then to cancel them, the president’s team is searching
not only for a new stage from which he can deliver a speech
accepting his party’s nomination for a second term, but also a
way to appease Republicans who have nothing to show for their
Trump Cancels Jacksonville Component Of Republican National
(NPR, July 23, 2020)
The Jacksonville, Fla., component of the Republican National
Convention has been canceled, President Trump announced on
Thursday, as cases of the coronavirus continue to spike across
"I looked at my team and I said the timing for this event is
not right. It's just not right with what's been happening,"
Trump said at the daily coronavirus briefing.
"They said 'Sir, we can make this work very easily.' ... I
said there's nothing more important in our country than
keeping our people safe, whether it's from the China virus or
the radical left mob."
[A tall lie, even for Trumpelstiltsken! The version in the USA
is the TRUMP virus, Trump's deadly "hoax".]
The president said that Florida officials had not asked him to
cancel the convention. A joint statement by Jacksonville Mayor
Lenny Curry and Duval County Sheriff Mike Williams thanked
Trump for calling it off.
vs. Red in Texas, With Republicans Battling One Another
After Mask Order
(New York Times, July 23, 2020)
The virus has heightened long-simmering friction in the
largest Republican-led state in the country, with Gov. Greg
Abbott under attack from within his own party.
was the longest period of quiet in recorded human history.
(MIT Technology Review, July 23, 2020)
The months of March through May presented scientists with a
unique opportunity to listen to our planet.
risks of herd immunity to Trump’s corruption
Post, July 22, 2020)
Trump has been involved in so many scandals and says so many
reprehensible things that our country has developed a kind of
herd immunity to the outrage that just one of his actions
would have called forth in any previous administration. We
have allowed Trump to fend off one scandal with . . . another
The key is seeing that Trump’s entirely selfish approach to
the presidency has a measurable and material impact on the
lives of citizens and on the policies he pursues — to the
extent that he is interested in policy at all. He cares above
all about his own finances, his ego, his ratings and escaping
accountability. Everything else falls by the wayside.
Trump’s opponents cannot assume, as they did in 2016, that if
they drive home just how awful Trump is personally, voters
will recoil in horror. This year, it is essential to make the
case that Trump’s corruption means that most of the time he
pays no attention to governing. And when he does, he governs
in a way that subordinates the public interest to his own
interests — and the interests of those who keep him in power.
This is classic influence-peddling under the shroud of an
anti-government ideology. But it underscores how Trump’s claim
that he would govern on behalf of “the forgotten men and women
of our country” was false — unless corporate CEOs were the
“forgotten” people he had in mind.
Beyond the direct costs to Trump’s all-about-himself
government, the indirect costs are just as large. Trump’s
obsession with his interests pushes the consequential things
aside. It was astonishing that Trump thought he was saying a
good thing when he declared at Tuesday’s coronavirus briefing
that “we are in the process of developing a strategy.” Really?
The president is “in the process” of working on this after
five months of catastrophe and more than 140,000 deaths?
And more than two months after Democrats passed an economic
recovery bill in the House, Republicans in the Senate were in
chaos this week as they tried to formulate an alternative. One
reason, The Post reported, was “the White House’s failure to
go into the talks with a preset strategy or a list of
proposals they knew GOP lawmakers would rally behind.” Trump
touts his economic genius but offers no leadership as the
Attorney Says Feds Did Not Read Her Rights, Identify
(2-min. video; Newsweek, July 23, 2020)
Attorney Jennifer Kristiansen, 37, was arrested after
participating in a protest outside a federal courthouse in
Portland, as city officials continued to demand the agents
leave the area. Kristiansen was at the protest as part of the
"Wall of Moms," a group of mothers who are attempting to act
as a human shield blocking officers from assaulting protesters
participating in ongoing Black Lives Matter demonstrations
against police brutality and racial injustice.
Kristiansen said that the agents who arrested her wore badges
that read "Police DHS" but refused to provide any other
identifying information. She later reportedly discovered that
the agents were from the U.S. Marshals Service.
After being arrested, Kristiansen was criminally charged with
assaulting an agent and failing to obey their orders, while
also being issued an order to not return to the protest area.
She pled not guilty to the charges, saying that an assault did
take place but insisting she was the victim rather than the
perpetrator. Kristiansen said she was injured and left badly
bruised when she was assaulted physically, and possibly
sexually, by one of the agents arresting her.
humans stayed at the Americas' "oldest hotel" in Mexican
(2-min. video; St. John's College, Univ. of
Cambridge, July 22, 2020)
Chiquihuite Cave is the first site that dates the arrival of
people to the continent to around 30,000 years ago - 15,000
years earlier than previously thought. Painstaking excavations
of Chiquihuite Cave, located in a mountainous area in northern
Mexico controlled by drugs cartels, uncovered nearly 2000
stone tools from a small section of the high-altitude cave.
Archaeological analysis of the tools and DNA analysis of the
sediment in the cave uncovered a new story of the colonisation
of the Americas. The results, which have been published in Nature
today (July 22, 2020), challenge the commonly held theory that
the Clovis people were the first human inhabitants of the
Americas 15,000 years ago.
The earliest human DNA from the Americas currently remains at
12,400 years ago, Dr Ardelean explained: "We have shown the
previously long-held date of human presence is not the oldest
date for populating the Americas, it is the explosion date of
populating the Americas. The implications of these findings
are as important, if not more important, than the finding
itself. This is only the start of the next chapter in the
hotly-debated early peopling of the Americas."
Cox Richardson: Today Trump announced that he will send
federal agents to Chicago and Albuquerque, New Mexico, as
part of his push to advance the idea that he is a “LAW &
(Letters From An American, July 22,
Trump insists that “violent anarchists” allied with “radical
left” Democrats have launched “a shocking explosion of
shootings, killings, murders and heinous crimes of violence.”
“This bloodshed must end,” he said. “This bloodshed will end.”
To hear the president tell it, the country is at war against a
leftist enemy that is destroying us from within. But his dark
vision is simply not true.
What has changed in the last few months, though, is Trump’s
strategy for the 2020 election. It is notable how desperate he
appears to be to win reelection. While all presidents running
for a second term want to win, most of them are also willing
to lose if that’s what voters decide. Trump, though, has
withheld military funding from an ally to try to rig the
election—that was what the Ukraine scandal was about—and,
according to John Bolton, begged Chinese leader Xi Jinping to
make a trade deal to help get Trump reelected. The insistence
that he absolutely must win sets the stage for the federal
troops in our cities.
[Here, Heather provides a specific list of Trump's astonishing
misdirections and misdeeds.]
So, Trump’s campaign is trying to rally voters with the idea
that American cities run by Democrats are seething with
violence. And to create that violence, the administration is
sending in uniformed [and ununiformed!
enforcement officers that belong to departments within the
executive branch of the government.
[Could they be private Blackwater troops
again diverting public money to private - White House! -
announces increase in federal law enforcement in more U.S.
(Washington Post, July 22, 2020)
President Trump announced Wednesday that he is sending more
federal law enforcement agents into Chicago and Albuquerque,
casting the effort as one meant to help fight crime while
delivering a speech that appeared designed to score political
points against Democratic leaders and burnish his
law-and-order image. Appearing at an event with top federal
law enforcement officials and the family members of crime
victims, Trump delivered fiery talking points that took direct
aim at those who have advocated redirecting funding from law
enforcement to other endeavors. He blamed the recent increases
in violence in some cities on leaders who have endorsed such
steps and said he planned to increase federal law
enforcement’s presence to reduce crime.
Barr said more cities could be added to the operation in
coming weeks. He said the federal government had sent more
than 200 agents to Kansas City. Chicago, he said, would get a
similar number, and more than 35 agents would be sent to
Albuquerque. They will be added to existing anti-violence
crime task forces, Barr said. Chad Wolf, the acting homeland
security secretary, said that although the operation will be
led by the Justice Department, investigators from the
Department of Homeland Security will also contribute.
Local officials often welcome federal help and resources to
fight violent crime. Police officers frequently work together
with agents from the FBI, the DEA and ATF on task forces
focused on gangs, drugs or guns, and state officials often
give their federal counterparts authority to help with local
But in large part because of the Trump administration’s
aggressive, militarized response to protests over racism and
police brutality, that normally cooperative relationship has
been strained. The tension became particularly acute in recent
days after Customs and Border Protection agents were caught on
camera clubbing protesters and stuffing them into unmarked
vehicles in Portland, Ore., and Trump threatened to send
federal law enforcement agencies into Democratic-run cities,
including New York and Chicago.
Portland, A 'Wall Of Moms' And Leaf Blowers Against Tear Gas
(1-min. video clips; NPR, July 22, 2020)
As protests for racial justice in Portland have continued for
more than 50 nights, striking new images and tactics have
emerged – particularly in resistance to the federal law
enforcement officers whose actions have earned the ire of
Oregonians who want them to leave.
A group of women who call themselves the Wall of Moms has
drawn national attention, clad in bike helmets and goggles.
They link arms to form a protective barrier between law
enforcement and Black Lives Matter protesters who took to the
streets after the May 25 death of George Floyd at the hands of
In a recent moment captured on video, a large crowd of the
yellow-garbed women sing as if a lullaby, "Hands up, please
don't shoot me."
Portland crackdown is controversial. The man spearheading it
might be doing so illegally.
(Washington Post, July 22,
Tom Ridge, who served as the first Homeland Security secretary
under George W. Bush, said Tuesday that DHS “was not
established to be the president’s personal militia,” and
added, “It would be a cold day in hell before I would consent
to a unilateral, uninvited intervention into one of my
cities.” Former DHS official Paul Rosenzweig called the
operation, which has come to be known as Operation Legend,
“lawful but awful.”
What’s also problematic here — and perhaps even illegal — is
the man calling the shots. This controversial effort is being
spearheaded not by a duly confirmed DHS secretary, but by
acting secretary Chad Wolf, whose long-running service in that
role runs afoul of the law, according to experts.
Troubled By Overly Militarized Federal Agents in Portland.
(US News, July 21, 2020)
Secretary of Defense Mark Esper has raised concerns within the
administration about President Donald Trump’s decision to
deploy forces who look like soldiers to protest sites.
Conservative Speaker of the Ohio House arrested in $60
million bribery case.
(Raw Story, July 21, 2020)
Ohio’s Republican Speaker of the House Larry Householder was
just arrested by federal authorities in a $60 million bribery
and conspiracy case. Householder ran for office in 2018,
saying: “I’m a Pro-Gun, Pro-Life, Christian Conservative with
the highest NRA rating in Ohio’s history.” Also arrested were
an advisor to the Speaker, the state’s former GOP chairman, a
former Ohio Civil Rights commissioner, a consultant, and Neil
Clark, who boasts of being “one of the best-connected
lobbyists in Columbus” on his company’s website. A
spokesperson for U.S. Attorney David DeVillers described the
case as a “public corruption racketeering conspiracy involving
Krugman: The Paranoid Style in Pandemic Politics
York Times, July 21, 2020)
When Chris Wallace asked Donald Trump, “How will you regard
your years as President of the United States?” Trump didn’t
cite a single achievement. Instead, he went immediately into
grievance mode, declaring that “I’ve been very unfairly
treated, and I don’t say that as paranoid.” Actually, Mr.
President, that is paranoid. But while Trump couldn’t cite any
achievements, one thing he has achieved is defining paranoia
In another administration it would be a days-long scandal that
the president is trying to appoint an insane conspiracy
theorist, who claims that the former head of the C.I.A.
plotted the president’s assassination, to the #3 position in
the Pentagon. These days it barely registered on the news
But if the Trump administration and its allies, both in
Congress and the media, were paranoid before Covid-19, things
have gotten much worse over the past few months. Peter
Navarro, the administration’s trade czar, got a lot of grief
for his op-ed attacking Anthony Fauci; if you think he did
that without a go-ahead from his boss, I have a degree from
Trump University you might want to buy. But his claim a few
days earlier that Covid-19 was a “weaponized virus” sent by
China to hurt the U.S. economy was much crazier, and would
have been a major international incident if the Chinese, like
everyone else, hadn’t become blasé about insane Trumpist
And what can you even say about people like Rush Limbaugh —
who Trump gave the Presidential Medal of Freedom? A few months
ago he was calling Covid-19 a hoax, no worse than the common
cold, which was being “weaponized” (they do love that word)
against his president. Now he says we should emulate the
Donner Party, which turned to cannibalism when the going got
There are a couple of reasons the pandemic has amplified the
right’s paranoia. One is that it has transformed the electoral
landscape. Even in February Trump was generally a bit behind
in national polls. But the Electoral College worked in his
favor, and as late as April people on Wall Street were sure he
would win. Now he’s at a huge disadvantage, for all the right
Beyond that, however, Trump’s failure on Covid-19 has been so
comprehensive, so total, that his supporters can’t process it.
But responding to national emergencies is very much the
president’s responsibility. Nor can Trump and his supporters
credibly claim that he did as well as anyone could have
expected: U.S. performance has fallen so far short of what
other wealthy countries have managed — we’re dying 10 times
faster than Europeans, and we’re going back into lockdown as
other countries return to more or less normal life — that
it’s hard to make excuses.
Think about what this means if you’re a Trump supporter. To
admit seeing what’s right in front of your eyes means
admitting that you’ve been a fool: Everything Trump’s critics
said, everything they warned about, has turned out to be true,
and you were blind to the obvious.
There may be a few people able to face this reality, learn
from it, and move on. But most people can’t handle it. Someday
they may manage to convince themselves that they never
supported Trump in the first place. For now, however, their
only recourse is to insist that it’s all lies, that there’s a
vast deep state conspiracy to get their hero.
Paranoia strikes deep, especially when it’s all you’ve got.
responds to Trump: 'I consider myself more a realist than an
(1-min. video; CNN, July 21, 2020)
Dr. Anthony Fauci is the nation's top infectious disease
expert. His comments follow a tense stretch with the President
that saw the White House make a concerted effort to discredit
him as he became increasingly vocal about his concerns over
reopening the country amid a national surge in coronavirus
N.J., Connecticut Now Say Travelers From 31 Hot Spot States
(NPR, July 21, 2020)
People traveling to New York, New Jersey and Connecticut from
31 other states are now required to self-quarantine for 14
days, after 10 states with significant community spread of the
coronavirus — including Virginia, Maryland, Indiana and Alaska
— were added to a travel advisory Tuesday.
"As infection rates increase in 41 other states, our numbers
continue to steadily decline, thanks to the hard work of New
Yorkers" and a cautious approach to reopening, New York Gov.
Andrew Cuomo said. "Yesterday, we had our lowest death toll
since the pandemic began — and with no fatalities in New York
City," Cuomo added, after his state reported just two deaths
is the most challenging part of Mars mission – "7 minutes of
(2-min. video; CGTN, July 20, 2020)
2020 is called the year of Mars. The UAE has just successfully
launched their Mars probe. In the next few days, China and the
U.S. also plan to launch their Mars probes respectively. Many
are wondering why all these three countries launch at the same
period of time? What is the biggest challenge for Mars
mission? Why human beings are so fascinated about exploring
Mars? CGTN's Wu Lei made three episode videos about the
Besides millions of kilometers long travel distance,
scientists say one of the biggest challenges for Mars mission
is the seven minutes of terror. That is, the Mars probe needs
to reduce speed from 20,000 kilometers per hour to zero in
seven minutes during the re-entry, descent and landing process
To make a soft landing on Mars has never been an easy job.
Since 1960, humans have carried out Mars exploration
activities 44 times, but around half of them failed. Humans
have launched over 40 spacecrafts, but so far, only eight
rovers have landed on the Mars surface.
Polling Leads Tend to Erode. Is Biden’s Edge Different?
(New York Times, July 20, 2020)
As his advantage endures well into its second month, it
becomes harder to assume that it’s just another fleeting
People 'Have The Sniffles': Trump Downplays The
(NPR, July 19, 2020)
More than 3.7 million coronavirus cases have been confirmed in
the United States, and more than 140,000 Americans have died,
according to Johns Hopkins University researchers. Cases and
hospitalizations are spiking in many parts of the United
States. While the number of tests conducted has risen, new
confirmed cases are rising at a faster rate than tests.
But on Fox News today, Trump again falsely asserted that
testing is to blame for the spike in identified infections.
Told by Chris Wallace that he could appear to be downplaying
the coronavirus, Trump called it "serious" but added that the
U.S. has one of the lowest mortality rates in the world. Many
nations, including Italy and France, have higher case-fatality
rates than the U.S., but many other countries, like Australia,
have lower rates.
Wallace pointed out that hundreds of Americans a day are dying
from the virus. "Excuse me, it's all too much," Trump
retorted, before blaming China. "There shouldn't be one case.
It came from China. They should have never let it escape; they
should have never let it out, but it is what it is."
Sues Federal Agencies For Grabbing Up Protesters Off The
(NPR, July 18, 2020)
Protests in Portland, Ore., continued through early Sunday
morning, following the Oregon Department of Justice's
announcement it would be suing several federal agencies for
civil rights abuses in the state. Demonstrations have taken
place in the city for weeks following the police killing of
George Floyd in May.
Tear gas and flash bangs were used on protesters and arrests
were made, according to videos and photos from the scene
posted on social media.
The Oregon Department of Justice announced Saturday it would
be suing several federal agencies for civil rights abuses, and
state prosecutors will potentially pursue criminal charges
against a federal officer who seriously injured a protester.
The federal lawsuit names the U.S. Department of Homeland
Security, the U.S. Marshals Service, the United States Customs
and Border Protection, and the Federal Protective Service,
agencies that have had a role in stepped-up force used against
protesters since early July. The state filed the lawsuit late
Friday night. It lists defendants as John Does 1-10 because
the "identity of the officers is not known, nor is their
agency affiliation," the lawsuit states. According to Oregon
DOJ spokeswoman Kristina Edmunson, the suit accuses the
agencies of engaging "in unlawful law enforcement in violation
of the civil rights of Oregon citizens by seizing and
detaining them without probable cause." It is also asking that
federal agents and officers identify themselves and their
agencies before detaining or arresting any person, explain to
the person why they're being arrested or detained, and not
arrest any person without probable cause or a warrant.
The lawsuit, which is the second announced against federal
authorities on Friday, comes after reporting by Oregon Public
Broadcasting that revealed federal agents have detained
peaceful protesters using unmarked vehicles, with little
explanation or indication of which agency they belong to or
why people are being taken into custody. "I share the concerns
of our state and local leaders — and our Oregon U.S. Senators
and certain Congressional representatives — that the current
escalation of fear and violence in downtown Portland is being
driven by federal law enforcement tactics that are entirely
unnecessary and out of character with the Oregon way. These
tactics must stop," Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum
said in a statement. Because the federal agents were not
identified and their vehicles were unmarked, the lawsuit
states that Oregonians could be at risk of kidnapping by
"militias and other civilian 'volunteers' taking it onto
themselves to pull peaceful protesters into their cars, in a
manner that resembles the federal actions described."
City, state and congressional leaders have criticized the
federal force's use of weapons against protesters and have
demanded their departure. "The federal administration has
chosen Portland to use their scare tactics to stop our
residents from protesting police brutality and from supporting
the Black Lives Matter movement," Rosenblum said in a
statement. "Every American should be repulsed when they see
this happening. If this can happen here in Portland, it can
(Washington Post, July 18, 2020)
Black people — many of them immigrants — make up less than 2
percent of Maine’s population but almost a quarter of its
keep using ‘excited delirium’ to justify brutality. It’s
(Washington Post, July 18, 2020)
Across the United States, police officers are routinely taught
that excited delirium is a condition characterized by the
abrupt onset of aggression and distress, typically
accompanying drug abuse, often resulting in sudden death. One
2014 article from the FBI’s Law Enforcement Bulletin describes
“excited delirium syndrome” as “a serious and potentially
deadly medical condition involving psychotic behavior,
elevated temperature, and an extreme fight-or-flight response
by the nervous system.”
How often is excited delirium invoked? It’s unclear, but in
Florida at least 53 deaths in police custody were attributed
to it over the past 10 years. One study showed that 11 percent
of sudden unexplained deaths in police custody in Maryland
from 1990 to 2004 were attributed to excited delirium. The
American College of Emergency Physicians published a
controversial position paper in 2009 stating its consensus
that excited delirium is a valid disease, associated with a
significant risk of sudden death.
But excited delirium is pseudoscience. It’s not a concept
recognized by the American Medical Association or the American
Psychiatric Association. It isn’t a valid diagnosis; it’s a
misappropriation of medical terminology, and it doesn’t
justify police violence.
doesn't think US needs a national mask mandate.
July 18, 2020)
President Donald Trump said he would not consider a national
mandate on mask wearing in a new interview with Fox set to air
When asked by Fox News' Chris Wallace whether he would
consider instituting a mandate, Trump responded, "No, I want
people to have a certain freedom, and I don't believe in that,
As part of a hour-long sit-down interview, Trump also said
that he disagrees with the assessment by Dr. Robert Redfield,
the director of the US Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention, who said at a news conference this week that "if
all of us would put on a face covering now for the next four
weeks, six weeks, we could drive this epidemic to the ground."
"I don't agree with the statement that if everybody wear a
mask everything disappears," Trump said. "Dr. Fauci said don't
wear a mask, our Surgeon General, terrific guy, said don't
wear a mask. Everybody was saying don't wear a mask. All of a
sudden everybody's got to wear a mask, and as you know, masks
cause problems too, with that being said, I'm a believer in
masks. I think masks are good."
Trump wore a face mask - for the first time in public since
the pandemic began - last Saturday, while visiting wounded
service members at Walter Reed Medical Center in Maryland.
Ahead of his visit, Trump teased he would wear a face
covering, emphasizing that it was needed in a hospital
"I think when you're in a hospital especially in that
particular setting, where you are talking to a lot of
soldiers, people that in some cases just got off the operating
table. I think it's a great thing to wear a mask. I've never
been against masks, but I do believe they have a time and a
place," Trump told reporters ahead of his visit last Saturday.
Gov. Sues Atlanta Over Face Masks. Here's What To Know.
(Time, July 18, 2020)
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (Rep.) filed a lawsuit on Thursday
challenging restrictions implemented by Atlanta Mayor Keisha
Lance Bottoms (Dem.), including her ordinance mandating
residents wear masks to help stem the spread of COVID-19. It
is the latest step in a growing clash between the governor and
local municipalities over who has authority over how the state
handles the ongoing pandemic.
On July 10, Bottoms said in a statement that she rolled back
reopening measures “[b]ased upon the surge of COVID-19 cases
and other data trends, adding that “Georgia reopened in a
reckless manner and the people of our city and state are
suffering the consequences.” Georgia was one of the first
states to reopen parts of its economy at the end of April and
it has seen a dramatic increase in COVID-19 cases over the
past few weeks.
Meanings Of Masks: A collective cry for justice, by
Anthropologist Graham Jones
(MIT, July 18, 2020)
Today's cloth masks to minimize virus transmission reflect
traditions of masks used in sacred rituals.
One in an MIT series, The Meanings Of Masks
. As we
adjust to a world in which wearing protective masks may be a
new normal for some time to come, questions are emerging about
what this might mean for both our personal and civic lives,
and for society as a whole. In this series of commentaries —
inspired by ideas from Associate Professor of Literature Sandy
Alexandre — scholars in MIT's humanistic disciplines explore
the history and meanings of masks over cultures, times, and
circumstances. Their insights offer a wide and creative range
of ways to think about masks and the masking practices
currently needed to keep our communities healthy.
of Thousands of Protesters Challenge the Kremlin in Far East
(Time, July 17, 2020)
Shape: Who is Scott Borgerson and What Does Ghislaine
Maxwell See in Him?
(Greg Olear, July 17, 2020)
One of the details that emerged from this week’s Ghislaine
Maxwell bail hearing is that Jeffrey Epstein’s longtime
paramour and pimp was married—and not to her partner in crime.
Kirby Sommers, the survivor and author who follows the Epstein
story closely, suggested that the mystery spouse might be a
man named Scott Borgerson. He monitors the otherwise-secretive
shipping industry, courts oligarchs, has big money, and wants
to be President of the USA.
The power couple no one knew about, and what they have in
Trump lays out second-term agenda with usual clarity and
(2-min. video; Daily Kos, July 17, 2020)
Here’s what we have to look forward to:
“So we have many exciting things that we’ll be announcing over
the next eight weeks, I would say? Things that nobody has even
contemplated, thought about, thought possible, and things that
we’re gonna get done, we have gotten done, we started in most
cases. But it’s gonna be a very exciting eight weeks, a, uh,
eight weeks like, I prob, I think Mike, we can honestly say,
nobody’s ever going to see eight weeks like we’re gonna have.
Because we really have." And more...
Trump campaign is the grift that keeps on grifting.
(Washington Post, July 17, 2020)
There has long been an element of grift to political
campaigns. But there has never been anything quite like the
racket that President Trump appears to have going.
horror story of how the Trump administration has handled PPP
(Washington Post, July 17, 2020)
A Post in-depth analysis of data on $517 billion in emergency
small-business loans handed out by President Trump’s team at
the Small Business Administration uncovered errors so numerous
that White House boasts of the PPP’s economic impact are
nothing more than spin and hot air.
The analysis found the SBA claimed that many companies had
“retained” far more workers than they actually employed. “In
some cases,” the article said, “the agency’s jobs claims for
entire industries surpasses the total number of workers in
those sectors.” Looking closely at more than 875,000 of the
borrowers, the analysis found that “zero” jobs were supported,
or no information was listed at all.
So Trump’s claim that 51 million jobs were “supported” by the
PPP is unsupported by facts. To the contrary, his Small
Business Administration may be reporting fiction.
Accounts For High Coronavirus Positivity Rates Among Florida
(NPR, July 17, 2020)
Amid all the COVID-19 figures released by Florida's Department
of Health, one number might come as a head-scratcher: A
whopping 31.1% coronavirus positivity rate among those under
18 who are tested for the virus, according to the state's most
recent pediatric report.
Meanwhile, Florida's overall positivity rate is currently
18.1%. What gives? Are kids really getting the virus at a
higher rates than adults?
There are a few likely explanations. One is that children have
so far not been a big focus of testing. Two, kids who do get
tested are often those who show symptoms of the disease. It's
not like 31% of 100% of the children in the state [of Florida]
have COVID. It's more of a reflection of 31% of the children
with illness probably would have COVID.
So what do the data so far tell us in general about children
and the coronavirus? Clearly children are getting the virus,
though they are less likely than adults to experience a severe
course of the disease. Florida residents age 19 or under
account for about 10% of all cases in the state – but only
1.6% of all hospitalizations, and four deaths.
Testing people of all ages is crucial to getting the virus
under control. Florida should be commended on testing a lot of
kids, and they should keep testing a lot of kids and a lot of
adults because that's how we find where this virus is, help
those people to stay away and not transmit. That is one of our
main tools to fight the pandemic right now.
explosive materials to bring nontoxic ammunition.
(Phys.org, July 17, 2020)
Every time a gun fires, lead leaches into the air. A
scientific advancement could provide a comparable replacement
for lead-based explosive materials found in ammunition,
protecting soldiers and the environment from potential toxic
effects. Purdue University researchers, in collaboration with
the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command's Army
Research Laboratory, developed two new lead-free materials
that function as primary explosives, which are used to ignite
powder inside a gun cartridge.
"Right now, whenever you are shooting, you're going to be
spreading lead into the air around you," said Davin Piercey, a
Purdue assistant professor of materials engineering and
mechanical engineering. "Any use of lead is going to end up
polluting the environment in small amounts. The more lead you
remove, the better it is for the environment." A past study
found that people who have been shooting a lot could have
elevated lead levels. But so far, the use of lead in
explosives has been inevitable.
What enables the materials to be lead-free is a chemical
structure that has not been used in primary explosives before.
One material is made of silver salts while the other material
contains no metal at all—just the basic ingredients for an
explosive. These ingredients include carbon, hydrogen,
nitrogen and oxygen. "Toxicity-wise, silver is an improvement
over lead, but it's still a little toxic. So we also made a
nonmetal material that does not have heavy metal toxicity
associated with it. Metal is dead weight, energetically
speaking, and doesn't contribute much to an actual explosion,"
Piercey said. The chemical structure used in these materials
makes them very dense, meaning that only a small amount of
either material would be needed to create an explosion.
"At PERC, our theme is 'molecules to munitions.' Our labs can
do everything from designing and testing molecules to
formulating and manufacturing those molecules into a useful
compound," said Steve Beaudoin, director of PERC and a Purdue
professor of chemical engineering. "Our partners can then take
that useful compound and put it into a warhead, missile,
rocket or whatever it needs to be."
[Annihilation, si; contamination, no.]
develop new materials for energy and sensing.
July 16, 2020)
A team of researchers from MIT and Northwestern University has
demonstrated the ability to fine-tune the electronic
properties of hybrid perovskite materials, which have drawn
enormous interest as potential next-generation optoelectronic
materials for devices such as solar cells and light sources.
The materials are classified as “hybrid” because they contain
inorganic components like metals, as well as organic molecules
with elements like carbon and nitrogen, organized into
nanoscale layers. In a paper published online this week in
Nature Chemistry, the researchers showed that by strategically
varying the composition of the organic layers, they could tune
the color of light absorbed by the perovskite and also the
wavelength at which the material emitted light. Importantly,
they accomplished this without substantially changing the
“Until now, most experimental and theoretical evidence
indicated that the organic layers simply act as inert spacers
whose only role is to separate the electronically active
inorganic layers,” says Will Tisdale, the ARCO Career
Development Professor in Energy Studies at MIT and
co-corresponding author on the paper. “These new results show
that we can teach the organic layer to do much more.”
Russell, Grizzly Whisperer
(CounterPunch, July 16, 2020)
Charlie Russell had a magical way with grizzly bears. In
his presence, wild grizzlies seemed to shed their wariness of
humans, some even napping beside him or leaving their
offspring with him to tend. In the latest Grizzly Times
podcast Dr. Gay Bradshaw, author of Talking with
Bears: Conversations with Charlie Russell
, reminded me
why bears had so much faith in Charlie. He spoke bear, and I
think he was part bear himself. Perhaps too he had a tad of
Saint Francis of Assisi thrown in.
are being eaten from within by the QAnon cult, and no one
can stop it.
(Daily Kos, July 16, 2020)
The bizarre and otherworldly QAnon cult—the conspiracist
Donald Trump fanatics who believe that liberal Democrats and
their allies have been secretly operating a global pedophilia
ring that is going to end in mass arrests called “The
Storm”—has not only been spreading farther and deeper into
mainstream conservative politics, but the entire Republican
Party appears on the verge of being completely consumed by it.
Trump himself retweets QAnoners’ authoritarian paeans to his
presidency and its attacks on his critics. His former national
security adviser posted video of himself and a group of
friends taking the “QAnon Oath.” Trump’s son Eric tweets out
open support of the “Q” conspiracy theories. Trump’s favorite
cable-news channel features reporters who openly embrace the
theories. Dozens of Republican candidates openly spout QAnon
claims and rhetoric, and GOP organizations have used their
Facebook accounts to promote QAnon theories.
Gov. Kemp explicitly blocks cities from requiring masks, for
the worst possible reason.
(Daily Kos, July 16, 2020)
On Wednesday, the United States reported over 1,000 COVID-19
deaths for the first time since June 9 as the spiking cases
across the South reversed the trend generated when numerous
states issued stay-at-home orders in April and May. With a
better understanding of how the disease is spread, it’s become
clear that use of face coverings is critical to reducing the
rate of transmission. Short of a new, even broader
stay-at-home order, masks are the most effective action the
nation can take to break the back of the pandemic. So
naturally masks have become a political point, with right-wing
media and Republican politicians doing everything they can to
send not just mixed messages, but spread the idea that wearing
a mask is somehow, in an undefined way, a threat to “freedom.”
Even so, Republican governors pinned between overcrowded
hospitals, rising cases, and having to reverse themselves on
statewide lockdowns have been revising their mask positions.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott went from preventing local governments
from issuing mask orders to issuing his own statewide
requirement, complete with fines for those who refuse. Arizona
Gov. Doug Ducey didn’t issue a statewide order, but he did
reverse himself and allow cities and counties to issue local
orders. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis … did nothing, because he’s
Ron DeSantis, and that’s just how he rolls. But it’s Georgia
Gov. Brian Kemp who is really outstanding in his field in the
worst possible way. Because on Wednesday, Kemp issued a new
executive order to block mask requirements at every level.
What changed was certainly not an improvement in the local
situation. Georgia made its way to the #4 slot on the chart of
states with the most new cases on Wednesday, with
hospitalizations and deaths predictably rising in their wake.
What changed was that Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms—who
has herself tested positive for COVID-19—issued a mask mandate
for her city.
That’s why Kemp issued his new order. It’s not about blindly
continuing to push for reopening despite the certain knowledge
that this will result in misery for, at a minimum, thousands
of people. It’s about deliberately putting those thousands on
the line so that Kemp can put his finger in the eye of a mayor
widely known to be on the short list for Democratic vice
Cox: For Trump, it's the money with CDC reporting, too.
(Letters From An American, July 16, 2020)
As the coronavirus continues to ravage the country, the way
the government will collect data about Covid-19 cases changed
today. On March 29, Vice President Mike Pence asked hospital
administrators to report data about coronavirus through three
different systems: the network provided by the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention (the CDC), HHS Protect, and
TeleTracking. Last Friday, the Department of Health and Human
Services announced that, beginning today, hospitals should
report daily information about coronavirus cases not through
the CDC system, which has been in place for 15 years, but
rather through the other two.
This move has met with widespread condemnation as observers
worry that Trump is trying to take control of information
about the coronavirus in order to conceal it. In Florida,
Governor Ron DeSantis has hidden information this way, and
Trump has made it clear he believes that if only he downplays
the numbers, he can convince people to go back to work and
resurrect the economy.
But there is another angle to this change that seems to me
likely to be at least as attractive to the president as
control over data information. That primary issue is money.
HHS Protect is developed by Palantir Technologies, a
data-mining firm that works with the Pentagon and law
enforcement agencies, including Immigration and Customs
Enforcement (ICE). Peter Thiel, a billionaire Trump
supporter, co-founded the company, which last week
confidentially filed paperwork with the U.S. Securities and
Exchange Commission to go public.
An initial public
offering (IPO) would have made bucketloads of money in any
case, but a federal contract to compile coronavirus
information is a sweet addition to its portfolio.
The TeleTracking system also raises suspicions of a
financial deal. On June 3, Chair of the Senate Committee on
Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Senator Patty Murray
(D-WA) wrote to the director of the CDC, Dr. Robert Redfield
and the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response at
the Department of Health and Human Services, Dr. Robert P.
Kadlec, to ask why HHS had awarded a $10 million no-bid
contract to create this data system that duplicated the one
the CDC already had. Why indeed?
There is, in the letter shifting data collection, a peculiarly
nasty stick. Underlined on the first page of the instructions
is that “We will no longer be sending out one-time
requests for data to aid in the distribution of Remdesivir
or any other treatments or supplies. This daily reporting is
the only mechanism used for the distribution calculations,
and the daily [sic] is needed daily to ensure accurate
[Also see item from "(U.S. Senate Newsroom, June 3, 2020)",
Cybersecurity 202: Twitter breach is another warning shot
for election security.
(Washington Post, July 16, 2020)
This time, the massive Twitter hack yesterday was seemingly
just a petty scam to raise bitcoin — at least based on what's
known so far. But next time, it could be far more serious.
The unknown hackers held the Twittersphere in thrall last
night as they seized control of high-profile accounts and sent
phony tweets from Joe Biden, Barack Obama and a who’s who of
top companies and business and entertainment leaders. It took
Twitter hours of work and an unprecedented shutdown of all
verified accounts to halt the operation.
U.S. adversaries that gained that sort of power could sow mass
chaos on Election Day by tweeting out phony information about
voter fraud or polling locations shut down by the coronavirus
or terrorist attacks. And because the breach targeted Twitter
controls, over which campaigns are powerless, they might have
no power to stop the stream of phony tweets from flowing. If
Twitter once again shut down verified accounts' ability to
tweet while it investigated a breach, that would also cut off
a key avenue for campaigns, government officials and law
enforcement to correct misinformation.
Such an attack could be particularly disastrous during a close
election if people don't vote because of the confusion.
“Russia’s most dangerous play is how do you inflict the
maximum amount of chaos on Election Day,” Clint Watts, a
distinguished research fellow at the Foreign Policy Research
Institute who tracks Russian influence operations, told me.
“They want to further erode confidence in democracy, and this
is emblematic of a way they can do that.” Rachel Tobac, chief
executive of SocialProof Security, called the breach very
concerning. “We are extremely lucky that these attackers are
monetarily motivated and not sowing mass chaos all over the
world,” she said.
It’s unclear how much information the hackers were able to
cull from the Twitter accounts they compromised. If they were
able to access the accounts’ direct messages, they might have
stolen information they could leak later to embarrass the
victims or to sow chaos during the 2020 election or another
major event, said Theresa Payton, chief executive of the
cybersecurity company Fortalice Solutions and a former White
House technology official.
It's also possible the hackers stole information from accounts
that they didn't use as part of the bitcoin scam that they
could later leak or sell to someone with political
motivations. For example, President Trump has among the most
closely watched Twitter accounts in the world but his account
wasn't used in the scheme.
2020: Russia Cares, China Doesn’t.
Research Institute, July 15, 2020)
Foreign influence: What America should worry about this year
In September 2018, President Trump claimed that China had been
interfering in the 2018 elections. “They do not want me or us
to win because I am the first president to ever challenge
China on trade,” he said during a United Nations Security
Council meeting. The assertion came without evidence and has
since elicited an endless string of queries, all centered on
the same question: What is China doing to interfere in the
The claim of Chinese election interference and subsequent
focus on China in 2020 is a distraction from Russian election
interference, which remains a clear and present danger to
American democracy. In short, when it comes to November’s
election, Russia cares and China doesn’t.
Trump has been pretty great for Russia. The President nearly
always comes to the Kremlin’s defense, he’s solidified Putin’s
positions in Crimea and Ukraine, surrendered Syria, ignored
aggressions in Libya, turned a blind eye to GRU assassinations
in Europe, denied electoral interference in 2016, and
allegedly overlooked bounties placed on American troops in
Afghanistan while pushing for Russia to re-enter the G7
(formerly the G8).
But the polls don’t look good for President Trump at the
moment, and a Biden victory will most assuredly result in
backlash toward Russia. Despite the Kremlin’s infiltration
into the left and right of American politics, there’s so much
American-made disinformation this summer it’s been difficult
for Putin’s minions to break through the noise. Fake news
alone may not produce a meaningful impact on November’s
outcome. This leaves but two options: hacking and subversion.
Allegations of Russia hacking of Ukrainian gas company Burisma
surfaced this past January. From the Kremlin’s perspective, it
was a smart play. Cyberattack a Ukrainian company outside of
U.S. defenses during the impeachment hearing to confirm a
narrative already being advanced by Putin’s preferred
candidate. Any kompromat uncovered at Burisma could be dumped
into the media ecosystem—President Trump and the U.S.
mainstream media would do the rest of the work for the
Kremlin. The scheme hasn’t played out as of yet, although
Putin’s team will continue trying to advance this anti-Biden
narrative until votes are cast. Now, post-impeachment—and amid
a flurry of disinformation related to the pandemic and
protests—it’s difficult to conceive of a hack-and-dump
operation by Russia that would change the outcome of the
election. It’s probably too late and the polls too far apart
to make such a risky gamble.
The Kremlin’s more appealing strategy appears to be the
pursuit and sustained subversion of the upcoming election and
American democracy as a whole. On the propaganda and
disinformation front, they’ve already ramped up predictions of
widespread election rigging and fraud via mail-in balloting,
building on the election rigging narratives they’ve promoted
since the Iowa caucuses. GRU hackers might, like 2016, take
shots at voter rolls and election machines, but this seems
less likely in the face of an American cyber response this
This leaves Election Day. If the polls aren’t close, and a
Biden victory seems likely, the Kremlin could get really evil.
Having watched the chaos in the Iowa caucuses and recent
Georgia primaries, Russia could conduct pin-prick hacks in key
battleground states to muddy the voting results either at
polling places or amongst reporting media outlets. Maybe shut
off the power, disabling poll sites in key battleground
states. Simultaneously, they could instigate witting and
unwitting allies in America to storm polling places, incite
violence or contest election results—Kremlin operatives were
connected to a similar scenario during Montenegro’s 2016
parliamentary election. Meanwhile, the Kremlin may overtly
encourage President Trump to remain in the White House
post-inauguration even if defeated in November.
Russia and China will collectively seek to undermine
confidence in U.S. democracy, but headed into the polls in
November, the biggest threats on election day 2020 will be
domestic rather than foreign. As noted last year, what could
Russia or China do at this point that America is not already
doing to itself? For Putin and Xi, it’s easier to ride the
American tide of democratic destruction than to make the wave.
billionaires and corporate accounts targeted in Twitter
(1-min. video; Washington Post, July 15, 2020)
The high-profile accounts posted about bitcoin deals in a
major security breach. Joe Biden, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and
other high-profile Twitter account holders were the targets of
a widespread hack to offer fake bitcoin deals on Wednesday in
one of the most pronounced security breaches on a social media
site. Accounts for former president Barack Obama, Microsoft
co-founder Bill Gates, musician Kanye West and both Uber and
Apple also posted similar tweets, all instructing people to
send cryptocurrency to the same bitcoin address. The tweets
were removed throughout the afternoon, shortly after being
Says It Was The Victim Of A 'Coordinated Social Engineering
(3-minute audio; NPR, July 15, 2020)
Twitter says it was the victim of a "coordinated social
engineering attack" by unspecified individuals who targeted
Twitter employees with access to sensitive internal
administrative systems. The breach implicated the accounts of
some of the richest and most famous people on the social media
platform, including Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, former
President Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Kanye West and others.
As Twitter investigates what appears to be the largest and
most coordinated hack in Twitter's history, the company has
vowed to examine what "other malicious activity" the hackers
may have committed. "Internally, we've taken significant steps
to limit access to internal systems and tools while our
investigation is ongoing," Twitter said in a series of tweets.
Earlier, hundreds of popular figures' accounts told millions
of followers that in the spirit of generosity, they would
double anyone's Bitcoin "for the next 30 minutes." Some were
duped, sending Bitcoin payments and expecting a double return
that never arrived.
Cybersecurity experts described the ploy as a garden variety
social media scam, a petty and transparent ruse. But what
distinguishes it is the number of well-known names and major
companies that sent versions of the same message
simultaneously after intruders gained access to the accounts
that presumably have enhanced security protections.
is the time to build a better internet. The coronavirus
pandemic has shown we have a long way to go.
(Independent, July 15, 2020)
Long ago we voiced the expectation that one day online life
would become indivisible from real life – we have reached that
point, writes Mitchell Baker, the CEO and chairwoman of
A crisis upends the world as we know it, and change happens so
fast it can feel disorienting. Whether the course of change is
positive or negative depends on how quickly we apply our
collective will. From fever tracking to contact tracing,
crowd-sourced science to online learning, we cannot rise to
meet our current challenges without the internet.
In this crisis, we’ve seen an internet where humanity shines.
It’s also shined a light on the ways our system has tipped
towards misinformation, consolidation of power, increased
surveillance, and online scapegoating. Accountability is
lacking, and the power of technology is too often aimed at
manipulating people into actions that are profitable for a few
but damaging to many. This cannot stand.
Doomscrolling Again. Here’s How to Snap Out of It.
York Times, July 15, 2020)
The experience of sinking into emotional quicksand while
bingeing on doom-and-gloom news is so common that there’s now
internet lingo for it: “doomscrolling.” Exacerbating this
behavior, shelter-in-place orders leave us with little to do
other than to look at our screens; by some measures, our
screen time has jumped at least 50 percent. In a pandemic that
forces us to stay home, bingeing on doom-and-gloom news feels
irresistible. These health experts offer ways to break the
Radio Ratings Collapse As Pandemic Ends Listeners' Commutes.
(NPR, July 15, 2020)
Broadcast ratings for nearly all of NPR's radio shows took a
steep dive in major markets this spring, as the coronavirus
pandemic kept many Americans from commuting to work and
school. The network's shows lost roughly a quarter of their
audience between the second quarter of 2019 and the same
months in 2020.
People who listened to NPR shows on the radio at home before
the pandemic by and large still do. But many of those who
listened on their commute have not rejoined from home. And
that threatens to alter the terrain for NPR for years to come.
a first, astronomers watch a black hole’s corona disappear,
(MIT News, July 15, 2020)
For the first time, astronomers at MIT and elsewhere have
watched as a supermassive black hole’s own corona, the
ultrabright, billion-degree ring of high-energy particles that
encircles a black hole’s event horizon, was abruptly
The cause of this dramatic transformation is unclear, though
the researchers guess that the source of the calamity may have
been a star caught in the black hole’s gravitational pull.
Like a pebble tossed into a gearbox, the star may have
ricocheted through the black hole’s disk of swirling material,
causing everything in the vicinity, including the corona’s
high-energy particles, to suddenly plummet into the black
The result, as the astronomers observed, was a precipitous and
surprising drop in the black hole’s brightness, by a factor of
10,000, in under just one year. “We expect that luminosity
changes this big should vary on timescales of many thousands
to millions of years,” says Erin Kara, assistant professor of
physics at MIT. “But in this object, we saw it change by
10,000 over a year, and it even changed by a factor of 100 in
eight hours, which is just totally unheard of and really
Following the corona’s disappearance, astronomers continued to
watch as the black hole began to slowly pull together material
from its outer edges to reform its swirling accretion disk,
which in turn began to spin up high-energy X-rays close to the
black hole’s event horizon. In this way, in just a few months,
the black hole was able to generate a new corona, almost back
to its original luminosity.
to use ranked-choice voting in presidential election after
GOP veto effort fails.
(Bangor ME Daily News, July 15,
Maine will be the first state to ever use ranked-choice voting
in a presidential election in November after Secretary of
State Matt Dunlap ruled Wednesday that a Republican-led
people’s veto effort did not have enough signatures to qualify
for the ballot. The Maine Republican Party gathered just over
61,000 signatures, which was roughly 2,000 shy of what was
needed to get the challenge on the ballot, Dunlap’s office
said in a statement. The party faced a shortened and
complicated signature-gathering season due to the coronavirus.
The decision is a surprise and a huge blow to Republicans, who
have resisted the voting method particularly since the 2018
election in which U.S. Rep. Jared Golden, a Democrat from
Maine’s 2nd Congressional District, ousted incumbent
Republican Bruce Poliquin.
The effort would have brought Maine’s third referendum on
ranked-choice voting in four years. It was also a nationally
backed bid to shield President Donald Trump from the voting
method in 2020, since getting the measure on the ballot would
have delayed the law’s effective date. The Republican
president won the 2nd District in the 2016 election.
Dueling Environmental Events, Trump and Biden Define the
(New York Times, July 15, 2020)
President Trump traveled on Wednesday to the new political
battleground of Georgia to blast away at one of the nation’s
cornerstone conservation laws, vowing to speed construction
projects by limiting legally mandated environmental reviews of
highways, pipelines and power plants.
One day earlier, his Democratic presidential rival, Joseph R.
Biden Jr., took a different tack, releasing a $2 trillion plan
to confront climate change and overhaul the nation’s
infrastructure, claiming he will create millions of jobs by
building a clean energy economy.
In that period, the major party candidates for the White House
displayed in sharp relief just how far apart they are
ideologically on infrastructure and environmental matters of
vital importance to many American voters, particularly in
critical battleground states, including Pennsylvania and
Mr. Biden is trying to win over young voters and supporters of
his vanquished rival, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, by
showing an aggressive awareness of climate change and
promising to move urgently to combat it. At the same time he
has sought to maintain his promised connection to white,
working class voters, especially in the Upper Midwest, who
swung to Mr. Trump four years ago and are leery of what they
see as threats to their livelihood, especially jobs in the oil
and gas industry.
The president, in contrast, is pretty much where he has been
for more than a decade: intermittently acknowledging global
warming and calling it a hoax; making spurious accusations
that windmills cause cancer, energy efficient appliances are
“worthless” and zero-emissions buildings “basically have no
windows.” At every turn and on every regulatory decision the
administration embraces business over environmental interests.
States’ Leaders Claim to Be ‘Pro-Life.’ So Why Are So Many
of Their Citizens Dying of COVID-19?
(Time, July 15,
As the coronavirus surges across the U.S., states across the
South and West have reported sharp increases in their daily
number of new cases. While the initial outbreaks in New York
and Seattle reflected where community spread of the disease
began in the U.S., these more recent surges in Florida, Texas,
Arizona and some two dozen other states reveal more about our
capacity to respond. Many Asian and European countries that
experienced their first cases and initial outbreaks at the
same time we did have successfully suppressed the virus and
returned to semi-normal life. Meanwhile, COVID spreads across
the U.S. like contrast dye on an MRI, highlighting a
malignancy in our body politic.
When we look closely at the data, the regions where the
coronavirus is currently surging are precisely the places
where white people have been manipulated by a distorted moral
narrative for decades. Ironically, the governors who are most
willing to watch their citizens die are the ones who have used
“pro-life” rhetoric to compel people of faith to support the
narrow interests of corporate greed and white political power.
COVID has revealed how the “pro-life” movement is killing us.
For the past 40 years, this narrative has been reinforced
through a coordinated network of independent media, private
school curricula, pulpits and political operatives. As
investigative journalist Anne Nelson describes in her book Shadow
, conservative Christians have increasingly come
to live in a self-reinforcing wraparound culture of
propaganda. When that network of information demonized efforts
to address the current pandemic by staying at home, even from
church, they resisted public health advice in the name of
In their book Taking America Back for God
sociologists Samuel Perry and Andrew Whitehead describe this
way of seeing the world—where anything that challenges
traditional values, including science, is viewed as threat—as
“Christian nationalism.” While their analysis suggests that
less than 20% of all Americans fully embrace this narrative,
they say more than 30% have accommodated it in some way. This
is especially true among white Christians and, in particular,
in the South and Midwest.
COVID-19 hospitalization data goes dark under Trump
directive, at least for now.
(5-min. video; Idaho
Statesman, July 15, 2020)
The Trump administration issued a directive that will make it
hard for Idaho to keep track of how many COVID-19 patients are
hospitalized around the state and how many hospital beds, ICU
beds and ventilators are available. “This new directive was
issued abruptly and presents some significant challenges for
Idaho to continue to monitor the number of hospitalizations in
the state,” Idaho Department of Health and Welfare
spokesperson Niki Forbing-Orr said. “We’re in the process of
reviewing the details of the new process to determine exactly
how it will impact our ability to view and report the
information on coronavirus.idaho.gov for the public to view,
but it will certainly have a short-term impact on our
awareness of the number of people in hospitals, in the ICU and
Health and Welfare, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention, both were publishing daily counts of Idaho
hospital patients with known or suspected COVID-19. Those
numbers ranged from lows in the teens and 20s in May, to
record highs in the mid-100s in the past week.
The directive was issued quietly last Friday by the Department
of Health and Human Services. It told hospitals to stop using
the NHSN as of Wednesday. They were directed to start using a
new, private system that flows to HHS. That system is managed
by TeleTracking, a health data firm based in Pittsburgh,
according to the New York Times.
“We were stunned,” Idaho State Epidemiologist Christine Hahn
said Wednesday on Idaho Matters. “That data right now is our
most valuable ... indicator to show the public and
decision-makers how severe this outbreak is getting in Idaho.”
ran the CDC. No president ever politicized its science the
way Trump has.
(Washington Post, July 14, 2020)
As America begins the formidable task of getting our kids back
to school and all of us back to work safely amid a pandemic
that is only getting worse, public health experts face two
opponents: covid-19, but also administration political leaders
and others attempting to undermine the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention. As the debate last week around
reopening schools more safely showed, these repeated efforts
to subvert sound public health guidelines introduce chaos and
uncertainty while unnecessarily putting lives at risk.
Administration Strips C.D.C. of Control of Coronavirus Data.
(New York Times, July 14, 2020)
Hospitals have been ordered to bypass the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention and send all patient information to a
central database in Washington, raising questions about
alternative to layoffs: Retraining 20,000 workers
July 14, 2020)
Verizon hasn't laid off any of its 135,000 employees during
the pandemic. Instead, the company has retrained around 20,000
workers for new careers.
It's part of Verizon's (VZ) responsible business plan
announced Tuesday. Dubbed Citizen Verizon, the plan includes a
pledge to prepare 500,000 mostly lower-wage people for jobs of
the future by 2030 through skills training and job advancement
While it's an expensive endeavor as other companies cut costs
— millions of Americans are now collecting unemployment
because of the unprecedented health crisis — Verizon (VZ)
chose to focus on retraining workers, CEO Hans Vestberg told
CNN Business in an exclusive interview. "Verizon, as a large
corporation, needs to take actions and be responsible here,"
said Vestberg, who became CEO two years ago, later adding,
"Large corporations have far bigger impacts than governments
even, sometimes. We feel that responsibility as a
Power and Importance of Leadership in a Crisis.
England Journal of Medicine, July 14, 2020)
Health care aleaders are increasingly looking at internal
talent in combination with a continued focus on external
leaders, and are revisiting their organizational assessment,
promotion, and succession plans as well. In addition, as a
shift to virtual interviewing and on-boarding is becoming
embraced, leaders are sharpening their focus on reference
checks and certain leadership qualities.
Coronavirus Vaccine Tested in Humans Shows Early Promise.
(New York Times, July 14, 2020)
The vaccine, developed by government scientists and Moderna, a
Massachusetts biotech company, appeared safe and provoked an
immune response in 45 people in a study.
Pandemics Wreak Havoc—and Open Minds
(New Yorker, July
The plague marked the end of the Middle Ages and the start of
a great cultural renewal. Could the coronavirus, for all its
destruction, offer a similar opportunity for radical change?
Sparks New Interest In Using Ultraviolet Light To Disinfect
(NPR, July 13, 2020)
Research already shows that germicidal UV can effectively
inactivate airborne microbes that transmit measles,
tuberculosis and SARS-CoV-1, a close relative of the novel
As the U.S. grapples with how to interrupt the spread of the
highly infectious virus, UV is being used to decontaminate
surfaces on public transit and in hospitals where infectious
droplets may have landed as well as to disinfect N95 masks for
reuse. But so far using this technology to provide continuous
air disinfection has remained outside of most mainstream,
policy-setting conversations about the coronavirus. Experts
attribute this to a combination of factors: misconceptions
about UV's safety, a lack of public awareness and technical
know-how, concerns about the costs of installing the
technology, and a general reluctance to consider the role of
aerosols in the spread of the coronavirus.
Now, with concern mounting that the coronavirus may be easily
transmitted through microscopic floating particles known as
aerosols, some researchers and physicians hope the technology
can be recruited yet again to help disinfect high-risk indoor
'occupying army' in Portland critically injure peaceful
(Daily Kos, July 13, 2020)
A Portland, Oregon peaceful protester was critically injured
Saturday night by one of the federal officers Donald Trump
ordered into the city to "protect" federal property. Donovan
LaBella was shot in the head by a federal officer. He had been
standing across the street from the federal courthouse holding
a speaker, standing alone and not provoking anything,
according to videos posted to social media. An officer threw a
canister at LaBella, who tossed it back toward the cops and
then was immediately shot in the head by a "non-lethal"
projectile. LaBella's mother spoke with reporters and said his
face and skull were fractured and he had to undergo facial
reconstructive surgery Sunday.
Trump issued an executive order on June 26 to protect federal
property and monuments, and to authorize Department of
Homeland Security to deploy officers from around the country
and from at least half a dozen different federal agencies and
departments. They've converged on Portland as part of Trump's
"law and order" campaign. Portland's Deputy Police Chief Chris
Davis made clear that his department did not ask for federal
troops, have not coordinated with them, and do not appreciate
Portland police are banned from using tear gas by a recent
restraining order, as well as being barred from using impact
munitions—the supposedly non-lethal rubber bullets and plastic
projectiles—against peaceful protesters. Portland police were
already restricted from shooting these projectiles at people's
heads, necks, and throats "unless deadly force is authorized,"
or to use them for crowd control unless there's a threat of
death or serious injury. Federal officers, who aren't subject
to those restrictions, have also been using tear gas against
the largely peaceful protesters.
Oregon officials have responded en masse to condemn Trump and
call for higher taxes on wealthy to pay for Covid-19
(The Guardian, July 13, 2020)
Group of 83 wealthy individuals demands ‘immediate,
substantial and permanent’ higher taxes ‘on people like us’.
The super-rich members, including Ben and Jerry’s ice cream
co-founder Jerry Greenfield and Disney heir Abigail Disney,
called on “our governments to raise taxes on people like us.
Immediately. Substantially. Permanently”. “As Covid-19 strikes
the world, millionaires like us have a critical role to play
in healing our world,” the millionaires said in a letter
shared with the Guardian. “No, we are not the ones caring for
the sick in intensive care wards. We are not driving the
ambulances that will bring the ill to hospitals. We are not
restocking grocery store shelves or delivering food door to
door. But we do have money, lots of it. Money that is
desperately needed now and will continue to be needed in the
years ahead, as our world recovers from this crisis.”
The group warned that the economic impact of coronavirus
crisis will “last for decades” and could “push half a billion
more people into poverty”.
a privacy threat? Sure, but so are most of your smartphone
. (NBC News, July 13, 2020)
Analysis: The reality of TikTok's threat is far more mundane
and not particularly unique, experts say.
China has a well-chronicled appetite for Americans’ data.
Meanwhile, the popular, China-based video app TikTok collects
significant information on its users. That confluence has made
the app a focus of concern among privacy watchdogs,
culminating last week in reports that the U.S. is positioning
itself to ban TikTok. The app has become the subject of
widespread concern and paranoia, even reaching into the world
of esports, with the popular gamer known as Ninja tweeting
that he was deleting the app over privacy worries. The bank
Wells Fargo told its workers to delete the app. Amazon ramped
up the scrutiny of TikTok on Friday after a leaked internal
email said company employees needed to remove the app from
their phones. Amazon later clarified that no such edict had
actually been issued.
But the reality of TikTok's threat is far more mundane and not
particularly unique, experts say. While users should be
skeptical of the app's data collection and handling, the
attention paid to the app owes more to how TikTok has ended up
in the middle of the growing societal concern about data
privacy and increasing paranoia about the threat of China.
TikTok has had major privacy concerns flare up in the past and
is reportedly under investigation by the Justice Department
and Federal Trade Commission for potentially failing to
adequately delete videos from users who are 13 and under, as
required by law.
That doesn’t mean the company is unique in how it handles user
data, said John Davisson, counsel at the Electronic Privacy
Information Center, a think tank that advocates for online
privacy for consumers. “I think TikTok's actions are alarming,
and it is good that federal regulators are paying close
attention to it,” Davisson said. “But it is ultimately one of
many platforms that collect, and use, and analyze, and rely
on, and profit off of personal data.”
Like practically all tech platforms, TikTok stores not only
the content that users create on it, but significant metadata
on them — and will turn that information over to law
enforcement if legally compelled to do so. According to a
leaked document provided to police and reported by Business
Insider, for TikTok that can mean usernames, how and when
users signed up for the service, phone numbers and device
types, and significant location data. While that kind of
information may seem invasive, it’s the norm for phone apps to
track it, especially location data — and that kind of
information is bought and sold on a daily basis in markets
that China has access to.
China does have a proven track record of hoovering up
Americans’ personal information. Many of the biggest breaches
in U.S. history — the hacks of Equifax, several insurance
companies, and the U.S. Office of Personnel Management — are
widely accepted as the work of Chinese intelligence. Those
hacks were part of a massive operation to steal and process
Americans’ data, FBI Director Christopher Wray said in a
livestreamed talk Tuesday. “The data China stole is of obvious
value as they attempt to identify people for secret
intelligence gathering,” Wray said. “On that front, China is
using social media platforms, the same ones Americans use
every day to stay connected or find jobs, to identify people
with access to our government’s sensitive information and try
to target those people to try to steal it.”
“It all comes down to the argument that no Chinese tech
company can resist the demands of the Chinese Communist Party
or government for data,” Segal said. “We have no evidence
those demands have been made or the company would need to
follow through. I don’t know what's unique about TikTok data,”
he added. "Especially because it's primarily teens.”
Place couple who confronted protesters have a long history
of not backing down.
(St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 12,
[Meet the latest GOP-hero defenders of property rights - their
property rights on others' property.]
When Black Lives Matter protesters marched up Kingshighway on
June 28 and turned through an iron gate into the magnificent
private street of Portland Place, they encountered a couple
who have for years, nearly constantly, sued other people and
ordered people off their property. Personal-injury attorneys
Mark and Patricia McCloskey became instant national figures
when they intercepted protesters marching past their
marble-faced palazzo at One Portland Place, aimed guns at them
and demanded they get out.
Americans saw the story they wanted to see. Some saw respected
professionals fearing for their safety, reasonably exercising
their Second Amendment rights to defend their home from
violent trespassers. Others saw an overwrought, older affluent
couple, recklessly pointing their weapons and asserting their
But public records and interviews reveal a fuller picture than
emerged two weeks ago. They show the McCloskeys are almost
always in conflict with others, typically over control of
private property, what people can do on that property, and
whose job it is to make sure they do it.
far east protest over Khabarovsk governor's arrest.
News, July 11, 2020)
An estimated 40,000 people have taken part in protests in
Russia's far east over the arrest of a regional leader. They
marched to the regional government in Khabarovsk shouting
slogans against President Vladimir Putin.
Khabarovsk governor Sergei Furgal was detained on Thursday,
accused of having ordered the killing of several business
people 15 years ago. Mr. Furgal defeated the candidate of Mr.
Putin's United Russfia party in elections two years ago. His
party, the ultra-nationalist Liberal Democrat Party of Russia,
is usually seen as loyal to the Kremlin.
But correspondents say Mr. Furgal's victory was seen as a blow
to United Russia's grip on power in the regions, and he is a
popular figure in the far east.
Harris: Stone commutation and Breonna Taylor case show 'two
systems of justice'.
(Louisville KY Courier Journal,
July 11, 2020)
A longtime confidant of Trump, Stone is a Republican operative
who was convicted of lying to Congress to protect the
president's campaign from an investigation into Russian
Trump's decision to grant clemency came days before Stone was
set to report to prison for a 40-month sentence handed down in
February. "Roger Stone was targeted by an illegal Witch Hunt
that never should have taken place," Trump tweeted Saturday
morning. "It is the other side that are criminals, including
Biden and Obama, who spied on my campaign - AND GOT CAUGHT!"
Harris and other congressional Democrats slammed the move,
which wiped out Stone's sentence but left his conviction in
Harris compared the commutation of Stone, who is white, with
the death of Taylor, a 26-year-old unarmed Black woman fatally
shot by Louisville police officers inside her apartment during
a March drug raid. No drugs were recovered from Taylor's
apartment, and the deadly incident has since touched off
lawsuits, independent investigations, mass protests around
Louisville and the firing of one of the involved officers.
Stone: Critics blast Trump for commuting ex-adviser's jail
(BBC News, July 11, 2020)
Leading Democrats have condemned US President Donald Trump's
decision to commute the prison sentence of his former adviser
and friend Roger Stone. Presidential contender Joe Biden's
spokesman accused Mr. Trump of abuse of power and "laying
waste" to US values.
The move - sparing Stone from jail but not a pardon - came
just after a court denied Stone's request to delay the start
date of his 40-month prison term. He was convicted of lying to
Congress, obstruction and witness tampering. The 67-year-old
had been due to report to a federal prison in Jesup, Georgia,
The president has been accused by political critics of
undermining the justice system by criticising criminal cases
against Stone and other former aides. Stone was the sixth
Trump aide found guilty on charges linked to a justice
department probe that alleged Russia tried to boost the Trump
The White House said Stone was the victim of an attempt by
opponents to undermine the presidency.
[Lest we forget, BBC News back on February 20, 2020: Speaking
in her Washington DC court on Thursday, Judge Amy Berman
Jackson said Stone had engaged in "threatening and
intimidating conduct" towards her. She said Stone "knew
exactly what he was doing" when he posted an image on social
media last year of a gun's crosshairs next to her head. Stone
had claimed he thought the crosshairs were a Celtic cross.]
to Reopen Schools: What Science and Other Countries Teach Us
(New York Times, July 11, 2020)
The pressure to bring American students back to classrooms is
intense, but the calculus is tricky with infections still out
of control in many communities.
As school districts across the United States consider whether
and how to restart in-person classes, their challenge is
complicated by a pair of fundamental uncertainties: No nation
has tried to send children back to school with the virus
raging at levels like America’s, and the scientific research
about transmission in classrooms is limited.
The World Health Organization has now concluded that the virus
is airborne in crowded, indoor spaces with poor ventilation, a
description that fits many American schools. But there is
enormous pressure to bring students back — from parents, from
pediatricians and child development specialists, and from
President Trump. I’m just going to say it: It feels like we’re
playing Russian roulette with our kids and our staff,” said
Robin Cogan, a nurse at the Yorkship School in Camden, N.J.,
who serves on the state’s committee on reopening schools.
Though children are at much lower risk of getting seriously
ill from the coronavirus than adults, the risk is not zero. A
small number of children have died and others needed intensive
care because they suffered respiratory failure or an
inflammatory syndrome that caused heart or circulatory
The larger concern with reopening schools is the potential for
children to become infected, many with no symptoms, and then
spread the virus to others, including family members, teachers
and other school employees. Most evidence to date suggests
that even if children under 12 are infected at the same rates
as the adults around them, they are less likely to spread it.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has cited some of this data
to recommend that schools reopen with proper safety
precautions. But the bulk of the evidence was collected in
countries that were already in lockdown or had begun to
implement other preventive measures. And few countries have
systematically tested children for the virus or for antibodies
that would indicate whether they had been exposed to the
wears mask in public for first time during pandemic.
(Associated Press, July 11, 2020)
President Donald Trump wore a mask during a visit to a
military hospital on Saturday, the first time the president
has been seen in public with the type of facial covering
recommended by health officials as a precaution against
spreading or becoming infected by the novel coronavirus.
The president was a latecomer to wearing a mask during the
pandemic, which has raged across the U.S. since March and
infected more than 3.2 million and killed at least 134,000.
Most prominent Republicans, including Vice President Mike
Pence, endorsed wearing masks as the coronavirus gained ground
this summer. Republican governors have been moving toward
requiring or encouraging the use of masks as the pandemic has
grown more serious in some states in the South and West.
Trump, however, has declined to wear a mask at news
conferences, coronavirus task force updates, rallies and other
Questions remain whether Trump will wear a mask with any
regularity. The wearing of masks became another political
dividing line, with Republicans more resistant to wearing them
than Democrats. Few masks were seen at recent Trump campaign
events in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Phoenix and South Dakota’s Mount
A spokesman for the Biden campaign cast the president’s action
as too little, too late. “Donald Trump spent months ignoring
the advice of medical experts and politicizing wearing a mask,
one of the most important things we can do to prevent the
spread of the virus,” spokesman Andrew Bates said in a
statement. “Rather than taking responsibility and leading, he
wasted four months that Americans have been making sacrifices
by stoking divisions and actively discouraging people from
taking a very basic step to protect each other.”
plasma shot could prevent coronavirus. But feds and makers
won’t act, scientists say.
(Los Angeles Times July 10,
It might be the next best thing to a coronavirus vaccine.
Scientists have devised a way to use the antibody-rich blood
plasma of COVID-19 survivors for an upper-arm injection that
they say could inoculate people against the virus for months.
Using technology that’s been proven effective in preventing
other diseases such as hepatitis A, the injections would be
administered to high-risk healthcare workers, nursing home
patients, or even at public drive-through sites — potentially
protecting millions of lives, the doctors and other experts
say. The two scientists who spearheaded the proposal — an
83-year-old shingles researcher and his counterpart, an HIV
gene therapy expert — have garnered widespread support from
leading blood and immunology specialists, including those at
the center of the nation’s COVID-19 plasma research.
But the idea exists only on paper. Federal officials have
twice rejected requests to discuss the proposal, and
pharmaceutical companies — even acknowledging the likely
efficacy of the plan — have declined to design or manufacture
the shots. The lack of interest in launching development of
immunity shots comes amid heightened scrutiny of the federal
government’s sluggish pandemic response.
Scientists who question the delay argue that the immunity
shots are easy to scale up and should enter clinical trials
immediately. They say that until there’s a vaccine, the shots
offer the only plausible method for preventing potentially
millions of infections at a critical moment in the pandemic.
“Beyond being a lost opportunity, this is a real
head-scratcher,” said Dr. Michael Joyner, a Mayo Clinic
researcher who leads a program sponsored by the Food and Drug
Administration to capitalize on coronavirus antibodies from
COVID-19 survivors. “It seems obvious.”
The use of so-called convalescent plasma has already become
widespread. More than 28,000 patients have already received
the IV treatment, and preliminary data suggest that the method
is safe. Researchers are also looking at whether the IV drip
products would prevent new infections from taking root.
Trump Demanded Schools Reopen, His Experts Warned of
(New York Times, July 10, 2020)
A briefing packet for federal emergency response teams details
the steps schools should take to reopen safely. The 69-page
document, obtained by The New York Times and marked “For
Internal Use Only,” was intended for federal public health
response teams to have as they are deployed to hot spots
around the country. But it appears to have circulated the same
week that Vice President Mike Pence announced that the Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention would release new
guidelines, saying that the administration did not want them
to be “too tough.” It is unclear whether Mr. Trump saw the
document, nor is it clear how much of it will survive once new
guidance is completed.
What is clear is that federal health experts are using a road
map that is vastly different from what Mr. Trump wanted. On
Friday, after repeating threats of cutting off federal funding
from schools that do not fully reopen — which he does not have
the authority to do — Mr. Trump lashed out again. “Now that we
have witnessed it on a large scale basis, and firsthand,
virtual learning has proven to be TERRIBLE compared to In
School, or On Campus, Learning,” he wrote on Twitter. “Not
even close! Schools must be open in the Fall.”
Lingering Legacy of America’s First Cookie-Cutter Suburb.
(Atlas Obscura, July 10, 2020)
In Levittown, inequality was built-in.
software kit is to blame for popular apps crashing.
(Associated Press, July 10, 2020)
Friday’s widespread crashes of popular apps running on the
iPhone’s iOS operating system — including Tinder, Spotify and
Pinterest — serve as a reminder that Facebook is still
tracking you through your phone using sophisticated software,
even if you’re not browsing the social network.
campaign hires first top cybersecurity official to protect
against digital threats.
(Washington Post, July 10,
The campaign's decision to delegate security to an industry
heavy hitter reflects the intense pressure to avoid a repeat
of the Russian hacking and leaking operation that upended
Hillary Clinton’s presidential effort four years ago.
Those needs are perhaps only more critical as the campaign
faces unprecedented security and technology challenges from
staff and volunteers working remotely during the coronavirus
Court Rules Trump Cannot Block Release of Financial Records.
(New York Times, July 9, 2020)
Two rulings clear the way for prosecutors in New York to seek
President Trump’s financial records, but the justices stopped
Congress for now.
terrorism database of the Trump years shows how the radical
right has gone on a rampage.
(Daily Kos, July 9, 2020)
Donald Trump’s reign of error has been remarkable on a
historic level in a variety of ways: COVID-19, the destruction
of our traditional overseas alliances and open appeasement of
Russia, the increasingly open embrace of white nationalism.
To that list we must now add something with similarly
long-term consequences: the stark surge of domestic terrorism
committed by right-wing extremists—many of whom act on the
belief they are supporting, defending, and enabling Trump and
his agenda. Data
gathered from 2017 through 2019—and published today
team I led at Type Investigations and Reveal News shows that
far-right domestic terrorism now dramatically eclipses all
other forms of terrorist threat in the United States, both in
raw numbers of events and in sheer lethality. It’s as though
Trump lifted the lid off the Pandora’s Box of far-right
violence and the demons promptly flew out.
To explore the database, spend some time in the interactive
graphic entitled “The new domestic terrorism.” It contains
each of the individual cases, including links to
substantiating articles and documents. You can view it both in
terms of raw numbers as well as via a map of the United
Supreme Court Ruling Affirms Native American Rights in
(New York Times, July 9, 2020)
A 5-4 decision declaring that much of eastern Oklahoma is an
Indian reservation could reshape criminal justice in the area
by preventing state authorities from prosecuting Native
Americans. The case was steeped in the United States
government’s long history of brutal removals and broken
treaties with Indigenous tribes, and grappled with whether
lands of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation had remained a
reservation after Oklahoma became a state. The decision,
potentially one of the most consequential legal victories for
Native Americans in decades, could have far-reaching
implications for the people who live across what the court
affirmed was Indian Country. The lands (see
) include much of Tulsa, Oklahoma’s second-biggest
Mayor Is Found Dead After Harassment Complaint Is Filed.
(New York Times, July 9, 2020)
Mayor Park Won-soon, who vanished after leaving a cryptic
message for his daughter, had faced a newly filed complaint
from his secretary.
are the CDC school guidelines Trump wants changed amid
COVID-19? These are the highlights.
(USA Today, July 9,
Trump tweeted Wednesday that he disagrees with the CDC's "very
tough & expensive guidelines for opening schools" as the
coronavirus pandemic continues, and Vice President Mike Pence
said the agency would be issuing new guidelines next week.
However, Dr. Robert Redfield, the head of the CDC, said
Thursday no change was coming but that instead "additional
reference documents" would be issued.
To better understand any possible update, USA TODAY reviewed
several documents and guidelines on the CDC's website of the
guidance already issued to K-12 schools. The CDC says these
documents should supplement but not replace state and local
guidance, laws and other regulations. Throughout the
guidelines, the CDC also says that schools should be in
regular contact with state and local health officials on their
plans and review local laws and rules.
The CDC establishes a set of guiding principles to start its
guidelines that broadly lays out the risks of three scenarios.
The lowest risk is school returns in a virtual-only setting in
which students and teachers meet for classes, activities and
events online. More risk is associated with small, in-person
classes, activities and events. Under this general scenario,
students are divided into small groups that don't mix, stay
six feet apart and don't share items. The scenarios with the
most risk is a return to school as it was before: Full,
in-person classes, mixing of groups, no distancing, and shared
The CDC guidelines also describe basic cleanliness and safety
procedures that schools should follow. They are similar to
what public health officials say all people should follow.
Wash hands regularly, stay six feet apart and wear a mask.
"Face coverings should be worn by staff and students
(particularly older students) as feasible, and are most
essential in times when physical distancing is difficult," the
WHO director calls for global unity to fight the virus
following U.S. pullout.
(Washington Post, July 9, 2020)
An emotional World Health Organization Director General Tedros
Adhanom Ghebreyesus pleaded Thursday for international unity
to fight the pandemic devastating the world in the wake of
President Trump’s announced intention to quit the
organization. With tears in his eyes, Tedros said the true
enemy was not the virus itself “but the lack of leadership and
solidarity at the global level.”
“How difficult is it for humans to unite to fight a common
enemy that’s killing people indiscriminately?” he asked.
“Can’t we understand that the divisions and cracks between us
are to the advantage of the virus?” Tedros warned that in most
of the world, “the virus is not under control; it’s getting
worse.” And he pointed out that the health systems of some of
the world’s wealthiest countries have been upended, whereas
nations of more modest means have had success.
workers are returning to the office. Some members of
Congress say they shouldn’t be.
(Washington Post, July
Senators representing Maryland and Virginia emphasized their
concern over the possible coronavirus exposure of 2.1 million
federal employees, about 85 percent of whom work outside the
D.C. metro area. With the number of coronavirus cases
increasing across much of the country, leading members of
Congress on civil service issues are challenging orders by
federal agencies for teleworking federal employees to return
to their regular worksites.
“I think we have to press the pause button immediately,” Rep.
Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.), chairman of the House Government
Operations subcommittee, said in an interview. “There is no
data that could make one comfortable that it is safe to return
fully to work and to the status quo. In fact, all of the data
suggest the opposite.”
Has Lured Young Traders, Sometimes With Devastating Results.
(New York Times, July 8, 2020)
Its users buy and sell the riskiest financial products and do
so more frequently than customers at other retail brokerage
firms, but their inexperience can lead to staggering losses.
and cruel.’ Universities blast new visa rule for
(Science, July 8, 2020)
A new U.S. immigration policy announced Monday, which
threatens to revoke visas for certain international students
if they are not taking in-person classes, is stirring panic
and confusion and causing some universities to push back with
lawsuits. The policy states that international students who
are currently enrolled in online-only programs will need to
leave the country immediately or transfer to a school with
in-person classes to legally continue their education. The
announcement doesn’t explicitly distinguish undergraduate and
graduate students—creating uncertainty among science and
engineering graduate students who are focused on research and
had no plans to enroll in courses this fall.
The policy “is cruel to international students and damaging to
America’s scientific leadership,” Sudip Parikh—CEO of AAAS
(the publisher of Science Careers)—said in a statement
released today. “We urge the administration to reconsider and
rescind this guidance.”
Clues To ALS And Alzheimer's Disease From Physics
(Science, July 8, 2020)
The same process that causes dew drops to form on a blade of
grass appears to play an important role in Alzheimer's disease
and other brain diseases. The process, known as phase
transition, is what allows water vapor to condense into liquid
water, or even freeze into solid ice.
What Taylor found was gene mutations that caused abnormal
phase transitions in cells. And he found evidence of similar
mutations in other neurodegenerative diseases. This research
earned Taylor the 2020 Potamkin Prize, a big deal in
Alzheimer's research. And it got a lot of biotech companies
thinking about ways to fix problems with phase transitions
inside cells. "I think it's probably safe to say that you'll
see some of these types of therapies within the next couple of
years," Taylor says.
Neurodegenerative diseases are an appealing target because the
physics behind the problem is now clear, and because cells
already contain mechanisms to regulate phase transition.
of Covid-19 may be hidden in speech signals.
July 8, 2020)
Processing vocal recordings of infected but asymptomatic
people reveals potential indicators of Covid-19.
Trump wants to reopen schools, here’s what his
administration needs to do.
(Washington Post, July 8,
Vice President Pence says it is “absolutely essential that we
get our kids in the classroom for in-person learning.” His
remarks Wednesday followed President Trump’s announcement that
“we’re very much going to put pressure on governors and
everybody else to open the schools” — and a follow-up tweet
threatening to cut off funding if schools remain closed. Pence
and Trump are right about the importance of in-person
instruction. But the Trump administration can’t just set a
timeline without committing to the necessary work to ensure
the health and safety of students, teachers and their
The single most important requirement for resuming in-person
instruction is suppressing the level of covid-19 infections in
the community. Imagine if schools tried to open now in areas
undergoing massive surges, including Houston, Miami and
Phoenix. Groups of children gathering indoors would add fuel
to the flame and worsen the crisis. This is why the White
House’s own guidelines prohibit schools from reopening until
the community has reached Phase 2 — defined, at minimum, as
recording a consistent decline in new infections. Right now,
more than 40 states have increasing cases. To reverse this
trend, governors will need to reimpose restrictions and make
difficult tradeoffs. Some businesses, such as bars and
nightclubs, may need to stay closed for the summer to keep
virus levels low enough for schools to be open in the fall.
The Trump administration needs to support these actions rather
than cast doubt on the severity of the current surge.
Another urgent and long overdue step: The administration needs
to implement a national testing strategy and substantially
ramp up testing capacity. Some schools in Germany require
students and staff to pass self-administered covid-19 tests
every four days. This would be an option that many U.S.
parents and teachers will want, and some proposals, such as
pooled testing, may offer a path to do so.
Threatens to Cut Funding if Schools Do Not Fully Reopen.
(New York Times, July 8, 2020)
Disregarding the advice of his own health experts, President
Trump also attacked the C.D.C.’s reopening guidelines as
onerous and expensive.
Mr. Trump’s attack on the C.D.C. underscored his growing
impatience with public health experts he considers obstacles
to his ambitions of reopening the country after months of
lockdown. As he significantly trails Joseph R. Biden Jr., the
presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, in most polls,
the president has brushed off warnings and pushed states to
reopen businesses in hopes of reviving the crippled economy
before the election on Nov. 3, a goal that would be hamstrung
if parents had to remain at home with their children this
During a coronavirus task force briefing later Wednesday
afternoon, Vice President Mike Pence announced that the C.D.C.
would issue new recommendations next week.
How A COVID-19 Vaccine Could Cost Americans Dearly
(Kaiser Health News, July 8, 2020)
The United States is the only developed nation unable to
balance cost, efficacy and social good in setting prices.
Yes, of course, Americans’ health is priceless, and reining in
a deadly virus that has trashed the economy would be
invaluable. But a COVID-19 vaccine will have an actual price
tag. And given the prevailing business-centric model of
American drug pricing, it could well be budget breaking,
perhaps making it unavailable to many.
The last vaccine to quell a global viral scourge was the polio
inoculation, which ended outbreaks that killed thousands and
paralyzed tens of thousands each year in the United States.
The March of Dimes Foundation covered the nominal drug cost
for a free national vaccination program. It came in the
mid-1950s, before health insurance for outpatient care was
common, before new drugs were protected by multiple patents,
before medical research was regarded as a way to become rich.
It was not patented because it was not considered patentable
under the standards at the time.
Now we are looking for viral deliverance when drug development
is one of the world’s most lucrative businesses, ownership of
drug patents is disputed in endless court battles, and
monopoly power often lets manufacturers set any price, no
matter how extraordinary. A new cancer treatment can cost a
half-million dollars, and old staples like insulin have risen
manifold in price to thousands of dollars annually.
And the American government has no effective way to fight
Recent vaccines targeting more limited populations, such as a
meningitis B vaccine for college students and the shingles
vaccine for older adults, have a retail cost of $300 to $400
for a full course.
If a COVID-19 vaccine yields a price of, say, $500 a course,
vaccinating the entire population would bring a company over
$150 billion, almost all of it profit.
Drug companies deserve a reasonable profit for taking on this
urgent task of creating a COVID-19 vaccine. But we deserve a
return, too. So before these invaluable vaccines hit the
market, we should talk about an actual price. Otherwise, we
will be stuck paying dearly for shots that the rest of the
world will get for much less.
Is #1, Bahrain Is #4.
(New York Times, July 8, 2020)
The virus outbreak in the U.S. Sunbelt is worse than in any
country. And Trump is pressuring schools to reopen in the
man loses job after Costco mask meltdown went viral amid
(1-min. video; Daily Kos, July 8,
In Costco’s case, the president and CEO of the company, Craig
Jelinek, noted in a statement back in May that while “some
members may find this inconvenient or objectionable,” this is
“not simply a matter of personal choice; a face covering
protects not just the wearer, but others too.” The store does
provide exemptions for children under two years old, as well
as people with certain medical conditions.
Of course, this is far from the first mask-related incident to
happen amid the pandemic. For example, two
men were caught on video breaking a Target employee’s arm
after being asked to wear masks. And a
security guard at a Dollar General store was shot and killed
after asking a woman who tried to enter the store to wear a
Surge in Tulsa ‘More Than Likely’ Linked to Trump Rally.
(New York Times, July 8, 2020)
Dr. Bruce Dart, the director of the Tulsa Health Department,
said Tulsa County had reported nearly 500 new cases of
Covid-19 in the past two days. The county has more infections
right now than any other in Oklahoma, and “we’ve had some
significant events in the past few weeks that more than likely
contributed to that,” he added. Dr. Dart spent much of the
news conference pleading with Tulsans to wear face masks —
which most attendees at Mr. Trump’s rally did not — and said
the department would recommend requiring masks “if we continue
to see an exponential rise in cases, which frankly we expect
over the next few days.”
Bolsonaro tests positive for coronavirus.
Post, July 7, 2020)
Bolsonaro, an outlier among world leaders in his skepticism of
both the coronavirus and preventive measures intended to curb
it, was tested Monday evening after developing symptoms that
included a fever. “There’s no problem,” he told reporters
Tuesday. “It’s natural. There’s no dread. It’s life.”
The result adds one more case to what has become the world’s
second-worst coronavirus outbreak, after that of the United
States. Brazil has reported more than 1.6 million cases and
65,000 deaths — both believed to be undercounts — an
escalating disaster that scientists and health officials say
has been exacerbated by Bolsonaro’s frequent dismissal of it.
Bolsonaro, 65, has described covid-19, the disease the virus
causes, as a “little cold,” repeatedly waded into crowds of
supporters, threatened to host a large barbecue to defy health
measures, and as recently as last week attended a Fourth of
July party at the U.S. Embassy in Brasilia without wearing a
mask. A Brazilian court last month ordered Bolsonaro to wear a
mask while in public.
“I’m good, relaxed,” he said. “Let’s be cautious with people
who are older and have co-morbidities. And for people who are
younger, if you get the virus, stay calm. Because for you, the
chance of it being more grave is practically zero.”
But data scientists say the situation in Brazil is much more
complicated. Among the young, Brazil has a significantly
higher mortality rate than those of its developed peers. In
Rio de Janeiro state, more than two-thirds of hospitalizations
are of people younger than 50.
Trump’s Book Accuses the President of Embracing ‘Cheating as
a Way of Life’.
(New York Times, July 7, 2020)
Mary L. Trump, President Trump’s niece, plans to publish a
tell-all family memoir next week, describing how a decades
long history of darkness, dysfunction and brutality turned her
uncle into a reckless leader who, according to her publisher,
Simon & Schuster, “now threatens the world’s health,
economic security and social fabric.” The book, “Too Much and
Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous
Man,” depicts a multigenerational saga of greed, betrayal and
internecine tension and seeks to explain how President Trump’s
position in one of New York’s wealthiest and most infamous
real-estate empires helped him acquire what Ms. Trump has
referred to as “twisted behaviors” — attributes like seeing
other people in “monetary terms” and practicing “cheating as a
way of life.”
As a high school student in Queens, Ms. Trump writes, Donald
Trump paid someone to take a precollegiate test, the SAT, on
his behalf. The high score the proxy earned for him, Ms. Trump
adds, helped the young Mr. Trump to later gain admittance when
he transferred as an undergraduate to the University of
Pennsylvania’s prestigious Wharton business school. Mr. Trump
has often boasted about attending Wharton, which he has
referred to as “the best school in the world” and “super
Fred Trump, Jr. died in 1981 from an alcohol-induced heart
attack when he was 42, and Ms. Trump tells the story in her
book about how his family sent him to the hospital alone on
the night of his death. No one went with him, Ms. Trump
writes. His younger brother Donald, she added, went to see a
Maryanne Trump was particularly baffled by support for her
brother among evangelical Christians, according to the book.
“The only time Donald went to church was when the cameras were
there,” Ms. Trump quotes her aunt as saying. “It’s mind
boggling. But that’s all about his base. He has no principles.
“The fact is,” she writes, “Donald’s pathologies are so
complex and his behaviors so often inexplicable that coming up
with an accurate and comprehensive diagnosis would require a
full battery of psychological and neurophysical tests that
he’ll never sit for.” At another point she says: “Donald has
been institutionalized for most of his adult life, so there is
no way to know how he would thrive, or even survive, on his
own in the real world.”
Like other critics of the president, Ms. Trump takes issue in
the book with the notion that Mr. Trump is a strategic thinker
who operates according to specific agendas or organizing
principles. “He doesn’t,” she writes. “Donald’s ego has been
and is a fragile and inadequate barrier between him and the
real world, which, thanks to his father’s money and power, he
never had to negotiate by himself.”
Isn’t the ‘Southern Strategy’ Working?
(New York Times,
July 7, 2020)
The basic bet has been that Republicans win when voters focus
on race. Steve Bannon, who helped run President Trump’s
campaign, described the flip side of the idea, in 2017: “The
Democrats,” Bannon said, “I want them to talk about racism
Sure enough, Trump has put race at the center of his
re-election message. He did so in two aggressive speeches over
the weekend and defended the Confederate flag yesterday.
“Almost every day in the last two weeks, Mr. Trump has sought
to stoke white fear and resentment,” Maggie Haberman writes.
And yet this time seems different: The strategy isn’t working.
Trump’s poll numbers are slumping, and some of his 2016
supporters cite racial issues as a reason they plan to vote
for Joe Biden.
Why is the Southern strategy suddenly flailing? I count four
A World First, Hyundai Fuel Cell Semis Ship To Customers.
(Clean Technica, July 7, 2020)
The first ones are now in shipment to Switzerland. Meanwhile,
neither Nikola or Tesla have delivered a single truck. And,
depending on who you believe, one of those companies hasn’t
even built one yet. That’s what makes the Hyundai fuel cell
truck real news, I think. It’s real! “XCIENT Fuel Cell is a
present-day reality, not as a mere future drawing board
project,” says In Cheol Lee, Executive Vice President and Head
of Commercial Vehicle Division at Hyundai Motor. “By putting
this groundbreaking vehicle on the road now, Hyundai marks a
significant milestone in the history of commercial vehicles
and the development of hydrogen society.”
The Hyundai XCIENT semi trucks is powered by a 190-kW hydrogen
fuel cell system with dual 95-kW fuel cell stacks. They’re fed
by an array of large hydrogen tanks storing about 32 kg
(approx. 70 lbs.) of hydrogen. That makes each XCIENT Fuel
Cell good for about about 400 km (250 miles) of range.
Crucially, the trucks can be topped off with hydrogen in 8-20
Hyundai Motor is also planning a long-distance tractor unit
capable of traveling 1,000 kilometers (over 600 miles) on a
single charge that will be aimed at the North American and
continental European markets. For the moment, however, Hyundai
is focused on Switzerland. That’s largely because the Swiss
LSVA road tax on commercial vehicles doesn’t apply to
zero-emission trucks, nearly equalizing the hauling costs per
kilometer of the fuel cell truck compared to a regular diesel
truck, while allowing the ZEVs access to city centers that
diesels are no longer allowed in.
pros are uniting in a battle to save encryption.
(Washington Post, July 7, 2020)
Cybersecurity and privacy advocates are rallying to defend
strong encryption, which is facing its harshest assault in
decades from the Trump administration and Congress. A
coalition of dozens of top cybersecurity and Internet freedom
groups, academics and experts sent a
this morning to the sponsors of an
anti-encryption Senate bill they say would make hundreds of
millions of Americans more vulnerable to hacking.
The bill, called the Lawful
Access to Encrypted Data Act
, is the harshest among a
number of efforts to weaken encryption across the Justice
Department and Congress. It would effectively require tech
companies to weaken access to their secure systems to ensure
law enforcement with a warrant can track terrorists, sexual
predators and other criminals. But that would also make it far
easier for cybercriminals and adversary nations to hack into
troves of government, financial and health records, the
authors write. They include the Internet Society, the
Wikimedia Foundation and the Center for Democracy and
Technology as well as experts at the American Civil Liberties
Union, Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of
Do We Still Have the Electoral College?
Magazine, July 6, 2020)
if Trump loses but insists he won?
July 6, 2020)
On his present trajectory, President Trump is heading for a
whopping defeat in November. The Economist says there’s nearly
a 99 percent chance that Joe Biden will win more popular votes
and around a 90 percent chance that he will win more electoral
college votes. But what if Trump won’t concede defeat? That is
a nightmare scenario for our democracy that could make the
2000 showdown over Florida’s hanging chads seem like a
grade-school dispute by comparison.
Trump is already laying the foundation to dispute the election
outcome with his incessant claims that “Mail-In Ballots will
lead to MASSIVE electoral fraud and a RIGGED 2020 Election.”
Election officials label such concerns as “preposterous” and
“false.” But they will serve as an excuse for the Republican
Party to purge voter-registration rolls, limit mail-in
ballots, close polling stations in minority areas and
challenge in-person voting by minorities. Whatever it takes to
It’s doubtful that anything Trump does will produce a
popular-vote victory; he lost by nearly 3 million votes in
2016 and will probably lose by a greater margin this year. But
it won’t matter if, by election night, he is within spitting
distance of an electoral college victory.
It is impossible to write off such concerns as far-fetched
given how many seemingly far-fetched things have already
occurred in the past four years.Trump got himself impeached by
trying to blackmail a foreign country into helping his
reelection campaign. He will stop at nothing to avoid the
stigma of being branded a “loser.” Unless Biden wins by an
electoral college margin that no one can credibly dispute, our
democracy may be imperiled as never before. We had better
start thinking now about how we would handle such an electoral
Melania Trump Confidante to Release an ‘Explosive’ Tell-All
Before the Election.
(Daily Beast, July 6, 2020)
Gov. DeWine find a brilliant legal strategy in ceding
control of coronavirus regulations to Ohio's local
(The Plain Dealer, July 6, 2020)
Is Ohio Governor Mike DeWine bold or wishy-washy with his
decision to turn Ohio’s coronavirus battle over to local
governments? That may depend on who you ask. After months of
thoughtful leadership during the coronavirus pandemic, DeWine
county-by-county risk ranking tool
so local leaders can
see how much danger they face and encouraged them to take the
actions they deem necessary.
Fury and Prescription Drugs
(New York Times, July 6,
Nothing typifies the failures of health care in the United
States like prescription drugs. Americans pay more for their
medications — including those developed in America, with
taxpayer dollars — than residents of any other country in the
world. So many patients are rationing or outright skipping
essential medications that stories of people dying for want of
basic drugs — or fleeing the country to avoid that fate — have
become commonplace. And despite years in the spotlight, the
issue is no closer to being resolved: Prescription drug prices
rose four times faster than inflation in the past six months
Consider seizing patents:
Two statutes enable the
federal government to override patents on F.D.A.-approved
medications and produce them at cost. The first, known as
Section 1498, works as a sort of eminent domain and allows the
government to override any patent if the patent holder is
compensated fairly. The provision was invoked frequently in
the 1950s and ’60s to obtain crucial medications at a
discount. Its use waned in later decades as the drug
industry’s influence over government grew. The second statute,
known as march-in rights, allows the federal government to
take similar action on any product invented with government
money. The United States has never used this power for a
prescription drug, but a growing number of policy experts and
consumer advocates are pressing the federal government to use
it now, for drugs like Truvada (the only drug approved to
prevent infection with H.I.V.), which the government funded
and holds some patents on.
Involve the Federal Trade Commission:
The F.D.A. has
attempted to name and shame drug makers who use dubious
tactics to prevent generic medications from coming to market,
though it’s not clear how well those measures have worked. The
F.D.A. has approved some 1,600 generic drugs in the past two
years — an uptick from the final two years of the Obama
administration, according to Kaiser Health News. But many of
those drugs still aren’t available in the United States, and
experts say that anti-competitive practices are at least
partly to blame. The administration could help combat such
practices by directing the Federal Trade Commission to crack
down on drug companies that employ them. The threat of
investigations and steep fines — which the F.T.C. can levy —
may finally succeed where shame has failed.
Says Virus Cases ‘Never Got Down to Where We Wanted to Go;
Avoid Crowds’ as Deaths Pass 130,000.
(New York Times,
July 6, 2020)
Texas and Idaho set daily records for new cases. Two Texas
sheriffs say they won’t enforce the governor’s order requiring
residents to wear masks in public.
Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease
expert, warned on Monday that the country was still “knee-deep
in the first wave” of the pandemic, as U.S. deaths passed
130,000 and cases neared three million, while Texas and Idaho
set daily records for new cases. “I would say this would not
be considered a wave,” Dr. Fauci said. “It was a surge, or a
resurgence of infections superimposed upon a baseline that
really never got down to where we wanted to go.” Dr. Fauci
said that the more than 50,000 new cases a day recorded
several times in the past week were “a serious situation that
we have to address immediately.”
He pleaded with viewers to maintain social distancing
strictures, as new outbreaks have been traced to large, indoor
gatherings. “Avoid crowds,” he said. “If you’re going to have
a social function, maybe a single couple or two — do it
outside if you’re going to do it. Those are fundamental, and
everybody can do that right now.”
Krugman: The pandemic depression is on track.
Times, July 4, 2020)
The coronavirus led to a plunge in output and employment. This
plunge, however, was a feature, not a bug. If we had stayed
the course, this period of pain could have set the stage for a
rapid recovery. But it was obvious early on that mishandling
the situation — failing to stay the course on social
distancing, failing to use the time to develop enough testing
and contact tracing to gradually resume normal life while
keeping a lid on new outbreaks — could extend the pain,
turning a short, sharp recession into a prolonged depression,
a long period of very high unemployment.
Well, it’s no longer a nightmare scenario; it’s just reality.
The New York area, after a terrible start, has done what most
advanced countries have done, and crushed the curve.
But Covid-19 is now exploding in the Sun Belt. Arizona is in
full-blown crisis. So is Texas, especially big cities like
Houston, where hospitalizations have soared. Florida, which
has been suppressing data on hospitalizations, is probably
similar. All three states have Republican governors who
enthusiastically lifted stay-at-home orders and, in Arizona
and Texas, at first even prevented local governments from
requiring that people wear masks. Even now, they’re dithering,
taking only baby steps toward restoring social distancing as
the pandemic rages.
builds lead as Trump goes from trailing to flailing.
(Politico, July 4, 2020)
Biden’s polling lead over Trump is significant, though not
As recently as one month ago, Donald Trump was merely losing.
Now he is flailing, trudging into the Independence Day weekend
at the nadir of his presidency, trailing by double digits in
recent polls and in danger of dragging the Republican Senate
down with him.
But there are still four months before the election — and any
number of ways for Biden to blow it. “If there’s one thing we
learned from ’88, Biden is capable of screwing up big time,”
said John J. Pitney Jr., who helped on Bush’s campaign in 1988
and wrote a book
about that election last
That said, the underlying environment may be historically bad
for Trump — so bad he may not only get flattened in November,
but he might become the proximate cause of a wholesale shift
in the American electorate. Seniors and suburban voters, two
longtime pillars of the Republican coalition, are defecting to
Joe Biden. Once-red states suddenly seem competitive, and
children of Reagan Democrats are marching in the streets.
“The tectonic plates are shifting,” said Chris Lehane, a
former Clinton White House staffer who helped to manage the
turmoil surrounding that president’s impeachment proceedings.
“On June 1, if I had told you that by July 1 the flag would be
down in Mississippi, Woodrow Wilson would be off the wall at
Princeton, Juneteenth would be a national holiday for
companies, Black Lives Matter would reflect the great, not so
silent majority, you would question my sanity. That’s all
happened in 30 days.”
"Our nation was founded on a simple idea: We're all created
(6-min. video; MSNBC, July 4, 2020)
Joe Biden sends an optimistic Fourth of July message in
response to President Trump’s 'dystopia of fascism' Mount
Rushmore speech. He warns President Trump could dismantle
democracy if he is re-elected.
focuses on racial justice in July 4 message.
July 4, 2020)
“We have a chance to rip the roots of systemic racism out of
this country,” Biden says in the Independence Day video.
seeks to claim the mantle of history in fiery Mount Rushmore
(Politico, July 4, 2020)
The president’s speech, part of a July 4 weekend celebration,
comes after weeks of protests against racism and police
brutality that have forced broader discussions over America's
monuments. South Dakota Gov. Kristi L. Noem said the roughly
3,700 people who attended the event did not need to wear masks
or social distance. Like attendees of the president's June
rallies in Tulsa, Okla., and Phoenix, Ariz., thousands crammed
shoulder-to-shoulder to listen to Trump’s speech, his third
campaign-style event since the beginning of the pandemic. The
event also featured fireworks and a flyover by Air Force One,
Marine One and military aircraft.
Trump has come under fire for speaking at Mount Rushmore, a
national landmark honoring Presidents George Washington,
Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln with
a history that has been scrutinized amid the nationwide
protests. Native American groups — who consider the land on
which the monument was built sacred — staged protests outside,
clashing at times with the National Guard.
New video ad: "Benedict
(1-min. video; Vote Vets, July 3, 2020)
Vote Vets keeps up its pressure.
Fauci, 5 other health specialists deal with covid-19 risks
in their everyday lives
(Washington Post, July 3, 2020)
Q: When and where do you wear a mask?
A: Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of
Allergy and Infectious Diseases: It dominates everything I do.
The only time I don’t wear one is when I am alone, when I am
home with my wife, or when I am speaking in public — provided
there is 6 feet between me and the people to whom I am
speaking, as was the case when I answered questions at the
recent Congressional hearings.
Trump Could Lose the Election—And Still Remain President
(Newsweek, July 3, 2020)
Something like the following scenario is not just possible but
increasingly probable because it is clear Trump will do
anything to avoid the moniker he hates more than any other:
Trump actually tweeted on June 22: "Rigged 2020 election:
millions of mail-in ballots will be printed by foreign
countries, and others. It will be the scandal of our times!"
With this, Trump has begun to lay the groundwork for the
step-by-step process by which he holds on to the presidency
after he has clearly lost the election.
So what do we do as citizens to face the impending reality of
The Plot Against America? We must "out" this scenario—and do
so loudly and consistently. We have an imperative to build a
"people's firewall" that reaches deeply across the country and
reflects public revulsion at the potential for Trump to
undermine our entire democratic system of governance.
Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker, should immediately ask the
Judiciary, Commerce, Armed Services and Intelligence
Committees to hold hearings on how steps can be taken to
safeguard against this scenario, especially how to confront
any invocation of emergency powers by the president.
There needs to be an outpouring at all levels of society that
this will not be tolerated—from government officials and
lawmakers at all levels; to civic associations and civil
rights groups; to business groups and trade associations, who
have to recognize the economic chaos that would result from
this kind of coup; to lawyers, academics and student groups
practiced in resisting government policies; and, of course, to
the editorial voices of the press, both local and national.
could improve work forever -- if we make this one change.
(Inverse, July 3, 2020)
"Companies and industries are capable of making changes that
they thought were impossible."
[All true. However, their 4-day work week falls far short of
my own Miller Three-Day
invention of satanic witchcraft by medieval authorities was
initially met with skepticism.
(The Conversation, July
Church inquisitors, active against religious heretics since
the 13th century, and some secular courts were looking to
expand their jurisdictions. Having a new and particularly
horrible crime to prosecute might have struck them as useful.
Police Secretly Took Over a Global Phone Network for
(Motherboard, July 2, 2020)
Police monitored a hundred million encrypted messages sent
through Encrochat, a network used by career criminals to
discuss drug deals, murders, and extortion plots.
Do I Do? What Do I Do?”: Trump Desperate, Despondent as
Numbers Crater, “Loser” Label Looms.
(Vanity Fair, July
“They probably won’t have” the Jacksonville convention. The
Joni Ernst campaign is angry at Trump’s horrible numbers.
Meadows and Kushner are at loggerheads over Parscale. And if
things don’t turn around by Labor Day, GOP defections may
Cain hospitalized with 'serious' COVID-19 symptoms after
attending Trump's Tulsa rally.
(Dialy Kos, July 2, 2020)
On June 20, 2012 Republican presidential contender Herman Cain
attended Trump's mask-optional rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Twelve days later, the tenders of Cain's Twitter account
announced that Cain has tested positive for COVID-19 and is
currently hospitalized with "serious" symptoms. As campaign
surrogate, Cain has been contemptuous of mask usage and
dismissive of pandemic dangers. He tweeted from within the
arena on June 20, with few masks to be seen in the crowd. Just
yesterday, Cain bragged that masks "will not be mandatory" for
Trump's Friday event at Mt. Rushmore, tweeting "PEOPLE ARE FED
Because of Cain's travel schedule, is not completely clear
whether Cain was infected with the virus at Trump's Tulsa
rally or at other events: "I realize people will speculate
about the Tulsa rally, but Herman did a lot of traveling the
past week, including to Arizona where cases are spiking,"
wrote HermanCain.com editor Dan Calabrese. A less gracious
interpretation of that statement would be that Cain has been
sufficiently indifferent to travel precautions as to be unable
to trace his own contacts, and may have possibly himself
spread the virus to others before becoming symptomatic enough
to require hospitalization.
Trump's Tulsa campaign event was intentionally structured to
ignore pandemic safety recommendations, even as Oklahoma cases
began to escalate. At least eight Trump staffers involved with
the event also tested positive for the virus. Trump and Pence
have continued to ignore those precautions in trips to new
pandemic hot spots Texas, Arizona, and Florida.
warns consumers of risk of methanol contamination
(blindness, hospitalization and death) in certain hand
(U.S. Food & Drug Administration, July
FDA is warning consumers and health care providers that the
agency has seen a sharp increase in hand sanitizer products
that are labeled to contain ethanol (also known as ethyl
alcohol) but that have tested positive for methanol
contamination. Methanol, or wood alcohol, is a substance that
can be toxic when absorbed through the skin or ingested and
can be life-threatening when ingested.
The agency is aware of adults and children ingesting hand
sanitizer products contaminated with methanol that has led to
recent adverse events including blindness, hospitalizations
Methanol is not an acceptable active ingredient for hand
sanitizers and must not be used due to its toxic effects.
FDA’s investigation of methanol in certain hand sanitizers is
ongoing. The agency will provide additional information as it
[As of July 17th, this on-going report listed 71 products!]
a Mutation Turbocharge the Coronavirus? Not Likely,
(New York Times, July 2, 2020)
report posted online
claimed that a mutation had made
the virus more transmissible. Geneticists say the evidence
Made the Plague?", by Quincy Saul
(CounterPunch, July 2,
Krugmann: The Legacy of Our Original Sin
Times, July 2, 2020)
Non-American friends sometimes ask me why the world’s richest
major nation doesn’t have universal health care. The answer is
race: we almost got universal coverage in 1947, but
segregationists blocked it out of fear that it would lead to
integrated hospitals (which Medicare actually did do in the
1960s.) Most of the states that have refused to expand
Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act, even though
the federal government would bear the great bulk of the cost,
are former slave states.
The Italian-American economist Alberto Alesina suddenly died
on March 23; among his best work was a joint paper that
examined the reasons America doesn’t have a European-style
welfare state. The answer, documented at length, was racial
division: in America, too many of us think of the
beneficiaries of support as Those People, not like us.
Thru-Hikers Who Finished the Appalachian Trail During the
(Outside, July 1, 2020)
After months of trespassing and hiding from rangers, two
hikers completed the Appalachian Trail in June. Their sagas
raise questions about what it means to be outdoors in the
United States right now.
Given a pandemic that has prompted global travel bans, and a
domestic foment stemming from centuries of racial oppression
and inequality, Underwood’s decision to press on along the
Appalachian Trail highlights questions of privilege and pride
that have long plagued the outdoor industry. “By hiking now,
you have created a narrative that says, ‘My personal needs and
desires outweigh a greater societal mission. At the end of the
day, what’s really important is what I want,’” says Sandi
Marra, the ATC’s president and CEO.
For Marra, the pandemic and concurrent protests over racial
injustice are timely reminders of entrenched patterns in the
thru-hiking community—it remains, overwhelmingly, the domain
of educated white men. (Rahawa Haile has written sharply about
surviving those stereotypes for Outside.) Marra hopes the
current national turmoil inspires potential hikers to reflect
on how they can make outdoor spaces more inclusive and
diverse. Part of that, she thinks, is cultivating an image
that the AT is not a land of lawlessness, some place of
unchecked white male privilege.
“What are you out there for? People say it’s the experience or
the trail or their mental health. But that comes with an
obligation to treat the resource appropriately,” Marra says.
“We have to start taking responsibility for something outside
of our own immediate desires.”
fleas’ bring toxic mercury up from the depths of prairie
(Science, July 1, 2020)
How toxic mercury moves through the environment—and
accumulates in the fish that people eat—has been known for
decades. Now, scientists have discovered an unexpected way
that the neurotoxin circulates in lakes, hitching a late-night
ride inside small predatory crustaceans dubbed “ghost fleas.”
The finding helps explain why some lake fish contain
surprising amounts of mercury. It also suggests researchers
who sample lakes only during the day might be missing
important clues to how those ecosystems work.
the hydrogen tech 'revolution' hope or hype?
July 1, 2020)
The digger with the long-toothed bucket bites into a pile of
stones, tilts up and flexes its sturdy mechanical arm. The
digger with the long-toothed bucket bites into a pile of
stones, tilts up and flexes its sturdy mechanical arm. It’s a
beast of a machine and from the front it looks like a normal
But from the back you can see its tank full of dirty diesel
has been replaced with a hydrogen fuel cell. The excavator is
the latest in a generation of vehicles powered by the lightest
element on Earth. The compendium of vehicles powered by
hydrogen now stretches from diggers to micro-taxis, trucks,
boats, vans, single-deck and now double-decker buses – and
even small planes. It works by reacting hydrogen with oxygen
in a fuel cell to generate electricity. The only direct
emission is water.
So at last, the long-awaited hydrogen revolution is here. Or
is it? Back in the early 2000s, backers of hydrogen thought it would dominate
the clean automobile market.
But the promised “hydrogen
highway” never materialised, for a couple of crucial reasons.
Firstly, hydrogen power needed a new infrastructure, whereas
rival battery cars could be charged off the near-ubiquitous
electricity grid. Secondly, high-powered batteries at that
time were already well-advanced for other uses such as
computers, but hydrogen was not. So hydrogen lost the head-on
battle for the motor car. But now it’s back in the frame for
the sort of transport, industry and heating tasks that
batteries are struggling to fulfil.
Take our large mechanical digger, a prototype from JCB. It has
a little battery-powered cousin – small enough to squeeze
through a doorway and work in a building. But JCB say the big
digger would need a battery weighing five tonnes, and take
hours to refuel. Hydrogen on the other hand, is lighter than
air and takes minutes to fill a tank. Lorries [large trucks]
fall into the same category as diggers – sometimes the battery
would be as heavy as the payload. The same applies to buses.
That still leaves the issue of charging infrastructure – but
that can be solved by providing hydrogen pumps on motorways
for long-distance truckers. Buses could use hydrogen stored at
The EU Commission wants a slice of the action, too. The
website Euractiv reported that it plans to publish a hydrogen
strategy soon. A leaked draft floated the idea of making the
Euro the currency for international hydrogen trades, as the US
Dollar is for oil. The UK government also intends to announce
a hydrogen strategy before the Parliament closes for the
summer, as part of its economic recovery package. It’s being
spurred on by rebukes that the UK lost the battle for battery
technology to China – so it mustn't let the hydrogen bandwagon
escape. The government is advised by its Committee on Climate
Change to start large-scale trials in the early 2020s.
Indeed, within weeks from now, Britain’s first hydrogen train
– developed by Birmingham University - will be tested on
Launches ‘County Electric’ Minibus In South Korea.
(Inside IVs, June 30, 2020)
The Hyundai County Electric can be configured for 15 to 33
seats; with a 128 kWh battery, it can drive up to 250 km (155
miles) on a single charge. Besides the obvious advantages over
diesel, like zero-emissions and silence, the electric minibus
is also around 30% quicker in the important speed range of
50-80 km/h (31-50 mph). AC charging (on-board) takes 17 hours,
while DC fast charging (using a 150-kW charger takes 72
public sector of Bühl, Gernany uses Free Software.
Software Foundation Europe, June 30, 2020)
We have developed an open video conferencing platform, based
on the Free Software Jitsi Meet
, called Palim!
. This offers video telephony to all Bühl citizens
at no charge and, of course, beyond the town limits. We
support families, groups of friends, associations,
initiatives, and also companies in their efforts to be able to
meet digitally in an uncomplicated and low-threshold manner.
It does not require more than an up-to-date browser to stay in
touch. No need to register or collect sensitive metadata.
Since the launch of our platform at the beginning of April, we
have seen many interesting use cases: for example, the digital
children's leisure program for doing handicrafts together or
the long-awaited reunion between nursing home residents and
The Free Software project Jitsi
was exactly the software we were looking for.
It offers a very easy access for our target group to video
conferencing, is easy to administer and the active community
quickly finds a solution to any problems that may arise.
Furthermore, we had the possibility to customise the software
exactly according to our ideas, for example to include the
The feedback has been amazing! At no time did we expect such a
great response. Many citizens express their personal thanks to
us and we have stopped counting how many municipalities have
approached us with great interest. I believe that Free
Software is currently experiencing an incredible boost and
that the sensitivity for data sovereignty is growing rapidly.
We had been searching for a long time for a simple solution to
make the minutes of meetings and discussions available to all
participants in a bundled form and to be able to track
important tasks. With the Free Software project 4Minitz
we found a
strong candidate that met almost all our requirements. The
only catch: the interface was completely in English at that
time and there was a risk of insufficient acceptance within
the various specialist offices. With a total of more than
11,000 lines of changes to the code base, we initiated the
development of internationalisation and localisation. It is
very important to us not only to use Free Software, but also
to give something back to the community. By now 4Minitz
can be used in 18 different languages.
after new law, pro-democracy voices quit.
June 30, 2020)
On Tuesday morning, the news started to break from Beijing:
China had passed a new security law in Hong Kong. The law
criminalises any act of secession, subversion, terrorism or
collusion with foreign forces.
And within minutes, the effect was obvious. Pro-democracy
activists in Hong Kong began to quit, fearful of the new law,
and the punishment it allows.
Here is some of the reaction from them, other governments, and
on Financial Transfers Bolstered Suspicions That Russia
(2-min. video; New York Times, June
Analysts have used other evidence to conclude that the
transfers were likely part of an effort to offer payments to
Taliban-linked militants to kill American and coalition troops
People With Coronavirus Won’t Spread It. Why Do a Few Infect
(New York Times, June 30, 2020)
Growing evidence shows most infected people aren’t spreading
the virus. But whether you become a superspreader probably
depends more on circumstance than biology.
They created a model for the spread of the virus through five
counties and estimated how many people each person infected.
The researchers found many superspreading events. Just 2
percent of people were responsible for 20 percent of
A study from Japan this month found clusters of coronavirus
cases in health care facilities, nursing homes, day care
centers, restaurants, bars, workplaces, and musical events
such as live concerts and karaoke parties.
Since most transmission happens only in a small number of
similar situations, it may be possible to come up with smart
strategies to stop them from happening. It may be possible to
avoid crippling, across-the-board lockdowns by targeting the
superspreading events. “By curbing the activities in quite a
small proportion of our life, we could actually reduce most of
the risk,” said Dr. Kucharski.
to the United States of ‘Idiocracy, by Max Boot’.
(Washington Post, June 30, 2020)
[Max Boot is a conservative columnist who resigned from the
GOP four year ago.]
In other wealthy democracies, coronavirus cases have been
plummeting. In the United States, they have risen 80 percent
over the past 14 days. On Monday, the United States reported
more than 40,000 new cases, while the European Union, which is
more populous, had fewer than 6,000. The number of confirmed
coronavirus deaths in the United States is approaching
130,000, more than twice as many as in any other country.
It is easy, and correct, to blame this epic failure on abysmal
leadership. We have an irrational, incompetent president who
spent months denying the reality of the disease (remember when
he claimed it would “miraculously” go away by April?), while
suggesting cures including a risky malaria drug and bleach
injections. Now President Trump is holding rallies in places
such as Tulsa, where the disease is surging; campaign aides
even removed signs from the arena urging rallygoers to
practice social distancing. Trump is planning a Republican
convention in a state, Florida, that has become a new hot spot
of the disease. How idiotic can you get?
The presidency’s idiocy is matched by that of Republican
governors in states such as Florida (where coronavirus cases
increased by 277 percent in the past two weeks), Texas (+184
percent) and Arizona (+145 percent). They were slow to declare
lockdowns and quick to end them. They also refused to impose
statewide mask mandates — and, in the case of Texas and
Arizona, tried to prevent municipalities from imposing their
own rules — even though studies show that wearing masks can
reduce transmission by as much as 85 percent.
This toxic imbecility is getting people killed. But recall the
adage that “every nation gets the government it deserves.”
Trump and the Trumpy governors did not seize power by force.
They were elected by constituents who, in some cases, see
masks as the spawn of the devil.
US has 4% of the world's population but 25% of its
(CNN, June 30, 2020)
The United States has long prided itself as the world's
shining beacon. But its current status is a much darker one:
the globe's leader in coronavirus cases.
More than 125,000 people have died from Covid-19 in the US,
and more than 2.5 million Americans have been infected.
American life has been irrevocably altered by the worst
pandemic in a century. And as the country struggles to reopen,
cases of Covid-19 have surged again -- this time in young
people and in states that had previously avoided the brunt of
Here, in dollars, percentages and — most tragically — lives,
is the pandemic's devastating toll on the US.
says U.S. could reach 100,000 new coronavirus cases a day.
(2-min. video; 142-min. video; PBS, June 30, 2020)
“We are now having 40-plus-thousand new cases a day. I would
not be surprised if we go up to to 100,000 a day if this does
not turn around, and so I am very concerned,” said Dr. Anthony
Fauci, infectious disease chief at the National Institutes of
Health. Fauci said areas seeing recent outbreaks are putting
the entire nation at risk, including areas that have made
progress in reducing COVID-19 cases. He cited recent video
footage of people socializing in crowds, often without masks,
and otherwise ignoring safety guidelines.
Leaders in several states implemented new shutdowns and
ordered residents to wear masks in public in a dramatic course
reversal amid an alarming resurgence of coronavirus cases
FL to require face masks to slow rising coronavirus cases
less than 2 months before GOP convention.
(CNN, June 29,
The convention is slated for August 24-27 in Jacksonville and
Charlotte, North Carolina. The party moved parts of the
convention out of Charlotte after Trump said the state's
Democratic governor was "unable to guarantee" that the arena
where the convention was to be held could be filled to
capacity. Gov. Roy Cooper maintained that the state of the
pandemic would dictate whether Republicans were able to fully
gather. Cooper's office said Trump had called the governor and
insisted on a full convention with no face masks or social
distancing, and that Cooper expressed concern and suggested a
Trump is now set to accept the nomination at the city-owned
VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, which holds
15,000 people. Republicans are obligated to hold some portion
of the convention in Charlotte because of a contract the party
signed, but the celebration will be held in Jacksonville.
"The RNC is committed to holding a safe convention that fully
complies with local health regulations in place at the time,"
Republican National Committee National Press Secretary Mandi
Merritt said in a statement. "The event is still two months
away, and we are planning to offer health precautions
including but not limited to temperature checks, available
PPE, aggressive sanitizing protocols, and available Covid-19
testing," Merritt said. "We have a great working relationship
with local leadership in Jacksonville and the state of
Florida, and we will continue to coordinate with them in the
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Monday that
Trump, who has resisted wearing a mask in public, told her he
"has no problem with masks. It's the personal choice of any
individual as to whether to wear a mask or not. He encourages
people to make whatever decision is best for their safety, but
he did say to me he has no problem with masks and to do
whatever your local jurisdiction requests of you."
Trump did not wear a mask at his recent rally in Tulsa,
Oklahoma, and did not require attendees of the event at the
indoor arena to wear masks.
Washington (CNN)The city of Jacksonville said Monday that it
would adopt a face mask requirement for public and indoor
locations and where social distancing is not possible, less
than two months before President Donald Trump is set to accept
the Republican nomination in the Florida city.
The new mandate, which goes into effect at 5 p.m. ET on
Monday, raises the possibility that attendees could be
required to wear face masks at the GOP convention. It comes
just weeks after Republicans announced that the President
would make his speech in the city.
The convention is slated for August 24-27 in Jacksonville and
Charlotte, North Carolina. The party moved parts of the
convention out of Charlotte after Trump said the state's
Democratic governor was "unable to guarantee" that the arena
where the convention was to be held could be filled to
capacity. Gov. Roy Cooper maintained that the state of the
pandemic would dictate whether Republicans were able to fully
Cooper's office said Trump had called the governor and
insisted on a full convention with no face masks or social
distancing, and that Cooper expressed concern and suggested a
Jacksonville's mandatory face mask requirement comes after a
spike in coronavirus cases in the state. Florida reported
9,585 new cases Saturday, a single-day record. The next day,
Florida's Department of Health reported another 8,530 new
cases. Beaches in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach will
be closed forFourth of July weekend as officials keep a
cautious eye on the rapidly rising number of new coronavirus
cases in the state.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was asked by CNN's Natasha Chen on
Sunday if he has assured Trump that the convention can take
place without mask requirements, after DeSantis said residents
should stay away from closed spaces, crowds and close contact
-- what he calls "the three C's." DeSantis responded, "It's a
work in progress. We're going to try to get to yes. ...
Obviously we're in a dynamic situation."
flu strain with human pandemic potential increasingly found
in Chinese pigs.
(Science Magazine, June 29, 2020)
The new study, published today in the Proceedings of the
National Academy of Sciences, focuses on an influenza virus
dubbed G4. The virus is a unique blend of three lineages: one
similar to strains found in European and Asian birds, the H1N1
strain that caused the 2009 pandemic, and a North American
H1N1 that has genes from avian, human, and pig influenza
viruses. The G4 variant is especially concerning because its
core is an avian influenza virus—to which humans have no
immunity—with bits of mammalian strains mixed in. “From the
data presented, it appears that this is a swine influenza
virus that is poised to emerge in humans,” says Edward Holmes,
an evolutionary biologist at the University of Sydney who
studies pathogens. “Clearly this situation needs to be
monitored very closely.”
Influenza viruses frequently jump from pigs to humans, but
most do not then transmit between humans. Two cases of G4
infections of humans have been documented and both were
dead-end infections that did not transmit to other people.
“The likelihood that this particular variant is going to cause
a pandemic is low,” says Martha Nelson, an evolutionary
biologist at the U.S. National Institutes of Health’s Fogarty
International Center who studies pig influenza viruses in the
United States and their spread to humans. But Nelson notes
that no one knew about the pandemic H1N1 strain, which jumped
from pigs to people, until the first human cases surfaced in
(26-min. video; Healthcare Finance, June
A 60-year-old doctor spent more than 100 days as an isolated
coronavirus patient - 45 of those days while kept unconscious
with "Milk of Amnesia". While lucky to have survived in good
condition, he noted the general suffering from
institutionalized loneliness/depression from enforced lack of
contact with caretakers or others. Even photos of the masked
caretakers would have helped. "Wear a mask!"
death toll from coronavirus surpasses half a million; 10
million cases; U.S. is worst affluent country.
(Washington Post, June 29, 2020)
That tally is just the latest reminder of the pandemic’s
brutal toll. Over the weekend, the number of coronavirus cases
reported worldwide soared past 10 million. Earlier in the day,
the total number of coronavirus cases reported in the United
States topped 2.5 million amid worsening outbreaks in Florida,
Texas and Arizona.
States now is by far the worst wealthy nation in coronavirus
cases per million of population.
(The curves for China
and South Korea are similar to that for Japan.)]
on Trump and Russia: ‘This Is as Bad as it Gets’.
York Times, June 29, 2020)
A Times investigation, published Friday, found that Trump was
briefed on an intelligence report three months ago showing
that Russia had offered cash rewards to Islamic militants
launching attacks on American forces in Afghanistan. But the
White House still hasn’t taken any steps to retaliate or make
the Russians stop.
“This is as bad as it gets,” Nancy Pelosi said on ABC’s “This
Week,” pointing out that Trump denied having been briefed on
the intelligence. “Whether he is or not, his administration
knows, and our allies — some of our allies who work with us in
Afghanistan — had been briefed and accept this report.”
Joe Biden weighed in: “His entire presidency has been a gift
to Putin, but this is beyond the pale. It’s a betrayal of the
most sacred duty we bear as a nation, to protect and equip our
troops when we send them into harm’s way.”
Ad: Don't Thank Us, Traitor.
(30-sec. video; VoteVets,
June 28, 2020)
If Donald Trump wants to act like a traitor, he doesn't get to
thank us for our service.
articles of impeachment — updated
(Washington Post, June
Imagine that the Senate had simply postponed its impeachment
vote — and that we had the opportunity now to update the
articles of impeachment. Based on Trump’s behavior this year,
and what we’ve learned of his prior actions, would we have
anything to add? Where to start?
the state flag is not about forgetting Mississippi’s past.
It’s about acknowledging it.
(Washington Post, June 28,
In a development that many Mississippians had longed for but
never really expected to happen in our lifetimes, the state’s
House and Senate on Saturday began the process of changing the
flag adopted in 1894 as a backlash against Reconstruction. The
way has been cleared for legislation, which Gov. Tate Reeves
(R) has said he would sign, to introduce a new state flag
that, finally, would represent all Mississippians.
Flights Banned, Son Sails Solo Across Atlantic to Reach
(New York Times, June 28, 2020)
An Argentine man stuck in Portugal because of the virus
travels for 85 days the only way he could: in a small boat.
Want to Kill Me’: Many Covid Patients Have Terrifying
(New York Times, June 28, 2020)
Paranoid hallucinations plague two-thirds of coronavirus
patients in I.C.U.s, an experience that can slow recovery and
increase risk of depression and cognitive issues.
House Blames Rise in Virus Cases on More Testing, as Experts
Dispute the Claim.
(New York Times, June 28, 2020)
Vice President Mike Pence and the nation’s top health
official, Alex M. Azar II, continued to assert on Sunday that
reopenings in many states were not causing the sharp rises in
Cox Richardson: White House lies again and again - and so
(Letters from an American, June 27, 2020)
The World Missed COVID-19's Silent Spread
Times, June 27, 2020)
Symptomless transmission makes the coronavirus far harder to
fight. But health officials dismissed the risk for months,
pushing misleading and contradictory claims in the face of
Asking Americans to Sacrifice in Shutdown, Leaders Failed to
(New York Times, June 27, 2020)
As Covid-19 cases surge, it is clear many governors
underestimated the coronavirus and rushed to reopen before
their states were ready.
AG sends cease & desist order to Phoenix church with
magic air that hosted Trump.
(Daily Kos, June 27, 2020)
In its Comments thread:
"They certainly are lawsuit-vulnerable. In fact, the Arizona
AG’s order includes the requirement that all written and
electronic Dream City facility rental documents be preserved
due to the possibility of consumer fraud litigation. The AG
(who’s Republican!) notes that the order was issued because
the church rents the space out on a regular basis (as they did
for Trump’s rally) so it falls under the consumer protection
laws of the state. It’s really quite a good action, especially
for a red state AG."
"I’m sure this voids any validity the Covid waivers had."
"Yes, and: if a participant carries the received virus to a
third party, that party has a cause of action, as well."
"As VP Pence so wisely reminded us, it’s all about the
people’s First Amendment Rights to peaceably assemble. And
not, of course, about anybody’s responsibilities to prevent
the spread of a deadly epidemic. Americans have rights, not
coronavirus cases surge, Texas governor says he let bars
reopen too early.
(Washington Post, June 27, 2020)
Best Veep Pick Is Obvious.
(New York Times, June 27,
She, more than anyone, can get under Trump’s skin.
Secretly Offered Afghan Militants Bounties to Kill U.S.
Troops, Intelligence Says.
(New York Times, June 26,
The Trump administration has been deliberating for months
about what to do about a stunning intelligence assessment.
Cox Richardson: Worst pandemic day in USA; and White House
withholds Russian scandal from Congress
(Letters from an
American, June 26, 2020)
Today the United States registered 44,702 new coronavirus
cases, a single-day record. Six states-- Florida, Georgia,
South Carolina, Tennessee, Idaho, and Utah-- also set new
single-day highs. In an attempt to stop the spread of the
virus, officials in Florida and Texas, where governors have
been aggressive about reopening, have both reversed course,
announcing that bars must close immediately.
Incredibly, that’s not the day’s biggest story.
This evening, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal
both broke extraordinary news. Months ago, American
intelligence officials concluded that during peace talks to
end the war in Afghanistan, a Russian military intelligence
group offered to Taliban-linked fighters bounties for killing
American troops. They paid up, too, although it is unclear
which of the twenty U.S. deaths happened under the deal.
The military intelligence unit officials judge to be behind
this program, the G.R.U., is the same one that is engaged in a
so-called “hybrid war” against America and other western
countries, destabilizing them through disinformation,
cyberattacks, and covert military operations and
assassinations. Urging deadly attacks on American and other
NATO troops is a significant escalation of that hostility. New
York Times reporter Michael Schwirtz tweeted “it’s hard to
overstate what a major escalation this is from Russia.
Election meddling and the occasional poisoning are one thing.
Paying the Taliban to kill American troops, that’s something
According to the New York Times, the National Security Council
discussed the intelligence finding in late March and came up
with a range of responses, none of which has been deployed.
The NSC can include a number of different officials, but by
law it includes the president, Vice President Mike Pence,
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Secretary of Defense Mark
Esper, Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette, and Secretary of
the Treasury Steven Mnuchin. It usually also includes Chairman
of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, National
Security Advisor Robert O’Brien, and Director of National
Intelligence, who in March was acting DNI Richard Grenell (it
is now John Ratcliffe).
U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) took to Twitter to note that
Congress had not been informed of the information. “Congress
should have been told,” he said. “And not just leadership or
the Intel Committee.”
Instead of addressing this extraordinary intelligence, Trump
strengthened various U.S. ties to Russia, which have been
rocky since Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014.
For example, on June 15 news broke that Trump has ordered the
removal of 9,500 troops from Germany, where they support NATO
against Russian aggression. The removal leaves 25,000 troops
All of these friendly overtures to Russia were alarming enough
when all we knew was that Russia attacked the 2016 U.S.
election and is doing so again in 2020. But it is far worse
that those overtures took place when the administration knew
that Russia had actively targeted American soldiers.
This news is bad, bad enough that it apparently prompted
worried intelligence officials to give up their hope that the
administration would respond to the crisis, and instead to
leak the story to two major newspapers.
Reveal Final Secret of Sun’s Nuclear Fusion.
American, June 25, 2020)
The detection of particles produced in the sun’s core supports
long-held theory about how our star is powered.
Burst of Light Unlike Any Captured Before
June 25, 2020)
Astronomers say they have captured an unexpected spark from a
collision of two black holes.
believes anyone who dies from Covid-19 is a 'loser'.
(Daily Kos, June 25, 2020)
The mass psychosis of denial that we are witnessing in
Republican-governed states is a direct consequence of Trump's
"macho" attitude towards "winning" or "beating" the pandemic.
Trump Referendum: He still has no second term message beyond
his own grievances.
(Wall Street Journal Editorial
Board, June 25, 2020)
President Trump may soon need a new nickname for “Sleepy Joe”
Biden. How does President-elect sound? On present trend that’s
exactly what Mr. Biden will be on Nov. 4, as Mr. Trump heads
for what could be an historic repudiation that would take the
Republican Senate down with him.
comment about the above, from Political Wire
is messaging GOP senators. WH is gone. If the billionaires
lose the senate, they may be treated like ordinary Americans
and that is intolerable."]
choice voting can promote equality.
Ranked choice voting is key to addressing some of the
political hurdles that creates the dysfunctional “us vs. them”
political system, which is exactly what is standing between
this movement and real change in our neighborhoods. Voters
have resigned themselves to a system that allows extreme
partisanship to dominate our electoral process. Candidates
then conduct themselves in a similar fashion once they’re
governing because, well, it helped them get into office (often
without a majority) and they’ll need to win again in the
With ranked choice voting, candidates need to speak more
universally because they need to appeal to a true majority to
win. It would make candidates focus on their constituencies
more universally. Black voters represent a small portion of
the population in relative terms, but are perhaps the defining
voting constituency of our time and need to be heard.
says, without citing evidence, that an election done
predominantly by mail would not be secure.
video; CNN, June 25, 2020)
Attorney General William Barr dismissed the possibility of a
predominantly mail-in election being secure, echoing a stance
promoted by President Donald Trump and dismissed by
nonpartisan election experts. When asked during an interview
with NPR if he thought an election conducted mainly by mail
could be secure, Barr said, "Personally, no. We just mailed
out checks under this program. I heard something like 20% or
something were misdirected," Barr said, referring to a
Government Accountability Office report released Thursday that
stated more than $1 billion in stimulus funding was sent to
people who are deceased.
The process for mailing absentee ballots and stimulus checks
differs in key ways. The stimulus checks were sent
automatically to people who had direct deposit information on
file with the US Treasury and those who didn't have that
information on file were sent their checks in the mail.
Absentee ballots are not simply sent to individual voters;
most people who vote by mail have to apply to vote absentee
before receiving a ballot.
"I know things can happen like that," Barr added when asked if
he thought the same thing could happen with mail-in ballots.
"Because I know people move, a very high percentage in the
United States, people move all the time. And I also know that
you can easily take things out of mailboxes."
There are also not widespread reports of individuals removing
absentee ballots from mailboxes, as Barr suggested was
Barr's comments come as public health experts in Trump's own
administration have encouraged voting by mail due to the
coronavirus pandemic and in the absence of any evidence of
widespread or rampant fraud in US elections.
The President has claimed, without evidence, that there is
systemic cheating with mail-in ballots and has made false
accusations against states that are expanding absentee and
mail-in options, despite voting by mail himself. Numerous
studies suggest that voter fraud is all but nonexistent in the
US, and the President's own voter fraud commission disbanded
without finding any evidence to back up his claims.
almost as if Trump is determined to destroy the Republican
(Washington Post, June 25, 2020)
Let me summarize the Republican platform for the coming
We are the party of white racial grievance. We believe those
marching in Black Lives Matter protests are “thugs.” We see
the term “systemic racism” as an unfair attack on white
people. We support keeping Confederate monuments on their
pedestals, and we have no idea why anyone would consider
Confederate flags a problem. We are equal-opportunity racists.
We see Latino immigrants as “bad hombres.” And we believe that
using the racist term “kung flu” to describe covid-19 is
hilarious, not least because we are convinced the covid-19
pandemic is basically over, anyway. Who cares what
pointy-headed “experts” might say — we know in our hearts that
patriotic Americans don’t wear masks.
Trump’s focus on falling death rates could be dangerous.
Politico, June 25, 2020)
Death rates tell nothing about the current spread of the virus
and only offer a snapshot of where the country was roughly
three weeks ago.
the Virus Won
(New York Times, June 25, 2020)
Invisible outbreaks sprang up everywhere. The United States
ignored the warning signs. We analyzed travel patterns, hidden
infections and genetic data to show how the epidemic spun out
broadens guidance on Americans facing risk of severe
(STAT, June 25, 2020)
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday
broadened its warning about who is at risk of developing
severe disease from Covid-19 infection, suggesting even
younger people who are obese or have other health conditions
can become seriously ill if they contract the virus. The new
advice, timed to influence behavior going into the July 4
weekend, came as CDC Director Robert Redfield acknowledged
serology testing the agency has conducted suggests about 20
million Americans, or roughly 6% of the population, has
contracted Covid-19. Redfield said for every person who tests
positive, another 10 cases have likely gone undiagnosed.
the rest of the world recovers, the United States heads
toward a singular disaster.
(Daily Kos, June 25, 2020)
Around the globe, the story of the pandemic is changing. As
nation after nation brings local outbreaks under control, more
and more this isn’t the story of a global disease. It’s a
story about the utter failure of the United States … a
disaster that may genuinely reshape the planet. It’s not just
that new U.S. cases of COVID-19 are now greater than they were
at their previous peak in April: it’s that they’re increasing
at a rate equal to that of the previous climb in March.
[See the second graph.]
If there’s anything that’s been front and center throughout
Donald Trump’s residency in the White House, it’s been the
utter and absolute destruction of the United States’ role as a
world leader. Trump has seen to it that U. S. policy is
vindictive, trite, and petty—utterly unconcerned with issues
such as human rights or the environment, and absolutely
focused on playing golf, eating cake, and exchanging
“beautiful” letters with autocratic tyrants. Trump is far more
concerned about where he gets to stand in pictures of NATO
leaders than he is about the policies of NATO toward
But if Trump’s handling of foreign affairs made the United
States a laughingstock, his mismanagement of the COVID-19
pandemic is making the nation a pariah state. Donald Trump has
achieved this singular accomplishment in the same way that he
has bumbled between so many failures in the past: an absolute
inability to realize that he does not know everything. Trump
is not smarter than all the generals. He doesn’t know more
about energy than all the engineers. He doesn’t understand the
environment better than all the scientists. And he absolutely
does not understand how to manage a pandemic better than all
the epidemiologists and health care experts at his disposal.
It’s absolutely true that the United States has access to the
best experts and unmatched resources. That’s exactly what
makes this such a tragedy. Thanks to Donald Trump—thanks to
Matt Gaetz, and Jim Jordan, and Devin Nunes, and Mitch
McConnell, and Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio, and Bill Barr, and
every other damn Republican who has patted Trump on the back
every time he has claimed some kind of special genius that
allows him to ignore the actual experts—the United States is
not just hurtling toward an epic disaster, it has already
taken the kind of fall usually reserved for mythological
How many Americans will die is still to be seen. But the
“American Century” is dead and buried.
you need to know about Saharan dust
A hazy red twilight took over the area as the dust thickened,
car headlights soon becoming the only source of light. Within
just a few seconds, day had turned into night. The wet season
had begun, bringing with it one of the two dust seasons that
the West African nation, along with others in the region, face
Before the Saharan Air Layer (SAL) had reached the Caribbean
Sea earlier this week, thermal lows near the West African
coast churned up dust that would contribute to the traveling
plume, but not before hitting West African cities and towns.
Every year, around 2 billion tons of dust enters the
atmosphere, globally, according to the World Meteorological
Organization (WMO), leading to sand and dust storms that can
affect the weather, the environment and people's health. Among
the health concerns that the dust can bring are respiratory
problems and heart disorders. Dust storms can also spread
diseases such as meningitis, according to the WMO.
The team found bacteria that are linked with respiratory
diseases, including Micrococcus, Burkholderia and Pseudomonas
in the dust they collected. The article states additional
analysis using genomic techniques would better assist in
identifying bacteria and potential pathogens carried by the
dust, which could cause health impacts in West Africa and,
downstream of the SAL, the Caribbean, the Gulf Coast, South
America and Europe.
Pyramid of Equity Returns: Almost 200 Years of U.S. Stock
(Visual Capitalist, June 25, 2020)
The year-to-date performance of the S&P 500 sits at -4.7%,
which falls within the normal historic range.
Black-White Wage Gap Is as Big as It Was in 1950.
York Times, June 24, 2020)
That’s remarkable. Despite decades of political change — the
end of enforced segregation across the South, the legalization
of interracial marriage, the passage of multiple civil rights
laws and more — the wages of black men trail those of white
men by as much as when Harry Truman was president. That gap
indicates that there have also been powerful forces pushing
against racial equality.
Before getting into the causes, though, I want to explain the
difference between the best-known wage statistics and the more
accurate version. The traditional numbers are incomplete in a
way that many people do not realize: They cover only workers.
People who don’t work are ignored. This group includes
students, full-time parents, people who have given up on
finding work and people who are incarcerated.
NEW: A Decade
(61-min. video; Solar Dynamics Observatory, June
greatest invention was the invention of invention itself.
(Psyche, June 24, 2020)
There is a mental ability we possess today that must have
emerged at some point in our history, and whose emergence
would have vastly enhanced our ancestors’ creative powers. The
ability I mean is that of hypothetical thinking – the ability
to detach one’s mind from the here and now, and consciously
think about other possibilities. This is the key to sustained
innovation and creativity, and to the development of art,
science and technology. Archaic humans, in all probability,
didn’t possess it. The static nature of their lifestyle
suggests that they lived in the present, their attention
locked on to the world, and their behaviour driven by habit
and environmental stimuli. In the course of their daily
activities, they might accidentally hit on a better way of
doing something, and so gradually acquire new habits and
skills, but they didn’t actively think up innovations for
How did hypothetical thinking develop?
becomes the biggest East Coast city to ban face recognition.
(Fast Company, June 24, 2020)
Boston on Wednesday banned municipal use of facial recognition
technology, becoming the largest East Coast city to do so,
public radio station WBUR reports. “Boston should not be using
racially discriminatory technology and technology that
threatens our basic rights,” said city council member Michelle
Wu at a Wednesday hearing, CNET reports.
Facial recognition technology has fallen under heavy
criticism, with numerous research reports finding the
technology does relatively poorly at recognizing people who
aren’t white men. IBM recently announced it would stop
offering “general purpose” facial recognition software, and
Microsoft and Amazon both announced moratoriums on offering
such technology to police.
will now auto-delete location and search history by default
for new users.
(The Verge, June 24, 2020)
A compromise between privacy and ad-targeting data.
Google’s auto-delete feature applies to search history (on web
or in-app), location history, and voice commands collected
through the Google Assistant or devices like Google Home.
Google logs that data in its My Activity page, where users can
see what data points have been collected and manually delete
specific items. Historically, Google has retained that
information indefinitely, but in 2019, the company rolled out
a way to automatically delete data points after three months
or 18 months, depending on the chosen setting.
Starting today, those settings will be on by default for new
users. Google will set web and app searches to auto-delete
after 18 months even if users take no action at all. Google’s
location history is off by default, but when users turn it on,
it will also default to an 18-month deletion schedule.
The new defaults will only apply to new users, and existing
Google accounts won’t see any settings change. However, Google
will also be promoting the option on the search page and on
YouTube in an effort to drive more users to examine their
auto-delete settings. Auto-delete can be turned on from the
Activity Controls page.
The system also extends to YouTube history, although the
default will be set to three years to ensure the broader data
can be used by the platform’s recommendation algorithms.
We Call Trump a Killer?
(New York Times, June 24, 2020)
It seems that in every possible way throughout this
coronavirus pandemic, Trump has willfully and arrogantly put
more Americans at risk of getting sick and dying, and the
results have been inevitable: More Americans got sick and
died. There is no way to remove Trump’s culpability in this.
If your feeble effort saves two lives when an earnest, robust,
science-driven effort would have saved four, are you not
responsible for the two deaths?
At this point, how do we not label Trump a killer of American
citizens by negligence, ignorance and incompetence?
Sets Record for Daily New Cases as Virus Surges in South and
(New York Times, June 24, 2020)
Public health officials in the United States reported 36,880
new cases on Wednesday. Houston’s intensive-care units are
running out of available beds, the mayor said.
Unfathomable Stupidity of Rich White Men
June 24, 2020)
Barack Obama didn’t want to ruin you, you dumbasses! He
wasn’t out to confiscate your estates, kill your grandmas, and
force you into re-education camps! All he wanted
was a more humane, less cruel, less racist version of the
system that made you rich. You should have wanted that
too! Not because you care about other people -- for your
own good! But you were too stupid.
At Risk: An 18-Month View of a Post-COVID World
Capitalist, June 24, 2020)
the pandemic will reshape the job market
economy to shrink 'disastrous' 4.7% in 2020 amid
post-pandemic scarring, Bloomberg economists forecast.
(Business Insider, June 23, 2020)
Output won't fully rebound until the second quarter of 2021 as
unemployment lingers and consumer confidence remains
suppressed, the economists said.
poll: Catching up when the virus comes.
(Axios, June 23,
People in mostly red states where coronavirus cases have been
rising the fastest are developing a heightened sense of risk
and taking steps to dial back their exposure, according to the
latest installment of the Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index.
These patterns are playing out comes as Americans across the
nation brace for a resurgence in infections:
- 85% worry about a second wave.
- 70% now say going back to their "normal" pre-coronavirus
life would be a large to moderate risk, up from 64% a week
earlier and 57% two weeks ago.
- 71% worry their community will reopen too soon, also the
highest share in a month.
Between the lines: Americans are looking to institutions they
trust for cues about how to behave. About eight in 10 said
they would stay home and avoid others if either the Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention or their governor told them
to, or if local cases spiked, hospitals reported being full or
people they knew tested positive.
and Fire Scorches Siberia.
(NASA, June 23, 2020)
In a report about the remarkably warm temperatures in Siberia,
European scientists examined historical temperature data in
their global ERA5 reanalysis, finding that temperatures have
been unusually warm in the region since January 2020. Since
the ERA5 data begins in 1979, the European team also looked to
GISTEMP, a NASA temperature record with data through 1880.
They could not find any other examples in either dataset of
such an intense heat wave in this part of Siberia persisting
for such an extended period.
The persistent high-pressure atmospheric pattern that brought
the extreme heat has exacerbated wildfires, prompting dozens
to burn in the region’s forest and shrub ecosystems. Some of
those ecosystems grow on top of carbon-rich layers of peat and
GOP’s impossible choice on Trump’s coronavirus testing
comments: He’s dangerous, or he’s lying.
Post, June 23, 2020)
Among the things President Trump has forced his fellow
Republicans to defend him on, few have risen to the level of
him saying he asked for slower coronavirus testing. Whatever
bonkers theories exist about the novel coronavirus, no serious
person thinks less testing would be a good thing — unless, of
course, you’re more worried about the numbers being a
political liability than you are about lives. So, multiple
White House officials said he was joking. And then Trump on
Tuesday, as has often been the case, assured the opposite. “I
don’t kid,” he said.
That leaves Republicans with an uneasy choice: suggest Trump
is lying, or suggest he’s actually pushing for the
unthinkable. They appear to be going with the former.
Citing ‘Disturbing Surge,’ Tells Congress the Virus Is Not
(New York Times, June 23, 2020)
The testimony of the nation’s top infectious disease expert
countered President Trump’s upbeat assessment, describing a
“mixed bag” of some bright spots amid worrying trends and
just froze work visas during a time when a record number of
immigrant-founded companies are generating record amounts of
(Business Insider, June 23, 2020)
Pentagon nominee pushed conspiracy theories that former CIA
director tried to overthrow Trump and even have him
(CNN, June 23, 2020)
Retired Army Brig. Gen. Anthony Tata, who was nominated to
become the under secretary of defense for policy at the
Department of Defense, promoted conspiracy theories that John
Brennan, the former CIA director, wanted to oust Trump from
office, and pushed a bogus conspiracy theory that Brennan sent
a coded tweet to order the assassination of Trump in 2018.
CNN's KFile reviewed dozens of Tata's radio and television
appearances and found that he also spread conspiracy theories
that a "deep state cabal" of officials would rather see Trump
fail than succeed in office, a sentiment echoed by the
President and his allies, using extreme rhetoric. Tata also
said then-President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama
engaged in "borderline treasonous" behavior by expressing
their dismay over a Trump presidency during the transition
The retired general's nomination to the third-highest position
at the Pentagon faces jeopardy after Democratic senators spoke
out against his nomination following CNN's KFile reporting
last week on Tata's history of Islamophobia and derogatory
comments and tweets, including falsely calling Obama a Muslim
and "terrorist leader." At least two high-profile retired
generals have pulled their support for Tata since his tweets
were reported. Tata has since deleted dozens of his tweets,
screenshots of which were captured by CNN.
If confirmed by the Senate, Tata would oversee the Pentagon's
policy on everything from Afghanistan, China, Iran and Russia
to nuclear deterrence and missile defense policy. He would
also closely advise the secretary of defense on national
security and support the Pentagon's program and budget
A US defense official confirmed that Tata still works as a
senior adviser in the Pentagon.
Tata's nomination comes as the White House seeks to install
loyalists to key positions throughout the administration.
His newly surfaced comments appear to mimic what the President
and his allies have long maintained -- that the "deep state"
has sought to undermine Trump's presidency and that his
opponents would rather see the country fail than see him
succeed -- without citing specific evidence.
family seeks to block book by president’s niece that calls
him ‘World’s Most Dangerous Man’.
(Washington Post, June
President Trump’s brother on Tuesday petitioned a New York
court to block the publication of a book by Mary L. Trump that
describes the president, her uncle, as the “world’s most
dangerous man.” Presales of the book, slated for publication
on July 28, have soared to the top of bestseller lists on the
basis of a description from publisher Simon & Schuster
that it will reveal decades of family secrets, including a
“nightmare of traumas” that explain the psychology of the man
who is now president.
darker side to TikTok’s Trump rally trolling
Post, June 23, 2020)
Think Russia spreading WikiLeaks information under the guise
of everyday concerned U.S. citizens. Think right-wing
provocateurs masquerading as antifa as protests roared across
the country, tricking rural communities to fear attacks were
imminent. Or think of information warfare that isn’t
technically coordinated inauthentic behavior and yet still can
be insidious: conspiracy theorists taking advantage of, say,
the way Twitter’s trending topics list is set up to push
fringe ideas such as QAnon or Pizzagate into mainstream
We may smile to see members of a rising generation employ
these tricks in service of progressive values. After all,
those who pioneered them and who exploit them today often take
pride in valuelessness — bowing down to chaos and crafting a
world where we can believe nothing and everything at the same
time. Surely it is better to troll to disrupt racism than to
Yet celebrating some manipulation and condemning others is an
unsustainable tack for anyone who wants to untangle our world
wide web of lies. The whole story is cute and clever, but more
than that it’s sad — sad that this is the activism that feels
most normal and most natural to those who grew up in the
Internet age, sad that many believe it’s the activism most
likely to succeed in a battlefield already full of falsehoods,
and sadder still that they may be right.
you can help unleash the new global university
(University of Cape Town SA, June 23, 2020)
On Monday, 29 June, the University of Cape Town (UCT) will
host the first of a series of virtual events: Unleashing
the New Global University
This time of extraordinary global crisis – combining the
pandemic with protests about race and gender inequality –
presents an opportunity to rethink how we can do things
differently as a university. Not just within our current
geographical space but around the world.
Universities around the world have had their international
activities brought to a halt by COVID-19. International
students have returned home, conferences have been cancelled
or postponed, research that required travel has seen at least
a pause, if not a complete rethink.
But this model of internationalisation was already failing
because it reinforced inequality. Which groups of people are
most able to travel around the world to attend academic
conferences and meetings? Which kinds of students are able to
take up the exciting and career-advancing opportunities of
international experiences? It is surely those from wealthier
backgrounds and institutions, mostly in the global north,
mostly without primary childcare responsibilities. The current
model also has an impact on the planet. While most
universities claim to value sustainability, few have
translated that into action when it comes to travel.
These issues of inequality and sustainability are at the heart
of UCT’s values and our proposed Vision 2030 for UCT. We are
well placed to lead this conversation: while we are far more
challenged by the requirements of internationalisation than
our wealthier partners in the global north, we are better able
to play in these international waters than most other
institutions in the country and on the continent.
Truth is that we can’t solve the problems alone. We need to
persuade our partners to see the challenges for what they are,
to help us think through solutions, and to have the political
will to change with us.
the most hyped invention since the Macintosh, ends
(Fast Company, June 23, 2020)
The Segway brand will no longer make its two-wheeled,
Tails OS Wants to Know How Facebook and the FBI Hacked it.
(Vice, June 23, 2020)
The developers of Tails and a video player, targeted by
Facebook and the FBI in an operation to catch a child
predator, are still in the dark about how the feds hacked the
Should Facebook, the FBI, of the cybersecurity firm, have
alerted Tails or GNOME after Buster Hernandez was safely
behind bars? “They should have been notified,” a current
Facebook employee, who asked to remain anonymous because they
were not allowed to speak to the press, told Motherboard.
According to several privacy and security experts, the answer
is a resounding yes as well. In fact, many think Facebook
should not have gotten involved in making and paying for the
hacking tool in the first place.
“The fact that Facebook or any private company would think
they had the right to commission the creation of malware
against another software entity is so incredibly arrogant,”
said Katie Mossouris, who used to lead the vulnerability
research teams at Microsoft and Symantec and is one of the
world’s most well-known experts on coordinated disclosure.
“Security professionals worth their salt are worried about
governments not making the right call when it comes to making
decisions in the Vulnerability Equities Process, and we’re all
supposed to be fine with that kind of decision resting in
Facebook’s hands?” According to Moussouris, what Facebook did
in this case “is more evidence that Facebook is out of control
at best and is making the world less safe for people who need
anonymity to survive.”
Harlo Holmes has been developing tools for journalists and
activists for years, and now helps media organizations set up
SecureDrop and trains their journalists to use tools such as
Tails. Holmes said that Facebook needs to be more transparent
as to what the vulnerability was exactly, and what the
agreement with the FBI was. "What was in that contract? Was it
a one time use license against this one actor? Or did they
just hand it over to the FBI and be like 'now this is in your
arsenal now'?" Holmes said in a phone call. “Those are very,
very key questions.” Moreover, she said that it’s hard to
understand how Facebook thought it would be OK to help the FBI
hack a child molester, while the company is also suing the
spyware maker NSO Group for using WhatsApp to help their
customers hack targets. "The hypocrisy is absolutely wild,"
she said. “More hackers should learn about the ethics of what
we do, and this is a textbook example.
is the most succinct -- and brutal -- Republican rejection
of Donald Trump that you will ever read.
; CNN, June 23, 2020)
"Donald Trump has been the worst president this country has
ever had. And I don't say that hyperbolically. He is. But he
is a consequential president. And he has brought this country
in three short years to a place of weakness that is simply
unimaginable if you were pondering where we are today from the
day where Barack Obama left office."
Trump Kills US.
(1-min. video; MeidasTouch, June 23, 2020)
[Pass it on.]
of Trump Visit, Church Makes Unproven Claim of Virus-Killing
(New York Times, June 23, 2020)
An Arizona megachurch hosting President Trump on Tuesday
misleadingly claimed that its new air purification system
“kills 99.9 percent of Covid within 10 minutes” but then
backtracked shortly before the president spoke. Mr. Trump
visited Dream City Church in Phoenix, one of the nation’s
biggest megachurches, to speak to thousands of Arizona college
students gathered to support his re-election. With coronavirus
cases sharply increasing in the state, some public health
experts said the gathering had the potential to be a disaster.
The president went to Phoenix to speak to a group of student
supporters. Even as Arizona is seeing some of the steepest
increases in cases and deaths in the country, thousands of
residents have packed bars and restaurants in recent weeks,
trying to escape both heat and boredom. Until last week, Gov.
Doug Ducey, a Republican, prevented Democratic mayors in the
state from requiring face masks. After calls to restrict or
cancel the Trump appearance, Mr. Ducey told reporters, “we’re
going to protect people’s rights to assemble in an election
year.” He attended the event on Tuesday.
Mayor Kate Gallego of Phoenix, a Democrat, repeatedly
criticized the event, saying on Monday that “it does not abide
by C.D.C. guidelines during Covid-19.” “Public health is a
group effort, not a partisan issue,” she added. “It requires
the participation of every resident and every level of
Photos of the event taken inside the church showed the crowd
shoulder to shoulder, with very few people appearing to wear
masks. Anyone who registered for the event was required to
sign a waiver. “By attending this convention, you and any
guest voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to
Covid-19 and agree not to hold Turning Point Action, their
affiliates, Dream City Church, employees, agents, contractors,
or volunteers liable for any illness or injury,” it said.
solved? The Phoenix Arizona church hosting a Trump rally
claims it can kill COVID-19.
(AZCentral, June 22, 2020)
Opinion: Dream City Church says it has found a technology to
wipe out almost all traces of COVID-19? That's too good and
convenient to be true.
experts say many coronavirus apps aren't doing enough to
safeguard users' information.
(Washington Post, June 22,
Governments across the world are leaning on an array of
coronavirus technologies, such as contact-tracing apps and
smart thermometers, to make decisions about reopening. But
experts are warning that their security and privacy
protections are lacking — which could make it easier for
hackers to compromise peoples' personal information.
Developers of the apps did not implement strong digital
protections that are standard on other technology that deals
with sensitive personal or health information And many are
siphoning data to third parties — which means peoples' private
information could be used for targeted advertising or to track
them across other, non-related apps.
Trump Just Suspended the Tech Industry's Favorite Visa.
(Wired, June 22, 2020)
The administration said the move will give US workers access
to an additional 525,000 jobs. But sectors with lots of H-1B
visas tend to have low unemployment.
knows he is losing, and he's prepared to tear the nation
apart when it happens.
(Daily Kos, June 22, 2020)
Donald J. Trump may have some sanity problems, but even he has
to recognize that the crowds are smaller, the polling data is
worsening every day, and his re-election looks shakier with
every passing week. There are a few standards that Presidents
are expected to commit to in our country. One of those
standards is the peaceful transition of power. Donald J.
Trump, however, is not one of those presidents. Instead,
President Trump is busy laying out a case, now, for unbridled
civil unrest and ‘let’s end democracy’ acts should he fail to
win in November. Why? Because Trump is already calling the
2020 election a fraud.
Trump falters as reporter pins him down on whether he slowed
(1-min. video; Daily Kos, June 22,
Donald Trump used a whole lot of words to refuse to say
“no” when asked if he really told his administration to slow
down coronavirus testing. During his flop of a Tulsa rally
Saturday, Trump had bragged about doing exactly that, saying
“testing is a double-edged sword” and “when you do testing to
that extent, you're going to find more people; you're going to
find more cases. So I said to my people, slow the testing down
please.” White House officials had claimed Trump was joking,
except that it sure didn’t look like he was, and the statement
was in line with other things he’s said about the negatives he
perceives in testing.
Asked about it on Monday, Trump tried to deflect and dodge.
But it was Trump, so he also fumbled and stumbled and
confirmed that his view is that testing causes cases. “If it
did slow down, frankly, I think we’re way ahead of ourselves,
if you wanna know the truth. We’ve done too good of a job,” he
But it was what came immediately before that line that was the
most telling. Trump had been rambling on about how “Every time
you do a test, it shows more and more cases” and “You’re
showing people that are asymptomatic, you’re showing people
that have very little problem, you’re showing young people
that don’t have a problem.” The reporter finally moved to pin
him down: “But did you ask to slow it down?”
And the most telling moment, more telling than the flood of
words that had come before, was the “Uhhhhh” Trump started his
response with, before moving on to the non-denial of “If it
did slow down, frankly, I think we’re way ahead of ourselves,
if you wanna know the truth. We’ve done too good of a job.”
Watch that “Uhhhh.” It’s at 44 seconds into the video. More
than 120,000 people are dead and he says “We’ve done too good
Immunity Must End so Healing Can Begin.
Collaborative, June 22, 2020)
Polling shows that a majority of voters (53%) want to end
qualified immunity, a doctrine that protects law enforcement
from legal accountability for their actions, even when they’re
egregious. Less than a third of likely voters (30 percent)
oppose ending this policy that insulates police from the
consequences of their actions and denies victims justice.
Brief: Anonymous Stole and Leaked a Megatrove of Police
(Wired, June 22, 2020)
The so-called BlueLeaks collection includes internal memos,
financial records, and more from over 200 state, local, and
DDOSecrets has published
the files in a searchable format on its website
supporters quickly created the #blueleaks hashtag to collect
their findings from the hacked files on social media. Some of
the initial discoveries among the documents showed, for
instance, that the FBI monitored the social accounts of
protesters and sent alerts to local law enforcement about
anti-police messages. Other documents detail the FBI tracking
bitcoin donations to protest groups, and internal memos
warning that white supremacist groups have posed as Antifa to
DDOSecrets notes that none of the files appear to be
classified, and Best concedes that they may not show illegal
behavior on the part of police. But the group argues that the
documents instead reveal legal but controversial practices, as
well as the tone of police discussions around groups like
Antifa—for instance, describing white nationalists like
Richard Spencer as anti-Antifa, rather than acknowledging that
Antifa expressly opposes groups like those who follow Spencer.
"The underlying attitudes of law enforcement is one of the
things I think BlueLeaks documents really well," Best writes.
"I've seen a few comments about it being unlikely to uncover
gross police misconduct, but I think those somewhat miss the
point, or at least equate police misconduct solely with
illegal behavior. Part of what a lot of the current protests
are about is what police do and have done legally."
says niece "not allowed" to write book because of
(Axios, June 21, 2020)
TikTok/K-pop stan let’s-troll-Trump operation, and
specifically about the brilliant data-gathering aspect of
(Claire Ryan, June 21, 2020)
If you’ve been keeping up with the whole MO of the Trump
campaign - Cambridge Analytica, micro-targeting of
demographics on social media, etc. - you’ll know that
gathering people’s info in order to shill for donations is a
HUGE revenue stream. AFAIK that was the reason he ran. To
campaign, get donations from the MAGAts, funnel vast lakes of
money into his businesses. It was just that simple. Doesn’t
take much to feed racists the messaging they want to hear and
suck money out of them.
The Russians/GOP/various other factors caused him to win,
which was not in the plan, but anyway Trump at least knows
that firing up the base = MONEY. Yes yes, donations from big
GOP donors, but you have to understand - there was a vast lake
of untapped racist small donations that Trump plugged a hose
into back in 2016. And that hose is powered by data.
Part of the reason that FaceBook is so big isn’t because it’s
any good; it’s because you can advertise to users based on
their bio details and their Likes. Having those signals to
determine how likely a person is to buy a product is the stuff
of an advertiser’s dreams. Google works the same way, to be
honest, but at least Google’s core functionality is useful.
The thing about this stuff is that it runs on ACCURATE data.
The worst thing about data analysis is when your data is
corrupted or inaccurate, and you have no way of filtering it
out. It means insights derived from the dataset are 100% junk.
So the troll operation in this case, by all accounts, used
fake emails and temp Google Voice numbers. And listen, people:
you don’t know how very genius this is. I will bet a month’s
salary that some poor database admin is now staring at a
dataset of over a million ticket reservations that they were
going to use to shill for donations and feeling sick.
Teens and K-Pop Stans Say They Sank Trump Rally.
York Times, June 21, 2020)
Did a successful prank inflate attendance expectations for
President Trump’s rally in Tulsa, Okla.?
Cox Richardson: Trump's Tulsa debacle and other White House
(Letters from an American, June 20, 2020)
Trump’s rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma was designed to jumpstart his
campaign and reunite him with the crowds that energize him.
His campaign manager, Brad Parscale, along with the president
himself, has spent days crowing that almost a million tickets
had been reserved, and the campaign had built an outside stage
for overflow crowds.
But far fewer than the 19,000 people Tulsa’s BOK Center could
hold showed up: the local fire marshal said the number was
just under 6,200. Young TikTok users and fans of Korean pop
music (so-called “K-Pop stans”), along with Instagram and
Snapchat users, had quietly ordered tickets to prank the
campaign. The technological savvy of their generation has
turned political: they knew that the Trump campaign harvests
information from ticket reservations, bombarding applicants
with texts and requests for donations. So they set up fake
accounts and phone numbers to order the tickets, then deleted
the fake accounts. They also deleted their social media posts
organizing the plan to keep it from the attention of the Trump
The poor turnout after such hype was deeply embarrassing for
the campaign. Trump’s people took down the outside stage and
Trump blamed “protesters” who had kept supporters out of the
venue for the small size of the rally, but there were few
reports of any interactions between Trump supporters and
protesters and no one was turned away.
The rally itself did not deliver the punch Trump’s people had
hoped. The speech was disjointed as the president rambled from
one topic to another, rehashing old topics that no longer
charged up the crowd, many of whom were caught on camera
yawning or checking their phones. It was clear that The
Lincoln Project’s needling of his difficulty raising a glass
to his mouth and walking down a ramp at last week’s West Point
graduation has gotten under Trump's skin: he spent more than
ten minutes pushing back on those stories—the ramp was “like
an ice skating rink,” he claimed-- which, of course, only
Much more damning, when discussing coronavirus, he told the
audience falsely that the recent spikes in infections are
because there has been more testing: “When you do more testing
to that extent, you are going to find more people, you will
find more cases. I said to my people, ‘Slow the testing down,
Far from energizing Trump’s 2020 campaign, the rally made
Trump look like a washed-up performer who has lost his
audience and become a punchline for the new kids in town. A
Trump campaign staffer said that Biden “should have to report
our costs to the [Federal Election Commission] as a
contribution to his campaign.
President’s Shock at the Rows of Empty Seats in Tulsa
(New York Times, June 21, 2020)
President Trump’s attempt to revive his re-election bid
sputtered badly as he traveled to Tulsa for his first mass
rally in months but found a small crowd and delivered a
disjointed speech. The president, who had been warned aboard
Air Force One that the crowds at the arena were smaller than
expected, was stunned, and he yelled at aides backstage while
looking at the endless rows of empty blue seats in the upper
bowl of the stadium.
Mr. Trump eventually entered the arena for a meandering
performance in which he excoriated the “fake news” for
reporting on health concerns before his event, used racist
language to describe the coronavirus as the “Kung Flu” and
spent more than 15 minutes explaining away an unflattering
video clip of him gingerly descending a ramp after his
commencement speech at West Point.
When he landed back at the White House and walked off Marine
One, his tie hung untied around his neck. He waved to
reporters, with a defeated expression on his face, holding a
crumpled red campaign hat in one hand. (1-min. CNN video
Exactly what went wrong was still being dissected on Sunday.
But a broad group of advisers and associates acknowledged to
one another that Mr. Trump had not been able to will public
opinion away from fears about the spread of the coronavirus in
an indoor space. And they conceded that myriad polls showing
Mr. Trump’s eroded standing were not fake, and that he might
be on course to lose to former Vice President Joseph R. Biden
Jr., the presumptive Democratic nominee, in November.
staff and empty seats: How Trump's triumphant return to the
campaign trail went from bad to worse
June 21, 2020)
By the time President Donald Trump was gliding in his
helicopter toward Joint Base Andrews on Saturday, destined for
what he'd once hoped would be a triumphant
packed-to-the-rafters return to the campaign trail, things
were already looking bad.
Scanning cable news coverage earlier in the day, Trump was
disappointed to see pictures not of massive lines forming
outside the Bank of Oklahoma Center in Tulsa but of Geoffrey
Berman, the federal prosecutor Trump's attorney general had
attempted unsuccessfully to dismiss the night before, a person
familiar with his response said.
Hours later, the President was informed six campaign staffers
in Tulsa had tested positive for coronavirus ahead of his
scheduled arrival -- an unfortunate reminder of an ongoing
pandemic Trump's critics say he is ignoring. After initially
dismissing the revelation, a source familiar with his reaction
said Trump erupted when it was subsequently reported in the
media -- overtaking coverage of the rally itself.
Still, a determined Trump was intent on breathing new life
into his staggering campaign. He took off for Tulsa, convinced
large swaths of his supporters would be waiting for him there.
Things did not improve once Air Force One lifted off. The
President received a report that only about 25 people were
assembled in the overflow space the campaign had reserved for
a crowd Trump claimed five days earlier would top 40,000.
Rally Fizzles as Attendance Falls Short of Campaign’s
(1-min. video; New York Times, June 20,
President Trump’s attempt to revive his re-election bid
sputtered badly as he traveled to Tulsa for his first mass
rally in months but found a small crowd and delivered a
berates media and uses racist language about Covid-19 at
(81-min. video; The Guardian, June 20,
coronavirus 'Death Clock' truck enters Tulsa ahead of rally.
(The Hill, June 20, 2020)
Hate’: A famed folk singer, Trump’s dad and angry lyrics at
a Tulsa landmark
(Washington Post, June 20, 2020)
Tulsans, With a Defiant Juneteenth Celebration, Send a
Message to Trump.
(New York Times, June 19, 2020)
The president arrives in a city that is in the midst of
addressing long-ignored racist history. People there believe
the country as a whole could learn a lot from them.
Comes Your 19th Nervous Breakdown: the Mental State of
(CounterPunch, June 19, 2020)
Only a few stories in the mass media have gone beyond mention
of narcissism as people use it in common parlance to quote
medical authorities who speak of narcissism in a real
pathological sense. A sampling of their remarks shows how
seriously doctors regard Trump’s mental illness.
“Trump has no policy on any issue because his mental
impairment means he cannot think strategically or in abstract
terms,” tweeted John M. Talmadge, MD, a physician and clinical
professor of psychiatry at U.T. Southwestern Medical Center.
“He cannot weigh options, assess risk, or foresee
consequences. Concepts like fairness, justice, honor, and
integrity quite literally do not register. You can see this in
every interview or press encounter. He never states an
abstract thought or idea. Instead he falls back on simple
adjectives: disgraceful, horrible, low-intelligence, perfect,
innocent, nasty, stupid, fake, etc. He’s driven by negative
emotion, often paranoid and often insulting, vulgar,
Daniel Gilbert, a professor of psychology at Harvard
University, suggested that Trump should be detained
involuntarily to assess his mental health. It followed a tweet
by Trump in which he claimed he would “totally destroy and
obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I’ve done before!)” if
Turkey did anything that “I, in my great and unmatched wisdom,
consider to be off limits.” “Am I the only psychologist who
finds this claim and this threat truly alarming? Wouldn’t
these normally trigger a mental health hold? Right and Left
must set aside politics and agree that there is a serious
problem here,” Gilbert wrote on Twitter.
Given Trump’s downward mental spiral—which is accelerated by
the very crises he exacerbates—his impending exit seems
certain. But how will that happen? How will that be
accomplished? How will his mental disorder affect even that?
If Trump loses the election Joe Biden has rightly expressed
concern that he will not accept the result. Biden has spoken
of the possibility that the military may have to remove him
from the White House. Here Biden shows himself more perceptive
than most of the media pundits. This is not idle chatter or
sound bytes for his campaign. Biden hardly needs to campaign.
Trump’s relentlessly negative campaign has begun—and it’s
damage is done': Judge denies Trump administration request
to block Bolton book.
(Politico, June 19, 2020)
The judge, Royce Lamberth, said an injunction would be
"toothless," but he warned the former national security
adviser could face criminal charges.
Bolton lawyer Chuck Cooper praised Lamberth’s conclusion that
no injunction should be issued, but noted disagreement with
the rest of the judge’s order and suggested it was far from
the final word in the dispute. “We welcome today’s decision by
the Court denying the Government’s attempt to suppress
Ambassador Bolton’s book,” Cooper said in a statement. “We
respectfully take issue, however, with the Court’s preliminary
conclusion at this early stage of the case that Ambassador
Bolton did not comply fully with his contractual
prepublication obligation to the Government, and the case will
now proceed to development of the full record on that issue.
The full story of these events has yet to be told—but it will
Justices Hand Exxon Setback in California Climate Cases.
(Inside Climate News, June 19, 2020)
The court, while sympathetic, held that the oil giant lacked
jurisdiction to compel California officials to divulge
documents. Although the three justices ruled against Exxon,
they made it clear they were wholly on the company's side,
even taking a swipe at California courts they suggested would
tip the judicial scale in favor of the cities and counties on
a "lawfare battlefield." "Being a conservative panel on a
conservative intermediate court in a relatively conservative
part of Texas is both blessing and curse: blessing, because we
strive always to remember our oath to follow settled legal
principles set out by higher courts and not encroach upon the
domains of the other governmental branches; curse, because in
this situation, at this time in history, we would very much
like to follow our impulse instead," the opinion said.
It continued, "In the end, though, our reading of the law
simply does not permit us to agree with Exxon's contention."
The setback in the Texas court comes just weeks after a
federal appeals court handed Exxon and other oil companies a
critical loss in their fight to have the cases heard in
federal court, where the companies have prevailed in prior
Warns of ‘Dangerous Phase’ of Pandemic as Outbreaks Widen.
(New York Times, June 19, 2020)
Beijing and Seoul have had a recent surge in coronavirus
cases, and businesses are recoiling in America as infections
sharply increase in Southern and Western states.
the Groundswell of Open Source COVID-19 Efforts.
Today, June 19, 2020)
As the global pandemic continues, the number of open source
COVID-19 software and hardware projects – developed by diverse
open source communities – continues to grow.
time to rethink the global university.
Cape Town SA, June 19, 2020)
The pandemic has disrupted higher education international
activities and the financial models on which universities
increasingly depend. But the previous model was already
problematic, contributing to global warming and benefitting
rich universities more than poor. The University of Cape Town
(UCT) is hosting a series of virtual events that will seize
the moment to rethink global collaborations for a sustainable
and equitable planet. What can we do differently, and what can
we not afford to lose?
"If we don’t step into our discomfort zone, we’ll stay in the
same place while the world changes around us."
the Chosen One to Run America”: Inside the Cult of Trump,
His Rallies Are Church and He Is the Gospel.
Fair, June 18, 2020)
Trump’s rallies—a bizarre mishmash of numerology, tweetology,
and white supremacy—are the rituals by which he stamps his
name on the American dream. As he prepares to resume them for
the first time in months, his followers are ready to receive.
Will Be Living With the Coronavirus Pandemic Well Into 2021.
(Bloomberg, June 18, 2020)
Most experts believe a vaccine won’t be ready until next year.
It’s time to reset our expectations and change our behavior.
The virus is winning. That much is certain more than six
months into a shape-shifting pandemic that’s killed more than
454,000 people worldwide, is gaining ground globally and has
disrupted lives from Wuhan to Sao Paulo. If, as most experts
believe, an effective vaccine won’t be ready until well into
2021, we’ll all be co-existing with the coronavirus for the
next year or longer without a magic bullet. And this next
phase of the crisis may require us to reset our expectations
and awareness and change our behavior, according to
public-health professionals. In their view, success isn’t
defined as returning to life as it was in 2019. Rather, it’s
about buying time and summoning the staying power and policy
flexibility to limit the destructive capacity of an expanding
pandemic, which may result in global deaths of more than one
million according to one estimate, until there are medical
tools to effectively treat and immunize against the virus.
Not all the news is grim. In the first half of the year,
governments worldwide resorted to emergency measures like
forced business closures, stay-at-home rules and bans on large
gatherings. The moves slowed infection, saved lives and gave
leaders time to stockpile medical equipment and supplies. Yet
that progress came at the cost of economic contraction,
soaring unemployment and trillions of dollars in fiscal and
monetary stimulus measures. Governments are likely to be
reluctant to resort to wholesale lockdowns again in anything
short of a catastrophe.
Leaders such as U.S. President Donald Trump, British Prime
Minister Boris Johnson or Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro
have seen their poll numbers crumble at least in part because
of high infection rates and deaths from Covid-19, the disease
spawned by the virus. In many instances, messages from the top
have seemed to conflict with the advice of experts, or drowned
out the guidance of government agencies. That has created
confusion and mistrust and invited people to view
public-health information through a partisan lens.
The high number of asymptomatic infections is having a huge
impact. This is the worst pandemic in 100 years. 1918 didn't
have 30% of people who were infected who didn't know it. It’s
the stealth infection thing that adds to the mix.
U.S. officials and scientists have launched an accelerated
program that aims to have a vaccine to prevent Covid-19 by the
first half of 2021, but White House health adviser Anthony
Fauci has cautioned that it could take longer. The World
Health Organization hopes there will be about 2 billion doses
of a handful of effective vaccines available by the end of
next year. But that’s enough for less than one-third of the
world’s population. Future vaccines that do arrive on the
scene may not provide long-term immunity. If SARS-CoV-2 is
like other coronaviruses, including some that cause the common
cold, individuals may need annual booster shots to ward off
People are fatigued. They mistakenly feel that things are
going away. We’re going to have to figure out a way to live
May Have Antibodies After Coronavirus Infection. But Not for
(New York Times, June 18, 2020)
The question has haunted scientists since the pandemic began:
Does everyone infected with the virus produce antibodies — and
if so, how long do they last?
Not very long, suggests a new study published Thursday in
Nature Medicine. Antibodies — protective proteins made in
response to an infection — may last only two to three months,
especially in people who never showed symptoms while they were
infected. The conclusion does not necessarily mean that these
people can be infected a second time, several experts
cautioned. Even low levels of powerful neutralizing antibodies
may still be protective, as are the immune system’s T cells
and B cells. But the results offer a strong note of caution
against the idea of “immunity certificates” for people who
have recovered from the illness, the authors suggested.
Antibodies to other coronaviruses, including those that cause
SARS and MERS, are thought to last about a year. Scientists
had hoped that antibodies to the new virus might last at least
as long. Several studies have now shown that most people who
are visibly ill with Covid-19 develop antibodies to the virus,
although it has been unclear how long those antibodies last.
The new study is the first to characterize the immune response
in asymptomatic people.
Are Elated After Getting a Reprieve on DACA.
Times, June 18, 2020)
Thousands of young people who were in the country illegally as
children have been caught in legal limbo. A new Supreme Court
ruling gave them a temporary win.
[Also see: The
Long-Term Impact of DACA: Forging Futures Despite DACA’s
(Harvard University, 2019)]
Cybersecurity 202: D.C., Georgia reflect divergent
Democratic and Republican approaches to mail ballots.
(Washington Post, June 18, 2020)
As Georgia and the District of Columbia struggle to recover
from disastrous primaries marred by long lines, poor training
and machines that didn't operate as planned, they are taking
drastically different approaches to voting by mail.
Georgia plans to scuttle its primary system of mailing
absentee ballot request forms to registered voters, which was
a way of encouraging them to vote by mail during the pandemic,
the state’s top election official Brad Raffensperger (R)
announced. Instead, it will allow voters to request absentee
ballots online — a move critics warn will make the process
harder for people without Internet access and could create new
avenues for hacking or technical malfunctions that undermine
The District, meanwhile, is doubling down on mail voting. The
Board of Elections plans to send mail ballots directly to the
city's 500,000 registered voters without making them request
the ballots first, a move that some Republicans say invites
The divergence is representative of an emerging trend in which
state-level Republicans are shrinking back from mail voting
after the primaries while Democrats embrace it during the
pandemic. It's deepening as President Trump and some
Republican allies have savaged mail voting broadly, without
evidence, as prone to widespread fraud. The Republican push
against mail voting often isn’t coming from election
has six months to avert climate crisis, says energy expert.
(The Guardian, June 18, 2020)
The world has only six months in which to change the course of
the climate crisis and prevent a post-lockdown rebound in
greenhouse gas emissions that would overwhelm efforts to stave
off climate catastrophe, one of the world’s foremost energy
experts has warned. “This year is the last time we have, if we
are not to see a carbon rebound,” said Fatih Birol, executive
director of the International Energy Agency.
Governments are planning to spend $9tn (£7.2tn) globally in
the next few months on rescuing their economies from the
coronavirus crisis, the IEA has calculated. The stimulus
packages created this year will determine the shape of the
global economy for the next three years, according to Birol,
and within that time emissions must start to fall sharply and
permanently, or climate targets will be out of reach. “The
next three years will determine the course of the next 30
years and beyond,” Birol told the Guardian. “If we do not
[take action] we will surely see a rebound in emissions. If
emissions rebound, it is very difficult to see how they will
be brought down in future. This is why we are urging
governments to have sustainable recovery packages.”
(Aeon, June 18, 2020)
Art, adornment and sophisticated hunting technologies
flourished not only in prehistoric Europe but across the
globe. There is no basis for any claim for European
distinction in innate intelligence, behaviour or morals.
Europeans are no more ‘evolved’ than any other living people.
One reason that we see a wealth of artifacts some 40,000 years
ago in Europe is because those sites have been studied more
extensively over the past centuries than sites in much of
Africa – we can’t find where we don’t look. This is beginning
to change and, in the process of exploring new sites, we’re
discovering remarkable cultural treasures from Australia to
Chad. Another reason for the disproportionate numbers of finds
from Eurasia is that the archaeological sites are cooler,
drier, protected environments – often caves – where ancient
material preserves better in comparison with the humid
The most important decider seems to be group size: usually,
the bigger the group, the bigger the diversity of cultural
practices. Those that are particularly successful at
increasing a society’s population – such as practices that
improve nutrition, fertility or reduce infant mortality –
will, of course, produce more carriers of that practice, so
spread faster and further. This is how technologies
fundamental to survival, such as fire-making, rapidly became
universal. Practices less crucial to survival, such as
artworks, require a large enough group to support
practitioners with food and other resources. But, once group
size increases enough, cultural innovation accelerates,
because the group then holds a diversity of cultural practices
that can be combined to produce further practices, and so on
exponentially. In other words, a tipping point is reached
whereby larger, connected populations experience cultural
The reason for these bursts in cultural activity is not to do
with changes in our ancestors’ individual brains but in their
collective brains – changes resulting from human demography
and networks. Humans have a unique form of culture that is
cumulative, and evolves in diversity and complexity over time.
The great flowering of culture we enjoy from our Cro-Magnon
ancestors was not evidence of a cleverer, ‘more evolved’
people but because the demographic, social, environmental and
cultural changes that occurred at this time in Europe drove
cultural complexity. Geneticists recently discovered that the
greatest population boom in prehistory occurred 40,000 to
50,000 years ago, which helps to explain a swathe of cultural
explosions seen at this time, from present-day Germany to
Cultural complexity takes time to build up, so generally the
trend is towards a greater number of technologies and
practices. This is not a reflection of the individuals’
biology or intellectual capabilities, but rather the
complexity of their societies.
detect regular rhythm of radio waves, with origins unknown.
(MIT News, June 17, 2020)
Signal from 500 million light years away is the first periodic
pattern of radio bursts ever detected.
regarding MIT's initial decisions about the Fall semester.
(MIT, June 17, 2020)
Undergraduates have overwhelmingly expressed how much they
value being on campus; we aim to give as many students as
possible the opportunity to return safely this year. However,
because we judge that physical distancing requires using
doubles and triples as single-occupancy rooms, our
undergraduate residential population in the fall will be much
less than our normal capacity – conceivably as high as 60
percent, but likely much lower. Exactly how many students can
return at any point depends on several factors, some beyond
Obviously, we cannot control the trajectory of the pandemic
this fall, either here in Massachusetts or in the places
around the world our students call home. We also have no
control over the government response. We must accept these as
unknowns and be ready to adapt.
However, we do have significant control over MIT’s ability to
provide Covid-19 testing, contact tracing and quarantining. No
matter how careful we all are, we must anticipate that we will
face Covid-19 cases in the fall. Therefore, we want to be
confident that we have the capacity to spot an outbreak
quickly and limit its spread.
asked China’s Xi to help him win reelection, according to
(2-min. video; Washington Post, June 17,
The 592-page memoir, obtained by The Washington Post, is the
most substantive, critical dissection of the president from an
administration insider so far, coming from a conservative who
has worked in Republican administrations for decades and is a
longtime contributor to Fox News. It portrays Trump as an
“erratic” and “stunningly uninformed” commander in chief, and
lays out a long series of jarring and troubling encounters
between the president, his top advisers and foreign leaders.
Dept. Escalates Legal Fight With Bolton Over Book.
York Times, June 17, 2020)
The Trump administration asked a judge to order the former
national security adviser to stop publication of his memoir
even as explosive details emerged. Mr. Trump said this week
that he considered “every conversation with me as president
highly classified,” suggesting that Mr. Bolton was breaking
In a declaration attached to the lawsuit, Michael J. Ellis,
the senior director for intelligence programs at the National
Security Council, said he had reviewed the manuscript and
determined that it contained classified information —
including a particularly restricted form of top-secret data —
related to a broad category that included military plans,
foreign governments, intelligence activities or foreign
relations. He said he was offering the judge six specific
examples of material in the book that was properly classified
and whose disclosure could damage national security in a
classified declaration accompanying his public filing.
Mr. Bolton’s lawyer, Charles J. Cooper, has denied that the
manuscript contains any legitimately classified information.
In an op-ed last week in The Wall Street Journal vowing to go
forward, he said Mr. Bolton had worked closely with Ellen
Knight, the National Security Council’s senior director for
prepublication review of materials written by council
personnel, in an “intensive four-month review.” After many
changes, she told him in late April she had no more edits to
ask of him, he said.
In a statement, Simon & Schuster dismissed the threat.
“Tonight’s filing by the government is a frivolous,
politically motivated exercise in futility,” the publisher
said. “Hundreds of thousands of copies of John Bolton’s ‘The
Room Where It Happened’ have already been distributed around
the country and the world. The injunction as requested by the
government would accomplish nothing.”
“As is often the case with the Trump administration, this
motion is all hat and no cattle,” said Ben Wizner, a lawyer
with the American Civil Liberties Union. “The audience for
this filing is not the court; it’s the president.”
secure are electronic pollbooks and vote reporting tools?
This new program aims to find out.
June 17, 2020)
Voting machines get most of the attention when it comes to
election security. But officials are now trying to tackle
myriad ways adversaries could undermine U.S. elections aside
from directly rigging ballots.
A new pilot project run by a top cybersecurity nonprofit group
and the Election Assistance Commission aims to look for bugs
in the many other machines that hackers could exploit to throw
an election into chaos, such as electronic poll books and
systems for reporting unofficial election night results. Most
states currently don’t have a formal process for ensuring
they're secure. “Most of our adversaries aren’t looking to
affect the outcome of an election as much as they want to
affect our confidence in that outcome,” Aaron Wilson, senior
director of election security at the Center for Internet
Security, which is running the project, told me. “All of these
technologies could have a really big impact on voter
confidence and in some cases on the vote itself.”
A cyberattack that modified voter information in e-poll books,
for example, could make it difficult or impossible for many
people to cast ballots. An attack that changed election
night results could create confusion about the winner and
degrade faith in the real result.
And, unlike voting machines which are almost always
scrupulously segregated from the Internet, these systems are
often online and connected to cloud-based storage, opening up
numerous avenues for hackers. Election officials have relied
mostly on their IT staffs and on companies that sell the tools
to ensure their software is properly patched and the right
security protections are in place. But that system probably
isn’t secure enough for the post-2016 era when Russia and
other U.S. adversaries are eager to find any route to upend
the pandemic, top contractor Emergent BioSolutions received
billions from government to help prepare the nation for
(Washington Post, June 17, 2020)
As it races to create a vaccine for the novel coronavirus, the
Trump administration this month announced that one of its
largest pandemic-related contracts would go to a little-known
biodefense company named. The $628 million deal to help
manufacture an eventual vaccine cemented Emergent’s status as
the highest-paid and most important contractor to the HHS
office responsible for preparing for public health threats and
maintaining the government’s stockpile of emergency medical
supplies. Emergent has long been the government’s sole
provider of BioThrax, a vaccine for anthrax poisoning. But
over the past decade, the company has acquired biodefense
competitors and treatments for smallpox, botulism and other
threats for which there is no market outside of government.
A Washington Post examination found that Emergent’s strategy
has been rewarded with a series of large contracts as the
Trump administration focused on biodefense over preparations
for a natural pandemic. But Emergent’s dominance has fueled
new risks for national health preparedness, according to
documents and former government officials.
“Consolidation of many important assets into a single or small
handful of companies creates substantial risk since it creates
the potential for a single-point of failure,” said the
December 2018 report by the Mitre Corp., a consulting firm.
“From a pricing perspective, the lack of competition creates a
system in which companies have no incentive to keep prices
Emergent, a publicly traded company, negotiated price
increases from the federal government for some stockpiled
medicines after it bought them from competitors, according to
contracting records and interviews. Emergent’s advocacy for
biodefense spending over more than a decade was aided by
influential allies in Washington and tens of millions of
dollars in lobbying campaigns, documents show.
Rid of the Presidency.
(Counterpunch, June 17, 2020)
Every four years, because of a document drawn up more than two
hundred years ago, the United States puts into its highest
office men of stunning incompetence and low cunning, who over
time have managed to turn the office of the presidency into
what it is today—a violent reality show that has brought you
Vietnam, Watergate, the USA Patriot Act, and Barack Obama’s
“necessary war” in Afghanistan.
Benjamin Franklin (with the emotional support of Thomas
Jefferson from Paris) and others favored a federal council,
something closer to the Swiss model, in which the powers of
the chief magistrate would be devolved to a committee, not on
Trump Should Resign
(CounterPunch, June 17, 2020)
Donald Trump should resign as president in light of a profile
of disgrace about him by his onetime national security
adviser, John Bolton.
Bolton’s allegations raise questions about the character and
intelligence of a president who would sacrifice the interests
and integrity of his country for the sake of his personal
gain, assuredly a blatant violation of his oath of office,
which states: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will
faithfully execute the office of President of the United
States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect,
and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
How can Trump be trusted to safeguard and advance the
interests of the United States and its 300 million-plus people
if he is willing to sell us short by putting his personal
interests first? Where does it stop?
One thing is certain: Bolton’s book, when added to all of
Trump’s ignorance, incompetence, racism, a blanket refusal to
lead the country through the pandemic, his insistence that
active duty soldiers break up recent peaceful demonstrations,
his withdrawals from major arms control and other treaties,
his departure from invaluable U.N. organizations, his repeated
demands for U.S. abandonment of NATO, his cozying up to the
world’s most brutal dictators, his continual fomenting of
chaos in the White House, his constant firings of senior
officials and inspectors general, his weakening of major
government agencies, his careless wonton deregulation of
environmental protections, his denial of climate change and
his flagrant abuses of power as detailed in the House
impeachment trial helps serve notice to the American people
that this would-be pretender to a throne is totally unfit to
be president of the United States.
His resignation would be a welcome and blessed relief.
works to make service more secure, even for free users.
(Washington Post, June 17, 2020)
The company has re-decided to make end-to-end encryption
available to all customers, including nonpaying users, after
pressure to expand security.
[A victory, when/if true. But be aware of Zoom's past and
is Making Privacy and Security a Luxury.
Over the past several months, the video call app Zoom has
garnered millions of new users: More and more people are
relying on the service to stay connected amid the pandemic.
Then, earlier this month, Zoom made a controversial
announcement: It will offer end-to-end encryption, but only to
those who pay. End-to-end encryption means only those who are
part of the call can ever access the call’s content. Without
end-to-end encryption, the call’s content is only encrypted
client-to-server, and your data becomes readable when it
passes through a company’s servers.
We believe all users should have access to the strongest
privacy and security, regardless of their ability to pay. And
we’re not alone in that belief. A coalition of tech
organizations, nonprofits, and tens of thousands of internet
users rebuke Zoom for making end-to-end encryption a premium
This is a decisive moment in terms of safety both on and
offline. Zoom implementing end-to-end encryption could be one
of the single most important things any company could do to
keep people safe right now. End-to-end encryption saves lives.
Should the Punishment Be for the Crime of Weaponizing a
Virus for Political Purposes?
(Common Dreams, June 16,
Let's be very, very clear: the president is willing to take
specific, willful, intentional actions that will lead to the
deaths of other people in order to get what he wants, even
when they are members of his own family.
Every other country in the world that is not run by a
strongman dictator and has a functioning government is
executing a specific plan to protect their citizens from this
deadly virus. Trump and Republicans are not only ignoring the
need for a plan but are actively working against the advice of
their own scientists, putting politics and Trump’s ego above
the lives of American citizens. The cruel and willful
brutality of Trump and Scalia’s strategy is shocking, and the
rest of the world looks at us with horror. Yet the Republican
Party seems to think that this is all just fine.
Weaponizing a virus for political purposes is a crime against
humanity, and it is being committed right in front of our own
eyes against our friends and neighbors, coworkers and family
Can Protect the Economy From Pandemics. Why Didn't We?
(Wired, June 16, 2020)
A virologist helped crack an impossible problem: how to insure
against the economic fallout from devastating viral outbreaks.
The plan was ingenious. Yet we're still in this mess. It's
called the cycle of panic and neglect.
could have 'herd immunity' tomorrow ... if everyone would
just put on a mask.
(Daily Kos, June 16, 2020)
the Law Harms Public Health
(Democracy Journal, June 16,
The pandemic highlights the urgent need to change the legal
paradigm from individual responsibility to social solidarity.
States have an incentive to reduce benefits (to avoid high
taxes that might drive businesses to less generous states),
and employers have an incentive to fight their workers’ claims
(to avoid higher premiums in the future). The results have
been predictable. States have gutted their systems for
administering unemployment insurance, creating delays and
obstacles to obtaining coverage and deterring new claims.
Although Congress temporarily expanded unemployment insurance
in its stimulus legislation, these administrative burdens have
significantly blunted the impact of Congress’s action.
The Economic Policy Institute estimates that they kept between
8.9 and 13.9 million people from filing for unemployment
insurance in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. And as
Georgetown University law professor Brian Galle wrote last
year in the Arizona State Law Journal, “employers have grown
considerably more skilled and aggressive than in the past,
resulting in more workers being found ineligible or cut off
from benefits before those benefits expire.” Although it is
too soon to see concrete evidence, this development is bound
to affect workers who claim unemployment during the pandemic.
States have also limited eligibility for benefits to ensure
that workers do not obtain them when they can in fact work.
Unemployment is generally available only to those who are
“available and able to work,” and who did not voluntarily
leave their previous positions. Workers who leave jobs for
fear of being infected with the coronavirus or refuse to take
particular jobs because of the same concern will often be
disqualified by these provisions. Iowa Republican Governor Kim
Reynolds has declared that, “If you’re an employer and you
offer to bring your employee back to work and they decide not
to, that’s a voluntary quit.” Reynolds has urged employers to
report to the state those workers who refuse to return. Even
Ohio, which has been comparatively more aggressive in
responding to the pandemic, has encouraged the reporting of
employees who do not come back to work when their businesses
reopen. The Trump Administration has supported these efforts,
on the ground that they will “guard against fraud and abuse”
of the unemployment system.
And there exists no other more general program of social
assistance that will pick up the slack. Social Security
Disability Insurance would be the most likely candidate. But
the Social Security Act provides that workers cannot qualify
unless they can demonstrate that they have a “severe
impairment” that makes them unable to perform not only their
past work but “any other substantial gainful work that exists
in the national economy.” Many people who are especially
vulnerable to the coronavirus will not satisfy that demanding
standard. For those who can, the process can take months or
even years—hardly timely for those who have lost their source
The voluntary-quit and available-for-work rules thus create a
deadly dilemma for people who are especially vulnerable due to
the Toilet May Fling Coronavirus Aerosols All Over.
York Times, June 16, 2020)
A new study shows how turbulence from a toilet bowl can create
a large plume that is potentially infectious to a bathroom’s
Thankfully, people can also easily prevent the spread of
infections from the toilet plume. “Close the lid first and
then trigger the flushing process,” Dr. Wang said, which he
acknowledged isn’t always possible in public bathrooms. You
should also wash your hands frequently and thoroughly,
especially if you’re using a shared restroom where the toilet
doesn’t have a lid or the flush is automatically triggered on
standing up. Avoid touching your face, and keep your mask on
in the bathroom, which could prevent some exposure to the
Dr. Wang hopes the new research will help lead to improvements
in bathroom design, including increased attention to
contactless dispensers for soap and paper towels, and toilets
that flush only after they have been covered with a lid. Other
experts are already considering indoor ultraviolet lights and
automated disinfectant sprays that will zap the coronavirus
and relieve some of the pressure on keeping public toilets
inexpensive drug reduces coronavirus deaths, scientists say.
(New York Times, June 16, 2020)
Scientists at the University of Oxford said on Tuesday that
they have identified what they called the first drug proven to
reduce coronavirus-related deaths, after a 6,000-patient trial
of the drug in Britain showed that a low-cost steroid could
reduce deaths significantly for hospitalized patients. The
steroid, dexamethasone, reduced deaths by a third in patients
receiving ventilation, and by a fifth in patients receiving
only oxygen treatment, the scientists said. They found no
benefit from the drug in patients who did not need respiratory
Matt Hancock, Britain’s health secretary, said National Health
Service doctors would begin treating patients with the drug on
Tuesday afternoon. The government started stockpiling
dexamethasone several months ago because it was hopeful about
the potential of the drug, Mr. Hancock said, and now has
200,000 doses on hand. “Dexamethasone is the first drug to be
shown to improve survival in Covid-19,” said Peter Horby,
professor of emerging infectious diseases at the University of
Oxford, and one of the chief investigators for the trial, said
in a statement. “The survival benefit is clear and large in
those patients who are sick enough to require oxygen
Professor Horby said that dexamethasone should now become the
“standard of care in these patients,” noting that it is
inexpensive, widely available and can be used immediately.
is on the rise across the South, as Republicans put dollars
ahead of lives.
(Daily Kos, June 16, 2020)
While Trump has fingered Jacksonville as the site for an
unchecked and unlimited Republican convention, Florida
surpassed its previous high number for daily cases on Friday,
then broke that record on Saturday. Then, despite the usual
decline that comes with weekends, Florida reported a Sunday
number that would have been its record just two days earlier.
There is absolutely no doubt that Florida is trending upward,
both in the area about Miami and in the panhandle counties.
And this is happening while Florida is still preventing county
officials from accurately reporting causes of deaths. All of
this came in the same week that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis made
it clear that he wasn’t going to hold back on reopening, no
matter how many cases, or deaths, he saw. Appearing at a press
conference, and meeting with people in Jacksonville, DeSantis
notably did not wear a mask.
It’s not just Trump’s convention that looks like it’s going to
be a virus bath. In Tulsa, the public health director has
begged Trump to cancel his event, and that’s despite being a
Trump fan who feels “honored” to have the first pandemic rally
in his hometown. The editors of Tulsa World are even less
enthusiastic about the event. “We don’t know why he chose
Tulsa,” they wrote in a Monday editorial, “but we can’t see
any way that his visit will be good for the city.” They point
out that Trump may come and go, but the city and the people
will be left to deal with the aftereffects at a time when
local cases are already on the increase.
Supreme Court issues a surprising landmark ruling for
(New York Times, June 16, 2020)
The Supreme Court currently has a reliable five-member
conservative majority on many issues — like business
regulation, campaign finance, voting rights and the death
penalty. On several of these issues, the court has issued
sweeping decisions that throw out earlier precedents. On other
issues, however, the court does not lean so far to the right.
The list includes immigration, antitrust and the census, all
subjects on which at least one conservative justice has joined
the court’s liberal members to issue liberal or moderate
After Justice Anthony Kennedy retired in 2018, it wasn’t clear
which category L.G.B.T.Q. rights would fall into. Kennedy had
written landmark opinions on gay rights, including the 2015
legalization of same-sex marriage. And when Brett Kavanaugh
replaced Kennedy in 2018, many civil-rights advocates were
Yesterday’s big Supreme Court decision — holding that the
Civil Rights Act of 1964 protected gay and transgender workers
from workplace discrimination — seems to answer the
uncertainty: Even post-Kennedy, the court still leans left on
Krugman: Market Madness in the Pandemic; why are investors
rushing to buy junk?
(New York Times, June 15, 2020)
Hertz’s stock price fell from more than $20 in February to
less than $1 in early June. But then a funny thing happened:
Investors suddenly piled into the stock, driving it up by more
than 500 percent. And Hertz — in bankruptcy! — announced plans
to raise money by selling more stock. The Hertz story was just
one example of a broader phenomenon. The run-up in stock
prices that took place between mid-May and Thursday’s sudden
plummet was driven, to an important extent, by investors
rushing into very dubious companies — what one observer called
a “flight to crap.”
Stock markets never bear much relationship to the real
economy, but these days they don’t seem to have much to do
with reality in general. So what is going on in the market?
Think of it as a play in three acts (so far).
The first act was the huge decline that markets experienced as
the threat from Covid-19 became clear. This decline reflected
justified concerns about future profits, but it also reflected
a developing financial crisis: For a few weeks credit markets
were seizing up pretty much the same way they did in 2008.
The Federal Reserve, however, has been there and done that. It
moved quickly, buying bonds, establishing special lending
facilities, and essentially doing whatever it took to
lubricate markets and keep money flowing freely. The result
was the second act of the play, a stock rebound that made up
about half of the losses from the initial plunge.
Up to that point the behavior of stock prices generally made
sense. But then came the third act, a surge in prices that
eliminated most of the previous losses and drove the Nasdaq to
a new high. And this surge bore all the usual signs of a
bubble. Robert Shiller, the world’s leading expert on such
things, has pointed out that asset bubbles are, in effect,
naturally occurring Ponzi schemes. Early investors see big
gains because later investors drive prices up, inducing more
people to buy in, and so on; the party continues until
something cuts off the flow of new money, and suddenly
So it was with the recent stock surge. Encouraged by the
Fed-induced recovery of stocks from their March lows, some
investors began buying. Their optimism became a
self-fulfilling prophecy, as initial gains led more cautious
investors to join in, driven by FOMO — fear of missing out. It
looked a lot like the dot-com bubble of the 1990s, except on a
vastly accelerated timetable. Most of the evidence suggests
that a major role in this apparent bubble was played by small
investors — “retail bros” — pursuing get-rich-quick dreams.
Some of these exuberant investors were people who normally bet
on sports and were looking for an alternative source of
excitement. And as the Hertz example shows, they didn’t care
much about quality.
Why didn’t large investors offset this apparent irrational
exuberance by selling stocks? As John Maynard Keynes argued
long ago, staid investors who usually stabilize the market
tend to abdicate judgment in “abnormal times.” We are, you
might say, in a time when the smart money lacks all
conviction, while the dumb money is filled with a passionate
And now the bubble may — may — be bursting. But does any of
this matter? In a direct sense, not much. Stock prices surely
have some impact on business investment and consumer spending,
but these effects are probably small.
But the Trump team sees stock prices as the ultimate measure
of policy success. Back in 2007 — on the eve of the Great
Recession — Larry Kudlow, who is now Trump’s top economist,
declared that things were going great, because the market was
up, and stock prices are “the best barometer of the health,
wealth and security of a nation.” So the Trumpists took the
rising market as validation for everything they were doing —
their push for early reopening even though the coronavirus was
by no means contained, their opposition to further relief for
In other words, the irrational exuberance of the retail bros
may have enabled the irresponsibility of an administration
that didn’t want to deal with reality in the first place. And
while falling stocks may provoke a reconsideration, a lot of
damage has already been done.
Jackson: Too many African American children are born in
(Chicago Sun-Times, June 15, 2020)
Led by the passion of a young and diverse generation, the
country must finally address the systemic inequality that
increasingly endangers all of us. For African Americans,
poverty should not be a prison and skin color should not be a
cage. White supremacists disguised as police officers should
not use us as target practice. So-called “qualified immunity”
must not shield killers from the law. Those with a shield and
a badge must be held to the highest standards.
It is time to fulfill America’s promise of equal justice under
the law. As the demonstrations continue, the reality of the
criminal injustice system that African Americans face every
day keeps getting exposed.
At the same time, the pandemic has exposed the systemic racial
gaps that scar our society. Police serve as an occupying force
in poor communities of color because those communities exist —
often created by red-lining — worsened by savage inequality of
schools and health care and job opportunity. CNN recently
detailed “Black-White Inequality in Six Stark Charts.” African
Americans have barely 1/10th the median wealth of white
families, a wider gap than at the beginning of the century.
The disparity is primarily due to the differences in home
ownership, where African Americans suffer from being locked
out of so many neighborhoods for so long, and inheritance,
where African Americans suffer the legacy of years of slavery
Poverty, unemployment, low income, low savings all lead to
vulnerability. African Americans are less likely to have
adequate health insurance and more likely to have chronic
illnesses. So African Americans, about 13.2% of the
population, have suffered 23% of COVID-19 deaths.
Consider the shackles we put on too many African American
children born into impoverished neighborhoods. Their mothers
are less likely to have prenatal care; they are more likely to
suffer death or injury at birth. They are less likely to have
adequate nutrition; more likely to grow up in apartments with
lead in the walls and pipes; less likely to have day care or
pre-K. They go to public schools inequitable to those in the
affluent suburbs. They walk dangerous streets, where police
too often provide not protection but a separate threat. And if
they rise above that and go to college, they graduate with far
higher student debt, into a job market that will pay them less
than their white peers.
All of this is well known. None of it is accidental. Solutions
are known but not adopted.
Now change is in the air and, more importantly, in the
streets. New possibilities are open. America is called once
more, led by the passion of a young generation more diverse
than ever, finally to begin to address the racism that
increasingly endangers us all.
Cites George Floyd Killing While Denying Immunity To West
Virginia Officers Who Shot A Black Man 22 Times As He Lay On
(TechDirt, June 15, 2020)
Philly court supervisor was fired after video showed him
tearing down signs and saying he doesn’t care about black
(Philadelphia Inquirer, June 15, 2020)
who doesn't wear mask on floor of the House announces he and
his family caught COVID-19.
(Daily Kos, June 15, 2020)
Republican Rep. Tom Rice of South Carolina took to his
Facebook page on Monday to announce that he, his wife, and his
son had all tested positive for COVID-19. Calling it the
“Wuhan Flu,” Rice said that his son got it the worst, with a
high fever and coughing, but seemed “on the mend.” Rice said
his and his wife’s cases were less severe, with his wife
having it worse. According to him, his son first came down
with symptoms last Sunday, which would be June 7. Rice himself
says he came down with it on Monday, June 8, and his wife
Wrenzie “got it on Thursday.” An important thing to
distinguish here is that these dates aren’t necessarily when
this family “got” or contracted the virus; they just represent
the days that each of them started displaying symptoms.
CNN’s Manu Raju reported that Rep. Rice was in the House
chambers and on the floor the week before his son showed
symptoms. At that time, Rep. Rice did not wear a mask when he
was on the floor. Raju asked him about this lack of precaution
at the time and Rice explained that “I'm socially distancing.
I'm staying six feet away from folks.” Rep. Rice did say he
would wear the mask if he was in a space like an airplane
where he couldn’t keep the distance between him and others.
And from its Comments thread: The SC Republican Party had a
huge going away party for a staffer on June 5 in Horry
County. Tom Rice was there. Looking back at the news
coverage, there were almost no face masks worn and lots of
close contact, handshakes, hugs, and kisses. TWO
DAYS later, Tom Rice’s son has symptoms, followed by Rice the
next day. Its pretty good odds that Rice was either
infected at the party or was himself infectious. ... Some of
the other attendees were Senators Lindsey Graham and Tim
Scott, plus many other of South Carolina’s “finest” repubs.
Cox Richardson: Today was busy as the White House squared
off against opponents.
(Letters From An American, June
The president has personified his administration to such an
extent that it increasingly feels like it is less a clash of
political parties that fuels today’s political animosities
than it is him against the world.
encourages state governors to lie to their citizens about
spikes in Covid-19 infections.
(Daily Kos, June 15,
Vice-President Pence, whose political future is as much on the
line as Donald Trump’s this November, is now encouraging state
governors to lie about the reasons why Trump’s push to reopen
the country is now resulting in an alarming spike in Covid-19
outbreaks. Pence also urged governors to support Trump’s
increasingly dismal re-election prospects by “encourag[ing]
people with the news that we’re safely reopening the country.”
The reality is that the “information” Pence is so eager for
state governors to peddle to their citizens is deliberately
sheds new light on intelligent life existing across the
(Science X, June 15, 2020)
["30 Civilizations exist." Calculated from a sole data point -
and once again, it's us! If we can design Gods in our own
image, why not Cosmos(es)?]
eBay Execs Allegedly Made Life Hell for Natick Critics.
(Wired, June 15, 2020)
Surveillance. Harassment. A live cockroach delivery. US
attorneys have charged six former eBay workers in association
with an outrageous cyberstalking campaign.
eVTOL flying car will run on hydrogen.
June 15, 2020)
Urban Aeronautics Ltd. (Urban Aeronautics), the pioneering
Israeli hydrogen/electric-powered vertical take-off and
landing (eVTOL) developer, who recently announced its
partnership with the Boeing Company, now joins forces with
Asia’s tech-powered urban air mobility service Ascent Flights
Global Pte. Ltd (Ascent), to bring the eVTOL
(MIT News, June 15, 2020)
Associate Professor Jinhua Zhao, who will direct the new MIT
Mobility Initiative, brings behavioral science to urban
transportation. To understand urban movement, Zhao believes,
we also need to understand people. How does everyone choose to
use transport? Why do they move around, and when? How does
their self-image influence their choices? “The main part of my
own thinking is the recognition that transportation systems
are half physical infrastructure, and half human beings,” Zhao
Access MIT program offers free public transit to MIT
(MIT News, June 14, 2020)
Plan gives commuters flexibility to choose, day-to-day, how
they get to campus.
‘Ripped A Hole’ In N.Y.C.’s Black Community. This Funeral
(8-min. video; New York Times, June 14,
In New York City, Covid-19 is disproportionately killing black
and Latino residents. As the city reopens, a longtime funeral
director in Harlem says, “It’s going to take a long time for
people to heal.”
Cases Spike Across Sun Belt as Economy Lurches into Motion.
(New York Times, June 14, 2020)
Arizona, Texas and Florida are reporting their highest case
numbers yet. As of Saturday, coronavirus cases were climbing
in 22 states amid reopenings.
The warning has echoed ominously for weeks from
epidemiologists, small-town mayors and county health
officials: Once states begin to reopen, a surge in coronavirus
cases will follow.
For close to a month, much of the United States has looked
like a nation open or beginning to open, and increasingly
unfettered by restrictions meant to slow the spread of the
coronavirus. After months of warnings and isolation, many
residents had stopped wearing masks and maintaining social
distance out of sheer fatigue. “They’ve been asked for quite
some time to not be around people they love, and that they
want to spend time with. Wearing a mask is not pleasant. And I
think people are tired.” With many government limits removed
and people left to make individual choices about precautions,
Americans have gone back to salons and restaurants, crowded
into public parks and, in dozens of cities, joined large
public demonstrations protesting police misconduct.
black pastor in Virginia was arrested after he called 911
alleging an assault and threats. The sheriff has apologized.
(Washington Post, June 14, 2020)
Pastor McCray said he was visiting an apartment property he
owns in Edinburg, population 1,100, when he saw a man and a
woman who did not live there dragging a refrigerator to his
dumpster. They grew “irate” when confronted, McCray said, and
the man left and returned with three others. McCray said the
group surrounded, jostled and threatened him, “telling me that
my black life and the Black Lives Matter stuff, they don’t
give a darn about that stuff in this county, and they could
care less and ‘We would kill you.’ ”
McCray drew a legally concealed handgun, he said, giving him
time to call 911. But when sheriff’s deputies responded, he
said, “I was not given the opportunity to tell what was going
on.” Instead, he was “handcuffed in front of the mob,” the
members of which were yelling racial epithets and threatening
him, McCray said. An officer whom McCray said he has known for
more than 20 years told him he did not agree with the order
but had to arrest McCray for brandishing a gun.
“All this happened on my property,” McCray said. “I said, what
about the trespassing and the assault?” McCray said he was
driven away while the five stood with deputies “waving at me
as I go down the road. You think about how disturbing that
Two sheriff’s office supervisors have been placed on unpaid
administrative leave over the incident, which occurred June 1,
Sheriff Carter said. “As I told Mr. McCray, if I were faced
with similar circumstances, I would have probably done the
same thing,” Carter said in a video and written post on
Facebook. “I want the people of Shenandoah County to know that
I and the sheriff’s office staff appreciate and care about the
minority communities, and especially our black community, in
Supreme Court says gay, transgender workers ARE protected by
(Associated Press, June 14, 2020)
“An employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or
transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would
not have questioned in members of a different sex,” Justice
Neil Gorsuch wrote for the court. “Sex plays a necessary and
undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII
The decision was a defeat not just for the employers, but also
the Trump administration, which argued that the law’s plain
wording compelled a ruling for the employers. Gorsuch, a
conservative appointee of President Donald Trump, concluded
the opposite, and Trump said Monday he accepted the court’s
“very powerful decision.”
Gorsuch was joined in the majority by Chief Justice John
Roberts and the court’s four liberal members. Justice Brett
Kavanaugh, Trump’s other Supreme Court pick, dissented, along
with Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas. “The Court
tries to convince readers that it is merely enforcing the
terms of the statute, but that is preposterous,” Alito wrote
in the dissent. “Even as understood today, the concept of
discrimination because of ‘sex’ is different from
discrimination because of ‘sexual orientation’ or ‘gender
U.S. win for LGBT rights but fight’s not over in
(Associated Press, June 14, 2020)
To be sure, LGBT rights advocates in Pennsylvania hailed the
high court’s ruling as a historic victory. But the court’s
ruling does not cover people who work for smaller employers,
and it does not extend legal protection against discrimination
to housing or public services, LGBT rights advocates in
MAGAs burn their own absentee ballot applications to own the
(Daily Kos, June 14, 2020)
I have to admit, this is a strategy that never occurred to me:
burning your own absentee ballot application to protest too
much voting by the other side.
This should become a national movement. Show them what you’re
made of, Trump fans. You’re no fools!
supporters burn Michigan absentee ballot applications.
(The Detroit News, June 13, 2020)
Care Advocates Push Back Against Trump’s Erasure of
(New York Times, June 13, 2020)
A new rule narrows the legal definition of sex discrimination
in the Affordable Care Act. Major health care providers
actively oppose it.
have friends, too.
(National Geographic, June 13, 2020)
The study is the latest in a growing body of evidence that
animals form tight bonds—suggesting that they’re more like us
than we thought.
study: Did coronavirus start in August 2019?
June 13, 2020)
Can Eavesdrop by Watching a Light Bulb's Vibrations.
(Wired, June 12, 2020)
The so-called lamphone technique allows for real-time
listening in on a room that's hundreds of feet away.
[With bare, unshaded filaments, yes. But why even more so with
fluorescent and LED lights?]
Have Reversed Time on The Smallest Scale Using a Quantum
(Science Alert, June 12, 2020)
[And ONLY on the smallest scale - because that does not
experts give a thumbs up to the Apple-Google coronavirus
(Washington Post, June 12, 2020)
Except, 40% of them disagree.
(45-sec. video; VoteVets, June 12, 2020)
The powerful message is the latest salvo in the push to change
military base names honoring Confederate military leaders. The
battle has gained steam in the wake of the national outcry
after George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, died when a white
police officer in Minneapolis knelt on his neck for nearly
Army spokesperson Cynthia Smith said in a statement Monday
that Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Army Secretary Ryan D.
McCarthy were “open to a bipartisan discussion” about renaming
the bases. The Marines and the Navy both this week banned the
display of the Confederate flag.
But the president declared Wednesday he “will not even
consider” renaming the military bases, claiming it would be
and Promises Followed Ferguson, but Little Changed.
York Times, June 13, 2020)
Millions of dollars were spent to alter overly aggressive
policing after the killing of Michael Brown in 2014, with
little result. After the unrest that followed that fatal
shooting, police departments spent tens of millions of dollars
on body cameras, revised use-of-force policies and held
training sessions in implicit bias and de-escalation. A
presidential task force issued 153 recommendations and action
items. The Justice Department forced seven troubled police
departments into consent decrees with mandatory benchmarks
aimed at reducing racial disparities and police brutality.
Six years after Mr. Brown’s body was left on the street for
hours, the death of another African-American man, George
Floyd, who begged for his life as a Minneapolis officer
pressed a knee on his neck, came down like a verdict: The plan
to remake American policing has failed. Attitudes have
changed, yes. Police critics have been elected to positions of
power. Some departments have decreased arrests, rethought
stop-and-frisk policies and reduced police shootings. There
have been successful experiments with diverting people to
social services instead of jail. But topline numbers, such as
the overall count of people fatally shot by the police each
year, have not budged. And even when departments pull back
from aggressive policing, they often find that stark racial
disparities linger — or worsen.
A federal after-action report found that the Ferguson police
had escalated the tensions there by failing to understand the
community’s problems and using “ineffective and inappropriate
tactics” like the use of tear gas in unsafe conditions and
without warning — tactics that now appear to have proliferated
across the country. Despite the renewed urgency every time a
black man or woman dies needlessly at the hands of law
enforcement, activists have found that the pace of change
ranges from slow to glacial.
Will George Floyd’s death be different?
Check: Investigating George Floyd’s Criminal Record
(Snopes, June 12, 2020)
The question of past arrests often surfaces among people who
want to rationalize police officers' actions when Black men
are killed in custody.
says Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic was
(Washington Post, June 12, 2020)
Joe Biden ratcheted up some of his criticism of President
Trump on Friday, saying that his handling of the coronavirus
was “almost criminal,” that he has “bungled” the economic
fallout, and that he has exacerbated racial tensions in the
During an hour-long town hall with the labor union AFSCME, the
presumptive Democratic presidential nominee warned that the
U.S. will likely see a resurgence of the coronavirus and that
Trump isn’t doing enough to prepare. “This is almost criminal,
the way he’s handled this,” Biden said of Trump’s leadership
on the coronavirus. “There’s going to be some form of second
wave, I hate to tell you this,” he added later. Biden said
Trump’s approach has led to more Americans deaths and a slower
economic recovery. “Donald Trump has bungled everything,” he
said. “He’s bungled us into the worst job crisis in over a
Biden also attacked the president for his focus on reopening.
“You have Trump saying, ‘Open up, open up, open up.’ Why do
you want to open up?” Biden said. “He does not care about the
public health. He wants to open up because he wants to say the
economy’s growing and the stock market’s going up.”
Biden also criticized Trump for holding a rally next week and
requiring attendees to sign a waiver that they will not sue if
they are later diagnosed with coronavirus. The rally is taking
place on Juneteenth, a day that celebrates the end of slavery.
“Did you hear what he just did? He’s having a rally on
Juneteenth,” Biden said. “All the people coming have to sign a
piece of paper saying if they get covid in this, they will not
sue the campaign. I mean, c’mon man.”
Referencing the waiver again later in the remarks, Biden said
it showed that Trump knows that the virus is returning. “He
knows it’s a problem. But he’s not doing a damn thing about
it,” Biden said.
way to reduce coronavirus transmission is by wearing a face
mask, study finds.
(with short video clips; CNN, June
The researchers calculated that wearing face masks prevented
more than 78,000 infections in Italy between April 6 and May
9, and more than 66,000 infections in New York City between
April 17 and May 9. "The current mitigation measures
implemented in the United States, such as social distancing,
quarantine, and isolation, are insufficient by themselves in
protecting the public," the researchers wrote.
survival comes with a $1.1 million, 181-page price tag.
(Seattle Times, June 12, 2020)
posts long-awaited tips for minimizing everyday risk.
(Associated Press, June 12, 2020)
Take the stairs, not the elevator, down from your hotel room.
Encourage people to bring their own food and drinks to your
cookout. Use hand sanitizer after banking at an ATM. Call
ahead to restaurants and nail salons to make sure staff are
wearing face coverings. And no high-fives — or even elbow
bumps — at the gym. These are some of the tips in long-awaited
guidance from U.S. health officials about how to reduce risk
of coronavirus infection for Americans who are attempting some
semblance of normal life.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posted the
guidelines Friday, along with a second set for organizing and
attending big gatherings such as concerts, sporting events,
protests and political rallies. But the guidelines are not
intended to endorse any particular type of event.
issues new covid-19 guidelines at a time of protests and
(Washington Post, June 12, 2020)
The CDC guidance includes a recommendation that organizers of
large events that involve shouting, chanting or singing
“strongly encourage” the use of cloth face coverings. That is
complicated by a push to reopen the country even as more than
2 million Americans have now been infected by the coronavirus.
Federal health officials on Friday said their guidance was
aimed at keeping people safe as states reopen and communities
plan and hold gatherings, such as concerts, festivals,
conferences, parades, weddings and sporting events. Jay
Butler, the CDC’s deputy director of infectious diseases,
sidestepped questions about whether the agency’s new guidance
for large gatherings applies to campaign rallies, saying the
recommendations speak for themselves.
Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert,
said Friday that it is a “danger” and “risky” for people to be
gathering in large groups — whether at a Trump rally or a
protest. Speaking on ABC News’s “Powerhouse Politics” podcast,
Fauci said that if the gatherings take place, people should
“make sure” to wear a mask.
Trump has repeatedly refused to wear a face covering in
public, and recently moved the main part of his party’s
nominating convention from North Carolina to Florida after
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) declined to promise he
could speak to a packed arena. Trump has indicated he does not
want to require participants to wear masks for his acceptance
The dissonance comes as fears of a new wave of coronavirus
surging in several regions, with a number of states reaching
record-high cases in recent days.
US government is spending millions to prevent a shortage of
glass vaccine vials.
(Quartz, June 12, 2020)
On Tuesday (June 9), BARDA awarded $204 million to the upstate
New York-based company Corning to make glass vials needed to
bottle and store vaccines. The money will help bring one of
Corning’s New York factories to maximum capacity, and equip
two others in New Jersey and North Carolina with the
specialized hardware to do the same. The goal is to ensure
that once a vaccine makes it through all three stages of
clinical testing, it can be widely distributed. This means
ramping up glass production now to support clinical trials and
other research, and eventually distribution. The goal of the
US Operation Warp Speed is to have 300 million Covid-19
vaccines ready by January.
Corning’s pharmaceutical glass, called Valor Glass, “was
intentionally designed to have optimized properties—without
boron,” says Schaut. It took years of tinkering to find a
chemical composition that allowed essentially no reactivity at
any temperature. Borosilicate glass could work to hold new
vaccines and drugs, but Valor glass is an improved version.
Both require more technical equipment and know-how than run of
the mill soda-lime glass.
Once there’s a vaccine and the vials to transport the doses
in, doctors will need enough supplies on hand to administer
millions of shots. On Monday, BARDA awarded a $143 million to
SiO2 Materials Science in Auburn, Alabama to expand its
Trump was in no rush to move into the White House. That’s
when she renegotiated her prenup, a new book says.
(Washington Post, June 12, 2020)
When Melania Trump stayed behind in New York after her
husband’s presidential inauguration, she said it was because
she didn’t want to interrupt their then-10-year-old son
Barron’s school year. News stories at the time concentrated on
an apparent frostiness between the first couple and on the
exorbitant taxpayer costs to protect Melania and Barron away
Those stories are true, but Washington Post reporter Mary
Jordan reveals in The Art Of Her Deal
that the first
lady was also using her delayed arrival to the White House as
leverage for renegotiating her prenuptial agreement with
President Trump. For her book, Jordan conducted more than 100
interviews, with everyone from the first lady’s Slovenian
schoolmates to former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, and
she lays out an argument that Melania Trump is as devoted to
her own myth-making as her husband is to his.
Racial Wealth Gap in America: Asset Types Held by Race
(Visual Capitalist, June 12, 2020)
England 'ready to act' as economy shrinks record 20%.
(BBC News, June 12, 2020)
How come the other 80% is still standing? In large part,
thanks to the extraordinary levels of state intervention
propping it up. More than one in four UK workers - some 8.9
million - are now on the government's furlough scheme that
allows them to receive 80% of their monthly salary up to
£2,500. The scheme has cost £19.6bn so far, while a similar
programme for self-employed workers has seen 2.6 million
claims made worth £7.5bn.
Without these schemes, household consumption, which makes up
nearly two-thirds of the UK's GDP, would have fallen even
Bank: Recession Is The Deepest In Decades.
A new World Bank report warns that the pandemic has plunged
the global economy into a deep recession of historic
proportions, and the recovery outlook is grim, particularly
for developing countries. The report, Global Economic
Prospects, published Monday, compares the current economic
crisis to the 13 other recessions that have hit the global
economy since 1870. This recession is the first to be
triggered solely by a pandemic, and it is enormous. Here are
five major takeaways from the report — four pessimistic and
one guardedly optimistic:
1. Historically, this is the worst global recession in several
2. Tens of millions of people will be pushed back into
3. Because rich countries are being hit, poorer countries will
suffer more in the long run.
4. Even under the best-case scenario, the numbers are
5. This crisis provides the opportunity to rebuild better.
U.S. debt surges to $55.9 trillion amid big increases in
corporate and government borrowing.
(1-min. video; CNBC,
June 11, 2020)
Debt surged and household net worth tumbled in the first three
months of the year as the initial impact of the coronavirus
pandemic hit, according to the Federal Reserve Bank. Total
domestic nonfinancial debt jumped by 11.7% to $55.9 trillion,
the report said. Debt had increased by 3.2% in the previous
The increases in debt and decrease in household worth came as
the longest expansion in U.S. history came to an end. Earlier
this week, the National Bureau of Economic Research declared
that a recession started in February, following an 11-year
expansion. The bull market in stocks ended the same month but
turned around on March 23.
grow uneasy as universities scramble to bring students back
(Boston Globe, June 11, 2020)
“People are upset,” Michaels said. “People get tired of being
told by deans and provosts what the best thing to do is. If
there’s anything we should be consulted about, it is how we do
Faculty rebellions are simmering on campuses across the
country, said Walter Benn Michaels, a member of the academic
freedom committee at the American Association of University
Professors and a professor at the University of Illinois at
Chicago. Longtime professors fear that their age makes them
more susceptible to the more serious effects of the virus.
Younger professors worry about having child care options if
schools and day cares aren’t fully in session. And professors
without tenure or employment protections worry that if they
don’t come to class, they could lose their jobs, he said.
targets ICC with sanctions after court opens war crimes
(The Guardian, June 11, 2020)
The Trump administration has launched an economic and legal
offensive on the international criminal court in response to
the court’s decision to open an investigation into war crimes
in Afghanistan carried out by all sides, including the US.
The US will not just sanction ICC officials involved in the
investigation of alleged war crimes by the US and its allies,
it will also impose visa restrictions on the families of those
officials. Additionally, the administration declared on
Thursday that it was launching a counter-investigation into
the ICC, for alleged corruption.
The ICC responded on Thursday night with a statement
expressing “profound regret at the announcement of further
threats and coercive actions. These attacks constitute an
escalation and an unacceptable attempt to interfere with the
rule of law and the Court’s judicial proceedings. They are
announced with the declared aim of influencing the actions of
ICC officials in the context of the court’s independent and
objective investigations and impartial judicial proceedings.”
An attack on the ICC also represents an attack against the
interests of victims of atrocity crimes, for many of whom the
Court represents the last hope for justice.
Democrats make Biden one of weakest primary winners in
(Washington Times, June 11, 2020)
Joseph R. Biden may have sewn up the Democratic presidential
nomination, but that has not translated into unity in a party
where a sizable chunk of voters is still turning out to vote
against him in primary elections.
dust is blowing into U.S. national parks—more than 1000 tons
(Science Magazine, June 11, 2020)
who claimed George Floyd and Derek Chauvin "bumped heads"
(3-min. video; CBS News, June 11, 2020)
A man who worked at the same club with George Floyd and Derek
Chauvin – and previously told CBS News the two had "bumped
heads" – changed his story Wednesday, saying he had mistaken
Floyd for another unnamed African-American employee.
Pinney had also described Chauvin as "extremely aggressive
within the club," a characterization he stands by.
U.S. general apologizes for appearing in photo-op with Trump
after forceful removal of protesters.
CNN, June 11, 2020)
America's top general has apologized for appearing in a
photo-op with President Donald Trump following the forceful
dispersal of peaceful protesters outside the White House last
week. Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of
Staff, said during a pre-recorded speech released on Thursday,
that he regrets accompanying Trump on a walk from the White
House to St. John's Church last week where he was photographed
wearing his combat uniform and moving with the President's
entourage through Lafayette Square. "I should not have been
there. My presence in that moment and in that environment
created a perception of the military involved in domestic
politics. As a commissioned uniformed officer, it was a
mistake that I have learned from, and I sincerely hope we all
can learn from it." Milley also said that he was "outraged" by
the killing of George Floyd and added that the protests it
sparked spoke to "centuries of injustice toward African
Armed Forces Shouldn't Have to Save Us From the President*'s
(Esquire, June 11, 2020)
In the nation's capital last week, it was National Guard
officers who safeguarded the right to protest.
slashed tires on vehicles parked amid Minneapolis protests,
(Minneapolis Star Tribune, June 11, 2020)
Two law enforcement agencies acknowledged Monday that officers
patrolling Minneapolis during the height of recent protests
knifed the tires of numerous vehicles parked and unoccupied in
at least two locations in the midst of the unrest.
Video and photo images posted on the news outlet Mother Jones
show officers in military-style uniforms puncturing tires in
the Kmart parking lot at Lake Street and Nicollet Avenue on
May 30. Images from S. Washington Avenue at Interstate 35W
also showed officers with knives deflating the tires of two
unoccupied cars with repeated jabs on May 31. Department of
Public Safety spokesman Bruce Gordon confirmed that tires were
cut in “a few locations.” “State Patrol troopers strategically
deflated tires … in order to stop behaviors such as vehicles
driving dangerously and at high speeds in and around
protesters and law enforcement,” Gordon said. Gordon said the
patrol also targeted vehicles “that contained items used to
cause harm during violent protests” such as rocks, concrete
and sticks. “While not a typical tactic, vehicles were being
used as dangerous weapons and inhibited our ability to clear
areas and keep areas safe where violent protests were
occurring,” he said. As in all operations of this size, there
will be a review about how these decisions were made.”
the Army troops prepared to move on D.C. protesters were
armed with bayonets.
(Daily Kos, June 11, 2020)
Tactics by National Guard, Ordered to Appease Trump, Wounded
the Military, Too.
(New York Times, June 10, 2020)
D.C. Guard members, typically deployed to help after
hurricanes, floods and other natural disasters, say they feel
demoralized and exhausted. More than 60 percent are people of
color, and one soldier said he and some fellow troops were so
ashamed in taking part against the protests that they have
kept it from family members.
Is Suspending Police Use Of Its Facial Recognition Tech For
(BuzzFeed, June 10, 2020)
The company is joining IBM, but it doesn't mean Amazon is
totally out of the facial recognition business.
it matters that IBM is getting out of the facial recognition
(Vox, June 10, 2020)
Researchers have for years warned about the problems with
facial recognition. Now Big Blue is ditching the tech.
IBM is taking a stand against the development of technology
that can lead to human rights abuses. Activists and
researchers have sounded the alarm for years about facial
recognition technology’s myriad problems, including its racial
and gender biases and privacy risks. Some are hailing IBM’s
announcement as a notable move, emphasizing that the major
technology company’s resources will now be directed elsewhere.
IMB’s decision to back away from facial recognition could also
send a signal to other major sellers of this technology.
This was not a quiet announcement by IBM. In a letter to
members of Congress, IBM CEO Arvind Krishna said the company
would no longer make general-purpose facial recognition and
analysis software, citing concerns about the technology’s use
by law enforcement agencies. He clarified that IBM “firmly
opposes” the use of facial recognition “for mass surveillance,
racial profiling, violations of basic human rights and
freedoms.” The letter also outlined various efforts the
company would take in response to ongoing anti-police
brutality demonstrations, such as endorsing a federal registry
for police misconduct.
The news follows extensive efforts by organizers and
researchers highlighting how facial recognition can have
baked-in racial and gender biases.
Deadly Mosquito-Borne Illness Is Brewing in the Northeast.
(Medium, June 10, 2020)
EEE kills almost half of its victims, and cases are on the
Harris seizes the spotlight as Biden seeks a veep — but
(Washington Post, June 10, 2020)
House impeachment managers: Trump is as lawless and corrupt
(Washington Post, June 10, 2020)
Four months ago, we tried President Trump for abusing the
power of his office in ways that undermined our country’s
national security, the integrity of U.S. elections and the
constitutional structure of our republic. Trump’s efforts to
coerce an ally to help him cheat in the upcoming election
violated the public trust, went to the heart of his unfitness
for office — and revealed that he prioritizes his interests
over those of the nation.
The president was not changed by impeachment. He is as lawless
and corrupt as ever. But his wrongdoing has far greater
consequences given the acute challenges facing the nation, the
failure of those around him to curb destructive impulses, and
the continued unwillingness of many members of Congress to
serve as a meaningful check and balance as the Founders
In just the few months since the impeachment trial, more than
110,000 Americans have perished from a pandemic, tens of
millions are unemployed, the world has turned away from
America, and protests over police brutality and systemic
racism have erupted nationwide. Yet Americans looking for
leadership find none in the White House. Instead, this
president and his administration take actions that rend the
foundation of our democracy.
Tapped in Flynn Case Calls Justice Dept. Reversal a ‘Gross
Abuse’ of Power.
(New York Times, June 10, 2020)
A former federal judge said that the attorney general gave
special treatment to a presidential ally, undermining public
confidence in the rule of law.
campaign demands CNN apologize for poll that shows Biden
(CNN, June 10, 2020)
President Donald Trump's campaign is demanding CNN retract and
apologize for a recent poll that showed him well behind
presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. The
demand, coming in the form of a cease and desist letter to CNN
President Jeff Zucker that contained numerous incorrect and
misleading claims, was immediately rejected by the network. In
the letter to Zucker, the Trump campaign argued that the CNN
poll is "designed to mislead American voters through a biased
questionnaire and skewed sampling. It's a stunt and a phony
poll to cause voter suppression, stifle momentum and
enthusiasm for the President, and present a false view
generally of the actual support across America for the
President." The campaign formally requested that CNN retract
the poll and publish a "full, fair, and conspicuous
retraction, apology, and clarification to correct its
The CNN poll conducted by SSRS and released on Monday shows
Trump trailing the former vice president by 14 points,
55%-41%, among registered voters. It also finds the
President's approval rating at 38% -- his worst mark since
January 2019, and roughly on par with approval ratings for
one-term Presidents Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush at this
point in their reelection years -- and his disapproval rating
"We stand by our poll," said Matt Dornic, a CNN spokesman.
David Vigilante, CNN's executive vice president and general
counsel, told the campaign that its "allegations and demands
are rejected in their entirety. To my knowledge, this is the
first time in its 40-year history that CNN had been threatened
with legal action because an American politician or campaign
did not like CNN's polling results. To the extent we have
received legal threats from political leaders in the past,
they have typically come from countries like Venezuela or
other regimes where there is little or no respect for a free
and independent media."
to Grow Green
(Bloomberg, June 9, 2020)
26 ways to launch a clean energy future out of the pandemic
I saw was just absolutely wrong’: National Guardsmen
struggle with their role in controlling protests.
(Politico, June 9, 2020)
POLITICO spoke to 10 National Guardsmen who have taken part in
the protest response across the country since the killing of
George Floyd while in police custody.
Pvt. Si’Kenya Lynch, a member of the D.C. National Guard, was
on duty at Lafayette Square near the White House last Monday
when U.S. Park Police cleared the area of protesters ahead of
President Donald Trump’s now-infamous photo op. Lynch said she
supports the protests, and that her brother was among the
demonstrators on the other side of the line, adding that “he
coughed a lot” due to the tear gas fired into the crowd.
accuses 75-year-old peace advocate assaulted by Buffalo
police of being 'antifa provocateur'.
(Daily Kos, June
The police response to protests following the murder of George
Floyd have included many other instances in which they have
demonstrated they’re perfectly willing to commit more violence
in front of a watching world. But few moments in the last two
weeks have been more distressing than when the Buffalo police
not only pushed 75-year-old peace activist Martin Gugino
violently to the ground, but continued past him without
offering assistance, even as blood poured from Gugino’s ear
and puddled beneath his head.
But on Tuesday morning, Trump piled on Gugino in a second
attack that isn’t just shocking, it’s an utter break with
reality. In a tweet reacting to his new favorite propaganda
outfit, OANN, Trump accused Gugino of being an “antifa
provocateur,” of faking his fall, and of “scanning” the police
with a non-existent device as part of a false-flag operation.
And perhaps best of all, this story comes straight from a
reporter whose last job was working for Russian state media.
Camp Runs Ads on D.C. Cable to Ease the Boss’ Anxieties and
Buck Up Congressional GOPers.
(Daily Beast, June 9,
The president has been worried about his standing electorally.
So his team gave him some content to watch on his favorite
June 9, 2020 / 7:06 PM / 3 days ago
Zealand eradicates coronavirus, at least for now.
News, June 9, 2020)
mask-wearing could prevent COVID-19 second waves: study.
(Reuters, June 9, 2020)
Population-wide face mask use could push COVID-19 transmission
down to controllable levels for national epidemics, and could
prevent further waves of the pandemic disease when combined
with lockdowns, according to a British study on Wednesday. The
research, led by scientists at the Britain’s Cambridge and
Greenwich Universities, suggests lockdowns alone will not stop
the resurgence of the new SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, but that
even homemade masks can dramatically reduce transmission rates
if enough people wear them in public. “Our analyses support
the immediate and universal adoption of face masks by the
public,” said Richard Stutt, who co-led the study at
The World Health Organization said on Friday it now recommends
that everyone wear fabric face masks in public to try to
reduce disease spread.
Revolution: Unlocking the Digital Age
Capitalist, June 8, 2020)
5G will go from promise to roll-out in 2020. What sets it
apart from its predecessor?
For starters, 5G’s speed improvements are something to
behold—it is up to 20x faster than 4G. On 4G, an average movie
takes 6 minutes to download. With 5G, it will take less than
In other benefits, 5G supports 10x more devices per square
kilometer. As a result, 5G will be able to seamlessly handle
many more devices, within the same area as before. This is
pivotal for its use in the imminent Internet of Things (IoT).
Finally, latency is the delay (lag), or the time that it takes
to send data from point A to point B. With 5G, latency plunges
25x compared to 4G. This results in almost instantaneous data
5G is one of the most anticipated technologies of our time,
and with good reason. In the coming years, the partnership
between 5G and the IoT could bring about a boom in smart tech,
and this effect could trickle into growth for the economy and
investor portfolios. The 5G network is the perfect backbone
for the IoT—supporting increasing device numbers, facilitating
growing data transfers, and improving response time among
connected devices. 5G will likely speed up the mainstream
adoption of the IoT across multiple industries:
1. Transport - 5G enables self-driving cars to make “split
second” decisions, making them safer. These cars can also
connect to buildings, street lights, other cars, and even
pedestrians in smart cities—responding rapidly to any issues
and improving traffic flow. These two use cases are estimated
to bring a $170-$280 billion global GDP boost to the mobility
sector by 2030.
2. Manufacturing - 5G could usher in high-tech industry, using
AR/VR to boost productivity and precision. Analytics and
advanced robotics in smart factories can streamline
manufacturing processes, leading to efficiency gains and cost
savings. Altogether, the impact could be a $400-$650 billion
GDP boost to the industry by 2030.
3. Healthcare - While robotic surgeries are not new, 5G could
allow these procedures to occur remotely. Wearables and other
smart medical devices provide real-time updates on patients,
and make accurate diagnoses. These two applications will
contribute an additional $250-$450 billion in GDP to the
healthcare space by 2030.
Protests, Politicians Reconsider Police Budgets and
(New York Times, June 8, 2020)
Elected officials are exploring changes ranging from defunding
police departments to requiring more accountability.
respond to videos of state troopers puncturing and slashing
reporters’ parked car tires.
(Daily Kos, June 8, 2020)
As protesters hit the streets night after night last weekend
and reporters followed to cover the events, law enforcement
agencies went out to do their own type of vandalism: slashing
and puncturing people’s tires. Mother Jones has published a
video collection showing these brave American law enforcement
apples systematically destroying reporters’ and protesters’
vehicles. “In the videos, officers puncture tires in a K-Mart
parking lot on May 30 and a highway overpass on May 31. Both
areas briefly turned into police staging grounds near protest
The Star Tribune says it has identified two law enforcement
agencies as the perpetrators of this fascistic brand of
vandalism. They’re state troopers and deputies from Anoka
County. Sheriff’s Office Department of Public Safety spokesman
Bruce Gordon acknowledged the tire slashing and told news
outlets: “State Patrol troopers strategically deflated tires
[...] in order to stop behaviors such as vehicles driving
dangerously and at high speeds in and around protesters and
bottom's dropping out on Trump's approvals.
June 8, 2020)
New polling is out and Donald Trump will be shocked to learn
that gassing and violently beating peaceful protesters
exercising their First Amendment wasn't as popular as Attorney
General Bill Barr likely told him it would be.
Trump's approval plummeted fully seven points since last month
in the new CNN/SSRS poll conducted June 2-5, entirely in the
aftermath of Trump's disastrous photo op last Monday. Just 38%
of Americans approve of the way he's handling his job, while
57% disapprove—a nearly 20-point gap. As CNN notes, Trump is
resting comfortably right alongside where Jimmy Carter and
George H.W. Bush at this point in their reelection bids.
El-Erian: I’m ‘uncomfortable’ betting on continued ‘huge
recovery’ in the stock market.
(5-min. video; CNBC, June
Trump Turn a Vaccine Into a Campaign Stunt?
Times, June 8, 2020)
Given how this president has behaved, this incredibly
dangerous scenario is not far-fetched. In a desperate search
for a political boost in October, he could release a
coronavirus vaccine before it had been thoroughly tested and
shown to be safe and effective.
There are 123 candidate Covid-19 vaccines in development, and
10 are in human trials. Many have not even been tested, or
only perfunctorily tested, in animals. In July, the National
Institutes of Health is planning to begin randomized phase III
trials to test whether some of the 10 vaccines prevent
infection with coronavirus. Researchers are expecting that it
will be likely to take at least another eight to 12 months to
determine whether these coronavirus vaccines are effective.
Scientists have to wait until a sufficient number of patients
are exposed to coronavirus to see if the vaccine really
reduces the infection rate, as well as how many people develop
uncommon side effects. For comparison, the effectiveness trial
for the rotavirus vaccines took about four years and the human
papillomavirus vaccine studies to prevent cervical cancer took
Cognizant of the fate of Rick Bright — the head of the
Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, who
was summarily demoted when he resisted the president’s wishes
to ramp up purchase of hydroxychloroquine — the F.D.A. could
issue an Emergency Use Authorization for one or more vaccines.
These authorizations only require that the F.D.A. finds it
“reasonable to believe” that a vaccine “may be effective” in
preventing a life-threatening disease for it to be put on the
market, without being formally licensed.
Thousands of Americans have already died as Donald Trump has
perpetually postponed effective public health interventions
and made poor therapeutic recommendations. We must be on alert
to prevent him from corrupting the rigorous assessment of
safety and effectiveness of Covid-19 vaccines in order to pull
an October vaccine surprise to try to win re-election.
Erin Bromage: How to Lower the Risk of Contracting Covid-19.
(48-min. video; New York Times, June 8, 2020)
His recent blog post about the risks posed by coronavirus went
viral, catapulting him to international fame. Professor Erin
Bromage, a comparative immunologist, and professor of biology
at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, joined us to
share the latest data on how coronavirus spreads, and explore
smart ways to live your life while staying safe. Hosted by
Tara Parker-Pope, founding editor of Well.
reports a record number of hospitalized coronavirus patients
after state reopened early.
(CNBC, June 8, 2020)
Oliver: US policing is 'a structure built on systemic
; The Guardian, June 8, 2020)
The Last Week Tonight host traces the history of America’s
police culture, one ‘deeply entwined’ with white supremacy,
and what’s obstructing change.
On Sunday, John Oliver devoted the entire episode of Last Week
Tonight to the nationwide protests against anti-black racism
and police brutality sparked by the police killings of George
Floyd in Minneapolis and Breonna Taylor in Louisville, and the
fundamentally broken institution of law enforcement in the
United States. “Look, if the police are trying to convince the
public they’re not guilty of displaying excessive force, it’s
probably not a good idea to repeatedly display excessive force
on national television,” said Oliver after several clips of
police beating peaceful protesters with batons, wantonly
spraying pepper spray or, in New York, driving a police
cruiser into a barricaded crowd.
Hell Freezes Over As Mitt Romney Marches in DC w/
Evangelicals For Black Lives Matter!
(Daily Kos, June 7,
Attorney taken into Custody After Spitting on African
(2-min. video; Daily Kos, June 7, 2020)
A day of massive peaceful protests around Milwaukee ended with
Attorney Stephanie Rapkin blocking a large group with her car
& spitting in a young person's face. You can see it for
yourself in this compilation. She was later arrested by the
Here’s the mugshot… from her SECOND arrest. She was initially
charged with battery & disorderly conduct (for the
spitting incident). Then the police went to her home to charge
her for pushing another protester and she kneed the cop in the
groin. I hope this lady has a good lawyer.
Show Cops Slashing Car Tires at Protests in Minneapolis.
(1-min. video; Mother Jones, June 6, 2020)
After long nights of tear gas and rubber bullets, some
protesters, news crews, and medics in Minneapolis last weekend
found themselves stranded: The tires of their cars had been
slashed. In a city upended by protests about police brutality
after the death of George Floyd, many assumed protesters were
to blame. But videos reveal a different culprit: the police.
Neither the Minnesota State Patrol nor the Hennepin County
Sheriff’s Office responded to requests from Mother Jones. The
Minneapolis Police Department and Minnesota National Guard
autopsy of George Floyd reveals unreported injuries and
positive COVID-19 diagnosis.
(Daily Kos, June 6, 2020)
Critical differences in findings surfaced with a new autopsy
report conducted by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s
Office and released by George Floyd’s family attorney,
Benjamin Crump, on Wednesday. Floyd’s violent death follows
decades of police brutality faced by Black people in the U.S.
The failure to prosecute Floyd’s killers resulted in protests
worldwide against racism and police brutality. Floyd died when
Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin placed his knee onto
Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes despite Floyd repeatedly
pleading with the officer that he could not breathe. The death
was ruled a homicide by experts hired by the family and the
Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s office; however, the cause
of death was not agreed upon, CNN reported.
The new 20-page autopsy report concluded that Floyd died as a
result of “cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement
subdual, restraint, and neck compression,” differing from the
cause of death an independent examiner found as “asphyxiation
from sustained pressure." While this final report does not
mention asphyxiation, it did also find that Floyd had tested
positive for COVID-19 in April. The report compiled by Andrew
M. Baker confirmed an April 3 diagnosis with a post-mortem
Arguments were formerly made by the county that Floyd was
under the influence, therefore causing his own death. However,
this report confirms the counterargument that these tests are
not always reliable. “You can’t use a post mortem fentanyl
level alone to determine that someone was under the influence.
You have to look at the level in context of how they are
behaving,” Andrew Stolbach, a medical toxicologist and
emergency room physician, told Inside Edition Digital. “In the
video, we see that this man is awake and walking enough to go
buy something at a store before they took him into custody,”
Stolbach added. “In this case, we have the benefit of video
and we can see that he died because someone’s knee was on his
neck and pinning him down. From the clinical scenario that we
see with our own eyes, fentanyl is not what caused his death.”
COVID-19 test swab factory destroys all swabs that were made
during Trump's maskless visit.
(Daily Kos, June 6, 2020)
Trump touts increased production, coronavirus swabs made
during his Maine factory tour will be tossed in the trash.
(USA Today, June 5, 2020)
vaccine developers wary of errant antibodies.
Research, June 5, 2020)
Concerns persist that COVID-19 vaccines could cause
antibody-dependent enhancement, which can potentiate viral
entry into host cells and worsen disease.
Watch: Why Most Americans Support The Protests
Times, June 5, 2020)
The American public’s views on the pervasiveness of racism
have taken a hard leftward turn over the past few years. Never
before in the history of modern polling have Americans
expressed such widespread agreement that racial discrimination
plays a role in policing — and in society at large. Driven by
the Black Lives Matter movement, this shift has primed the
country for a new groundswell — one that has quickly earned
the sympathy of most Americans, polling shows. As a result, in
less than two weeks, it has already forced local governments
and national politicians to make tangible policy commitments.
Floyd death: China takes a victory lap over US protests.
(BBC News, June 5, 2020)
As anti-racism protests sweep across the US, Beijing has
seized upon them to hit back at Washington for supporting last
year's Hong Kong pro-democracy demonstrations. Chinese state
media have given extensive coverage to the protests,
highlighting the chaotic scenes and alleged police brutality
in America to claim that China enjoys greater social
stability. Speaking to an international audience, Chinese
diplomats are attempting to portray Beijing as a responsible
global leader, standing in solidarity with other countries in
condemning the racial disparity and injustice in the US.
Floyd: Videos of police brutality during protests shock US.
(BBC News, June 5, 2020)
was one group behind the violence on Thursday night, and it
sure as hell was not antifa.
(various videos; Daily Kos,
June 5, 2020)
What happened most notably on Thursday evening was that in
multiple locations police used curfews as an excuse to come
after nonviolent protesters with violence of an extraordinary,
and in many cases sickening, degree. The images left behind
were of genuine riots—police riots—and an incident that may be
the very definition of “depraved indifference.”
But it wasn’t all violence. There were moments of cooperation
… like the moment when a Salem, Oregon officer takes aside a
group of gun-toting white supremacists to warn them before the
police start gassing everyone else.
bishop was blocked from vigil at church Trump commandeered
... then a good thing happened.
(Daily Kos, June 4,
Cramer: The pandemic led to ‘one of the greatest wealth
transfers in history’.
(CNBC, June 4, 2020)
“The bigger the business, the more it moves the major
averages, and that matters because this is the first recession
where big business … is coming through virtually unscathed,”
the “Mad Money” host said. “I think we’re looking at a
V-shaped recovery in the stock market, and that has almost
nothing to do with a V-shaped recovery in the economy.”
News poll has Trump cratering in key swing states, including
one absolute zinger.
(Daily Kos, June 4, 2020)
'Antifa' Protester Myth and the Truth About Trump's Voter
(Daily Kos, June 4, 2020)
Unpresidenting of Donald J. Trump: The CounterIntel Report
(Daily Kos, June 4, 2020)
McCabe’s stroke of genius was to bifurcate the investigation
of Trump into two pieces: a criminal investigation by Robert
Mueller, and a counterintelligence investigation by the FBI.
The *trick* though was that McCabe apparently didn’t tell
anyone there were two investigations. Everyone thought Mueller
was conducting *both* a criminal and counterintelligence
investigation, but he wasn’t. Mueller’s investigation was
criminal only, and was a decoy for the FBI counterintelligence
Trump spent two years attacking the Mueller investigation, not
realizing that he was attacking the *wrong* investigation.
Mueller waited to drop the bomb on Trump until the FBI was
almost done. Then he submitted his Report and revealed the
truth: he was a decoy all along.
[Or is THIS theory more Russian disinformation?]
Charged in George Floyd’s Death Not Likely to Present United
(New York Times, June 4, 2020)
Facing decades in prison and a bail of at least $750,000, two
former Minneapolis officers blamed Derek Chauvin, and a third
has cooperated with investigators, their lawyers said.
Floyd death: Minneapolis to host first memorial event at 1PM
local time today.
(BBC News, June 4, 2020)
Generals Are Speaking Up. Is That a Good Thing?
One, June 4, 2020)
Over the past three days, Defense Secretary Mark Esper, Joint
Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley, and all of the service
chiefs, have issued messages to their troops — on racism, the
Constitution, and the role of the military in America — that
are starkly at odds with the language of the elected president
of the United States. Their implicit differences with the
commander in chief have been joined by explicit condemnation
by several prominent retired four-stars, including Trump’s
first defense secretary. On Wednesday, Jim Mattis excoriated
the president over his handling of the crisis convulsing the
nation following the death of George Floyd. Three other
prominent retired generals — former Joint Chiefs chairmen Mike
Mullen and Martin Dempsey, and retired Marine general John
Allen — issued their own public missives condemning the
militarized response to the protests and unrest.
Many of Trump’s critics — including at least one GOP lawmaker,
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska — have celebrated this upswell
of military voices on Trump’s actions. Mattis’s words, she
told reporters, were “true and honest and necessary and
But some scholars of the appropriate relationship between
civilian and military leadership in U.S. governance and
society — known colloquially as “civ-mil relations” — said the
weight being placed on the judgment of former uniformed
military leaders is as dangerous as the use of uniformed
officers to police civil unrest and lawful protest on American
soil. “The generals won’t save us, and — if they do — we’re
already lost, and even more lost than we realize,” tweeted Jim
Golby, a combat veteran, former West Point professor, and
civ-mil relations scholar. That’s because civilian control of
the military is considered a bedrock principle of the U.S.
form of government, explained Mara Karlin, a former Pentagon
official who now directs strategic studies at the Johns
Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Karlin said
that system “is predicated on the notion that military leaders
give advice but ultimately, civilians will be looking across a
wide range of policy and political issues to make decisions on
the use of force.”
“I think right now we need to juggle multiple contradictory
ideas at once,” Karlin said. “It is far from ideal that
retired military leaders are seen as more credible voices, and
yet right now, given that that’s the case and that we are
facing such extraordinary circumstances, unfortunately it’s
incumbent on them to signal to the force that what’s happening
right now is neither healthy nor good.” The next
administration — whether in one year or four — will need to
“reset” to a more healthy balance, Karlin said.
Mattis Denounces President Trump, Describes Him as a Threat
to the Constitution.
(The Atlantic, June 3, 2020)
In an extraordinary condemnation, the former defense secretary
backs protesters and says the president is trying to turn
Americans against one another.
Demands Answers Regarding Non-Competitive, Multimillion
Dollar Contract for Duplicative Health Data System.
(U.S. Senate Newsroom, June 3, 2020)
Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), ranking member of the
Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP)
Committee, wrote to Dr. Robert Redfield, Director of the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and Robert
Kadlec, the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
(ASPR), demanding answers about the awarding of a
non-competitive, multimillion dollar contract for a seemingly
duplicative data collection system.
“I write to understand actions undertaken by the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Office of the
Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) to
collect hospital and health care provider data during the
COVID-19 public health emergency. Clear, accurate,
comprehensive data is desperately needed in our fight against
COVID-19. Given the importance of collecting this data as
quickly as possible, I have several questions about the Trump
Administration’s decision to award a multimillion dollar
contract on a non-competitive basis to create a seemingly
duplicative data collection system,” Senator Murray wrote.
In her letter Senator Murray detailed how the contract seems
to duplicate the work done by the CDC’s National Healthcare
Safety Network (NHSN) by creating a second mechanism through
which hospitals can report the same information already
collected through NHSN. She also made clear that there are
other pressing data needs that are still being unmet by the
Trump Administration’s efforts, including regrading health
disparities. “The nation is facing an unprecedented
public health crisis. Amid a pandemic that calls for robust
data on both COVID-19 and the U.S. response to it, critical
data remain out of reach to communities working to mitigate
the pandemic and planning their response. For example, four
months after COVID-19 arrived on U.S. shores, there still is
no clear reporting on how many tests and supplies are
available, what production and manufacturing gaps remain, and
what specific steps are being taken to address shortfalls.
There also are major gaps in data on the impact of COVID-19 on
communities of color, although available information suggests
they have been hardest hit by the pandemic. Yet, while
these and other critical data remain out of reach of
communities, scientists, and policymakers, it appears the
establishment of the TeleTracking system – at significant cost
– duplicates the collection of data that was already being
reported,” Senator Murray wrote.
Senator Murray requested more information about the contract,
how the new system created by it will relate to the existing
NHSN system, and an explanation for why it was awarded on a
mounts of far-right extremists' violent chicanery at police
protests around the nation.
(Daily Kos, June 3, 2020)
Donald Trump may not want to believe it, but the evidence is
beginning to mount around the nation that white supremacists
and assorted far-right “Boogaloo Bois” are working overtime to
leverage protests around the United States against police
brutality in the wake of the George Floyd killing—not to
merely join the protests, but to both inflict violence and
property damage, as well as to threaten other communities with
it, all in order to heighten political tensions around the
The preponderance of evidence so far suggests that, as in
Minneapolis last week, right-wing extremists are playing a
powerful if not decisive role in the violence at the protests,
particularly the kind taking place apart from police
confrontations: interpersonal confrontations, as well as
property damage. Moreover, there may be worse to come: On at
least one Telegram channel, neo-Nazis could be found urging
their comrades to attend protests and then shoot into the
Trump’s attempts to blame antifascists—who, in reality, are
not a massive, dark conspiracy to destroy America, but rather
a smallish, intense, but generally nonviolent movement that at
the same time does not eschew it, and lacks the capability to
commit the kind of organized attacks on communities that it’s
depicted as planning—is part of the right’s long tradition of
justifying violence against “the left” by painting it as
inherently violent itself.
Voters Are Coming for Trump.
(New York Times, June 3,
In Columbia, S.C., on Saturday, a young protester told a
reporter that she just didn’t think voting is “how change
happens.” “They’ve been telling us to do that for so long,”
she added, “and we’ve done it — and look at everything that’s
still going on.”
Fury over the cruel death of George Floyd, a black man in
police custody, combined with fear of a deadly virus and its
painful economic impact, make this a dark, dizzying moment in
our national life. But African-Americans shouldn’t feel
hopeless, because the black vote does matter — it has never
mattered more. It is at the heart of the fight to take back
The biggest story of 2020 politics is hard to ignore. But
somehow it is being ignored. The black vote now defines
Joe Biden would be retired if not for the black vote. Black
voters made him the Democrats’ presidential nominee. In
November, the number of black voters who turn out in the
crucial swing states of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin
is likely to be the deciding factor in the election. That
means black voters, 12 percent of the national electorate, are
set to pick our next president.
Mr. Biden went on to blow out the competition in South
Carolina and easily win the rest of the South. Two top
competitors with no traction among black voters, Pete
Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar, dropped out and endorsed him. The
party’s sudden consolidation around Mr. Biden abruptly ended a
confusing race that many feared was hurtling toward an open
convention. Few had seen it coming. Mr. Biden looked boring in
comparison with the impassioned Bernie Sanders and the furious
Donald Trump. Yet polls consistently showed that in a general
election matchup, it was Mr. Biden who held the highest margin
of victory over Mr. Trump.
There are many reasons for black voters to like Mr. Biden —
his record on judicial appointments and voting rights during
his long tenure on the Senate Judiciary Committee; his work on
federal stimulus spending after the recession and on
Obamacare; and of course his service as vice president to the
nation’s first black president. But beating Mr. Trump tops the
list. For black voters, the prospect of four more years of
this administration is about more than politics. It’s
It is a reaction born of real fear — of the racism that led a
white man to shoot Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia and a white police
officer to press his knee into the neck of George Floyd in
Minnesota, of the racism that every day results in more black
people dying of the coronavirus. African-Americans see this,
and they see a president who does nothing to stop it. Contrary
to the image created by news coverage of the Black Lives
Matter protests, 43 percent of black voters are moderates. A
quarter identify as conservatives. These are the black people
in church on Sunday. They are proud members of a sorority or
Russian trolls recognized the power of these voters. “No
single group” was targeted more than African-Americans,
according to a Senate Intelligence Committee report on
interference in the 2016 presidential election. The Russians
wanted to drive down black enthusiasm for Hillary Clinton. But
they also worked to deepen the black-white divide to increase
white turnout for the Republican Party. The strategy seems to
have succeeded. In 2016, while white turnout went up, “the
black voter turnout rate declined for the first time in 20
years in a presidential election,” according to the Pew
President Trump, too, recognizes the power of the black vote.
After his upset win in 2016, he said: Blacks “didn’t come out
to vote for Hillary. They didn’t come out. And that was big —
so thank you to the African-American community.”
Today he continues putting his attention and campaign money
into diminishing the impact of black voters. If he can’t get
them to vote for him, he’d like to keep them from voting at
all. Mr. Trump is opposed to mail-in voting, even during the
pandemic, saying it is fertile ground for fraud. But his real
concern seems to be that making voting easier in any way means
more members of minorities will vote, and vote for Democrats.
In March he was explicit in saying “you’d never have a
Republican elected in this country again” if mail-in voting
were allowed. Last week he doubled down, tweeting that it
would “lead to the end of our great Republican Party.”
Black Americans have had enough. They have an explosive,
personal investment in defeating Mr. Trump in 2020. More than
80 percent of them say Mr. Trump is a racist. For them,
defeating him is the civil rights movement of 2020. And it is
not an empty threat.
Latest: Thousands on New York City streets after curfew.
(Associated Press, June 3, 2020)
in primary elections offers troubling signs for November.
(Washington Post, June 3, 2020)
Sometimes-chaotic primary elections across eight states and
the District of Columbia foreshadowed challenges that could
undermine the security and legitimacy of the general election
in November. There were signs of dangerous shortcuts and
workarounds, especially in the District where officials
couldn't get mail-in ballots out to everyone who requested
them and resorted to accepting emailed ballots. Security
experts warn such ballots are highly vulnerable to hacking
because voters can't verify they were recorded accurately.
That was the biggest security concern on a night that was also
marked by hours-long lines for in-person voting, last-minute
extensions for absentee voting, and anxiety about going to the
polls during the coronavirus pandemic and nationwide protests
against police violence, which prompted curfews in some places
including Washington and Philadelphia.
Of Americans Skip Payments As Tidal Wave Of Defaults And
(NPR, June 3, 2020)
Americans are skipping payments on mortgages, auto loans and
other bills. Normally, that could mean massive foreclosures,
evictions, cars repossessions and people's credit getting
destroyed. Much of that has been put on pause. Help from
Congress and leniency from lenders have kept impending
financial disaster at bay for millions of people. But that may
not last for long.
As with many other aspects of the coronavirus outbreak, there
are disparities along socioeconomic and racial lines. Panameño
says her group did a national survey to see who was having
trouble paying their bills after the pandemic struck.
"Twenty-five percent of Latinos had already fallen behind with
their payments," she says. "Twenty-eight percent of African
Americans had fallen behind. That compares to 12% of whites
that had fallen behind."
Military and FBI Are Flying Surveillance Planes Over
(Motherboard, June 3, 2020)
Motherboard tracked high-tech aircraft previously used in
warzones, as well as flights from other agencies above
says free users won’t get end-to-end encryption so FBI and
police can access calls.
(The Verge, June 3, 2020)
Businesses, schools, and other paying customers will get it.
(New Yorker, June 3, 2020)
Is this an authoritarian crackdown by Donald Trump or just
another politicized spectacle?
Mommy, I Love You’: Medics and Coronavirus Patients Make
(10-min. video; New York Times, June 3,
CDC Waited "Its Entire Existence For This Moment." What went
(New York Times, June 3, 2020)
The technology was old, the data poor, the bureaucracy slow,
the guidance confusing, the administration not in agreement.
The coronavirus shook the world's premiere health agency,
creating a loss of confidence and hampering the U.S. response
to the crisis.
Resource to Help your Family Separate COVID Facts from
(Tumblehome, June 3, 2020)
The best way to
investigate a questionable scientific-sounding claim is to
ask good questions. You can remember the following three
sets of questions using the acronym SAP. A “sap” is a fool,
and no one wants to be fooled by misinformation!
Are there good references provided so you
know what experts think?
Do well-qualified people have a different
point of view than the one presented?
Where did the claim come from?
Is the claim made by a qualified
scientist, a reputable group or website?
Can you even tell who the author is?
Why was the information made available?
Is it because somebody is selling
something? In which case we should be extra careful before
believing what they say.
Is the purpose to stir up your emotions,
to change your vote, or to provide information?
Do well-qualified people have a different
point of view than the one presented?
Science is the pursuit of explanations of the natural world.
It is deeply rooted in the minds of human beings, who for
millennia have demonstrated a need to understand the world
around them. A full discussion of the nature of science
requires more than this one page.
However, if you want to more closely examine ‘science – fact
or fiction,’ WGBH’s NOVA, Andy Zucker and our founder Penny
Noyce created a FREE one-week unit for grades 6-12 called
“Resisting Scientific Misinformation,” available HERE.
a list of organizations that might have reliable advice and
answers to some of your questions.
Don’t be a SAP – stay informed…and stay safe.
Your Youngest Employees Need Most Right Now
Business Review, June 3, 2020)
The long-term toll of the coronavirus is unknown, but its
effects on our health care system and the economy have already
been catastrophic. And while the immediate concerns of
skyrocketing unemployment and a stalled economy must be
addressed today, employers also need to begin considering how
to rebuild for the employees returning to the workforce — or
entering it for the first time.
This includes Gen Z, the youngest members of the workforce and
those currently in secondary school or college. Many who were
just beginning their career journey have been furloughed or
fired. Those in school were suddenly confined to their homes.
Collectively, they are experiencing the greatest national
trauma since the Great Depression and World War II.
fossil find is the oldest known parasite.
Ars Technica, June 2, 2020)
510-million-year-old rocks in China preserve brachiopods and
(Aeon, June 2, 2020)
Why do so many see vaccines and other medical interventions as
tools of social control rather than boons to health?
Trust in institutions and belief in technological miracles are
set against fears that institutional forms such as
professional medicine can’t recognise individual singularity
and specific human vulnerabilities, and might indeed be doing
more harm than good.
or Machine? A Profile of the Coronavirus at 6 Months
(New York Times, June 2, 2020)
Our “hidden enemy,” in plain sight.
Unlike previous SARS viruses, which tended to settle deeper in
the respiratory system, this one tends to settle in the upper
respiratory system — in your nose and throat. That means that
it tends to spread with your voice, in addition to coughs and
sneezes. And when you look at where a lot of the major
super-spreader events have occurred, it’s places like churches
where folks are singing. It’s meatpacking plants where people
have to talk really loud. It’s sports arenas. It’s call
centers. And I realized, holy cow, this is a virus that is
ideally adapted to human conversation.
All viruses make mistakes when they make copies of themselves,
but this one doesn’t make as many mistakes, or mutations —
around two a month on average. Which is good for us because we
are working really hard to make vaccines and drugs that would
target specific aspects of this virus. And we can be pretty
confident that whatever we cook up won’t be outdated six
months from now because the virus has mutated again and become
Will Judge the Complicit.
(The Atlantic, June 2, 2020)
Why have Republican leaders abandoned their principles in
support of an immoral and dangerous president?
isn’t a simple story about looting.
(Vox, June 2, 2020)
“The question you have to ask yourself is: Why are there so
many people in our society who don’t have a lot to lose?” says
sociologist Darnell Hunt.
Police carried out illegal order, gassing Americans for a
photo-op. Now they're lying about it.
(Daily Kos, June
On Twitter, WTOP reporter Neal Augenstein reports what is
self-evidently lies from the Park Police involved in the
gassing of protesters outside the White House last night.
Augenstein reports that "Park Police didn't know President
Trump would be walking across the park several minutes later,"
when clearing the crowd but did it because "water bottles"
were being thrown. This is no doubt because at least some in
the command structure now realize that the White House gave an
illegal order, in using local and military police to clear a
peaceful crowd assembled on the property of St. John's Church
so that Donald Trump could use the grounds for a photo-op, and
are attempting to now dodge responsibility. But the claim that
the two events were not connected is an obvious and offensive
We know the two events were coordinated because we saw the
White House coordinating them, in real time, on television.
"Given that the attorney general was just looking this scene
over moments before it began, it’s safe to assume the
administration wanted this backdrop," tweeted The New York
Times' Maggie Haberman. And that is precisely what William
The picture on this post is from Barr surveying the scene and
speaking with military and/or police officials immediately
before gas canisters, flash-bang grenades, and military police
were used to forcibly clear both church property and the park
between the White House and it. The Rose Garden speech was
delayed for fifteen minutes—those fifteen minutes, when the
television networks had assembled their reporters in the Rose
Garden and were broadcasting from it, is when the operation
And Trump's last line of his speech was a line announcing that
he would now be walking to the church. The church that had
just been cleared for him by Park Police. The church whose
priest had just been gassed and driven off by Park Police in
the minutes, the minutes, before Trump announced on live
television that he was now heading there.
This administration has lost all legitimacy. Chairman of the
Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley betrayed his country in
abetting a clearly illegal act and must resign. William Barr,
who from initial evidence may have been the very person to
give the "green light" to begin the operation, must be forced
to resign by Congress or through relentless public action.
There is nobody left in this White House but traitors. They
allowed an attack on peaceful Americans so that Trump could
stage a belligerent television moment.
Last Temptation of Trump
(New York Times, June 2, 2020)
The president brandishes a Bible in front of a church, in
search of a divine mandate that isn’t coming.
at DC church outraged by Trump visit: 'I just can't believe
what my eyes have seen!'
(3-min. video; CNN, June 1,
Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde of the Episcopal Diocese of
Washington said Monday evening that she is "outraged" after
President Donald Trump visited her church without advance
notice to share "a message antithetical to the teachings of
Jesus." Her pointed comments came after the President walked
from the White House to St. John's Episcopal Church, a house
of worship used by American presidents for more than a
century. Peaceful protesters just outside the White House
gates were dispersed with tear gas, flash grenades and rubber
bullets. It was all, apparently, so Trump could visit the
"I am outraged. The President did not pray when he came to St.
John's, nor as you just articulated, did he acknowledge the
agony of our country right now. And in particular, that of the
people of color in our nation, who wonder if anyone ever --
anyone in public power will ever acknowledge their sacred
words. And who are rightfully demanding an end to 400 years of
systemic racism and white supremacy in our country. And I just
want the world to know, that we in the diocese of Washington,
following Jesus and his way of love ... we distance ourselves
from the incendiary language of this President. We follow
someone who lived a life of nonviolence and sacrificial love.
We align ourselves with those seeking justice for the death of
George Floyd and countless others," she continued. "And I just
can't believe what my eyes have seen."
Beyond using the church as a backdrop, Budde criticized
Trump's use of a Bible during the visit, which he held up as
he posed for cameras. "Let me be clear: The President just
used a Bible, the most sacred text of the Judeo-Christian
tradition, and one of the churches of my diocese, without
permission, as a backdrop for a message antithetical to the
teachings of Jesus," she said.
The episode follows nearly a week of protests across the
country that at times have turned violent over the death of
Floyd, a 46-year-old African American man who died at the
hands of a police officer in Minneapolis.
Trump was surrounded by aides in front of the church,
including national security adviser Robert O'Brien, Attorney
General Bill Barr, senior adviser and son-in-law Jared
Kushner, chief of staff Mark Meadows, Defense Secretary Mark
Esper and press secretary Kayleigh McEnany.
He remained at the boarded-up building for a matter of minutes
before returning inside the White House. The exterior of the
church had been defaced during protests outside the White
House Sunday, and there had been a small fire in the parish
house basement but church leaders said in a statement that the
structure was largely untouched. The address came after he had
been angered by news coverage depicting him holed up in an
underground bunker amid protests in Washington. He told aides
on Monday he wanted to be seen outside the White House gates,
according to a person familiar with the matter, which is part
of what drove the decision to stage the photo-op at St. John's
But Budde stressed Monday that his presence in front of the
church -- and his response to the nationwide protests -- were
"What I am here to talk about is the abuse of sacred symbols
for the people of faith in this country to justify language,
rhetoric, an approach to this crisis that is antithetical to
everything we stand for."
The Episcopal Church has repeatedly refuted Trump on a range
of issues including proposed cuts to social services and the
construction of a wall on the US southern border.
Michael Curry, the presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church,
said in a statement Monday that Trump had "used a church
building and the Holy Bible for partisan purposes. This was
done in a time of deep hurt and pain in our country, and his
action did nothing to help us or heal us," Curry said.
And Greg Brewer, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Central
Florida, tweeted that he was "shaken watching protestors in
Lafayette Park gassed and cleared so that the President of the
United States can do a photo op in front of St. John's
Episcopal Church holding a Bible. This is blasphemy in real
of my senators just called Trump's speech fascist; I
couldn't be more proud.
(Daily Kos, June 1, 2020)
"The fascist speech Donald Trump just delivered verged on a
declaration of war against American citizens. I fear for our
country tonight and will not stop defending America against
Trump." --U.S. Senator Ron Wyden
Here’s some of what Wyden was responding to:
Trump: “Our country always wins. That is why I am taking
immediate presidential action to stop the violence and restore
security and safety in America. I am mobilizing all available
federal resources, civilian and military, to stop the rioting
and looting to end the destruction and arson and to protect
the rights of law-abiding Americans, including your Second
Amendment rights. Therefore, the following measures are going
into effect immediately. First, we are ending the riots and
lawlessness that has spread throughout our country. We will
end it now. Today I have strongly recommended to every
governor to deploy the National Guard in sufficient numbers
that we dominate the streets, mayors and governors must
establish an overwhelming law enforcement presence until the
violence has been quelled.” ... “If a city or state
refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the
life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the
United States military and quickly solve the problem for them.
I am also taking swift and decisive action to protect our
great capital Washington, D.C. What happened in this city last
night was a total disgrace. As we speak, I am dispatching
thousands and thousands of heavily armed soldiers, military
personnel, and law enforcement officers to stop the rioting,
looting, vandalism, assaults, and the wanton destruction of
property. We are putting everybody on warning our 7 o’clock
curfew will be strictly enforced. Those who threatened
innocent life and property will be arrested, detained and
prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. I want the
organizers of this terror to be on notice that you will face
severe criminal penalties and lengthy sentences in jail.”
I fear this will end terribly. And clearing out peaceful
protesters with tear gas and rubber bullets for a photo op?
With apologies to Caligula and Mussolini, it sounds like
something a mad dictator would do.
Employees Take the Rare Step to Call Out Mark Zuckerberg.
(Wired, June 1, 2020)
Some workers at the social media giant are publicly
criticizing decisions not to remove or flag misleading posts
by President Trump.
Sooner or later, Zuckerberg has to deal with the larger issue
of how Trump has been exploiting social media to spread the
poison of division in the body politic. It is for that reason,
and not a reposting of a tweet or two, that some of his
employees are walking out, others say they are about to quit,
and many more will turn down Facebook recruitment offers. And
the problem will only get worse as Trump seems hell-bound to
post ever more extreme pronouncements.
ad hits Trump hard on hate and violence.
; Daily Kos, June 1, 2020)
gas, rubber bullets unleashed on peaceful protesters outside
White House for Trump photo op.
(Daily Kos, June 1,
Minutes before Donald Trump began a chest-thumping address in
the Rose Garden Monday evening, federal law enforcement
officers started aggressively clearing out peaceful protesters
from Lafayette Square Park in front of the White House.
Clearing a path so Trump could subsequently walk to a photo
op, horseback mounted federal police and national guardsmen
wielding military police shields pushed protesters off H
Street, unleashing flash bangs, tear gas, and rubber bullets
on them. MSNBC journalist Garrett Haake described the surreal
scene minutes after it took place and said the protesters were
he was literally hiding in a bunker...
(Daily Kos, June
Even by his own admission there was no need for Trump’s
retreat into his bunker. Since the Secret Service isn’t going
to tell us, we’ll probably never know whether the existence of
a threat sufficient to prompt Trump to scurry into a bunker
not used since the 9/11 attacks was based on any real
evidence, a fiction created out of whole cloth to generate
concern for his safety, or simply an unseemly act of
cowardice. Either way it serves as a fitting metaphor for a
president who has done nothing but run away at every
opportunity from taking any responsibility for his actions.
think this cartoon is appropriate.
Supremacist Infiltration of US Police Forces: Fact-Checking
National Security Advisor O’Brien
(2-min. video; Just
Security, June 1, 2020)
It’s more than “a few bad apples”.
May Be a Blood Vessel Disease, Which Explains Everything.
(Medium, June 1, 2020)
Many of the infection’s bizarre symptoms have one thing in
has resisted imposing lockdown rules. Now the virus appears
to be raging through the country.
(New York Times, May
protesters flood streets across the country, officials worry
that they could be spreading the virus.
(New York Times,
May 31, 2020)
Mass protests over police violence against black Americans in
at least 75 U.S. cities have spurred concern that the
gatherings will seed new outbreaks. The protests could
increase infections in communities of color, which are already
being disproportionately hit by the disease. Death rates among
black Americans are double those of whites, and the economic
toll of lockdowns has also inflicted disproportionate economic
alarmed by violence in U.S.; thousands march in London.
(Los Angeles Times, May 31, 2020)
Nations around the world have watched in horror the days of
civil unrest in the United States following the death Monday
of a black man being detained by police. But they have not
been surprised. Racism-tinged events no longer startle even
America’s closest allies, though many have watched coverage of
the often-violent protests with growing unease.
Burning cars and riot police in the U.S. were featured on
newspaper front pages around the globe Sunday — bumping news
of the COVID-19 pandemic to second-tier status in some places.
George Floyd died on May 25 in Minneapolis after a white
police officer pressed a knee into his neck for eight minutes.
It was the latest in a series of deaths of black men and women
at the hands of police in America.
has plans to use Artificial Intelligence to vet news stories
for inclusion on the MSN web site, replacing a staff of
(The Guardian, May 30, 2020)
Dozens of journalists have been sacked after Microsoft decided
to replace them with artificial intelligence software. Staff
who maintain the news homepages on Microsoft’s MSN website and
its Edge browser have been told that they will be no longer be
required because robots can now do their jobs. Around 27
individuals employed by PA Media – formerly the Press
Association – were told on Thursday that they would lose their
jobs in a month’s time after Microsoft decided to stop
employing humans to select, edit and curate news articles on
its homepages. Employees were told Microsoft’s decision to end
the contract with PA Media was taken at short notice as part
of a global shift away from humans in favour of automated
updates for news.
Happened in the Chaotic Moments Before George Floyd Died
(New York Times, May 30, 2020)
The episode began with a report of a $20 counterfeit bill. It
ended in a fatal encounter with the police, which the
authorities have described in detail for the first time.
Times reporter recounts being hit with tear gas and rubber
bullets by Minnesota police.
(1-min. video; Los Angeles
Times, May 30, 2020)
When Minnesota police advanced on peaceful protesters gathered
at an intersection outside the Fifth Precinct late Saturday, I
didn’t expect them to fire on reporters.
I was wrong. At about 8:30 p.m., a group of about two dozen
Minneapolis police and sheriff’s deputies appeared from behind
a chain link fence opposite protesters. They were in riot gear
and grasping batons.
A young African American woman approached the police, arms
raised. An officer sprayed her in the face with something that
smelled like pepper spray, and the woman ran to seek help from
fellow protesters. A young African American man approached the
officers, outraged, but another man pulled him back to the
main group. The police retreated back behind the fence. But
moments later, a much larger phalanx of officers in riot gear
emerged to block the street.
Floyd Updates: ‘Absolute Chaos’ in Minneapolis as Protests
Grow Across U.S.
(1-min. video; New York Times, May 29,
Minnesota’s governor said the police and National Guard had
been overwhelmed by protests, which raged even after a former
police officer was charged with murdering George Floyd.
Floyd Death Protests In Minneapolis And Around The U.S.
(8-min. video; NBC News, May 29, 2020)
far-right protesters are wearing Hawaiian print
(Independent, May 29, 2020)
From 4chan meme to Aloha shirts, armed Americans prepare for
does the phrase 'When the looting starts, the shooting
starts' come from?
(3-min. video; NBC News, May 29,
Before Trump used it re Minneapolis, it was uttered by a
Southern police chief during civil rights unrest in the 1960s.
Floyd and officer who knelt on his neck had worked at same
nightclub, former owner says.
(NBC News, May 29, 2020)
The club's former owner said it appeared to her that Chauvin,
who worked off duty on security, “was always very nervous,”
especially on the venue’s “urban nights.”
we know about George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis police
(NPR, May 29, 2020)
The police officer who was seen kneeling on the neck of George
Floyd, the black man who died in custody on May 25 following
the exchange with police, was charged with third-degree murder
and manslaughter on May 29. Derek Chauvin was fired following
the incident, along with three other officers. A bystander
video captured Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for several
minutes, despite his pleas that he could not breathe.
The account from Darnella Frazier, who filmed the now-viral
video showing part of the police encounter and said she
watched Floyd being suffocated, differs from that of the
police, who said Floyd was stopped because he matched the
description of a suspect in a forgery case, resisted arrest
and then suffered “medical distress.”
The incident has prompted investigations from state and
federal authorities, an apology from the city’s mayor and
comparisons to other uses of deadly force against black
Americans, particularly the death of Eric Garner. It has also
sparked thousands to pour out into the streets of Minneapolis
to protest, largely around the intersection where Floyd died.
The gatherings were a rare sight amid the coronavirus
pandemic, which has kept most people in some form of
isolation for weeks.
plans to roll out strong encryption - only for paying
(Reuters, May 29, 2020)
Video conferencing provider Zoom (ZM.O) plans to strengthen
encryption of video calls hosted by paying clients and
institutions such as schools, but not by users of its free
consumer accounts, a company official said on Friday.
just said what Republicans have been trying not to say for
(Washington Post, May 29, 2020)
The president revealed his real concern about mail-in voting:
He’s worried Republicans will lose more elections.
shouldn’t need a Harvard degree to survive birdwatching
(Washington Post, May 28, 2020)
Black people don’t owe anyone exceptionalism just to get
respect — or to live. I am 17 years old, black and have served
as a poet laureate. I plan on attending Yale University in the
fall. I fit the bill of a young Christian Cooper, and it
terrifies me to think that had I not found a passion for
writing early in my life, or had I struggled in school, or if
I’d chosen to skip college, my right to the presumption of
innocence or concern for my physical welfare would somehow
decrease on the scales of respectability politics. It
terrifies me to know that some would only see me as human as
long as I’m able to produce evidence of merit or meet a
World Is Still Far From Herd Immunity for Coronavirus.
(New York Times, May 28, 2020)
The coronavirus still has a long way to go. That’s the
message from a crop of new studies across the world that are
trying to quantify how many people have been infected.
Official case counts often substantially underestimate the
number of coronavirus infections. But in new studies that test
the population more broadly, the percentage of people who have
been infected so far is still in the single digits. The
numbers are a fraction of the threshold known as herd
immunity, at which the virus can no longer spread widely. The
precise herd immunity threshold for the novel coronavirus is
not yet clear; but several experts said they believed it would
be higher than 60 percent.
forced medical examiners to stop reporting death results,
and now we know why.
(Daily Kos, May 28, 2020)
With 52,600 confirmed cases of COVID-19, Florida is in the top
ten states when it comes to infections. But the 2,300 recorded
deaths is less than half of those from Michigan, a state with
a similar number of cases. Considering the number of elderly
residents and retirement communities, Florida’s relatively
light death toll seemed somewhat miraculous, and DeSantis has
been bragging both about the “success” of his policies and
sneering at pundits that warned of potential disaster from his
refusal to enforce social distancing guidelines.
But there’s still more evidence that “miracle” isn’t the right
word. The correct word is “con.” Because it looks like
DeSantis has been taking COVID-19 deaths out of one column and
inserting them into another.
Executive Order Is a Blatant and Unconstitutional Attempt to
Silence Critics and Fact Checkers.
(Free Press, May 28,
Trump’s threat to use the executive branch’s power to punish
internet companies for Twitter’s mild fact check of his
statements is exactly the kind of abuse of power that the
Constitution and our First Amendment were written to prevent.
It’s undoubtedly the first step down an increasingly dark path
of Trump using the power of his office to intimidate and
silence media companies, journalists, activists and anyone
else who criticizes or corrects him.
The FCC is supposed to be an independent agency, not the
censorship or propaganda arm of the White House. That Brendan
Carr, an FCC commissioner, would go on TV cloaking himself in
the language of free speech while entertaining Trump’s
authoritarian actions is shameful and antithetical to the
rights and principles of a free society.
Trump could not be more wrong on the law, the facts and the
scope of his power.
Order on Social Media Could Harm One Person in Particular:
(New York Times, May 28, 2020)
President Trump, who built his political career on the power
of a flame-throwing Twitter account, has now gone to war with
Twitter, angered that it would presume to fact-check his
messages. But the punishment he is threatening could force
social media companies to crack down even more on customers
just like Mr. Trump. The executive order that Mr. Trump signed
on Thursday seeks to strip liability protection in certain
cases for companies like Twitter, Google and Facebook for the
content on their sites, meaning they could face legal jeopardy
if they allowed false and defamatory posts. Without a
liability shield, they presumably would have to be more
aggressive about policing messages that press the boundaries —
like the president’s.
That, of course, is not the outcome Mr. Trump wants. What he
wants is the freedom to post anything he likes without the
companies applying any judgment to his messages, as Twitter
did this week when it began appending “get the facts” warnings
to some of his false posts on voter fraud. Furious at what he
called “censorship” — even though his messages were not in
fact deleted — Mr. Trump is wielding the proposed executive
order like a club to compel the company to back down.
It may not work even as intended. Plenty of lawyers quickly
said on Thursday that he was claiming power to do something he
does not have the power to do by essentially revising the
interpretation of Section 230 of the Communications Decency
Act, the law passed by Congress in 1996 that laid out the
rules of the road for online media. Legal experts predicted
such a move would be challenged and most likely struck down by
But the logic of Mr. Trump’s order is intriguing because it
attacks the very legal provision that has allowed him such
latitude to publish with impunity a whole host of
inflammatory, harassing and factually distorted messages that
a media provider might feel compelled to take down if it were
forced into the role of a publisher that faced the risk of
legal liability rather than a distributor that does not.
“Ironically, Donald Trump is a big beneficiary of Section
230,” said Kate Ruane, a senior legislative counsel for the
American Civil Liberties Union, which instantly objected to
the proposed order. “If platforms were not immune under the
law, then they would not risk the legal liability that could
come with hosting Donald Trump’s lies, defamation and
Cox Richardson: Trump
tests what he can get away with, how far he can move the
goalposts for his own campaign.
(Letters From An
American, May 28, 2020)
Today Trump’s reaction to Twitter fact-checking him was so
extreme that #TrumpMeltdown trended on Twitter. This morning,
to his audience of more than 80 million, he tweeted:
“Republicans feel that Social Media Platforms totally silence
conservatives voices [sic]. We will strongly regulate, or
close them down, before we can ever allow this to happen….”
Then he went on to reiterate that mail-in ballots would “be a
free for all on cheating, forgery and the theft of Ballots.”
This evening, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany
said Trump would be signing an executive order pertaining to
social media companies, although just what that might look
like is unclear. Brian Fung, CNN’s technology reporter, says
that the White House did not consult the Federal
Communications Commission about the forthcoming executive
order, suggesting that the order has not gone through the
normal review process.
This means that any executive order he issues—if he issues
one—is unlikely to withstand legal scrutiny. Rather than
actually affecting the law, he is likely simply trying to
pressure Twitter into leaving his own disinformation
unchallenged. It is also likely he is eager to change the
subject to anything other than our growing numbers of
Americans dead of Covid-19. (None of his tweets today
acknowledged our dead.)
Finally, he is seeing what can he get away with. Will he be
able to bully Twitter’s moderators into leaving his own
The question of what Trump can get away with, how far he can
move the goalposts for his own campaign, was in the news
tonight over another issue, as well. In the past two months,
Trump has cleaned house of five inspectors general. By law,
though, he cannot fire them cleanly; he has to give Congress
thirty days notice so it can prevent the president from firing
an inspector general because of an investigation.
White House thumbs its nose at GOP critics of inspectors
(Washington Post, May 27, 2020)
“There’s little they can do to actually prevent the president
from removing a presidential appointee,” watchdog Walter Shaub
recently told NPR. “But the purpose of the law was to give
Congress 30 days to raise the stakes for the president, the
idea being that they would either shame him publicly, and it
would cause a public reaction that would cause him to back
down. Or they would use more direct leverage, like refusing to
confirm his nominees.”
That’s the leverage Congress has in this case, but only if it
chooses to exercise it. With Cipollone practically shrugging
off the whole thing and telling members like Grassley to pound
sand, the ball is now in their court.
What’s even more remarkable about Cipollone’s letter is that
Grassley essentially volunteered potential justifications for
Linick’s firing, but Cipollone opted not to use them. It’s
apparently an attempted power play — one in which Cipollone is
daring these members to push harder and believes they
Either that, or the White House worries that delving into its
actual justifications will inevitably point in the direction
of retaliation — which Trump’s own comments certainly have.
Trump administration may be turning a corner in its war with
(Washington Post, May 27, 2020)
The Trump administration has scored a major victory with the
United Kingdom's decision to launch an emergency review of
Huawei’s role in its 5G telecommunications networks. The
review is expected to conclude that a series of increasingly
harsh U.S. sanctions have made it impossible for the United
Kingdom to work with the Chinese telecom.
told his GOP peers he had COVID-19, but waited a week to
inform fellow Democrats.
(Daily Kos, May 27, 2020)
“If it was known yesterday that members were either positive
or in quarantine, we needed to know that yesterday. We
absolutely need to know more. There needs to be transparency
about this. These members are pushing us to reopen the state.
The hypocrisy is astounding.”
Half of the Twitter Accounts Discussing 'Reopening America'
May Be Bots.
(Carnegie Mellon University, May 27, 2020)
CMU researchers say sophisticated, orchestrated bot campaigns
aim to sow divide.
mockery of wearing masks divides Republicans.
(Washington Post, May 27, 2020)
A growing chorus of Republicans are pushing back against
President Trump’s suggestion that wearing cloth masks to
prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus is a sign of
personal weakness or political correctness. They include
governors seeking to prevent a rebound in coronavirus cases
and federal lawmakers who face tough reelection fights this
fall, as national polling shows lopsided support for wearing
masks in public. "Wearing a face covering is not about
politics — it’s about helping other people,” Ohio Gov. Mike
DeWine (R) said Tuesday in a plea over Twitter, echoing
comments by North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum (R) last week. “This
is one time when we truly are all in this together."
The comments come as Trump continues to treat face masks as
something to mock, refusing to wear one in public and joining
his staff and family in ridiculing his Democratic rival Joe
Biden for doing otherwise. White House staff members are
required to wear masks in the building, though Trump is
exempted from that rule.
a divide that recent polls show largely exists within the
Republican Party, as clear majorities of Democrats and
independents have embraced the need for mask wearing, in line
with the scientific consensus that it is an effective method
to slow the spread of the virus, potentially speeding a
recovery of the economy.
A poll this month by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that
89 percent of Democrats and 72 percent of independents report
wearing a mask every time or most of the time when they leave
home, compared with 58 percent of Republicans. Three recent
public polls have found that between 64 and 72 percent of the
public says Trump should wear a mask. Between 38 and 48
percent of Republicans say Trump should do so. That is an
issue that divides Republicans and not anybody else.
When asked Tuesday by CNN if wearing a mask projected strength
or weakness, Biden offered a third option, saying it projected
leadership. He called Trump “an absolute fool” for his mockery
of protective measures. “Presidents are supposed to lead, not
engage in folly and be falsely masculine,” Biden said. “It
reminds me of the guys I grew up with playing ball. They would
walk around with a ball, but they didn’t like to hit very
Floyd's death sparks large protests, confrontations with
(10-min. video; CBS News, May 27, 2020)
Large crowds gathered Tuesday to protest at the site where a
man was violently arrested the night before. George Floyd, who
was black, repeatedly told a white police officer kneeling on
his neck that he couldn't breathe. But despite Floyd's pleas
for his life, the officer didn't let up for more than seven
minutes, and Floyd died hours later. The incident was caught
on video by an onlooker.
Mayor Frey To County Attorney: Charge Arresting Officer In
George Floyd's Death.
(19-min. video; WCCO/CBS
Minnesota, May 27, 2020)
As of yet, no arrests have been made, which Frey said inspired
him to speak out Wednesday afternoon.
Police Chief Arradondo: 4 Police Officers Fired Following
Death Of George Floyd.
(CBS, May 26, 2020)
"Four responding MPD officers involved in the death of George
Floyd have been terminated. This is the right call." — Mayor
Team Killed Rule Designed To Protect Health Workers From
Pandemic Like COVID-19.
(4-min. audio; NPR, May 26,
When President Trump took office in 2017, his team stopped
work on new federal regulations that would have forced the
health care industry to prepare for an airborne infectious
disease pandemic such as COVID-19. That decision is documented
in federal records reviewed by NPR.
Must Cleanse the Trump Stain.
(New York Times, May 26,
The president is spreading a vile conspiracy theory on the
platform. Maybe Twitter should finally hold him to its rules.
“Please delete those tweets,” the widower begged in a letter
last week to Twitter’s chief executive, Jack Dorsey. “My wife
Yes, Twitter, Lori Klausutis certainly does deserve better,
nearly two decades after she died in a tragic accident that
has morphed into a macabre and continuing nightmare for her
husband, Timothy Klausutis. The boogeyman plunging him and the
family of his late wife into the very worst of memory holes is
a conspiracy-theory-loving, twitchy-fingered and often
shameless tweeter who also happens to be the president of the
United States, Donald J. Trump.
Tweeting misinformation is not new for Mr. Trump, who uses the
service as his political cudgel to govern, campaign, wage
petty digital wars and, more recently, peddle dangerous
medical advice about Covid-19. All of this Twitter has
allowed, because it has deemed even the most inane of the
president’s utterances as “newsworthy.” At least Mr. Trump is
consistent in his lowering of the bar. As the number of
Americans who have died from the coronavirus approached
100,000, the president declined to address the virus’s tragic
toll and chose instead to keep up the series of tweets about
Ms. Klausutis, all aimed at attacking Mr. Scarborough, who is
now a high-profile MSNBC host.
Economy Was Just Blasted Years Into the Future.
May 26, 2020)
The crisis is compressing and accelerating trends that would
have taken decades to play out.
Before the coronavirus, surveillance capitalism was already a
big worry — Big Tech companies were vacuuming up data from
laptops, front doors, appliances, kitchens, living rooms, and
smartphones and selling the resulting market intelligence for
hundreds of billions of dollars a year. Now, touchless
technology suggests a new front in the age of around-the-clock
commercialized surveillance, hackable by Iran, China, North
Korea, Russia, or any number of private actors, well- or
malignly intended. It is an unusual, once-in-a-lifetime,
super-charging event for surveillance companies, rebranding
themselves while becoming an answer for companies, offices,
and agencies everywhere contemplating how to safely reopen.
“It’s a one-time shift in technology. After this, it’s going
to stay like this forever,” says Saurabh Bajaj, CEO of
Swiftlane, a Silicon Valley touchless startup using facial
recognition. He says that Covid-19 had enabled technology to
leapfrog into an immediate future of touchless elevators,
doors, and trash cans. The barriers, for the most part, are
gone: “We will just move on into this new world.”
The auto industry is feeling its own mortality: Ford expects
to lose $5 billion this quarter after a $2 billion loss in the
first three months of the year. Fiat Chrysler also lost just
under $2 billion the first quarter. GM made a little money —
$294 million — but that was an 86% drop year-on-year. It has
been the same abroad: VW’s earnings plunged by 75% in the
first quarter, and Toyota says it expects its full-year profit
to plummet 80%.
But the auto industry has also lost confidence that a fully
autonomous, go-anywhere vehicle is possible any time soon. In
a Wall Street Journal report on May 18, Uber — whose business
model until recently centered entirely on mastering autonomy —
was said to be reevaluating driverless research after burning
through more than $1 billion. It was stunning news since just
last year, Uber’s self-driving unit was valued at $7.25
billion. In addition to the major players, tens of millions of
dollars of venture capital has gone into countless startups,
among them Argo AI, Zoox, Aurora, and Voyage. No one is
publicly giving up — that would be too much of a concession
given the hit they would probably take from Wall Street.
Rather than an admission of failure, look for one after the
other to embrace lesser, limited autonomy such as lane
changing, highway driving, and automatic parking.
A primary economic bright spot in 2019 was the lowest-paid
tier of workers, whose wages rose by a dramatic 4.5% after
decades of a shrinking share of the economic pie. The
coronavirus has erased all of that, returning many of the
newly hired workers to jobless status and making the prior
year’s wage raises look hollow. According to a new paper
published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, 42% of
those laid off won’t get their jobs back. How most will ever
regain what they have lost is not clear since the economy had
almost no cushion for them, says Rick Wartzman, director of
the Center for a Functioning Society at the Drucker Institute.
“The progress that was finally beginning to be made in raising
all boats is now sinking the smallest boats most rapidly,”
says Josh Bolten, head of the Business Round Table and former
chief of staff to President George W. Bush.
One reason for the doubts about the revival of gains for
workers is yet another byproduct of the coronavirus: an
accelerated automation of jobs. Some parts of the country were
long fearful of the possibility of robots taking over swaths
of the economy, and companies, big consultants, and thought
leaders worked overtime to assure people that automation would
help workers, not replace them.
But the moment of truth forced by the virus has seen
worker-replacing automation even by companies that had not
previously turned to robots. The trend is more pronounced in
China, where investment in automation technologies is surging,
but U.S. companies are trying out more robots, too. “Many
companies are experimenting with automation in ways that they
might not have today without necessity — from A.I. to
replacing shut-down call centers in the Philippines and India
to robots using ultraviolet light to sanitize,” says Karen
Harris, managing director of Bain Macro Trends. “As we have a
greater installed base of automation, the cost will come down,
and the number of use cases will rise.”
One of the key buyers of these new robots are retail stores,
already among the most disruption-stressed sectors on the
planet. Since 2015, about 32,600 stores have shuttered across
the U.S. as consumer taste shifted online. Since the virus,
the industry’s implosion has sped up, with new bankruptcy
filings this month by J.C. Penney, Neiman Marcus, and J.Crew
and forecasts of 100,000 more store closings over the next
five years. Combined March and April sales fell a calamitous
24%, a record. Yet, look closer at the numbers: Leading up to
Covid, just 15% of retail sales happened online. Now, during
the coronavirus — with almost every store around the country
shuttered, apart from groceries, pharmacies, and some other
essential shops — the number rose to 25%, UBS said. That is,
despite a majority of the country sheltering at home, captive
to their computers with all those online websites, physical
stores still rang up three-quarters of all sales.
What most of the biggest American companies will be able to
count on is their own survival. For years, trends have favored
so-called “superstar companies” — Big Tech and other
mega-businesses that typically attract the best research
talent, buy up the most valuable new patents, and cut the most
advantageous deals. The Covid-19 age is entrenching their
dominance, says Tania Babina, a professor at Columbia
University. Babina is the co-author of a new paper called
“Crisis Innovation” in which she describes how, during the
Great Depression, the most important inventions, regardless of
the creator, ended up in the hands of the largest companies,
too. Not right away, but eventually. Under pressure, it turns
out, future corporate behemoths may simply be faster, hardier
versions of their current selves.
Rabbi and the Pandemic
(Psychology Today, May 25, 2020)
Hasidic rabbi Nachman of Breslov (1772-1810): “When a person
must cross an exceedingly narrow bridge, the general principle
and the essential thing is not to frighten yourself at all.”
for a Behavioral Disaster Wave: Resilience If and When
(Psychology Today, May 25, 2020)
Psychological distress caused by disaster produces cycles
lasting up to a year.
vs. politicians: The reality check for “warp speed” vaccine
(Ars Technica, May 25, 2020)
Hollywood-style messages from politicians about beating the
pandemic downplay technical complexity.
Memorial Day 2021, how about we get rid of the rest of the
Confederate statues in the Capitol?
(Daily Kos, May 25,
living death: Memorial Day in America
(AlterNet, May 25,
The United States likes to act as though it honors its dead.
But if it did, there’d be a whole lot more people alive.
Are Going To Wreak Havoc On Society. We Are Not Prepared.
(Forbes, May 25, 2020)
The State Farm ad was a benign example of an important and
dangerous new phenomenon in AI: deepfakes. Deepfake technology
enables anyone with a computer and an Internet connection to
create realistic-looking photos and videos of people saying
and doing things that they did not actually say or do. A
combination of the phrases “deep learning” and “fake”,
deepfakes first emerged on the Internet in late 2017, powered
by an innovative new deep learning method known as generative
adversarial networks (GANs).
knows he’ll cheat’: Here are 5 ways Trump and his GOP allies
could steal the 2020 election.
(AlterNet, May 25, 2020)
President Donald Trump and his Republican allies appear to be
cooking up some schemes for stealing the 2020 election — each
one more worrisome than the last.
Sows Doubt on Voting. It Keeps Some People Up at Night.
(New York Times, May 24, 2020)
A group of worst-case scenario planners — mostly Democrats,
but also some anti-Trump Republicans — have been gaming out
how to respond to various doomsday options for the 2020
Changing the date of the election is not the main worry. The
bigger threat is the possibility that the Trump administration
could act in October to make it harder for people to vote in
urban centers in battleground states — possibilities that
include declaring a state of emergency, deploying the National
Guard or forbidding gatherings of more than 10 people. Such
events could serve to depress or discourage turnout in pockets
of the country that reliably vote for Democrats.
To ward off such a scenario, multiple lawsuits aim at making
it easier to cast absentee ballots by mail and making
in-person voting more available, either on Election Day or in
the preceding weeks.
birding turned me into a monster.
(Boston Globe, May 24,
Isolation, hubris, binoculars: How Mass Audubon’s Bird-a-thon
nearly broke our reporter.
[And from its Comments thread:
1. I’ve planted special flowers in various gardens, to attract
certain birds. I don’t deadhead my flowers, so to leave for
the birds. I don’t use chemicals on my lawn or in my gardens,
so the birds can eat without worry!
2. Please remember to vote this November. Out of the
approximately 11,154 known bird species, 159 (1.4%) have
become extinct, 226 (2%) are critically endangered, 461 (4.1%)
are endangered, 800 (7.2%) are vulnerable and 1018 (9.1%) are
near threatened. There is a general consensus among scientists
who study these trends that if human impact on the environment
continues as it has one-third of all bird species and an even
greater proportion of bird populations will be gone by the end
of this century.
Poll: How satisfied are you with the U.S. government’s
current response to the coronavirus outbreak?
May 24, 2020)
chief economist pours cold water on Trump’s boast he’ll
bring the economy back quickly.
(4-min. video; AlterNet,
May 24, 2020)
It’s difficult for me to see this economy getting back on the
rails until the other side of that vaccine. and then, John,
even after that, it’s going to be a struggle because we’re
going to see lots of businesses fail, bankruptcies, you can
already see that in the headlines yesterday with Hertz filing
for bankruptcy. It’s going to take a long time to get this
economy back to where it was.
We’ve lost — peak to trough will lose 25 million jobs. of
course, there’s tens of millions of more people who have lost
hours and wages,” Zani explained. “But 25 million jobs? We’ll
get half of those back by Labor Day. and the unemployment rate
is going to remain around 10% until we get that vaccine. and
it won’t be until mid-decade until the economy can adjust and
we get those jobs back. The kind of jobs we’re going to get
back are different than the ones we have now. We’re going to
lose a lot of jobs in the retail sector, hospitality, we’re
going to have a lot of work re-educating people to make sure
they have the skills necessary to take the jobs.”
on the golf course for a second day.
(Daily KOS, May 24,
Nearly 100,000 Americans are dead. With no plan of in sight,
church "rights" crusader Donald J. Trump is not going to
church this fine Sunday on his way to golf. Though he
will likely drive by many large churches in McLean, Langley,
Potomac, Ashburn and Sterling on the way to his sons' golf
Project Behind a Front Page Full of Names.
Times, May 24, 2020)
A presentation of obituaries and death notices from newspapers
around the country tries to frame incalculable loss.
'was wrong' not to shut down, says former state
(The Guardian, May 24, 2020)
Scientist who oversaw Sweden's response to Sars says country
has failed the vulnerable.
refuses to allow county health inspector into facility after
worker dies of COVID-19.
(AlterNet, May 24, 2020)
The next day the inspector received a call from an
administrator at the facility, who advised her that the
company had installed plexiglass shields and painted
floor markings which separated and designated safe distances
between Nike employees.
But the county employee was apparently properly intimidated.
After Nike assured her that it had been taking measures to
ensure social distancing at its facilities, the inspector
didn’t go to determine whether Nike was telling the truth.
Although she had the power to summon police to accompany her
on a walk-through—the county had used that power
previously—she did not follow-up, presumably because Nike is
such a big and powerful corporation with such a massive
“footprint” in the Memphis area.
In the space of the month that followed a total of twenty one
more people employed at Nike’s five Memphis facilities tested
positive for Covid-19, more than doubling the number testing
positive three weeks earlier. This suggests that
literally hundreds of employees at these facilities may be
carrying the Covid-19 virus home with them and into
Tennessee’s reopened businesses, bars, gyms, hair salons and
Turned Away a Public Health Official From Its Warehouse Days
After a Worker With COVID-19 Died.
(ProPublica, May 23,
The Health Department received a complaint that a Nike
warehouse wasn’t being cleaned thoroughly or allowing for
social distancing. Its inspector wasn’t allowed inside.
Twenty-one workers have tested positive for COVID-19 at Nike’s
Camping To Dining Out: Here's How Experts Rate The Risks Of
14 Summer Activities
(NPR, May 23, 2020)
It has been around two months of quarantine for many of us.
The urge to get out and enjoy the summer is real. But what's
safe? We asked a panel of infectious disease and public health
experts to rate the risk of summer activities, from backyard
gatherings to a day at the pool to sharing a vacation house
with another household.
"Think of transmission risk with a simple phrase: Time, Space,
People, Place." The more time you spend and the closer in
space you are to any infected people, the higher your risk.
Interacting with more people raises your risk, and indoor
places are riskier than outdoors.
"Always choose outdoor over indoor, always choose masking over
not masking, and always choose more space for fewer people
There's no such thing as a zero-risk outing right now. As
states begin allowing businesses and public areas to reopen,
decisions about what's safe will be up to individuals. It can
help to think through the risks the way the experts do.
Supremacist Groups Are ‘Thriving’ On Facebook, Despite
(Huffington Post, May 23, 2020)
With many Americans vulnerable to fascist ideologies during
the pandemic, Facebook could be fertile ground for
death and economic devastation in Sweden, and U.S.
conservatives want to be like them.
(Daily Kos, May 22,
study shows Trump is racking up a second body count with his
claims about hydroxychloroquine.
(Daily Kos, May 22,
or chloroquine with or without a macrolide for treatment of
COVID-19: a multinational registry analysis
May 22, 2020)
In summary, this multinational, observational, real-world
study of patients with COVID-19 requiring hospitalisation
found that the use of a regimen containing hydroxychloroquine
or chloroquine (with or without a macrolide) was associated
with no evidence of benefit, but instead was associated with
an increase in the risk of ventricular arrhythmias and a
greater hazard for in-hospital death with COVID-19. These
findings suggest that these drug regimens should not be used
outside of clinical trials and urgent confirmation from
randomised clinical trials is needed.
patterns reveal an Eden for ancient humans and animals.
(Arizona State University, May 22, 2020)
Home to some of the richest evidence for the behavior and
culture of the earliest clearly modern humans, the submerged
shelf called the Palaeo-Agulhas Plain (PAP) once formed its
own ecosystem. Teams of scientists worked for decades to
reconstruct the locale back into the Pleistocene, the time
period that spanned from 2.6 million to 11,700 years ago. The
researchers looked specifically at antelope migratory patterns
at Pinnacle Point. This series of cave sites that sit on the
modern South African coast offers archaeological materials
from humans who were living and hunting there back to 170,000
Delta marshes in a state of irreversible collapse.
(Tulane University, May 22, 2020)
Given the present-day rate of global sea-level rise, remaining
marshes in the Mississippi Delta are likely to drown,
according to a new Tulane University study. A key finding of
the study, published in Science Advances, is that coastal
marshes experience tipping points, where a small increase in
the rate of sea-level rise leads to widespread submergence.
The loss of 2,000 square miles (5,000 km2) of wetlands in
coastal Louisiana over the past century is well documented,
but it has been more challenging to predict the fate of the
remaining 6,000 square miles (15,000 km2) of marshland. The
study used hundreds of sediment cores collected since the
early 1990s to examine how marshes responded to a range of
rates of sea-level rise during the past 8,500 years.
State of Facial Recognition Around the World
Capitalist, May 22, 2020)
From public CCTV cameras to biometric identification systems
in airports, facial recognition technology is now common in a
growing number of places around the world. In its most benign
form, facial recognition technology is a convenient way to
unlock your smartphone. At the state level though, facial
recognition is a key component of mass surveillance, and it
already touches half the global population on a regular basis.
In the U.S., a 2016 study showed that already half of American
adults were captured in some kind of facial recognition
network. More recently, the Department of Homeland Security
unveiled its “Biometric Exit” plan, which aims to use facial
recognition technology on nearly all air travel passengers by
2023, to identify compliance with visa status. Perhaps
surprisingly, 59% of Americans are actually in favor of
implementing facial recognition technology, considering it
acceptable for use in law enforcement. Yet, some cities such
as San Francisco have pushed to ban surveillance, citing a
stand against its potential abuse by the government.
80% of Europeans are not keen on sharing facial data
with authorities. Despite such negative sentiment, it’s still
in use across 26 European countries to date. The EU has been a
haven for unlawful biometric experimentation and surveillance.
However, Belgium and Luxembourg are two of only three
governments in the world to officially oppose the use of
facial recognition technology.
In Russia, authorities have relied on facial recognition
technology to check for breaches of quarantine rules by
potential COVID-19 carriers. In Moscow alone, there are
reportedly over 100,000 facial recognition enabled cameras in
China is often cited as a notorious use case of mass
surveillance, and the country has the highest ratio of CCTV
cameras to citizens in the world—one for every 12 people. By
2023, China will be the single biggest player in the global
facial recognition market. And it’s not just implementing the
technology at home–it’s exporting too.
hexagonal boron nitride foster new type of information
(Japan Advanced Institute of Science and
Technology, May 22, 2020)
Today's computers use the presence or absence of charge (0s
and 1s) to encode information, where the physical motion of
charges consume energy and cause heat. A novel alternative is
to utilize the wave quantum number of electrons by which
information encoding is possible without physically moving the
carriers. This study shows that manipulation of the wave
quantum number is possible by controlling the stacking
configuration and the orientation of different two-dimensional
started as a joke': Animal Zoom calls are delighting a
(The Guardian, May 21, 2020)
From throwing an alpaca party to adding a goat to a work call,
video calling is providing a financial lifeline for businesses
desktop org GNOME Foundation settles lawsuit with patent
(The Register, May 21, 2020)
Shotwell case ends with Rothschild Patent Imaging backing off
Schumer ask Trump to lower flags when coronavirus deaths
(NBC News, May 21, 2020)
Their request comes as the U.S. death toll has surpassed
Pelosi also took aim at the president’s physical appearance
this week in response to his decision to take the drug
hydroxychloroquine. “I would rather he not be taking something
that has not been approved by the scientists, especially in
his age group and in his, shall we say, weight group, morbidly
obese, they say,” Pelosi said. Elaborating on the comment
Wednesday, Pelosi told reporters, “I gave him a dose of his
own medicine. He's called women one thing or another over
time, and I thought he thinks that passes off as humor in
certain cultures, and I thought that was what that was.”
The FDA issued a warning last month that cautioned against the
use of the medicine outside of a hospital setting or a
clinical trial due to risk of heart rhythm problems.
looks like Donald Trump's finally lost patience with actual
Daily Kos, May 21, 2020)
'scary,' 'distraction': Whitmer berates Trump's threats to
cut off Mich. funding.
(2-min. video; NBC News, May 21,
Trump had threatened to "hold up" federal funding to Michigan
for sending absentee ballot applications to millions of
voters. On Wednesday, Trump tweeted that he “will ask to hold
up funding to Michigan if they want to go down this Voter
Fraud path!” and said, falsely, that Michigan was sending
"absentee ballots" to 7.7 million voters. Trump said the move
was done “illegally and without authorization from a rogue
secretary of state." The president later corrected his tweet
to refer to absentee ballot "applications."
Michigan's secretary of state, Jocelyn Benson, also a
Democrat, had said Tuesday that all registered voters in the
state will be mailed applications for absentee ballots for the
elections in August and November — not the absentee ballots
Trump, who has been battling Whitmer for weeks over her
restrictive stay-at-home order to limit the spread of the
coronavirus, later walked back his comments, telling reporters
he didn't think it would be necessary to withhold funding from
Michigan. Later Thursday, Trump was scheduled to visit a
factory near Detroit that has been repurposed to manufacture
ventilators — a trip that Whitmer pleaded not include any
“petty political stuff.”
Whitmer said she and Trump had no plans to meet, but said she
made the case to him in a phone conversation on Wednesday that
“we all have to be on the same page here. We have to stop
demonizing one another and really focus on the fact that the
common enemy is the virus. This is what all the focus should
be on,” she said, adding later, "We've got to be focused on
doing the right thing right now on behalf of the people."
dams shouldn’t be privately owned, Gov. Whitmer says after
Michigan dam break caused record flooding.
Live, May 21, 2020)
Dams and other pieces of critical infrastructure shouldn’t be
owned by private entities, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Thursday
after record-breaking flooding caused by a dam break forced
thousands of Michigan residents to evacuate their homes. On
Tuesday, May 20, the Edenville Dam collapsed after several
days of heavy rain in the region. The resulting floodwaters
destroyed bridges and overtopped the downstream Sanford Dam on
their way to Midland, where the Tittabawassee River was
cresting at about 35 feet on Wednesday evening. The crest tops
the river’s 1986 all-time record level but falls short of the
38-foot mark predicted earlier.
Whitmer said during a Thursday news briefing the incident laid
bare the need for increased investment in infrastructure, an
issue she ran on during her candidacy for governor.
dam failures force 10,000 to evacuate and could leave one
city under 9 feet of water.
(3-min. video; CBS, May 21,
The National Weather Service on Tuesday evening urged anyone
near the river to seek higher ground following "castastrophic
dam failures" at the Edenville Dam, about 140 miles north of
Detroit and the Sanford Dam, about seven miles downriver. The
Tittabawassee River rose another four feet by Wednesday
morning, to 34.4 feet in Midland. According to the National
Weather Service, the height has set a new record for the
river, beating the previous record of 33.9 feet set during
flooding in 1986. Downtown Midland, a city of 42,000 about 8
miles downstream from the Sanford Dam, faced an especially
serious flooding threat. Dow Chemical Co.'s main plant sits on
the city's riverbank.
"In the next 12 to 15 hours, downtown Midland could be under
approximately 9 feet of water," the governor said. "We are
anticipating a historic high water level. It's hard to believe
that we're in midst of a 100-year crisis, a global pandemic,
and that we're also dealing with a flooding event that looks
to be the worst in 500 years," she said.
A resident, Linda Chartrand, said she had to leave her Wixom
Lake home. "Our whole life was in that house underwater. We
called the insurance company and they said they won't cover
anything," Chartrand said. "We're retired, this is all we have
and now there's no help whatsoever."
In 2018, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, FERC,
revoked the license of the company that operated the Edenville
Dam, Boyce Hydro Power, due to non-compliance issues that
included spillway capacity — essentially an overflow valve —
and the inability to pass the most severe flood reasonably
possible in the area.
In its revocation proposal, FERC wrote that Boyce had a "long
history of non-compliance," and listed numerous offenses. The
commission's "primary concern" however, was Boyce's
"longstanding failure to address the project's inadequate
spillway capacity." According to FERC's 2018 proposal, the
spillway was only designed to handle "approximately 50
percent" of potential flooding. "(Boyce) failed to increase
the capacity of spillways to enable them to pass the probable
maximum flood (PMF) as required by Regional Engineer
directives," FERC wrote. And further warned that "failure of
the Edenville dam could result in the loss of human life and
the destruction of property and infrastructure."
In response to the revocation, Detroit News reports that Boyce
Hydro wrote in a request that the "odds of a 'probable maximum
flood' event occurring in the next 5 to 10 years is 5 to 10 in
one million," according to federal records. The Edenville Dam,
which was built in 1924, was rated in unsatisfactory condition
in 2018 by the state. The Sanford Dam, which was built in
1925, received a fair condition rating. Both dams are in the
process of being sold.
Midland City Manager Brad Kaye said at a press conference
Wednesday that the Edenville Dam failed. "The structure has
been outright eroded and all of the water from Wixom Lake is
going to be coming down the river valley and will come through
the city of Midland," he said. The issue of the Sanford Dam,
however, is less clear, he said, as water is running over the
top of the structure. "It is what we consider — for our
purposes — failed, because the water is coming at us, and
that's close enough to call it a failure." He said they will
not be able to determine what went wrong with the Sanford Dam
until the water begins to recede. According to Kaye, the water
is expected to rise another three feet from where it's
currently at. "That is a tremendous extent of property,
tremendous extent of area that will be covered by water," he
captures aerial footage of roaring water as Edenville Dam
bursts in Midland County, Michigan.
Michigan Live, May 19-20, 2020)
he could redo the pandemic response, Trump would change
(Rachel Maddow Show, May 21, 2020)
Trump has either convinced himself of a fantasy or he's
peddling a falsehood that few will take seriously.
pivots on 'Medicare for All' in bid to become Biden's VP.
(Politico, May 21, 2020)
She's pitching herself as a governing partner to Biden,
despite their past clashes over policy.
poll puts Biden 11 points ahead of Trump nationally.
(3-min. video; MSNBC, May 20, 2020)
As the candidates prepare for a digital campaign unlike any
we've ever seen before, a new national poll shows Trump
trailing fmr. Vice President Biden by double digits.
has a new harebrained scheme to defeat Biden, and it's his
(Daily Kos, May 20, 2020)
Trump’s problem isn't that Biden—his actual opponent—is too
beloved, it’s that he himself is loathed. That’s why
double-haters are flocking to Biden. How does driving down
Obama’s negatives help with that?
Bomber may become the new face of US military power in the
(We Are The Mighty, May 20, 2020)
model simulations reveal cause of Neanderthal extinction.
(Institute for Basic Science, May 20, 2020)
Climate scientists from the IBS Center for Climate Physics
discover that, contrary to previously held beliefs,
Neanderthal extinction was neither caused by abrupt glacial
climate shifts, nor by interbreeding with Homo sapiens.
According to new supercomputer model simulations, only
competition between Neanderthals and Homo sapiens can explain
the rapid demise of Neanderthals around 43 to 38 thousand
Everyone Hates Remote Learning. For These Students, It’s a
(New York Times, May 20, 2020)
“At home, it seems to be a bit easier to focus on all the
work,” said one eighth grader who was struggling in school.
“Everything in general is easier.”
Fatigue: How to Politely Decline a Call During Quarantine.
(New York Times, May 20, 2020)
The normal boundaries that once dictated social etiquette have
essentially dissolved. So how do you disconnect?
pledges not to make custom software for oil and gas
(Ars Technica, May 20, 2020)
Google, Microsoft, and Amazon cloud divisions have sought oil
and gas business.
Google says that it will not "build custom AI/ML algorithms to
facilitate upstream extraction in the oil and gas industry,"
the company announced on Tuesday. This represents a small but
significant win for climate activists.
Google's comment coincided with the release of a new
Greenpeace report highlighting the role of the three leading
cloud-computing services—Google Cloud, Amazon Web Services,
and Microsoft Azure—in helping companies find and extract oil
and gas. Greenpeace notes that extracting known fossil fuel
reserves would already be sufficient to push the world over 2
degrees of warming. Uncovering additional reserves will
ultimately lead to even more warming. All three companies have
actively courted business from oil and gas companies that will
ultimately contribute to a warmer planet. Microsoft and Amazon
both sponsored oil industry conferences last year. Until
recently, all three companies had "oil and gas" sections on
their cloud-computing websites touting the use of their
machine-learning algorithms to find fossil fuel deposits.
really behind Republicans wanting a swift reopening?
(Washington Post, May 20, 2020)
there is something more to the partisan divide than the
age-old contrast between conservative and liberal politics.
But our reluctance to discuss religion beyond its basic
political impact often results in skirting honest evaluations.
Let’s try anyway.
It’s noted so often that evangelical Christians are a
cornerstone of modern GOP support that the point is in danger
of losing its impact. But it’s helpful to be reminded what,
exactly, makes an evangelical, because to understand it helps
to understand so many Republican positions. The National
Association of Evangelicals has identified four statements
that it says define evangelicals, the last of which is most
pertinent for this discussion: “Only those who trust in Jesus
Christ alone as their Savior receive God’s free gift of
eternal salvation.” This literal belief in eternal salvation —
eternal life — helps explain the different reactions to
life-threatening events like a coronavirus outbreak.
What was somewhat surprising is how the beliefs of
evangelicals compare to Catholics, another group that might be
considered biblical literalists. According to Pew polls, 84
percent of evangelicals believe the Bible is the word of God,
compared with 62 percent of Catholics. Fifty-five percent of
evangelicals agree that the Bible should be interpreted
literally — twice the percentage of Catholics.
Among those who hold literal biblical interpretations is the
certainty that waiting at the end of this terrestrial journey
is eternal life in Heaven. Evangelicals take it to heart when
James reminds them, “What is your life? You are a mist that
appears for a little while and then vanishes,” or when Paul
writes, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth
comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us,” or when
Jesus asks, rhetorically, “Can any one of you by worrying add
a single hour to your life?”
The coronavirus? Christian fundamentalism is often fatalistic.
As far as many evangelicals are concerned, life passes
quickly, suffering is temporary and worrying solves nothing.
That’s not a view that comports well with long stretches of
earthly time spent waiting out business closures or
stay-at-home orders. It should be no surprise that a person’s
deepest beliefs about the world influence how they measure the
risks they’re willing to take. Former six-term Ohio Rep. Bob
McEwen (R) is a longtime evangelical leader who serves as an
advisory member of James Dobson’s Family Talk board of
directors. McEwen told me this week that evangelicals aren’t
rattled by covid-19, either the disease or the government’s
response to the pandemic, because the Bible instructs them not
to let earthly fears overwhelm them. “They steal your life,
your liberty and your freedom by using fear,” said McEwen.
“Man, on his own without God, will always be fearful,” he
added. “But the Bible says, ‘Fear not.’”
Evangelicals aren’t just twiddling their thumbs until Heaven
beckons, of course. Most of them aggressively pursue careers,
enjoy television shows, cheer their favorite sports teams, and
take pride in the achievements of family and friends. They do
good things in their communities, and sometimes they do bad
things, just like everyone else. They’re in no hurry to exit
this world. But when ruminating over why there are millions of
people who don’t seem to panic over a global pandemic or other
life-threatening event, critics should remember that, right or
wrong, it often involves a belief in something even bigger
than people named Trump, Hannity or Limbaugh.
lockdowns ease, a new surveillance reality awaits.
(ZDNet, May 20, 2020)
Expect a surge in development of surveillance and crowd
monitoring technologies post-pandemic.
face mask selfies could be training the next facial
(C/Net, May 19, 2020)
Researchers are crawling the internet for photos of people
wearing face masks to improve facial recognition algorithms.
Harding Tried to Return America to ‘Normalcy’ After WWI and
the 1918 Pandemic. It Failed.
(Smithsonian Magazine, May
The lessons from his presidency show that a quick retreat to
the past can be just a mirage.
Elect me, Harding promised, and he would take America back to
a bucolic pre-war, pre-pandemic time, a time of serenity.
Mythic though it was, the vision worked. He won, in one of the
largest political landslides in American history.
But history didn’t end there. Neither Harding nor normalcy
would succeed. These failures, considered exactly a century
later, hold lessons for those who seek restoration in our time
of fear, disease and death. What Harding sought 100 years ago
has much in common with what many of us say we seek today, and
tomorrow, when the pandemic recedes. We want our lives back.
We want to get away from the volatile and frightening
economics of pandemic, to something that feels, well, normal.
So did Harding. “If we put an end to false economics which
lure humanity to utter chaos, ours will be the commanding
example of world leadership today,” he pledged in that same
But Harding-style restoration of economy meant, for many,
freewheeling consumption and giddy speculation. As the stock
market and the nation’s cities, began to roar in the exciting
heedlessness of the Jazz Age, nary a caution was raised—except
by the most astute observers. Lack of regulation was a virtue
to Harding, a balm after all the rules and restrictions of war
and disease. “The world needs to be reminded that all human
ills are not curable by legislation,” Harding had said, again
in the same speech, “and that quantity of statutory enactment
and excess of government offer no substitute for quality of
Normalcy and restoration, to us as to Warren Harding, means
and meant the return of a status quo of safety. Can’t our
terrible vulnerability be ended? The Roaring Twenties might
have been fun, but it left those who weren’t white or
privileged more vulnerable to the tilt-a-whirl economy of the
era. There was no net to catch them, and economic growth had
no backstop or safety mechanism.
Harding led to Coolidge; Coolidge led to Hoover. It would take
the Great Depression and Franklin D. Roosevelt’s
anything-but-normal presidency to create the social
protections of the New Deal.
As we now contemplate what a return to normal will look like,
we need to face whether it will merely shore up old unfairness
and maintain a ripped safety net, leaving the sick, the
uninsured, the homeless, the unemployed, and the furloughed to
mostly fend for themselves.
to think another $1,200 stimulus check is enough: Expert Ric
(7-min. video; Yahoo Finance, May 19, 2020)
Edelman Financial Engines Founder Ric Edelman joins Yahoo
Finance's Zack Guzman to discuss the latest stimulus outlook
as the House passes $3-trillion COVID-19 relief bill.
Machines Get Smarter, How Will We Relate to Them?
(Wired, May 19, 2020)
Millennia of evolution have left us ill prepared to crack open
the black box of AI and peer inside.
Support GPU Acceleration, Linux GUI Apps On WSL2.
(Phoronix, May 19, 2020)
Microsoft says that Linux GUI applications should "just work"
under Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 without the need for any
third-party software, unlike past work by the community on
getting an X11 server working with WSL.
it be? Really? The Year of Linux on the Desktop is almost
here, and it's... Windows-shaped?
(The Register, May 19,
Windows Subsystem for Linux to gain out-of-the-box support for
GUI apps, GPU chippery.
Ways Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Can Help Transition to Clean
(Visual Capitalist, May 19, 2020)
The world obsesses over battery technology and manufacturers
such as Tesla, but there is an alternative fuel that powers
rocket ships and is road-ready. Hydrogen is set to become an
important fuel in the clean energy mix of the future.
is letting the Trump campaign publish at least 529 ads with
false claims of voter fraud.
(Media Matters, May 19,
Facebook's ad policy enables Trump to baselessly accuse
liberals of “stuffing the ballot boxes with FAKE and
Obama He’s Going For the Jugular”: As Trump Goes After
Obama, Some in Trumpworld See a “Big Risk”.
Fair, May 19, 2020)
Frustrated with his campaign (he “feels he’s doing it all
alone”), Trump has settled on a campaign bank shot: hit Obama
to destroy Biden. But there’s a problem: “Obama can’t be
“Trump hates Obama; he used to go around calling Obama a
‘child.’ --former Trump advisor
[More Trump projection of his failings onto others.]
woman behind ‘Roe vs. Wade’ didn’t change her mind on
abortion. She was paid.
(1-min. video; Los Angeles
Times, May 19, 2020)
When Norma McCorvey, the anonymous plaintiff in the landmark
Roe vs. Wade case, came out against abortion in 1995, it
stunned the world and represented a huge symbolic victory for
abortion opponents: “Jane Roe” had gone to the other side. For
the remainder of her life, McCorvey worked to overturn the law
that bore her name.
But it was all a lie, McCorvey says in a documentary filmed in
the months before her death in 2017, claiming she only did it
because she was paid by antiabortion groups including
Operation Rescue. “I was the big fish. I think it was a mutual
thing. I took their money and they’d put me out in front of
the cameras and tell me what to say. That’s what I’d say,” she
says in “AKA Jane Roe,” which premieres Friday on FX. “It was
all an act. I did it well too. I am a good actress.”
In what she describes as a “deathbed confession,” a visibly
ailing McCorvey restates her support for reproductive rights
in colorful terms: “If a young woman wants to have an
abortion, that’s no skin off my ass. That’s why they call it
Allies Are Recruiting ‘Pro-Trump’ Doctors To Prescribe Rapid
(Huffington Post, May 19, 2020)
The Trump campaign communications director confirmed that an
effort to recruit doctors to publicly support the president is
protests in US may have helped spread coronavirus, phone
(Independent, May 18, 2020)
‘We can see protesters are going from a highly concentrated
event and then dispersing widely.’
Sees New Surge in Coronavirus Cases After Reopening Country.
(New York Times, May 18, 2020)
Health experts say the government did not heed the warnings
about easing restrictions too soon. Cases spike in eight
Covid-19 Drones Grounded After Privacy Complaint.
(Bloomberg, May 18, 2020)
French top judges banned the use of surveillance drones by
police to monitor public compliance with coronavirus-related
restrictions, citing privacy issues. The authorities’ use of
drones to help contain the spread of Covid-19 “constitutes a
serious and manifestly unlawful infringement of privacy
rights,” the court said on Monday. The Paris-based Conseil
d’Etat ruled that drones with cameras can no longer be used
until the concerns are addressed, either via a
privacy-friendly law or by equipping the drones with
technology that makes it impossible to identify the people
and France Propose $545 Billion Coronavirus Fund for Europe.
(New York Times, May 18, 2020)
The U.S. sharply criticized the World Health Organization,
while China pledged $2 billion to fight the pandemic.
President Trump said he has been taking hydroxychloroquine, an
unproven drug against Covid-19.
refused to cooperate with watchdog probe into $8B arms sale
to Saudi Arabia.
(CNN, May 18, 2020)
purge just got much more corrupt. Here’s what’s coming next.
(Washington Post, May 18, 2020)
President Trump’s abrupt decision to remove the inspector
general of the State Department constitutes the latest in a
string of corrupt efforts to remove public servants who
prioritize real oversight and accountability over protecting
Trump at all costs.
But in the case of Trump’s termination of Steve Linick, the
State Department IG, this could end up looking far worse than
we know. There’s a backstory here that has not yet gotten
scrutiny — one that could make the firing appear even more
corrupt. House Democrats have discovered that the fired IG had
mostly completed an investigation into Secretary of State Mike
Pompeo’s widely criticized decision to skirt Congress with an
emergency declaration to approve billions of dollars in arms
sales to Saudi Arabia last year. “I have learned that there
may be another reason for Mr. Linick’s firing,” Rep. Eliot L.
Engel (D-N.Y.), the chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee,
said in a statement sent to me. “His office was investigating
— at my request — Trump’s phony declaration of an emergency so
he could send weapons to Saudi Arabia.”
Committee Democrats have also learned that the State
Department was recently briefed on the IG’s conclusions in
that investigation, aides say. They do not know what role this
investigation — and its conclusions — played in Linick’s
removal, if any. But the committee is now trying to establish
what those conclusions were and what links they might have to
the firing, the aides confirm. “We don’t have the full picture
yet, but it’s troubling that Secretary Pompeo wanted Mr.
Linick pushed out before this work could be completed,” Engel
said in the statement to me.
The White House has confirmed Linick’s firing came at Pompeo’s
request. Trump claimed he no longer has “confidence” in
Linick, a thin justification that highlights Trump’s purging
of officials exercising oversight on his administration. Many
news organizations have reported that the fired IG had been
examining charges that Pompeo had been directing a staffer to
run errands for him. Some reported that Pompeo has undertaken
abuses of taxpayer funds, including frequent visits to his
home state of Kansas. It’s unclear whether these are linked to
But the fact that Linick has also mostly completed an
investigation into the decision to fast-track arms to the
Saudis adds another layer to this whole story. Democrats on
the House Foreign Affairs Committee — and its Senate
counterpart — have launched an investigation into Linick’s
fired watchdog who was probing Saudi arms sales.
(Reuters, May 18, 2020)
Trump announced the planned removal of Linick in a letter to
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi late on Friday. He was the fourth
government inspector general that the Republican president has
ousted in recent weeks.
Pompeo told the Washington Post he had asked Trump to fire
Linick, while declining to describe specific concerns. Pompeo
said no reason had to be given, contradicting Congress’
interpretation of the inspector general law. “I went to the
president and made clear to him that Inspector General Linick
wasn’t performing a function in a way that we had tried to get
him to, that was additive for the State Department,” Pompeo
Another State official told the Post concern over Linick had
grown because of leaks about investigations, although there
was no evidence Linick was responsible. Representative
Eliot Engel, chairman of the House of Representatives Foreign
Affairs Committee, and Senator Bob Menendez, ranking member on
Senate Foreign Relations, said Linick had been investigating
Trump’s declaration of a national emergency last year to clear
the way for $8 billion in military sales, mostly to Saudi
Arabia. “I have learned that there may be another reason for
Mr. Linick’s firing. His office was investigating - at my
request - Trump’s phony declaration of an emergency so he
could send weapons to Saudi Arabia,” Engel said in a
statement. Engel called on the administration to comply with
the probe and turn over records by Friday.
Congressional aides had said Linick was investigating whether
Pompeo misused a taxpayer-funded political appointee to
perform personal tasks for himself and his wife. Trump said
Linick had been appointed by former Democratic President
Barack Obama, and that he knew nothing about him, but had the
right to terminate him. “I just got rid of him,” he said.
Trump infuriated many members of Congress last May, including
some Republicans, by declaring a national emergency related to
tensions with Iran to sidestep congressional review and push
ahead with $8 billion in military sales, mostly to Saudi
Arabia. The House and Senate passed resolutions to block the
sales. But Trump, a staunch promoter of both arms sales and
ties to Saudi Arabia, vetoed them. The Republican-led Senate
upheld his veto.
Menendez said he believed Linick was close to coming to a
conclusion in his investigation of the arms sales. He also
introduced legislation to protect inspectors general.
Some Republicans also expressed concern. Senator Chuck
Grassley wrote to Trump and asked for a detailed explanation
of Linick’s removal by June 1. “Congress’s intent is clear
that an expression of lost confidence, without further
explanation, is not sufficient to fulfill the requirements of
the IG Reform Act,” Grassley said.
Are Trying to Stop the FBI From Snooping on Your Web
(Motherboard, May 18, 2020)
Last week, the U.S. Senate voted to reauthorize the Patriot
Act, the sweeping surveillance law that infamously expanded
the U.S. security state in the aftermath of 9/11. The vote
came after a failed bipartisan effort to change the law to
explicitly forbid federal agencies from collecting Americans’
web browsing history without a warrant. The amendment,
introduced by Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Steven Daines (R-MT),
failed by just one vote on the Senate floor, with several
senators notably absent.
Now, activists are trying to push Democrats to add the privacy
protections back into the bill when it returns to the House
this week, preventing the Trump administration from gaining
more internet surveillance powers in the middle of a global
Smacks Exxon Upside Head With New Green Hydrogen Scheme.
(Clean Technica, May 18, 2020)
Green hydrogen, also referred to as renewable hydrogen, can be
produced from water by applying an electrical current. Source
the electricity from renewable energy, and there you have
sustainable hydrogen from renewable resources.
Green hydrogen has yet to plant its feet in the commercial
market, but the technology has been improving and costs have
been coming down, partly because the cost of renewable energy
has been dropping. Renewable energy is already threatening gas
in the power generation market, and if all goes according to
plan renewable H2 will push gas out of the coveted industrial
energy marketplace, too.
Back in 2017, BP revived its once-dormant interest in solar
power by forming a 50/50 partnership with the solar company
Lightsource to form Lightsource BP, and it seems that the
partners are already looking beyond clean power to dip into
the renewable hydrogen field. Last week BP Australia announced
that it has been greenlighted to explore the idea of producing
ammonia with renewable hydrogen at a facility in Geraldton.
software firm Transcard terminates employee after firestorm
over Obama noose meme.
(Chattanooga Times Free Press,
May 17, 2020)
president admits they were wrong on open source.
On Linux, May 16, 2020)
Many People Die Each Day?
(Visual Capitalist, May 16,
While these numbers help provide some context for the global
scale of COVID-19 deaths, they do not offer a direct
comparison. The fact is that many of the aforementioned death
rates are based on much larger and consistent sample sizes of
data. On the flipside, since WHO declared COVID-19 a pandemic
on March 11, 2020, daily confirmed deaths have fallen in a
wide range between 272 and 10,520 per day—and there is no
telling what could happen in the future.
On top of this variance, data on confirmed COVID-19 deaths has
other quirks. For example, testing rates for the virus may
vary between jurisdictions, and there have also been
disagreements between authorities on how deaths should even be
tallied in the first place. This makes getting an accurate
picture surprisingly complicated.
While it’s impossible to know the true death toll of COVID-19,
it is clear that in some countries daily deaths have reached
rates 50% or higher than the historical average for periods of
drug promoted by Trump as coronavirus ‘game changer’
increasingly linked to deaths.
(Washington Post, May 15,
For two months, President Trump repeatedly pitched
hydroxychloroquine as a safe and effective treatment for
coronavirus, asking would-be patients “What the hell do you
have to lose?”
Growing evidence shows that, for many, the answer is their
on our watch': Immigrant advocates lead car caravan
protesting Trump's Pennsylvania stunt.
(Daily Kos, May
“Thousands of my constituents are sick, unemployed or dead. I
don’t want a photo op, Mr. President. I want a plan,” state
Rep. Mike Schlossberg said in a statement received by Daily
Kos. “How are we going to give out PPE? How are we going to do
mass testing? How are we going to protect front line workers
or my most vulnerable constituents?”
Allentown, where the impeached president was headed for what
was really a political rally amid a pandemic that has already
infected over a million people in the U.S., has been
particularly hard-hit, the group said. “Allentown, whose
population is 52% Latino, has a per capita infection rate
nearly 4.5 times higher than the rest of Pennsylvania. At
least 3,943 Pennsylvanians have died from Coronavirus so far.”
In a tweet, the organization said, “Now he has the audacity to
come to our state and ask for our votes. Not on our watch.”
Biden Is Pivoting to the Left. What? Why?
The conciliatory nominee-in-waiting has a grandiose belief in
his own strengths and his place in the historical moment.
is Now Worth More Than the World’s 7 Biggest Airlines.
(Visual Capitalist, May 15, 2020)
Zoom benefits from the COVID-19 virtual transition—but other
industries aren’t as lucky. The app is now more valuable than
the world’s seven largest airlines.
in Chief, by Fintan O’Toole
(NY Review of Books, May 14,
It is a truth universally acknowledged that Donald Trump is no
George Washington, but his descent from commander-in-chief to
vector-in-chief is nonetheless dizzying. Trump’s narcissism,
mendacity, bullying, and malignant incompetence were obvious
before the coronavirus crisis, and they have been magnified
rather than moderated in his surreal response to a catastrophe
whose full gravity he failed to accept until March 31, when it
had become horribly undeniable. The volatility of his behavior
during the crucial weeks of February and March, when coherent
action could have limited the subsequent loss of life—the
veering between flippancy and rage, breezy denial and dark
fear-mongering—may not seem to demand further explanation.
Even after he belatedly accepted the seriousness of the
threat, the grotesque spectacle of his turning vital public
information briefings into campaign rallies—with journalists
serving as necessary objects of contempt and facts being
indiscriminately jumbled with wild hunches and bitter
invective—was, to his fans, a signal that nothing had really
changed. Since the president had not altered his conduct, why
should they? Since Trump simply carried on being Trump, his
disastrous performance seems to require no further
elucidation. It is his nature. Yet there is a mystery at its
heart. For if there is one thing that Trump has presented as
his unique selling point, it is “utmost Vigilance,” his
endless insistence that, as he puts it, “our way of life is
If the United States is to be run by a man who has perfected
the paranoid style, the least its citizens might expect is a
little of that paranoia when it is actually needed. But even
on March 26, when the US had surpassed China and Italy to
become the most afflicted country in the world, Trump
continued to talk down the threat from the virus.
America Resists Learning From Other Countries
Atlantic, May 14, 2020)
The pandemic may pose the greatest threat yet to the belief
that America has little to learn from the rest of the world.
The United States had the advantage of being struck relatively
late by the virus, and this gave [us] a priceless chance to
copy best practices and avoid the mistakes of others. Instead,
the United States squandered that advantage on many fronts.
The Obama administration had developed a playbook for pandemic
response that drew in part on lessons from other countries’
experiences, but the Trump administration disregarded it. When
China began confining millions of people to their homes in
January, the U.S. government should have gotten the message
that the Chinese were grappling with a grave threat to the
wider world, the Yale sociologist and physician Nicholas
Christakis told me in March. “We lost six weeks” in the United
States to prepare—“to build ventilators, get protective
equipment, organize our ICUs, get tests ready, prepare the
public for what was going to happen so that our economy didn’t
tank as badly. None of this was done adequately by our
leaders.” By one estimate, from the epidemiologists Britta L.
Jewell and Nicholas P. Jewell, if social-distancing policies
had been implemented just two weeks earlier in March, 90
percent of the cumulative coronavirus deaths in the United
States during the first wave of the pandemic might have been
Amid all this, Trump has exhibited more hubris than humility.
The president has repeatedly claimed that the United States is
leading the world in testing, which in part is an unflattering
reflection of the U.S. outbreak’s huge scale and also is not
true on a per-capita basis. He has stated, referring to
America’s coronavirus response, that German Chancellor Angela
Merkel, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and “so many”
other world leaders, “almost all of them—I would say all of
them; not everybody would want to admit it—but they all view
us as the world leader, and they're following us.” Even after
he has asked the South Korean government to send tests and
medical equipment to the United States to help combat the
coronavirus, Trump is insisting that the country cough up much
more money for the privilege of stationing U.S. troops there.
Trump’s proposal in April that people inject themselves with
disinfectant, to the horror of scientists and laughter of
people at home and abroad, marked an acceleration point for a
post-American, post-coronavirus world … in which American
opinions will count less.
The United States, of course, still has tremendous capacity to
teach. But it also may need to emerge from this crisis
recognizing that it has equal capacity to learn. To learn is
to admit room for improvement, and thus to improve, especially
in dealing with modern-day threats such as pandemics, which
America doesn’t have much experience contending with as a
Scientist Invents One-minute Coronavirus Breath Test.
(Haaretz, May 14, 2020)
Breakthrough device invented at Ben-Gurion University could
reach market within months.
How does the breakthrough breath test for coronavirus work,
anyway? “Particles from a simple breath test or throat and
nose swabs – such as are already currently used for other
tests – are placed on a chip, with a dense array of
metamaterial sensors, which was designed specifically for this
purpose,” Sarusi explains. "Metamaterial sensors” are
nano-size antenna array on the electronic chip he invented,
which is inside the Breathalyzer, he says. The system analyzes
the biological sample and outputs a positive/negative result
into a system connected to the cloud, which means the result
can be shared with the authorities, making it easier to track
Technically, it turns out that the coronavirus resonates in
the terahertz spectral range, so it could theoretically be
detected through terahertz spectroscopy. “We asked ourselves,
since this virus is just like a nano-particle or a quantum dot
with a diameter between 100nm to 140nm in terms of its size
and electrical properties, can we detect it using methods from
the worlds of physics, photonics and electrical engineering?”
Sarusi says. “We discovered that the answer is yes, this virus
resonates in the terahertz frequency, and spectroscopy in
these frequencies reveals it promptly.”
Meanwhile, normal speech sprays infectious droplets that can
remain in the air for minutes, doctors warn.
made its contact tracing app mandatory. Now people are
(Wired UK, May 14, 2020)
India’s contact tracing app playbook comes straight from
China. People are being forced to download the app – if they
don’t, their freedoms are limited.
NHS files reveal plans for UK's coronavirus contact tracing
(Wired UK, May 13, 2020)
Documents left unsecured on Google Drive reveal the NHS could
in the future ask people to post their health status to its
Covid-19 contact tracing app
Manhattan Was Mannahatta: A Stroll Through The Centuries
(New York Times, May 13, 2020)
From lush forest to metropolis, the evolution of Lower
Manhattan. Our critic walks with Eric W. Sanderson of the
Wildlife Conservation Society.
Names Ocasio-Cortez, Kerry to Lead His Climate Task Force,
Bridging Democrats’ Divide.
(Inside Climate News, May
Progressives applaud the former vice president’s embrace of
Bernie Sanders’ climate advisors. One analyst called the panel
“the Climate Dream Team for Democrats.”
Trump border rules, U.S. has granted refuge to just two
people since late March, records show.
May 13, 2020)
Citing the threat to public health from the coronavirus, the
Trump administration has suspended most due-process rights for
migrants, including children and asylum seekers, while
“expelling” more than 20,000 unauthorized border-crossers to
Mexico under a provision of U.S. code known as Title 42.
Department of Homeland Security officials say the emergency
protocols are needed to protect Americans — and migrants — by
reducing the number of detainees in U.S. Border Patrol holding
cells and immigration jails where infection spreads easily.
But the administration has yet to publish statistics showing
the impact of the measures on the thousands of migrants who
arrive in the United States each year as they flee religious,
political or ethnic persecution, gang violence or other urgent
Lucas Guttentag, an immigration-law scholar who served in the
Obama administration and now teaches at Stanford and Yale
universities, said the border measures “are designed to pay
lip service” to U.S. law and international treaty obligations
“without providing any actual protection or screening. The
whole purpose of asylum law is to give exhausted, traumatized
and uninformed individuals a chance to get to a full hearing
in U.S. immigration courts, and this makes that almost
impossible. It’s a shameful farce.”
Is Becoming Much Harder to Access Mental Health Support
(Slate, May 13, 2020)
The COVID-19 pandemic isn’t just a physical health crisis—it’s
also a mental one. But online resources for mental health come
with privacy risks.
Japanese Video Shows How Easily Infection Can Spread Through
(IFL Science, May 13, 2020)
NHK conducted an experiment to see how germs spread at a
cruise buffet. They applied fluorescent paint to the hands of
1 person and then had a group of 10 people dine. In 30 min the
paint had transferred to every individual and was on the faces
coronavirus bill shows how partisan election security has
(Washington Post, May 13, 2020)
Democrats yesterday released their most ambitious and detailed
plan yet to fundamentally reshape U.S. voting systems in the
midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
Their new virus stimulus bill includes $3.6 billion to run
elections safely and securely during the pandemic. But it
couples that money with a slate of new mandates for state and
local election officials that will last long after the
Many of those mandates are sure to irk Republican election
officials at the state and county level — even those who
broadly agree with Democrats’ goals of ramping up voting by
mail and polling-place safety during the pandemic. And they're
probably nonstarters with Senate Majority Leader Mitch
McConnell (R-Ky.), who has fiercely blocked such conditions in
The bill comes as the brief moment of crisis-driven
bipartisanship that helped rush through four earlier
coronavirus relief bills is starting to wane. “While the first
four bills were the result of urgent bipartisan compromise in
the early days of the pandemic, now the two sides aren’t even
talking and are moving in radically different directions. It’s
unclear when they will come together to produce another
bipartisan response, but some Republicans suggested it might
not be anytime soon,” Erica Werner reports.
broadly threatens criminal charges against his enemies; the
press can't keep hiding from this.
(Daily Kos, May 13,
Even in describing Trump's various false statements, the Post
ignores the obvious dangers—the inherent threat to
democracy—of an installed national leader threatening his
political opponents and public critics alike with criminal
prosecution. And again it is baffling, because any other
nation's leader engaging in similarly punitive and
authoritarian thinking would result in plain statements
identifying it as such. Faced with this national leader, our
press goes to great lengths to obscure the implications from
their readers. Again, and again, and again, we learn that
Trump is demanding his detractors and his investigators be
locked up. Again, and again, and again, an American president
calling for the jailing of his detractors and investigators is
treated as a novelty, rather than an unforgivable sin against
coronavirus roils the nation, Trump reverts to tactic of
accusing foes of felonies.
(Washington Post, May 12,
On a day when coronavirus deaths passed 80,000 and top
government scientists warned of the perils of loosening public
health restrictions too soon, President Trump used his massive
public platform to suggest a talk-show host he has clashed
with committed murder. His baseless charge capped a 48-hour
stretch in which he accused scores of perceived opponents of
criminal acts ranging from illegal espionage to election
Cox Richardson: Why is Trump Administration not concerned
about Democratic revenge after 2020 Election?
From An American, May 12, 2020)
A lot happened today, but I am grappling with just two things
White House coronavirus task force medical expert Anthony
Fauci testified remotely before a Senate health committee. He
warned that reopening states too aggressively would lead to
“needless suffering and death.” He also said the death toll
from coronavirus—currently more than 80,000-- was “almost
certainly” higher than known.
The other big event was that the Supreme Court heard arguments
about whether Congress or state prosecutors can subpoena
information from the president or from his accountants or his
bankers. The questioning appeared to go poorly for Trump’s
lawyers, who had to argue against precedent and in favor of
the idea that the president can largely act without oversight,
but we will not know for a while—until June, at least—how the
court will decide.
To me, the two big stories from today were about what I see as
a gamble on the part of Trump and his sycophants to grab power
of the national government, and a surprising move on the part
of a judge to undercut that power grab.
[One action] suggests that the Trump administration does not
anticipate a Democratic presidency following this one, since
it could expect any precedent it now sets to be used against
its own people. That it is willing to weaponize intelligence
information from a previous administration suggests it is not
concerned that the next administration will weaponize
intelligence information against Trump officials. That
confidence concerns me.
But that’s only one side of the story with the Flynn case. The
other side is just as interesting. The Justice Department’s
move to drop the case against Flynn had to be approved by a
judge. Tonight, that judge, Emmet G. Sullivan, moved…
sideways. It was a really interesting move. Rather than
deciding the issue at hand, the U.S. District Judge, who is
known as a stickler for institutions, said he would receive
briefs from interested third parties to offer opinions about
the case. This means that the 2000 former Department of
Justice employees (of both parties) who demanded Barr’s
resignation over the Flynn case can now be heard. It will
invite public scrutiny of the case, and means the case will
not get swept under the rug. Flynn’s lawyers instantly cried
foul. Not only do they not want more attention to the facts of
the case, but also it is possible that Sullivan’s order will
permit him to require both sides to revisit the case,
producing evidence and calling witnesses. Rather than enabling
Trump to turn the tables on the original Russia investigation
and invert it so that it serves his purposes, Sullivan’s move
could remind people that there was a reason for the Russia
investigation in the first place and rehash some of the
stories of the Trump campaign's contacts with Russian
Both of these stories seem to me a preview of the 2020
election. Trump is going to attack his predecessor and argue
that Obama officials engaged in an illegal underground
campaign to weaken him. He might even try to prosecute
officials who were part of the investigation into Russia’s
actions in 2016. Sullivan’s unexpected move suggests that not
everyone will let this attempt to sway the 2020 election go
Less momentous, but still eye-opening, was the president’s
tweeted suggestion that MSNBC anchor Joe Scarborough had
murdered an aide in 2001 when he was a congressman from
Florida. It’s mind boggling that a president would make this
sort of unhinged allegation, but here we are.
spies gravity waves being sucked into Antarctica’s polar
(Science Magazine, May 12, 2020)
For about 2 decades, researchers have known that a region near
60° South, along the Drake Passage between the tip of South
America and Antarctica, is the planet’s hot spot for these
so-called gravity waves. They have long suspected that the
waves (not to be confused with the gravitational waves
rippling through space) are launched by the mountains of the
southern Andes and the Antarctic Peninsula, which jut
thousands of meters into westerly winds. But puzzlingly, the
hot spot lies hundreds of kilometers away from the mountains.
Now, a high-altitude aircraft has traced newborn gravity waves
rising from the mountains and bending, or refracting, toward
that hot spot.
The phenomenon helps explain why climate models predict
unrealistically cold temperatures over the South Pole.
card companies are tracking shoppers like never before:
Inside the next phase of surveillance capitalism.
Company, May 12, 2020)
In the battle between data brokers and privacy advocates, the
latest front is the credit card.
COVID-19 is Rising and Falling Around the World
Capitalist, May 12, 2020)
For many of the world’s major economies, containing the spread
of the virus has proven exceptionally difficult. Despite
increased testing and lockdown measures, the United States
still has one of the steepest infection trajectory curves. The
UK also has a very similar new case curve.
The lost six weeks when US failed to contain outbreak
(7-min. video; BBC, May 12, 2020)
Having watched Asian and European countries struggle against
Covid-19, the US was slow to ramp up testing and order its
residents to stay at home. We look at this crucial time period
and what exactly was done to prevent the outbreak.
Blips Raise Questions About COVID-19 Timeline.
(Psychology Today, May 11, 2020)
What was known and when was it known?
Favorability Falls Among Seniors Amidst Pandemic.
May 11, 2020)
The spread of the coronavirus pandemic and President Donald
Trump’s handling of the crisis may have caused his
favorability among seniors, the age group most vulnerable to
the coronavirus, to fall substantially. In April just over
four in ten (42%) seniors said they have a mostly or very
favorable view of Trump compared to a 57% majority who are
mostly or very unfavorable to the president. This represents a
14 percentage point drop since mid-March when a majority (56%)
of seniors said they view Trump favorably.
Currently, seniors display a notable divide in their views on
Trump based on age. Older Baby Boomers represent a majority
(59%) of seniors, while 41% are ages 75 and over. Members
of the Silent Generation (ages 75 and over) are less likely
than older Baby Boomers (ages 65-74) to hold a favorable view
of Trump (34% vs. 45%, respectively). This stands in sharp
contrast with previous findings where the Silent Generation
and older Baby Boomers were in lockstep in their views on
Trump in March (56% vs. 54%), February (46% vs. 43%), and 2019
(47% vs. 46%).
Says Reopening U.S. Economy Too Soon Could Lead to Needless
(New York Times, May 11, 2020)
The risks of reopening the country too soon will be a focus of
government hearings tomorrow. The White House’s new mask
requirement won’t apply to President Trump.
Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease
expert and a central figure in the government’s response to
the coronavirus, intends to warn the Senate on Tuesday that
Americans would experience “needless suffering and death” if
the country opens up too quickly. Dr. Fauci, who has emerged
as perhaps the nation’s most respected voice during the
coronavirus crisis, is one of four top government doctors
scheduled to testify remotely at a high-profile hearing on
Tuesday before the Senate Health Education, Labor and Pensions
It will be his first appearance before Congress since
President Trump declared a national emergency in March, and a
chance for him to address lawmakers and the public without
President Trump by his side. He has been largely out of public
view since last week, when Mr. Trump abandoned his daily
briefings with his coronavirus task force.
In an email late Monday night, Dr. Fauci laid out what he
intended to tell senators. “The major message that I wish to
convey to the Senate HLP committee tomorrow is the danger of
trying to open the country prematurely,” he wrote. “If we skip
over the checkpoints in the guidelines to: ‘Open America
Again,’ then we risk the danger of multiple outbreaks
throughout the country. This will not only result in needless
suffering and death, but would actually set us back on our
quest to return to normal.”
Dr. Fauci was referring to a three-phase White House plan,
Opening Up America Again, that lays out guidelines for state
officials considering reopening their economies. Among its
recommendations: States should have a “downward trajectory of
positive tests” or a “downward trajectory of documented cases”
of coronavirus over two weeks, while conducting robust contact
tracing and “sentinel surveillance” testing of asymptomatic
people in vulnerable populations, such as nursing homes. But
many states are reopening without meeting those guidelines,
seeking to ease the economic pain as millions of working
people and small-business owners are facing ruin while
sheltering at home. “We’re not reopening based on science,”
said Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, a former director of the Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention. “We’re reopening based on
politics, ideology and public pressure. And I think it’s going
to end badly.”
The comments came as the United States has recorded more than
1.35 million infections and over 80,000 deaths, according to
Reuters' figures, while worldwide the number is nearly 4.2
million infections and more than 285,000 deaths.
The much-feared second wave of infection may not wait until
fall, many scientists say. Instead, it may become a series of
wavelets occurring unpredictably across the country.
Dr. Fauci himself is now in “modified quarantine,” he has
said, after what he described as a “low risk” exposure to
someone infected with the virus.
House Orders Staff to Wear Masks as Trump Misrepresents
(New York Times, May 11, 2020)
At a news conference, the president reiterated that he would
not wear a mask himself and again exaggerated the availability
of testing for the coronavirus.
Asked at a Rose Garden news conference whether he had ordered
the change, Mr. Trump — who did not wear a mask and has
repeatedly said he sees no reason to — said, “Yeah, I did.”
But officials said the new requirement was not expected to
apply to Mr. Trump or to Vice President Mike Pence.
White House officials have scrambled since last week’s
positive diagnoses to keep the virus from spreading throughout
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue even as the president, Mr. Pence and
many other senior administration advisers who may have come
into contact with Ms. Miller and the valet declined to
self-quarantine. Mr. Trump said on Monday that he and Mr.
Pence had tested negative for the virus.
Three top public health officials have chosen to remain
isolated for a period of time — Dr. Robert R. Redfield, the
director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention;
Dr. Stephen Hahn, the commissioner of the Food and Drug
Administration; and Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the director of the
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
unveiled new props at bizarre COVID-19 briefing that spurred
(Daily Kos, May 11, 2020)
Donald Trump held a bizarre pep rally press conference type
thing on Monday. Trump and others spoke in the Rose Garden
with two identical posters hung on each side of Trump’s dumb
head, boasting a lie about America’s primacy in testing for
the novel coronavirus. Americans with even the smallest level
of critical thinking could see what was happening. Trump is
attempting to sell America Trump steaks made out of Grade Z
The signs, in big sans serif lettering, said: “AMERICA LEADS
THE WORLD IN TESTING.” This was a last-second deal and, as
George Orwell’s 1984 has taught us, simple bold lettering is
how you drive home propaganda. Of course, simple bold
lettering on a blank white background is also wildly easy to
Trump explains how great his administration is doing on
(Daily Kos, May 11, 2020)
Donald Trump once again stood in the Rose Garden to brag about
his administration’s response to the novel coronavirus
pandemic, and the message was clear: Mission. Accomplished.
With U.S. COVID-19 deaths having passed 80,000, Trump’s
bragging centered on testing—so long a major failing of his
response and only now, with the virus raging through the
country, getting to the levels it needed to be at long ago.
Krugman: How to Create a Pandemic Depression
Times, May 11, 2020)
Opening the economy too soon can backfire, badly.
Getting the virus under control doesn’t mean “flattening the
curve,” which, by the way, we did — we managed to slow the
spread of Covid-19 enough that our hospitals weren’t
overwhelmed. It means crushing the curve: getting the number
of infected Americans way down, then maintaining a high level
of testing to quickly spot new cases, combined with contact
tracing so that we can quarantine those who may have been
To get to that point, however, we would need, first, to
maintain a rigorous regime of social distancing for however
long it takes to reduce new infections to a low level. And
then we would have to protect all Americans with the kind of
testing and tracing that is already available to people who
work directly for Donald Trump, but almost nobody else.
Crushing the curve isn’t easy, but it’s very possible. In
fact, many other countries, from South Korea to New Zealand
to, believe it or not, Greece have already done it. Bringing
the infection rate way down was a lot easier for countries
that acted quickly to contain the coronavirus, while the rate
was still low, rather than spending many weeks in denial. But
even places with severe outbreaks can bring their numbers down
if they stay the course. Consider New York City, the original
epicenter of the U.S. pandemic, where the numbers of new daily
cases and deaths are only a small fraction of what they were a
few weeks ago.
But you do have to stay the course. And that’s what Trump and
company don’t want to do.
offices staying closed for another month.
May 11, 2020)
Fox News stars are echoing President Trump's call to "reopen
the country" and urging people to get back to work in the face
of the coronavirus threat. But Fox's offices won't be opening
up anytime soon. A Friday memo from Fox Corp chief
operating officer John Nallen extended the company's work from
home directive through June 15. On that date, at the earliest,
Fox Corp properties like Fox News will begin a gradual
reopening of offices. The date could very well be delayed
salon owner who was arrested for breaking quarantine admits
she received $18,000 in funding.
(Daily Kos, May 11,
While Shelley Luther [see May 7th, below] claims she had
“no choice” but to stay open and is being applauded by
conservatives nationwide for her “selfless” act of defying the
government to feed her family, many are forgetting that she
did in fact receive government funding. During her court
hearing, Luther argued that she had to stay open in order to
feed her children in addition to supporting the hairstylists
she had who “are going hungry because they’d rather feed their
While Luther stood strong in her stance that her actions were
unselfish and she needed to provide her workers with financial
support, she later admitted on ABC’s The View that she
received stimulus funds prior to her hearing. “You applied for
small business loans and unemployment, and you did receive
some aid from the government,” said The View host Sunny
Hostin. “You received $18,000 from the government.” Hostin
added: “So I understand why people feel so strongly about
going back to work because they feel that the government isn’t
doing its job and taking care of people, but in this instance,
two days before you went to court, the money went into your
account. So I’m troubled by that.”
Luther replied that while she understood why some may feel
troubled by this revelation, she was unsure what to do with
the money, claiming it appeared in her bank account with no
instructions. Luther’s lie could not be more obvious—the funds
were received from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP),
which distributes funds based on how many employees a business
has and what their salaries are. Applicants must declare the
information themselves during the vigorous application
process, and it’s clearly explained what the funds can be used
for. But of course, despite applying for the loan and
certifying she understood the terms while doing so, Luther
claimed she did not want to spend the money until she was sure
how to do so without going into debt.
In addition, Luther added that the very hairstylists who she
argued in court that she was supporting by staying open are
not actually her employees. “And giving me $18,000 to spend
when my stylists aren’t actual employees of mine, they’re
actually subleasing,” she said. “So I wasn’t sure if I was
even able to give them any of that money as employees because
I don’t pay them.”
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, the PPP
program is designed for businesses to keep workers on the
payroll. Employers are encouraged to apply for the loan in
order to pay employees for at least eight weeks amid the
current crisis, and the employers are rewarded with loan
forgiveness for doing so. If Luther really does not have any
employees, why did she receive $18,000 for a loan that
represents at least 75% of employees’ salaries? As Luther’s
lies continue, we wonder which Republican will come to her
Congress members are upset because banks are dropping
support for fossil fuels.
(Ars Technica, May 11, 2020)
A letter to the president ignores some inconvenient facts:
that wind and solar also employ people, that wind and solar
generation have become cost-competitive with fossil fuels in
most markets, that some of the resources now held as assets by
fossil fuel companies will end up "stranded"—meaning the
assets will turn out to have no value...
weird behavior during the pandemic is messing with AI
(MIT Technology Review, May 11, 2020)
Machine-learning models trained on normal behavior are showing
cracks —forcing humans to step in to set them straight.
With everything connected, the impact of a pandemic has been
felt far and wide, touching mechanisms that in more typical
times remain hidden. If machines are to be trusted, we need to
watch over them.
The World’s Rapid Rise in Life Expectancy, in Just 13
(Visual Capitalist, May 11, 2020)
On and Zoom-Zoom.
(The New Yorker, May 11, 2020)
Like the teleconferencing service, the original 1970s “Zoom”
was screen-based and interactive, and it quickly evolved into
a national obsession. But, unlike Zoom the online platform,
“Zoom” was mostly the province of kids, primarily those in the
tween cohort. Keen to foster more easygoing relationships
between kids, Christopher Sarson of WGBH-TV in Boston came up
with a general outline for a program in which a cast of
children of preteen age would perform songs, sketches, and
craft projects based on scripts and premises sent in by home
viewers in the same age group. Onscreen and off, kids would
learn from each other rather than from an adult authority
figure. “If the emphasis is on learning rather than teaching,
you achieve a lot,” Sarson said. “If the kids are learning
rather than being taught, they’ll be more sure of themselves
and enjoy life more. So, it was this [idea] of getting kids in
a position where they could be thinking for themselves.”
Vast Bettmann Photo Archive Is Hidden Inside a Cold,
Heavily-Guarded Limestone Mine.
(Atlas Obscura, May 11,
Over 11 million Getty images are on ice near Pittsburgh.
How South Korea 'crushed' the curve
(2-min. video; BBC,
May 10, 2020)
As coronavirus spread outside China, South Korea was at risk
of becoming among the world's worst affected countries. The
country managed to avoid the peaks and fatalities seen
elsewhere due to the government's implementation of an
aggressive test, trace and contain policy.
A Cape Cod ice cream shop reopened — and faced harassment so
bad one staffer quit, owner says.
(Washington Post, May
Failed Deception: The Early Days of the Coronavirus Outbreak
(Der Spiegel, May 9, 2020)
On the morning of Dec. 20, 2019, the Chinese fish monger Chen
Qingbo was cleaning out his stand at the market, completely
unaware that he would soon become the focus of intense
scientific research, that he was carrying a virus within him
of a kind the world had never seen before. He was unaware that
his fate was linked closely with that of all of humanity.
The Geology of the Moon in Astronomical Detail
Capitalist, May 9, 2020)
It is clear that there are resources earthlings can exploit.
Hydrogen, oxygen, silicon, iron, magnesium, calcium, aluminum,
manganese, and titanium are some of the metals and minerals on
the Moon. Interestingly, oxygen is the most abundant element
on the Moon. It’s a primary component found in rocks, and this
oxygen can be converted to a breathable gas with current
[OTOH, earthlings could stop exploiting and begin limiting
their own greed.]
real Lord Of The Flies: what happened when six boys
were shipwrecked for 15 months
(The Guardian, May 9,
The real Lord Of The Flies
is a tale of friendship and
loyalty; one that illustrates how much stronger we are if we
can lean on each other.
Possibly the First Recorded Death-by-Meteorite
Obscura, May 8, 2020)
Call it a cold case from space.
Brief History of TP, From Silk Road Hygiene to Pandemic
(Atlas Obscura, May 8, 2020)
An author’s end-game expertise has never been more timely.
Turned Virginia Government Websites Into Elaborate eBooks
(Vice, May 8, 2020)
Two subdomains of an official Virginia government website were
hijacked and enrolled into a eBooks scam.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is
running a full-page ad in the national news section of the New
York Times today that urges: “We need reason, not prayer, to
combat the coronavirus.” FFRF’s ad notes that “Nothing fails
like prayer. Prayer cannot stop a virus. Pious politicians
should get off their knees and get to work.”
An eye-popping cartoon drawn by Steve Benson, formerly with
the Arizona Republic, depicts Jesus being transported by
gurney into an ambulance while asking: “Is there a doctor in
The ad deliberately coincides with the
congressionally-mandated National Day of Prayer, occurring on
the first Thursday in May (today), which requires the
president to unconstitutionally enjoin citizens to
“turn to God in prayer and meditation at churches, in groups
and as individuals.” Ironically, the National Day of Prayer
theme this year is “God’s glory across the Earth,” chosen by
the National Day of Prayer Task Force, an evangelical outfit
that has hijacked the date to promote an exclusionary
FFRF’s ad notes that House Resolution 947, introduced by U.S.
Rep. Jamie Raskin, calls on making today a “National Day of
Reason,” because “irrationality, magical thinking, and
superstition have undermined the national effort to combat the
COVID-19 pandemic.” “Science works,” FFRF asserts in the ad:
“We’re all in this together — that’s why we need actions based
on science, evidence and compassion, not prayer or ‘alternate
facts.’ ” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is quoted as saying, “Our
behavior has stopped the spread of the virus. God did not stop
the spread of the virus. And what we do now, how we act, will
dictate how the virus spreads.”
The ad concludes, “Our work to uphold the constitutional
principle of separation between religion and government has
never been more essential.”
"Where do we look?", Nicole Wallace asks as if
throwing her hands up in the air. "We have a White House that
is what it is. We have a liar-in-chief who's pushed hoax
treatments, who's diminished his scientists. We have a VP who
for some reason doesn't wear a mask because it obscures his
vision or something. I mean, WHERE DO WE TURN!"
With a drop in revenue from oil due to low
prices, companies will reap less profit and thus have less
money to spend on expanding into clean energy. Fossil fuel
interests have dragged their feet on addressing their
contribution to climate change and have actively worked to
crush measures to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. Based on
their history of committed fossil fuel extraction, it’s
unlikely we’d see any meaningful change from energy companies
now, even as their profits plummet.
If we want to steer towards a clean energy
future, one place to start is putting a price on carbon. One
method, a carbon fee and dividend program, could be just what
America needs right now. It would take the carbon taxes from
fossil fuel companies and issue the money back to households.
That means you reduce the oil energy dominance and you’d be
able to help people right now with a check.
A more radical solution would be to buy out
the fossil fuel industry, coupled with a green stimulus
program to support jobs. Right now, in theory, the government
could buy the entire oil and gas industry for cheap, then
dismantle it. Markets are bad at making these kinds of
transitions themselves, so this massive purchase could be a
way to end fossil fuel dominance for good.
The Pentagon formally released yesterday three
videos taken by US Navy pilots that show an "unidentified
aerial phenomenon." These videos were leaked back in 2017, and
stirred up major UFO rumors. The footage shows a cluster of
odd-looking aircraft flying over the East Coast with
unidentified maneuvers, unlike anything the Navy pilots had
There have been multiple media reports in
recent weeks that Kim, who is 36 and has ruled North Korea as
“Supreme Leader” since 2011, is either dead or incapacitated
after heart surgery. The rumors and speculation have been
fueled by the fact that Kim hasn’t appeared in North Korean
state media for two weeks and missed the April 15 birthday
celebrations for his grandfather, Kim Il Sung, founder of the
When you simultaneously hunt for wildlife and
push development into natural ecosystems — destroying natural
habitats — the natural balance of species collapses due to
loss of top predators and other iconic species, leading to an
abundance of more generalized species adapted to live in human
dominated habitats. These are rats, bats and some primates —
which together host 75 percent of all known zoonotic viruses
to date, and who can survive and multiply in destroyed
human-dominated habitats. As we humans have become more
numerous and concentrated in cities, and as deforestation has
brought these generalized species closer to us — and as
countries like China, Vietnam and others in central Africa
tolerated wet markets where these virus-laden species were
mixed with domesticated meats — we’re seeing ever more
zoonotic diseases spreading from animals to people. Their
names are SARS, MERS, Ebola, bird flu, and swine flu — and
Covid-19. Add globalization to this and you have the perfect
ingredients for more pandemics. We need to find a much more
harmonious balance between economic growth and our ecosystems.
The same kind of harmonic approach has to be
brought to our current debate about reopening the economy.
We’re having this important debate about our health and
economic future in an incredibly uncoordinated way. Instead,
we should have federal government experts on one team offering
their approach — and a Team B of independent medical,
economic, public health, data and strategic analysts offering
an alternative approach. And then go for the best synthesis.
For instance, if we concluded that an identified group of a
quarter of the population face an unacceptable risk of death
from coronavirus, but that for the other 75 percent, with
appropriate precautions like social distancing and masks, face
no greater risk than other risks of death we accepted before
coronavirus, would it be possible to design a response that
protected the most vulnerable while simultaneously reopening
most of the economy for others?
The bottom line is that Mother Nature has been telling us
something huge in this crisis: “You let everything get out of
balance and go to extremes. You ravaged my ecosystems and
unleashed this virus. You let political extremism ravage your
body politic. You need to get back into balance, and that
starts with using the immune system that I endowed you with.”
Herd immunity, which kicks in after about 60 percent of the
population is exposed to and recovers from the virus, has
historically been nature’s way of ending pandemics. We need to
bend with her forces, while concentrating our health services
and social services on protecting those most vulnerable who
need to stay sheltered until there is a vaccine.
Today the House of Representatives passed a
new $484 billion coronavirus relief bill by a vote of 388-5.
The Senate passed it Tuesday. $381 billion is for small
businesses left out in the cold when the money from the
previous coronavirus relief package quickly ran dry.
Republicans wanted to stop there, but Democrats demanded $75
billion for hospitals, and $25 billion for coronavirus
testing, as well as a requirement that the administration
figure out a strategy to get tests to states. The relief bill
comes as more than 26 million Americans are out of work and
almost 50,000 Americans have died of Covid-19.
The French government’s mantra, that every
minister and secretary of state is expected to chant in
unison, is: “masks are useless, the tests are unreliable”.
They all swear by handwashing and lockdowns. No reference is
made to the way things had been handled in Seoul, Hong Kong,
or Taiwan, where free masks were distributed and people were
required to wear them, and large-scale testing was carried
out, and where economic life goes on, in slow motion, but it
goes on. Today, with 23 million inhabitants, Taiwan has
recorded 6 COVID-19 deaths; Hong Kong, with 7 million
inhabitants, has lost 4. As for the French doctors who were in
Wuhan working alongside their Chinese colleagues and thus well
informed, they were not even consulted.
For better or worse the robots are going to
replace many humans in their jobs, analysts say, and the
coronavirus outbreak is speeding up the process.
"People usually say they want a human element to their
interactions but Covid-19 has changed that," says Martin Ford,
a futurist who has written about the ways robots will be
integrated into the economy in the coming decades. "[Covid-19]
is going to change consumer preference and really open up new
opportunities for automation."
Companies large and small are expanding how they use robots to
increase social distancing and reduce the number of staff that
have to physically come to work. Robots are also being used to
perform roles workers cannot do at home. Walmart, America's
biggest retailer, is using robots to scrub its floors. Robots
in South Korea have been used to measure temperatures and
distribute hand sanitiser.
He was a Trump supporter who chose selectively
from the menu of current Republican ideologies, freely
rejecting what didn’t suit him. He didn’t want to hear how
much you loved Hillary Clinton, as one regular at his bar put
it to me, but he was not going to make the Syrian immigrant
who came in to play darts feel as if he belonged anywhere
else. Where these kinds of voters align is not in the right’s
hatred of the marginalized but in its distrust of the news. If
the “liberal” media was telling us that a plague was coming
and that it would be devastating, why should anyone believe
it? Joe Joyce had his skepticism.
On March 1, Joe Joyce and his wife, Jane, set
sail for Spain on a cruise, flying first to Florida. His adult
children — Kevin, Eddie and Kristen Mider — suggested that the
impending doom of the coronavirus made this a bad idea. Joe
Joyce was 74, a nonsmoker, healthy; four years after he opened
his bar he stopped drinking completely. He didn’t see the
problem. “He watched Fox, and believed it was under control,’’
Kristen told me.
Tens of millions of Americans got their
stimulus payments, but many others reported receiving the
wrong amount and frustrating online issues.
The key to getting your payment in the first
batch sent out was whether the IRS had direct deposit
information for you as a result of a refund. If you owed the
IRS or did not get a refund in 2018 or 2019, the agency
doesn’t have a way to send your money electronically. This
does not mean you won’t get a payment. It means you need to
either go to “Get My Payment” on the IRS website or wait for a
paper check in the mail.
If you don’t get the money, you’ll have to
wait for a letter from the IRS. The agency is required to mail
a letter to your last known address 15 days after sending your
payment. As described in the Cares Act, the notice from the
IRS is supposed to indicate the method by which your payment
was made, the amount of the payment and a phone number for the
appropriate point of contact at the IRS to report any failure
to receive the money.
Lots of people are worried that the message
“Payment Status Not Available” means they may not get their
stimulus money. It is very likely that the system hasn’t been
able to process your information from a recently filed 2019
tax return. Or, it’s like a waiting room where you sit until
you are called.
Many people have complained about a glitch
that won’t allow them to move forward because they neither
owed any money to the IRS nor received a refund for 2018 or
2019. Initially, IRS spokesman Eric Smith suggested that
people type in zero for either answer. However, this does not
work. Others tried using information from their 2018 return.
That didn’t work either. “We are aware of the problem and we
are working hard to find a solution,” Smith said. “In these
very difficult times, we know how very much people need their
money, and we are working hard to get it to them as quickly as
To prevent fraud, the “Get My Payment” portal
will lock you out after multiple failed attempts to enter
information. You may be locked out by no fault of your own.
The information the IRS has on file may be outdated or wrong.
Perhaps you moved and the IRS has an old address. A Social
Security number may be incorrect in the system. If you get a
message that your payment status can’t be determined, wait a
day. Because information is updated once a day, overnight,
there is no need to check back several times during the day.
The coronavirus pandemic has upended the
global economic system, and just as importantly, cast out 40
years of neoliberal orthodoxy that dominated the
industrialized world. Forget about the “new world order.”
Offshoring and global supply chains are out; regional and
local production is in. Market fundamentalism is passé;
regulation is the norm. Public health is now more valuable
than just-in-time supply systems. Stockpiling and industrial
capacity suddenly make more sense, which may have future
implications in the recently revived antitrust debate in the
Biodata will drive the next phase of social management and
surveillance, with near-term consequences for the way
countries handle immigration and customs. Health care and
education will become digitally integrated the way newspapers
and television were 10 years ago. Health care itself will
increasingly be seen as a necessary public good, rather than a
private right, until now in the U.S. predicated on age,
employment or income levels. Each of these will produce
political tensions within their constituencies and in the
society generally as they adapt to the new normal.
This political sea change doesn’t represent a sudden
conversion to full-on socialism, but simply a case of
minimizing our future risks of infection by providing full-on
universal coverage. Beyond that, as Professor Michael Sandel
has argued, one has to query the “moral logic” of providing
“coronavirus treatment for the uninsured,” while leaving
“health coverage in ordinary times… to the market” (especially
when our concept of what constitutes “ordinary times” has been