August 2020 News


 

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Editor's Choice: Scroll below for our monthly blend of mainstream and alternative August 2020 news and views.

Note: Excerpts are from the authors' words except for subheads and occasional "Editor's notes" such as this.

 

Aug. 31

Top Headlines

Law & Order

Virus Victims, Responses

2020 U.S. Elections, Politics

Political, Race Protests

World News

Media News

 

Top Stories

Donald Trump, center, welcomes Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left, and Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak at the White House on May 10, 2017 (photo by Tass, with only Russian media permitted to cover the meetings).

Donald Trump, center, welcomes Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left, and Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak at the White House on May 10, 2017 (photo by Tass, with only Russian media permitted to cover the meetings).

ny times logoNew York Times, Investigation: Justice Dept. Never Fully Examined Trump’s Ties to Russia, Ex-Officials Say, Michael S. Schmidt, Aug. 31, 2020 (print ed.). The former deputy attorney general maneuvered to keep investigators from completing an inquiry into whether the president’s personal and financial links to Russia posed a national security threat. President Trump has long called investigations into his 2016 campaign’s ties with Russia a “hoax.”

robert mueller full face fileThe Justice Department secretly took steps in 2017 to narrow the investigation into Russian election interference and any links to the Trump campaign, according to former law enforcement officials, keeping investigators from completing an examination of President Trump’s decades-long personal and business ties to Russia.

The special counsel who finished the investigation, Robert S. Mueller III, right, secured three dozen indictments and convictions of some top Trump advisers, and he produced a report that outlined Russia’s wide-ranging operations to help get Mr. Trump elected and the president’s efforts to impede the inquiry.

Justice Department log circularBut law enforcement officials never fully investigated Mr. Trump’s own relationship with Russia, even though some career F.B.I. counterintelligence investigators thought his ties posed such a national security threat that they took the extraordinary step of opening an inquiry into them. Within days, the former deputy attorney general Rod J. Rosenstein, below at right, curtailed the investigation without telling the bureau, all but ensuring it would go nowhere.

Rod Rosenstein Deputyty Atttorney GeneralA bipartisan report by the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee released this month came the closest to an examination of the president’s links to Russia.

Senators depicted extensive ties between Trump associates and Russia, identified a close associate of a former Trump campaign chairman as a Russian intelligence officer and outlined how allegations about Mr. Trump’s encounters with women during trips to Moscow could be used to compromise him. But the senators acknowledged they lacked access to the full picture, particularly any insight into Mr. Trump’s finances.

Now, as Mr. Trump seeks re-election, major questions about his approach to Russia remain unanswered. He has repeatedly shown an openness to Russia, an adversary that attacked American democracy in 2016, and refused to criticize or challenge the Kremlin’s increasing aggressions toward the West. The president has also rejected the intelligence community’s finding that Russia interfered in 2016 to bolster his candidacy and the spy agencies’ assessment that Russia is trying to sabotage this year’s election again on his behalf.

Mr. Rosenstein concluded the F.B.I. lacked sufficient reason to conduct an investigation into the president’s links to a foreign adversary. Mr. Rosenstein determined that the investigators were acting too hastily in response to the firing days earlier of James B. Comey as F.B.I. director, and he suspected that the acting bureau director who approved the opening of the inquiry, Andrew G. McCabe, had conflicts of interest.

djt impeachment graphicMr. Rosenstein never told Mr. McCabe about his decision, leaving the F.B.I. with the impression that the special counsel would take on the investigation into the president as part of his broader duties. Mr. McCabe said in an interview that had he known Mr. Mueller would not continue the inquiry, he would have had the F.B.I. perform it.

“We opened this case in May 2017 because we had information that indicated a national security threat might exist, specifically a counterintelligence threat involving the president and Russia,” Mr. McCabe said. “I expected that issue and issues related to it would be fully examined by the special counsel team. If a decision was made not to investigate those issues, I am surprised and disappointed. I was not aware of that.”

The disclosure about the counterintelligence investigation is based on interviews with former Justice Department and F.B.I. officials.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump lavishes praise on his supporters amid protest clashes, David Nakamura, Matt Viser and Robert Klemko, Aug. 31, 2020 (print ed.). Shooting deaths in Oregon and Wisconsin raise the specter that the nation’s summer of unrest has entered a new phase.

President Donald Trump officialPresident Trump on Sunday amplified his call for federal forces to help subdue protests in American cities, denouncing local Democratic leaders and fanning partisan tensions a day after a deadly clash between his supporters and social justice protesters in Portland, Ore., djt maga hatunderscored the threat of rising politically motivated violence.

Scenes of Trump faithful firing paint and pellet guns at protesters during a “Trump cruise rally” caravan through downtown Portland — a liberal bastion that has been the site of weeks of street demonstrations — raised the specter that the nation’s summer of unrest had entered a new phase in which the president’s backers are rallying to defend businesses and fight back against Black Lives Matter and other groups he has labeled “anarchists” and “terrorists.”

washington post logojoe biden 2020 button CustomWashington Post, Live updates: Biden accuses Trump of ‘recklessly encouraging violence’ in response to Portland shooting, Elise Viebeck, Aug. 31, 2020 (print ed.). The president let loose roughly 90 tweets and retweets attacking Democratic officials and defending aggressive actions by his supporters in Portland.

Law & Order

nancy pelosi djt 2 older

washington post logoWashington Post, Court dismisses House lawsuit seeking to enforce Donald McGahn subpoena, Spencer S. Hsu and Ann E. Marimow, Aug. 31, 2020. A federal appeals court dismissed a House lawsuit Monday seeking to force President Trump’s former White House counsel Donald McGahn to comply with a congressional subpoena, saying that Congress has not passed a law expressly U.S. House logoauthorizing it to sue to enforce its subpoenas.

The divided 2-to-1 ruling dealt a blow to congressional oversight powers and came three weeks after the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit affirmed that Congress had standing to sue — that is, it had shown that the Trump administration’s refusal to allow McGahn to testify harmed the House’s long-standing right to compel testimony from government officials.

The full panel’s ruling returned the case to a three-judge panel of the court to consider other challenges in a historic clash between the branches of government.

In Monday’s opinion, two judges said that despite the injury to Congress, there was no statute by which it could seek a remedy, ending the case.

“This decision does not preclude Congress (or one of its chambers) from ever enforcing a subpoena in federal court; it simply precludes it from doing so without first enacting a statute authorizing such a suit,” wrote Judge Thomas Griffith for the majority, who was joined by Judge Karen Henderson.

djt impeachment graphicJudge Judith Rogers dissented, saying the Supreme Court has found that Congress’s investigative power includes the authority to compel testimony and enforce a subpoena in federal court.

Congressional power, she wrote, includes “not only a right to information but also a right to seek judicial enforcement of its subpoena.” The Supreme Court has long “held that each House has power to secure needed information” through its constitutional “power of inquiry,” Rogers said. The power is an implicit guarantee of access to the courts for enforcement in addition to the usual ability of parties to seek declaratory court judgments in matters of controversy.

Rogers also rejected McGahn’s contention that he is entitled to “absolute immunity,” a claim the majority did not reach before tossing the case.

“The President does not have absolute, unreviewable discretion to determine what information will be disclosed in response to a subpoena,” Rogers wrote. “Yet that is exactly the nature of McGahn’s dan mcgahn djtabsolute immunity claim. By asserting that he need not even appear in response to the Committee’s duly issued subpoena, he in essence contends that the President may unilaterally determine that no information will be disclosed in response to the subpoena.”

The decision marked the second time a circuit court panel has voided a House subpoena issued last year to McGahn (shown at right) for his testimony regarding the Trump administration’s alleged obstruction of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election.

Monday’s ruling also may not be the final word.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, shown at top, announced plans to seek immediate review by the full D.C. Circuit.

“If allowed to stand, this wrong-headed Court of Appeals panel ruling threatens to strike a grave blow to one of the most fundamental Constitutional roles of the Congress: to conduct oversight on behalf of the American people, including by issuing our lawful and legitimate subpoenas,” Pelosi said in a statement. “The ruling represents a flawed judicial attack on the entire House of Representatives; in the past, both Republicans and Democrats have successfully sought to enforce House subpoenas in court.”

us dc federal courthouse Small

washington post logoWashington Post, Flynn case does not have to be immediately dismissed, court rules, Ann E. Marimow, Aug. 31, 2020. The decision means a judge can scrutinize the Justice Department’s request to drop the politically charged case against President Trump’s former national security adviser.

Michael Flynn Harvard 2014A federal judge can scrutinize the Justice Department’s decision to drop the criminal case against President Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn, right, a federal appeals court in Washington ruled Monday, allowing the legal saga to continue.

emmet sullivan 2012The divided decision from the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit gives U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan (left, a Republican nominee based in the courthouse shown above), the go ahead to question prosecutors’ unusual move to dismiss Flynn’s case ahead of sentencing.

The retired general twice pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his Russian contacts before Trump took office in 2017.

In an 8-to-2 ruling, the court denied Flynn’s request, backed by the Justice Department, to shutdown Sullivan’s planned review and appointment of a retired federal judge to argue against the government’s position. [Editor's note: the only judges that ruled to dismiss, both Republicans, were the same two that ruled to dismiss in the earlier case.]

washington post logojennifer rubin new headshotWashington Post, Opinion: Congress should warn Trump’s lawbreakers that there will be consequences, Jennifer Rubin, right, Aug. 31, 2020. Those aides and staffers must be held accountable.

With about two months to go until Election Day, President Trump has abandoned any pretense of following, let alone enforcing, the laws he has sworn to uphold.

He directed government employees to assist him in putting on a political extravaganza at the White House. His secretary of state dialed in from Jerusalem for a purely political role as Trump’s cheerleader at the Republican National Convention, in violation of both the Hatch Act and his own departmental guidelines.

Trump instructed his director of national intelligence to refuse to brief members of Congress in person on efforts to disrupt the 2020 election, a choice House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) declared “a shocking abdication of its lawful responsibility to keep the Congress currently informed, and a betrayal of the public’s right to know how foreign powers are trying to subvert our democracy.” And Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has instituted measures that have slowed the mail, even as more Americans will rely on the Postal Service to cast their ballots.

The way to handle Trump is to beat him at the polls. But what about the aides who participate in illegal activities or block Congress from performing oversight?

Schiff on Sunday left open the possibility of issuing subpoenas to intelligence officials. Let me suggest Congress do that to all potential lawbreakers and anyone in the administration who refuses to produce documents in response to appropriate inquiries. Those subpoenas, if not heeded, should be followed by swift contempt citations.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s lawyers just tipped off in court that they fear New York could indict him before the election, Bill Palmer, Aug. 31, 2020. Donald Trump has already lost the Supreme Court ruling over his tax returns, but his lawyers are still filing dead-end motions in the hope of stalling things a bit before Trump’s accounting firm ultimately hands the tax returns over to the Manhattan District Attorney. Trump’s latest court filings over the matter just gave something away.

bill palmer report logo headerAs Palmer Report is fond of pointing out, grand juries literally only exist for one reason: to bring criminal indictments against people. As soon as it became public knowledge that the New York grand jury was seeking Trump’s tax returns, it meant by definition that the grand jury was in the process of indicting Trump on state charges. One of the big questions has been whether the grand jury will indict Trump before the election. It turns out Trump’s lawyers are worried about this scenario.

In their new court filing, Trump’s lawyers specifically stated their fear that if the New York grand jury indicts Trump before the election, the contents of his tax returns could end up becoming public knowledge as part of the indictment filing. In such case voters could be swayed to vote against Trump based on what’s in his tax returns.

This argument alone reveals just how backed into a corner Donald Trump is. His lawyers are flat out publicly admitting that Trump’s tax returns are ugly enough, their contents could cause people to vote against him. Perhaps more importantly, they’re admitting that they fear New York will indict Trump before the election.

Even if New York can’t physically arrest Donald Trump before the election because he’s holed up in the White House, Trump being indicted would go a long way to convincing voters in the middle that he really is a criminal who needs to be voted out. And of course it means that if Trump loses, he’s going to prison.

Virus Victims, Responses

covad 19 photo.jpg Custom 2Worldometer Coronavirus Case Count (Last update: Aug. 31, 2020), with U.S. deaths at more than 187,000. (Ed. note: Some other sources count slightly lower totals, purportedly in view of reporting restrictions imposed by some governments):

    • Worldwide Cases: 25,418,413; Deaths: 851,134; Recovered: 17,7253,819
    • U.S. Cases: 6,175,600; Deaths: 187,232; Recovered: 3,425,907

2020 U.S. Elections, Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: 2020 Trump looks like a man who knows his show is about to be canceled, E.J. Dionne Jr., right, Aug. 31, 2020 (print ed.). As ej dionne w open neckPresident Trump droned through his 70-minute acceptance speech — while desecrating the White House as a television backdrop, which was probably illegal — the words that kept coming to mind were two he has applied with relish to his opponents: “low-energy” and “sleepy.”

Find footage of his 2016 acceptance speech and watch it back to back with Thursday’s. If that’s too painful, just watch parts of both. Even a speech instructor at the late Trump University would notice the contrasting levels of vitality.

djt rncThe 2020 Trump (shown at right in a photo from the his convention last week) looks like a man who knows his show is about to be canceled. He has to make a herculean effort to turn things around — and he is just too sick and tired of the whole thing to give it a real try. Perhaps he hoped the quantity of his words would offset the lack of forcefulness in his presentation. It backfired. A man whom even critics concede is “interesting” became ponderous and ­boring.

washington post logoWashington Post, The Markey-Kennedy Senate primary battle is one Democrats wish wasn’t happening, Roxanne Roberts, Aug. 31, 2020 (print ed.). Ed Markey has never lost an election. No Kennedy has ever lost in the state. Who will win is anyone’s guess.

Political, Race Protests

kyle rittenhouse

Teenager Kyle Rittenhouse, center, is shown patrolling a Wisconsin street as a vigilante before allegedly killing two people (screenshot).

ny times logoNew York Times, Live updates: President Trump defended a teenage supporter accused of killing two people during unrest in Wisconsin, Staff updates, Aug. 31, 2020. Joe Biden used a speech in Pittsburgh to argue that the president has made the country unsafe. “He can’t stop the violence because for years he’s fomented it.”

Here’s what you need to know:

  • ‘Rioting is not protesting,’ Biden says, as he calls for racial justice and condemns Trump.
  • Harry Belafonte denounces a Trump aide’s doctored clip of him: ‘Please vote them out.’
  • The police identified the man who was shot and killed in Portland and said no arrests have been made.
  • A series of primaries in Massachusetts could be a bellwether for the Democratic Party.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Posts Barrage of Inflammatory Tweets After Portland Killing, Mike Baker, Thomas Kaplan and Shane Goldmacher, Aug. 31, 2020 (print ed.). The shooting of a man as a caravan of Trump supporters drove through the city in Oregon reverberated in a presidential campaign entering its most intense period.

President Trump tweeted that “the big backlash going on in Portland cannot be unexpected,” a remarkable instance of a president seeming to support conflict.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump cannot be allowed to incite his way to reelection, Max Boot, Aug. 31, 2020 (print ed.).President Trump and his cronies are like the cartoon villains in movies who not only unleash dastardly plots but then helpfully explain them to the audience. Thus on Thursday, the president’s outgoing counselor, Kellyanne Conway, told Fox News: “The more chaos and anarchy and vandalism and violence reigns, the better it is for the very clear choice on who’s best on public safety and law and order.”

Seldom has a more cynical or sordid thought been publicly expressed by such a senior White House aide. As Democratic nominee Joe Biden said, Trump is “rooting for more violence, not less,” because he views it as politically beneficial in his quest to scare White America into voting for him.

washington post logoWashington Post, Live updates: Biden to address unrest, violence during remarks in Pittsburgh, Staff reports, Aug. 31, 2020. Scalise says he should not have edited Biden video on ‘defunding’ police but defends its message; Powerful House committee chairman faces liberal primary challenger in race that could reshape Congress.

washington post logoWashington Post, As confrontations between armed groups and protesters turn deadly, police face complaints of tolerating vigilantes, Joshua Partlow and Isaac Stanley-Becker, Aug. 31, 2020 (print ed.). In a video recorded shortly before two people were fatally shot last week in Kenosha, Wis., the accused gunman — Kyle Rittenhouse, 17 — circulates among a group of gun-wielding men who claim to be guarding a service station amid protests against police brutality.

Although it is well past curfew, police passing in an armored vehicle offer the group bottles of water and some friendly encouragement, saying over a loudspeaker: “We appreciate you guys. We really do.”

As protesters march against racism and police violence in cities and towns across the nation, they are being confronted by groups of armed civilians who claim to be assisting and showing support for police battered and overwhelmed by the protests. The confrontations have left at least three people dead in recent days: In addition to the two protesters killed Tuesday in Kenosha, a man thought to be associated with a far-right group called Patriot Prayer was fatally shot late Saturday in Portland, Ore.

World News

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: In Trump, much of the world sees an act that’s wearing thin, Ishaan Tharoor, Aug. 31, 2020. Much of the world has seen through the Trumpist mirage for quite some time.

canadian flag“What is finally being demonstrated with the novel coronavirus calamity is that Trump has left nothing in its place — that the residue of his vanity-driven recklessness is malfunction,” Canadian columnist Lawrence Martin wrote this March in the Globe and Mail, as Trump floundered in the initial throes of the pandemic. “With his disastrous televised address to the nation on the virus as exhibit A, what is being demonstrated is that the emperor has no clothes.”

“The Republicans are celebrating how wonderfully well the country is doing, never mind that Covid-19 deaths in the US could reach 310,000 by the end of the year, and that the country is deep in recession,” wrote Andrew Sheng in the South China Morning Post, Hong Kong’s leading English-language daily. “Only the stock market, buoyed by unprecedented quantitative easing, seems to be celebrating too.”

state dept map logo Small

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Mike Pompeo is the worst secretary of state in history, Jackson Diehl, Aug. 31, 2020 (print ed.). As secretary of state, Mike Pompeo has presided over the collapse of negotiations with North Korea, the failure of a pressure campaign against Iran and an abortive attempt to oust mike pompeo portraitVenezuela’s authoritarian regime. On his watch, China has carried out genocide in its Xinjiang region and the suppression of Hong Kong’s freedoms without resistance from Washington until it was too late.

Pompeo, right, has failed to fill dozens of senior positions at the State Department, and hundreds of career diplomats have left or been driven out in political purges.

Morale is at a historic low: In staff surveys, there has been a 34 percent increase between 2016 and 2019 in those who say the State Department’s senior leaders “did not maintain high levels of honesty and integrity.”

Maybe that’s because Pompeo himself has defied legal mandates from Congress, skirted a law restricting arms sales to Saudi Arabia, tasked staffers with carrying out errands for himself and his wife, and fired the inspector general who was investigating his violations.

Media News

Palmer Report, Opinion: Steve Scalise forced to cave after getting caught posting doctored video, Bill Palmer, Aug. 31, 2020. In the latest reminder that there are no limits to how low Donald Trump’s allies will sink to try to salvage his failing 2020 bid, Republican Congressman Steve Scalise tweeted a doctored video on Sunday that set off a furor. It showed footage of health care advocate Ady Barkan, an ALS patient who speaks with a computerized voice. Scalise’s video added words to Barkan’s computerized voice that Barkan never said.

bill palmer report logo headerAdy Barkan tweeted this in response to Scalise’s deranged fake video: “These are not my words. I have lost my ability to speak, but not my agency or my thoughts. You and your team have doctored my words for your own political gain. Please remove this video immediately. You owe the entire disability community an apology.”

Leaders from Joe Biden to Nancy Pelosi quickly condemned Steve Scalise and demanded that he delete the video. Twitter slapped a “manipulated media” warning on Scalise’s video, but didn’t delete it outright. Finally, late on Sunday night, Scalise deleted the tweet and announced that he would remove the doctored clip of Barkan from the video going forward. Score one for the good guys. Scalise is a scumbag.

Associated Press via Chron.com, VOA journalists protest new US global media chief's moves, Matthew Lee, Aug. 31, 2020. A group of journalists at Voice of America is protesting moves made by the U.S.-funded outlet’s new chief that they say are endangering their colleagues and the international broadcaster’s credibility as a news source.

In a letter to VOA management sent on Monday, 14 senior VOA journalists expressed deep concern and profound disappointment with steps U.S. Agency for Global Media head Michael Pack has taken that they say also threaten to harm American national security.

The signatories said they were “compelled to express our profound disappointment with the actions and comments of the chief executive officer of the U.S. Agency for Global Media, which endanger the personal security of VOA reporters at home and abroad, as well as threatening to harm U.S. national security objectives.”

 

Aug. 30

Top Headlines

Virus Victims, Responses

Falwell Scandal, Education, Culture Wars

2020 U.S. Elections, Politics

Political, Race Protests

U.S. Media / Politics

 

Top Stories

Aug. 30

jonathan swan twitterAxios, 1 big thing: Trump offered FBI director job to Kelly, asked for loyalty, Jonathan Swan, right, Aug 30, 2020. The day after President Trump fired FBI boss James Comey, the president phoned John Kelly, who was then secretary for the Department of Homeland Security, and offered him Comey's job, the New York Times' Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Michael Schmidt reports in his forthcoming book, Donald Trump v. The United States.

Driving the news: "But the president added something else — if he became FBI director, Trump told him, Kelly, below right, needed to be loyal to him, and only him."

FBI logo• "Kelly immediately realized the problem with Trump's request for loyalty, and he pushed back on the president's demand," Schmidt writes.
• "Kelly said that he would be loyal to the Constitution and the rule of law, but he refused to pledge his loyalty to Trump."

John KellyWhy it matters: This previously unreported conversation sheds additional light on the president's mindset when he fired Comey. Special counsel Robert Mueller never learned of this information because the president's lawyers limited the scope of his team's two-hour interview with Kelly.

ny times logoNew York Times, Deadly Shooting in Portland After Pro-Trump Ralliers Clash With Protesters, Mike Baker, Aug. 30, 2020. A caravan of Trump supporters drove through Portland, Ore., which has seen nightly protests against police violence and racial injustice. The man who was fatally shot was wearing a hat with the insignia of a far-right group based in Portland that has clashed with protesters in the past.

A man was shot and killed Saturday as a large group of supporters of President Trump traveled in a caravan through downtown Portland, Ore., which has seen nightly protests for three consecutive months.

The pro-Trump rally drew hundreds of trucks full of supporters into the city. At times, Trump supporters and counterprotesters clashed on the streets, with people shooting paintball guns from the beds of pickup trucks and protesters throwing objects back at them.

A video that purports to be of the shooting, taken from the far side of the street, showed a small group of people in the road outside what appears to be a parking garage. Gunfire erupts, and a man collapses in the street.

The man who was shot and killed was wearing a hat with the insignia of Patriot Prayer, a far-right group based in Portland that has clashed with protesters in the past.

The shooting capped a volatile week in the United States that began when the police in Kenosha, Wis., repeatedly shot a Black man, Jacob Blake, prompting new protests against racism and police brutality that included the cancellation of professional sports games.

During the unrest after the shooting of Mr. Blake, Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old Illinois resident, was charged in connection with the fatal shootings of two protesters.

covad 19 photo.jpg Custom 2Worldometer Coronavirus Case Count (Last update: Aug. 30, 2020, 16:41 GMT): U.S. Cases: 6,148,414; Deaths: 186,944

    • Worldwide Cases: 25,283,968; Deaths: 848,471; Recovered: 17,613,877
    • U.S. Cases: 6,148,414; Deaths: 186,944; Recovered: 3,410,682

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden to resume in-person campaigning as race with Trump kicks into gear, Philip Rucker and Annie Linskeym, Aug. 30, 2020 (print ed.). As the president seeks to exploit protest violence, top Democrats say Joe Biden needs to be more proactive as a campaigner and aggressive in promoting his agenda on the coronavirus and the economy.

Liberals worry Democrats lag behind GOP’s focus on courts.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden will resume in-person campaigning across the country in coming days amid the still-raging coronavirus pandemic, an answer to allies imploring him to meet voters where they are and a sign that his race with President Trump is tightening as the general election contest begins in earnest.

Coming out of back-to-back national conventions that both parties considered successful, Trump aides said the president is determined to exploit the racial unrest in Kenosha, Wis., and other places where Black Lives Matter protesters have been active to amplify his “law and joe biden kamala harris campaign shotorder” message. Trump aims to cast Biden and running mate Kamala D. Harris as agents of far-left radicals in a bid to scare suburban White women and other key voters back into the Republican fold.

Biden, meanwhile, is trying to carry his summer polling lead into the fall by giving his campaign a fresh jolt of energy, making plans to leave the Mid-Atlantic region next month for the first sustained period since the pandemic forced an end to traditional campaigning in March.

The Republican National Convention’s week-long effort to rebrand Trump as compassionate toward women, minorities and immigrants; to portray the economy as booming and the virus as dissipating; and to stoke fears of socialism and anarchy — despite the fire hose of falsehoods — served as a wake-up call for some top Democrats. They said Biden, a former vice president, needs to be more proactive as a campaigner and aggressive in *promoting his economic agenda to avoid being typecast.

washington post logous mail logoWashington Post, Cost-cutting uncertainty mires Postal Service in more delays, Jacob Bogag, Aug. 30, 2020 (print ed.). USPS workers say the lack of clarity about which of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s proposals will stick adds to the confusion.

washington post logoWashington Post, Senior intelligence officials won’t brief Congress in person on foreign threats to election, Ellen Nakashima, Aug. 30, 2020 (print ed.). Briefings will now be in writing, prompting outrage from top Democrats.

Senior intelligence officials will no longer brief Congress in person on foreign interference in the 2020 election. Instead, they will inform lawmakers of threats in writing, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said Saturday.

CIA LogoThe decision, made with Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe’s assent, arose out of concerns that briefings to lawmakers have resulted in leaks of classified information, an ODNI official said.

But the change threatens to undermine the community’s pledge to be transparent with Congress and the public at a time when three foreign adversaries, including Russia, are seeking to influence the American political process.

“I believe this approach helps ensure ... that the information ODNI provides the Congress ... is not misunderstood or politicized,” Ratcliffe wrote in letters to congressional leadership, including the chairmen and vice chairmen of the House and Senate intelligence panels.

Read the director of national intelligence’s letters to Congressional leaders

“It will also better protect our sources and methods and most sensitive intelligence from additional unauthorized disclosures or misuse,” he wrote. The development was first reported by CNN.

Democrats, led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), immediately cried foul.

“This is a shocking abdication of its lawful responsibility to keep the Congress currently informed, and a betrayal of the public’s right to know how foreign powers are trying to subvert our democracy,” she said in a joint statement with Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), who chairs the House Intelligence Committee.

Virus Victims, Responses

ny times logoNew York Times, Looking to Reopen, Colleges Become Labs for Tests and Tracking Apps, Matt Richtel, Aug. 30, 2020. Universities are pioneering technology and innovations, such as testing wastewater from dormitories, that could help society combat the pandemic.

covad 19 photo.jpg Custom 2Thousands of students returning to the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York this month are being asked to wear masks in public, register their health status online each day and electronically log classroom visits for contact tracing if a coronavirus outbreak occurs. But the most novel effort at the school to measure and limit virus spread will require little effort and come quite naturally.

Students need only use the bathroom.

At more than 15 dormitories and on-campus apartment buildings, sewage is being tested twice weekly for genetic evidence of virus shed in feces. This provides a kind of early-warning system of an outbreak, limiting the need to test every student for Covid-19. If the disease is found in sewage, individual tests can be administered to identify the source.

“It’s noninvasive,” said Enid Cardinal, senior adviser to the president for strategic planning and sustainability at R.I.T. The school is among a half-dozen colleges in upstate New York adopting similar technology, which was first introduced by Syracuse University. At the University of Arizona, officials said such tests led to the discovery that several students in a dorm were infected.

washington post logoWashington Post, Infections rise to more than 1,000 on University of Alabama campus, Derek Hawkins, Aug. 30, 2020. The University of Alabama outbreak represents one of the largest coronavirus clusters reported at any academic institution since the start of the new school year.

The university announced Friday that 481 students on its flagship campus in Tuscaloosa tested positive this week, bringing the total number of infections reported there in the past two weeks to 1,043. The university has also reported more than 150 cases among students at its Birmingham campus and 10 at its Huntsville location.

Here are some other significant developments:

A new bill in the California legislature would protect people from eviction until 2021 if they face financial hardship because of the pandemic. As long as tenants pay a quarter of their rent between now and January, their landlords will be barred from kicking them out, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Groups representing nearly every public health department called Friday for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to reverse “haphazard” changes the agency recently made to its public testing advice.

 ny times logoNew York Times, Live updates: California Is First State With Over 700,000 Coronavirus Cases, Staff reports, Aug. 30, 2020. The state’s infection rate, however, continues a steep decline. New Zealand’s leader urged vigilance as a lockdown of Auckland is lifted.

India is reopening the New Delhi subway, even as the country sets global records for new cases. Students in a Baylor University dorm were ordered to remain on their own floors for four days after several infections emerged. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand urged vigilance among the public as a lockdown of Auckland is lifted.Here’s the latest.

washington post logoWashington Post, Japan has the world’s oldest population. Yet it dodged a virus crisis at elder-care facilities, Simon Denyer and Akiko Kashiwa, Aug. 30, 2020. Nursing homes reacted swiftly to tighten infection controls, offering lessons on how to limit the pandemic’s blow.

U.S. 2020 Elections, Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump tours storm-battered Gulf states to assess damage left in Hurricane Laura’s wake, David Nakamura, Aug. 30, 2020 (print ed.). President Trump mostly listened and interacted with local leaders while avoiding the type of overt political attacks he often makes during public appearances.

Political, Race Protests

ny times logoNew York Times, A Times investigation from August examined how Ms. Taylor landed in the middle of a deadly drug raid, Rukmini Callimachi, Aug. 30, 2020.
Our documentary investigates recordings and police records to reveal a clearer picture of the raid.

An ex-boyfriend’s run-ins with the law entangled her even as she tried to move on. Interviews, documents and jailhouse recordings help explain how she landed in the middle of a deadly drug raid.

Breonna Taylor had just done four overnight shifts at the hospital where she worked as an emergency room technician. To let off some steam, she and her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, planned a date night: dinner at a steakhouse, followed by a movie in bed.

Usually, they headed to his apartment, where he lived alone and she had left a toothbrush and a flat iron. But that night, they went to the small unit she shared with her younger sister, who was away on a trip. It was dark when the couple pulled into the parking lot, then closed the door to Apartment 4 behind them.

A Kentucky grand jury indicted one former Louisville officer in the Breonna Taylor case.

This was the year of big plans for the 26-year-old: Her home was brimming with the Post-it notes and envelopes on which she wrote her goals. She had just bought a new car. Next on the list: buying her own home. And trying to have a baby with Mr. Walker. They had already chosen a name.

She fell asleep next to him just after midnight on March 13, the movie still playing. “The last thing she said was, ‘Turn off the TV,’” he said in an interview.

From the parking lot, undercover officers surveilling Ms. Taylor’s apartment before a drug raid saw only the blue glow of the television.

When they punched in the door with a battering ram, Mr. Walker, fearing an intruder, reached for his gun and let off one shot, wounding an officer. He and another officer returned fire, while a third began blindly shooting through Ms. Taylor’s window and patio door. Bullets ripped through nearly every room in her apartment, then into two adjoining ones. They sliced through a soap dish, a chair and a table and shattered a sliding-glass door.

Ms. Taylor, struck five times, bled out on the floor.

Breonna Taylor has since become an icon, her silhouette a symbol of police violence and racial injustice. Michelle Obama and Kamala Harris spoke her name during their speeches at the Democratic convention. Oprah Winfrey ceded the cover of her magazine for the first time to feature the young Black woman, and paid for billboards with her image across Louisville. Beyoncé called for the three white officers who opened fire to be criminally charged. N.B.A. stars including LeBron James devoted postgame interviews to keeping her name in the news.

Nearly six months after Ms. Taylor’s killing, the story of what happened that night — and what came before and after — remains largely untold. Unlike the death of George Floyd, which was captured on video as a white police officer in Minneapolis knelt on his neck, Ms. Taylor’s final moments remain in shadow because no such footage exists.

But a clearer picture of Ms. Taylor’s death and life, of the person behind the cause, emerged from dozens of interviews with public officials and people who knew her, as well as a review of over 1,500 pages of police records, including evidence logs, transcripts of jailhouse recordings and surveillance photos. The Louisville Metro Police Department, citing a pending investigation, declined to answer simple questions about the case or make anyone available for interviews.

The daughter of a teenage mother and a man who has been incarcerated since she was a child, Ms. Taylor attended college, trained as an E.M.T. and hoped to become a nurse. But along the way, she developed a yearslong relationship with a twice-convicted drug dealer whose trail led the police to her door that fateful night.

washington post logoWashington Post, How Minneapolis police handled the in-custody death of a Black man 10 years before George Floyd, Neena Satija, Aug. 30, 2020 (print ed.). A decade before Floyd’s death, David Smith died in Minneapolis police custody after an officer kneeled on his back. But his case did not cause public outcry, and officers involved did not face discipline.

washington post logoWashington Post, What we know about Rusten Sheskey, the officer involved in the Kenosha shooting, Robert Klemko, Aug. 30, 2020 (print ed.). Sheskey described his job as a ‘customer service’ role one year before his shooting of Jacob Blake reignited nationwide protests. Sheskey is now on administrative leave pending an investigation by the Wisconsin Department of Justice into an encounter that left Jacob Blake partially paralyzed after Sheskey fired seven times into his back.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump is having a really terrible weekend, Bill Palmer, Aug. 30, 2020. Donald Trump is now bragging about how he’s “shunned, scorned and mocked” his niece Mary Trump all her life. This guy is even further gone than we thought. It’s one thing for him to have behaved this way. It’s bill palmer report logo headeranother thing for him to brag about it to voters – most of whom don’t like him to begin with – as they gear up to decide whether he gets to remain in charge of the country or goes to prison.

Trump’s base is irrelevant. They’re too small to put him over the top on their own. Trump’s weak poll numbers keep proving that. He’s blowing it by pandering to them, but his narcissism won’t allow him to do it any other way. Any pundit who’s focused on Trump’s base is as clueless about this election cycle as Trump is. It’s simple math.

– How to lose the election: waste your time fretting over the latest ridiculous clickbait article about how Trump is somehow secretly magically winning. How to win the election: spend your time on voter registration, turnout, phone banking, volunteering for Joe Biden.

– Donald Trump struggled to walk up another ramp this weekend, and then he spent his speech talking about why he doesn’t talk about his ass. It’s time to stop rhetorically asking what’s wrong with him. It’s time to acknowledge that he’s in psychological, physical, and cognitive freefall. This guy isn’t competent to operate a vending machine, let alone run a country.

U.S. Media / Politics / Race

washington post logoWashington Post, Review: Charting Fox News’s slide from serious news outlet to ‘state media,’ Jane Eisner, Aug. 30, 2020 (print ed.). CNN’s Brian Stelter contends that Fox aids Trump in manipulating the truth and the public.

fox news logo SmallBrian Stelter’s new book, Hoax: Donald Trump, Fox News, and the Dangerous Distortion of Truth, covers much the same ground and offers much the same argument, but in a catty, chatty tone that makes for an easy read, though a less substantive one. Drawing on three years of interviews with more than 140 staffers at Fox and 180 former staffers and other knowledgeable sources, Stelter describes how the network evolved from a serious news operation with a decidedly conservative perspective to what he asserts is essentially “state-cnn logosupported TV.”

Stelter, chief media correspondent for CNN Worldwide, does not assume Mayer’s detached, neutral tone. As he writes in his opening: “What you’ll get in these pages is not the Stelter in a navy blue blazer that you see on CNN. I’m writing this book as a citizen; as an advocate for factual journalism; and a new dad who thinks about what kind of world my children are going to inherit.”

Jane Eisner, a regular contributor to Book World, is the director of academic affairs at the Columbia School of Journalism.

washington post logoWashington Post, Outpouring of grief after Chadwick Boseman’s death: ‘This is a crushing blow,’ Emily Yahr, Aug. 30, 2020 (print ed.). Remembering 'Black Panther' actor Chadwick Boseman. The shock of the tragic news amplified the devastated reaction worldwide, as thousands fans, as well as Hollywood stars, politicians and athletes, mourned the beloved actor on social media.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump treats naturalization like a game show prize, Suketu Mehta, Aug. 30, 2020 (print ed.). It was the most unnatural of naturalization ceremonies: On Tuesday, the Republican National Convention showcased footage of the most anti-immigrant president in U.S. history personally bestowing citizenship, as might an emperor, upon a group of five new Americans selected for their public relations value to his reelection campaign.

Chad Wolf, an official instrumental in creating the horrific family separation policy (and whose appointment as acting homeland security secretary a congressional watchdog deemed invalid), administered the oath.

rnc 2020 logoThe White House initially suggested that the citizenship and immigration agency find someone from Mexico; perhaps no one was immediately available from central casting. The only other thing missing was for Stephen Miller to cut the welcome cake for the assembled Muslims, Africans, Middle Easterners, Latinos and Indians. It was like watching a photo op staged by Stalin commending a bunch of Jewish doctors for their medical expertise, or the Taliban’s Mohammad Omar praising a group of Buddhists for their sculpting prowess, or Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailing a family of Muslims for their excellent biryani.

At least two of our newest citizens seem to have been entirely unaware that this most sacred of ceremonies would be broadcast at the Republican convention, to make the president seem kinder and gentler for suburbanites queasy about his policy of yanking screaming babies from their mothers at the border. So the five — two of them Muslims, a group that their host, during his first presidential campaign, proposed banning from entering the United States — looked on, with an unsmiling bust of Abraham Lincoln as backdrop, and cheered. What choice did they have? It was a humiliating spectacle and physically risky, to boot — none of them had a mask on, and neither did any of the eminences present. The masks wouldn’t look good on TV; they would be off-message for a convention that is a celebration of, above all, the inalienable right of Americans to commit mass suicide.

The new citizens are here among us because of provisions that Trump has spent his entire term trying to eliminate.

Suketu Mehta is an associate professor of journalism at New York University, and the author, most recently, of "This Land is Our Land: An Immigrant's Manifesto."

 

Aug. 29

Top Headlines

Virus Victims, Responses

2020 U.S. Elections, Politics

liberty university sealFalwell Scandals, Education, Culture Wars

Political, Race Protests

Inside DC

U.S. Law, Crime, Politics

U.S. Disasters, Law, Crime

U.S. Media News

World News

 

Top Stories

ny times logodjt biden smiles resizedNew York Times, Rival Themes Emerge as Race Enters Final Weeks: Covid vs. Law and Order, Katie Glueck, Annie Karni and Alexander Burns, Aug. 29, 2020 (print ed.). The national political conventions over the last two weeks set the battle lines for the election’s remaining weeks. Joe Biden is focusing on President Trump’s virus management, while the president is hammering a law-and-order message.

washington post logoWashington Post, Editorial: Riots and the violent vigilantes who show up to respond must each be condemned, Editorial Board, Aug. 29, 2020 (print ed.). There are so many disturbing aspects to the shooting deaths of two people Tuesday night during protests in Kenosha, Wis. — allegedly by a self-styled vigilante — that it’s hard to know where to start.

How did this 17-year-old get an assault-style semiautomatic rifle? Why does anyone think it makes sense to allow anyone to own — let alone openly brandish on U.S. streets — weapons designed for war? Was it just coincidence that these shootings, allegedly by a young man who saw it as his “job” to “protect” business and “help” people, occurred as the Republican National Convention gave center stage to reckless rhetoric about uncontrolled violent mobs taking over cities governed by Democrats?

No one can say with any certainty what compelled Kyle Rittenhouse, who has been charged with reckless and intentional homicide in connection with the events of Tuesday night as peaceful protests over the police shooting of Jacob Blake turned chaotic. Multiple videos of the events analyzed by the New York Times show Mr. Rittenhouse, who had driven to Kenosha from his home in Antioch, Ill., carrying an assault-style weapon, being chased by a group and then appearing to fire his gun and hitting three people. Two men — Anthony Huber, 26, and Joseph Rosenbaum, 36 — were killed, and a third man was shot in the arm but is expected to survive.

There is no excuse and no justification for the kind of bedlam that has followed peaceful protests in Kenosha with street skirmishes, looting, burning and other destruction to businesses and buildings. Such needless violence — which unfortunately has accompanied some protests in other cities this summer as the country was racked by the killing of George Floyd — undermines instead of advances any cause. It must be unambiguously condemned.Claudia Perez, left, and Carmen Quiñones (photos via Republican National Committee)

Claudia Perez, left, and Carmen Quiñones (photo via Republican National Committee)

ny times logoNew York Times, N.Y.C. Tenants Say They Were Tricked Into Appearing in R.N.C. Video, Matthew Haag, Updated Aug. 29, 2020. “I am not a Trump supporter,” one of the tenants said, adding that she was furious that her interview with a government official was used for the convention.

It started with an unexpected call last week from Lynne Patton, a longtime Trump associate who oversees federal housing programs in New York.

Ms. Patton told a leader of a tenants’ group at the New York City Housing Authority, the nation’s largest, that she was interested in speaking with residents about conditions in the authority’s buildings, which have long been in poor repair.

Four tenants soon assembled in front of a video camera and were interviewed for more than four hours by Ms. Patton herself. Three of the tenants were never told that their interviews would be edited into a two-minute video clip that would air prominently on Thursday night at the Republican National Convention and be used to bash Mayor Bill de Blasio, the three tenants said in interviews on Friday.

ICE logo“I am not a Trump supporter,” said one of the tenants, Claudia Perez. “I am not a supporter of his racist policies on immigration. I am a first-generation Honduran. It was my people he was sending back.”

chad wolfThe episode represents another stark example of how President Trump has deployed government resources to further his political ambitions. Ms. Patton is head of the New York office of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and under the Hatch Act is barred from using her government position to engage in political activities.

Throughout the convention, Mr. Trump has shattered the traditional boundaries between government and politics, and the video was aired on a night when the campaign took over the South Lawn of the White House, the first time that a major political convention has occurred there.

The public housing clip was the second instance of the Trump campaign’s misleading participants in an event involving the federal government that was filmed for the Republican National Convention. On Tuesday, the convention showed a video of five new American citizens being sworn in at a naturalization ceremony by Mr. Trump. Some of the five said they did not know that they were being filmed for a political event.

The four tenants in the public housing video were all interviewed on Friday by The New York Times. Three said they opposed President Trump and were misled about the video. The fourth, reached late Friday night, said she was a Trump backer and knew the purpose of the video.

Virus Victims, Responses

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Mass testing has its problems. They’re nothing compared to not testing, Megan McArdle, Aug. 29, 2020 (print ed.). On Monday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention unveiled new testing guidelines, which suggested asymptomatic people with known exposure to covid-19 didn’t need to be tested, even though asymptomatic transmission is a known problem. On Wednesday, it was reported that this change may h

ave been made under pressure from the administration.

This isn’t incredible in the literal sense — it’s all too believable that President Trump would make those sorts of demands on his agencies, even in matters of life and death.

But it would be somewhat shocking if a politically driven order went through without mass resignations. (A statement from CDC director Thursday suggested he seemed somewhat ambivalent about the change.) And it would be astonishing if the administration still thinks about covid-19 in fundamentally the same way it did in March: as a political problem, with political solutions, like stage-managing an artificial decline in caseloads by reducing the number of tests performed.

washington post logoWashington Post, FDA chief spokesperson removed after convalescent plasma debacle, Laurie McGinley and Yasmeen Abutaleb, Aug. 29, 2020 (print ed.). Her removal was part of continued fallout from a White House news conference featuring inaccurate claims that convalescent plasma dramatically reduced mortality for patients with covid-19.

The Food and Drug Administration’s chief spokeswoman, who has been in the job less than two weeks, was removed from her role as of noon Friday, part of continued fallout from a White House news conference featuring inaccurate claims that convalescent plasma dramatically reduced mortality for patients with covid-19.

It remains unclear whether Emily Miller, who was assistant commissioner for media affairs, will remain at the agency in some capacity, said a senior administration official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly. Miller formerly worked for One America News, a conservative cable news network and for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.). She does not have a health or science background and has been a strong advocate for gun rights.

stephen hahn oAlso Friday, Wayne Pines, a longtime communications consultant, confirmed his contract to advise FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn on communications strategy has been terminated.

Hahn, right, President Trump and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar have been sharply criticized for the way they exaggerated data on plasma’s potential benefits during a news conference Sunday. The president announced the FDA was granting emergency authorization to plasma as a treatment for covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

The administration officials suggested it could reduce mortality by 35 percent — but that number referred to a subgroup of patients who were treated early in their disease, were under 80 and not on ventilators. It was also incorrect to say, as Hahn did, that the data meant that of 100 people who are sick with covid-19, 35 would have been saved because of the administration of plasma.

washington post logoWashington Post, Secret Service copes with coronavirus cases in aftermath of Trump appearances, Carol D. Leonnig, Aug. 29, 2020 (print ed.). When President Trump gave a speech to a group of sheriffs in Tampa late last month, his decision to travel forced a large contingent of Secret Service agents to head to a state that was then battling one of the worst coronavirus surges in the nation.

secret service logoEven before Air Force One touched down on July 31, the fallout was apparent: Five Secret Service agents already on the ground had to be replaced after one tested positive for the coronavirus and the others working in proximity were presumed to be infected, according to people familiar with the situation.

The previously unreported episode is one of a series of examples of how Trump’s insistence on traveling and holding campaign-style events amid the pandemic has heightened the risks for the people who safeguard his life, intensifying the strain on the Secret Service.

2020 U.S. Elections, Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump used manipulation and race-baiting four years ago. He’s at it again, Colbert I. King, right, Aug. 29, 2020 (print ed.). Finally, Colbert King twitterthe Democratic and Republican conventions are over. Democrats broke ground with the nomination of Sen. Kamala D. Harris (Calif.), the first Black woman on a major-party ticket, as presidential nominee Joe Biden’s running mate. They promised a return to decency and public service.

Republicans cobbled together a lineup of Black speakers who observed the etiquette governing Black behavior when in the presence of a White conservative audience: Come across as agreeable and nonthreatening, soft-pedal racism, and paint President Trump as the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in disguise. Bless their hearts. The GOP convention, through a tissue of lies, sought to sell the Trump administration as a thing of beauty. It was tantamount to putting lipstick on a pig.

washington post logoWashington Post, A police captain’s widow used his story at the GOP convention. His daughters say it was ‘despicable,’ Caroline Kitchener, Aug. 29, 2020 (print ed.). David Dorn was a registered Democrat who opposed Trump, his daughters say.

Lisa Dorn and Debra White first heard the news from a family friend: Their father’s widow, Ann Dorn, would be speaking at the Republican National Convention.

The news was not entirely surprising, said Lisa, who like Debra, is David’s daughter from an earlier marriage. Conservatives seized on their father’s story as soon as he died in early June, citing Dorn as a prime example of the “lawlessness” spreading through American cities in the wake of George Floyd’s death. A retired St. Louis police captain, David, who was Black, had been called in to protect a local pawnshop during the protests. He was shot by someone looting the store.

rnc 2020 logoAnn, a police sergeant who supports President Trump, immediately embraced the conservative narrative around her husband’s death, said Lisa, calling a news conference after the funeral to urge her community to “do better,” referring to the man who killed David as “an opportunist who had no regard for human life or the law.” Ann, who is White, spoke with Trump after David died, Debra said, eventually accepting an invitation to the White House.

When Lisa learned that Ann would appear at the Republican convention, she urged her to reconsider.

“I’m asking you to please not make a political issue out of Dad’s death,” she wrote in text messages provided to The Lily. “I’m sure he would not approve, especially as a registered Democrat.”

Two weeks later, Ann spoke at the Republican convention. In an emotional five-minute speech on the final night of the convention, she recounted the night David died before denouncing “violence and destruction” as illegitimate forms of protest. She ended by throwing her support behind Trump, who she said would “restore order in our communities.” It was a powerful moment, likely to resonate with the White suburban moderates who say they are concerned with violent protests they’ve seen in nearby cities.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump escalates rhetoric on unrest in cities, looking for a campaign advantage, Josh Dawsey, Aug. 29, 2020 (print ed.). Campaign aides said the lengthy remarks about unrest in cities is part of a broader strategy, driven by President Trump, in an attempt to win suburban voters and convince Americans that violence in cities is Joe Biden’s fault — not his.

Politico, 8 juicy details from the new Melania Trump tell-all book, Daniel Lippman, Aug. 29, 2020. For his inauguration, the president wanted a North Korean-style military parade, right down to the “goose-stepping troops and armored tanks.”

stephanie winston wolkoff coverFirst lady Melania Trump’s former senior adviser and close friend has written a tell-all book that describes the first lady as someone who can’t be trusted and who often competed for influence in the White House with Ivanka Trump.

Stephanie Winston Wolkoff’s new book Melania and Me: The Rise and Fall of My Friendship with the First Lady, reveals that Melania wanted to block Ivanka’s face from appearing in photos of Donald Trump taking the oath of office, in a maneuver dubbed “Operation Block Ivanka.” (The operation was mostly successful.)

The reportedly icy relationship between Melania and Ivanka is a major theme of the book, and burst into the public eye on Thursday night at Trump’s GOP convention acceptance speech. That’s when a short video of Melania smiling at Ivanka, followed by her facial expression quickly turning into a scowl, went viral, garnering 20 million views on Twitter.

A person close to the White House confirmed that there have been tensions between the two and “it was clear that the first lady was not a fan of Ivanka trying to make the East Wing a family office.”

But a person familiar with how the West Wing worked at the time said: "There was never once discussion about an East Wing office. She always wanted to be in the policy office of the West Wing between the Domestic Policy Council and the National Economic Council."

Winston Wolkoff, a longtime Manhattan fashion and society party planner, was heavily involved in the planning of the president’s inauguration before leaving the White House in February 2018 after negative reporting about her inauguration role appeared in The New York Times. In her book, she describes how Melania didn’t want to move to the White House right away in part because she didn’t want to have to use the same shower and toilet as former first lady Michelle Obama and was waiting for the bathroom to be renovated.

washington post logoWashington Post, Lawmakers ask Pentagon for reassurance on election, Greg Jaffe and Missy Ryan, Aug. 29, 2020 (print ed.).  In a sign of the growing concern that President Trump might not leave office voluntarily or might attempt to use the military to hold onto power, two moderate Democratic lawmakers posed a series of written questions to the secretary of defense and the military’s top general about their obligations to the Constitution and the country.

Reps. Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.) and Mikie Sherrill (D-N.J.) addressed their questions in writing to Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper, setting a deadline of Thursday evening.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s push to defer payroll taxes could lead to smaller paychecks for workers in early 2021, Treasury signals, Tony Romm, Aug. 29, 2020 (print ed.). New guidance from Treasury and IRS raise questions about White House assertion that the taxes will be wiped clean.

Millions of workers could see smaller paychecks in the first few months of 2021 after the Treasury Department on Friday told employers they would be on the hook for the payroll taxes deferred under President Trump’s recent order.

The new guidance paints a sharply different picture from what White House officials have said for several weeks in response to Trump’s directive, which set in motion a plan to defer payroll taxes starting in September through the end of the year.

Trump has said he hopes to “terminate” the tax, which funds Social Security and Medicare, so workers see a boost to their weekly checks and aren’t required to pay it back later. But absolving Americans of these debts requires an act of Congress, something lawmakers from both parties have been remiss to do.

Absent that, the Treasury Department’s guidance instead paves the way for employers to recoup the taxes deferred under Trump’s order from their employees’ pay, though it’s unclear what would happen if workers left their jobs or the firm no longer had the ability to deduct money out of their wages.

Law & Crime, Jacob Wohl Allegedly Punched in the Head at Black Lives Matter Protest in Washington, D.C., Colin Kalmbacher, Aug. 29, 2020. Conservative activist Jacob Wohl appears to have been punched in the head or face during an attempt to counterprotest — or, in some eyes, to infiltrate and agitate — amidst a Black Lives Matter demonstration in Washington, D.C.

Video and still images of the incident began circulating on social media late Friday night. “After infiltrating and agitating a BLM in DC, Jacob Wohl got punched in the head,” one post reads.

Wohl has been linked to numerous alleged fraud and scam incidents in the past–including a botched effort to smear former special counsel Robert Mueller with a sex scandal. He has previously been described as a “blundering conservative operative,” a “right-wing provocateur,” a “conspiracy theorist, fraudster, and internet troll,” and as a Florida native who is “simply unparalleled in the field of failed smear attempts.”

Last week, Wohl and Burkman were implicated in a robocall targeting Detroit voters with misinformation about voting by mail during the 2020 general election.

The phone call, which contains erroneous information claiming that mail-in voters will subject themselves to a massive police information and surveillance database, identifies Burkman and Wohl as the sponsors of the call. Both have denied any relationship to the robocall.

Falwell Scandal, Education, Culture Wars

washington post logoWashington Post, Post-Falwells, Liberty faces questions about faith, power, accountability, Susan Svrluga, Michelle Boorstein and Sarah Pulliam Bailey, Aug. 29, 2020. Jerry Fallwell Jr.'s departure leaves Liberty University at a turning point: Will the school continue its success as measured by liberty university sealassets and political clout? Or return to the religious priority of Jerry Falwell Sr.?

Liberty University students watched their first all-school convocation of the semester one day after their high-profile president, Jerry Falwell Jr., resigned amid personal scandals.

Falwell (shown below with his wife, Becki, who was implicated in the sex and financial scandals) has been “an inspiration,” said Jerry Prevo, a powerful, fundamentalist pastor from Alaska serving as acting president. He told students that Liberty’s leaders are committed to the spiritual mission of the university. He also said Falwell had been the “builder of this great campus, which all of us can be proud of.”

jerry falwell jr becki falwellThen Jonathan Falwell, pastor of the Liberty-affiliated Thomas Road Baptist Church, spoke. He did not mention his brother by name. But he told his audience, in Lynchburg, Va., and around the globe: “So many times we see Christians that are more focused on building their own brand than they are about building the kingdom of God.”

There are a lot of universities out there, Jonathan Falwell said, but Liberty is different: It was built to change the world with the gospel. He urged students to be faithful, trust God and avoid temptation.

Some students who heard the two men said the convocation highlighted a key tension at their school. They felt that Prevo was elevating the former president because of his transformation of the university and that Jonathan Falwell was elevating the Christian values they shared.

“I thought Jonathan Falwell, without being too explicit about it … he definitely kind of took Jerry to task,” said Eli Best, a junior from Alexandria. “But he did it in a way that took us all to task. It was very relevant.”

 Political, Race Protests

washington post logoWashington Post, Thousands demand racial justice at March on Washington, Jessica Contrera, Justin George, Peter Jamison and John Woodrow Cox, Aug. 29, 2020 (print ed.). The deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and the shooting of Jacob Blake drew crowds 57 years after Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech.

Just past dawn Friday, more than a half-century after the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. stood on the Lincoln Memorial’s marble steps and offered his vision for a fair and righteous America, thousands of protesters descended on the nation’s capital at the end of a summer that has laid bare just how distant the fulfillment of his vision remains.

Among them was Marilyn Boddy, 62, who had never attended a protest. As a decades-long federal employee, Boddy had always been reluctant to join in public demonstrations, but that changed when she heard the Rev. Al Sharpton eulogize George Floyd, who died in May beneath the knee of a Minneapolis police officer.

“It was right there, in the emotion of that moment, that I knew I would be here today,” Boddy said, describing the anger and anguish that shot through her while watching the televised service from her New Jersey living room.

washington post logoWashington Post, Hours after March on Washington, protesters scattered through city, blocking roads and yelling at police, Michael E. Miller, Samantha Schmidt and Tom Jackman, Aug. 29, 2020 (print ed.). Some protesters who stayed in the District after the March on Washington ended Friday afternoon continued to spread their message, and elements of mayhem, around the city by temporarily shutting down major roads and tussling with police, even while rain deluged the area at nightfall.

At various points in the late afternoon, protesters blocked the Key Bridge, the Whitehurst Freeway, M Street in Georgetown, and the ramp to Interstate 395 from South Capitol Street during the evening rush hour.

Carrying a banner with the words “Total abolition for total liberation,” a group of about 75 people walked down Constitution Avenue toward Ninth Street. They hoped to block the entrance to the Ninth Street tunnel, to “choke the city,” one protester said.

It was one of several efforts seeking to block major entrances to the city to show those who converged on the nation’s capital earlier in the day that “radical organizing isn’t tourism,” said one protester with Freedom Fighters D.C., who declined to be named.

washington post logoWashington Post, In Kenosha, Jacob Blake’s shooting deepens longstanding fears, Kim Bellware, Tim Craig, Mark Berman and Griff Witte, Aug. 29, 2020 (print ed.). Former officials say the city has been too slow to embrace reforms that could build trust.

ny times logoNew York Times, Jacob Blake Was Shackled in Hospital Bed After Police Shot Him, John Eligon, Sarah Mervosh and Richard A. Oppel Jr., Aug. 29, 2020 (print ed.). The authorities said an earlier sexual assault charge was the reason for the restraints, which were removed on Friday.

Days after a Kenosha police officer shot Jacob Blake outside an apartment building, the authorities on Friday provided new details on what led up to the videotaped encounter that has prompted heated street protests and calls for reform.

Law enforcement officials said that in recent days they had shackled Mr. Blake to his hospital bed, where he is paralyzed from the waist down from his wounds, because he faced an arrest warrant from July on charges of third-degree sexual assault, criminal trespass and disorderly conduct. The same woman who had filed that complaint had called 911 before the shooting on Sunday to report Mr. Blake’s presence to the police, according to interviews and records.

Some onlookers and Ben Crump, the civil rights lawyer who is representing Mr. Blake, have described Mr. Blake as a peacemaker who was seeking to break up a disturbance involving two women when the police arrived. On Friday afternoon in Wisconsin, near the spot where Officer Rusten Sheskey fired at Mr. Blake seven times, some of those who knew Mr. Blake said the authorities were attempting to justify a clear-cut instance of excessive force by tarnishing his reputation.

“They’re trying to reverse it and make it seem like he was such a criminal,” said Jesse Franklin, a community activist who described Mr. Blake as a laid-back father who spent considerable time with his children.

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, House Democrats launch contempt proceedings against Pompeo, Karen DeYoung, Aug. 29, 2020 (print ed.). House Democrats on Friday launched contempt proceedings against Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for what they said was his ongoing refusal to comply with subpoenas regarding “transparently political misuse of department resources.”

democratic donkey logoHouse Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot L. Engel (D-N.Y.) said that Pompeo’s noncooperation with the impeachment inquiry against President Trump, his bolstering of “a Senate Republican-led smear against the president’s political rivals,” and his speech this week to the Republican National Convention demonstrated “alarming disregard for the laws and rules governing his own conduct.”

While in Jerusalem on a tour of the Middle East this week, Pompeo taped a speech that was played to the convention Wednesday evening. Democrats have called for an investigation, alleging that the speech violated legal prohibitions and Pompeo’s own department guidelines against partisan political activity.

U.S. Disasters, Law, Crime

washington post logoWashington Post, As Trump appointees flout the Hatch Act, civil servants who get caught get punished, Lisa Rein, Aug. 29, 2020 (print ed.). Top Trump administration officials showcased at the Republican National Convention serve as a reminder that when it comes to flouting the separation between governing and politicking, there appears to be a two-tiered system of consequences.

A Defense Logistics Agency employee was suspended for 30 days without pay last fall after giving his office colleagues a PowerPoint presentation that displayed the words, “Vote Republican.”

An Energy Department worker was forced to resign in January after admitting she gave a woman running for Congress a tour of a federal waste treatment plant so the candidate could show her expertise to potential voters.

Another civil servant began a 120-day suspension without pay from the Food and Drug Administration in July after creating a Facebook page with his name and photograph to solicit political donations and then co-hosting a fundraiser.

These were some of the recent consequences for federal workers who illegally mixed government employment with partisan politics in violation of the Hatch Act, the anti-corruption law Congress passed in 1939.

The New Deal-era law applies, on paper at least, to civil servants and political appointees alike. But the top Trump administration officials showcased in prime-time appearances and speaking slots at the Republican National Convention this week serve as a reminder that when it comes to flouting the separation between governing and politicking, there appears to be a two-tiered system of consequences.

washington post logoWashington Post, Louisiana suffered ‘tremendous devastation’ at height of Hurricane Laura’s power, Marisa Iati and Ashley Cusick, Aug. 29, 2020 (print ed.). Some of the storm’s worst destruction came in Lake Charles, La., and surrounding cities, where detached roofs lay in the road, gas station canopies were crumpled and some buildings were destroyed.

Hospitals and nursing homes across Louisiana evacuated on Friday after 82 of the state's water systems failed in the wake of Hurricane Laura's assault on a swath of wetlands and countryside, killing at least 10 people and causing about $25 billion in damage.

Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) told reporters Friday that he had requested a major disaster declaration from the White House to provide additional emergency funding for recovery as President Trump prepared to visit Louisiana and Texas this weekend to survey the destruction.

U.S. Law, Crime, Politics

OpEdNews, Opinion: Why didn't the Justice Dept indict Kobach as well as Bannon? Greg Palast (adapted from Thom Hartmann broadcast interview),
Aug. 29, 2020. The wire transfers of $250,000 and $100,000 that Steve Bannon and Brian Kolfage were indicted for would have to be approved by the We kris kobach kansas SmallBuild the Wall foundation's general counsel Kris Kobach, right. The payments were in direct violation of the foundation's by-laws. Furthermore, Kobach used the non-profit's donor list to raise money for his Senate run, normally a felony crime.

I worked with the Justice Department on racketeering cases. You don't bust the capo (Bannon) unless you also bust the consigliere (Kobach). Both Bannon's indictment and Kobach's non-indictment would have to been personally approved by Attorney General, Bill Barr. (It's worth noting that Kobach pulled in up to $400,000 in legal fees from the We Build the Wall scam while running for Senate.)

My fear is that this is a Roger Stone special. Bannon, with Randy Credico, was the main witness against Stone in the federal trial. The Trump campaign needs to reactivate their top tricksters, Stone and Kobach. And Bannon needs muzzling after the Stone trial and for saying that Ivanka is dumber than a board of lumber.

Fun Fact: When I was investigating Kobach for Rolling Stone, Kobach called me (yes, a shock) and proudly told me that he was the one who told Trump he could make Mexico pay for the wall.

In this episode of the Thom Hartmann Program, we discuss Bannon's indictment and Kobach's intriguing non-indictment.

Transcript

Thom Hartmann: Welcome back. On the line with us is our buddy Greg Palast, who's had such an extraordinary and storied career. Investigative journalist for the BBC, The Guardian, Rolling Stone. He's got a new book out, How Trump Stole 2020: The Hunt for America's Vanishing Voters. Plus his film, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy. Greg, welcome back to the show. I noticed when Steve Bannon got busted that Kris Kobach's name was floating around the outsides of this unsavory thing and immediately I thought "Greg Palast." Tell us, what the hell's going on here?

Greg Palast: The interesting thing is what's not going on here, which is why wasn't Kris Kobach busted?

We Build the Wall is basically a crime wave parading as a not-for-profit foundation. Kobach is General Counsel. Bannon and Brian Kolfage, the guys who founded it with Kobach, said they wouldn't take a penny and yet they issued a check for $250,000 to Bannon with no explanation. $100,000 to Kolfage, which was in fact identified as wages.

They're not supposed to take the money. That can't happen unless the General Counsel says, yeah, cut those checks. I know, I've got a foundation, Thom, and my general counsel, if I sent them a bill said, "Listen, just wire me a quarter million bucks" and give my friend a hundred grand while you're at it," he'd have the FBI on the line in a minute.

And just so you know, actually, I did that. We did bust someone who tried to take a couple extra bucks from our foundation. We went to the FBI, and they're in prison. Hello, Mr. Kobach. Want me to send you a file in a cake? Why weren't you indicted?

 U.S. Media News

ny times logoNew York Times, TV Ratings for Biden and Trump Signal an Increasingly Polarized Nation, Michael M. Grynbaum, Aug. 29, 2020 (print ed.). Fox News dominated ratings for the Republican convention, and MSNBC was the clear No. 1 for the Democrats’ gathering.

msnbc logo CustomTelevision viewers’ turn to perceived safe spaces raises questions about the ability of political conventions — which reached a broader TV audience in the pre-internet era — to persuade undecided voters. And it underscores fears about a polarized information environment fox news logo Smallwhere Americans can receive little exposure to political ideas that run counter to their own.

A nightly average of 21.6 million people watched the Democratic convention on live TV, compared with 19.4 million for the Republicans. The total television audience for both conventions fell roughly 25 percent from 2016, a sign of Americans’ increasing reliance on online outlets and streaming services to follow live events.

ny times logoNew York Times, Movies Are Returning to Theaters. Will Audiences Follow? Brooks Barnes, Aug. 29, 2020 (print ed.). Big-budget films are being released for the first time since March, but the willingness of people to sit inside a closed room with strangers for several hours is still uncertain.

The Regal Sunset Station multiplex in suburban Las Vegas reopened on Thursday night after sitting empty for five months in eerie pandemic-forced exile. One of the first people to take a center seat, popcorn and orange soda in hand, was Brian Truitt, who bought tickets to “The New Mutants,” a Marvel superhero movie, a week in advance.

“I figured it would be jammed, with pent-up demand to come to the movies again,” Mr. Truitt, 38, said as he sat back in his reclining seat and tugged at his face mask. He looked around the mostly empty auditorium, with capacity for 172, and shrugged in surprise. “I guess not.”

World News

ny times logojair bolsonaro brazilNew York Times, ‘A Family Business:’ Graft Investigation Threatens Brazil’s Bolsonaro, Ernesto Londoño, Manuela Andreoni and Letícia Casado, Aug. 29, 2020 (print ed.). Brazilians are asking a question that could threaten the future of President Jair Bolsonaro, right: Why did his wife and son receive payments from a man under investigation for corruption?

ny times logoNew York Times, India’s Covid Outbreak Is Now the World’s Fastest-Growing, Jeffrey Gettleman and Sameer Yasir, Aug. 29, 2020 (print ed.). India now has the fastest-growing coronavirus caseload of any country in the world, reporting more than 75,000 new infections per day.

Crowded cities, lockdown fatigue and a lack of contact tracing have spread Covid-19 to every corner of this country of 1.3 billion people. This week, the authorities said that one-sixth of a tiny tribe on a remote, coral-fringed island had come down with the virus.

india flag mapHealth experts say the virus reproduction rate is ticking up as more state governments, desperate to stimulate an ailing economy, are loosening lockdown restrictions, which is spreading the virus further.

“Everything right now is indicating toward a massive surge in the caseload in coming days,” said Dr. Anant Bhan, a health researcher at Melaka Manipal Medical College in southern India. “What is more worrying is we are inching toward the No. 1 spot globally.”

During the strict lockdown that held from late March to late May, most of India’s Covid-19 cases were concentrated in urban areas, Dr. Bhan said. But as restrictions on interstate travel were eased, many people started moving from the cities to rural areas, bringing the virus with them.

 

Aug. 28

Top Headlines

djt white house

Donald Trump accepted the Republican Party's renomination for president on Aug. 27 with a call for law and order while he, his cabinet, advisors and donors transformed the South Lawn of the White House (shown above before the event began) into a campaign event. Most analyists described it as a clear-cut violation of the Hatch Act, which forbids use of government property and personnel for campaign purposes.

Analysts also feared that the event would become a super-spreader for the deadly coronavirus because the vast majority of the estimated 1,500-2,000 attendees failed to wear masks or keep "social distance" from one another during the multi-hour event and its preliminaries.

 

Massive U.S. Hurricane

Virus Victims, Responses

More On U.S. Conventions, Elections

Race, Police, Mask Protests

World News

U.S. Law, Crime, Security

 

Top Stories

djt key convention speakers 2020

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump unleashes broadsides against Biden, criticizes ‘Democrat-run’ cities; Trump flouts norms, speaks from White House to accept Republican nomination; Final-night speakers tout president as defender of law and order, attack Biden as too liberal to lead America , Felicia Sonmez, John Wagner and Colby Itkowitz, Aug. 28, 2020 (print ed.). President to flout political norms with acceptance speech from the White House,

washington post logodjt pence yard sign logoWashington Post, Analysis: The White House makes it clear that it sees chaos in the streets as politically useful, Philip Bump, Aug. 28, 2020 (print ed.). In an out-of-character move, President Trump is happy to present himself as powerless to stop violence because he thinks it reinforces weakness on the part of his opponents.

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden says Trump is fomenting animosity, cheering on violence, Matt Viser, Aug. 28, 2020 (print ed.). Joe Biden on Thursday blamed President Trump for the racial unrest that has roiled the country and in recent days has gripped Kenosha, Wis., saying the president is fomenting animosity and cheering on a spasm of djt biden smiles resizedviolent protests to benefit himself politically.

The comments, some of Biden’s most extensive since his Democratic convention speech, came at a delicate moment, as Trump and his allies are seeking to identify the Democrats with urban chaos and as some polls suggest a drop in support for Black Lives Matter demonstrations.

Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), the first Black woman on a major-party ticket, also delivered her most detailed remarks on the Kenosha protests, saying that “we must always defend peaceful protest and peaceful protesters” but also that “we should not confuse them with those looting and committing acts of violence.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Kyle Rittenhouse was fixated on supporting police before deadly shooting in Kenosha, Teo Armus, Aug. 28, 2020 (print ed.). Before he took his rifle to confront the unrest Tuesday in Kenosha, Wis., and was charged in a fatal shooting at the protests, Kyle Rittenhouse (apparently shown above in a screenshot at the protests) seemingly idolized one thing: the police.

Growing up in Chicago’s far northern suburbs, the 17-year-old shadowed local law enforcement as a cadet and filled his social media feeds with posts declaring that “Blue Lives Matter." There were videos from the front row of a Trump rally, and photos of himself posing with guns.

Rittenhouse (shown below in a photo via Tik Tok) attempted to join the Marine Corps in January, but was disqualified from serving after discussing his options with recruiters, said service spokeswoman Yvonne Carlock. She declined to specify why he was disqualified, citing the service’s privacy guidelines.

kyle rittenhouse tik tok profileMuch else is still unknown about Rittenhouse, who was charged Wednesday with first-degree intentional homicide after two people were killed and another seriously wounded by gunfire at the demonstrations. But brief accounts from neighbors and local institutions paint the picture of a high school dropout who viewed law enforcement officers as his personal heroes.

So much so that, when massive protests, looting and fires broke out in Kenosha following the police shooting of Jacob Blake on Sunday, he crossed state lines to offer his support to local policemen — at times, speaking as if their duties were his, too.

“People are getting injured, and our job is to protect this business,” he told the Daily Caller on Tuesday night, hours before he would allegedly start shooting.

The following day, those officers he so lionized arrested him at his home in Antioch, Ill. As of late Wednesday night, the 17-year-old suspect was being held without bond in Lake County, Ill. Although self-declared militia members and armed counterprotesters have descended this week in Kenosha, authorities have not said whether Rittenhouse is a member of any of those groups.

Before the deadly shooting, Rittenhouse lived with his mother, Wendy Rittenhouse, a single mom and nurse’s assistant, in a quiet apartment complex beside a park in Antioch, a bedroom community that sits just south of the Wisconsin border.

Chicago Sun-Times, Opinon: I was a cop for 33 years. Why didn’t Kenosha police question an armed vigilante in a riot-torn city? Bob Angone (retired CPD lieutenant, Austin, Texas.) Aug 28, 2020. Any person walking about with a loaded AR-15 needs to be stopped and detained. Armed individuals wander the streets of Kenosha with weapons of war, and the local cops casually pass them by as if it’s perfectly alright?

Wisconsin is a concealed carry state, but is that enough to not warrant even the slightest scrutiny — “Hey, what are you doing here?” Criticizing cops is not something I make a habit of doing, but having been one for 33 years it’s almost inconceivable to me that armed vigilantes wandering a riot-torn city did not get the slightest bit of scrutiny until people were dead.

It’s almost as though the teenager arrested in the killings, Kyle Rittenhouse, was emboldened by the lack of law enforcement to even question his motives. Any person walking about with a loaded AR-15 NEEDS to be stopped and detained. Somewhere in that chain of command, there was a failure.

Two people are dead. The world is watching. Yes indeed, some answers to lots of questions need to be forthcoming.

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: Republicans Insist Only Trump Can Stop This Chaos, Matt Flegenheimer and Katie Glueck, Aug. 28, 2020 (print ed.). The convention seems engineered to prove President Donald Trump officialthat the president is in control of the good and not responsible for the bad, worthy of praise for the nation’s successes and exoneration for its struggles.

But their case was complicated by a nettlesome fact: He is in charge now.

rnc 2020 logoThe America that many speakers described on Wednesday at the Republican National Convention did not sound like a desirable place: fractious, violent, functionally lawless in some pockets.

But their case that only President Trump could shield Americans from this fate was complicated by a nettlesome fact. He is in charge, at present — at the controls of government through the purportedly real-time conditions these supporters outlined. And they would all like to keep him there.

“America,” Vice President Mike Pence told a Republican convention crowd sternly from Fort McHenry in Baltimore, “needs four more years of President Donald Trump.”

The third night of the Republican convention steered into a bit of messaging jujitsu that has become a dominant theme of the week: Mr. Trump’s ability to turn back Trump-era ills that have, in this telling, been largely out of his hands to date.

Massive U.S. Hurricane

washington post logoWashington Post, Laura devastated a narrow path north of the Gulf Coast, Ashley Cusick, Maria Sacchetti, Marisa Iati and Brady Dennis, Aug. 28, 2020 (print ed.). The hurricane made landfall as a Category 4 storm, killing at least four residents, leaving hundreds of thousands of people without power and dumping massive amounts of rain on the region.

Virus Victims, Responses

Worldometer, Total U.S. deaths reported as 185,051, world deaths reported as 836,8930, Aug. 28, 2020 (as of 15:11 GMT).

paul krugmanny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: April Was Trump’s Cruelest Month, Paul Krugman, right, Aug. 28, 2020 (print ed.). Covid-19 won when he tweeted LIBERATE MINNESOTA.

On Wednesday, Vice President Mike Pence peddled an extraordinary fantasy about Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus. Pence’s tale of heroic, decisive leadership was so completely at odds with reality that pretty much the only words he spoke that weren’t lies were “a,” “and,” and “the.”

And most media organizations did, indeed, point out the falsehoods.

Yet what seems to me to be missing from much of the commentary on the Republican carnival of disinformation is an acknowledgment that Trump’s worst hour came not during Covid-19’s initial surge but weeks later, when he did all he could to push America into a reckless — and maskless — reopening.

And he’s doing it again. Speaker after speaker at the Republican National Convention referred to Covid-19, if at all, in the past tense. Their not-so-subtle message was that the pandemic is over. But it isn’t, and the Trump administration is still failing to protect the American people.

If I had to pick a single day when America lost the fight against the coronavirus, it would be April 17. That was the day when Trump proclaimed his support for mobs — some of whose members were carrying guns — that were threatening Democratic state governments and demanding an end to social distancing. “LIBERATE MINNESOTA,” he tweeted, followed by “LIBERATE MICHIGAN” and “LIBERATE VIRGINIA, and save your great 2nd amendment.” (That last bit reads an awful lot like an incitement to armed insurrection.)

In so doing, Trump, in his eagerness to see good economic numbers, chose to disregard warnings from health experts that returning to business as usual would lead to a new surge in infections. And while the Democratic governors he targeted mostly ignored his taunts, many Republican governors, especially in the Sunbelt, rushed to remove restrictions on restaurants, bars, even gyms.

The result was a vast national catastrophe.

washington post logoWashington Post, Notre Dame to resume in-person classes, saying clampdown lowered risk of campus outbreak, Nick Anderson, Aug. 28, 2020. The prestigious Catholic university in northern Indiana had pivoted to online instruction last week when viral testing found a worrisome surge of infections.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s failure to reframe how Americans see his handling of the coronavirus, Amber Phillips, Aug. 28, 2020. Republicans try to change President Trump’s image for skeptical voters.

By now you know that President Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic is dragging down his reelection chances. So it’s politically curious, then, that the president didn’t even try to use this convention to reframe for the American people how he has handled it.

Trump’s and other speakers’ talking points about the novel coronavirus during the convention were the same exaggerated/false ones that the president has been using since March: The president saved lives by freezing travel from China; he worked to get personal protective equipment to hospitals; no one could have seen this coming; China should have stopped it.

2020 U.S. Elections, Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Trump, Biden look to brutal fall campaign, Dan Balz, Aug. 28, 2020 (print ed.). President Trump looks to build on a week of attacks on his rival, a message of law and order and a promise to restore the economy.

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. political divide becomes increasingly violent, rattling activists and police, Tim Craig, Aug. 28, 2020 (print ed.). A fatal shooting amid unrest in Wisconsin and recent spates of violence in Texas are among the signs that firearms and fists are overshadowing political dialogue.

The goal of the rally was to oppose the deployment of federal agents to quell protests in American cities — and to register new Democratic voters here in the heart of conservative East Texas.

But it had hardly begun when hundreds of conservative counterprotesters and supporters of President Trump, many with military-style rifles slung over their shoulders, swarmed the town square and began pushing and shoving and yelling obscenities.

One man punched Democrat Nancy Nichols in the chest, she said, and three others pinned her husband against Tyler's war memorial. Other armed men were positioned around the edges of the square in military-style defensive formation, their hands clutching their rifles.

"They were yelling Democrats are f---ing idiots and Democrats are demons," recalled Nichols, 65. "It makes me feel angry that this is allowed and that our police are allowing this kind of hate-filled atmosphere to take over."

Nancy Nichols, a Democratic activist and voter deputy registrar, said she was punched in the chest by a counter protestor at Gilbert’s rally. “It’s honestly made me more hopeful. Let’s bring it all to the surface so it can be healed,” said Nichols, who posed for a portrait at her home in Tyler on Wednesday. (Julia Robinson/For The Washington Post)

The scuffling, which injured a top aide for Democratic congressional candidate Hank Gilbert, is part of a wave of politically tinged violence across the nation in recent weeks after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, rattling communities facing a toxic mix of partisanship and guns ahead of the 2020 election.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Heads Into General Election He Casts as a Crusade for Law and Order, Alexander Burns and Maggie Haberman, Aug. 28, 2020 (print ed.). As the president accepted the nomination for a second term, he baselessly accused Democrats of giving “free rein” to violent anarchists and criminals, while allies provided explicit rebuttals to his vulnerabilities on racism, sexism and the coronavirus.

ny times logopeter baker twitterNew York Times, Analysis: Instead of Evolving as President, Trump Has Bent the Job to His Will, Peter Baker, right, Aug. 28, 2020 (print ed.).  In a 40-minute phone call this week, Mr. Trump struggled to describe how he has changed in office. “I think I’ve just become more guarded than I was four years ago,” he said.

For a man on the edge of history, President Trump sounded calm and relaxed. If he believes that he is on the verge of losing, he betrayed no sign of it. Instead, he trotted out one of his favorite polls, boasted about his popularity with Republican voters and talked about his convention’s television ratings.

His presidency, he declared in an interview this week, has produced “an incredible result.” The stock markets are “pretty amazing,” the Republican National Convention has been “very successful,” and he has “done a very good job” of handling the coronavirus pandemic even though more than 180,000 Americans are dead. At the same time, he said, he has djt pence yard sign logoendured “terrible things” by his “maniac” opponents.

After nearly four years in office, Mr. Trump heads into the fall campaign with a striking blend of braggadocio and grievance, a man of extremes who claims one moment to have accomplished more than virtually any other president even as he complains moments later that he has also suffered more than any of them. He inhabits a world of his own making, sometimes untethered from the reality recognized by others. He has imposed his will on Washington and the world like no one else.

While previous presidents evolved in office as they learned the mechanisms of power and adjusted their goals by the time they claimed renomination, Mr. Trump remains the same polarizing, dominating force of nature who got up four years ago and asserted that “I alone can fix it.” He has not tempered with age nor bent to convention nor been chastened by impeachment. He says he still considers himself “an outsider” even while occupying the highest office in the land.

wayne madsen screen shotWayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: Fourth night of RNC was a criminal event, Wayne Madsen, right, Aug. 28, 2020. By holding the Republican event on the grounds of the White House, Donald Trump and the Republicans not only violated norms of past presidents but also the Hatch Act of 1939, which forbids the involvement of government property and personnel for partisan political activity.

After the inauguration of President Biden, his Attorney General must move immediately to indict Trump, Meadows, and other administration officials for gross violations of the Hatch Act.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Why dozens of John McCain aides, including me, are endorsing Joe Biden, Mark Salter (staff aide and speechwriter for the late Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), right, Aug. 28, 2020 (print ed.). This week, I joined more than 100 aides of the late Sen. John McCain, including former chiefs of staff, senior legislative and campaign workers and some of the senator’s longest-serving staff to endorse John’s friend and john mccain 2009 wcolleague, former vice president Joe Biden, for president.

We did not do so lightly, but we have no reservations about our decision. We are convinced that Biden’s election is in the national interest.

Many of us have been Republicans all our adult lives. Some of us no longer identify as such, but most of us still do. We might have concerns about the recent direction of the Republican Party, and we have varying opinions about how to restore the primacy of the values that attracted us to the party in the first place. But we still believe in those values, and we want them restored to the party of Lincoln and McCain. We do not believe that will happen while Donald Trump is president. And whatever differences of opinion we have, we are united by one urgent purpose: to prevent his reelection.

washington post logoWashington Post, Secretly recorded audio of Trump’s sister prompts call for probe into Penn admission, Michael Kranish, Aug. 28, 2020.  Maryanne Trump Barry, a former federal judge, says in tapes that the president got into the University of Pennsylvania “because he had somebody take the exams.”

A professor at the University of Pennsylvania has renewed a request to investigate how President Trump was admitted to the school in 1966, citing what he called “new evidence” on secretly recorded tapes in which Trump’s sister says a friend took his entrance exam.

The professor, Eric W. Orts, is one of six faculty members who asked Penn’s provost earlier this summer to launch an investigation into how Trump transferred into the school. He noted that the president’s niece, Mary Trump, wrote in her book published in July that the president paid someone to take his SATs.

In their initial letter, the six professors wrote that “failing to investigate an allegation of fraud at such a level broadcasts to prospective students and the world at large that the playing field is not equal, that our degrees can be bought, and that subsequent fame, wealth, and political status will excuse past misconduct.” The school’s rejection of the July request was reported by the Daily Pennsylvanian, a student-run publication.

washington post logoWashington Post, Editorial: Trump has advanced authoritarianism and undermined the free world, Editorial Board, Aug. 28, 2020. Though damaged, U.S. democracy and the global cause of freedom so far have survived Mr. Trump’s term in office, in large part because they have the determined support of millions of citizens. Yet there should be no question that in a second Trump term, they would suffer grievous and perhaps irreversible harm. If the 21st century is to be a time in which human societies are grounded in individual freedoms, rather than dominated by an all-powerful state, Mr. Trump must be defeated.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump presented the mother of all fabrications on the White House lawn, Dana Milbank, right, Aug. 28, 2020. Four years ago, when the United States was in the eighth year of an economic expansion and enjoying a time of relative peace and prosperity, Donald Trump saw only carnage.

dana milbank Custom“Our convention occurs at a moment of crisis for our nation,” he told the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, describing a nation full of “death, destruction . . . and “weakness.”

Now, America actually is in crisis: a world’s worst 177,000 dead from the pandemic, nearly 6 million infected, 6 million net jobs lost during Trump’s presidency, nearly $7 trillion added to the debt, and racial violence in the streets.

And Trump, accepting the Republican Party’s nomination for a second term on Thursday night, offered a most counterintuitive assessment: Everything is awesome!

washington post logoWashington Post, A brazen defiance of facts and ethical guidelines: Experts say this year’s Republican convention stood out, Toluse Olorunnipa, Aug. 28, 2020. While President Trump has long trafficked in mistruths and innuendo, the broad cast of characters who took up his tactics during prime-time speeches underscores how his brand of politicking has taken root in the GOP.

washington post logoWashington Post, Critic’s Notebook: Trump’s convention speech was selling a fantasy version of himself, Robin Givhan, Aug. 28, 2020.  The speech and its setting provided a view into the mind of a vainglorious man who believes that he is the Constitution and his is the righteous party of God.

washington post logoWashington Post, Robocall targets battleground states with falsehoods about mail-in voting, Meryl Kornfield, Aug. 28, 2020 (print ed.). The recorded message features a woman who says she works for “Project 1599,” founded by the right-wing operatives Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman, who deny involvement in the call.

The call falsely warned Michigan and Pennsylvania residents that voting by mail would subject them to police scrutiny and debt collection, Michigan officials say.

Officials launched an investigation Thursday into what they said was an erroneous, racist robocall aimed at discouraging voters in battleground states from casting their ballots by mail.

The recorded message features a woman who says she works for “Project 1599,” founded by the right-wing operatives Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman, and falsely warns that personal information of those who vote by mail will be shared with police tracking down warrants and credit card companies collecting outstanding debt, according to recordings of the call reviewed by The Washington Post. Wohl and Burkman denied their involvement in the call, blaming “leftist pranksters.”

“Don’t be finessed into giving your private information to the man,” the recording says. “Stay safe and beware of vote-by-mail.”

It’s not known how many people were targeted in Democratic-leaning Detroit, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.

Announcing the inquiry into the call’s origin, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and Attorney General Dana Nessel rebutted the misinformation, warning residents that the recorded message may precede more flagrant falsehoods directed at voters as the November election nears.

How to prevent your mail ballot from being rejected

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: GOP pitch to reelect Trump mostly ignores coal miners, Dino Grandoni, Aug. 28, 2020. Saving the struggling industry is barely a passing mention compared to the pro-coal message of 2016.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Nearly every claim Trump made about Biden’s positions was false, Philip Bump, Aug. 28, 2020. President Trump isn’t running against Joe Biden, not really. The former vice president may occupy the Democratic Party line on the presidential ballot, but it isn’t Biden that Trump’s rhetoric describes.

djt maga hatTrump is instead running against a straw man whom he describes as a Trojan horse for socialists and communists. Trump is running against someone who holds positions that aren’t held by Biden himself — and if Trump convinces enough Americans that Biden and that straw man are one and the same, he might just win more votes.

In his speech accepting the Republican Party’s nomination, Trump outlined a series of positions that he claimed are held by Biden but that, overwhelmingly, are not. It is, of course, not a new political tactic to stretch reality to cast your opponent in a negative light, but it is unusual to simply fabricate an opponent out of whole cloth.

washington post logoWashington Post, Fact Checker Analysis: Trump’s speech was a tidal wave of false claims, Glenn Kessler, Salvador Rizzo and Meg Kelly, Aug. 28, 2020. President Trump ended the djt rncRepublican National Convention on Thursday with a tidal wave of tall tales, false claims and revisionist history. Here are 25 claims by the president that caught our attention, along with seven claims by speakers earlier in the evening. As is our practice, we do not award Pinocchios for a roundup of claims made in convention events.

“America has tested more [for the novel coronavirus] than every country in Europe put together, and more than every nation in the Western Hemisphere combined. We have conducted 40 million more tests than the next closest nation.”

— Donald Trump

Trump is talking about raw numbers, which is misleading. (And if you believe China, Beijing actually exceeds the number of tests, 90 million to 79 million for the United States.)

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s failure to reframe how Americans see his handling of the coronavirus, Amber Phillips, Aug. 28, 2020. Republicans try to change President Trump’s image for skeptical voters.

By now you know that President Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic is dragging down his reelection chances. So it’s politically curious, then, that the president didn’t even try to use this convention to reframe for the American people how he has handled it.

Trump’s and other speakers’ talking points about the novel coronavirus during the convention were the same exaggerated/false ones that the president has been using since March: The president saved lives by freezing travel from China; he worked to get personal protective equipment to hospitals; no one could have seen this coming; China should have stopped it.

washington post logoWashington Post, Perspective: Farewell to Kellyanne Conway, the ultimate Woman for Trump, Monica Hesse, Aug. 28, 2020 (print ed.). Kellyanne Conway had a two-word weapon that she deployed with shrewd skill during her almost-four-year stint at the White House, and it left her targets defenseless.

kellyanne conway talkingFor Kellyanne Conway, right, “Excuse me” really meant “Excuse you.” It was a shaming. It implied that the other party was in the wrong for not permitting her bulldozing, browbeating and bloviating. It relied, successfully, on the assumption that nobody wanted to be seen interrupting a tiny blond woman on live television. And so it excused her.

She is brilliant. She is terrifying.

She is also gone, theoretically. Earlier this week, Conway announced she would be resigning from her role as senior adviser to the president. Her Wednesday speech at the Republican National Convention was a farewell of sorts, the last time we can expect to see her behaving as an official mouthpiece for Trump before she retreats to her new “less drama, more mama” lifestyle.

She used her very presence to bat away charges of sexism against Trump. Again and again she reminded us — as she did again Wednesday — Trump had named her the first female campaign manager of a winning presidential ticket. How could he possibly be sexist?

Ever since the dawn of the #MeToo movement, affronted male readers have occasionally written me to say they are tired of reading about toxic masculinity all the time and wondering whether there was a female corollary: toxic femininity. If there is, I can’t help but think it looks like Kellyanne Conway: someone who takes the stereotypical gentle niceties we once sent girls to charm school to learn — and uses them to sow information chaos.

Excuse me, she would say, needling a news anchor to permit her to barge into the conversation and take it in a more alternative-factsy direction.

Excuse me, she would say to fellow guests who tried, unsuccessfully, to join in with their own opinions. It was a filibuster of false manners, a prim reminder that she would not be yielding the floor.

World News

washington post logoshinzō abe oWashington Post, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe steps down, citing health reasons, Simon Denyer and David Crawshaw, Aug. 28, 2020. Shinzo Abe, right, said he has been struggling with his health, which began to deteriorate in mid-July, and that he was ready to end his leadership of the world's third-largest economy — as soon as his party chooses a successor. 

washington post logoWashington Post, Putin ready to send forces to Belarus if unrest ‘gets out of control,’ Isabelle Khurshudyan, Aug. 28, 2020 (print ed.). Russian President Vladimir Putin signaled his backing for Belarus’s embattled leader amid growing protests after claims of a rigged election.

U.S. Crime, Protests, Security

washington post logoWashington Post, Former Green Beret confessed to contact with Russian intelligence, feds say, Rachel Weiner, Aug. 28, 2020 (print ed.).  Peter Debbins is accused of conspiring to commit espionage. He was arrested last week and faces up to life in prison.

washington post logoWashington Post, Live updates: Thousands gather on Mall in D.C. to rally for racial equality, Staff reports, Aug. 28, 2020. Thousands of protesters gathered Friday at the Lincoln Memorial to call for criminal justice reform and racial equality while honoring the 57th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” address from the same location.

Planning began in June after the funeral of George Floyd. Organizers say they want to highlight the civil rights issues of today and bring well-known speakers to address the crowd while also mitigating the spread of the novel coronavirus with strict safety protocols.

What you need to know about the civil rights rally in D.C.

The march — dubbed the “Get Your Knee Off Our Necks” March on Washington — began with speeches from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, then will be followed by a choreographed march to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in West Potomac Park. The event is expected to end about 3 p.m.

washington post logoWashington Post, During his own bachelor party, teacher sent nude photo of himself to eighth-grader, police say, Dan Morse, Aug. 28, 2020. Middle school teacher Maxwell Bero offered big plans last year when announcing his candidacy for U.S. Congress.

“I’m frustrated at the lack of action from my representation on issues that I care deeply about,” the 29-year-old Maryland teacher told the Baltimore Sun. “Specifically, addressing climate change, working towards single-payer health care, and ISP regulation.”

Lurking in his background — at least according to allegations filed by police in Montgomery County District Court this week — was that Bero had sexually abused an eighth-grade girl from 2014 to 2015 when she was his history student at Col. E. Brooke Lee Middle School in Silver Spring. One of the most stunning allegations: Bero sent the 14-year-old a nude picture of himself from his own bachelor party, according to court records.

Bero was arrested and placed in jail Wednesday on one count of sex abuse of a minor and six counts of third-degree sex offense. Police alleged he fondled the student on numerous occasions when they were alone in his classroom at the end of the school day.

Bero, who is now 30 and whose bid for Congress wasn’t successful, was released from jail Thursday on a $10,000 bond after making a brief court appearance. The woman told police that she stopped communicating with Bero by the end of her freshman year in high school.

As for his congressional bid, Bero tried to knock off Rep. David Trone in the Democratic primary for Maryland’s 6th District, which stretches from Montgomery County to the western border of the state. Bero collected 25,037 votes compared to Trone’s 65,655 votes.

“Though it didn’t work out the way we wanted, we showed that there is a clear appetite in Western Maryland for real, progressive ideas,” Bero wrote on his website, adding that he was looking to the future. “It’s on to 2022!”

 

Aug. 27

Top Headlines

Virus Victims, Responses

More On U.S. Conventions, Elections

White House Suspect

Race, Police, Mask Protests

Pioneering JFK Death Researcher Passes

 World News

 Falwell Scandal: A #MeTooTale?

 

Top Stories

djt key convention speakers 2020

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: Republicans Insist Only Trump Can Stop This Chaos, Matt Flegenheimer and Katie Glueck, Aug. 27, 2020. The djt pence yard sign logoconvention seems engineered to prove that the president is in control of the good and not responsible for the bad, worthy of praise for the nation’s successes and exoneration for its struggles.

But their case was complicated by a nettlesome fact: He is in charge now.

rnc 2020 logoThe America that many speakers described on Wednesday at the Republican National Convention did not sound like a desirable place: fractious, violent, functionally lawless in some pockets.

But their case that only President Trump could shield Americans from this fate was complicated by a nettlesome fact. He is in charge, at present — at the controls of government through the purportedly real-time conditions these supporters outlined. And they would all like to keep him there.

“America,” Vice President Mike Pence told a Republican convention crowd sternly from Fort McHenry in Baltimore, “needs four more years of President Donald Trump.”

The third night of the Republican convention steered into a bit of messaging jujitsu that has become a dominant theme of the week: Mr. Trump’s ability to turn back Trump-era ills that have, in this telling, been largely out of his hands to date.

Tax Wall Street Party via OpEdNews, Opinion: Republican Convention Peddles Trump's Paradise Lost, a Fantastic Never-Never Land of Economic webster tarpley twitterProsperity and Good Health, Dr. Webster G. Tarpley ( right, Founder, Tax Wall Street Party), Aug. 27, 2020. Trump’s job creation was inferior to Obama’s last three years; GOP Tax Scam kept Wall Street Bubble going for two years with ballooning deficits; US in Recession before Pandemic; Trump’s wipeout of Social Security Payroll Tax is worst GOP attack on pensions in decades.

Full Weimar: Kenosha Police fraternize with Pro-Trump fascist militias, leaving two dead and several wounded in attacks on Jacob Blake protesters; local police declined to arrest shooter, a Pro-Trump fanatic.

In DC, Ultra-Left White sectarians and anarchists harass friendly outdoor diners in Columbia Heights, giving Trump a helping hand; Carville notes that harassers are not Democrats.

Trump’s goal is using fascist militias to spread chaos for November; Q Anon, Proud Boys, Patriot Prayer, Boogaloo, American Wolf, and others mobilizing for Four More Years.

ny times logoNew York Times, Visual investigations: Tracking the Suspect in the Fatal Kenosha Shootings, Haley Willis, Muyi Xiao, Christiaan Triebert, Christoph Koettl, Stella Cooper, David Botti, John Ismay and Ainara Tiefenthäler, Aug. 27, 2020. Footage appears to show a teenager shooting three people during protests in Wisconsin. We tracked his movements that night.

A teenager who walked among protesters in Kenosha, Wis., carrying a military-style semi-automatic rifle was arrested and faces a charge of first-degree intentional homicide in connection with shootings that left two people dead on Tuesday night.

Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old Illinois resident, appeared on multiple videos taken throughout the night by protesters and bystanders who chronicled the events as peaceful protests gave way to chaos, with demonstrators, armed civilians and others facing off against one another and the police in the darkened streets.

The New York Times’s Visual Investigations unit analyzed hours of footage to track Mr. Rittenhouse’s movements in the moments leading up to, and during, the shootings.
Who is Kyle Rittenhouse?

Mr. Rittenhouse was arrested early Wednesday in his hometown, Antioch, Ill., which is about 30 minutes southwest of the protests in Kenosha, just over the state line.

Multiple posts on his social media accounts proclaim support for pro-police causes like the Blue Lives Matter movement and Humanize the Badge, a nonprofit that he ran a Facebook fund-raiser for on his 16th birthday.

His posts also suggest a strong affinity for guns, with videos showing Mr. Rittenhouse taking backyard target practice, posing with guns and assembling a weapon.

But many details about both his background and his motivations for walking around the Kenosha protests carrying a military-style semi-automatic rifle are still emerging.
Before the shootings

About two hours before the first shooting, the producer of a video livestream interviews Mr. Rittenhouse at a Kenosha vehicle dealership.

Mr. Rittenhouse is there at the same time as several other armed men. Some of them are positioned on the building’s roof overlooking the parking lot where vehicles were burned the day before. In a brief exchange on the livestream, he identifies himself as “Kyle.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Investigation: Room rentals, resort fees and furniture removal: How Trump’s company charged the U.S. government more than $900,000, David A. Fahrenthold, Josh Dawsey and Joshua Partlow, Aug. 27, 2020. For Trump’s club, it appeared, saying no to the Secret Service had made it a better customer. The agency was paying for rooms on nights when Trump wasn’t even visiting — to be ready just in case Trump decided to go, one former Trump administration official said.

Trump has now visited his own properties 270 times as president, according to a Washington Post tally — with another visit planned for Thursday, when he is scheduled to meet GOP donors at his Washington hotel.

Through these trips, Trump has brought the Trump Organization a stream of private revenue from federal agencies and GOP campaign groups. Federal spending records show that taxpayers have paid Trump’s businesses more than $900,000 since he took office. At least $570,000 came as a result of the president’s travel, according to a Post analysis.

Now, new federal spending documents obtained by The Post via a public-records lawsuit give more detail about how the Trump Organization charged the Secret Service — a kind of captive customer, required to follow Trump everywhere. In addition to the rentals at Mar-a-Lago, the documents show that the Trump Organization charged daily “resort fees” to Secret Service agents guarding Vice President Pence in Las Vegas and in another instance asked agents to pay a $1,300 “furniture removal charge” during a presidential visit to a Trump resort in Scotland.

In addition, campaign finance records have provided new details about the payments the Trump Organization received from GOP groups, as a result of the 37 instances in which Trump headlined a political event at one of his properties. Those visits have brought the company at least $3.8 million in fees, according to a Post analysis of campaign spending records.

Since taking office, Trump has taken other actions that have shattered his early promise to “completely isolate” himself from the Trump Organization.

He tried to award the massive Group of Seven summit to his Doral resort in Miami, dropping the idea after a public backlash. He filmed video messages for big-spending private clients at Mar-a-Lago. He suggested that Pence visit a Trump property in Ireland, according to the vice president’s chief of staff. Pence then shuttled back and forth across Ireland, at U.S. taxpayer expense, to do government business on one coast and stay at Trump’s hotel on the other.

ny times logoNew York Times, At R.N.C., Trump Uses Tools of Presidency in Aim to Broaden Appeal, Alexander Burns and Jonathan Martin, Aug. 27, 2020 (print ed.). President Trump made a bid to sand down his divisive political image by appropriating the resources of his office and the powers of the presidency at the Republican convention on Tuesday, breaching the traditional boundaries between campaigning and governing in an effort to broaden his appeal beyond his conservative base.

In an abrupt swerve from the dire tone of the convention’s first night, Mr. Trump staged a grab-bag of gauzy events and personal testimonials aimed in particular at female and minority voters. In videos recorded at the White House, Mr. Trump pardoned a Nevada man convicted of bank robbery and swore in five new American citizens, all of them people of color, in a miniature naturalization ceremony.

Where the convention on Monday emphasized predictions of social and economic desolation under a government led by Democrats, the second night speakers — including three from Mr. Trump’s immediate family — hailed the president as a friend to women and a champion of criminal justice reform. There was no effort to reconcile the dissonance between the two nights’ programs, particularly the shift from Monday’s rhetoric about a looming “vengeful mob” of dangerous criminals into Tuesday’s tributes to the power of personal redemption.

It was not clear whether this new appeal would change the minds of women, people of color and others who had formed negative opinions of Mr. Trump over the past five years, amid the allegations of sexual assault against him, the appeals to racial bigotry and hard-line policies like a border crackdown that separated migrant families.

The coronavirus pandemic was largely confined to parenthetical comments within the speeches, until Melania Trump, the first lady, addressed it directly in the final speech and extended her “deepest sympathy” to people who had lost loved ones. Like her husband, Mrs. Trump enlisted the trappings of the presidency for her remarks: She spoke from the White House Rose Garden.

Speaking in careful terms, the first lady sought to reframe Mr. Trump’s inflammatory conduct on race, which has undermined his standing in the polls. “My husband’s administration has worked to try and effect change around race and religion in this country,” she said. She also scolded the news media for focusing too much on “gossip” and lamented the abusive treatment of people on social media and the “downside of technology.”

Mrs. Trump said she did not want to use her speech to denounce her husband’s political adversaries, faulting Democrats for going on the attack in their convention last week and making no reference to the Republican convention’s intensely negative kickoff.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: The Epic Shamelessness of the Republican Convention, Frank Bruni, Aug. 27, 2020 (print ed.). Norms are for chumps, not for Trumps. Conventions lie. Or at least they tell extravagant fibs. That’s how they transform their nominees from mere mortals to near messiahs. That’s how they whip up the faithful and woo the agnostics.

rnc 2020 logoBut the Republican convention is going well beyond that. It’s less a feat of pretty storytelling than an act of pure derangement.

To turn Donald Trump into a president worthy of a second term, speakers are conjuring an entirely different person in his place. I can tell that Trump is the man they’re talking about, because he keeps popping up amid all the monumental imagery. (Did Leni Riefenstahl consult via séance?)

But I otherwise don’t recognize their version of Trump. Their Trump brims with empathy. Their Trump burns with passion to improve the lives of ordinary Americans. Their Trump heroically spared the country from the worst ravages of Covid-19, which is surely news to the relatives and friends of more than 175,000 Americans (and counting) who have died from it.

washington post logoWashington Post, ​​Editorial: Trailing Biden and lacking an agenda, Republicans are turning to depraved lies to win, Editorial Board, Aug. 27, 2020 (print ed.). Trailing in the polls, and with no tangible agenda for a second term, President Trump is doing his best to tear down Democratic nominee Joe Biden. That’s hardly an unprecedented strategy, and some of the policy-based arguments being advanced by speakers at the Republican National Convention this week fall within the normal bounds of campaign debate, even if some of the hyperbole is beyond those bounds. Mr. Biden, it’s said, will be controlled by the Democratic left; he will raise taxes; he will be too soft on China.

There is another strand of the attacks, however, that is as depraved as it is scurrilous. The Trump campaign is attempting to portray Mr. Biden and his family as neck-deep in corruption, based on allegations that have repeatedly been demonstrated to be false. In effect, the Republicans accuse the former vice president of secretly doing what Mr. Trump has accomplished overtly during the past three years — using his office to enrich himself and his family.

Leading the GOP charge on Tuesday was Pam Bondi, a former Florida attorney general who in 2013 received a $25,000 contribution from a Trump charity six days after her office said it was looking into fraud charges against Trump University. The investigation did not go forward. Incredibly, Ms. Bondi opened her case against Mr. Biden by repeating the lie that led to Mr. Trump’s impeachment: that Mr. Biden demanded the firing of a Ukrainian prosecutor who was investigating a gas company that employed the then-vice president’s son Hunter.

Virus Victims, Responses

Worldometer, Total U.S. deaths reported as 184,000, world deaths reported as 833,000, Aug. 27, 2020 (as of 17:52 GMT).

TheHill.com, American Medical Association criticizes new Trump testing guidance, Peter Sullivan, Aug. 27, 2020. The American Medical Association, the country’s largest doctors group, sharply criticized the Trump administration’s new guidance that asymptomatic people do not need to be tested, warning that it will lead to “more spikes in coronavirus.”

“Months into this pandemic, we know COVID-19 is spread by asymptomatic people,” Susan Bailey, president of the AMA, said in a statement. “Suggesting that people without symptoms, who have known exposure to COVID-positive individuals, do not need testing is a recipe for community spread and more spikes in coronavirus.”

The AMA is one of the most prominent of a wide range of medical groups and public health experts who are alarmed by the Trump administration’s change.

In new guidance this week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that people without symptoms do not need to be tested, even if they have been in close contact with an infected person, a reversal from the previous guidance that stressed testing of contacts as a key way to identify asymptomatic people spreading the disease.

The Infectious Diseases Society of America, which represents infectious disease experts, called for the “immediate reversal” of the guidelines.

“Evidence has clearly indicated that asymptomatic persons play a significant role in transmissions,” the group said. “Identifying individuals infected with COVID-19 — even if they are asymptomatic — is critical to support appropriate isolation and identification of contacts, to limit spread, and to provide the data-driven, comprehensive view of community spread needed to inform effective public health responses.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Six feet may not be enough to protect against coronavirus, experts warn, Ben Guarino, Aug. 27, 2020. Factors such as crowd density, ventilation, face masks and whether people are silent, speaking, shouting or singing should all be considered in assessing distance.

cornell banner

washington post logoWashington Post, Cornell students petition to have freshman TikTok star expelled for flouting coronavirus rules, Hannah Knowles, Aug. 27, 2020.  Colleges have been threatening students with stiff penalties for failing to practice social distancing and wear masks, blasting “selfish and reckless” behavior and issuing hundreds of suspensions.

At Cornell University, however, it’s the students who are becoming the most vocal enforcers of coronavirus-era rules.

“Jessica Zhang has shown that she does not care to comply to public safety measures and wants to put other citizens at risk for the sake of her own entertainment,” reads an online petition from a “Concerned Student Coalition” that had gathered nearly 2,000 signatures by Wednesday night.

It says Zhang — a freshman who happens to be a TikTok star with more than half a million followers — should be expelled for flouting coronavirus precautions while partying.

“Some students don’t have the luxury of going home to a quiet and healthy environment to focus on academics,” the petition warns. “Do not ruin it for everyone else.”

robert harrington twitterPalmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s CDC scandal just got even uglier, Robert Harrington, right, Aug. 27, 2020. If you go to the coronavirus section of the website cdc.gov and click the link “CDC on testing guidance” under “Latest updates” you’ll get a message that says, “Oops! We can’t seem to find the page you were looking for.”

What it used to say was, “If you have been in close contact (within 6 feet) of a person with a COVID-19 infection for at least 15 minutes but do not have symptoms: You do not necessarily need a test unless you are a vulnerable individual or your healthcare provider or State or local public health officials recommend you take one.” [Italics added.]

That message may have been replaced by “Oops” because CNN recently produced a segment criticizing what it originally said. That healthcare professionals would post such an irresponsible thing in the first place is an example of the trickle down corruption brought to you by Donald Trump and the Trump administration. The original language of the CDC message is so dry and so matter of fact that it might have easily been bill palmer report logo headermissed and the chilling portent behind it overlooked. Clearly, someone at CNN was paying attention.

cdc logo CustomNow that the number of coronavirus cases in the United States has passed six million and the number of deaths has exceeded 183,000, you would think that the disease would be taken more seriously. After all, that same CDC website that, until caught, dismissed the need for coronavirus testing after exposure, has an entire page devoted to the prevention of drunk driving. Yet drunk driving in the United States “only” kills one person every fifty minutes. Almost one person a minute dies from coronavirus.

A friend of mine who just returned from rural South Carolina said people sneered at him for wearing a mask. The further into “Trump country” one gets the more contempt is shown for taking coronavirus seriously. (It’s no accident that South Carolina was the first state to secede from the Union and was where the American Civil War began. There is a dreadful synergy at work here.)

That Donald Trump has turned coronavirus and the wearing of masks in particular and prevention in general into an issue of political contention isn’t just part of the problem, it is the problem. Even while he publicly (and inconsistently) pivots on the need to wear a mask, the practice is rarely followed in the White House, and the rest of the country that looks to him for leadership follows suit.

Whether or not the doctors and healthcare professionals at the CDC look to Trump for leadership, the fact remains that the CDC is a federal agency. People in power are there because they were put there by Trump or remain there by dint of his forbearance. The influence of his power is strong on the weak minded, their common sense and willpower become subverted over time until they subtly betray their Hippocratic oaths in the service of Trump’s brittle ego.

This is the political reason why coronavirus is being ignored, and why perhaps a million or more people will die before Donald Trump is finished. Add to that the coronavirus is so very tiny — a thousand times smaller than a grain of rice — and it’s easy to understand how even educated adults can be lulled into complacence. Coronavirus is an Everest-size problem with a molehill for a public relations budget.

2020 U.S. Elections, Politics

washington post logowhite house resizedWashington Post, Analysis: The message coming from the convention: ‘Make America great again. Again,’ David Weigel, Aug. 27, 2020. To paraphrase Vice President Pence: The president had fixed America; the president would fix America.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump is wooing suburban women with ‘law and order.’ She’s tuning him out, Samantha Schmidt, Aug. 27, 2020. Mary Vevang Anderson is among the suburban women President Trump is targeting with his law-and-order message. But despite supporting him in 2016, the Minneapolis woman is no longer listening: “Trump’s lost his moral authority with me.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: Scavino, who tweets for Trump, to give rare speech on his behalf, Staff reports, Aug. 27, 2020.  Rudy Giuliani, controversial figure in Trump’s first term, set to speak Thursday; White House chief of staff hints at surprise in Trump’s speech; Kamala Harris on Wis. police shooting: 'Based on what I’ve seen, it seems the officer should be charged.’

nancy pelosi djt 2 older

Palmer Report, Opinion: The real reason Nancy Pelosi is calling for no debates between Donald Trump and Joe Biden, Bill Palmer, Aug. 27, 2020. Out of nowhere today, Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that she thinks Joe Biden shouldn’t even debate Donald Trump, saying “I wouldn’t legitimize a conversation with him.” This has set off a round of controversy and discussion – but what is Pelosi really up to?

First, let’s be clear. Nancy Pelosi is one of the savviest people in modern American politics. She knows darn well that Joe Biden is going to have to debate Donald Trump, or else voters in the middle would conclude that Biden is too afraid to do so. Pelosi also knew that Biden would have to quickly push back against this – which he did, by announcing just now that he’ll definitely participate in the debates. So Pelosi’s goal clearly wasn’t to get Biden out of the debates. She’s after something else.

bill palmer report logo headerPelosi is usually a step ahead of the rest of us in her strategy, so it’s not always immediately clear why she’s doing what she’s doing. But in terms of impact, Pelosi has set a few things in motion. First, she’s almost certainly assured that Donald Trump will show up to the debates, because now he’ll want to spite Pelosi for having tried to take the debates away from him.

Second, Nancy Pelosi has a history of jabbing Donald Trump with things like this in order to knock him off his game so he can’t focus. She usually spars with him whenever they’re about to head into negotiations, but this time she appears to be trying to knock him off his game so he goes off the rails during his big convention speech tonight.

Finally, Pelosi has helped create public sentiment that Joe Biden is too good to even show up and debate a deranged lying thug like Donald Trump. That way, when Biden shows up, he’ll come off as a hero for “taking one for the team” and taking it to Trump directly.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The GOP convention just ripped the mask off Trump’s corruption and lies, Greg Sargent, Aug. 27, 2020 (print ed.). The second night of the GOP convention showcased a party that is unshakably confident in its ability to get away with flaunting President Trump’s corrupt manipulation of the levers of government to remain in power — on national television, with absolute impunity.

It also showcased a party that’s equally confident in its power to create a hermetically sealed-off alternate universe in which the only corrupt party is the opposition. Completing this picture, the levers of government are currently being manipulated to manufacture that invented reality about the opposition, too.

If they get away with this, what will be left of our political system?

These stakes were illustrated with unsettling clarity by Pam Bondi’s speech on Tuesday night. The former attorney general of Florida oozed a phony air of sincerity while recycling entirely debunked nonsense about Joe Biden’s son Hunter and Ukraine. The Biden campaign didn’t take the bait.

This is not a moment we should allow to slide by. Taken along with the blatant lawbreaking at the convention on Tuesday, it all demonstrates a level of seething contempt for our political system and institutions — and even for the very idea that there should be baseline standards in political competition — that the media still struggles to convey faithfully.
Pam Bondi’s lies

Bondi once again served up the regurgitated tale in which Biden, as vice president, supposedly withheld U.S. aid to pressure a Ukrainian prosecutor to go easy on a company that was paying his son to sit on its board.

But this is all nonsense: While Hunter Biden’s flouting of appearances deserves criticism, there wasn’t an investigation of the company at the time, and then-Vice President Biden sought the prosecutor’s ouster because the prosecutor was corrupt. This was U.S. policy, backed by international institutions. GOP senators had no problem with it in real time.

As The Post’s fact-checking team puts it, Bondi’s story is “fiction,” and in reality, Joe Biden “was thwarting corruption, not abetting it.” Bondi also told a convoluted story about Hunter Biden supposedly making a killing on a deal in China after flying there with his father on an official plane, but there’s no evidence to support this tale’s core assertions.

But what’s important for our purposes here is that Trump already got impeached for subverting our national security policy to the corrupt goal of making those false narratives about the Bidens and Ukraine appear true. Having failed to use the levers of government to corrupt our election once, Trump had Bondi simply keep on telling that same set of lies.

washington post logoWashington Post, Pence defends Trump on virus response, denounces violence in cities, Colby Itkowitz, Felicia Sonmez and John Wagner, Aug. 27, 2020 (print ed.). Convention speakers paint Trump as caring, call Democratic ticket radical.

Mike Pence, right, accepted the renomination as the Republican Party’s vice-presidential pick, describing a country at a crossroads. Speakers mike pence oportrayed President Trump as a strong leader who defends traditional values, while criticizing Joe Biden’s Catholic faith and painting the Democratic ticket as radical and dangerous.

 The convention is being held as dangerous Hurricane Laura approaches the upper Texas coast and western Louisiana, with landfall expected in the early morning hours, and as protests and violence have shaken Kenosha, Wis., in the wake of a police shooting. Authorities on Wednesday said a 17-year-old had been charged with homicide after two people were killed and another seriously wounded by gunfire Tuesday night.

djt pence yard sign logoHere are some significant developments:

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, his running mate, spoke to the family of Jacob Blake, an African American man shot multiple times in the back by a police officer, and Harris told a virtual room of Black women that there “are still two systems of justice in America.”
Trump has slashed immigration levels, criticized Black Lives Matter and been accused of sexual misconduct. But this week, Trump and the GOP have attempted to project an image of a president who has tended compassionately, and even personally, to the needs of racial minorities, immigrants and women.

Officials said that foreign governments like Russia and China continue to try to interfere in the upcoming U.S. election but that they have seen no evidence of countries trying to manipulate or manufacture mail-in ballots.

washington post logoWashington Post, Fact Checker: Pence offers false claims on Biden and fracking, Salvador Rizzo, Aug. 27, 2020 (print ed.).

“Where this president achieved energy independence for the United States, Joe Biden would abolish fossil fuels and fracking.”

— Vice President Mike Pence

All of this is false — and we fact check these lines so often from Trump, it seems like speechwriting malpractice or an intentional effort to deceive for Pence to include them in a prime-time speech.

The United States is not energy independent, as it continues to import millions of barrels of oil per day. “In 2019, the United States imported about 9.10 million barrels per day (MMb/d) of petroleum from nearly 90 countries,” according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Biden would not abolish fossil fuels. His plan on energy and the environment calls for “net-zero [carbon] emissions no later than 2050.” That’s 30 years from now. In the interim, Biden’s plan says, “we must look at all low- and zero-carbon technologies,” leaving the door open to carbon capture and other fossil-fuel-based sources.

The line about fracking is also wrong. Fracking, short for “hydraulic fracturing,” is a drilling technique that uses high-pressure water and chemical blasts to access natural gas and oil reserves underground. The technique has facilitated a boom in U.S. energy production over the past decade, but it has been controversial, the target of climate-change activists and many Democrats.

White House Suspect

washington post logoWashington Post, Man shot by Secret Service officer outside White House apparently was holding a comb, documents show, Keith L. Alexander, Aug. 27, 2020. A man, who officials said had announced he was armed before he was shot by a Secret Service officer earlier in the month near the White House, was apparently holding a comb, according to new court documents.

Myron Berryman, 51, was charged with one count of assault on a police officer in the incident and has been hospitalized since the Aug. 10 shooting. Berryman’s first hearing on the misdemeanor charge was held Thursday afternoon in D.C. Superior Court. His lawyer said he has been moved to a psychiatric hospital.

According to initial charging documents and Secret Service officials, Berryman walked up to the uniformed officer and said he was armed. Charging papers say Berryman reached along the right side of his body as if to retrieve an object, clasped his hands together and pointed his arms toward the officer. The officer then shot Berryman once in the torso. No weapon was found.

Man shot by Secret Service outside White House assumed shooting stance, charging documents say

Additional charging documents filed Wednesday revealed that a black object was seen falling from Berryman’s hands when he was shot and that a comb was found at the scene.

According to the documents, another uniformed officer at the scene told investigators he heard the officer who shot Berryman say he had not found a gun where the shooting occurred and “stated words to the effect that . . . I think it was a comb.” The officer who shot Berryman, according to the charging documents, realized “after the shooting that the item was not a gun, but rather a comb.”

Two officials who had viewed an internal police report of the incident have told The Washington Post that the report said Berryman shouted, “I’m going to kill you. I’m going to shoot you.” Those allegations were not mentioned in any of the charging papers.

Man shot by Secret Service agent outside White House shouted, ‘I’m going to shoot you,’ officials say

According to the initial documents, the uniformed officer was standing at his post at Pennsylvania Avenue and 17th Street Northwest, on the west side of the White House. Berryman was walking eastbound on Pennsylvania Avenue. When Berryman reached the officer, video of the encounter showed he “appeared to make a comment,” according to the documents. The officer, whose name has not been released, then called in over the radio saying there was a man on Pennsylvania Avenue who “says he’s armed.”

Berryman’s attorney Daniel K. Dorsey said in an interview that his client did not make comments threatening to kill anyone.

Berryman did not appear in court for his arraignment. Berryman, Dorsey said, was discharged from one hospital and moved to the District’s Psychiatric Institute of Washington, where he has been under observation.

Prosecutors said in court they did not object to Berryman remaining under medical care as the case proceeds. Another court date was set for January.

In the new charging documents, officers said they interviewed Berryman two days after the shooting as he was in the hospital. Berryman told the officers he did not remember the incident. He also told the officers he had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and that before the shooting he had been hospitalized and then stayed at a residential treatment facility. Berryman said he left that facility the day of the shooting.

While lying handcuffed to his hospital bed, according to the documents, Berryman also told the officers that he had stopped taking his medication for his mental illness three years earlier, but had resumed his medication when he was hospitalized.

More On Race, Police, Mask Protests

washington post logojennifer rubin new headshotWashington Post, Opinion: Another Trump Insider Attests To Threat To Americans, Jennifer Rubin, right, Aug. 27, 2020. Following in the footsteps of former Department of Homeland Security chief of staff Miles Taylor, another Trump administration insider, Elizabeth Neumann, has stepped forward to warn us about the danger President Trump poses:

NEW AD: Elizabeth Neumann – the former Assistant Secretary for Threat Prevention in Trump's DHS – says that the U.S. is "less safe today" because of Trump's actions.

In 2016 she supported Trump but based on what she saw inside his administration, she's voting for Joe Biden. pic.twitter.com/ZjoDpVJBCR
— Republican Voters Against Trump (@RVAT2020) August 26, 2020

“You were hired to handle America’s worst day, and you have absolutely failed” is as compelling a description of why four more years of Trump’s incompetence, malfeasance and cluelessness would be disastrous. Neumann, former assistant secretary for threat prevention at DHS, is an especially compelling figure for several reasons.

First, she identifies as a religious Christian and voted for Trump because of her opposition to abortion, but now plainly is prioritizing other concerns and voting for Democratic nominee Joe Biden. This is the quintessential “permission” ad — telling pro-life women that they can abandon Trump without changing their views. They can decide that Trump’s handling of threats is as great a danger — or a greater danger — to American lives as any we have seen.

ny times logoNew York Times, With Wisconsin Unrest as Backdrop, Republicans Intensify Law-and-Order Message, Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns, Aug. 27, 2020 (print ed.). On the third day of the convention, Vice President Mike Pence and other Republicans portrayed Democrats as tolerant of violence and riots. And they continued to try to soften President Trump’s image.

Republicans used the third night of their convention on Wednesday to amplify warnings of violence and lawlessness under Democratic leadership, trying to capitalize on the worsening unrest in Wisconsin to reclaim moderate voters who might be reluctant to hand President Trump a second term.

The party also made appeals to social conservatives with attacks on abortion and accusations that the Democrats and their nominee, Joseph R. Biden Jr., were “Catholics in name only.” And they intensified their effort to lift Mr. Trump’s standing among women with testimonials vouching for him as empathetic and as a champion of women in the workplace — from women who work for him, a number of female lawmakers and his daughter-in-law, Lara Trump.

Speaking hours after Gov. Tony Evers of Wisconsin called in the National Guard to restore order to Kenosha, Wis., where a police officer shot a Black man this week, numerous Republicans led by Vice President Mike Pence assailed Mr. Biden for what they claimed was his tolerance of the vandalism that had grown out of racial justice protests, asserting that the country would not be safe with him as president.

“Last week, Joe Biden didn’t say one word about the violence and chaos engulfing cities across this country,” said Mr. Pence, standing before an array of American flags at Fort McHenry in Baltimore and vowing: “We will have law and order on the streets of this country for every American of every race and creed and color.”

Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota, a strong supporter of the president, said that Seattle, Portland, Ore., and other cities run by Democrats were being “overrun by violent mobs.” She likened the violence to the lead-up of the Civil War and asserted that people “are left to fend for themselves.”

Ms. Noem invoked a young Abraham Lincoln, claiming he had been “alarmed by the disregard for the rule of law throughout the country.”

“He was concerned for the people that had seen their property destroyed, their families attacked and their lives threatened or even taken away,” she said, adding “Sound familiar?”

washington post logonba logoWashington Post, Professional sports games postponed as players protest social injustice, Ben Golliver, Aug. 27, 2020 (print ed.).  The NBA called off Wednesday's three playoff games after Milwaukee decided not to take the floor against Orlando to protest the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis. Three Major League Baseball games and the WNBA's three scheduled contests also were postponed.

washington post logoWashington Post, Protesters target D.C. diners, triggering backlash after heckling woman, Fredrick Kunkle, Aug. 26, 2020. Lauren Victor refused to go along with raising her fist — although she supports the movement.

A demonstration that began Monday evening in the District to protest the shooting of a Black man in Wisconsin wound its way through two of the city’s entertainment districts, targeting diners in a tactic that has triggered backlash online.

The crowd of protesters confronted a woman seated at a table outside a restaurant on 18th Street NW in Adams Morgan and demanded that she raise her fist in a show of solidarity.

“White silence is violence!” protesters chanted, many with fists in the air. “Are you a Christian?” a protester demanded, yelling into her face.

But the woman, Lauren B. Victor, refused, even after her dining companion complied.

“I felt like I was under attack,” Victor, 49, an urban planner and photographer who lives in the District, said in an interview afterward.

Conservatives and liberals alike agreed that the confrontational tactic was a misstep that might undermine the protest movement’s intended message.

The Black Lives Matter rally, which began about 6:30 p.m. Monday at Columbia Heights Civic Plaza on 14th Street NW, drew several hundred people. They engaged in a call-and-response as protest organizers with bullhorns told how Kenosha, Wis., police had shot and critically injured Jacob Blake. The police shooting, which is still under investigation, has reinvigorated protests against police violence and triggered outbreaks of rioting.

Jacob Blake paralyzed after Kenosha police shooting, family and attorneys say

In D.C., however, protesters wound their way up 14th Street, chanting, “No Justice, No Peace,” and, “Fire, fire, gentrifier — Black people used to live here.”

Near Quincy Street, the crowd gathered outside restaurants, alternately accusing diners of enjoying “White privilege” and encouraging them to show support. At one table, a young man who objected to the intrusion tried to explain that he worked for a nonprofit organization committed to addressing mental health care for Black people and other underserved populations. Protesters crowded in further around the table, shining video lights in the diners’ eyes and exchanging angry words.

The marchers, now about 150 strong, wound their way to Adams Morgan without further incident.

On Columbia Road, a young Black woman who was leading the protest explained the importance of engaging White people in the struggle for justice and encouraged White protesters to take the lead in confronting diners on 18th Street NW.

Several diners at other tables went along, standing or raising their fists, until the crowd homed in on Victor and her companion in front of Los Cuates, a Mexican restaurant.

“I wasn’t actually frightened,” Victor said.

Victor said she was a supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement and had marched in previous demonstrations. But Victor said she also felt that it was wrong for hundreds of people to surround a small group of diners, approach them with their hands raised, and try to cow them into making a show of support.

“It just felt overwhelming to have all of those people come at you. To have a crowd — with all that energy — demand that you do this thing. In the moment it didn’t feel right,” Victor said.

“They like to think because I raise my fist it means something or other.”

As the crowd moved on, Chuck Modiano continued to yell at Victor.

“Good for you — you stood your ground,” Modiano said, demanding to know if she had seen the video of Blake’s shooting. Modiano, who identified himself as a “citizen journalist” who writes for Deadspin, said he wanted to understand her resistance.

“What was in you that you just couldn’t do this?” Modiano asked. “They all did — all the other tables. You were literally the only one of 20 other people. So there was something in you that was different from all the other people.”

Victor explained that she just felt coerced and somewhat threatened — although she also said she wasn’t afraid.

“I didn’t think anyone was actually going to do anything to me. I appreciate their anger,” she said in an interview. “On one level, my best guess was no one was going to hurt me. But those things turn on a dime.”

Pioneering JFK Death Researcher Passes

vincent salandria resized

Vincent Salandria, Esq., the first major public critic of the Warren Commission Report on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

The Truth & Reconciliation Committee, Vincent Salandria (1928-2020): Farewell to the 'First Researcher, John Kirby (film maker, historian and co-founding director of The Truth & Reconciliation Committee), Aug. 26-27, 2020. The man who immediately understood the true cause and profound meaning of President Kennedy’s assassination, and for 57 years quietly taught that understanding to the rest of us, has died. Vincent J. Salandria was 92, vigorous and lucid till the end.

On Sunday, August 23rd, he collapsed while walking his dog in his Philadelphia neighborhood.

We reprint here in full Christopher Sharrett’s excellent short biography of Vince, written in 1999 as the introduction to False Mystery, a collection of Vince’s speeches and articles that remain indispensable reading today.

To the extensive list of Salandria-inspired people and material provided by Professor Sharrett below, we should add three of the most important that have arrived on the scene since his piece was written: Jim Douglas’s JFK and The Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why it Matters and two works by David Talbot: Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years, and The Devil’s Chessboard, about the career of CIA director Allen Dulles.

In addition, Vince advised and will appear in two upcoming documentary films, one directed by Max Good on the role of the Paines in history, and Four Died Trying, produced by TRC co-chair Libby Handros and directed by this writer.

Vince insisted on asking fundamental questions that cut through the cant of official propaganda. With an attorney’s clear logic, he asked with perfect simplicity: “What would an honest government do?”

It was a test the authorities consistently failed at the time of the assassination, and one we would do well to apply more vigorously today.

Farewell, great teacher.

John Kirby
Provincetown, MA
August 25, 2020

Introduction to 'False Mystery'

by Christopher Sharrett

The writings of Vincent J Salandria on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy are historic, foundational, and essential to any serious scholar interested in understanding the real dynamics of the Kennedy murder and its place as a terrible and pivotal moment of the American Century. In his 1967 book Six Seconds in Dallas, Josiah Thompson notes that what he terms the “second generation” of assassination researchers — including Mark Lane, Edward J. Epstein, Harold Weisberg, Raymond Marcus, Léo Sauvage, Richard Popkin — owe “a deep debt to Salandria’s pioneering and largely unsung research.” Thompson is accurate, since Salandria is in the front rank of Warren Commission critics, and the prescience of his analysis is an instruction to all interested people.

On November 22, 1963, the day of the assassination, Salandria watched the unfolding narrative on television with his then brother-in-law, the late Harold Feldman (himself a important scholar of this case and the author of the monograph “Fifty-One Witnesses: The Grassy Knoll”). Many friends of Salandria recount his responses to that day.

Salandria noted at the first moments of this crime that it reeked of a governmental coup, and that the confirmation of his suspicion would be the murder of the alleged suspect while in custody. He observed that from the first hours of the case, the pronouncements of the government, as carried by the major media, contained a consciousness of guilt at the center of state power. At no time did the government entertain seriously the possibility of a conspiracy to kill President Kennedy, even as local authorities in Dallas and the mainstream media offered a steady stream of evidence pointing to conspiracy (witnesses and physicians saying Kennedy was shot from two directions; witnesses running to the grassy knoll in front of the motorcade as well as into buildings behind the motorcade; more than one rifle found; various suspects detained; gun smoke smelled at ground level; a bystander wounded). Although many of these reports could have been in error, Salandria noted that the federal authorities, if honest, would have pursued these reports rather than shut down their options and proclaim the guilt of one man, a warehouse worker named Lee Harvey Oswald.

Oswald’s guilt was indeed immediately proclaimed, and rarely with the qualifier “alleged.” Oswald’s supposed leftist political affiliations were loudly trumpeted as a means of enhancing the aura of guilt around a man declared the murderer — and the only murderer — even before he was officially charged with the crime. It should be noted that the labeling by the government of Oswald as a leftist — and hence a homicidal madman — effectively stilled the dissent of and terrified much of the American progressive community, particularly with the publication of the Warren Report. The voice of Vincent Salandria, who never wavered from progressive values, was not so stilled.

On Nov. 2, 1964, Salandria published an article in The Legal Intelligencer, the oldest law publication in the United States. The piece, reproduced herein, is the first sustained criticism of the Warren Commission’s conclusions on the forensic evidence in the assassination. It represents a courageous and articulate dissent from within the American legal profession that, sadly, has rarely been replicated. To those who today argue that the government’s initial response to the assassination flowed from a concern merely to protect national security, Salandria’s article, written in 1964, is a crucial response. It shows that the authorities were utterly disingenuous about the smallest detail of the forensic evidence of the crime, and none of the official conduct augured well for confidence in the government’s motivations, then or now, in telling us about the assassination.

The circumstances of this article’s publication are as remarkable and historic as its content. The Philadelphia Bar Association had just finished celebrating the work for the Warren Commission of Arlen Specter, a native son who would soon be elected the city’s district attorney. Salandria, a practicing lawyer in Philadelphia, was unimpressed by his colleague’s new status in the profession. Theodore Voorhees, then Chancellor of the Bar, felt that Salandria’s dissent was too important for the Intelligencer to ignore, despite the paper’s positive appraisal both of the Warren Report and the service provided to the Warren Commission by its legal staff.

World News

ny times logoNew York Times, Iran to Allow U.N. Inspections of Previously Blocked Nuclear Sites, Lara Jakes, Aug. 27, 2020 (print ed.). Iran has agreed to let United Nations inspectors into two previously blocked nuclear sites, officials said on Wednesday, reversing itself during an international feud over its nuclear program that has divided world powers and increasingly isolated the United States.

In a joint statement, the International Atomic Energy Agency and Iran said they had reached a good-faith agreement for the inspections to verify that Tehran’s nuclear program remained peaceful. Iran is “voluntarily providing” access to the sites, the statement said, and the inspections have been scheduled.

After what it called “intensive” discussions, the nuclear agency “does not have further questions to Iran,” the statement said.

Just two months ago, the I.A.E.A. had accused Iran of hiding suspected nuclear activity after inspectors were refused access in the two unidentified locations. The agency, which serves as the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog, also said Iran had for nearly a year evaded inquiries about its possible undeclared nuclear material and activities.

  • Washington Post, Britain considers trying U.S. diplomat’s wife in absentia over death of motorcyclist, William Booth and Karla Adam, Aug. 27, 2020.

Falwell Scandal: A #MeTooTale?

Politico: Investgigation: 'She was the aggressor’: Former Liberty student alleges sexual encounter with Becki Falwell, Brandon Ambrosino, Aug. 27, 2020. A former student at the evangelical university opens up about a 2008 incident with the wife of the school’s president.

jerry falwell jr becki falwellA former Liberty University student says Becki Falwell, shown at right, the wife of the university’s then-President Jerry Falwell Jr., also shown at right, jumped into bed with him and performed oral sex on him while he stayed over at the Falwell home after a band practice with her eldest son in 2008.

The student was 22 at the time of the encounter, near the start of Liberty’s fall semester. He said she initiated the act, and he went along with it. But despite his rejection of further advances, he said, Falwell continued pursuing him, offering him gifts and engaging in banter through Facebook messages.

The messages, screenshots of which were provided by the former student to Politico, suggest a flirtatious relationship that went beyond what might be expected of a mother communicating with her son’s bandmate.

One referenced a mutual friend who “said that she wants you to cut [your] bangs when you get your hair cut. I think that you are beautiful just like you are,” Becki Falwell wrote in a message sent in September 2008. “You don’t want to cover up those killer eyes of yours and you know the bandana drives me wild … 🙂”

liberty university sealIn another, sent in December 2008, after the student says he made clear he did not want any romantic involvement with Falwell, she wrote: “Maybe time will heal whatever wounds that I have caused and your Christian heart will allow you to forgive me.”

In a statement, Jerry and Becki Falwell said of the former student’s allegations, “It is unfortunate that the coverage of our departure has turned into a frenzy of false and fantastic claims about us. These false and mean spirited lies have hurt us and our family greatly and we will respond fully with the truth at an appropriate time. At this time, however, we think it is best to move on and help the Liberty community focus on its very bright future…”

Another member of the former student’s band, who spoke to Politico on the condition of anonymity, said the student told him of the oral-sex encounter with Becki Falwell within a month of it occurring. Two former Liberty University employees, also speaking under a condition of anonymity, recalled that the band members practiced at the Falwell Farm in 2008, but did not know of the alleged encounter between Falwell and the former student.

The allegation by the former student casts light on the behavior of Jerry and Becki Falwell, who have been under intense scrutiny for inappropriate relationships and misuse of their positions at the university. On Sunday, Jerry Falwell Jr. acknowledged that Becki had had an affair with Giancarlo Granda, a pool attendant at the Fountainbleau Hotel in Miami Beach with whom they entered a real estate deal. Granda told POLITICO and other outlets that the affair began when he was 20 and continued for seven more years, during which time her husband sometimes watched him and Becki have sex.

Earlier this summer, the couple was vacationing with friends and family aboard a yacht owned by a Liberty University supporter when Jerry posted and quickly deleted a photo of himself with his pants unzipped and arm around Becki’s assistant.

jerry falwell jr wJerry Falwell Jr., left, resigned as Liberty president on Tuesday, in exchange for a severance package worth $10.5 million, two days after his acknowledgment of Becki’s affair with Granda.

Granda, however, was not a student. At Liberty University, students aren’t allowed to have sex outside of marriage. Those who violate the rule risk punishment, up to and including expulsion, according to “The Liberty Way,” the school’s honor code for students. The university, like many Christian institutions, regards premarital sex as sinful, a corruption of a Christian’s bodily “temple.”

Politico first contacted the former student in 2019, after hearing of his alleged sexual encounter with Falwell from former classmates. He confirmed the encounter but didn’t want to go public with it until recent weeks, when the Falwells’ behavior came under scrutiny. POLITICO granted the former student anonymity to describe what he considered inappropriate advances from a woman who was herself a university employee and wife of the university president.

He said he did not feel comfortable discussing the encounter earlier because he suffered from feelings of guilt and depression, feared exposure, and didn’t want to cause harm to the Falwell family.

He said he grew up in a North Carolina home where the Falwell name loomed large. His mother admired Liberty’s founder, the Rev. Jerry Falwell Sr., and was a true believer in the conservative Christian values that Liberty developed a reputation for cultivating in young people. For the then-student, the incident with Becki Falwell incited a long struggle with both his faith and mental health. He said he did not tell family members of the cause of his distress, and only confided in a few close friends.

“It made [him] feel bad. It was a depressing thing; he struggled with depression [afterwards],” the former bandmate told POLITICO.

“I don’t want to be a homewrecker,” the former student said. “That took a toll on the soul.”

djt jerry falwell jr becki falwellThe former student, who is now 34, said he had not heard from Becki Falwell in more than eight years until this week, during which her relationship with Granda came to light. He said she texted him to say hello, and commiserate over the controversy that an engulfed her family. “This is a nightmare. It just keeps getting worse,” Falwell texted him on Monday night, shortly before Jerry Falwell Jr. officially resigned as president.

The former student said he responded the following day by texting that he was praying for her. 

While the former student said he considered coming forward with his story in the past, he was worried about damaging the reputation of the school that Rev. Jerry Falwell Sr. founded. “I respect Jerry Sr. and what he did for the school, for the kids, and I believe the Lord had a mission on his life to do that,” he said. Several times, he expressed his desire to maintain anonymity, saying that he did not want to be treated like former White House intern Monica Lewinsky — his name reduced to a salacious punchline.

In the end, he decided to come forward with his story because of what he now sees as an abuse of power on the part of Becki Falwell. He believes now that that day in the driveway when she asked if he had told his friends that “I think you’re hot,” she was testing him.

“Usually I think about a middle-aged man grooming someone,” the former student said. “It’s funny how it happened with the whole, ‘Me Too’ [movement]. I’m on the other end of the spectrum [from] men harassing women. I found [that] a lot of the traits that these guys had, [Falwell] had as well.”

The former student also believes that Falwell trusted him to keep their secret because “she knew that I cared about her school and the soul-winning aspect. I did not want to corrupt that by any means,” the former student said. “I don’t want that on my back, that I took down the school.”

 

Aug. 26

Top Headlines

Virus Victims, Responses

More On U.S. Conventions, Elections

Race, Police, Mask Protests

Pioneering JFK Death Researcher Passes

vincent salandria resized

Media News

Corporate Tyranny In U.S. Courts?

World News

 

Top Stories

djt key convention speakers 2020

ny times logoNew York Times, At R.N.C., Trump Uses Tools of Presidency in Aim to Broaden Appeal, Alexander Burns and Jonathan Martin, Aug. 26, 2020. President Trump made a bid to sand down his divisive political image by appropriating the resources of his office and the powers of the presidency at the Republican convention on Tuesday, breaching the traditional boundaries between campaigning and governing in an effort to broaden his appeal beyond his conservative base.

In an abrupt swerve from the dire tone of the convention’s first night, Mr. Trump staged a grab-bag of gauzy events and personal testimonials aimed in particular at female and minority voters. In videos recorded at the White House, Mr. Trump pardoned a Nevada man convicted of bank robbery and swore in five new American citizens, all of them people of color, in a miniature naturalization ceremony.

djt pence yard sign logoWhere the convention on Monday emphasized predictions of social and economic desolation under a government led by Democrats, the second night speakers — including three from Mr. Trump’s immediate family — hailed the president as a friend to women and a champion of criminal justice reform. There was no effort to reconcile the dissonance between the two nights’ programs, particularly the shift from Monday’s rhetoric about a looming “vengeful mob” of dangerous criminals into Tuesday’s tributes to the power of personal redemption.

It was not clear whether this new appeal would change the minds of women, people of color and others who had formed negative opinions of Mr. Trump over the past five years, amid the allegations of sexual assault against him, the appeals to racial bigotry and hard-line policies like a border crackdown that separated migrant families.

The coronavirus pandemic was largely confined to parenthetical comments within the speeches, until Melania Trump, the first lady, addressed it directly in the final speech and extended her “deepest sympathy” to people who had lost loved ones. Like her husband, Mrs. Trump enlisted the trappings of the presidency for her remarks: She spoke from the White House Rose Garden.

Speaking in careful terms, the first lady sought to reframe Mr. Trump’s inflammatory conduct on race, which has undermined his standing in the polls. “My husband’s administration has worked to try and effect change around race and religion in this country,” she said. She also scolded the news media for focusing too much on “gossip” and lamented the abusive treatment of people on social media and the “downside of technology.”

Mrs. Trump said she did not want to use her speech to denounce her husband’s political adversaries, faulting Democrats for going on the attack in their convention last week and making no reference to the Republican convention’s intensely negative kickoff.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: The Epic Shamelessness of the Republican Convention, Frank Bruni, Aug. 26, 2020. Norms are for chumps, not for Trumps. Conventions lie. Or at least they tell extravagant fibs. That’s how they transform their nominees from mere mortals to near messiahs. That’s how they whip up the faithful and woo the agnostics.

rnc 2020 logoBut the Republican convention is going well beyond that. It’s less a feat of pretty storytelling than an act of pure derangement.

To turn Donald Trump into a president worthy of a second term, speakers are conjuring an entirely different person in his place. I can tell that Trump is the man they’re talking about, because he keeps popping up amid all the monumental imagery. (Did Leni Riefenstahl consult via séance?)

But I otherwise don’t recognize their version of Trump. Their Trump brims with empathy. Their Trump burns with passion to improve the lives of ordinary Americans. Their Trump heroically spared the country from the worst ravages of Covid-19, which is surely news to the relatives and friends of more than 175,000 Americans (and counting) who have died from it.

TMZ, Kenosha 'Vigilante' With Long Gun Arrested, Booked for Homicide, Staff report, Aug. 26, 2020. The "vigilante" shooter in Kenosha who allegedly shot and killed at least two people has been captured by cops -- and he's now facing homicide charges. Kyle Rittenhouse was arrested in Antioch, Illinois. Court records indicate he was booked for first-degree homicide in relation to the Kenosha shooting. It appears he's been assigned a public defender and is set to appear in court for an extradition hearing later this week.

A man -- who witnesses described as being part of a vigilante militia group -- with a long gun brazenly walked down a street in Kenosha, Wisconsin Tuesday night and began firing his weapon at people protesting the police shooting of Jacob Blake, killing 2, and incredibly walking right past a swarm of cops who let him go into the night.

The protest centered around the courthouse and got out of hand, with water bottles, rocks and fireworks aimed at police. The police then fired rubber bullets and tear gas into the crowd, which then dispersed and moved several blocks.

That's when the white vigilante appears on video with his gun. He reportedly had already shot someone several blocks away, and he was being chased by protesters who were trying to subdue him.

The vigilante falls to the ground as he's being chased and then begins unloading his weapon, striking and killing 2 people.

And, then the unthinkable happens. As police swarm the area in patrol cars and fortified vehicles, the vigilante -- gun clearly visible around his chest -- put his hands up in the air. The police vehicles all pass him, as the crowd screams he's the shooter.

It's a stunning contrast ... the white vigilante posed a clear and present danger, even if cops didn't know he was the shooter, yet Jacob Blake, an unarmed black man, was shot in the back 7 times as he tried to get in his car. Jacob is now paralyzed from the waist down.

Chicago Sun-Times, Jacob Blake’s father says son’s paralyzed from waist down after police shooting in Kenosha, Clare Proctor, Aug. 26, 2020 (print ed.). Doctors don’t yet know whether the injury is permanent. ‘I want to put my hand on my son’s cheek and kiss him on his forehead, and then I’ll be OK,’ the father says.

jacob blake cropped2When Jacob Blake’s father talked with his son Sunday morning, the younger Blake, right, was gearing up for a day of celebrating his son’s eighth birthday.

That evening, the father got word that his son had been shot eight times by police officers in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Eighteen minutes later, he saw the now-viral video, he said.

“What justified all those shots?” his father said. “What justified doing that in front of my grandsons? What are we doing?”  (Continued below.)

ny times logoNew York Times, Two Killed and One Injured During Third Night of Unrest in Kenosha, Wis., Julie Bosman, Aug. 26, 2020. Three people were shot early Wednesday, two fatally, law enforcement officials said, during a chaotic night of demonstrations over the shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black resident whose children were nearby as their father was shot this week by a white police officer.

In Kenosha, a third night of protests over the shooting of Mr. Blake stretched into the early morning hours of Wednesday, after demonstrators clashed with law enforcement officials near the county courthouse downtown.

Tuesday evening was spent in a shifting, hourslong standoff between the police and protesters. Protesters assembled outside a newly erected metal barrier protecting the courthouse and threw water bottles, rocks and fireworks at the police.

The police responded with tear gas and rubber bullets, repeatedly warning the crowd through a bullhorn that they were violating the city curfew of 8 p.m. and risking arrest. The crowd was eventually forced out of the park with tear gas and onto city streets, where the standoff continued.

On Tuesday, Mr. Blake’s mother, Julia Jackson, had told reporters that she opposed the sort of destruction that had been left by protests spurred by her son’s shooting. On earlier nights, buildings and trucks had been burned down in Kenosha, a city of 100,000 people, where more than 100 members of the Wisconsin National Guard have been deployed amid the unrest.

Ms. Jackson told reporters that she had been praying for the country to heal. “I’ve noticed a lot of damage,” she said. “It doesn’t reflect my son or my family.”

Mr. Blake, she and other family members said, is conscious in a hospital after being shot seven times. Family members and lawyers said that he was partially paralyzed from a bullet that severed his spinal cord and unaware of the protests that have spread across the country in his name.

washington post logoWashington Post, Universities sound alarm as cases emerge just days into classes, Hannah Knowles, Aug. 26, 2020 (print ed.). Despite the precautions, schools are quickly discovering large outbreaks that have prompted new soul-searching about students’ commitment to social distancing and universities’ ability to deliver even a dramatically transformed on-campus experience.

More than 500 cases at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. Nearly 160 at the University of Missouri in Columbia. Dozens at the University of Southern California.

Colleges and universities that brought students back to campus are expressing alarm about coronavirus infections emerging as classes have barely started, raising the possibility everyone could be sent home.

“The rise we’ve seen in recent days is unacceptable, and if unchecked, threatens our ability to complete the rest of the semester on campus,” University of Alabama President Stuart Bell said at a news conference on Monday, five days after classes resumed, as the mayor of Tuscaloosa temporarily closed bars and warned that the local health system could become overwhelmed.

While a growing number of schools have backed off reopening, opting instead for online classes, others are hoping a host of new rules and adaptations can keep the coronavirus at bay. They are requiring masks, mandating testing and threatening students and campus groups with penalties for partying. Ohio State University said this week that it had suspended 228 students for virus-related violations.

dan snyder redskins com

washington post logoWashington Post, Investigation: Lewd videos, new harassment allegations paint disturbing picture of Washington NFL team, Will Hobson, Beth Reinhard, Liz Clarke and Dalton Bennett, Aug. 26, 2020. Outtake videos from cheerleaders' photo shoots and interviews with more than 100 current and former employees show that owner Daniel Snyder (shown above) has presided over an organization in which women have felt discriminated against and exploited.

In “Beauties on the Beach,” the official video chronicling the making of the Washington NFL team’s 2008 cheerleader swimsuit calendar, the women frolic in the sand, rave about their custom bikinis and praise a photographer for putting them at ease in settings where sometimes only a strategically placed prop or tightly framed shot shielded otherwise bare breasts.

nfl logoWhat the cheerleaders didn’t know was that another video, intended strictly for private use, would be produced using footage from that same shoot. Set to classic rock, the 10-minute unofficial video featured moments when nipples were inadvertently exposed as the women shifted positions or adjusted props.

The lewd outtakes were what Larry Michael, then the team’s lead broadcaster and a senior vice president, referred to as “the good bits” or “the good parts,” according to Brad Baker, a former member of Michael’s staff. Baker said in an interview that he was present when Michael told staffers to make the video for team owner Daniel Snyder.

Snyder and the team provided no comment after they were given repeated opportunities to respond to this and other allegations in this story. Michael adamantly denied the allegation.

“Larry said something to the effect of, ‘We have a special project that we need to get done for the owner today: He needs us to get the good bits of the behind-the-scenes video from the cheerleader shoot onto a DVD for him,’” said Baker, who was a producer in the team’s broadcast department from 2007 to 2009.

The Washington Post obtained a copy of the 2008 video from another former employee, along with a similar outtakes video from the squad’s swimsuit calendar shoot in the Dominican Republic in 2010 that included a close-up of one cheerleader’s pubic area, obscured only by gold body paint.

In addition, a former broadcasting producer for the team told The Post that Michael ordered that the 2010 video be burned to a DVD titled “For Executive Meeting.” The former producer did not recall Michael mentioning Snyder. Both former employees spoke on the condition of anonymity because they feared retaliation. Michael denied knowledge of any such videos.

On Aug. 18, The Post emailed the team’s public relations representative a summary of its reporting and detailed questions. The team, through its public relations firm and lawyer, requested additional days to respond and did not accept repeated offers from The Post to show team officials these videos. Ultimately, the team provided no comment, and Snyder did not agree to an interview.

In response to a Post report last month detailing allegations of widespread sexual harassment in his team’s front office, including by Michael, Snyder publicly stated that such behavior “has no place in our franchise” and hired a law firm to “set new employee standards for the future.”

Perspective: Daniel Snyder has now embarrassed — and exposed — the entire NFL

But interviews with more than 100 current and former employees and a review of internal company documents and other records show that, in his 21 years of ownership, Snyder has presided over an organization in which women say they have been marginalized, discriminated against and exploited. The employees also described an atmosphere in which bullying and demeaning behavior by management created a climate of fear that allowed abusive behavior to continue unchecked.

Twenty-five women — most of them speaking on the condition of anonymity because of nondisclosure agreements or fear of reprisal — told The Post that they experienced sexual harassment while working for the team. They described male bosses, colleagues and players commenting on their bodies and clothing, incorporating sexual innuendos into workplace conversation and making unwanted advances in person or via emails, text messages and social media. Many said they were motivated to speak out because they were angered by Snyder’s comments after The Post report last month that detailed allegations from another 17 women, which they read as an attempt to distance himself from the workplace culture described.

One of the women interviewed for this story accused Snyder of directly humiliating her, the first such claim made to The Post. Former cheerleader Tiffany Bacon Scourby said Snyder approached her at a 2004 charity event at which the cheerleaders were performing and suggested she join his close friend in a hotel room so they “could get to know each other better.” Scourby’s account was supported by three friends she spoke to shortly afterward about the alleged incident, including the team’s former cheerleader director.

The new allegations come at a perilous time for Snyder, 55, who recently dropped the team’s name under pressure from sponsors and critics who said it was racist. He also faces the possible exodus of his three co-owners, who are trying to sell their collective 40 percent stake in the franchise.

Snyder has gone to court twice in recent weeks to defend his reputation. He sued an online media company for publishing what he said were defamatory stories about him.

washington post logoWashington Post, Jerry Falwell Jr. resigns as head of Liberty University, will get $10.5 million in compensation, Sarah Pulliam Bailey, Susan Svrluga and Michelle Boorstein, Aug. 26, 2020 (print ed.). Jerry Falwell Jr. has resigned as president of Liberty University after a series of personal scandals, ending back-to-back Falwell leadership eras at an evangelical institution that is a major power center for conservative Christians and politicians.

His contract entitles him to a $10.5 million severance package, Falwell, 58, told The Washington Post late Tuesday — in part because he is departing from the university without being formally accused of or admitting to wrongdoing.

jerry falwell jr becki falwellFalwell (shown with his wife, Rebecca) said he will receive $2.5 million over 24 months, equivalent to two years’ salary. He agreed not to work for a competing university during that time. After two years, he will receive around $8 million in retirement. Falwell said he signed a 20-page contract in July 2019 that outlined the terms.

“The board was gracious not to challenge that,” Falwell said of his decision to step down in good standing.

“There wasn’t any cause," he said. “I haven’t done anything.”

Falwell has generated headlines in recent years for remarks and actions that were considered racist or anti-Muslim, and he has been criticized for attempting to silence dissent on the university’s campus in Lynchburg, Va. He was suspended with pay early this month after posting a provocative photo on social media. Pressure for him to resign ramped up after news reports this week alleged extramarital conduct involving him and his wife, "Becki."

Jerry Falwell told The Post on Tuesday that he had not been involved in an affair, but his wife had; Becki Falwell, in the same interview, confirmed that account. Falwell said he was leaving Liberty in part because he did not want his wife’s conduct to embarrass the school. But he also said he had been bored and wanted to move on.

His resignation stands out because Falwell had seemed untouchable within the evangelical community, due both to his family’s prominence and his close friendship and alliance with President Trump, who is strongly supported by White evangelicals.

Since 2007, Falwell had been at the helm of the Virginia university co-founded by his father, the late Rev. Jerry Falwell Sr., a colorful televangelist who helped shape the religious right. Liberty’s board said it will form a search committee to hire a new leader. Former board chair Jerry Prevo, who became acting president after Falwell was placed on leave Aug. 7, remains in that position.

Massive U.S. Hurricane

ny times logoNew York Times, Live updates: Hurricane Laura Live Updates: Storm Strengthens to Near Category 5, Staff reports, Aug. 26,2020. The hurricane, now with 150 mile-per-hour winds, is projected to make landfall late Wednesday or early Thursday near the Texas-Louisiana border.

The National Hurricane Center says “large and destructive waves will cause catastrophic damage” to a roughly 150-mile stretch of the Gulf Coast.

Building up in front of Laura as it pushed through the Gulf was a surge of water that could reach as high as 15 to 20 feet in places, the center said, and extend up to 40 miles inland. The center warned that “large and destructive waves will cause catastrophic damage” to a roughly 150-mile portion of the Gulf Coast from Sea Rim State Park, Texas, to Intracoastal City, La.

If its 150 m.p.h. winds remain undiminished at landfall, Laura would be among the strongest storms to hit the United States, according to data compiled by Philip Klotzbach, a research scientist at Colorado State University who studies hurricanes. And it would be equal to the strongest-recorded hurricane ever to come ashore in Louisiana — a massive 1856 storm that so devastated Last Island, a pleasure retreat for sugar barons, that it all but disappeared.

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 reached Category 5 strength — which requires sustained winds of at least 157 m.p.h. — while in the Gulf of Mexico, but made landfall as Category 3 storms. However, Katrina pushed a deadly storm surge that reached 28 feet in some places; when this met a poorly-built flood protection system around New Orleans, most of the city was flooded and more than 1,800 people were killed.

Laura is expected to make landfall late Wednesday night or early Thursday, most likely in the marshy plains near the Texas-Louisiana state line. The cities of Lake Charles, Port Arthur and Beaumont are all gravely threatened by the storm, and all are under mandatory evacuation orders.

Virus Victims, Responses

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘Will Purdue last?’: University restarts in person amid pandemic, Adam Wren and Nick Anderson, Aug. 26, 2020 (print ed.). The Indiana campus has become a national poster school for the push to bring students to campus and teach in person despite the public health crisis — a push that in many other places has failed or is in deep jeopardy.

Analysis of 100 major public universities shows 47 are opening primarily or fully online. Others have hybrid-teaching plans or are still deciding what to do. Purdue is one of just 27 opening primarily in person.

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: CDC suggests not all close contacts need to get tested after exposure, alarming experts, Staff reports, Aug. 26, 2020. Don’t argue with anti-maskers, CDC tells shop workers; Davos World Economic Forum postponed from January to next summer; Myanmar closes schools as cases climb in restive Rakhine state.

ny times logoNew York Times, Airline Job Cuts Could Pressure Congress and Trump on Stimulus, Niraj Chokshi and Ben Casselman, Aug. 26, 2020 (print ed.). American Airlines said it would furlough 19,000 workers if lawmakers do not extend aid to the industry, which has been hammered by the pandemic.

2020 U.S. Elections, Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump uses tools of government in reelection effort, Felicia Sonmez, John Wagner and Colby Itkowitz, Aug. 26, 2020 (print ed.). The second night of the convention featured a number of speakers, as well as two moments with President Trump: one, a pardon of a man who had been convicted of felonies and the other a naturalization ceremony for immigrants, both government functions being broadcast on a night devoted to Trump’s reelection.

Also, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke in a segment taped in Jerusalem, where he was on an official trip, a move that critics say djt pence yard sign logoviolates policy that preserves a line between diplomacy and politics. First lady Melania Trump spoke from the Rose Garden, and earlier Eric and Tiffany Trump, two of the president’s children, spoke, criticizing Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

One speaker, Mary Ann Mendoza, was pulled from tonight’s lineup after she encouraged her Twitter followers this morning to read through a QAnon believer’s convoluted conspiracy theory about a Jewish plot to control the world. She deleted and apologized for the tweet.

First lady’s Rose Garden speech, Pompeo’s address, naturalization ceremony raise issue of separation of politics and official business:

Here are some significant developments:

  • The use of the White House as backdrop for several events is raising questions about whether the production of the programming could run afoul of the Hatch Act, which prohibits federal employees from taking part in political activity while on duty or in a government building, or while wearing an official uniform or insignia, according to the Office of Special Counsel, which enforces the law.
  • Trump used glitzy video and misleading testimonials to provide a revisionist version of recent history of his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Experts doubt that the “Right to Try” law touted Monday by speaker Natalie Harp saved her life

Roll Call, The lone vulnerable senator at the GOP convention, Bridget Bowman, Aug. 26, 2020. Sen. Joni Ernst’s fate may be tied to President Donald Trump’s in Iowa.

Surrounded by bales of hay with a tractor in the background, Sen. Joni Ernst took a turn in the national spotlight Wednesday to make her case for reelecting President Donald Trump.

“Folks, this election is a choice between two very different paths,” the Iowa Republican said in her address to the GOP convention, which was prerecorded in Des Moines.

“Freedom, prosperity and economic growth, under a Trump-Pence administration,” Ernst said. “Or the Biden-Harris path, paved by liberal coastal elites and radical environmentalists. An America where farmers are punished, jobs are destroyed and taxes crush the middle class.”

During her four-minute speech, Ernst praised the president’s response to a recent derecho, or massive wind storm often described as a “land hurricane,” that devastated Iowa. She also referenced her own relationship with Trump, saying, “For years, I’ve worked closely with the president for farmers in Iowa and across the country.”

While Ernst is among several of the president’s allies in Congress featured during this week’s convention, she is also the only vulnerable GOP senator to make a prime-time appearance. Several other senators have been featured in a program streamed online before the convention.

Her decision to highlight Iowa farmers underscores the importance of rural voters when it comes to winning statewide. And Ernst’s speech provided a sharp contrast to last week’s Democratic convention, where Iowa Rep. Cindy Axne interviewed a farmer struggling under Trump’s trade policies.

For Ernst, increasing her margins in rural Iowa could mitigate losses elsewhere in the suburbs, where Democrats have made gains among voters rejecting Trump.

“The rural vote is critical,” said one GOP strategist with knowledge about Ernst’s race against Democratic real estate executive Theresa Greenfield.

Ernst’s appearance at the convention also shows how much her fate, and that of other vulnerable Republicans, is tied to Trump’s reelection.

“This isn’t just about Theresa and Joni,” former Iowa Democratic Party Chairwoman Sue Dvorsky said.

In 2016, every competitive Senate race result reflected the outcome at the top of the ticket. Republicans held on to Senate seats in states such as Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, where Trump was successful. But they lost Senate seats in states that backed Hillary Clinton, including New Hampshire and Illinois.

nicholas sandmann rnc screenshot

OpEdNews, Opinion: Nick Sandmann: GOP's Poster Child for Fake Victimhood, Thomas Knapp, Aug. 26, 2020. A common complaint among Republicans is that their opponents are mainly in the business of manufacturing victims and turning those victims into Democratic voters.

But grievance-based politics is nothing new, nor does America's political "left" enjoy a monopoly on it. For proof of that latter claim, one need look no further than the case of Nick Sandmann.

"I'm the teenager who was defamed by the media," Sandmann told the Republican National Convention on August 26. But, he said, "I would not be canceled."

Leaving aside the question of precisely how turning him into a celebrity (with stories that, while initially mildly inaccurate, were almost instantly corrected as more information came in) constitutes an instance of the "cancel culture" he decries, let's be clear about what he, and his handlers, are up to:

Nick Sandmann publicly plays the victim for money. That's his job, and it will probably remain his job until he's stretched his proverbial 15 minutes as far as they can be stretched.

After participating in an anti-abortion protest in Washington, DC, Sandmann went through a tense moment with some other protesters, who were agitated about other issues, and his motives were (mistakenly, but not libelously in any sane universe) misinterpreted by journalists based on partial video.

Lawyers Todd McMurtry and Lin Wood offered Sandmann a lucrative career opportunity, representing him in frivolous/malicious defamation lawsuits that media companies settled rather than fight.

The settlement amounts weren't publicly disclosed, but while they likely came to pennies on the demanded dollar, they also probably brought Sandmann more wealth than a life of real work would have. It's hard to blame a teenager for jumping on a get-rich-quick scheme, as presented by two experienced ambulance chasers. Especially one that's actually worked out for him.

Now the Republicans are attempting to parlay Sandmann's faux victimhood into votes by creating a new victim category: "Whiny, white, Christian abortion opponent."

Not that such a bloc would vote Democrat absent the attention. But Republicans are afraid the people resembling that description might not bother to vote at all. And they need every vote they can get.

Palmer Report, Opinion: It’s even worse than I thought, Bill Palmer, Aug. 26, 2020. Even with the 2016 Republican National Convention having set the bar historically low, I was still expecting the 2020 Republican National Convention to be even worse. After all, everyone is now gone from the GOP except the Trump cult, meaning any modicum of non-extremism, and any shred of competence, would be out the door. But even I wasn’t prepared for this.

bill palmer report logo headerOn night one, Donald Trump Jr was either on drugs or he needed to be on drugs – and that was just the start of what all was wrong. Not surprisingly, the first night of the RNC saw ratings that were 25% lower than the first night of the DNC. By night two, the only reason to continue watching the RNC was if you wanted to sneer at the sheer idiocy, or if your job required you to watch it.

Melania Trump managed to simultaneously come off as a robot whose batteries were winding down, and a hostage who was afraid for her safety. Tiffany Trump reminded us that she still wants her share of the inheritance, no matter how much she hates her father (the joke’s on her; Donald’s assets will be seized after he’s arrested). Eric Trump might as well have held up a sign that said “please pardon me, Dad!”

And yet the non-Trump-family speakers last night may have been even more disturbing. Pam Bondi, the criminal who took a bribe and then let Donald Trump off the hook in Florida, tried lecturing us about Joe Biden’s ethics. Rand Paul’s cartoonish speech practically screamed that Trump is blackmailing him. Every single minute of this convention has been painful to watch.

There’s only one upside here: this Republican convention is such a debacle, so ineffective at reaching anyone outside of Trump’s already too-small base, there is no chance he’ll get a convention bump in the polls. In fact it’s now likely that he’ll drop in the polls as a result of his own convention.

At this point the best thing Trump has going for him this week is that, as the low ratings reveal, nobody’s watching his crapfest anyway.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The RNC is on a Hatch Act crime spree, Jennifer Rubin, right, Aug. 26, 2020. We should have learned by now that jennifer rubin new headshotPresident Trump delights not so much in concealing wrongdoing, but in advertising it, as if its visibility conveys the aura of acceptability. He called for Russia to help find Hillary Clinton’s emails.

He invited Ukraine and China to investigate Joe Biden and help his own reelection campaign while standing in the White House driveway. Former national security adviser Michael Flynn bragged publicly that Trump told him to “stay strong” during a federal investigation, and Trump appeared to try to influence the jury in the trial against his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort through public declarations.

Unfortunately, the media have not always been up to the task of illustrating the wrongdoing and demanding answers from Trump and other Republicans.

It seems that is happening again as Trump’s convention seizes government property and abuses the power of his office to put on a show for his base.

In focusing on the “precedent” and not the illegality of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s participation in the Republican convention, the media bury the lede. It is not a “break with protocol” nor a “departure from tradition”; it is a violation of the Hatch Act and State Department rules.

As Donald Sherman of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington put it: “Secretary Pompeo can’t just flip a switch and go back and forth between serving as America’s chief diplomat and a Republican political operative while he’s in the Middle East on the government dime.”

He added, “I think Secretary Pompeo’s conduct here is emblematic of the Trump administration’s approach to the Hatch Act and ethical norms relating to mixing official government conduct and political activity, the standards that apply to regular government employees just don’t apply to the president’s cronies."

Palmer Report, Opinion: Melania Trump crashes and burns, TR Kenneth, Aug. 26, 2020. There are two Americas right now. The first is oohing and ahhing over Melania Trump’s beauty and “compassion.” The other America is suffering through COVID-19, unemployment, the oppression of Trump’s tariffs on the family farm, and appalled at the violence on our streets during these legit BLM protests.

Melania Trump may seem like a calm spot in the RNC rage tornado, but don’t be fooled. During her tax-payer-paid-for show-travels, she wore a colonialist pith helmet in Africa and an “I Don’t Really Care, Do You?” emblazoned jacket to go visit the “children” her husband ripped from their parents and slapped in cages. Her military McQueen suit she wore during her speech was reminiscent of Castro.

In her speech, she defends the man who just paid off a porn star when he cheated on her weeks after giving birth to their son. It’s clear when one steps back from the aesthetics that this woman is just plain gross. Melania has no heart or soul; she sold it long ago to the Trump Organization for a pot of cash.

While Melania Trump is merely an asterisk to the sh*tshow of lies that the RNC is producing in lieu of a convention, it should still be pointed out that to give her a pass for using US Marines to showcase her entrance, for using our White House as a backdrop for her propaganda, and using our money from her husband’s emoluments to buy that Alexander McQueen outfit is horrifying. Don’t let the pretty smile blind you to the vomit-inducing reality. She is grifting you, just like the rest of the Trump family.

South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Congressman’s old social media posts about sex with 15-year-old girls, rape surface in South Florida re-election facebook logofight, Skyler Swisher, Aug. 26, 2020 (print ed.). South Florida Congressman Brian Mast joked about rape and referenced sex with 15-year-old girls in old Facebook comments to a friend who is now his campaign manager.

The messages were posted years ago, but they’ve surfaced in Mast’s tough re-election fight against Democratic challenger Pam Keith.

brian mast headshotMast, left, a 40-year-old Republican, represents one of South Florida’s most competitive swing districts. He apologized for the remarks on Tuesday.

Two years later, LeDonni asked in a May 20, 2011, post: “Anyone have any good pick up lines for this weekend considering according to the crazy christian radio guy the world may end on sunday?”

“How about don’t turn this rape into a murder,” Mast responded.

In a statement Tuesday, Mast apologized for the posts.

“A decade ago when I was in the Army, and following my injury, I made disgusting and inappropriate jokes that I am embarrassed to have associated with my name today,” he said. “I am sorry about that part of who I was, and I strive every day to be a better example for my kids.”

Mast is a decorated war veteran. He lost his legs and a finger when a bomb exploded under him in September 2010 in Afghanistan.

After the explosion, Mast was hospitalized at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center into 2012, where he underwent numerous surgeries, learned to walk again and was often heavily medicated.

LeDonni has been a senior campaign advisor and political consultant for Mast since he first was elected in 2016, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Pam KeithThe posts were public on LeDonni’s Facebook page, but they were removed from view after Mast’s campaign was contacted by the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

Keith, right, a former Navy JAG officer, condemned the posts in a statement.

“This is disgusting, unacceptable and dishonorable behavior for any man, let alone a sitting member of Congress,” Keith said. “Rape, violence and intimidation of women and children are not Brian Mast’s punchline — his words are an insult and betrayal to the women he claims to represent.”

Keith hasn’t held back on social media. In March 2020, Keith responded to a comment that Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden might have raped someone.

“That means he still has LOTS of rape to do to catch up to Trump. Also .... I highly doubt that’s true,” she wrote.iological study in what happens when the midwest migrates to an area that was once part of Georgia.

washington post logochad wolfWashington Post, Trump to nominate Chad Wolf to be DHS secretary, Nick Miroff, right, Aug. 26, 2020 (print ed.). The surprise announcement comes nearly 10 months after Wolf was installed to run the Department of Homeland Security on an interim basis.

More On Race, Police, Mask Protests

Chicago Sun-Times, Jacob Blake’s father says son’s paralyzed from waist down after police shooting in Kenosha, Clare Proctor, Aug. 26, 2020 (print ed.,continued from above).

jacob blake cropped2When Jacob Blake’s father talked with his son Sunday morning, the younger Blake, right, was gearing up for a day of celebrating his son’s eighth birthday.

Some witnesses say Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man who attended middle and high school in Evanston, was simply trying to break up a fight Sunday evening. The cellphone video of the incident shows Blake walking around and opening up his car door before appearing to be shot in the back by police.

His father said there are now “eight holes” in his son’s body, and he’s paralyzed from the waist down. Doctors don’t yet know if the injury is permanent.

The elder Blake made the drive from Charlotte, North Carolina, to be with his son in the hospital Tuesday.

“I want to put my hand on my son’s cheek and kiss him on his forehead, and then I’ll be OK,” his father said. “I’ll kiss him with my mask. The first thing I want to do is touch my son.”

He called the incident “attempted murder” and said “those two officers shot eight shots inside my baby’s back.”

“At first, it catches you off guard and you become over-the-top emotional,” his father said. “Then you get to the point where you go from emotional to mad. Your child is not in danger of dying, but they took him to the edge.”

Jacob Blake’s fiancee and six children are “getting showered with love,” his uncle Justin Blake said, and the family hopes to get both the children and his fiancee into therapy concerning the shooting.

Growing up, the younger Jacob Blake was a “happy little dude,” his father said. He grew up in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, before moving to Evanston in middle school, attending Nichols Middle School and Evanston Township High School.

He’s been living in Kenosha for about three years, his father said, and is the father of six children between ages 3 and 13. Family is “definitely” important to the younger Blake, who has seven brothers and five sisters, according to his father.

“If you were in need of something and my son had it, he would not hesitate to give it to you,” his father said. “He’s a very giving individual.”

The elder Jacob Blake keeps a book on his nightstand that his son made and dedicated to him in third grade. “He’s very sincere,” his father said.

Musician L. Stanley Davis has been friends with the Blake family since 1971. The Rev. Jacob Blake Sr., the grandfather of the Jacob Blake whom police shot in Kenosha, was the “father that I never really had,” said Davis, 68, of Woodlawn.

The minister was an activist for affordable housing in Evanston and pastored the Ebenezer African Methodist Episcopal Church from 1967 to 1976, said the Rev. Deborah Scott, who currently leads the church.

In 1968, the Rev. Blake helped to organize a march in support of fair housing after Martin Luther King Jr’s death, according to the Evanston History Center. Four years later, he led his church in building the Ebenezer Primm Towers, which provide affordable housing for seniors. In 2003, Jacob Blake Manor, which also provides low-income housing for seniors, was named after the minister.

Blake’s partner, Laquisha Booker, told NBC’s Milwaukee affiliate, WTMJ-TV, that the couple’s three children were in the back seat of the SUV when police shot him. “That man just literally grabbed him by his shirt and looked the other way and was just shooting him. With the kids in the back screaming. Screaming,” Booker said.

“They start to wrestle,” said another witness at the scene, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “The officer is punching on him. Two officers come to assist. They get him down on the curb behind his vehicle. Somehow he manages to get up. They said he has a knife. All of the officers pull out their guns. ... (One of the officers) tells him, ‘Get out of the car!’ and he starts shooting.”

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Commentary: Are police killings of blacks coordinated provocations involving police unions and the far-right? Wayne Madsen, Aug. 26, 2020. Death squads. Right-wing dictators and military regimes have employed vigilante squads of civilians and off-duty police to murder civilians and then blame the left-wing opposition for the killings.

Acts of violence, including arson, looting, vandalizing vehicles, and shooting of peaceful Black Lives Matter (BLM) protesters, have followed the police executions of Breonna Taylor in Louisville; George Floyd in Minneapolis; and Trayford Pellerin in Lafayette, Louisiana, as well as the recent police shooting and maiming of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

In almost every case involving acts of violence, white provocateurs, many of them other parts of the state and out-of-state, have been witnessed, often on video, breaking windows, torching property, and urging bystanders to loot stores.

nba logoNBA, NBA postpones playoff games, Staff report, Aug. 26, 2020. The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association today announced that in light of the Milwaukee Bucks’ decision to not take the floor today for Game 5 against the Orlando Magic, today’s three games – Bucks vs. Magic, Houston Rockets vs. Oklahoma City Thunder and Los Angeles Lakers vs. Portland Trail Blazers - have been postponed. Game 5 of each series will be rescheduled.

washington post logoWashington Post, Protesters target D.C. diners, triggering backlash after heckling woman, Fredrick Kunkle, Aug. 26, 2020. Lauren Victor refused to go along with raising her fist — although she supports the movement.

A demonstration that began Monday evening in the District to protest the shooting of a Black man in Wisconsin wound its way through two of the city’s entertainment districts, targeting diners in a tactic that has triggered backlash online.

The crowd of protesters confronted a woman seated at a table outside a restaurant on 18th Street NW in Adams Morgan and demanded that she raise her fist in a show of solidarity.

“White silence is violence!” protesters chanted, many with fists in the air. “Are you a Christian?” a protester demanded, yelling into her face.

But the woman, Lauren B. Victor, refused, even after her dining companion complied.

“I felt like I was under attack,” Victor, 49, an urban planner and photographer who lives in the District, said in an interview afterward.

Conservatives and liberals alike agreed that the confrontational tactic was a misstep that might undermine the protest movement’s intended message.

The Black Lives Matter rally, which began about 6:30 p.m. Monday at Columbia Heights Civic Plaza on 14th Street NW, drew several hundred people. They engaged in a call-and-response as protest organizers with bullhorns told how Kenosha, Wis., police had shot and critically injured Jacob Blake. The police shooting, which is still under investigation, has reinvigorated protests against police violence and triggered outbreaks of rioting.

Jacob Blake paralyzed after Kenosha police shooting, family and attorneys say

In D.C., however, protesters wound their way up 14th Street, chanting, “No Justice, No Peace,” and, “Fire, fire, gentrifier — Black people used to live here.”

Near Quincy Street, the crowd gathered outside restaurants, alternately accusing diners of enjoying “White privilege” and encouraging them to show support. At one table, a young man who objected to the intrusion tried to explain that he worked for a nonprofit organization committed to addressing mental health care for Black people and other underserved populations. Protesters crowded in further around the table, shining video lights in the diners’ eyes and exchanging angry words.

The marchers, now about 150 strong, wound their way to Adams Morgan without further incident.

On Columbia Road, a young Black woman who was leading the protest explained the importance of engaging White people in the struggle for justice and encouraged White protesters to take the lead in confronting diners on 18th Street NW.

Several diners at other tables went along, standing or raising their fists, until the crowd homed in on Victor and her companion in front of Los Cuates, a Mexican restaurant.

“I wasn’t actually frightened,” Victor said.

Victor said she was a supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement and had marched in previous demonstrations. But Victor said she also felt that it was wrong for hundreds of people to surround a small group of diners, approach them with their hands raised, and try to cow them into making a show of support.

“It just felt overwhelming to have all of those people come at you. To have a crowd — with all that energy — demand that you do this thing. In the moment it didn’t feel right,” Victor said.

“They like to think because I raise my fist it means something or other.”

As the crowd moved on, Chuck Modiano continued to yell at Victor.

“Good for you — you stood your ground,” Modiano said, demanding to know if she had seen the video of Blake’s shooting. Modiano, who identified himself as a “citizen journalist” who writes for Deadspin, said he wanted to understand her resistance.

“What was in you that you just couldn’t do this?” Modiano asked. “They all did — all the other tables. You were literally the only one of 20 other people. So there was something in you that was different from all the other people.”

Victor explained that she just felt coerced and somewhat threatened — although she also said she wasn’t afraid.

“I didn’t think anyone was actually going to do anything to me. I appreciate their anger,” she said in an interview. “On one level, my best guess was no one was going to hurt me. But those things turn on a dime.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Anti-government activist Ammon Bundy arrested after maskless protesters storm Idaho capitol, Paulina Firozi, Aug. 26, 2020 (print ed.).  Ammon Bundy, who led protests in Idaho for two days, was arrested at the Idaho Capitol on Aug. 25 after he refused to leave an auditorium in the statehouse. (AP)

A day after maskless protesters stormed the Idaho Capitol, authorities on Tuesday arrested and wheeled anti-government activist Ammon Bundy out of the building, still tied to a rolling chair after he refused to leave an auditorium in the statehouse.

ammon bundyBundy, shown in a file photo at right, had led protests for the past two days, disrupting a special session of the Idaho legislature, which convened Monday to address the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Bundy and two others were charged with misdemeanor trespassing, according to state police. Bundy was also charged with resisting and obstructing officers, a misdemeanor. State police also removed and cited a fourth protester for misdemeanor trespassing for refusing to leave a seating area meant for reporters earlier on Tuesday.

Bundy has been protesting coronavirus-related measures for months, according to news reports. He previously spoke out against the stay-at-home order that Idaho issued earlier in the pandemic, according to Boise State Public Radio.

Media News

washington post logoWashington Post, As a sale of the National Enquirer collapses, some wonder if the tabloid is too hot to handle, Sarah Ellison and Jonathan O'Connell, Aug. 26, 2020 (print ed.). In the spring of 2019, the National Enquirer appeared once again to be riding out another storm in its long, tumultuous history.

The gossip tabloid was embroiled in political scandal, but that was hardly anything new — if anything, that was part of its business model. Circulation was down, but that was the case for the entire publishing industry. Its parent company had put it up for sale, but a surprisingly appropriate new buyer had emerged for this impulse-buy fixture of the supermarket checkout lines — Hudson News, perhaps the last thriving operator of newsstands in the country.

david pecker croppedBut a year and a half later, that long-stalled sale has fallen through, and questions surround the Enquirer’s future as never before. Its longtime publisher and champion, David Pecker, right, has been sidelined within the company, and the chief of the hedge fund that now owns it has to contend with pension fund investors who are uncomfortable with the tabloid’s role in alleged scheming to tilt the 2016 election to Donald Trump.

And last week, when parent company American Media Inc. announced its merger with an unlikely partner — a distribution company specializing in products like face masks and hand sanitizer, which like AMI is currently owned by Chatham Asset Management — the news release cited AMI titles like Us Weekly, Life & Style, and Men’s Journal. But strikingly, it made no mention of the Enquirer, its former flagship.

The collapse of the deal AMI announced last year to sell the Enquirer and two of its lesser-known tabloid cousins — the National Examiner and the Globe — to James Cohen, CEO of Hudson News, for an eye-popping $100 million raised questions for some industry observers as to whether the Enquirer had become too hot to handle.

Last year, Chatham pushed Pecker — then the CEO and chairman of AMI — to sell the Enquirer. Though the tabloid continues to be a lucrative property, it was coming off an unusually high-profile slate of scandals.

In the first scandal, Pecker and his top deputy, Dylan Howard, avoided indictment for campaign finance violations in 2018 by entering into non-prosecution agreements with federal investigators for their role in buying and then burying the story of a former Playboy model who alleged having an affair with then-candidate Trump. The two men admitted that they did so to tilt the election in favor of Trump, a longtime business friend of Pecker’s.

Not long after that agreement was made public, AMI published a controversial scoop in January 2019 about the extramarital affair of Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon and owner of The Washington Post. Bezos then accused Pecker and Howard of attempting to blackmail him by threatening to publish intimate photos of his that they claimed to have obtained. The Bezos allegations threw their deal with prosecutors into jeopardy, and federal investigators explored whether they had broken the law, which could have nullified the deal.

Corporate Tyranny In U.S. Courts?

ScheerPost via OpEdNews, Opinion: How Corporate Tyranny Works, Chris Hedges, Aug. 26, 2020. Environmental lawyer Steven Donziger is trying to hold the oil giant Chevron accountable for allegedly dumping toxic waste in Ecuador's rainforests.

Those, like Donziger, who name and fight the corporate control of our society on behalf of the vulnerable see the judiciary, the press and the institutions of government unite to crucify them.

"It's been a long battle, 27 years," Donziger said when I reached him by phone in his apartment in Manhattan.

Donziger, who has been fighting polluting American oil companies for nearly three decades on behalf of indigenous communities and peasant farmers in Ecuador, has been under house arrest in Manhattan for a year. He will go to trial in federal court in New York on September 9 on contempt of court charges, which could see him jailed for six months. Ever since he won a multibillion-dollar judgment in 2011 against the oil giant Chevron, the multinational has come after him personally through litigation that threatens to destroy him economically, professionally and personally.

"Our L-T [long-term] strategy is to demonize Donziger," Chevron wrote in an internal memo in 2009, as reviewed by Courthouse News.

It started when Texaco went into Ecuador in the Amazon in the 1960s and cut a sweetheart deal with the military government then ruling Ecuador," Donziger told me. "Over the next 25 years, Texaco was the exclusive operator of a very large area of the Amazon that had several oil fields within this area, 1500 square miles. They drilled hundreds of wells. They created thousands of open-air, unlined toxic waste pits where they dumped the heavy metals and toxins that came up from the ground when they drilled. They ran pipes from the pits into rivers and streams that local people relied on for their drinking water, their fishing and their sustenance. They poisoned this pristine ecosystem, in which lived five indigenous peoples, as well as a lot of other non-indigenous rural communities. There was a mass industrial poisoning."

"By the time I went down there in the early 1990s, many people had died, cancer rates were skyrocketing according to several independent health evaluations, people were really hurting. There was zero regard for the lives of the local people by Texaco. I was a very young lawyer back in 1993 when I first went to Ecuador. It was like looking at an apocalyptic scene. There was oil on the roads. People were living in abject poverty. They had no shoes. They would get oil on their feet when they walked along the roads. The oil pollution had permeated every aspect of daily life. It was in the food supply. It was in the water supply. It was in the air. The average person there would get exposed multiple times a day to very harmful, cancer-causing toxins, with foreseeable results."

"We started working with a team of Ecuadoran lawyers in the early 2000s. We went forward with the lawsuit.

In the end, they won a stunning victory, a rare moment of accountability for first-world conglomerates who rape the environment of developing nations by exploiting weak, corrupt governments.

"The verdict came down, about $18 billion in favor of the affected communities, which is what it would take at a minimum to clean up the actual damage and compensate the people for some of their injuries. That eventually got reduced on appeal in Ecuador to $9.5 billion, but it was affirmed by three appellate courts, including the highest court of Ecuador. It was affirmed by the Canadian Supreme Court, where the Ecuadorians went to enforce their judgment in a unanimous opinion in 2015."

Chevron, which had left Ecuador, went back to the New York court, where Donziger had originally filed the lawsuit before Chevron got a change of venue to Ecuador, and sued him, using a civil courts portion of the federal law famous for breaking the New York Mafia in the 1970s, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.

In effect, "They sued me as a civil racketeer, under a civil RICO statute for $60 billion," he said. "That was the largest amount of money an American individual ever had been sued for. This began a 10-year campaign to demonize me by Chevron and by its judicial allies."

World News

ny times logoalexey navalny 2017New York Times, Russia Rejects Calls for Investigation of Navalny Poisoning, Aug. 26,2020. Andrew E. Kramer, Aug. 26, 2020 (print ed.). The Russian government said Tuesday that it was willing to launch a vigorous investigation into the recent sickening of a leading opposition figure, but only if it could be proved that he was poisoned.

On Monday German Chancellor Angela Merkel endorsed the conclusion of doctors at a Berlin hospital that the dissident, Alexei A. Navalny, had indeed been poisoned on a flight from Siberia, and called for an immediate investigation.

 

Aug. 25

Top Headlines

Virus Victims, Responses

Falwell Scandal Background

More On Trump's World

More On U.S. Conventions, Elections

U.S. Postal Delays, Hill Hearing

 World News

U.S. Disasters

Political, Race Protests

U.S. Corruption Claims

Media News

Personal Health

 

Top Stories

djt key convention speakers 2020

 

ABC 7-TV Chicago, Jacob Blake paralyzed from waist down after Kenosha shooting by police, father says; family makes plea for peace, jacob blake cropped2justice, Cate Cauguiran, Aug. 25, 2020. Jacob Blake's father says son still undergoing surgeries.

Jacob Blake, right, a black man shot by police in Kenosha Sunday, is currently paralyzed from the waist down, his father said Tuesday. Jacob Blake Sr. told CNN he does not know if the injury is permanent.

The Blake family's attorney Ben Crump joined Good Morning America Tuesday morning and said Blake is in stable condition, but remains in the ICU. Crump said his three children are "absolutely devastated" by the shooting. Blake, 29, was shot in the back seven times in front of his young children after breaking up a fight in the neighborhood, his family said. Other coverage, amplified below:

washington post logoWashington Post, N.Y. files legal action against Trump Organization, revealing state investigation into company, David A. Fahrenthold, Aug. 25, 2020 (print ed.). The filing says the president’s son Eric Trump recently canceled an interview and stopped cooperating with investigators.

letitia james public advocateThe New York attorney general is investigating President Trump’s private business for allegedly misleading lenders by inflating the value of its assets, the attorney general’s office said Monday in a legal filing.

In the filing, signed by a deputy to Attorney General Letitia James, right, the attorney general’s office said it is investigating Trump’s use of “Statements of Financial Condition” — documents Trump sent to lenders, summarizing his assets and debts.

The filing asks a New York state judge to compel the Trump Organization to provide information it has been withholding from investigators — including a subpoena seeking an interview with the president’s son Eric.

The attorney general’s office said it began investigating after Trump’s former lawyer and “fixer,” Michael Cohen, told Congress in February 2019 that Trump had used these statements to inflate his net worth to lenders.

washington post logojennifer rubin new headshotWashington Post, Opinion: A rotten way to start convention week for Republicans, Jennifer Rubin, right, Aug. 25, 2020. Convention week got off to a miserable start for Republicans. I don’t just refer to the whiny first appearance by President Trump, who launched a rambling, incoherent and fact-free rant on Monday, wherein he lied by saying “They’re trying to steal the election from Republicans. Just like they did it last time, with spying.” (This is, of course, based on the crazy, false allegation that the Obama administration “spied on him.”)

The bad-news avalanche started even before the Republican National Convention roll call’s resembling a hostage video — a far cry from the uplifting video trip around the country put on by the Democrats last week. And, yes, it started before Vice President Pence hilariously rnc 2020 logopromised to “Make America Great Again, again” (because they sure have wrecked things since 2016?).

For starters, Trump is deeply unpopular. A new Associated Press-NORC poll shows his approval down to a paltry 35 percent, and approval for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic even worse at 31 percent.

While the president repeatedly hypes a phony figure of more than 90 percent approval among Republicans, this poll pegs it at a mediocre 79 percent. Moreover, the poll found that “just 23% think the country is heading in the right direction, while 75% think it’s on the wrong path. . . . The federal government as a whole has also taken a hit with the public, with approval down from 38% in March to 23% now.”

For a party banking on a cult of personality, it might want to find a more popular personality.

washington post logoWashington Post, Fact Checker Analysis: The convention started off with a fire hose of false claims, Glenn Kessler, Salvador Rizzo and Meg Kelly, Aug. 25, 2020 (print ed.). The first night of the 2020 Republican National Convention was a fire hose of false or misleading claims, mostly drawn from President Trump’s arsenal of falsehoods.

Here are 19 claims that caught our attention. As is our practice, we do not award Pinocchios for a roundup of statements made during convention events.

Vox, The RNC yanked a speaker who promoted an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory, Ian Millhiser Aug 25, 2020. Trump often highlights Mary Ann Mendoza as an advocate for harsh immigration policies. She has some other strange beliefs.

“Do yourself a favor and read this thread,” Mary Ann Mendoza wrote on Twitter Tuesday, just hours before she was scheduled to appear at the 2020 Republican National Convention. The RNC chose to cancel Mendoza’s speech shortly afterward, and Mendoza deleted her tweet after news reports highlighted the anti-Semitic content of the thread she praised.

The “thread” that Mendoza pointed to is an extraordinarily long and rambling conspiracy theory that is difficult to parse. To the extent that it contains a coherent narrative at all, it appears to claim that Queen Elizabeth II of Britain, former President Barack Obama, billionaire George Soros, and “Satanic High Priestess Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton” are all part of a conspiracy, set in motion by the wealthy Jewish Rothschild family, to “Rob The ‘Goyim’ Of Their Landed Properties And Industries With A Combination Of High Taxes And Unfair Competition,” among other things.

Much of this conspiracy theory tracks a notorious anti-Semitic hoax laid out in the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” an entirely fabricated work of propaganda which purports to be the minutes from a secret meeting of Jewish leaders seeking to gain world domination by controlling institutions such as the world’s financial markets and the media.

Indeed, the Twitter thread that Mendoza highlighted falsely claims that “‘The Protocols Of The Elders Of Zion’ Is Not A Fabrication. And, It Certainly Is Not Anti-Semetic To Point Out This Fact.”

Mendoza, whose son was killed by an intoxicated driver who is an unauthorized immigrant, is an outspoken supporter of harsh immigration policies. Trump has featured her at several political events, including the 2016 Republican National Committee, where she suggested that her son died because the United States did not have “an administration that cares more about Americans than illegals.”

Evidence shows that undocumented immigrants are no more likely to commit violent crimes than anyone else in the United States. Indeed, a 2018 study by the libertarian Cato Institute, which used data from the Texas Department of Public Safety, found that “the conviction and arrest rates for illegal immigrants were lower than those for native‐​born Americans.”

Sometime after she deleted her tweet, Mendoza disavowed the thread she’d praised earlier, claiming that she did not pay enough “attention to the intent of the whole message.”

But it’s worth noting that Mendoza did not simply choose to call attention to the anti-Semitic thread, she also specifically highlighted an individual tweet in the thread that lauded the conspiracy theory and displayed an image of the hoax publication.

washington post logoWashington Post, RNC 2020 live updates: Republican speakers decry Democrats, tying them to socialism and praising Trump, John Wagner, Felicia Sonmez and David Weigel, Aug. 25, 2020 (print ed.). Speakers including Donald Trump Jr.; Kimberly Guilfoyle, national finance chair of the Trump campaign and Donald Trump Jr.'s girlfriend; Rep. Matt Gaetz; RNC chair Ronna McDaniel; and former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley addressed the first day of the Republican convention, largely echoing President Trump’s dark view of Democrats and warning of what they call dangerous socialism.

Donald Trump and Mike Pence logoEarlier, Trump made an unannounced appearance at the Republican convention proceedings in Charlotte after securing enough votes during the roll call of states to secure the party’s renomination.

Meanwhile, Democratic nominee Joe Biden and his running mate, Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), will now be regularly tested for the novel coronavirus, the Biden campaign said Monday afternoon. A campaign official also said that should Biden or Harris ever have a confirmed positive result, it will be made public.

President Trump told a pastor who was held by the Turkish government for nearly two years that the country’s leader, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, was “to me … very good.”

djt hands up mouth open CustomThe remarks came in a pre-taped video from the Diplomatic Room of the White House, in which Trump was surrounded by a half-dozen former hostages held abroad for various reasons but released under his presidency. Trump said in the video that his administration has released more than 50 hostages from 22 countries.

Andrew Brunson is a pastor from North Carolina who was held hostage in a Turkish prison for nearly two years after being arrested amid thousands after an unsuccessful 2016 coup attempt.

“I was held in Turkey for two years, and you took unprecedented steps actually to secure my release, and your administration really fought for me,” Brunson told Trump.

Brunson had faced charges of having contact with Kurdish separatists designated by the Turkey and the United States as terrorists — accusations that both Brunson and the United States were false. Brunson was released in 2018.

“To me, President Erdogan was very good and I know they had you scheduled for a long time and you were a very innocent person and he ultimately, after we had a few conversations, he agreed,” Trump told Brunson. “So we appreciate that.”

Virus Victims, Responses

washington post logoWashington Post, America’s biggest business lobby is behind GOP push to shield employers from virus liability, Aaron Gregg and Douglas MacMillan, Aug. 25, 2020 (print ed.). “What we’re concerned about, and advocating for with Congress, is you don’t want to wait until all the cases are filed … you have to deal with this beforehand,” said Matthew Webb, senior vice president for legal reform policy at the Chamber.

washington post logoWashington Post, Zoom went down for hours, disrupting schools and businesses, Hamza Shaban, Aug. 25, 2020 (print ed.). Zoom outages disrupted meetings and classes around the country Monday, highlighting Americans’ growing reliance on video software to keep things running during the pandemic.

ny times logoNew York Times, Why Are Coronavirus Cases Decreasing? Lauren Leatherby, Aug. 25, 2020 (print ed.). Experts Say Restrictions Are Working.

fda logowashington post logoWashington Post, FDA head says he misspoke at briefing touting plasma treatment, Laurie McGinley, Yasmeen Abutaleb and Lenny Bernstein, Aug. 25, 2020 (print ed.). Some Trump administration claims on the effectiveness of convalescent plasma are wrong or dubious, scientists said.

The assertion was breathtaking: Out of 100 people who suffered from the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, 35 were saved by the injection of antibody-rich plasma from people who had survived the disease.

stephen hahn oThat’s how Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn, right, described the blood product’s effectiveness on Sunday at a news conference at the White House, when President Trump announced the agency was authorizing use of the plasma on an emergency basis to treat covid-19, the condition sparked by the coronavirus.

The FDA, in an analysis of subgroups from an observational study, had concluded that one of those subsets of patients had a substantial reduction in mortality as a result of being treated with plasma.

“Many of you know I was a cancer doctor before I became FDA commissioner,” Hahn said at the White House. “And a 35 percent improvement in survival is a pretty substantial clinical benefit. What that means is — and if the data continue to pan out — 100 people who are sick with covid-19, 35 would have been saved because of the administration of plasma.”

But the 35-out-of-100 claim wasn’t accurate, scientists said Monday. The FDA commissioner appeared to have mixed up absolute risk and relative risk, which are basic concepts in economics and in the presentation of data from clinical trials.

On Monday night, Hahn in a tweet acknowledged he had misspoken during the news briefing about the findings of the convalescent plasma study.

washington post logoWashington Post, Editorial: Trump’s pressure on the FDA may be risky for your health, Editorial Board, Aug. 25, 2020 (print ed.). Convalescent plasma therapy — using the liquid portion of blood from recovered patients who suffered from covid-19 to bolster antibodies in patients currently infected — might work in certain circumstances.

fda logoThe technique has reduced mortality in fighting some diseases in the past. When it comes to the coronavirus, so far there are promising signals from exploratory studies but not full results from a randomized clinical trial. This is not the “very historic breakthrough” President Trump declared on Sunday. Eager for good news before Election Day, Mr. Trump risks undermining public confidence in vaccines and therapies at a critical moment.

Stephen Hahn, left, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, granted an emergency-use authorization for investigational stephen hahn oconvalescent plasma in hospital patients, which will expand access to the therapy.

Earlier this month, two other leading health experts in the administration, Anthony S. Fauci, of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, reportedly expressed reservations about such a step, on grounds that the research is still too preliminary. Dr. Hahn’s agency went ahead, and Mr. Trump brushed aside reservations, saying “there might have been a holdup, but we broke the logjam over the last week, to be honest.” This came a day after Mr. Trump baselessly accused the FDA of impeding enrollment in clinical trials for coronavirus vaccines and therapeutics for political reasons, blaming some shadowy “deep state” for trying to delay until after the November elections.

We hope convalescent plasma lives up to the early promise. But if Mr. Trump’s intrusion in this case foreshadows attempts to short-circuit the rigorous testing of vaccines in order to distribute one before the election, the damage could be immense. Dr. Hahn has offered repeated assurances that the FDA will act solely on the basis of science. But given Mr. Trump’s demands, will Dr. Hahn resist?

washington post logoWashington Post, Democrats probe unusual contract of former drug executive advising Trump administration vaccine effort, Christopher Rowland, Aug. 25, 2020 (print ed.). He has been criticized for maintaining pharmaceutical investments while leading the Trump administration’s coronavirus vaccine efforts.

Democrats on Capitol Hill have asked an Alexandria consulting company for details about an unusual contract that has allowed the chief scientific adviser to President Trump’s Operation Warp Speed to maintain personal investments and avoid making ethics disclosures of his holdings in pharmaceutical companies.

In a letter Monday to Advanced Decision Vectors, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and two other lawmakers are asking the firm to explain its role in providing drug company executive Moncef Slaoui’s services as the chief coronavirus vaccine adviser to the Trump administration for $1.

washington post logoWashington Post, EPA grants emergency approval for the use of anti-virus cleanser in Texas, Steven Mufson, Aug. 25, 2020 (print ed.).  American Airlines and a sports clinic will use the product

washington post logoWashington Post, What you need to know about getting tested for covid before traveling, Natalie B. Compton, Aug. 25, 2020 (print ed.).  There’s a variety of places offering coronavirus testing, including urgent care centers, travel clinics, fire stations, pop-up sites, most hospitals, and pharmacies. Chen says potential travelers should check in with their primary care provider, who may know the best options for testing in their area. Other options include looking at city and state health department websites for testing resources.

Postal Delays, Hearing

washington post logoWashington Post, DeJoy pushes back on criticism of cost-cutting changes to Postal Service, Staff reports, Aug. 25, 2020 (print ed.). DeJoy says he did not consult Mnuchin about postmaster general job until after he received the offer; DeJoy splits with Trump, says ‘the Postal Service is not a joke.’

us mail logoPostmaster General Louis DeJoy is defending himself against scathing criticism from Democrats over mail delays they say could threaten the U.S. Postal Service’s ability to deliver mail-in ballots on time for the November election.

Testifying Monday before the House Oversight and Reform Committee, DeJoy defended cost-cutting changes he instituted since taking office in June, insisting he was trying to increase efficiency at the agency.

DeJoy acknowledged that the changes have not gone smoothly and that mail delays have occurred, but insisted that improvements are under way. He reacted angrily when Democrats suggested that he was trying to slow down mail-in ballots to help President Trump win reelection. DeJoy called many of the Democrats’ claims “misleading.”

DeJoy pledged that delivering election mail on-time was an achievable priority.

According to internal Postal Service data released Saturday by the House panel investigating the agency, on-time mail rates abruptly fell starting at the end of June.

 ny times logoNew York Times, DeJoy Defends Postal Changes as Trump Continues to Attack Voting by Mail, Catie Edmondson, Aug. 25, 2020 (print ed.). Facing tough questioning from a House panel, the postmaster general denounced suggestions that he was working to help President Trump politically and defended the cost-cutting changes he has overseen.

Louis DeJoy CustomUnder tough questioning by Democrats on the House Oversight Committee, Mr. DeJoy, right, a major donor to Mr. Trump and other Republicans, mounted an outraged defense of the modifications he has made at the Postal Service that have thrust the agency into a political firestorm, denying that they were motivated by partisanship. He refused to commit to reversing the changes, which he characterized as vital cost-cutting measures for a cash-strapped agency badly in need of an overhaul, and scolded Congress for failing for years to attend to the post office’s financial woes.

While he conceded that some of the changes he had put in place, such as reducing overtime and limiting trips, had caused service delays, Mr. DeJoy maintained that the issues were being rectified and hotly denounced suggestions from Democratic lawmakers that he was working to help Mr. Trump politically.

“I am not engaged in sabotaging the election,” Mr. DeJoy told lawmakers.

But even as he spoke, Mr. Trump was delivering an extraordinary diatribe against voting by mail in a surprise appearance at the Republican National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., where he sought to sow mistrust in the process and claimed without evidence that Democrats were “using Covid to steal the election.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: What Katie Porter taught us at the DeJoy hearing, Jennifer Rubin, right, Aug. 25, 2020. Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.) jennifer rubin new headshothas a well-earned reputation for slicing and dicing administration witnesses who lack knowledge of their departments or agencies. Considering that the Trump administration favors cronies over experts and loyalty over competence, Porter has had many opportunities to demonstrate her interrogation skills.

Monday was no different as she faced the beleaguered postmaster general, Louis DeJoy. She did what every questioner should do: Ask short questions seeking facts, follow up, cut off filibustering by the witness and eschew speeches. Her aim Monday was plainly to let Americans see that DeJoy was a political crony with little knowledge of the organization he is running. And boy did she:

It's worth watching all of Rep. Katie Porter's questioning.

PORTER: You don't know the cost to mail a postcard?
DEJOY: I don't ... I'll submit that I know very little about postage stamps.
...
PORTER: I'm concerned about your understanding of this agency.pic.twitter.com/cwqP6EdAvE
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) August 24, 2020

DeJoy does not know basic facts about postal prices or even about voting by mail. “I’m glad you know the price of a stamp, but I am concerned about your understanding of this agency,” Porter said matter-of-factly. “And I am particularly concerned about it because you started taking very decisive action when you became postmaster general. You started directing the unplugging and destroying of machines, changing of employee procedures and locking of collection boxes.” When asked about the changes under his watch that have impacted service, he insisted they were not his and he did not know who was responsible.

More On Trump's World

ny times logoletitia james resized o headshotNew York Times, N.Y. Attorney General Asks Judge to Order Eric Trump’s Testimony, William K. Rashbaum and Danny Hakim, Aug. 25, 2020 (print ed.). The Trump Organization has stalled a state inquiry into the financing of four properties for months, Attorney General Letitia James, right, said in court papers.

Palmer Report, Opinion: How the Conway family imploded, Robert Harrington, Aug. 25, 2020. Kurt Vonnegut wrote of his 1962 book, Mother Night, that it was the only book he’d ever written whose moral he knew, which was, “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.”

bill palmer report logo headerGeorge Conway married a woman, below right, who turned out not to be careful about what she pretended to be, and the recent crisis that has descended on his marriage and his family is the consequence.

Together they had a daughter named Claudia, who may very well be smarter than both of them put together. Claudia, as they say, doesn’t kellyanne conway resized mouthopen palmersuffer fools gladly. Her mother does so for a living, and therein is Claudia’s problem. Claudia is a young woman of intelligence and principle, who recently tweeted that her “mother’s job ruined my life to begin with. heartbreaking that she continues to go down that path after years of watching her children suffer. selfish. it’s all about money and fame, ladies and gentlemen.”

Claudia finally reached a crisis point where “i’m officially pushing for emancipation. buckle up because this is probably going to be public one way or another, unfortunately. welcome to my life.”

This drama in the life of the Conways is one that has played out entirely on Twitter. Claudia hates what her mother does for a living and says so. George hates his wife’s boss. Kellyanne, until recently, hasn’t been careful about what she pretends to be. The culmination happened when Claudia finally decided to “push for emancipation.” The straw that broke the camel’s back, as they say, was Kellyanne’s decision to speak at the Republican National Convention. “i’m [devastated] that my mother is actually speaking at the RNC,” Claudia tweeted, “like DEVASTATED beyond compare.”

In response to his daughter’s crisis George Conway is taking his leave of Twitter. Or a provisional one. Unlike other social media addicts he left himself a loophole, just in case, when he tweeted, “I may be taking a Twitter hiatus soon.” This tweet was followed by a stunning catalog of brilliant opinion pieces for the Washington Post by Conway himself, each one elucidating why Donald Trump is a narcissist and a sociopath, a rapist and a sexual assailant, an arch criminal out for himself, and so on. I recommend them. George is also dropping out of active participation in The Lincoln Project, of which he is a founding member.

Kellyanne’s comment was the least transparent of the three. “I’m Leaving the White House. Gratefully & Humbly.” It was followed by a link to a statement that required that I sign in to Drop Box in order to read it. I declined. I’m closed minded about Kellyanne Conway. I doubt there are any revelations in her statement. In any case, don’t be surprised if her gratitude and humility change over time into regret and mortification, once she’s been clear for a time of the toxic waste dump that is the Trump White House, once she’s started being careful about what she pretends to be again.

This is what happens when lives intersect with the pestilential malignancy that is Donald Trump. People go to prison, lives get destroyed, families are thrown into turmoil. There are a million reasons why Donald Trump is unfit to continue as president of the United States, this has been another one of them.

Falwell Scandals

ny times logoNew York Times, Jerry Falwell Jr.’s Leadership at Liberty Appears Near End, Ruth Graham, Elizabeth Dias and Frances Robles, Aug. 25, 2020 (print ed.). One of President Trump’s most prominent evangelical supporters, Mr. Falwell denied reports he had resigned from the university.

jerry falwell jr wThe leadership of Jerry Falwell Jr., left, one of the most prominent evangelical supporters of President Trump, appeared to be nearing an end at Liberty University after a report emerged Monday of sexual indiscretions involving Mr. Falwell, his wife and a pool attendant.

Top officials at Liberty, which Mr. Falwell helped build into a hugely influential, $1.6 billion center of evangelical power, were seeking to finalize the terms of Mr. Falwell’s departure as the university’s president and chancellor.

The situation was confusing on Monday night, with a school spokesman telling news organizations that Mr. Falwell had resigned, Mr. Falwell denying that report, and an official with knowledge of the behind-the-scenes drama asserting that the terms were still being negotiated.

“Falwell has not yet resigned but he’s in negotiations with the school over his future,” said a person who was in touch with key players in liberty university sealthe negotiations on Monday but was not authorized to speak on the record.

On Monday evening Mr. Falwell told Virginia Business, a local monthly magazine, that reports of his resignation were “completely false” and that he did not plan to step down.

It was clear that Mr. Falwell’s support had eroded. A Liberty University spokesman, Scott Lamb, said the leadership of the school’s board had been in discussion with Mr. Falwell and expected to make a statement on Tuesday.

Mr. Falwell has been on a leave of absence since Aug. 7, after an uproar over a photograph he posted to Instagram that depicted him with his pants partially unzipped and his arm around a woman he later said was his wife’s assistant.

jerry falwell jr becki falwellOn Monday, a business associate named Giancarlo Granda alleged in an interview with Reuters that he had regular sexual liaisons with Mr. Falwell’s wife, Becki, shown at right, as Mr. Falwell (also shown at right) looked on, after meeting the couple as a young pool attendant at a luxury hotel in Miami in 2012.

In a statement released Sunday evening that appeared to anticipate the revelations, Mr. Falwell conceded that his wife had engaged in an “inappropriate personal relationship” with Mr. Granda, but said that he “was not involved.” He added that Mr. Granda tried to extort the couple to keep the affair a secret, an ordeal so upsetting that it had caused him to seek mental health treatment.

The end of Mr. Falwell’s tenure would mark the fall of a pugnacious leader who took over leadership of Liberty, one of the largest Christian colleges in the nation, one day after his father’s death in 2007.

Liberty has had a Falwell at its helm since Mr. Falwell’s father, a pastor with a taste for conservative politics, founded the school as Lynchburg Baptist College in 1971. Jerry Falwell Sr. aimed to turn the college into a national institution and football powerhouse, with the slogan “Champions for Christ.”

The younger Mr. Falwell appeared to fulfill his mission. The school now plays in the top division of college football, and won its first bowl game last year. Liberty reports an enrollment of more than 120,000 students, including 15,000 who attend classes on its expanding campus in Lynchburg, Va.

Mr. Falwell’s own national profile has risen dramatically since he endorsed Donald J. Trump’s presidential bid in early 2016, before the Iowa caucus and significantly before most conservative evangelicals had warmed to him. He became one of the president’s most vocal evangelical supporters, speaking at the 2016 Republican National Convention and becoming a regular presence on Fox News.

His loyalty in turn has turned Liberty into a kind of institutional headquarters of Trumpism. President Trump delivered the commencement address at Liberty in 2017.

Earlier story, disputed by Times coverage above: HuffPost, Jerry Falwell Jr. agrees to resign as Liberty University president after claiming he was being extorted over his wife’s affair, Sanjana Karanth, Aug. 24, 2020. Jerry Falwell Jr. has permanently left his position as president of the evangelical Liberty University after reports about his sex life led him to take an indefinite leave of absence.

The move on Monday, the first day of the new semester’s classes at Liberty, comes as the evangelical leader claims he’s being extorted by a business partner over his wife’s alleged affair.

giancarlo granda reuters

Reuters, Exclusive investigation: Falwell steered Liberty University land deal benefiting his personal trainer, Aram Roston, Aug. 24, 2020. Giancarlo Granda (shown above in a recent Reuters photo in Washington, DC) says he was 20 when he met Jerry and Becki Falwell while working as a pool attendant at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach hotel in March 2012. Starting that month and continuing into 2018, Granda told Reuters that the relationship involved him having sex with Becki Falwell while Jerry Falwell looked on.

Granda showed Reuters emails, text messages and other evidence that he says demonstrate the sexual nature of his relationship with the couple, who have been married since 1987.

“Becki and I developed an intimate relationship and Jerry enjoyed watching from the corner of the room,” Granda said in an interview. Now 29, he described the liaisons as frequent – “multiple times per year” – and said the encounters took place at hotels in Miami and New York, and at the Falwells’ home in Virginia.

His friendship with the Falwells eventually soured, Granda told Reuters, in part because he wanted to dissolve his ties with the couple and liberty university sealfell into a business dispute with them.

Granda first emerged as a figure in the Falwells’ circle two years ago, when BuzzFeed News reported that the couple had befriended Granda and gone into business with him, buying a Miami Beach youth hostel in 2013. At the time of the BuzzFeed article, a representative of the Falwell family said Granda was “offered a share” in Alton Hostel LLC because Granda lived in Miami and would act as a manager of the youth hostel. Corporate records show that Granda currently has a stake in that venture.

Becki Falwell did not respond to emails or phone and text messages from Reuters. After Reuters presented its initial reporting early last week to the Falwells, a lawyer for Jerry Falwell, Michael Bowe, said the evangelical leader “categorically denies everything you indicated you intend to publish about him.”

On Sunday night, however, as Reuters was preparing to publish this article, Jerry Falwell issued a statement to the Washington Examiner in which he said that his wife had had an affair with Granda and that Granda had been trying to extort money from the couple over the matter. Granda denies any such intent, saying he was seeking to negotiate a buyout from a business arrangement he says he had with the couple.

In this recording from a 2018 phone call that Giancarlo Granda provided to Reuters, Granda said he and the Falwells discussed Becki Falwell’s jealousy about Granda dating other women.

Falwell’s statement Sunday to the Examiner said nothing about Granda’s account alleging that the evangelical leader had his own role in the affair, and Falwell didn’t address questions from Reuters about it. In the statement quoted by the Examiner, Falwell said that “Becki had an inappropriate personal relationship with this person, something in which I was not involved.”

djt jerry falwell jr becki falwellNews of the entanglement could pose a fresh threat to the influence of Jerry Falwell, a towering figure in the U.S. evangelical political movement. His 2016 endorsement of Donald Trump helped the twice-divorced New Yorker win the Republican nomination for president.

Falwell, 58, took an indefinite leave of absence earlier this month from Liberty University, the Christian school he has run since 2007. The leave, announced in a terse statement from the school’s board of trustees, came days after Falwell posted, then deleted, an Instagram photo of himself with his pants unzipped, standing with his arm around a young woman whose pants were also partly undone. Falwell later told a local radio station that the picture was meant as a good-natured joke.

Becki Falwell, 53, is a political figure in her own right. She served on the advisory board of the group Women for Trump, which advocates for the president’s reelection campaign. She also spoke as part of a panel with her husband and Donald Trump Jr. at last year’s Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, the signature annual gathering of conservatives. Jerry Falwell and others refer to her as “the first lady of Liberty University.”

The university, based in Lynchburg, Virginia, was founded in 1971 by Falwell’s televangelist father, the Rev. Jerry Falwell. The younger Falwell took over in 2007. Today, the university boasts an online and on-campus enrollment that exceeds 100,000 students and holds those who attend to an exacting honor code. “Sexual relations outside of a biblically ordained marriage between a natural-born man and a natural-born woman are not permissible at Liberty University,” the code reads.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Why the Jerry Falwell scandal won’t weaken Trump’s evangelical support, Paul Waldman, Aug. 25, 2020. As Republicans hold a convention that portrays President Trump as all but a living god, one of his most important supporters from the religious right is experiencing a precipitous fall from grace. Like a scene from a satire attacking the hypocrisy of organized religion, Jerry Falwell Jr. is being brought down in a sex scandal.

Falwell — the son of the man who helped turn White evangelical Christians into a potent political force, and one of Trump’s most fervent advocates on the Christian right — has now resigned as the president of Liberty University after a social media post showing him with his pants half unzipped and his arm around a young woman went viral.

Falwell says they were all just kidding around. But now, the salacious “pool boy” story — in which Falwell and his wife, for no discernible reason, gave an enormous amount of money to a 20-something pool boy for the purchase of a youth hostel — has gotten even more lurid. The young man, Giancarlo Granda, now says he “was involved in a long-term sexual relationship with Falwell’s wife, Becki,” in which Falwell “sometimes participated by looking on,” as Politico put it.

When this story first emerged a year and a half ago, it turned out that Trump and Falwell had some complicated connections. Former Trump fixer Michael Cohen had helped the Falwells put the lid on some “racy photos” they were worried could become public, and Cohen used an IT expert from Liberty University to rig online polls for Trump in 2015. Just a bunch of upstanding citizens helping each other out.

So is this an embarrassment to Trump, that one of his closest allies on the religious right is being so publicly shamed? Don’t bet on it. The truth is, while White evangelical leaders may still gather around to lay hands on Trump, he doesn’t really need them. He has their followers in a grip that won’t ever be loosened.

I spoke Tuesday to Sarah Posner, the author of “Unholy: Why White Evangelicals Worship at the Altar of Donald Trump,” who told me that when Falwell endorsed Trump in 2016 — an endorsement that came when Trump was working to win socially conservative voters in the GOP primaries — it wasn’t as important as many in the media believed.

Though Falwell was the first high-profile religious right leader to endorse Trump, the hesitancy of the leadership over Trump’s encompassing moral depravity was not shared by the grass roots. “The base didn’t like Trump because Jerry Falwell endorsed him. They already liked Trump,” Posner told me. The leaders were just following the followers.

And while that relationship is sometimes described as a bargain, in which the evangelicals put aside their moral beliefs in order to obtain tangible benefits, that’s not really what it is. Their support of Trump isn’t grudging; it couldn’t be more enthusiastic. They see Trump as their champion.

Whether Trump cheated on all of his many wives is irrelevant. What matters is that he hates who they hate and will fight crudely and viciously on their behalf. As Posner writes in her book, they “have chosen to see him not as a sinner but as a strongman, not as a con man but as a king who is courageously unshackling them from what they portray as liberal oppression.”

And they could not be happier with what he has given them. They’ve gotten far-right judges committed to undermining abortion rights and expanding “religious liberty” if it benefits conservative Christians. The Trump administration is well stocked with religious right activists. Trump has given them both substance and symbolism; for example, while other Republican presidents would send a taped message to the March for Life, the annual antiabortion demonstration in Washington, Trump went there in person.

While Ronald Reagan and the two Bushes tried on occasion to be subtle about their close ties to the religious right, Trump is unashamed. Just as in so many areas, he favors the bullhorn over the dog whistle. As Posner says, he “has made them central to the ceremonial, public-facing aspects of his administration, but also policy.”

Another interesting aspect of the relationship is that while Trump is not himself religious, he’s only too happy to bring groups of evangelical pastors to the Oval Office. “They’re the people he wants to have around him,” Posner told me, “because they tell him how great he is, how God’s hand is on him, and how he was chosen by God to save the country.” What more would Trump want to hear?

At the first night of the Republican convention, there were plenty of mentions of God, as well as descriptions of Trump as a near-deity himself. Tuesday night’s convention will feature a speech from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, delivered from Jerusalem. Given this and the fact that Pompeo is an evangelical who has said, “I am confident that the Lord is at work” in Trump administration foreign policy, it could be the most explicit statement of the convention that Trump is God’s instrument.

But as Posner argues, White evangelicals probably aren’t watching to confirm that they’re getting the proper attention from the president and the GOP. They don’t need to be convinced that their contributions are appreciated or that Trump truly cares about them. They already know, and the relationship couldn’t be any stronger — no matter what happens to Falwell or any of a dozen Trump-supporting evangelical leaders.

Background from 2019

Benjamin Crosswhite and Rebecca

Crooks & Liars, Another 'Pool Guy'? Falwell Jr's Personal Trainer Scored $2M From Liberty U To Buy A Gym, Karoli Kuns, Aug. 25, 2019.  Another 'Pool Guy'? Jerry Falwell, Jr seems to be fond of setting young men up in business. Below right, Vice President Michael Pence, his wife Karen Pence, Rebecca Falwell and her husband, Jerry Falwell Jr., left to right, shown in a 2019 Jonathan Drake of Reuters.

Oh hey, look at Jerry Falwell, Jr. helping another twenty-something guy out with his startup after taking a ride on his private jet.

liberty university sealReuters reports that Benjamin Crosswhite served as a personal trainer to Jerry Falwell and his wife before receiving some major help from Liberty University to purchase a fitness center from the trustees.

The transaction is interesting for its generosity but also for the funding source: Liberty University, a non-profit educational foundation.

Vice President Michael Pence, his wife Karen Pence, Rebecca Falwell and her husband, Jerry Falwell Jr.,, left to right, shown in a 2019 Jonathan Drake of Reuters.Around 2011, Falwell, president of Liberty University in Virginia, and his wife, Rebecca (shown above with Crosswhite in an Instagram photo), began personal fitness training sessions with Benjamin Crosswhite, then a 23-year-old recent Liberty graduate. Now, after a series of university real estate transactions signed by Falwell, Crosswhite owns a sprawling 18-acre racquet sports and fitness facility on former Liberty property. Last year, a local bank approved a line of credit allowing Crosswhite’s business to borrow as much as $2 million against the property.

Oh! Kind of like the other 20-something pool attendant in Florida who bought the flophouse to turn into a youth hostel?

This one is worse, though.

One difference: When Falwell helped Crosswhite, he used the assets of Liberty, the tax-exempt university he has led since 2008. Among the largest Christian universities in the world, Liberty depends on hundreds of millions of dollars its students receive in federally backed student loans and Pell grants.

So here's the deal: In 2016, Falwell signed a real estate deal transferring the sports facility, complete with tennis courts and a fitness center owned by Liberty, to Crosswhite. Under the terms, Crosswhite wasn’t required to put any of his own money down toward the purchase price, a confidential sales contract obtained by Reuters shows.

jerry falwell jr wLiberty committed nearly $650,000 up front to lease back tennis courts from Crosswhite at the site for nine years. The school also offered Crosswhite financing, at a low 3% interest rate, to cover the rest of the $1.2 million transaction, the contract shows.

Falwell, Jr. was so impressed with Crosswhite that he gave the property to him below market, with a guaranteed lease, and a below-market interest rate on the loan to pay the place off. Sweet deal if you can get it. I wonder what he had to do to score that kind of deal.

That year, [2011] Falwell urged other Liberty personnel in an email to cut Crosswhite a “sweet deal” allowing him to offer private gym training at the Lynchburg fitness facility, then known as the Sports Racket, which Liberty had recently acquired through the trustee’s donation.

“Becki and I wouldn’t mind working out over there with Ben as a trainer because it is more private,” he wrote in the email, which was reviewed by Reuters. Falwell and his wife, who goes by Becki, each work out with Crosswhite twice a week, the university said. Falwell has become a vocal advocate of the trainer’s skills, as have other university executives and clients who work with Crosswhite.

The Falwells brought the trainer along on Liberty’s private jet during a 2012 trip to Miami. Later, Falwell sent an email directing Liberty to lease its gym space to Crosswhite’s fitness business, which began a five year lease in 2013. The cost, according to a lease document: $2,300 per month.

Perhaps it is as simple as sucking up to the guy with the money. 

World News

ny times logoNew York Times, Aleksei Navalny, Putin Critic in a Coma, Was Poisoned, German Doctors Say, Melissa Eddy and Andrew E. Kramer, alexey navalny 2017Aug. 25, 2020 (print ed.). Once again, a prominent critic of Moscow has mysteriously fallen ill. And once again, poison appears to be the culprit.

Aleksei A. Navalny, right, the outspoken Russian dissident who fell into a coma last week, was a victim of poisoning, German doctors said Monday, adding him to the ranks of Russians stricken by mystery illness after drawing the wrath of Moscow.

Mr. Navalny, who became ill on a domestic flight in Russia, was under round-the-clock guard at the Berlin hospital where his family transferred him Saturday after what now appears to be yet another attack signaling Russia’s status as an outlaw nation.

  • Washington Post, Kremlin rejects Navalny poisoning diagnosis in Germany as calls grow for probe, Isabelle Khurshudyan and William Glucroft, Aug. 25, 2020. Russia has made no move to open a criminal investigation into how the opposition leader was stricken.

2020 U.S. Elections, Politics

washington post logodana milbank CustomWashington Post, Opinion: Republicans’ ‘uplifting’ convention turned into a rage-fest, Dana Milbank, right, Aug. 25, 2020. President Trump over the weekend said he expected a “very uplifting and positive” convention.

rnc 2020 logoUh-oh. Dude must have gotten into the hydroxychloroquine again.

The Republican National Convention on its opening day was as uplifting as the apocalypse, as positive as perdition. “The woke-topians,” Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) warned, “will disarm you, empty the prisons, lock you in your home and invite MS-13 to live next door, and the police aren’t coming when you call.”

Kimberly Guilfoyle, the former Fox News personality and current girlfriend of Donald Trump Jr., informed the convention that Democrats “want to destroy this country and everything that we have fought for and hold dear. They want to steal your liberty, your freedom. They want to control what you see and think and believe so that they can control how you live. They want to enslave you to the weak, dependent, liberal victim ideology, to the point that you will not recognize this country or yourself.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Editorial: The Republican Party announces that it stands for nothing, Editorial Board, Aug. 25, 2020 (print ed.). The GOP is a party without principle, IN RECENT years, people have tended to ignore or even gently deride the deliberations of party platform committees. All these arguments over arcane questions of policy, and for what? The nominee, if elected, won’t be bound by any of it.

True enough. Yet the Republican decision this year to adopt no policy platform whatsoever shines a light on the democratic significance of the exercise — and the alarming vacuity of the Republican Party under President Trump. The Republicans are announcing that they stand for nothing. The party’s only reason for being is to gain and retain power for itself and its comparably unprincipled leader. What kind of future can there be for such a party? And how healthy can the two-party system be if one party has no principles?

washington post logomike pompeo portraitWashington Post, Analysis: Pompeo’s Christian Zionism takes center stage at the Republican National Convention, Ishaan Tharoor, Aug. 25, 2020. His short speech to the convention will reinforce the Trump administration’s unequivocal embrace of Israel as a partisan prop.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Michael Steele to the Trump cult: ‘You’re complicit in your own punking,’ Jonathan Capehart, Aug. 24, 2020. Every time I interview Michael Steele, the former chairman of the Republican National Committee, I ask him why he’s still a Republican. And why not? His party’s complete surrender to the moral and philosophical void that is President Trump was stamped “complete” when it decided to forgo a party platform until 2024. So when I asked Steele what to expect from this week’s convention, Steele wove into his answer a withering critique of the president’s stalwart supporters and a defense of his remaining in the party.

“I’ve been a Republican for over 40 years … since 1976, I’ll be damned if I’m going to cede that ground to Donald Trump, who is not now nor has he ever been a Republican, who is not now nor has he ever been a conservative,” Steele said on MSNBC’s “AM Joy” on Sunday, using a fascinating essay in the Atlantic by Anne Applebaum on how “history will judge the complicit” as the foundation of his argument.

 “So, all y’all want to play this little game that Donald Trump is like you, you’re stupid. You’re being played. You’re getting punked. But what’s so bad about it is you’re complicit in your own punking. And those of us on this set and others around the country who’ve stepped out and said, ‘I’m not doing that because that’s not me’ understand why. We refuse to collaborate.”

Steele is taking that refusal to collaborate a giant extra step. The Lincoln Project announced Monday that Steele has joined its ranks as a senior adviser. These are those former Republicans who have made it their mission to ensure Trump’s defeat in November. As one of their famously bracing ads declares, “This is a time for choosing, America or Trump.” In short order, the Lincoln Project has become a no-holds-barred burr in the saddle of Trump and the people who enable him. Have you seen the “Evil” video? Wow.

washington post logoWashington Post, Election live updates: Hillary Clinton says Biden should not concede in a close race against Trump, Staff reports, Aug. 25, 2020. Trump to make multiple appearances in Tuesday’s program; Democrats highlight controversies involving GOP congressional candidate Madison Cawthorn; Lawmakers announce bipartisan resolution condemning QAnon.

mark mccloskey patricia mccloskey daniel acker bloomberg rnc

The Forward, The rabbi who is neighbor to Mark and Patricia McCloskey speaks out: ‘They are bullies,’ Rob Eshman, Aug. 24, 2020. The rabbi who is neighbor to Mark and Patricia McCloskey (speakers at the Republican National Convention, shown above) speaks out: ‘They are bullies.’

When Rabbi Susan Talve heard that Patricia and Mark McCloskey would be among the speakers addressing the Republican National Convention, she decided she could no longer stay quiet.

“It’s so upsetting that they have a national audience,” Talve said. “It’s upsetting we make heroes out of people who hate.”

The McCloskeys are Talve’s neighbors. Their property’s northern wall abuts the property of St. Louis’ Jewish Central Reform Congregation, where Talve is the rabbi.

In 2013, the synagogue placed beehives along the wall to produce honey for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. One morning they found the hives destroyed and all the bees dead. Mark McCloskey had taken an ax or sledgehammer to them.

His issue? The fence between them sat six inches inside the McCloskey’s property line. The hives were his to wreck.

“He could have picked up the phone and said, ‘Hey, those beehives are on my property,’ and we would have happily moved them,” said Talve.

She said children at the synagogue wept when they heard the news of the hives. The synagogue maintains raised bed gardens on its property that supply some 2,000 pounds of fresh produce to a local food pantry, as well as pear, fig and apple trees.

“We were going to have our own apples and honey for Rosh Hashanah!” she said.

She said the McCloskeys didn’t contact the temple at all before lashing out. Instead, McCloskey left a note threatening to sue the synagogue for damages if the shattered hives were not removed at once.

“Civility,” Talve said. “I’m willing to speak out now because there’s such a lack of civility that’s happening, and I don’t feel like I can be a part of that, and silence is complicity.”

Talve paused. “They are bullies,” she said. “The fact that they’re speaking at the convention is a win for bullies.”

Judging by their remarks at the Republican National Convention Monday night, the McCloskeys clearly don’t see it that way. They are the victims of a Democratic-run city that lets lawbreakers run rampant.

“What you saw happen to us could just as easily happen to you who are watching from quiet neighborhoods around our country,” Patricia McCloskey said to the convention.

“It seems the Democrats view the job of the government as protecting criminals from honest citizens,” said her husband.

The McCloskeys made national headlines by waving guns at Black Lives Protesters who neared their mansion on tony Portland Place on the evening of June 28.

But by then they already had a long and well-documented history of litigation, threats and neighborhood feuds.

“Any chance they have to sow division they’ll take it,” [Talve] said. She said the couple’s actions during the evening of the Black Lives Matter march are a case in point. The protesters were peaceful, Talve said.

Politico, Former Trump DHS officials launch anti-Trump group, Daniel Lippman, Aug. 24, 2020. Miles Taylor, the former chief of staff at the Department of Homeland Security in the Trump administration who endorsed Joe Biden last week, has started a group of current and former administration officials and other Republican leaders who want to see President Donald Trump defeated in November.

Taylor and Elizabeth Neumann, another former senior DHS official who served in the administration, have started the Republican Political Alliance for Integrity and Reform (REPAIR), which will include people who work or have worked for Trump but want to elect Biden and reform the Republican Party.

So far, two current senior administration officials have anonymously signed on to the effort and one of them has preliminary plans to reveal their identity closer to the election and expects to get fired as a result, according to a person familiar with the project who declined to share the names of those two officials. The person also said the group is preparing another “bombshell” to be revealed as soon as Tuesday but didn’t get into any more detail when pressed.

The group is working to get between 20 and 40 former Republican officials, including people who have served in the administration, to sign on to become part of the group. Taylor stepped down last year.

us dhs big eagle logo4“The President has demonstrated he’s unfit for office. And those of us who witnessed the chaos of his Administration firsthand from the inside are coming together to ensure that Trump is not re-elected,” Taylor said in a statement to POLITICO.

“More importantly, this organization will be planning for a post-Trump Republican Party and working with other groups to repair the GOP and repair our republic. In the coming weeks, we’ll be announcing a range of Republican talent that will be helping drive the effort, as well as new initiates to bring the GOP back to its roots, away from the corruption of Trumpism, and toward a more forward-looking agenda.”

Republican Voters Against Trump, a group founded by former Weekly Standard Editor Bill Kristol, is providing initial funding for REPAIR until it can become its own standalone group. REPAIR also is likely to create ads featuring former Trump officials speaking out about what they saw in the administration but those ads would be run out of other groups.

Last week, Taylor, in a series of videos for Kristol’s group, endorsed Biden and slammed Trump’s presidency as “terrifying” and “actively doing damage to our security.” His initial Biden endorsement video garnered over 6 million views on Twitter, and Taylor, who’s on leave from Google, also hit the TV news circuit, doing interviews with ABC News, CNN and MSNBC, among others. A shorter version of Taylor’s ad is now appearing on TV, including nationally on Fox News.

One of Taylor's criticisms of Trump is that it was impossible for officials to discuss Russian interference in America's elections with Trump without him thinking you were calling his 2016 election victory into question. On CNN on Sunday, acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf pushed back and said that "bringing up issues, whether it's Russia or whether it's any other issue, with the president has never been a problem for myself."

REPAIR’s first big project is called "Publius Reawakened," a series of anonymous pieces on why the current and former Republican officials believe that Trumpism has damaged the party and the nation, focusing on different topics like foreign policy, and how to repair it and get the party on the right track. Publius harkens back to the pseudonym the founders used in the Federalist Papers to persuade Americans to support the new U.S. Constitution.

538.com, Opinions on RNC Day 2: Live Updates And Analysis, Staff reports, Aug. 25, 2020 (early evening). We’re hearing about the spiritual transformation of Jon Ponder, a formerly incarcerated person who was pardoned by Trump ahead of the RNC.

Ponder converted to Christianity in prison and later founded the nonprofit Hope for Prisoners, which is part of the large network of Christian ministries that work with incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people. Their activism is one reason that prison reform has been embraced by Republicans in recent years.

U.S. Disasters

washington post logoWashington Post, Calif. wildfires char 1.2 million acres; more than 100,000 flee, Scott Wilson, Aug. 25, 2020 (print ed.). Dangerous weather — including “dry lightning” — was milder than forecast, allowing fire crews to make some gains.

Thousands of firefighters continued corralling two of the biggest wildfires in California history on Monday as dangerous weather that threatened to roll back recent gains turned out to be far milder than forecast.

As temperatures cooled and winds calmed over the weekend, firefighters gained ground on the LNU Lightning Complex fire, burning across a fatigued wine country north of San Francisco, and the SCU Lightning Complex, which has been threatening the eastern outskirts of San Jose and cities as far south as Gilroy.

The two complex fires, which comprise several blazes each, began 10 days ago when thousands of lightning strikes hit dry vegetation.

More On Political, Race Protests

washington post logo Washington Post, Jacob Blake paralyzed after Kenosha police shooting, family and attorneys say, Mark Guarino, Mark Berman and Jaclyn Peiser, Aug. 25, 2020. After a night of unrest in Kenosha, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) pledged an increased National Guard presence there on Tuesday night.

This city continued grappling on Tuesday with the aftermath of a police shooting that spurred damaging demonstrations, refocused the American summer of unrest here and reverberated across the country.

Police in Kenosha shot Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old, multiple times in the back on Sunday as he entered a car with his children inside. The incident was recorded on video, and the footage quickly went viral, becoming the latest in a string of shootings and other uses of force by police that have prompted outrage after recordings spread widely.

Attorneys for Blake’s family said he has been paralyzed by the shooting and has suffered other serious injuries, with his relatives on Tuesday issuing a call for peaceful protests as well as a denunciation of what happened.

“They shot my son seven times,” Jacob Blake Sr., his father, said at a news briefing on Tuesday afternoon, growing emotional as he spoke. “Seven times. Like he didn’t matter. But my son matters. He’s a human being, and he matters.”

Scant details emerged about exactly what happened. Police have said only that they were responding to a domestic incident. Neighbors said there was an altercation between two women and that Blake had been trying to break it up when officers arrived. Benjamin Crump, an attorney for the family, said in a statement that Blake was “simply trying to do the right thing by intervening in a domestic incident” and that police shot Blake in front of his three sons.

Attorneys for Blake’s family said that at least one bullet struck his spinal cord, leaving him paralyzed, and that he also has holes in his stomach, was struck in his arm, and had much of his colon and small intestines removed.

Celtics Blog, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart respond to shooting of Jacob Blake: ‘I will never unsee it,’ Greg Dudek Aug 25, 2020. Brown and Smart addressed the shooting of Jacob Blake and racial injustice. [Boston Celtic] Jaylen Brown didn’t wait to be asked a question at his press conference with members of the media Tuesday. Instead, Brown posed the first questions.

“The question I would like to ask is, does America think that black people or people of color are uncivilized, savages, or naturally unjust, or are we products of the environments that we participate in?” Brown said. “That’s the question I would like to ask America, and America has proven its answer over and over and over again. Are we not human beings? Is Jacob Blake not a human being?”

Brown spoke powerfully on racial injustice, centering his focus on the recent shooting of Blake, an unarmed black man who during a recent encounter with police in Kenosha, Wisconsin, was shot at least seven times as he entered a vehicle with his three children in the car.

Brown feels there is a narrative to use Blake’s personal past against him, which Brown wholeheartedly disagrees with as he is enraged to see another shooting like this occur.

“I don’t care if he did something 10 years ago, 10 days ago, or 10 minutes ago,” Brown said. “If he served his sentence and he was released back into society, he still deserves to be treated like a human and does not deserve to be shot in the back seven times with the intent to kill. His kids will never unsee that. His family will never unsee that. And frankly, I will never unsee it.”

Marcus Smart echoed Brown’s anger and frustration when discussing the shooting of Blake and having to go through an intolerable ordeal like this again.

“People are fed up, and it’s just sad that we’re still going through this and still fighting something that is so obvious,” Smart said. “Racism is the obvious factor that shouldn’t be there and we shouldn’t have to go through it, but yet we’re still going through it.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Video shows Wisconsin police shooting a Black man multiple times as he enters a car, Jaclyn Peiser and Mark Berman, Aug. 25, 2020 (print ed.). The man was hospitalized in serious condition, authorities said. The video sparked outrage online, and protesters took to the streets in Kenosha, Wis., damaging several police cars.

The video starts as Jacob Blake rounds the front of a silver SUV on Sunday, with two Kenosha, Wis., police officers following close behind, their guns drawn. When Blake opens the door and steps inside, the officers suddenly fire toward his back — at least seven times.

Blake is now in serious condition, the officers have been placed on administrative leave, and the city of Kenosha declared an emergency curfew after destructive protests rocked the city into early Monday morning.

The video footage quickly spread online as Kenosha became the latest place facing unrest after police violence caught on camera. This shooting came as the country has faced months-long protests since George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis, which set off a nationwide wave of demonstrations against police brutality and for racial justice. 

tony evers oWisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D), right, called for greater police accountability as the video spread rapidly through social media.

The shooting happened after 5 p.m., when officers responded to a domestic incident, police said. Witnesses told the Kenosha News that Blake was trying to break up a fight and that police first attempted to stun him with a Taser.

The video shows neighbors congregated outside as two police officers with their guns drawn followed Blake as he approached the car. As Blake opened the driver’s side door, an officer can be seen tugging at Blake’s white tank top before multiple shots ring out from the police.

Kenosha News reported that Blake was shot in front of his children. As footage of Blake’s shooting spread on social media, a crowd gathered at the intersection where he was shot. Tensions quickly rose as more police officers arrived wearing riot gear and several police cars were damaged. A video shows one police officer being hit with a brick and collapsing.

The group eventually moved away from the intersection. A live stream of a march through Kenosha showed hundreds eventually congregating and chanting outside the Kenosha County Public Safety Building after 10 p.m.

Shortly afterward, the city declared a state of emergency and instituted a curfew until 7 a.m. Monday. A public safety alert suggested that 24-hour businesses close “due to numerous armed robberies and shots fired calls.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Police use tear gas on hundreds protesting shooting in Kenosha, Wis., Jaclyn Peiser and Mark Guarino, Aug. 25, 2020 (print ed.). When an 8 p.m. curfew arrived, law enforcement unleashed tear gas in front of the city courthouse, and the crowd responded by throwing firecrackers, tearing down street signs, smashing store fronts and setting fires around the city.

washington post logoWashington Post, Wisconsin will launch independent review of Jacob Blake’s shooting. Critics say that doesn’t go far enough, Kim Bellware, Aug. 25, 2020. The state mandates that an independent investigation must follow officer-involved killings — the first such law in the nation. But prosecutions should be made independent as well, advocates say.

washington post logoWashington Post, D.C. urges caution among visitors as city to host several demonstrations, Michael Brice-Saddler, Justin Wm. Moyer, Gregory S. Schneider and Dana Hedgpeth, Aug. 25, 2020 (print ed.). D.C. health officials added Delaware to the list of states considered “high-risk.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Two men are accused of attempted murder in shooting of three Prince George’s officers, Katie Mettler, Aug. 25, 2020 (print ed.). Investigators continue to piece together what led to the gunfire that left bullet holes in homes, blood in the street and three officers wounded.

U.S. Corruption Claims

washington post logoWashington Post, Hogan denies knowledge of McGrath payout, calls for agency audit, Ovetta Wiggins, Aug. 25, 2020 (print ed.). Gov. Larry Hogan (R), right, has ordered an audit of the Maryland Environmental Service, a quasi-state agency that is under scrutiny for issuing larry hogan o headshot Customa large severance package to its chief executive, who left to become Hogan’s chief of staff.

Hogan’s directive to the state Department of Budget and Management was made shortly before a special legislative panel began its hearing into the payout Roy McGrath received this spring.

In defending the payout, McGrath — who resigned as Hogan’s chief of staff last week — has said it was “customary for departing CEOs” to receive payment equivalent to about one year’s salary. Hogan appeared surprised, and concerned, about the payments (more than $230,000) in a statement he issued Tuesday morning.

Personal Health

washington post logoWashington Post, Government may suggest men limit alcoholic drinks to one per day, Carrie Dennett, Aug. 25, 2020 (print ed.). In its July report, the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee itself wondered how this recommendation would be greeted — acknowledging that such guidelines are “aspirational.”

One drink per day has long been the recommended level for women. Nearly half of people who drink — across all age categories — report binge drinking at least once in the past month. Binge drinking is defined as consuming five or more drinks in the same occasion for men or four or more drinks for women.

 

Aug. 24

Top Headlines

Postal Delays, Hill Hearing

Falwell, Alaskan Scandals

Investigations Of Trump

More On Republican Convention

U.S. Police, Race Disputes

Virus Victims, Responses

U.S. Elections, Politics

Heroic Rescuer Dies

U.S. Political Scandal

Law, Crime, Courts

Media News

World News

 

Top Stories

djt key convention speakers 2020

washington post logoWashington Post, Live updates: Trump family members, allies dominate GOP convention lineup, Seung Min Kim and Felicia Sonmez, Aug. 24, 2020. Missing from the list of speakers over the four nights are former president George W. Bush, 2012 nominee Mitt Romney and several Republican senators locked in competitive races.

Postal Delays, Hearing

washington post logoWashington Post, Live updates: DeJoy pushes back on criticism of cost-cutting changes to Postal Service, Staff reports, Aug. 24, 2020. DeJoy says he did not consult Mnuchin about postmaster general job until after he received the offer; DeJoy splits with Trump, says ‘the Postal Service is not a joke.’

washington post logoWashington Post, More than 500,000 mail ballots were rejected in the primaries. That could make the difference in battleground states this fall, Elise Viebeck, Aug. 24, 2020 (print ed.). The record use of voting by mail during the coronavirus pandemic has increased the possibility of voter error or delayed delivery.

us mail logoMore than 534,000 mail ballots were rejected during primaries across 23 states this year — nearly a quarter in key battlegrounds for the fall — illustrating how missed delivery deadlines, inadvertent mistakes and uneven enforcement of the rules could disenfranchise voters and affect the outcome of the presidential election.

The rates of rejection, which in some states exceeded those of other recent elections, could make a difference in the fall if the White House contest is decided by a close margin, as it was in 2016, when Donald Trump won Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin by roughly 80,000 votes.

This year, according to a tally by The Washington Post, election officials in those three states tossed out more than 60,480 ballots just during primaries, which saw significantly lower voter turnout than what is expected in the general election. The rejection figures include ballots that arrived too late to be counted or were invalidated for another reason, including voter error.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Louis DeJoy just bet on himself – and lost, Bill Palmer, Aug. 24, 2020. When the House Oversight Committee publicly revealed over the weekend that it had internal documents proving that Trump Postmaster Louis DeJoy had committed perjury during his Senate testimony, the goal was to get DeJoy to realize he was in trouble and come clean during his House testimony today.

bill palmer report logo headerThat didn’t happen. DeJoy could have pulled a Gordon Sondland by telling the real truth during his House testimony today, in the hope that the House would decide not to ring him up for felony perjury. Instead, DeJoy decided to double down on his lies during his testimony today. He essentially bet on himself and his ability to dominate today’s hearing, in a way that would leave House Democrats too afraid to keep pursuing the matter beyond today. Unfortunately for DeJoy, he lost that bet.

To be clear, Louis DeJoy’s testimony today could have gone even worse for him. He didn’t quite have a Jack Nicholson moment like in A Few Good Men. But he did embarrass himself pretty badly. Congresswoman Katie Porter managed to prove that DeJoy incompetently knows nothing about the Post Office he’s running, including the cost of mailing a postcard. Congressman Jim Cooper managed to land a punch when he asked DeJoy if he was hoping to be pardoned by Donald Trump for the federal crimes he’s committing within the Post Office.

As is always the case with these things, neither side had a magic wand today. No one fell through a trap door. But this hearing was an incremental victory for the House, and yet another incremental loss for Louis DeJoy. DeJoy’s failure today places more pressure on Mitch McConnell to allow the House Post Office legislation to come to a vote.

More On Republican Convention

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinions: Republicans kick off their party for the MAGA cult, Jennifer Rubin, Aug. 24, 2020. For four evenings this week, the Republicans will put on their convention. They start with multiple disadvantages. The Democratic convention was superb. Republicans seem not to have invested time and care in putting together a compelling virtual event, having been obsessed for far too long with the idea of a full-blown, in-person convention. And President Trump is micromanaging events. He will be there all four nights, a function of his narcissism and the scarcity of credible surrogates. What do we expect?

The first batch of 12 announced speakers included Trump, first lady Melania Trump, the president’s two adult sons, his two daughters, Vice President Pence and Pence’s wife. With half of these Trump family members (although his adult sons were supposed to stay out of politics while running the family business), this lineup reflects the degree to which the administration is run by and for the benefit of Trump’s family.

The Pences and Trump’s relatives must say nice things; it’s a bit embarrassing when time is filled with people who work for the president and/or stand to inherit money from him.

We should also get ready for a White pity party. Mark and Patricia McCloskey, the wealthy Missouri couple charged with a felony for brandishing weapons at Black Lives Matter protesters, are scheduled to appear, as is Nick Sandmann, the former high-schooler whose encounter with a Native American activist at the Lincoln Memorial was captured on video, which went viral. He later sued media outlets (including CNN and The Post, which settled with him) for coverage that he said was defamatory.

Falwell, Alaskan Scandals

HuffPost, Jerry Falwell Jr. agrees to resign as Liberty University president after claiming he was being extorted over his wife’s affair, Susan Svrluga, Sarah Pulliam Bailey and Michelle Boorstein, Jerry Falwell Jr. has permanently left his position as president of the evangelical Liberty University after reports about his sex life led him to take an indefinite leave of absence.

The move on Monday, the first day of the new semester’s classes at Liberty, comes as the evangelical leader claims he’s being extorted by a business partner over his wife’s alleged affair.

Earlier Monday, Reuters reported that a business partner came forward to say he had a sexual relationship involving the evangelical leader and his wife for years. Giancarlo Granda alleged he was 20 when he met Jerry and Becki Falwell while working as a pool attendant at a Miami Beach hotel in March 2012. Granda told Reuters that he then began a relationship with the couple that involved him frequently having sex with Becki Falwell while Jerry Falwell looked on.

In 2018, BuzzFeed reported that a Florida lawsuit highlighted the relationship between the couple and Granda, whom the Falwells also supported in a business venture involving the 2013 purchase of a Miami youth hostel. The evangelical leader filed an affidavit saying he used his own money to lend $1.8 million to the more than $4.6 million hostel project, which is co-owned by his son Trey. Corporate records currently show that Granda has a stake in the hostel venture, according to Reuters.

On Aug. 23, Falwell told The Washington Examiner that his wife had an affair with Granda and that Granda was trying to extort the couple for money over the matter. Granda denied that claim to Reuters, saying he was trying to negotiate a buyout from a business arrangement he had with the Falwells.

In January 2019, The Wall Street Journal reported that Trump’s former personal fixer Michael Cohen hired Liberty employee John Gauger to manipulate some polls to favor Trump ahead of his 2016 presidential campaign. Several high-level sources at the university told Politico that Gauger was accompanied by Trey Falwell when traveling to New York to collect payment from Cohen.

Cohen alleged he helped Jerry Falwell Jr. get rid of racy photos in someone else’s possession in 2015, Reuters reported in May 2019. Cohen said he then helped arrange Falwell’s endorsement of the president during his 2016 campaign.

Falwell announced earlier this month that he was taking a leave of absence from the school in Lynchburg, Virginia, after posting a vacation photo that showed him with his pants unzipped and his arm around the waist of his wife’s pregnant assistant. Falwell, a 58-year-old attorney, apologized and deleted the post.

Liberty University is basically synonymous with the Falwell family. Falwell’s father, the Rev. Jerry Falwell Sr., founded the Christian institution about 50 years ago. The senior Falwell, who died in 2007, was a well-known Southern Baptist pastor, televangelist, Moral Majority leader and political activist who helped create what is today’s religious right.

His son never became a pastor like his father, but he did follow in his footsteps by combining religious, educational and political activities. Liberty has grown into an evangelical institution that’s hugely influential in conservative politics, with more than 100,000 students enrolled ― most of them online.

Falwell is a staunch supporter of Trump, who since his 2016 campaign has divided the evangelical community between progressives speaking out against a president who does not fit their moral standards and conservatives who feel Trump’s attacks on some social issues appeal to the religious right. Trump has spoken at Liberty University several times and at one point offered Falwell the opportunity to lead the Department of Education.

The university’s Board of Trustees faced pressure to make a decision on Falwell’s future at the school, as former and current students, as well as influential supporters, called for his resignation. Though the recent reports about Granda are what precipitated the resignation, Falwell has long been entrenched in scandal after scandal.

Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.), a member of the university’s advisory board, said earlier this month that Falwell must resign. Alumni group Save71 had called for Falwell’s permanent removal before his resignation, saying it “put not faith in riches or comfort, in status or power.”

“For years, Liberty’s Board of Trustees allowed Falwell to frequently, publicly harm Liberty’s reputation,” the group said in a statement Monday. “The Board permitted Falwell and his family to run the school like a personal business at the expense of its faculty and students. Board members sat by while Falwell’s words and deeds disgraced the name of the Lord again and again.”

Yahoo News, Jerry Falwell Jr. says his wife had an affair with the Florida 'pool boy,' claims they were being blackmailed, Peter Weber, Aug. 23, 2020. Suspended Liberty University leader Jerry Falwell Jr. confirmed to Washington Examiner columnist Paul Bedard late Sunday that his wife, Becki Falwell, had an affair with a young man they befriended and went into business with in Florida eight years ago. In a long statement, Falwell said he and his wife "forgave each other" — he suggested he had also "important smaller things" to atone for, quoting a Bible verse about visual adultery — and had decided to come forward because his wife's former lover had been extorting them for "huge amounts of monies" to stay quiet. "I'm just tired of it," Falwell told Bedard.

Falwell said the young man — Giancarlo Granda — had created a "'fatal attraction' type situation," referring to a famous 1987 movie in which a jilted extramarital lover boiled a pet rabbit, among other acts of retaliatory intimidation. Granda, 21 at the time of the affair, told the Examiner in an email that "any allegation of extortion" is false, "defamatory, and belied by clear documentary evidence," adding that the attempt by the Falwells "to sandbag me" with this "last-minute story" just "reeks of desperation," and "the WHOLE truth will come out."

The salacious nature of the relationship between the Falwells and Granda emerged when Michael Cohen, the former fixer and lawyer for President Trump, told comedian Tom Arnold in a secretly taped conversation that he had destroyed risqué "personal" photographs involving the "pool boy" on behalf of Falwell weeks before Falwell unexpectedly endorsed Trump for president.

Falwell said Sunday he "was not involved" in his wife's "inappropriate personal relationship" with Granda, and mentioned "fantastic" and "prurient, untrue aspects" of the relationship "based on the individual's misrepresentations."

Liberty University, a conservative evangelical Christian college founded by Jerry Falwell Sr., confirmed Friday that Falwell has been placed on indefinite paid suspension while the university investigates "various rumors and claims" about him and decides if he will be fired. He makes about $1 million a year as president of Liberty University, The News & Advance reports.

Falwell, 58, has been on leave since apologizing for posting (then deleting) a photo of himself with his arm around a woman, both their pants partially unzipped, at a "Trailer Park Boys" costume party on a 164-foot, six-bedroom yacht owned by NASCAR mogul Rick Hendrick. Falwell's family has reportedly been taking family vacations on the yacht since Liberty University signed a multi-million-dollar sponsorship deal with Hendrick Motorsports.

Anchorage Daily News, Attorney general resigns after disclosure of text messages, Kyle Hopkins, Aug. 25, 2020. Alaska Attorney General Kevin G. Clarkson resigned Tuesday following the publication of an Anchorage Daily News and ProPublica investigation showing he sent hundreds of “uncomfortable” texts to a younger state employee.

kevin clarkson federalist societyRecords obtained by the newsrooms found Clarkson, a Republican shown at right in a presentation to the conservative Federalist Society, sent 558 text messages between March 5 and March 31 to a woman whose job required she sometimes interact with the attorney general. In at least 18 messages he invited the woman to come to his home.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy said in an email Tuesday morning he had accepted Clarkson’s resignation.

“This administration has and always will expect the highest level of professional conduct in the workplace,” a statement from Dunleavy said. “There is nothing more important than the protection of our state employees, and that includes feeling safe when an employee is at work.

“Kevin Clarkson has admitted to conduct in the workplace that did not live up to our high expectations, and this is deeply disappointing. This morning he took responsibility for the unintentional consequences of his actions and tendered his resignation to me. I have accepted it.

“State law provides guidelines and protections for all state employees including confidentiality on personnel matters. The Governor’s office is bound by and conforms to those laws. My administration will continue to insist upon professional conduct from all our employees, regardless of their position in state government.”

The newsrooms learned of Clarkson’s behavior in June and first requested copies of the messages from the Department of Law -- which Clarkson oversees -- on June 4. In a June 19 response the Law Department said the state “has no records.” The governor’s office has declined to answer questions about when the governor learned of the behavior and what actions were taken between the discovery of the messages and Clarkson’s leave of absence, which began Aug. 1.

Earlier this month Dunleavy spokesman Jeff Turner said Clarkson was expected to return to work Sept. 1 and declined to say if the attorney general was on paid or unpaid leave, citing personnel rules. On Friday the Department of Law, responding to another records request, clarified that Clarkson was on leave without pay.

Clarkson has not responded to repeated interview requests. Within two hours of the publication of the investigation on Tuesday, Dunleavy announced the attorney general had resigned.

In his resignation letter, provided by the governor’s office, Clarkson said there was “nothing remotely salacious” about his texts. “I believed we had a positive friendship borne of mutual respect and interests,” he said of the woman. “What I failed to recognize is the impact that these interactions had on this person, due to the disparity in our workplace rank.”

Virus Victims, Responses

washington post logoWashington Post, Millions fall back into crisis as stimulus and safety nets disappear, Hannah Denham and Taylor Telford, Aug. 24, 2020 (print ed.). Without federal aid, households on the margins are being pushed to the brink of financial ruin.

One of the most successful elements of the government’s response to the coronavirus recession — protecting people on the margins from falling into poverty — is faltering as the safety net shrinks and federal benefits expire.

Major recessions are especially fraught for low-income earners, whose finances can veer from tenuous to dire with one missed paycheck. But as the economy cratered this spring, economists and poverty experts were mildly surprised to discover that the torrent of government support that followed — particularly the $600 a week in expanded unemployment benefits and one-time $1,200 stimulus checks — likely lowered the overall poverty rate.

In fact, 17 million people would have dropped below the poverty line without the $500 billion in direct intervention for American families, said Zach Parolin, a researcher at Columbia University.

Now, data show, those gains are eroding as federal inaction deprives Americans on the financial margins of additional support. If the unemployment rate stays around 10 percent and no new stimulus is delivered, “we can expect poverty rates to rise and climb higher than those observed in the Great Recession,” Parolin said. The poverty threshold for a family of four is $26,200, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

ny times logoNew York Times, F.D.A. Announces Emergency Authorization of Convalescent Plasma, Sharon Lafreniere, Sheri Fink, Kati Thomas, Maggie Haberman, Aug. 24, 2020 (print ed.). The agency approved the use of blood plasma from people who have recovered from the virus for the treatment of hospitalized patients. Here’s the latest.The Food and Drug Administration on Sunday authorized the emergency use of blood plasma from people who have recovered from coronavirus infections for the treatment of patients hospitalized with Covid-19.

The decision, which was delayed after top federal scientists urged further study of the treatment, was praised by President Trump at a news conference in which he said plasma was “very effective,” even though no rigorous clinical trials have proven that it works.

The president’s endorsement notwithstanding, convalescent plasma, however promising, has not been proven to work in randomized clinical trials, considered the best way of determining whether a treatment is effective.

Although Mr., Trump said the new approval would “dramatically expand access” to the treatment, convalescent plasma cannot be easily scaled up into millions of doses like manufactured drugs, because it is derived from blood donations.

washington post logoWashington Post, China says it began public use of trial vaccine in July, Eva Dou, Aug. 24, 2020 (print ed.). China is claiming the dubious honor of the first nation to roll out an experimental coronavirus vaccine for public use, saying it began inoculating high-risk groups in late July.

For those keeping score, that would put Beijing’s civilian rollout three weeks earlier than Russia’s, with neither vaccine having yet passed standard clinical trials. Beijing health officials said Saturday they began dosing some medical workers and state-owned enterprise employees with an experimental covid-19 vaccine in late July under “urgent use” protocols.

Officials around the world have been debating how far they should suspend ordinary drug-development protocols to get covid-19 vaccines and treatments to market. Many governments declared early on that they would not cut corners in developing a vaccine, but they are proving amenable in practice to corner-cutting as the pandemic’s human and economic tolls mount.

ny times logoRussian FlagNew York Times, Russia, Expecting Plaudits for Vaccine, Is Miffed by Its Cool Reception, Andrew E. Kramer, Aug. 24, 2020 (print ed.). Russian officials and scientists dismiss warnings about safety as Western jealousy and sour grapes. But only 24 percent of Russian doctors would take the vaccine, one survey shows.

U.S. Elections, Politics

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: After Another Week of Setbacks, Trump Looks to Change the Story Line, Peter Baker, Aug. 24, 2020 (print ed.). The president heads into the Republican National Convention after a string of bad news, including the arrest of a former top aide and a damning reminder of Russia’s interference in the last election.

When President Trump’s strategists mapped out their plans for the critical week leading to the Republican National Convention that would nominate him for a second term, the schedule somehow did not include a sensational arrest on a Chinese billionaire’s yacht.

The last thing the president wanted to see as he kick-starts his campaign was the architect of his last campaign hauled away in handcuffs on charges of bilking his own supporters in a build-the-wall fund-raising scam. Yet there was Stephen K. Bannon, the mastermind of the 2016 election, with his hair now long and scraggly and his face weathered, marched into court and called a crook.

That was only part of the president’s tough week or so. In recent days, the Senate released a damning bipartisan report on Russia’s efforts to help Mr. Trump win in 2016. A government agency concluded that a member of the president’s cabinet is serving in violation of the law. A court rejected Mr. Trump’s effort to keep his tax returns secret. Unemployment claims ticked back up. And former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. smoothly pulled off his own convention without the gaffes Mr. Trump had predicted.

If that were not enough, the president found his family dysfunction playing out in public at the same time he was presiding over a funeral for his younger brother at the White House. Tapes secretly made by his niece over the past couple of years and provided to The Washington Post captured the president’s own sister saying that he “has no principles, none,” railing about “his goddamned tweet and lying” and denouncing his “phoniness” and “cruelty.”

It was a week that in some ways encapsulated the volatile Trump presidency and the baggage he brings into the contest this fall with Mr. Biden: a team at constant war with the criminal justice system, a president defiant of the norms respected by others in the Oval Office, a once-healthy economy sputtering amid a pandemic, an opposition roused and unified by mutual antipathy for the incumbent and discord even among those closest to him.

Whether any of it does lasting damage remains to be seen

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump obliterates lines between governing and campaigning, David Nakamura, Aug. 24, 2020 (print ed.). Trailing in the polls and struggling to find a message, President Trump is leveraging one of the most powerful assets he has left — his White House office — in service of his reelection bid, obliterating the lines between governing and campaigning and testing legal boundaries in ways that go well beyond his predecessors.

rnc logoIn recent weeks, Trump has acknowledged he was opposed to funding for the U.S. Postal Service because he does not want the money used for universal mail-in voting. He sent Homeland Security authorities to quell social justice protests in what he termed “Democrat cities.” He signed a stream of executive orders that circumvented Congress and delivered overtly partisan speeches at official White House functions, including a 54-minute Rose Garden monologue blasting Democratic rival Joe Biden last month.

Trump also has used federal resources and personnel to re-create the enthusiasm of his campaign rallies that were curtailed by the coronavirus pandemic. He invited patrons at his private golf resort in Bedminster, N.J., to attend news conferences there, with many of them heckling reporters. And he held a campaign rally in Yuma, Ariz., last week with 200 off-duty Border Patrol union members, many wearing masks emblazoned with “TRUMP” and “MAGA.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden, Harris push back on GOP attacks in their first joint TV interview, Annie Linskey, Aug. 24, 2020 (print ed.). The pair sought to show they are ideological allies who, during primary season skirmishes, favored different tactics but ultimately shared the same goals for the country.

Joe Biden and Kamala D. Harris on Sunday night pushed back on accusations that they would defund police departments and increase taxes on the middle class or that the presidential nominee is facing mental decline, three narratives that Republicans have promoted and are expected to focus on as their convention begins Monday.

In the Democratic duo’s first joint television interview, aired Sunday night on ABC, Biden reiterated his support for increasing funding to police departments — and noted that President Trump’s budget would cut grants to local law enforcement.

“I don’t want to defund police departments. I think they need more help, they need more assistance,” Biden said. His policing plan, which has been criticized by more liberal elements of his party, would give $300 million more to departments for community policing efforts.

washington post logoWashington Post, Kellyanne Conway to leave White House, citing need to focus on family, Ashley Parker, Aug. 24, 2020 (print ed.). Kellyanne Conway, a senior adviser to President Trump and one of his longest-serving aides, is leaving the White House at the end of the month.

Conway, whose title is counselor to the president, was Trump’s third campaign manager in 2016 and the first woman to successfully manage a presidential bid to victory. She joined the White House at the start of Trump’s term and has been one of his most visible and vocal defenders.

Conway informed Trump of her decision Sunday night in the Oval Office.

Her husband, George T. Conway III, a conservative lawyer and outspoken critic of the president, is also stepping back from his role on the Lincoln Project, an outside group of Republicans devoted to defeating Trump in November. He will also take a hiatus from Twitter, the venue he has often used to attack the president.

Conway’s high school daughter had drawn attention for tweets about her parents and politics.

On Sunday, however, she also tweeted that social media was “becoming way too much,” so she had decided to take “a mental health break.”

ny times logoNew York Times, G.O.P. Rushes to Finalize Convention, With Help From ‘Apprentice’ Producers, Michael M. Grynbaum and Annie Karni, Aug. 23, 2020 (print ed.). Republicans are working to finalize a week’s worth of events that can match the production put on for the Democratic nominee, Joe Biden. The party is promising a more traditional in-person spectacle with President Trump speaking every night. Coming into this weekend, producers at the major TV networks had only a foggy idea of what to expect.

Democrats set a high bar last week for the pandemic-era political convention, dispensing with cheering crowds in favor of a virtual pageant that encompassed passionate speeches, a charming cross-country roll call vote, vignettes from an Oscar-winning Donald Trump and Mike Pence logofilmmaker and a low-fi fireworks display above a parking lot. A few hiccups aside, even jaded network executives conceded the party mostly pulled it off.

Now it’s the Republicans’ turn in the prime-time spotlight — and the party led by a former reality TV star is rushing to measure up.

After scrapping plans for a full-bore, in-person spectacle in Charlotte and Jacksonville, Fla., because of the coronavirus, Republicans are working to finalize a week’s worth of events that can match the production put on for the Democratic nominee, Joseph R. Biden Jr., while meeting the exacting — and frequently shifting — standards of President Trump, the Viewer-in-Chief.

rnc logoTwo producers of “The Apprentice,” where Mr. Trump rose to TV stardom, are involved in the planning. Sadoux Kim, a longtime deputy to “Apprentice’’ creator Mark Burnett who once served as a Miss Universe judge when Mr. Trump owned the pageant, is a lead consultant on the production. Chuck LaBella, a former NBC entertainment executive who helped produce “The Comedy Central Roast of Donald Trump,” is also on the payroll.

Party officials say their convention — during which Mr. Trump is expected to speak every night in the 10 p.m. hour — will ultimately surpass the Democrats’ telethon-like show. “We’re going to have more of it live than what they did,” Mr. Trump told Fox News on Thursday. “I think it’s pretty boring when you do tapes.”

Exactly what that looks like remains an open question.

As Monday’s kickoff looms, Republican officials were still deciding what segments to air live and what would be taped in advance. Typically, convention broadcasts require weeks of highly technical preparation. By the weekend, producers at the major TV networks had only a foggy idea of what to expect, although Republicans provided a more detailed rundown on Saturday evening. Still, broadcasters will head into the week with some unknowns.

ny times logoNew York Times, LeBron James and a Multimillion-Dollar Push for More Poll Workers, Astead W. Herndon, Aug. 24, 2020. More Than a Vote, a group of athletes headlined by LeBron James, is launching a campaign to address poll worker shortages and the need to keep polling stations open in Black electoral districts.

LeBron James and several other basketball stars involved in the More Than a Vote effort are focused on addressing the shortage in poll workers across the country.

More Than a Vote, a collective of athletes headlined by LeBron James that is fighting to combat voter suppression, will announce a multimillion-dollar initiative to increase the number of poll workers in Black electoral districts ahead of November’s general election.

The project, a collaboration with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, aims to recruit young people to serve at polling locations in Black communities in swing states, including Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin, Florida and Ohio. The effort will involve poll worker recruitment, a paid advertising campaign and a corporate partnership program that will encourage employees to volunteer as poll workers.

Election officials throughout the country have reported a shortage of poll workers to staff in-person voting sites amid the coronavirus pandemic, which has upended every facet of American life — including the electoral process.

In April, Wisconsin, one of the first states to hold a primary election after the virus spread nationally, had to cut in-person locations in Milwaukee to five from 180 because of poll worker shortages. Experts said the closures had a particular effect in Black communities, where access to in-person polling locations is already under threat. Residents in line waited for more than four hours, and many complained about not receiving a mail-in ballot after requesting one.

Forbes, Social Security Fund Would Be Empty By 2023 If Payroll Taxes Were Cut, Actuary Estimates, Nicholas Reimann, Aug. 24, 2020.
 Payments for Social Security benefits will end by the middle of 2023 if President Donald Trump were able to deliver on his promise of permanently cutting payroll taxes, and if another funding source was not provided to replace it, according to an estimate from the chief actuary of the Social Security Administration.

Assuming legislation were passed eliminating payroll taxes as of Jan.1, 2021, the trust fund providing monthly stipends for Americans with disabilities would be emptied first around the middle of 2021, Chief Actuary Stephen Goss said in a letter sent Monday, and the fund that supports Social Security payments would run dry after the middle of 2023.

Trump recently announced the federal government would defer payroll tax collections from Sept. 1 through the end of the year as an economic stimulus measure; employers withhold 6.2% of earnings of American workers to fund Social Security and employers pay an equal amount.

Trump has said if he is reelected, he will make payroll tax cuts permanent, but White House officials have said no such initiative is on the agenda.

Goss’ letter was sent to Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), in response to an inquiry of what would happen if payroll taxes are cut permanently.

Since Trump’s action only deferred collecting those taxes till next year, some companies and tax advisors are leaning toward continuing to make the tax payments. If he’s reelected, Trump has promised to forgive the taxes retroactively, but he doesn’t have the power to do so — Congress would have to pass legislation.

"With no alternative source of revenue to replace the elimination of payroll taxes on earned income paid on January 1, 2021 and thereafter, we estimate that DI Trust Fund asset reserves would become permanently depleted in about the middle of calendar year 2021, with no ability to pay DI benefits thereafter,” Goss said. "We estimate that OASI Trust Fund reserves would become permanently depleted by the middle of calendar year 2023, with no ability to pay OASI benefits thereafter."

Heroic Rescuer Dies

ny times logoNew York Times, Detroit Firefighter Dies Trying to Save Girls From Drowning, Allyson Waller, Aug. 24, 2020 (print ed.). The body of a Detroit firefighter was recovered from the Detroit River on Saturday, a day after he dived into the water to save three young girls from drowning, the authorities said.

Sgt. Sivad Johnson, 49, a 26-year veteran of the Detroit Fire Department, was visiting Belle Isle, a 982-acre island park in the Detroit River, with his 10-year-old daughter, Hayden, on Friday evening when he heard witnesses say three young girls were drowning, said Eric Jones, the Detroit fire commissioner.

Sergeant Johnson gave his phone and keys to his daughter, and he and a civilian dived into the river to save the girls, Commissioner Jones said. After the girls were safely brought to shore, Sergeant Johnson’s daughter realized she could not find her father and called 911 around 9 p.m., according to the Michigan State Police.

Hayden was turned over to the care of her grandfather while the authorities searched the river. The search was called off by 4 a.m. and resumed later that morning, said Dave Fornell, the deputy fire commissioner. Sergeant Johnson’s body was found on Saturday afternoon near the Detroit Yacht Club. The authorities said they believed he was dragged underwater by a rip current.

In a monologue that he delivered to an audience in Flint, Mich., in 2018, a recording of which was broadcast the following year on the public radio show “The Moth Radio Hour,” Sergeant Johnson described his family’s deep connection to firefighting and to his colleagues in the Detroit Fire Department.

“My brother was a firefighter for 11 years, and we are both second-generation because our father served for 20,” he said. “That is actually a very proud thing for me to say. I’ve met a lot of great men and women on the job, and through some of the things we’ve been through and shared, we’ve grown close like a family.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Alex Morse Was Accused, Condemned and Then Vindicated. Will His Experience Change Anything? Jeremy W. Peters, Aug. 24, 2020 (print ed.). Vague allegations against the Massachusetts congressional candidate offer a case study in how progressives navigate issues of sex and power in politics when judgment is often swift and unforgiving. Alex Morse, the 31-year-old, gay mayor of Holyoke, Mass., says the allegations have only helped his campaign to unseat a Democratic incumbent in Congress.

Political careers usually don’t survive allegations like these. And for about a week, it seemed as if Alex Morse’s might not either.

On Aug. 7, the student newspaper at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst reported that the state chapter of the College Democrats had disinvited Mr. Morse, a congressional candidate and former guest lecturer at the university, from its future events, claiming “numerous incidents” of unwanted and inappropriate advances toward students.

alex morse wikimediaMr. Morse, left, is a 31-year-old, gay, small-city mayor and a rising star in national progressive politics. It wasn’t just his job on the line, but also the hopes of an entire movement: His primary challenge against one of the most powerful Democrats in Congress is being closely watched as an indicator of the strength of the Democratic Party’s insurgent left wing.

/He quickly apologized to anyone he made uncomfortable with his behavior, while also acknowledging some consensual sexual relationships with college students over the years. He said none were with anyone he taught or supervised.

Nevertheless, within hours after the story broke, Mr. Morse went from role model to pariah. Progressive groups said they would stop campaigning for him. The university called the news “deeply concerning” and opened an investigation.

Mr. Morse said he even considered dropping out, despite his suspicions about the motives of his accusers and the vagueness of the richard neal headshotcharges. “This was no accident that it was happening three weeks before the primary,” he said in an interview.

But then the story flipped, with a cascade of head-spinning revelations. Messages between some of the students that were published by The Intercept showed they had discussed how they might damage Mr. Morse’s campaign, with one suggesting it might help his career prospects with Mr. Morse’s opponent, Representative Richard E. Neal, right, the chairman of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee.

democratic donkey logoThere was more. The Massachusetts Democratic Party acknowledged that it had provided legal advice to the College Democrats about the letter, leading Mr. Morse to accuse Mr. Neal and his allies in the state’s Democratic leadership of having a hand in a homophobic plot to smear him. Mr. Neal has denied any involvement.

Today, Mr. Morse is still in the race and says the allegations have only helped his campaign. Since the initial story appeared, he has raised more than $410,000, and 800 volunteers have reached out offering to help.

Though the university is still investigating, the activists who distanced themselves from him at first are now back on board. The students involved in writing the letter have mostly gone underground, and the state Democratic Party has opened an independent investigation to determine if anyone acted improperly.

Behind the drama and plot twists — imagine scenes from “Veep” spliced into an episode of “House of Cards” — is a case study of how first impressions can be misleading when someone is accused of having improper sexual relationships, and what happens when those charges are leveled against a popular progressive politician in the social media-turbocharged culture of swift retribution.

Previous reporting: Washington Post, Amid college inquiry, Mass. congressional challenger says he had ‘consensual’ relationships with students, Teo Armus, Aug. 10, 2020. As allegations emerged that Morse had used his position to make advances on men a decade his junior, he offered an admission on Sunday: He had in fact engaged in relationships with local college students

ny times logoNew York Times, Kansas Candidate Who Admitted to Revenge Porn Plans to Withdraw, Marie Fazio, Aug. 24, 2020. Aaron Coleman, 19, won the Democratic primary election for a Kansas House seat by 14 votes. Now he wants out.

aaron coleman twitterThe 19-year-old candidate for the Kansas Legislature who admitted to sending revenge porn and bullying girls online when he was in middle school plans to withdraw as the Democratic nominee, he announced on Sunday.

The candidate, Aaron Coleman, right, said on Twitter that he had decided to withdraw from the race to “focus on taking care of my family & surviving the COVID Great Depression.” He added that his father was in the hospital.

“I regret my past actions and hope to continually learn from them as I grow into the person I hope to be,” he said.

Mr. Coleman did not immediately respond to messages left by phone and through Twitter.

Last week Mr. Coleman, a dishwasher and community college student, defeated a seven-year incumbent, Stan Frownfelter, by 14 votes in the Democratic primary for the 37th District seat in the Kansas House of Representatives. The final count was 823 to 809.

According to Kansas law, a name can be removed from the ballot if the nominee or the nominee’s family experienced severe medical hardship, or if the nominee moved out of the state or died.

To have his name removed, Mr. Coleman would need to file a petition with the secretary of state before Sept. 1 stating the reasons for the withdrawal. If granted, the district Democratic Party committee would choose a replacement.

washington post logoWashington Post, Live updates: USPS leader faces grilling from House panel over mail-in ballots, Jacob Bogage, Michelle Ye Hee Lee and Erica Werner, Aug. 24, 2020. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy returns to Capitol Hill following his pledge to place a controversial agency overhaul on hold until after the election.

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy will face questions from members of the House Oversight and Reform Committee on Monday amid growing concerns about the U.S. Postal Service’s ability to fulfill its mission and fears about the impact on mail-in ballots in the November election.

Also testifying will be Robert M. Duncan, chairman of the Board of Governors for the Postal Service.

According to internal Postal Service data released Saturday by the House panel investigating the agency, on-time mail rates abruptly fell starting at the end of June.

djt melania trump file

Palmer Report, Opinion: Melania Trump reportedly caught on tape criticizing Donald Trump and his kids, Bill Palmer, Aug. 24, 2020. Looks like things in the Trump family might be about to get even uglier than the newly redesigned Rose Garden. Shortly after recordings were released of Maryanne Trump Barry trashing Donald Trump, it’s being reported that Melania Trump has also been caught on tape disparaging Donald Trump and his adult kids.

bill palmer report logo headerMelania Trump’s former friend Stephanie Winston Wolkoff is publishing a new tell-all book about her time in and around the White House. Reporter Yashar Ali says that according to his sources, Wolkoff’s book quotes Melania making disparaging remarks about Donald Trump, Ivanka Trump, and other of Donald’s children. With Wolkoff’s book about to ship, it’s not clear if these audio recordings are going to be released in that same timeframe.

Stephanie Winston Wolkoff was previously in the news when the Trump regime hired her to help plan Donald Trump’s inauguration, an event that ended up being the focus of an apparently still-ongoing federal investigation. In this instance, it was Wolkoff who was caught on tape voicing her concerns about how the money was spent.

Law, Crime, Courts

washington post logoWashington Post, Police driving maneuver used to end chases has killed 30 people since 2016, The Post finds, Shaun Raviv and John Sullivan, Aug. 24, 2020 (print ed.). Eighteen of those deaths came after officers tried to stop vehicles for minor violations. Many departments refuse to use the tactic — known as a PIT, or precision immobilization technique — because of the risks.

Media News

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump is ‘Fox’s Frankenstein,’ insiders told CNN’s Brian Stelter — and here’s the toll it’s taken, Margaret margaret sullivan 2015 photoSullivan, right, Aug. 24, 2020 (print ed.). If anyone was born to write a juicy book about the democracy-threatening relationship between Fox News and Donald Trump, it had to be Brian Stelter.

After all, at not quite 35, the Maryland native has been reporting on cable news for more than 15 years. As a college undergraduate, he started a blog, CableNewser, that he eventually sold to a digital-publishing company.

And as CNN’s chief media correspondent, he is so ubiquitous — writing stories, producing a popular newsletter, tweeting prolifically and hosting the Sunday media-centric show, “Reliable Sources” — that Columbia Journalism Review called him “unavoidable.”

Turning this bottomless drive and energy to one of the most consequential media stories of our time, the symbiotic ties between Fox News and Trump, Stelter talked to hundreds of current and former network employees for a new book to be published Tuesday by Simon & Schuster: Hoax: Donald Trump, Fox News, and the Dangerous Distortion of Truth. (I obtained an early copy and interviewed Stelter last week.)

World News

washington post logoWashington Post, New Zealand mosque attack victims confront gunman in courtroom, Emanuel Stoakes, Aug. 24, 2020. The gunman who attacked worshipers at two New Zealand mosques last year, killing 51 people and injuring 49, faced his surviving victims and relatives of the deceased in a courtroom on Monday as harrowing new details of the killing rampage emerged.

A judge this week is determining the sentence for Brenton Tarrant, who pleaded guilty in March to dozens of counts of murder and attempted murder and one count of committing a terrorist act in connection with the March 15, 2019, massacres at the Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Islamic Center in Christchurch. The 29-year-old Australian had posted white-supremacist views online and live-streamed the slaughter on Facebook.

ny times logoalexander lukashenko resized 2019New York Times, Belarus Protests Test Limits of Lukashenko’s Brutal, One-Man Rule, Andrew Higgins, Aug. 24, 2020. For 26 years, President Aleksandr Lukashenko, right, has built a regime in his own eccentric, authoritarian image. Now he faces the greatest challenge yet to his hold on power.

 

Aug. 23

maryanne trump barryTop Headlines

Virus Victims, Responses

Postal Service Scandal

U.S.  Elections, Politics

Trump Tweets, Prospects

U.S. Political Scandals

U.S. Disasters, Environment

U.S. Political, Race Protests

 

Top Stories

Trump Siblings: Robert, Elizabeth, Freddy, Donald, Maryanne, left to right, via Trump Campaign

Trump Siblings Family Portrait: Robert, Elizabeth, Freddy, Donald, Maryanne, left to right, via Trump Campaign

mary trump

washington post logoWashington Post, Exclusive: In secretly recorded audio, Trump’s sister says he has ‘no principles’ and ‘you can’t trust him,’ Michael Kranish, Aug. 23, 2020 (print ed.). “I’m talking too freely,” Maryanne Trump Barry, a former federal judge and President Trump’s older sister, said during 15 hours recorded in 2018 and 2019 by her niece, Mary L. Trump, right. Barry’s remarks are the most critical comments known to have been made about the president by one of his siblings.

Maryanne Trump Barry, below left in a 1992 photo, was serving as a federal judge when she heard her brother, President Trump, suggest on Fox News, “maybe I'll have to put her at the border” amid a wave of refugees entering the United States. At the time, children were being separated from their parents and put in cramped quarters while court hearings dragged on.

maryanne trump barry“All he wants to do is appeal to his base,” Barry said in a conversation secretly recorded by her niece, Mary L. Trump. “He has no principles. None. None. And his base, I mean my God, if you were a religious person, you want to help people. Not do this.”

Barry, 83, was aghast at how her 74-year-old brother operated as president. “His goddamned tweet and lying, oh my God,” she said. “I’m talking too freely, but you know. The change of stories. The lack of preparation. The lying. Holy shit.”

Lamenting “what they’re doing with kids at the border,” she guessed her brother “hasn’t read my immigration opinions” in court cases. In one case, she berated a judge for failing to treat an asylum applicant respectfully.

“What has he read?” Mary Trump asked her aunt.

“No. He doesn’t read,” Barry responded.

In the weeks since Mary Trump’s tell-all book about her uncle has been released, she’s been questioned about the source of some of the information, such as her allegation that Trump paid a friend to take his SATs to enable him to transfer into the University of Pennsylvania. Nowhere in the book does she say that she recorded conversations with her aunt.

In response to a question from The Washington Post about how she knew the president paid someone to take the SATs, Mary Trump revealed that she had surreptitiously taped 15 hours of face-to-face conversations with Barry in 2018 and 2019. She provided The Post with previously unreleased transcripts and audio excerpts, which include exchanges that are not in her book.

ny times logoNew York Times, House Votes to Block Postal Changes and Allocate Funds for Mail, Nicholas Fandos and Emily Cochrane, Aug. 23, 2020 (print ed.). The Democratic bill would send $25 billion to the Postal Service and reverse changes that have slowed service until after November’s election.

The House interrupted its summer recess on Saturday for a rare weekend session to approve legislation blocking cost-cutting and operational changes at the Postal Service that Democrats, civil rights advocates and some Republicans fear could jeopardize mail-in ballots this fall.

us mail logoThe measure, put forward by Democratic leaders, would also require the Postal Service to prioritize the delivery of all election-related mail and grant the beleaguered agency a rare $25 billion infusion to cover revenue lost because of the coronavirus pandemic and ensure it has the resources to address what is expected to be the largest vote-by-mail operation in the nation’s history.

Democrats were joined by 26 Republicans in voting yes, passing the legislation 257 to 150, with more than 20 U.S. House logoRepublicans not voting. But the bill, as written, appeared unlikely to move through the Republican-controlled Senate. President Trump opposed the measure in last-minute tweets, calling it a “money wasting HOAX” by Democrats.

Democrats framed Saturday’s action as an emergency intervention into the affairs of an independent agency to protect vital mail and package services that have seen significant delays this summer as the new postmaster general, Louis DeJoy, moved swiftly to cut costs to close a yawning budget gap. They said it was also necessary to instill confidence in American voters that the agency would safeguard their ballots despite near daily attacks by Mr. Trump on mail-in voting.

carolyn maloney o“This is not a partisan issue,” Representative Carolyn B. Maloney, left, Democrat of New York and the lead author of the bill, said, as she released Postal Service statistics documenting the slowdown in delivery since early July. “It makes absolutely no sense to impose these kinds of dangerous cuts in the middle of a pandemic and just months before the elections in November.”

Most Republicans in the House opposed it after Mr. DeJoy, facing intense backlash and with the vote looming, announced this week that he would temporarily halt the removal of blue mailboxes and sorting machines, as well as changes to post office hours and to mail delivery operations until after Nov. 3 out of an abundance of caution.

In testimony before the Senate on Friday, Mr. DeJoy reiterated that pledge and said ensuring successful mail-in voting would be the agency’s “No. 1 priority.” He called Democrats’ assertion that he was working with Mr. Trump to hinder the program “outrageous” and testified that he planned to continue the agency’s practice of prioritizing election mail.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Looks like the House Oversight Committee just nailed Louis DeJoy, Bill Palmer, Aug. 22-23, 2020. When Trump Postmaster General Louis DeJoy told several blatant lies during his Senate testimony this past week, Palmer Report pointed out that he’d just louis dejoy Customcreated a huge opening for House Democrats. In fact we predicted that before the weekend was over, the House would inform DeJoy that it has him nailed for perjury, in the hope that the specter of a criminal referral would scare him into coming clean during his House testimony on Monday.

bill palmer report logo headerAs if on cue, the House Oversight Committee has announced this afternoon that it has internal Post Office documents in its possession which confirm that DeJoy was recently briefed on significant across-the-board slowdowns in mail delivery. This evidence proves DeJoy was lying when he told the Senate that mail delivery hadn’t slowed down.

The primary goal here isn’t to send DeJoy to prison for perjury, though that would be a nice bonus. The goal is to make DeJoy realize that he’s going to get hit with a criminal referral for perjury, which will send him to prison if Trump loses the election, so that DeJoy will become scared enough to come clean during his testimony and cave on everything.

We recently saw the House use this tactic with great success against Donald Trump henchman Gordon Sondland. He got caught lying during his initial testimony, but then after the House informed him that it had him nailed, Sondland testified a second time and came clean about everything. Louis DeJoy, like Sondland, is a political neophyte who is in way over his head. We’ll see what happens on Monday.

Virus Victims, Responses

ny times logoNew York Times, Live updates: Global Death Toll Surpasses 800,000, Staff reports, Aug. 23, 2020 (print ed.). New infections flared in Europe and high numbers of deaths were recorded across the United States, India, South Africa and most of Latin America; Health officials are linking virus cases to the 10-day Sturgis motorcycle rally, which drew hundreds of thousands of participants.

The global death toll from the coronavirus pandemic has surpassed 800,000, according to data compiled by The New York Times.

Since the pandemic began, the countries with the highest number of deaths per capita have largely been concentrated in Europe, with countries including Belgium, Britain, Italy and the independent enclave of San Marino within it, and Spain all reporting more than 50 deaths per 100,000 people.

But in the past week, nine out of the 10 countries with the most deaths per capita have been in South and Central America or the Caribbean, according to The Times database. Of those, Brazil, Mexico and Peru have also seen total death counts that rank in the top 10 over all, with Brazil and Mexico having recorded the second and third most deaths globally, behind the United States.

New mortality figures in Bolivia reviewed by The Times suggest that the real death toll there is nearly five times the official tally, indicating that the country has had one of the world’s worst coronavirus outbreaks. About 20,000 more people — in a country of only about 11 million — have died since June than in past years, according to a Times analysis of data from Bolivia’s Civil Registry.

In related news:

      • In Germany, researchers organized a concert to figure out how the virus spreads at big events.
      • Who is policing student behavior on campus? Residence hall advisers and students themselves.
      • India, approaching 3 million cases, adds restrictions but allows some religious gatherings.
      • A big wedding in New York State is blocked at the last minute.
      • Republicans prepare for a convention featuring an in-person segment.

ny times logoNew York Times, Covid-19 Limits California’s Efforts to Fight Fires With Prison Labor, Thomas Fuller, Aug. 23, 2020 (print ed.).Early releases of prisoners to protect them from the virus have depleted the ranks of an inmate firefighting program that some say should be abolished.

They charge into fire zones with 60-pound packs and three-foot chain saws, felling trees and hacking through brush to make wide paths of dirt around anything worth protecting. Bright orange uniforms set them apart from other firefighters — and identify them as inmates of California’s state prisons.

“It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life,” said Ricardo Martin, who became an inmate firefighter while serving a seven-year sentence for driving while intoxicated and injuring another motorist in a crash. “But we took special pride in being able to actually save people’s homes,” Mr. Martin said. “Everybody talked about that and how good they felt about it.”

Prisoners have helped California fight fires for decades, playing a crucial role in containing the blazes striking the state with more frequency and ferocity in recent years.

This past week, though, Mr. Martin and hundreds of other inmate firefighters were absent from the fire lines. They had already gone home, part of an early release program initiated by Gov. Gavin Newsom to protect them from the coronavirus.

Postal Service Scandal

ny times logoNew York Times, Mnuchin Paved Way for Postal Service Shake-Up, Kenneth P. Vogel, Jessica Silver-Greenberg, Alan Rappeport and Hailey Fuchs, Aug. 23, 2020 (print ed.). The Postal Service was walled off from political influence in 1970. Then Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin got involved at President Trump’s behest. Now the Trump administration is facing allegations it sought to politicize the agency and hinder its ability to handle a surge in mail-in ballots.

steven mnuchin wIn early February, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, left, invited two Republican members of the Postal Service’s board of governors to his office to update him on a matter in which he had taken a particular interest — the search for a new postmaster general.

Mr. Mnuchin had made clear before the meeting that he wanted the governors to find someone who would push through the kind of cost-cutting and price increases that President Trump had publicly called for and that Treasury had recommended in a December 2018 report as a way to stem years of multibillion-dollar losses.

It was an unusual meeting at an unusual moment.

Since 1970, the Postal Service had been an independent agency, walled off from political influence. The postmaster general is not appointed by the president and is not a cabinet member. Instead, the postal chief is picked by a board of governors, with seats reserved for members of both parties, who are nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate for seven-year terms.

Trump Tweets, Prospects

Axios, Analysis: 1 big thing: GOP convention is a Trumpian production, Jonathan Swan, Aug 23, 2020. This week's Republican National Convention will be The Trump Show from start to finish, aiming for ratings-juicing stunts, attention-grabbing speeches from MAGA stars, and executive power as performance art, people familiar with the plans tell Axios.

• "Think of each night like an episode," says one source. "And what would an episode be without an appearance from the star?"
Behind the scenes: President Trump made clear to aides that he wanted a grand, raucous convention — to the extent such things are achievable during a pandemic. He wanted a live audience, which he'll now get on the White House's South Lawn.

• He didn't like the Zoom-call feel of the Democratic convention, and he thought many of the speeches went on too long, people close to him said.

Sources close to the convention said Team Trump is trying to leverage all of its advantages — the powers of the presidency and the setting of the White House.

• Traditionally, nominees only speak on the last night of the convention. Trump, however, will appear every night.
• The sources say they're making sure that the White House Counsel's Office clears all activities.

Trump will shatter tradition — and, many say, propriety — by delivering his acceptance speech from a grand stage on the South Lawn.

• Nearby on Constitution Avenue, Team Trump has decked out the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium, which will be the site of many of the speeches.

• It's a Trumpian scene, I'm told: You can't walk 3 feet without running into an American flag. There's a red carpet and columns with gilded accents.

You'll hear from the McCloskeys — the St. Louis couple who brandished guns at Black Lives Matter protesters — and from Nick Sandmann, the Covington teen who has sued a host of media outlets and settled with CNN and the Washington Post. All of Trump's adult children, including Tiffany, will also speak.

• Unlike the other Trump children, Tiffany is very private and hasn't made a public speech since the 2016 Republican National Convention.

• The first lady will also speak from the newly renovated Rose Garden.

• And Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will be addressing the RNC from "an undisclosed location" in Jerusalem, per a source familiar with his plans.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: The permanent outsider: President Trump has no idea how to run for reelection as an incumbent, Ashley Parker, Aug. 23, 2020 (print ed.). At a White House signing ceremony this month, President Trump lamented the “deep-swamp things happening” in the nation’s “deep state.” Speaking to workers at a Whirlpool plant in Ohio a few days later, he promised to “drain the Washington swamp once and for all.” There’s just one niggling complication: More than 3 1 / 2 years into his presidency, Trump is the straw-haired avatar of the swamp.

Typically, presidents run for reelection on the achievements of their first term: the policies deployed, the gains notched, the victories achieved, the goals to fully realize in the next four years.

djt biden smiles resizedBut Trump has, from that first golden-escalator ride, campaigned, governed and wallowed in grievance, never once wavering from his outsider ethos. He is relentlessly on brand about the forces arrayed against him. He warns his supporters not to trust the "FAKE NEWS" and demands that states and districts "OPEN THE SCHOOLS!!!" He suggested this spring that Michigan, Minnesota and Virginia "LIBERATE" themselves from the restrictive coronavirus protection measures his own public health officials had suggested.

It is not unusual to run for office on those terms, from the outside. But Trump appears unwilling — or unable — to abandon his burn-it-all-down cri de coeur, even when the establishment he lambastes is run by himself and his appointees. He insists firmly, and implausibly, that while he may be in Washington, he is not of it. Refusing to take ownership of his own administration's record allows Trump to jettison responsibility.

Yet the decision to position himself as a permanent outsider is less strategic than pathological, say people close to the president, reflecting a man who since childhood has lusted after an elite that never truly welcomed him. Trump is "a significantly more evil version of Gatsby," said Tony Schwartz, the co-author of Trump's 1987 bestseller, "The Art of the Deal," alluding to F. Scott Fitzgerald's antihero, who hungers for the American Dream and briefly achieves it through dishonest means.

Ashley Parker is a White House reporter for The Washington Post who joined The Post in 2017, after 11 years at the New York Times, where she covered the 2012 and 2016 presidential campaigns and Congress, among other things.

Political Scandal

washington post logoWashington Post, Court orders Trump to pay Stormy Daniels $44,100 for legal fees, Jeanne Whalen, Aug. 23, 2020 (print ed.). The dispute involved hush-money payments Daniels received from the Trump Organization over an alleged affair.

stormy daniels djt insight 1 19 2018 CustomA California court ordered President Trump to pay Stephanie Clifford, right, the adult-film actress known as Stormy Daniels, $44,100 to cover her legal fees stemming from a dispute over a nondisclosure agreement.

The Superior Court of California in Los Angeles ruled that Clifford was the prevailing party in the dispute and therefore won the right to have her legal fees paid by Trump, according to a copy of the ruling, dated Aug. 17, posted by the court and by Clifford’s lawyer.

“Yup. Another win!” the Stormy Daniels Twitter account tweeted on Friday. White House officials and lawyers for Trump didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

The dispute involved a nondisclosure agreement Clifford signed in 2016 in exchange for a $130,000 payment from Trump’s personal lawyer at the time, Michael Cohen. The agreement prevented Clifford from speaking about an affair she says she and Trump had from 2006 to 2007. Trump has denied having the affair.

Hollywood PoliTrivia, TV Cultural History: 'Batman' predicted the Trump administration, Wayne Madsen, Aug. 23, 2020. Two episodes of the campy "Batman" television series in 1966 appeared to have accurately predicted the Donald Trump administration. The episodes, titled "Hizzoner the Penguin," followed by "Dizzoner the Penguin," featured Batman's arch-nemesis, The Penguin, announcing that he was running for mayor of Gotham City.

Palmer Report, Opinion: This is all unraveling for Donald Trump at just the wrong time, Bill Palmer, Aug. 23, 2020. We don’t know if Mary Trump chose now to leak her recordings of Maryanne Trump Barry to the media in order to do maximum damage to Donald Trump ahead of the Republican National Convention. We don’t even know for sure if Mary Trump was the source; perhaps the Washington Post obtained the recordings through some other method. But we do know that things are now unraveling fast for Donald Trump – and at just the wrong time.

bill palmer report logo headerDonald Trump desperately needs his Republican National Convention to go well for him this week. That was already going to be an uphill climb, considering that he’s struggling to get big name speakers (even from within his own party), and that he’s foolishly giving keynote speeches all four nights – not something that’s advisable for a guy who’s deep in the throes of cognitive loss.

But now Trump is going to have to deal with the fact that at least the first couple news cycles from the convention are going to include the ugly things that his sister said about him on these recordings. She didn’t merely condemn him; she accused him of hiring someone to take his SATs, and she claimed that he doesn’t even read.

This is ugly – and because there are recordings, the story will get continuous airplay on cable news and viral exposure on social media. Even as Donald Trump’s limp convention ends up consisting of a handful of his family members kissing his backside, they’ll have to compete with recordings of Trump’s own sister saying that he’s the illiterate scum of the earth. Ouch.

Yahoo News, Jerry Falwell Jr. says his wife had an affair with the Florida 'pool boy,' claims they were being blackmailed, Peter Weber, Aug. 23, 2020. Suspended Liberty University leader Jerry Falwell Jr. confirmed to Washington Examiner columnist Paul Bedard late Sunday that his wife, Becki Falwell, had an affair with a young man they befriended and went into business with in Florida eight years ago. In a long statement, Falwell said he and his wife "forgave each other" — he suggested he had also "important smaller things" to atone for, quoting a Bible verse about visual adultery — and had decided to come forward because his wife's former lover had been extorting them for "huge amounts of monies" to stay quiet. "I'm just tired of it," Falwell told Bedard.

Falwell said the young man — Giancarlo Granda — had created a "'fatal attraction' type situation," referring to a famous 1987 movie in which a jilted extramarital lover boiled a pet rabbit, among other acts of retaliatory intimidation. Granda, 21 at the time of the affair, told the Examiner in an email that "any allegation of extortion" is false, "defamatory, and belied by clear documentary evidence," adding that the attempt by the Falwells "to sandbag me" with this "last-minute story" just "reeks of desperation," and "the WHOLE truth will come out."

The salacious nature of the relationship between the Falwells and Granda emerged when Michael Cohen, the former fixer and lawyer for President Trump, told comedian Tom Arnold in a secretly taped conversation that he had destroyed risqué "personal" photographs involving the "pool boy" on behalf of Falwell weeks before Falwell unexpectedly endorsed Trump for president.

Falwell said Sunday he "was not involved" in his wife's "inappropriate personal relationship" with Granda, and mentioned "fantastic" and "prurient, untrue aspects" of the relationship "based on the individual's misrepresentations."

Liberty University, a conservative evangelical Christian college founded by Jerry Falwell Sr., confirmed Friday that Falwell has been placed on indefinite paid suspension while the university investigates "various rumors and claims" about him and decides if he will be fired. He makes about $1 million a year as president of Liberty University, The News & Advance reports.

Falwell, 58, has been on leave since apologizing for posting (then deleting) a photo of himself with his arm around a woman, both their pants partially unzipped, at a "Trailer Park Boys" costume party on a 164-foot, six-bedroom yacht owned by NASCAR mogul Rick Hendrick. Falwell's family has reportedly been taking family vacations on the yacht since Liberty University signed a multi-million-dollar sponsorship deal with Hendrick Motorsports.

washington post logoWashington Post, Twitter flags ‘misleading’ tweet from Trump, Felicia Sonmez, Aug. 23, 2020. Twitter on Sunday flagged a tweet in which Trump suggested voters could contract the coronavirus by placing their mail-in ballots in drop boxes, calling his message misleading and in violation of the platform’s rules.

“We placed a public interest notice on this Tweet for violating our Civic Integrity Policy for making misleading health claims that could potentially dissuade people from participation in voting,” the company said in a tweet Sunday afternoon.

It added that Trump’s tweet “will remain on the service given its relevance to ongoing public conversation” and that users “will be able to Retweet with Comment, but not Like, Reply, or Retweet it.”

The move came after Trump kicked off his Sunday morning by tweeting two familiar lines of attack — one against mail-in voting and another against some Democrats at last week’s convention who omitted the word “God” when saying the Pledge of Allegiance.

“So now the Democrats are using Mail Drop Boxes, which are a voter security disaster. Among other things, they make it possible for a person to vote multiple times,” Trump tweeted. “Also, who controls them, are they placed in Republican or Democrat areas? They are not Covid sanitized. A big fraud!”

Despite the claim, states and localities check ballots against voter rolls, making it difficult for one person to “vote multiple times.” Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, can be spread by exposure to surfaces but is more often spread by person-to-person contact, according to experts.

Palmer Report, Opinion: This is all unraveling for Donald Trump at just the wrong time, Bill Palmer, Aug. 23, 2020. We don’t know if Mary Trump chose now to leak her recordings of Maryanne Trump Barry to the media in order to do maximum damage to Donald Trump ahead of the Republican National Convention. We don’t even know for sure if Mary Trump was the source; perhaps the Washington Post obtained the recordings through some other method. But we do know that things are now unraveling fast for Donald Trump – and at just the wrong time.

Donald Trump desperately needs his Republican National Convention to go well for him this week. That was already going to be an uphill climb, considering that he’s struggling to get big name speakers (even from within his own party), and that he’s foolishly giving keynote speeches all four nights – not something that’s advisable for a guy who’s deep in the throes of cognitive loss.

But now Trump is going to have to deal with the fact that at least the first couple news cycles from the convention are going to include the ugly things that his sister said about him on these recordings. She didn’t merely condemn him; she accused him of hiring someone to take his SATs, and she claimed that he doesn’t even read.

This is ugly – and because there are recordings, the story will get continuous airplay on cable news and viral exposure on social media. Even as Donald Trump’s limp convention ends up consisting of a handful of his family members kissing his backside, they’ll have to compete with recordings of Trump’s own sister saying that he’s the illiterate scum of the earth. Ouch.

Looks like the House Oversight Committee just nailed Louis DeJoy, Bill Palmer, Aug. 22, 2020. When Trump Postmaster General Louis DeJoy told several blatant lies during his Senate testimony this past week, Palmer Report pointed out that he’d just created a huge opening for House Democrats. In fact we predicted that before the weekend was over, the House would inform DeJoy that it has him nailed for perjury, in the hope that the specter of a criminal referral would scare him into coming clean during his House testimony on Monday.

OpEdNews, The CIA Democrats in the 2020 elections, Patrick Martin, Aug. 23, 2020. In the course of the 2018 elections, a large group of former military-intelligence operatives entered capitalist politics as candidates seeking the Democratic Party nomination in 50 congressional seats -- nearly half the seats where the Democrats were targeting Republican incumbents or open seats created by Republican retirements.

Some 30 of these candidates won primary contests and became the Democratic candidates in the November 2018 election, and 11 of them won the general election, more than one-quarter of the 40 previously Republican-held seats captured by the Democrats as they took control of the House of Representatives.

In 2020, the intervention of the CIA Democrats continues on what is arguably an equally significant scale: besides the reelection campaigns of the 11 representatives who won seats in the House in 2018, half a dozen of those who lost 2018 races are running again in 2020. Some of these are running for House seats again, while others have been promoted by the Democratic Party leadership and are running for the US Senate.

The bottom line: at least 34 Democratic candidates for the House of Representatives have a primarily military-intelligence background, up from 30 in 2018, as well as three of the party's 35 candidates for the US Senate, compared to zero in 2018. For each branch of Congress, this represents about 10 percent of the total.

Three Democrats seeking US Senate seats in November have a primarily military-intelligence background, including two who ran unsuccessfully for House seats in 2018. In each case, the CIA Democrat won a contested primary, with the support of Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), defeating a more liberal candidate.

World News

washington post logoWashington Post, Navalny flies into Berlin for treatment for suspected poisoning, Robyn Dixon, Aug. 23, 2020 (print ed.). The prominent Kremlin critic underwent a comprehensive examination at a German hospital after his evacuation from Russia on an emergency medical flight.

alexey navalny 2017Russia’s most prominent Kremlin critic, Alexei Navalny, was in a critical condition and undergoing full tests at a German hospital Saturday after an emergency medical flight from Russia with suspected poisoning.

Navalny, shown right in a 2017 photo, in a coma since collapsing early Thursday, arrived in a convoy of ambulances under a heavy security escort at the Charité hospital following a flight from Siberia that was tracked closely by international media.

Navalny, 44, was stricken on a plane traveling from the Siberian city of Tomsk to Moscow. His spokeswoman and others suspect he was the target of a deliberate poisoning — a method used before by Russian agents — possibly in tea he drank at an airport cafe.

Jaka Bizilj of Cinema for Peace Foundation, the German group that funded Navalny's flight to Berlin, told reporters that Navalny’s condition was “very critical” and “worrying.” Earlier, he told Germany’s Bild newspaper that Navalny was in a stable condition during the flight, which was allowed by Russian officials after previously insisting Navalny was too ill to travel.

U.S. Disasters, Environment

ny times logoNew York Times, Live updates: 2 Blazes Are Among California’s Largest Ever, Staff reports, Aug. 23, 2020 (print ed.). Spreading wildfires have torched nearly one million acres in the state, an area larger than Rhode Island. Follow updates here.

Fewer inmate firefighters are available after being freed because of the coronavirus pandemic, raising questions over whether California should use prison labor at all.

Fire officials fear that the possibility of more lightning strikes this weekend could ignite more fires, and that strong winds could spread the ones they are already battling.

Here’s what you need to know:

      • Fires have torched nearly one million acres, a larger area than Rhode Island.
      • Another set of dry lightning storms may start arriving on Sunday.
      • The damage to redwoods is deeply personal for many admirers.
      • The coronavirus means there are fewer prisoners to help battle blazes.
      • Wildfires are a familiar scene in California. Blame the climate — and people.

ny times logoNew York Times, Covid-19 Limits California’s Efforts to Fight Fires With Prison Labor, Thomas Fuller, Aug. 23, 2020 (print ed.).Early releases of prisoners to protect them from the virus have depleted the ranks of an inmate firefighting program that some say should be abolished.

They charge into fire zones with 60-pound packs and three-foot chain saws, felling trees and hacking through brush to make wide paths of dirt around anything worth protecting. Bright orange uniforms set them apart from other firefighters — and identify them as inmates of California’s state prisons.

“It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life,” said Ricardo Martin, who became an inmate firefighter while serving a seven-year sentence for driving while intoxicated and injuring another motorist in a crash. “But we took special pride in being able to actually save people’s homes,” Mr. Martin said. “Everybody talked about that and how good they felt about it.”

Prisoners have helped California fight fires for decades, playing a crucial role in containing the blazes striking the state with more frequency and ferocity in recent years.

This past week, though, Mr. Martin and hundreds of other inmate firefighters were absent from the fire lines. They had already gone home, part of an early release program initiated by Gov. Gavin Newsom to protect them from the coronavirus.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump administration to pause permit for Alaska’s Pebble Mine on Monday, Juliet Eilperin and Ashley Parkerm, Aug. 23, 2020 (print ed.). The mine has come under fire from key Republicans on the grounds it could harm the world’s largest sockeye salmon fishery.

The Trump administration will say Monday that it is not ready to grant a permit for a controversial gold and copper mine in Alaska, according to three individuals briefed on the decision, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, on the grounds that the firm must do more to address how it will harm the environment.

The move represents a blow to Pebble Mine, which was vetoed under Barack Obama but has been revived under the Trump administration. Several high-profile Republicans, including the president’s eldest son, Fox News host Tucker Carlson and Vice President Pence’s former chief of staff Nick Ayers, have campaigned against the project on the grounds it could harm the world’s largest sockeye salmon fishery in Bristol Bay.

washington post logoWashington Post, New Orleans at risk as back-to-back hurricanes forecast to hit Gulf Coast, Matthew Cappucci and Jason Samenow, Aug. 23, 2020 (print ed.). The National Hurricane Center track forecast presents an ominous scenario in which Marco strikes coastal Louisiana on Monday, followed by a second wallop from Laura on Wednesday.

U.S. Political, Race Protests

washington post logoWashington Post, Tenn. adopts new law that could strip some protesters of voting rights, Colby Itkowitz and Amy Gardner, Aug. 23, 2020 (print ed.). Protesters who camp out on state property could now face felony charges. The law, which went into effect immediately, outraged civil rights groups.

washington post logoWashington Post, Portland police stand by as Proud Boys and far-right militias flash guns and brawl with antifa counterprotesters, Katie Shepherd,  Aug. 23, 2020 (print ed.). On Saturday afternoon, a large crowd of more than 100 far-right activists, including Proud Boys and armed militia members, descended on Portland, Ore., staging a “Back the Blue” rally in front of the Justice Center that houses the downtown police precinct. Hundreds of antifa and Black Lives Matter protesters gathered to oppose the far-right crowd.

People in the far-right crowd came armed with paintball guns, metal rods, aluminum bats, fireworks, pepper spray, rifles and handguns. Some people in the opposing left-leaning crowd brought rocks, fireworks and bottles filled with chemical solutions. Both crowds sported shields and helmets.

The two groups sparred for more than two hours, as people exchanged blows, fired paintballs at each other and blasted chemicals indiscriminately into the crowd.

 

Aug. 22

 Top Headlines

Virus Victims, Responses

Postal Service Scandal

U.S.  Elections, Politics

Trump Tweets, Prospects

Inside DC

U.S. Crime, Courts, Prison

World News

U.S. Disasters, Environment

U.S. Media News

 

Top Stories

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: At convention, Democrats focus their pitch on women, people of color, young voters, Michael Scherer, Jenna Johnson and Josh Dawsey, Aug. 22, 2020 (print ed.). Democrats have concluded that maximizing the turnout among urban and suburban voters is a more realistic goal than winning over White working-class voters who backed Donald Trump in 2016.

joe biden kamala harris campaign shotNearly four years after President Trump’s election shattered Democratic confidence, Joe Biden staged a nominating convention this week that attempted to exorcise the party’s remaining doubts about itself, making a big bet that the nativism, anti-elitism and anger that fueled Trump’s rise have foundered on the shoals of a historic pandemic and economic crisis.

The newly confident and unapologetic party that Biden showcased over four nights gave no ground to the electoral strategy Trump will highlight starting Monday, when Republicans offer their convention counterpunch. Instead, Biden’s team leaned into the sizable polling lead he enjoys among college-educated voters, women, people of color and the DNC 2020 convention logoyoung, aiming to boost turnout in the fall by aiming the party’s pitch in their direction.

Gone was the caution of 2018, when Democrats went out of their way to stick to unifying issues such as health-care concerns and avoid a frontal assault on Trump. Missing this week was the hand-wringing that followed the 2016 campaign, when many Democratic consultants and others argued that nominee Hillary Clinton had focused too much on identity politics and failed to reach out to working-class White voters in Rust Belt states.

Biden’s party, after four years of apprehension, was not playing defense.

washington post logoWashington Post, In raising the idea of law enforcement at polls, Trump invokes tactics of voter intimidation, Rosalind S. Helderman, Josh Dawsey and Matt Zapotosky, Aug. 22, 2020 (print ed.). Civil rights advocates said even the threat of encountering law enforcement officials at the polls could be frightening to some voters, particularly in communities of color where residents distrust the police.

washington post logojoe biden kamala harris logo 2020Washington Post, As GOP convention nears, Democrats plan counterprogramming, Matt Viser and Toluse Olorunnipa, Aug. 22, 2020 (print ed.).  Both parties are using nearly apocalyptic terms to describe the stakes of the election, which is a little over two months away.

Virus Victims, Responses

ny times logoNew York Times, Covid in the Classroom? Some Schools Are Keeping It Quiet, Dan Levin, Aug. 22, 2020. Some states and school districts provide detailed data on school outbreaks. Others choose to keep such information under wraps.

On the first day of school in Camden County, Ga., local Facebook groups were already buzzing with rumors that a teacher had tested positive for the coronavirus. The next day, a warning went out to school administrators: Keep teachers quiet.

But even as fears of an outbreak have grown, the district has refused to publicly confirm a single case, either to the local community or The New York Times.

As schools in parts of the country have reopened classrooms amid a still-raging pandemic, some districts have been open about coronavirus cases in their buildings. They send weekly — and in some cases, daily — reports to families and updating online dashboards with the latest positive test results and quarantine counts.

But other districts have been silent, sometimes citing privacy concerns to withhold information, to the dismay of some anxious parents, concerned educators and public health experts trying to combat the pandemic.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s moves to skirt Congress on stimulus yield only limited relief, Jeff Stein and Tony Romm, Aug. 22, 2020 (print ed.). Two weeks after President Trump approved executive actions while talks with lawmakers bogged down, only one state has said it is paying new jobless benefits, few evictions have been stalled, and leading employers have made clear workers will not benefit from the payroll tax deferral.

republican elephant logoJust two weeks after President Trump approved executive actions aimed at bypassing stalled stimulus negotiations with Congress, only one state has said it is paying new jobless benefits, few evictions have been paused, and leading employers have made clear that workers will not benefit from the president’s new payroll tax deferral.

After talks with congressional Democrats faltered, the president on Aug. 8 signed four executive actions aimed at staving off further economic turmoil. They included a $300-per-week benefit for jobless Americans, after the previous enhanced benefits expired in late July. Trump also directed a deferral of payroll taxes, as well as a halt to evictions and a suspension of student loan payments.

But Trump’s directives have so far produced limited economic relief for Americans hurt by the coronavirus pandemic, despite promises by top White House aides that help would come within weeks. By Friday, only Arizona had started sending the extra $300 to its residents.

Business leaders say they are unlikely to implement Trump’s payroll tax order

Thirteen states have been approved to give the enhanced payments, and some, including Montana and Kentucky, will kick in a $100 match, meaning out-of-work residents there could get up to $400 in enhanced benefits. Many other states either have said they’re applying or have not said whether they will move forward and offer the payments. South Dakota has turned down the jobless benefits.

Postal Service Scandal

Palmer Report, Opinion: 26 House Republicans just caved on the Post Office. Here’s what happens next, Bill Palmer, Aug. 22, 2020. In a development that Palmer Report predicted, House Democrats informed Postmaster General Louis DeJoy today that they have internal documents proving he lied under oath to the Senate. This gives the Democrats significant leverage heading into DeJoy’s House testimony on Monday, as DeJoy will now have to consider coming clean Sondland-style, in the hope of dodging felony perjury charges.

bill palmer report logo headerThis development clearly tilted the landscape at least incrementally, as twenty-six House Republicans joined the Democrats this evening in passing legislation to restore funding and operations to the Post Office. This places at least some pressure on Mitch McConnell to allow a Senate vote, and on Donald Trump to swallow it. Remember, this is all about leverage – and the Republicans are starting to cave.

With Republicans starting to defect, McConnell will likely wait to see how poorly DeJoy fares in his House testimony on Monday before deciding whether he has no choice but to bring it to a vote in the Senate. McConnell has to consider how strongly voters might end up punishing Senate Republicans in November, if the GOP is seen as having caused the current Post Office problems.

Donald Trump still publicly insists he’ll veto the Post Office legislation if it survives the Senate, but that’s just posturing. If McConnell caves on this, Trump likely will too. This is your 1,342,987th reminder that Trump and McConnell don’t have magic wands. They’re subject to the laws of political leverage, just like everyone else.

washington post logoWashington Post, Postal Service will prioritize ballots, postmaster testifies, Jacob Bogage, Elise Viebeck, Michael Brice-Saddler and Michelle Ye Hee,  Aug. 22, 2020 (print ed.). The Senate committee hearing was the first time Postmaster General Louis DeJoy publicly answered lawmakers’ questions about mail slowdowns, attributed to his cost-cutting policies, that have spurred worries about the delivery of ballots for the November election.

us mail logoThe embattled head of the U.S. Postal Service, during a Senate hearing on Friday, committed to prioritizing ballot delivery while doubling down on plans to marshal an aggressive overhaul agenda after the November election, one that could undermine mail service and raise prices on customers in remote areas.

In sworn testimony before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said postal workers would continue to prioritize election mail ahead of other first-class mailings, an informal but long-standing practice.

louis dejoy Custom“I’d like to emphasize there has been no changes of any policies in regard to election mail for the 2020 election,” DeJoy said, adding later that the agency would deploy “processes and procedures to advance the election mail, in some cases ahead of first-class mail.”

But DeJoy, left, a former logistics executive and an ally of President Trump, also acknowledged plans to reimagine the Postal Service soon after the election, including a geography-based pricing model that would charge residents in rural areas or outside the Lower 48 more money for routine mail service.

More On U.S.  Elections, Politics

ny times logoNew York Times, A Presidential Historian Makes an Appearance in the Political Arena, Alexandra Alter, Aug. 22, 2020 (print ed.). Jon Meacham’s remarks at the Democratic convention sprang from a long friendship with Joe Biden and a desire to add historical context to the moment.

Last month, the historian and biographer Jon Meacham got an unusual request from Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s campaign. The campaign wanted him to speak at the Democratic National Convention — not to endorse Mr. Biden, but to put the stakes of this election in historical context.

“The request was, define the soul of America, and do it quick,” Mr. Meacham said.

Mr. Meacham is not a Democrat. He has voted for candidates of both parties, and his work has focused his attention on studying past presidents rather than endorsing modern-day ones. When he gave his four-minute address Thursday evening from his home in Nashville, he sat in his library with two portraits mounted behind him: one of Representative John Lewis and one of former President George Bush, painted by his son former President George W. Bush.

It was a rare, high-profile appearance in the political arena for a Pulitzer Prize-winning author. Mr. Meacham has spent much of his career steeped in the country’s past, studying the lives of presidents such as Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson and Franklin D. Roosevelt.

His speech also marked a public moment in a long-running friendship with Mr. Biden, with whom he has had periodic, spirited conversations about American history and how the country’s sometimes-troubled past shapes the present and future.

oenearthlogoOpEdNews, Analysis: 2020 Democratic Convention: 10 Takeaways, Bob Burnett (a Berkeley writer who in a previous life he was one of the executive founders of Cisco Systems), Aug. 22, 2020. The 2020 Democratic convention is over. Given the difficult circumstances, it might have been a disaster. Instead it was very successful. Here are 10 takeaways:

10. Better than expected. Political conventions are typically overrated. Too many speeches. Manufactured controversy. Too many talking heads. This year's Democratic convention was all "virtual" and, therefore, more immediate. Overall, it had a better flow than any convention I've watched. Each of the four nights worked. There were many interesting cameos and powerful songs. Kudos to the organizers. Let's make this the model for all Democratic conventions.

9. Compelling themes. Throughout the four nights there was a coordinated emphasis on several meta-themes: Family: Joe Biden and Kamala Harris spoke of their families and emphasized the importance of protecting American families. Dignity: each person has worth and deserves a shot at the American dream; everyone needs access to healthcare, housing, education, and a decent job. Overcoming adversity: Biden has overcome the death of his first wife and their little daughter and, later the death of his son. Harris has overcome the burden of being a black woman, born of immigrant parents, in America. Unity/Working together/E Pluribus Unum: Biden and Harris and most speakers spoke of the importance of recreating a culture where Americans work together to overcome these tough times: pandemic, recession, and systemic racism. Love: Biden's personal story emphasized his deep faith and his capacity to reach out with love to everyday people (as well as political adversaries).

ny times logoNew York Times, Bush’s Comeback Tactics From 1988 Echo in the 2020 Race, Adam Nagourney, Aug. 22, 2020. George H.W. Bush overcame poll deficits to defeat Michael Dukakis in 1988. The lessons of the Bush campaign may offer a possible road map for President Trump.

George H.W. Bush was in trouble. It was July 1988 and Michael Dukakis, the Democratic candidate for president, was on a roll after his party’s convention in Atlanta. A Gallup poll showed Mr. Bush trailing by 17 points.

But he had a road map to victory.

One month earlier, Mr. Bush’s top aides had gathered at the Jefferson Hotel in Washington, deliberately out of sight and away from campaign headquarters, to review a thick binder of polling and focus group data. The campaign’s research showed that Mr. Dukakis’s record was not well known and that some of his liberal positions, in particular supporting prison furloughs and opposing the death penalty, could swamp him in a general election.

Using the plan laid out in that room, the Bush campaign proceeded, as Lee Atwater, the campaign manager, put it, “to strip the bark off the little bastard,” beginning in force with Mr. Bush’s hammer of a speech at the Republican National Convention in August through Election Day.

Mr. Bush not only overcame Mr. Dukakis’s summer polling advantage, but defeated him handily: by 53 percent to 46 percent. He won 40 states.

Trump Tweets, Prospects

ny times logoNew York Times, Facebook Braces Itself for Trump to Cast Doubt on Election Results, Mike Isaac and Sheera Fre, Aug. 22, 2020 (print ed.). The world’s biggest social network is working out what steps to take should President Trump use its platform to dispute the vote.

Facebook spent years preparing to ward off any tampering on its site ahead of November’s presidential election. Now the social network is getting ready in case President Trump interferes once the vote is over.

Employees at the Silicon Valley company are laying out contingency plans and walking through postelection scenarios that include facebook logoattempts by Mr. Trump or his campaign to use the platform to delegitimize the results, people with knowledge of Facebook’s plans said.

Facebook is preparing steps to take should Mr. Trump wrongly claim on the site that he won another four-year term, said the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Facebook is also working through how it might act if Mr. Trump tries to invalidate the results by declaring that the Postal Service lost mail-in ballots or that other groups meddled with the vote, the people said.

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, and some of his lieutenants have started holding daily meetings about minimizing how the platform can be used to dispute the election, the people said. They have discussed a “kill switch” to shut off political advertising after Election Day since the ads, which Facebook does not police for truthfulness, could be used to spread misinformation, the people said.

washington post logoWashington Post, Without evidence, Trump makes accusation against FDA, Laurie McGinley, Carolyn Y. Johnson and Josh Dawsey, Aug. 22, 2020. He accused the Food and Drug Administration of being part of the "deep state" and said regulators were holding up vaccines and treatments.The tweet — an escalation of the president’s campaign against administration scientists — said regulators want to delay approvals until after the Nov. 3 election for political reasons.

President Trump on Saturday baselessly accused the Food and Drug Administration of impeding enrollment in clinical trials for coronavirus vaccines and therapeutics for political reasons, as he broadened and escalated his attacks on administration scientists.

“The deep state, or whoever, over at the FDA is making it very difficult for drug companies to get people in order to test the vaccines and therapeutics,” he said on Twitter. “Obviously, they are hoping to delay the answer until after November 3rd. Must focus on speed, and saving lives!” He tagged FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn in the tweet.

A second tweet reiterated Trump’s displeasure that the agency in June withdrew emergency authorization for hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug that is unproved as a treatment for covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. It has been identified as potentially risky for covid-19 patients, and yet the president still touts its use.

Inside DC

washington post logojohn brennan croppedWashington Post, Ex-CIA director John Brennan questioned for 8 hours in U.S. Attorney John Durham’s probe, a Brennan adviser says, Shane Harris and Matt Zapotosky, Aug. 22, 2020 (print ed.). Brennan, right, answered questions about the intelligence assessment that Russia tried to help Trump in the 2016 election.

 Trump Siblings: Robert, Elizabeth, Freddy, Donald, Maryanne, left to right, via Trump Campaign

Trump Siblings Family Portrait: Robert, Elizabeth, Freddy, Donald, Maryanne, left to right, via Trump Campaign

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Holds a Rare White House Funeral for His Younger Brother, Robert, Katie Rogers and Maggie Haberman, Aug. 22, 2020 (print ed.). It was the first time a president has held an East Room funeral for a member of his family in nearly 100 years.

Growing up in Queens, Robert S. Trump learned to survive in the shadow of a rambunctious older brother, Donald, who monopolized attention. In adulthood, his older brother was his boss at the Trump Organization. And near the end of his life, he became his older brother’s defender, joining him in publicly excoriating their niece, Mary, who had written a memoir about life inside a family she characterized as cold and cruel.

On Friday, President Trump repaid Robert, the brother who had always been loyal, by hosting a funeral in the East Room of the White House. Robert Trump died last week in New York at 71. The White House did not give a cause.

It was the first time a president has held a funeral for a family member in nearly 100 years, according to the White House Historical Association. Mr. Trump delivered the eulogy, which lasted about 10 minutes. The guest list was limited to about 150 people, including the president’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., and his girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle, as well as an extended network of relatives.

Guests did not wear masks at the funeral, but they were given coronavirus tests beforehand at the Trump International Hotel.

The White House declined to comment on details because it was a private service, although Mr. Trump eventually allowed reporters to view part of the closing funeral procession. The president, accompanied by the first lady, Melania Trump, and followed by his younger sister, Elizabeth Trump Grau, trailed pallbearers down the steps of the North Portico as the hymn “Abide With Me” was played on bagpipes. Several of Mr. Trump’s other children, including Barron and Ivanka, looked on.

Robert and Ann Marie Pallan were married this year, more than a decade after he ended his marriage to Blaine Trump. They lived on Long Island, where Robert was often seen at local bars boasting about his brother.

washington post logoColbert King twitterWashington Post, Opinion: Trump’s QAnon dodge is a sickening reminder of the man he is, Colbert I. King, right, Aug. 22, 2020 (print ed.). There are some moments you can’t forget. And others that make you sick.

It was 1960 at Howard University, where I was a government major in my junior year. Sen. Hubert Humphrey was campaigning in the D.C. Democratic primary and had come to pitch his candidacy. But the big race of the year was the upcoming West Virginia primary in which Humphrey’s opponent, John F. Kennedy, was being attacked for his Catholic faith.

When the floor was opened for questions, I asked Humphrey how he felt about the bigoted onslaught against JFK. Without missing a beat, Humphrey said that although he was seeking a victory in West Virginia, he didn’t want to win with anti-Catholic votes.

I have told this story before. It’s worth repeating in light of President Trump’s response during a Wednesday news briefing to questions about far-right QAnon adherents — an online cabal of conspiracy theorists who believe Satan-worshipping pedophiles have infiltrated deeply into the government and, with the assistance of left-wing elitist Democrats and leftist media, are out to undermine Trump.

QAnon is hardly a network of harmless kooks. QAnon followers, reports the Daily Beast, have allegedly been tied to kidnappings and violent crimes, including at least one killing. In 2019, the FBI classified QAnon as a domestic terrorism threat.

The president was tossed a question similar to my query to Humphrey, but Trump’s answer was sickening.

He started with the dodge that he didn’t know much about QAnon, except “they like me very much” — which is the standard by which Trump measures all of his relationships, both official and personal.

“I heard,” Trump said, “that these are people who love our country.” A comment in keeping with his judgment that Charlottesville’s neo-Nazis and white supremacists were “very fine people.”

Told by a reporter that QAnon believes Trump is waging war on pedophiles, cannibals and satanic worshippers, Trump asked: “Is that supposed to be a bad thing?” Trump added: “If I can help save the world from problems, I’m willing to do it.”

U.S. Crime, Courts, Prison

washington post logoWashington Post, Golden State Killer sentenced to life in prison without parole, Justin Jouvenal, Aug. 22, 2020 (print ed.). The man known as the Golden State Killer will spend the rest of his life in prison without the possibility of parole for 13 slayings and nearly 50 rapes that terrorized people in California roughly four decades ago.

A Sacramento judge sentenced Joseph James DeAngelo, 74, to multiple life sentences Friday, finally bringing to an end the case of one of the nation’s most prolific and infamous serial predators.

The sentence was expected after DeAngelo reached a plea deal with prosecutors in six California counties in June that required him to plead guilty or admit his guilt in dozens of crimes in exchange for being spared the possibility of a death sentence.

The hunt for the serial killer and rapist went cold for decades before investigators used DNA recovered from a crime scene to find distant relatives of the disgraced former police officer in a public genetic database.

Actress Lori Loughlin and her husband and co-defendant Mossimo Giannulli (file photo via Joseph Prezioso and Agence France-Presse)

Actress Lori Loughlin and her husband and co-defendant Mossimo Giannulli (file photo via Joseph Prezioso and Agence France-Presse)

washington post logoWashington Post, Actress Lori Loughlin sentenced to two months in prison for role in college admissions bribery scandal, Nick Anderson, Aug. 22, 2020 (print ed.). Actress Lori Loughlin and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, were sentenced Friday to spend months in federal prison for participating in a fraudulent scheme to help their daughters get into the University of Southern California as phony crew team recruits.

Loughlin was given a term of two months, and Giannulli five months, resolving one of the most closely watched cases in the college admissions bribery scandal that rocked higher education last year.

Each had pleaded guilty to fraud conspiracy after admitting in May that they took part in a scheme to pay $500,000 to facilitate admission to USC for their two daughters in an audacious scam, from 2016 to 2018, that involved fabricating stories about accomplishments in competitive rowing that were entirely false. The daughters, prosecutors said, had no authentic credentials in the sport.

Her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, received a five-month term.

washington post logoWashington Post, Former Green Beret charged with spying for Russia, Rachel Weiner and Dan Lamothe, Aug. 22, 2020 (print ed.). A former active-duty officer in the U.S. Army was arrested Friday and accused of conspiring to spy for the Russian government over a period of 15 years.

Peter Rafael Dzibinski Debbins, 45, of Gainesville, Va., is scheduled to appear in Alexandria federal court next week. He faces up to life in prison. Debbins first went to Russia at 19 and visited repeatedly over the next several years, according to the indictment. During his first visit, in 1996 as a college student in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, he met twice with Russian intelligence agents, the indictment alleges.

The following year, Debbins joined the U.S. Army and served until 2005, including in the Special Forces. He continued meeting with Russian intelligence, according to prosecutors, allegedly taking the code name “Ikar Lesnikov” and signing a statement of allegiance. The indictment alleges he was aware they worked for the Russian spy agency known as the GRU.

He was at one point given $1,000 by the Russian agents, prosecutors allege, a sum he initially declined, along with a bottle of cognac and a Russian military uniform.

By 2010, Debbins had left active duty and was working for a Ukrainian steel manufacturer in Minnesota, according to prosecutors. But that year his Russian intelligence contacts urged Debbins to again find work with the U.S. government, according to the indictment.

After leaving the Army, Debbins moved to Washington and worked at Fort Meade as a Russian analyst, he said in an alumni profile for the Institute of World Politics published in 2018. He said he also worked for three years with CACI, a defense contractor, and as a contractor for the firm CoSolutions, working at U.S. European Command while based in the United Kingdom.

A family member reached by phone Friday said the allegations were inaccurate and Debbins had always supported and helped the U.S. government while maintaining an interest in his Russian heritage.

The relative, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of privacy concerns, said the agents misinterpreted communications with elderly grandparents in Russia as nefarious. She said Debbins had been cooperative with federal agents since last year and voluntarily went Friday to what he thought was another meeting: “We thought it was over.”

World News

washington post logoCol. Assimi Goita (photo via the national broadcaster ORTM TV and the Associated Press)Washington Post, Mali coup leader was trained by U.S. military, Danielle Paquette, Aug. 22, 2020 (print ed.). Col. Assimi Goita, right, who emerged Thursday as the head of the junta in power, worked for years with U.S. Special Operations forces focused on fighting extremism in West Africa. (Photo via the national broadcaster ORTM TV and the Associated Press.)

U.S. Disasters, Environment

ny times logoNew York Times, Live updates: 2 Blazes Are Among California’s Largest Ever, Staff reports, Aug. 22, 2020. Spreading wildfires have torched nearly one million acres in the state, an area larger than Rhode Island. Follow updates here.

Fewer inmate firefighters are available after being freed because of the coronavirus pandemic, raising questions over whether California should use prison labor at all.

Fire officials fear that the possibility of more lightning strikes this weekend could ignite more fires, and that strong winds could spread the ones they are already battling.

Here’s what you need to know:

      • Fires have torched nearly one million acres, a larger area than Rhode Island.
      • Another set of dry lightning storms may start arriving on Sunday.
      • The damage to redwoods is deeply personal for many admirers.
      • The coronavirus means there are fewer prisoners to help battle blazes.
      • Wildfires are a familiar scene in California. Blame the climate — and people.

washington post logoWashington Post, Heat is turbocharging fires, drought and tropical storms this summer, Darryl Fears, Faiz Siddiqui, Sarah Kaplan and Juliet Eilperin, Aug. 22, 2020 (print ed.). At least 140 western weather stations notched record highs in the last 10 days. More than 35 wildfires are raging in California. Parts of the country are suffering drought conditions. And in the Atlantic Ocean, a marine heat wave is fueling what is becoming an unusually active storm season.

Media News

Palmer Report, Opinion: Down goes Donald Trump’s pal David Pecker, Bill Palmer, right, Aug. 22, 2020. David Pecker used his tabloid publication the bill palmerNational Enquirer to publish one fake story about Hillary Clinton after another, in order to help his pal Donald Trump in the 2016 election. Pecker then helped Trump silence the women who wanted to come forward against him. Then Pecker got caught up in Trump’s criminal plot to blackmail Jeff Bezos.

bill palmer report logo headerAll things considered, it’s amazing David Pecker isn’t in prison yet. But Pecker is just about broke, and now the National Enquirer’s parent company is being sold off and folded into some other company in a merger. Notably, on Friday night it was reported that Pecker was not going to be a part of the newly formed company, and had instead been pushed out entirely.

david pecker croppedThis leaves the question of whether the newly formed company is pushing out Pecker as simply a business decision, or if there’s an expectation that Pecker, right, is about to finally be indicted. Considering the SDNY just arrested Donald Trump’s longtime henchman Steve Bannon, it’s pretty clear that Trump and Bill Barr aren’t able to stop whatever the SDNY is planning to do.

At the least, David Pecker’s criminal plotting with Donald Trump has cost Pecker his company and has effectively ruined him. At worst, Pecker will end up being the next Trump henchman to face the handcuffs. And if that does happen, Trump will simply claim that he barely knew the guy. Of course Pecker, having nothing left to lose, could be inclined to cut a plea deal against Trump at that point.

washington post logoWashington Post, Commentary: A ‘loud mouth’ writer says the White House broke its own briefing-room rules. So he did the same, Paul Farhi, Aug. 22, 2020 (print ed.). Brian Karem saw the White House skirting the rules of its own briefing room. So he’s decided they no longer apply to him either.

Upset that the White House is trying to “pack” news briefings, as he put it, with Trump-friendly correspondents, Karem showed up to Wednesday’s briefing despite strict space limits that barred him from the room that day.

brian karem twitterKarem, right, a correspondent for Playboy and a former CNN contributor, stood at the back of the room during the President Trump’s late-afternoon briefing and press secretary Kayleigh McEnany’s session earlier in the day, shouting questions at both as they finished addressing the media.

Neither responded. But Karem thinks he made his point.

“I’m there to ask questions — that’s my job — whether they answer the questions or not,” he said. “I’m doing my damn job and whoever doesn’t like it, tough.”

Yes, but in the covid-19 era, the White House press staff and the White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA) agreed in March to limit entry to the briefing room to just 14 journalists, plus a few technicians and photographers, to maintain social distancing. For months, reporters from dozens of news organizations have taken turns cycling through the room in a rotation maintained by the WHCA.

Karem said he considers those rules null and void, inasmuch as the White House itself has unilaterally breached them. Last week, McEnany admitted representatives from two far-right outfits, the Gateway Pundit and Epoch Times, exceeding the limits. In early April, Trump himself made room for One America Network, a conservative cable outlet that Trump has repeatedly praised, including on Sunday.

Karem — who calls himself a “ ‘Loud Mouth’ WH reporter” in his Twitter bio — doesn’t take issue with OAN or Gateway Pundit’s representatives being in the room. But since Trump “tore up the rules,” he said it doesn’t make sense to play by them any longer. “If they don’t follow the guidelines, why should anyone else?” he asks.

So on Wednesday, Karem used his “hard pass” — which permits holders to come and go from the White House grounds after a basic security check — to enter the workspace behind the briefing room. When Trump and McEnany’s briefings started, he stood about 12 feet behind the seating area and six feet behind the spot the White House carved out for OAN.

OpEdNews, Opinion: Giving Thanks to the Whistleblowers, John Hawkins, Aug. 22, 2020 (first published in winter 2019-2020). Those of us who care about the criminal excesses of the Orwellian dystopia that we find ourselves thumb-driven under by predatory algorithms that ferret out our alpha waves for "security" and commercial purposes, might want to remember that if not for legitimate whistleblowers we would know next to nothing about what the Bastards are up to.

It's a far more depressing world for the knowing, but like climate change, we're no better off for the ignorance. So, here's to Julian Assange, Edward Snowden, and Chelsea Manning -- all of whom have given up their freedom in order to reveal the criminality and deceit of the Masters of Endless War and pocket Marshall plans (Rebuilds 'R Us). Here's to our Three Amigos in this festive season of convenient whistleblowing.

julian assange clean cut library screenshot 2007 Custom 2First, thanks to Julian Assange (shown in 2007 at left), who told us years ago that the Bastards just wanted him to be put on a plane to Sweden so that he could be put on another plane to America -- against his will. He rightfully sought asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London to avoid such extradition that would have made him a circus clown before a politically-motivated 'national security' trial in America that would have seen him jailed for life. The MSM took his wiki goodies and made money selling papers with them, but bailed on him when the government told them to attack his character. Now, out of self-interest, the MSM will be forced to begrudgingly defend Assange's journalism credentials should he be forwarded, like a soccer ball, to America's fascist foot.

It looks grim for Julian. He will be tried, if brought to America, under the Espionage Act, a version of which has been shored up under each of the Five Eyes super-surveillance partners. His best chance at avoiding being putsched before a show trial is for lawyers to show that Spanish security company, UC Global, hired by Ecuador to provide security for its London embassy, actually spied on Assangeand his visitors with mikes and cams, and handed their work over to the CIA. This would (or should) demonstrate that Assange can't receive a fair trial in America (again, the reason he took refuge in the embassy), and provide lawyers with the ammo they need to knock back the extradition.

Now would be a good time to catch up on the issues surrounding his case, and, really, the best way to do that is by reading the collection of supporting voices -- from computer technicians to philosophers -- put out by OR Books, an independent publisher, In Defense of Julian Assange. Next, write to him. You might actually be able to get a message to him, in this festive season, if you go online and send him a letter -- either through L-Mail, which takes your e-message and snail-mails it to him, or, more conveniently, you can use Email A Prisoner (don't forget to use a VPN). He's said he wants messages short and sweet. Maybe send him a joke or limerick. I sent him a poem.

edward snowden twitterAnd there's Edward Snowden, shown on his Twitter photo, to salute. Others have made zoodles of dollars explaining the importance of his 2013 revelations, including Glenn Greenwald, who won a well-deserved Pulitzer for his details of Snowden's global surveillance revelations and his subsequent escape to Russia. Then Snowden put out Permanent Record, his memoir full of insider details of the deep state (his words) that he worked for as a kind of demi-god of data -- before its criminality (his words) made him unable to go on lying and collecting for the government. He revealed, with diagrams, how the US government spies on everyone connected to a communications system -- Internet and mobile services. Importantly, he shows how contractors (see chapter, Homo Contractus) are the ball carriers of the deep state.

Unfortunately, but predictably (his words), the US government sued his publisher to take his book profits away -- and they won. Snowden, nowlarfing as a much-sought-after six-figure online speaker, has suggested that the public buy a copy and hand it off, when finished, to a friend. Great idea (remember the days of file-sharing)! A short cut to obtaining a free copy of his memoir is to visit the wondrous Internet Archive where several borrowable copies are there for downloading. "I wanted to help, but I didn't know how," he writes of his decison to whistleblow. "I'd had enough of feeling helpless, of being just an a**hole in flannel lying around on a shabby couch eating Cool Ranch Doritos and drinking Diet Coke while the world went up in flames."

Thanks again to Assange and Wikileaks, for risking further criminal abuse, by helping Snowden escape from Hong Kong. And remember that the audacious Obama would have nailed Snowden had he been on the Bolivian president's airplane when it was forced down. This gangster cut-him-off move might have led to a hot WWIII had the plane been Putin's, instead of Evo Morales.

Edward can be reached in his exile, either by mailing him at Freedom of the Press Foundation or through his account at Twitter: @Snowden .

chelsea manning twitterAnd finally, thanks to Chelsea Manning (shown in a Twitter photo), for getting the ball rolling back in 2010 with the Iraq Logs and Afghan Logs, but, most devastatingly, the so-called Collateral Murder video that not only showed s double-tap helicopter gunship attack on civilians, including two Reuters reporters, but provided the gunship audio that suggested jolly titilation as bodies fell. The video demonstrated, among other things, that the so-called War on Terror was going to involve its own moments of terrorism, with not a lot of hand-wringing, once the gloves were off.

Chelsea was court-martialed and sentenced to 35 years for delivering classified information to Julian Assange and Wikileaks. President Obama commuted Manning's sentence (after six harsh years in the slammer) -- just before the Trump inauguration in Jan 2017. In February 2019, she was found in contempt of court for refusing to testify before a grand jury looking to gather evidence on Julian Assange and Wikileaks and put back in jail. Then, upon release, told a new grand jury to f*ck off, and is back in prison again on contempt charges. She reasoned that, "[T]his grand jury seeks to undermine the integrity of public discourse with the aim of punishing those who expose any serious, ongoing, and systemic abuses of power by this government."

[Editor's note: Manning was released in March 2020 following just over a year of confinement, with no public indication that she cooperated with authorities in their probe.]

Aug. 21

 Top Headlines

covad 19 photo.jpg Custom 2Virus Victims, Responses

U.S. Elections, Politics

Trump Legal Scandals

World News

U.S. Disasters

Media News

 

Top Stories

joe biden dnc nomination aug 20 2020

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden calls on Americans to unite to ‘overcome this season of darkness,’ Annie Linskey and Matt Viser, Aug. 21, 2020. Former vice president accepts nomination, calls for optimism.

Joe Biden’s speech concluded four days of virtual pageantry in which Democrats portrayed their struggle against President Trump as a battle against a dark force with American democracy hanging in the balance.

DNC 2020 convention logoJoe Biden accepted the Democratic presidential nomination Thursday night with a call to optimism at a time of national fear, concluding an unusual four days of virtual pageantry in which Democrats portrayed their struggle against President Trump as a battle against a dark force with American democracy hanging in the balance.

In a 25-minute speech, the former vice president channeled concern over multiple, simultaneous crises facing the country while urging the American people to choose what he called “a path of hope and light.”

“The current president has cloaked America in darkness for much too long. Too much anger, too much fear, too much division,” Biden said. “Here and now, I give you my word: If you entrust me with the presidency, I will draw on the best of us, not the worst. I’ll be an ally of the light, not the darkness.”

He gave the remarks from an austere ballroom set with American flags but absent a crowd, due to health concerns driven by the coronavirus pandemic. The only accompaniment came from cars gathered outside, drive-in style, honking in lieu of applauding.

brayden harrington

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘Pure, unvarnished, courage’: A 13-year-old ‘regular kid’ with a stutter gave a must-watch Democratic convention speech, Tim Elfrink and Teo Armus, Aug. 21, 2020 (video). Twenty seconds into his speech to the Democratic National Convention on Thursday, Brayden Harrington (shown above during his talk) started to stutter.

He knew he would — it was the reason the 13-year-old was addressing millions of viewers from his bedroom. As he had explained to kick off his speech, his life had changed after meeting former vice president Joe Biden in February.

joe biden kamala harris logo 2020“He told me that we were members of the same club. We ... ” Brayden said, shutting his eyes as he drew out an “s” sound, willing the word to emerge: “... stutter.”

And then, he kept going — smiling, poised, and delivering a powerful message about how Biden, who has spoken openly of his battle with a speech impediment, had inspired him to reach higher.

On a night when Biden accepted the Democratic presidential nomination and a parade of notables offered their visions for America, Brayden’s two-minute speech may have had the most visceral impact. A video of his address shared on Twitter by the Democratic National Convention had been viewed more than 3 million times by early Friday.

steve bannon audrey strauss statement

washington post logoWashington Post, Stephen Bannon, three others charged with defrauding donors to online fundraising campaign for border wall, Matt Zapotosky, Aug. 21, 2020 (print ed.). Federal prosecutors in New York on Thursday unsealed criminal charges against Stephen K. Bannon, President Trump’s former chief strategist, and three other men they alleged defrauded hundreds of thousands of donors using an online crowdfunding campaign that was advertised as raising money to build a wall on the U.S. border with Mexico.

steve bannon heritage foundationIn a news release, prosecutors said Bannon, in a file photo right from years ago, and another organizer of the campaign, Air Force veteran Brian Kolfage, claimed that they would not take any compensation as part of the campaign, called “We Build The Wall,” but that was a lie. Bannon, prosecutors alleged, received more than $1 million through a non-profit he controlled, and Kolfage received more than $350,000.

Prosecutors alleged they and two others routed payments from the campaign through the non-profit and another shell company and disguised them with fake invoices to help keep their personal pay secret. All four were arrested Thursday and are expected to make court appearances later in the day. They are charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering.

Bannon (shown below leaving New York City's federal courthouse after posting $5 million bond and in file photos -- including of the 150-foot-yacht on which he was arrested ) served on Trump’s presidential campaign, and then as the White House chief’s strategist, until he was ousted in the summer of 2017.

steve bannon court aug 21 2020

washington post logoWashington Post, Judge rejects Trump’s latest bid to shield his tax records from Manhattan district attorney, Shayna Jacobs, Aug. 21, 2020 (print ed.). President Trump’s latest attempt to block the Manhattan district attorney from obtaining his tax records was rejected by a federal judge Thursday.

victor marreroU.S. District Judge Victor Marrero, right, threw out the latest lawsuit brought by Trump’s lawyers which had argued that a subpoena to Mazars USA, Trump’s accounting firm, was “overbroad” in its request for documents and that it amounted to “harassment.” Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. argued repeatedly that the subpoena, issued by a grand jury, was legally valid and tied to a legitimate criminal investigation.

Trump could appeal the decision and further attempt to delay execution of the subpoena from Vance’s office, which has been investigating hush-money payments to two women who alleged having affairs with Trump years ago. The president denies the women’s claims.

ny times logoNew York Times, Top Republican National Security Officials Say They Will Vote for Biden, David Sanger, Aug. 21, 2020 (print ed.). More than 70 senior officials called President Trump “unfit to lead” and outlined their support for his opponent.

djt miles taylorAmong the signatories are former officials from the Reagan administration; others who served both George Bush and George W. Bush; and a few, like John Negroponte, the former director of national intelligence, and General Michael Hayden, who served as director of the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency and whose service extended over both Democratic and Republican administrations. At right is Miles Taylor, another signatory and a former official in the Trump administration's Department of Homeland Security.

The organizers are seeking additional names: "If you are a national security offical who worked for a Republican administration and are supporting Vice President Biden in November, we urge you to join us. Please get in touch at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.."

ny times logoNew York Times, DeJoy Tells Senators Election Mail Will Be Delivered ‘Fully and on Time,’ Nicholas Fandos and Emily Cochrane, Aug. 21, 2020. Louis DeJoy, the embattled postmaster general whose cost-cutting and operational changes have prompted widespread concern about mail-in voting, said on Friday he was “extremely, highly confident” the Postal Service could handle the largest vote-by-mail program in American history. He said it was “outrageous” for Democrats to suggest that he might intentionally slow ballot delivery to help President Trump.

Testifying before Congress for the first time amid a sharp backlash, Mr. DeJoy, a major donor to Mr. Trump, defended many of the changes as necessary to help the Postal Service get its financial house in order. He acknowledged that the moves have slowed some mail delivery and reiterated that he would suspend his cost-cutting measures until after the election.

“There has been no changes to any policies with regard to election mail,” Mr. DeJoy told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, adding, “The Postal Service is fully capable and committed to delivering the nation’s election mail fully and on time.”

Under intense pressure from Democrats, however, he refused to reverse other steps, like removing hundreds of blue mailboxes and mail-sorting machines, that he said his predecessors had initiated in response to a steady decline in mail volume. He told senators that he did not know about the machine removal when it began, saying it was “not a critical issue within the Postal Service.”

Virus Victims, Responses

washington post logoWashington Post, Growing evidence shines a light on children’s role in virus transmission, Ariana Eunjung Cha, Aug. 21, 2020 (print ed.).  Studies on the subject have been too small to yield definitive answers. But a new paper finding high viral loads and high positivity rates in children covad 19 photo.jpg Custom 2joins other studies suggesting that some children may be “silent spreaders.”

As schools reopen in parts of the United States, a study published Thursday found that some children have significantly higher levels of virus in their airways than the most severely ill adults — suggesting their role in community spread may be larger than previously believed.

One of the study’s authors, Alessio Fasano, a physician at MassGeneral Hospital for Children, said that because children tend to exhibit mild symptoms or none at all, they were largely ignored in the early part of the outbreak and not tested. But they may have been acting as silent spreaders all along.

“Some people thought that children might be protected,” Fasano said. “This is incorrect. They may be as susceptible as adults — but just not visible.”

The study in the Journal of Pediatrics comes on the heels of two others that offer insights about children and coronavirus transmission. On July 30, researchers reported in JAMA that children younger than 5 with mild or moderate illness have much higher levels of virus in the nose compared to older children and adults. Shortly before that, investigators in South Korea found in a household study that older children passed on the virus as readily as adults, while younger children did not.

ny times logoNew York Times, Live updates: Jobless Claims Unexpectedly Jump to 1.1 Million, Staff reports, Aug. 21, 2020 (print ed.). The number of U.S. workers filing state jobless claims rose last week, a sign of the labor market’s fragility months into the pandemic.

The economy remains challenging for many American workers, with the unemployment rate at 10.2 percent and sectors like leisure and hospitality experiencing huge losses in employment.

In other news, American Airlines said it would drop flights to 15 small and medium-sized cities in October because of low demand and the end of a requirement from a March stimulus law that airlines maintain minimum service to destinations they flew to before the pandemic.

Starting Oct. 7, the airline will stop flying to cities like New Haven, Conn.; Dubuque, Iowa; Joplin, Mo.; and Kalamazoo and Battle Creek, Mich. The suspension will continue through at least Nov. 3 and the airline said it could revise its plans if Congress extends the $25 billion it gave the industry to forestall layoffs.

That funding, which expires on Sept. 30, has preserved tens of thousands of jobs and provided airlines flexibility by taking care of payroll expenses. A union-led effort to secure funds for another six months had gained bipartisan support in recent weeks before stimulus negotiations between congressional leaders and the Trump administration stalled. American received $5.8 billion under the payroll-support program, more than any other airline.

ny times logopaul krugmanNew York Times, Opinion: Stocks Are Soaring. So Is Misery, Paul Krugman, Aug. 21, 2020 (print ed.). Optimism about Apple’s future profits won’t pay this month’s rent.

On Tuesday, the S&P 500 stock index hit a record high. The next day, Apple became the first U.S. company in history to be valued at more than $2 trillion. Donald Trump is, of course, touting the stock market as proof that the economy has recovered from the coronavirus; too bad about those 173,000 dead Americans, but as he says, “It is what it is.”

But the economy probably doesn’t feel so great to the millions of workers who still haven’t gotten their jobs back and who have just seen their unemployment benefits slashed. The $600 a week supplemental benefit enacted in March has expired, and Trump’s purported replacement is basically a sick joke.

But how can there be such a disconnect between rising stocks and growing misery? The truth is that stock prices have never been closely tied to the state of the economy.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump administration bars FDA from regulating some lab tests, including for coronavirus, Laurie McGinley and Yasmeen Abutaleb, Aug. 21, 2020 (print ed.). The decision sparked concerns by some public health experts that the market could be flooded with substandard tests. But defenders of the move said it could speed up testing.

washington post logoWashington Post, Infections are rising in Europe, and vacationers may be partly to blame, Chico Harlan, Aug. 21, 2020. Weeks after opening their borders, countries are reimposing quarantines and other controls.

More On U.S. Elections, Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: 4 takeaways from the final night of the Democratic National Convention, Aaron Blake, Aug. 21, 2020. If there was any doubt about what the chief strategy would be for Joe Biden’s campaign, his acceptance speech probably erased it. After beginning with some more high-minded, even Obama-esque comments about what our country is, Biden turned to the coronavirus.

“Our current president has failed in his most basic duty to the nation: He’s failed to protect us,” Biden said. “He’s failed to protect America. And my fellow Americans, that is unforgivable.”

Biden added: “This president, if he’s reelected, you know what will happen. Cases and deaths will remain far too high. More mom and pop businesses will close their doors — and this time for good. Working families will struggle to get by.”

Counterpunch, How to Rig an Election: an Interview With Greg Palast, Charlotte Dennett, Aug. 21, 2020. Greg Palast does not mince words about the 2020 elections.

Only the voter fraud he warns about is not by the voters, as President Trump insists. It’s by the vote-stealers in the Republican Party. And they’ve been at it for a long time, unbeknownst to the American people.

The title of his new book, How Trump Stole 2020, serves as fair warning, while he does everything in his power to educate Americans about the covert dirty tricks performed by Trump Republicans to tamper with our elections.

Most people, he tells us, don’t realize that elections are usually stolen before they occur — mainly by blocking people from voting; sadly, those voters who were purged from the voter rolls in 2016 and 2018(something Palast considers “truly evil”) didn’t even know it happened, They simply assumed their votes were counted. And it’s likely to happen again…unless all precautions are taken. Fortunately, How Trump Stole 2020 is the go-to book to find out how to protect your vote.

Are you worried about mail-in ballots? Read on.

Consider a few frightening facts that Palast, a first rate investigative journalist, has uncovered having spent years of election dissections for the BBC, Rolling Stone, and the Guardian. Most recently:

+ In 2016, over half a million mail-in ballots were never counted. MIT did a study, Losing Votes by Mail, which put the loss of mail-in votes in 2016 at 22 percent. About half the ballots were never received or received too late to vote. And one in two ballots mailed in were challenged by Republicans and not counted.

The cartoon below, from Palast’s book, gives you a snapshot of what to expect.

ny times logoNew York Times, What We Learned From Biden’s Big Night at the D.N.C., Nick Corasaniti, Updated Aug. 21, 2020 (1:30 min. video transcript). For days, Democrats at the convention cast Joe Biden as a big-tent candidate for a big-tent moment. On Thursday, he made a broad appeal for support.

In a speech that was by turns personal and political, searing and comforting, Joseph R. Biden Jr. pledged to heal a suffering nation through shared purpose and common decency.

His speech accepting his party’s presidential nomination capped one of the most extraordinary Democratic National Conventions in history. With the coronavirus pandemic essentially eliminating in-person activities, what is ordinarily the biggest quadrennial party for Democrats went completely virtual.

The final night hammered home the campaign’s message of the reunification, and its depiction of Mr. Biden as a big-tent candidate for a big-tent moment. His onetime rivals for the Democratic nomination gathered to voice their support for the newly-minted nominee, who pledged to be “a Democratic candidate, but an American president.”

 Here are four moments that defined the last night of the convention:

‘With Great Honor and Humility, I Accept This Nomination,’ Biden Says

I’m a proud Democrat, and I’ll be proud to carry the banner of our party into the general election. So it’s with great honor and humility I accept this nomination for president of the United States of America. What we know about this president is if he’s given four more years, he’ll be what he’s been for the last four years: a president who takes no responsibility, refuses to lead, blames others, cozies up to dictators and fans the flames of hate and division.

He’ll wake up every day believing the job is all about him, never about you. Is that the America you want?

For you, your family, your children? This is our moment to make hope and history rhyme. With passion and purpose, let us begin — you and I together, one nation, under God, united in our love for America, united in our love for each other. For love is more powerful than hate.

Hope is more powerful than fear. And light is more powerful than dark. This is our moment. This is our mission. May history be able to say that the end of this chapter of American darkness began here tonight, as love and hope and light join in the battle for the soul of the nation. And this is a battle we will win, and we’ll do it together, I promise you.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Joe Biden has gotten a bump in the polls from picking Kamala Harris, James Sullivan, Aug. 21, 2020. The latest polls bill palmer report logo headerreleased on Wednesday from the nonpartisan Voter Participation Center and Center for Voting Information are showing that Biden made the right decision, with an 11-point increase in support among Black voters and a 15-point increase among Latino voters, two voting bases that are indispensable for Democrats to win the White House in November. Biden and Harris are now leading both groups by 80 and 50 points respectively.

ny times logoNew York Times, Live updates: Trump Unleashes Scorched-Earth Attack on Biden Before Convention Night 4, Staff reports, Aug. 21, 2020 (print ed.). President Trump, in Pennsylvania, predicted “mayhem” if Joe Biden wins. Mr. Biden will make the biggest speech of his career tonight.

President Donald Trump officialWe have heard from the heroes of the Democratic Party’s past. We have heard from several leaders who may represent its future, including Senator Kamala Harris, the vice-presidential nominee. On the final night of the convention, the spotlight will finally turn to the man who is the party’s present, Joseph R. Biden Jr.

Even with the awkward limitations of a virtual convention, the programming of the last three nights has built steadily and more or less smoothly toward the unveiling of Mr. Biden as a president-in-waiting. It now falls to Mr. Biden to fill the political silhouette his party has gradually sketched — one that frames him as a steady hand for difficult times, capable of bringing concrete relief to people suffering through a crisis.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s reelection effort has officially spent more than $1 billion, a record sum, Michelle Ye Hee Lee and Anu Narayanswamy, Aug. 21, 2020 (print ed.). The Trump campaign, the Republican Party and two affiliated committees have spent more than $1 billion since 2017, a record-breaking sum spent toward a reelection effort at this point in the presidential campaign, filings show.

Donald Trump Logo Make America Great AgainTrump has raised and spent money for his reelection since 2017, earlier in his term than previous presidents. At this point in 2012, former president Barack Obama’s reelection effort, including the Democratic National Committee, had spent about $643 million, federal records show.

As a result, Trump, the Republican National Committee and their two affiliated committees crossed the $1 billion mark even before the Republican National Convention takes place next week.

Western Journal, Opinion: Joe Biden Gets Horrible News from His Sex Assault Accuser, Tara Reade, During Democrat Convention, C. Douglas Golden, Aug. 21, 2020. Could Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s sexual assault accuser be speaking at the GOP convention next week?

In an appearance on Fox News on Thursday — the same day Biden gave his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention — Tara Reade said she would “absolutely” speak at the Republican convention, adding that she would be “more than happy to do so.”

tara reade joe biden Custom“I think survivors need a voice, and I would be humbled and honored to help raise and lift that voice if that’s possible,” Reade said.

In the interview, the self-described “lifelong Dem” said sexual assault should be a “nonpartisan issue.”

“What I find really astounding has been the hypocrisy around the sexual assault and sexual harassment that I brought forth,” Reade said.

“When there were Republicans being accused of that, the media and the reaction from the Democratic Party was quite different and quite aggressive and quite hostile to the perpetrator, potential perpetrator, before it was even investigated,” she said. “In my case, the hostility was directed right towards me, and I was basically silenced and erased by using classism and so on.”

“I lost everything coming forward. I lost my work, housing, money, everything because I spoke out against one of the most powerful members of the Democratic Party,” Reade said.

She criticized the speaker lineup chosen by the Democratic National Committee for the convention — particularly former President Bill Clinton, who’s been credibly accused of sexual assault.

“I’m a sexual assault survivor, so to me, what the speaker lineup showed is kind of a thumb in all of our faces. It was … really disappointing,” Reade said.

“Rape culture in the United States is thriving under the Democratic Party,” she said. “I feel that they are not only enabling but they are allowing that behavior to continue just by virtue of who they lined up as speakers who have credible sexual assault and harassment allegations against them, and I feel like there’s an abandonment of the voices that were trying to be heard that really wanted systemic change about issues like sexual harassment in the workplace and sexual assault.”

She also said in the interview that the Democratic Party had “gaslighted” survivors of sexual assault by claiming to be their protectors.

“I’ve communicated with other people who are watching this who had very visceral reactions to what’s happening and how sexual assault survivors. … We’re being gaslighted, right, collectively,” Reade said.

Trump Team Legal Scandals

steve bannon file

ny times logoNew York Times, Here’s more on the group at the center of Steve Bannon’s indictment, which used private funds to build a border wall, Zolan Kanno-Youngs and Stephanie Saul, Aug. 21, 2020 (print ed.). The criminal charges were the latest twist for We Build the Wall, which had drawn praise from top Homeland Security officials while causing controversy over its construction methods.

As President Trump fumed in late 2018 over the progress his government was making on a border wall, an Air Force veteran’s pro-wall GoFundMe page would transform into a separate project, funded by private donations and guided by former Trump advisers, including Stephen K. Bannon, shown above.

Frustrated over the delays in Mr. Trump’s signature campaign promise, Brian Kolfage’s group, We Build the Wall, raised more than $20 million in weeks, largely on the promise of sidestepping the legal and political obstacles to building a border wall by using private funding.

But on Thursday, about a month after Mr. Trump publicly criticized the private construction effort, federal prosecutors in New York unveiled an indictment accusing the fund-raising campaign of ties to a scheme that “defrauded hundreds of thousands of donors.”

Federal authorities in the Southern District of New York say Mr. Bannon, one of the architects of Mr. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign who later joined the group’s board, plotted with three other men: Mr. Kolfage, 38, from Miramar Beach, Fla.; Andrew Badolato, 56, a financier from Sarasota, Fla.; and Timothy Shea, 49, of Castle Rock, Colo. Kris Kobach, the former Kansas secretary of state who is listed as We Build the Wall’s general counsel on the group’s website, was not named in the indictment.

Mr. Kolfage, who on television frequently advocated building a border wall but criticized the federal government’s methods, repeatedly said he had promised his donors that he would not take any of the group’s funds for his own benefit. Prosecutors said that was false: Mr. Kolfage secretly took more than $350,000 in donations for his own personal use while Mr. Bannon, through an unnamed nonprofit organization, received more than $1 million from the group.

While the portions of the wall constructed by the federal government are well within the American side of the border on federally owned land or potentially splitting the farmlands of private landowners, portions of the privately run wall were built along the river bank of the Rio Grande. The potential environmental damage prompted legal challenges from environmental groups and the International Boundary and Water Commission, which manages the water relationship between Mexico and the United States.

Yet We Build the Wall drew praise from some administration officials, despite the group’s intent to privatize a function of government — border security — widely viewed as a federal responsibility.

chad wolfDuring a news conference in November in El Paso, Chad F. Wolf, right, the acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, and his top border officials welcomed the construction of the private project in New Mexico and Texas and said the barriers had proved to be effective. The briefing was highlighted on the Twitter page of Mr. Kolfage, who once ran a right-wing website that was eventually removed by Facebook.

But after reports in July showed signs of erosion along the privately funded barriers, Mr. Trump denounced the project on Twitter as something “only done to make me look bad.”

 ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Trumpism Is a Racket, and Steve Bannon Knew It, Michelle Goldberg, right, Aug. 21, 2020 (print ed.). In the MAGA michelle goldberg thumbmovement, you’re either a predator or a mark.

So it’s fitting that when Bannon on Thursday became the most recent member of Trump’s 2016 campaign staff to be arrested, it was on charges of defrauding gullible Trump supporters. According to a federal indictment, Bannon, along with his associates Brian Kolfage, Andrew Badolato and Timothy Shea, ran a crowdfunding campaign, We Build the Wall, ostensibly to help fund Trump’s promised southern border barrier. The project became, said prosecutors, a source of illicit personal enrichment.

We Build the Wall was run as a nonprofit, and assured donors that “100 percent of funds raised” would go toward wall construction. Some donors, said the indictment, wrote to Kolfage that “they did not have a lot of money and were skeptical of online fund-raising campaigns,” but they were “giving what they could” because they trusted his promises.

According to the indictment, Bannon used a separate nonprofit to siphon off over $1 million, some of which was used to pay Kolfage, who also received money through a shell company set up by Shea.

Race, Police Protests. Reactions

washington post logoGreg Abbott CustomWashington Post, Texas governor threatens penalties for cities that cut police funding, Jessica Wolfrom and Mark Berman, Aug. 21, 2020 (print ed.). Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, right, called for a ban on raising property taxes in any city that cuts police department funding after Austin’s city council voted to slash its police budget by $21.5 million.

World News

ny times logoNew York Times, Aleksei Navalny Hospitalized in Russia in Suspected Poisoning, Andrew Higgins, Aug. 21, 2020 (print alexey navalny 2017ed.). The prominent opposition leader, right, was reported to be in serious but stable condition after his flight to Moscow was forced to make an emergency landing.

While the Kremlin insisted Thursday that it was too early to say what had happened to its best known and most persistent critic, it was already clear by the end of the day that Mr. Navalny had joined a long list of Mr. Putin’s opponents to be suddenly afflicted by bizarre and sometimes fatal medical emergencies, often after drinking tea.

Media News

 ny times logoNew York Times, The Republican Embrace of QAnon Goes Far Beyond Trump, Matthew Rosenberg and Maggie Haberman,Aug. 21, 2020 (print ed.). As President Trump all but endorses the conspiracy theory, it is shifting from the fringes of the internet to become an offline political movement.

djt maga hatLate last month, as the Texas Republican Party was shifting into campaign mode, it unveiled a new slogan, lifting a rallying cry straight from a once-unthinkable source: the internet-driven conspiracy theory known as QAnon.

The new catchphrase, “We Are the Storm,” is an unsubtle cue to a group that the F.B.I. has labeled a potential domestic terrorist threat. It is instantly recognizable among QAnon adherents, signaling what they claim is a coming conflagration between President Trump and what they allege, falsely, is a cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophile Democrats who seek to dominate America and the world.

ny times logoNew York Times, Palantir, Tech’s Next Big I.P.O., Lost $580 Million in 2019, Erin Griffith and Kate Conger, Aug. 21, 2020. The Silicon Valley company could be the next in a string of tech outfits to go public long before they have turned a profit. Palantir, a Silicon Valley company with strong links to the defense and intelligence communities, is poised to be the latest in a string of tech companies to offer shares on Wall Street well before turning a profit.

The company sent financial documents to its investors on Thursday night, ahead of its planned debut on the public markets this year. The documents, obtained by The New York Times, offer the first full look into the company’s financials and operations and show growing operating expenses as well as deep losses.

Palantir’s revenue in 2019 was $742.5 million, nearly 25 percent more than the year before. Its net loss of $580 million was about the same as 2018. And expenses were up 2 percent in 2019 to a little more than $1 billion.

The company, which has raised more than $3 billion in funding and is valued by private market investors at $20 billion, has not turned a profit since it was founded in 2003. As early as 2014, Palantir had fanned expectations that it would soon hit $1 billion in revenue. Six years later, it appears to be closing in on that goal. In the first six months of this year, Palantir’s revenue was $481 million.

 

Aug. 20

 Top Headlines

covad 19 photo.jpg Custom 2Virus Victims, Responses

U.S.  Elections, Politics

Inside DC

World News

U.S. Disasters

Media News

 

Top Stories

bo dnc democracy warning aug 19 2020

Barack Obama, speaking in Philadelphia in a video played at the Democratic National Convention on Aug. 19, delivered a highly unusual warning from an ex-president that his succesor, Donald Trump, represents an unprecedented threat to democracy if re-elected.

ny times logoNew York Times, Obama’s D.N.C. Speech: ‘Don’t Let Them Take Away Your Democracy,’ Stephanie Saul, Aug. 20, 2020 (print ed.). The very future of our Democracy is at stake, former President Barack Obama said at the Democratic National Convention, imploring voters to oust President Trump.

Former President Barack Obama delivered an impassioned speech on Wednesday to the Democratic National Convention in support of his party’s presidential nominee, Joseph R. Biden Jr., praising him as a man of experience, character, empathy and resilience, and urging the nation to come together to oust President Trump, saying democracy’s very existence is in jeopardy.

DNC 2020 convention logoCalling the consequences of Mr. Trump’s failures severe — “170,000 Americans dead, millions of jobs gone, our worst impulses unleashed, our proud reputation around the world badly diminished and our democratic institutions threatened like never before” — Mr. Obama issued a call to action, imploring Americans to get behind Mr. Biden and his vice-presidential running mate, Senator Kamala Harris of California.

“What we do these next 76 days will echo through generations to come,” Mr. Obama said, urging all Americans to vote.

“Tonight, I am asking you to believe in Joe and Kamala’s ability to lead this country out of dark times and build it back better,” he said on the convention’s third night, also calling upon Americans to “embrace your own responsibility as citizens — to make sure that the basic tenets of our democracy endure because that’s what’s at stake now: our democracy.”

joe biden kamala harris campaign shotMr. Obama, adopting a tone of urgency and speaking directly to his fellow Americans, delivered his speech from the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia in what the party said was an effort to illustrate the high stakes voters face in this election.

Repeating a theme from a speech delivered by his wife, Michelle Obama, the former first lady, on Monday night, Mr. Obama said that Mr. Trump was simply incapable of being president, issuing a stunning rebuke of his successor.

“I did hope, for the sake of our country, that Donald Trump might show some interest in taking the job seriously,” Mr. Obama said. “That he might come to feel the weight of the office. And discover some reverence for the democracy that had been placed in his care. But he never did.”

“Donald Trump hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t,” he said.

Mr. Obama offered an unflinching criticism of the president, arguing emphatically that Mr. Trump had abused his presidential power. “No one, including the president, is above the law,” Mr. Obama said. “And no public official, including the president, should use the office to enrich themselves or their supporters.”

Kamala Harris DNC Aug. 19, 2020 acceptance

washington post logoWashington Post, Harris, accepting VP nomination, calls for justice: ‘No vaccine for racism,’ Colby Itkowitz, Felicia Sonmez and John Wagner, Aug. 20, 2020 (print ed.). Barack Obama: ‘Trump hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t.’ Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), above, accepted DNC 2020 convention logoher party’s historic nomination to be its vice-presidential candidate, running with Joe Biden.

On this third night, young activists spoke about gun violence, climate change and immigration, while Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi urged Americans to vote, and officials including Sens. Sherrod Brown and Elizabeth Warren focused on Biden’s economic plan. And former president Barack Obama gave an address stressing the importance of democracy.

djt impeachment graphic

ny times logoNew York Times, Editorial: The Trump Campaign Accepted Russian Help to Win in 2016. Case Closed, Editorial Board, Aug. 20, 2020 (print ed.). From the start, the Trump-Russia story has been both eye-glazingly complex and extraordinarily simple.

oleg deripaskaWho is Oleg Deripaska? [shown at left.] What’s the G.R.U. again? Who owed what to whom? The sheer number of crisscrossing characters and interlocking pieces of evidence — the phone calls, the emails, the texts, the clandestine international meet-ups — has bamboozled even those who spend their days teasing it all apart. It’s no wonder average Americans tuned out long ago.

Russian FlagA bipartisan report released Tuesday by the Republican-controlled Senate Intelligence Committee cuts through the chaff.

The simplicity of the scheme has always been staring us in the face: Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign sought and maintained close contacts with Russian government officials who were helping him get elected. The Trump campaign accepted their offers of help. The campaign secretly provided Russian officials with key polling data. The campaign coordinated the timing of the release of stolen information to hurt Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

The Senate committee’s report isn’t telling this story for the first time, of course. (Was it only a year ago that Robert Mueller testified before Congress about his own damning, comprehensive investigation?) But it is the first to do so with the assent of Senate Republicans, who have mostly ignored the gravity of the Trump camp’s actions or actively worked to cast doubt about the demonstrable facts in the case.

Virus Victims, Responses

washington post logoWashington Post, Growing evidence shines a light on children’s role in virus transmission, Ariana Eunjung Cha, Aug. 20, 2020. Studies on the subject have been too small to yield definitive answers. But a new paper finding high viral loads and high positivity rates in children covad 19 photo.jpg Custom 2joins other studies suggesting that some children may be “silent spreaders.”

As schools reopen in parts of the United States, a study published Thursday found that some children have significantly higher levels of virus in their airways than the most severely ill adults — suggesting their role in community spread may be larger than previously believed.

One of the study’s authors, Alessio Fasano, a physician at MassGeneral Hospital for Children, said that because children tend to exhibit mild symptoms or none at all, they were largely ignored in the early part of the outbreak and not tested. But they may have been acting as silent spreaders all along.

“Some people thought that children might be protected,” Fasano said. “This is incorrect. They may be as susceptible as adults — but just not visible.”

The study in the Journal of Pediatrics comes on the heels of two others that offer insights about children and coronavirus transmission. On July 30, researchers reported in JAMA that children younger than 5 with mild or moderate illness have much higher levels of virus in the nose compared to older children and adults. Shortly before that, investigators in South Korea found in a household study that older children passed on the virus as readily as adults, while younger children did not.

ny times logoNew York Times, Live Updates: Florida Surpasses 10,000 Deaths Tied to Virus, Staff reports, Aug. 20, 2020. The state reported over 10,000 coronavirus deaths, a Times database found. India’s crisis is spreading along its southern coastline.

More On U.S.  Elections, Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, Pelosi endorses Kennedy over Markey in tight Massachusetts Senate primary, Paul Kane, Aug. 20, 2020. House nancy pelosi twitterSpeaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), right, endorsed Rep. Joe Kennedy, below left, on Thursday in the increasingly bitter Senate Democratic primary in Massachusetts, abandoning her longtime ally Sen. Edward J. Markey a few days after he lodged attacks on the iconic family dynasty.

joe kennedy III o croppedPelosi cited Kennedy’s hard work in campaigning for many of the Democrats who won in 2018, flipping the majority and returning her to the job of speaker, but she also cited her own family’s close ties to the Kennedys, including her father’s role running the Maryland campaign for John F. Kennedy’s presidential bid in 1960.

“I became close to the Kennedy family from then on,” she said in an exclusive interview with The Washington Post Live team, noting that she previously served in the House with Joe Kennedy’s father and his cousin, former congressman Patrick J. Kennedy (D-R.I.).

kanye west resized djt

Palmer Report, Opinion: Kanye West removed from ballot, Bill Palmer, Aug. 20, 2020. We all know that the Donald Trump 2020 campaign has been manipulating a deeply disturbed Kanye West into running for President, in the hope of picking off a few of Joe Biden’s votes and perhaps giving Trump a chance in any swing states that were already close to begin with. But like all things the Trump cartel touches, Kanye’s presidential bid is already dying of incompetence.

bill palmer report logo headerWeeks ago we brought you the story of how Kanye West had managed to get on the ballot in Wisconsin by submitting petitions that included fake signatures from the likes of “Mickey Mouse” and “Bernie Sanders.” It turns out he didn’t kanye west twitter maga snleven file the fake signatures in time, and now the Milwaukee Sentinel Journal newspaper is reporting that Wisconsin has removed Kanye from the state’s ballot.

We’ve already seen Kanye West (shown in a Twitter photo with a MAGA hat0 removed from the ballot in Illinois, for similar reasons of fraudulent ineptitude. But Joe Biden was always going to win Illinois handily, Kanye or no Kanye. Wisconsin is expected to be a closer result, and even if Kanye had gotten one percent of the vote in the state, it could have made a difference. So it’s a big deal that Kanye won’t be on the ballot in the key swing state.

ny times logoNew York Times, Live updates: Mail-In Voting Is Expanded in New York, Staff reports, Aug. 20, 2020. New York will now allow any voters concerned about contracting Covid-19 to request an absentee ballot. New York State will allow most voters to cast their ballots by mail in the November general andrew cuomoelection, joining a growing list of states that have expanded mail-in voting to address the potential spread of the coronavirus at polling places.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, right, a third-term Democrat, signed a bill on Thursday allowing voters to request an absentee ballot if they cannot show up at a polling location because of the risk of contracting or spreading an illness, effectively permitting the state’s more than 12 million registered voters to vote by mail.

Nearly 40 percent of voters cast mail-in ballots in the state’s June 23 primary, compared with as little as 4 percent in previous elections, overwhelming election officials and resulting in a weekslong delay for results in many races.

MailOnline, The luxury lifestyle of triple-amputee Iraq vet and his TikTok star wife who 'bought boats, an SUV, jewelry and plastic surgery with $350,000 that was stolen from We Build The Wall donations,' Jennifer Smith, Aug,. 20, 2020. Brian Kolfage, 38, is the main beneficiary of the alleged scheme involving Steve Bannon and two others. He took $20,000-a-month for running the We Build The Wall private effort , according to prosecutors.

      • Kolfage is a triple amputee, Purple Heart veteran who lost an arm and two legs in Iraq in 2004
      • brian kolfage 38 resized wife ashley 33 instagramHe and his wife Ashley (shown together at right in an Instagram photo) married in 2011 after he returned from Iraq; she was working as a Chilli's waitress
      • She is now a 'model' with 300,000 followers on TikTok and he is an avid Trump supporter and activist
      • She enthusiastically posts videos of their life on the Florida panhandle on her TikTok account
      • The pair spend most of their time on their boat, with their children, or in their home which is in golf community in Miramar Beach
      • Prosecutors say Kolfage took $350,000 from the GoFundMe which he launched in December 2018
      • They say he spent the money on a golf cart, SUV, boat payments and 'cosmetic surgery'
      • Steve Bannon, Timothy Shea and Andrew Badolato have also been charged and all face 40 years in prison
      • Prosecutors say they lied to donors who gave more than $25 million to the account by claiming the would not take any money for themselves

The Purple Heart triple amputee Iraq veteran charged along with Steve Bannon and two others with stealing money from the We Build The Wall GoFundMe account spent $350,000 on boats, an SUV, plastic surgery, jewelry, home renovations and credit card debt, prosecutors claim.

Prosecutors allege that Brian Kolfage, a triple amputee and celebrated war veteran, was the main beneficiary of the scheme.

In 2018, Kolfage set up the GoFundMe account in support of President Trump and to prove the nation's appetite for a border wall between the US and Mexico.

It was inundated with donations from Republicans and had collected more than $20 million by December that year. GoFundMe became suspicious of where the money was going and warned Kolfage to donate it to a legitimate charity or refund everyone who'd given to it.

That is when, prosecutors say, Bannon, Timothy Shea and Andrew Badolato got involved. They used shell companies and a not-for-profit formed by Bannon to launder the money back to Kolfage and keep some for themselves, it's claimed.

Kolfage launched the private wall effort in December 2018. He took it off GoFundMe recently because, he claimed, the company was not allowing him to fundraise for victims of assaults by BLM protesters.

The fund would pay the shell companies, then they would deposit the money back into accounts held by Kolfage or his wife, marking the transactions down as for 'media', 'consulting' or 'social media', it is alleged.

Despite claiming on the GoFundMe that he'd 'never take a penny' from the donations, the indictment alleges that Kolfage took a $20,000-a-month salary from it in addition to a one-off, $100,000 payment. In total, he took $350,000, it's claimed.

Bannon allegedly took $1 million from it - some of which he used to pay Kolfage, but some he allegedly kept and spent on hotels, travel and credit card debt.

While Bannon is the most recognizable name in the indictment, Kolfage, 38, and his wife Ashley, 33, spent the money most enthusiastically.

The pair live with their two children in a $290,000 home in Miramar, on the Florida panhandle.

Ashley is active on Instagram and TikTok, where she shows off their weekends on boats and driving the golf cart prosecutors claim was paid for with the stolen donation money.

Once he'd been fitted with prosthetics, he moved to Arizona which is where he reconnected with Ashley -- then a waitress at Chilli's -- having met her years earlier.

The pair married in 2011 and welcomed two children years later. He lived quietly as a war hero until Trump entered the political world. Then, he became an activist.

In December 2018, he launched the GoFundMe, saying at the time he'd grown sick of 'too many illegals . . . taking advantage of the United States taxpayers' and the 'political games from

In 2018, Kolfage set up the GoFundMe account in support of President Trump and to prove the nation's appetite for a border wall between the US and Mexico.

It was inundated with donations from Republicans and had collected more than $20 million by December that year. GoFundMe became suspicious of where the money was going and warned Kolfage to donate it to a legitimate charity or refund everyone who'd given to it.

That is when, prosecutors say, Bannon, Timothy Shea and Andrew Badolato got involved. They used shell companies and We Build The Wall Inc, a not-for-profit formed by Bannon to launder the money back to Kolfage and keep some for themselves, it's claimed.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Bill Barr’s day of reckoning, Bill Palmer, Aug. 20, 2020. Donald Trump wants us to believe that he signed off on today’s arrest of his former henchman Steve Bannon, but we all know that’s a load of crap. Bannon has all kinds of dirt on Trump and his family, and this arrest could prompt Bannon to cut a cooperating plea deal – leaving Trump with the no-win prospect of having to absorb the ugly press from pardoning Bannon, or just hoping Bannon’s dirt doesn’t stick.

bill palmer report logo headerEither way, it’s the last thing Donald Trump needs right now, at a time when he’s already on track to lose the election. It’s also the kind of thing that Trump expects Bill Barr to stop from happening. Yet Barr failed when he tried to install his own guy at SDNY two months ago. That failure directly resulted in Bannon’s arrest today, and perhaps the arrests of other Trump allies and family members ahead of the election. It’s just the latest such failure for Barr.

william barr new oThere’s something of a mythos about Bill Barr, right, as if he has an evil magic wand he can simply wave whenever Donald Trump is in trouble. That perception is largely because Barr came into office and quickly defeated Robert Mueller. But in hindsight Mueller wasn’t even doing his job before Barr got there, meaning Barr merely slayed a paper tiger.

Since that time Bill Barr has failed to stop the arrests of Lev and Igor, which leaves the door open for Rudy Giuliani to be arrested before the election. Barr also failed to get Roger Stone a lenient sentence, forcing Donald Trump to absorb the bad press of commuting Stone’s sentence. Barr just keeps swinging and missing. He’s evil, but he’s not very good at this. Barr isn’t doing much to help Trump at all – and even Trump surely sees it at this point. Barr’s day of reckoning is coming.

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, GOP push to block controversial Alaskan gold mine gains the White House’s attention, Juliet Eilperin, Ashley Parker and Steven Mufson, Aug. 20, 2020. Pebble Mine scored a key victory late last month but now faces opposition from some Trump confidants. Federal approval of a controversial gold and copper mine in Alaska that would be the largest in North America may be put on hold after a small group of influential Republicans — including the president’s son, Fox News host Tucker Carlson and a wealthy Trump donor — launched a full-court press to block the project.

World News

Jerusalem Post, Netanyahu: Rape of 16-year-old by 30 men is crime against humanity, Tamar Beeri, Aug. 20, 2020. The girl was allegedly violently raped by dozens of men when she was inebriated during her trip to the southernmost part of Israel. She had been walking back to one of the hotel rooms that her and her friends were staying in to use the restroom when she was attacked.

U.S. Disasters

ny times logoNew York Times, Live Updates: Thousands of Homes in Danger as California Blazes Spread, Aug. 20, 2020. The entire city of Healdsburg was told to prepare to flee, while another blaze prompted evacuation orders on the edge of San Jose. At least two people have died in the fires: a helicopter pilot on a water-dropping mission and an electrical utility worker assisting the fire response.

      • New York Times, The most-populated state in the U.S. is facing multiple crises: major wildfires, blackouts, a heat wave and a pandemic, Aug. 20, 2020.

 

Aug. 19

Top Headlines

More On Democratic Convention

U.S. Virus Updates, Responses

Inside DC

U.S. Race Protests, Crime

nicolas maduro customWorld News

California Wildfires

 

Top Stories

washington post logoWashington Post, DeJoy says he is ‘suspending’ policies blamed for causing mail delays ahead of election, Jacob Bogage, Aug. 19, 2020 (print ed.). The declaration comes as lawmakers prepared to question DeJoy and USPS board of governors Chairman Robert M. Duncan in a Louis Dejoy CustomFriday hearing in the Senate and at a Monday hearing in the House on those policy changes, which have caused mail slowdowns and threatened to jeopardize ballot collection during the November election.

DeJoy, right, a former logistics executive and ally of President Trump, took office in June and swiftly made organizational changes to the nation’s mail service, cracking down on overtime hours and banning extra trips by postal carriers trying to ensure on-time mail delivery. The result was mail delays in localities across the country that ensnared prescription medications and election mail during some mid-summer primaries.

us mail logoThe Postal Service also planned to take 671 mail-sorting machines, roughly 10 percent of its inventory, offline to cut costs, and had in recent days removed, relocated and replaced public mailboxes in a number of states including Oregon, Pennsylvania, California, Ohio, Montana and Arizona, among others.

Democratic lawmakers had begun in recent weeks to take DeJoy to task over those changes, with several calling for him to resign. Postal Service Inspector General Tammy Whitcomb launched an investigation of those policies last week, along with DeJoy’s financial portfolio.

Clamors from Democrats in both chambers for hearings with DeJoy grew over recent days after President Trump said he wanted to withhold funding from the Postal Service to attempt to hobble its ability to process election mail.

paul manafort face nation

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s 2016 campaign chair was a ‘grave counterintelligence threat,’ Senate panel finds, Karoun Demirjian, Aug. 18, 2020. President Trump’s 2016 campaign chairman posed a “grave counterintelligence threat” due to his interaction with people close to the Kremlin, according to a bipartisan Senate report released Tuesday that also found extensive contacts between key campaign advisers and officials affiliated with Moscow’s government and intelligence services.

Russian FlagThe Senate Intelligence Committee report states that former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort (shown above during the campaign) worked with a Russian intelligence officer “on narratives that sought to undermine evidence that Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. election,” including the idea that Ukrainian election interference was of greater concern.

The report states that a Russian attorney who met with Manafort, the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., and his son-in-law Jared Kushner at Trump Tower in 2016 had “significant connections” to the Kremlin. The information she offered to them was also “part of a broader influence operation targeting the United States that was coordinated, at least in part with elements of the Russian government,” the report states.

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: Trump Phone Calls Add to Lingering Questions About Russian Interference, Julian E. Barnes, Aug. 19, 2020. A Senate committee went further than the Mueller report on key points about Russia’s election sabotage operations and the Trump campaign.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Marco Rubio goes completely off the rails as Donald Trump circles the drain, Daniel Cotter, Aug. 19, 2020. Donald steve bannon heritage foundationTrump has long claimed the Russia investigation was a hoax. However, the just released Senate Intelligence Committee report, a bipartisan effort, has conclusions well at odds with the matter being a hoax. The report is explosive.

One question it raises for Americans is this – during the impeachment trial of Donald Trump, no GOP Senator called for witnesses. This bill palmer report logo headerdespite the Committee making criminal referrals for Donald Trump Jr., Steve Bannon, right, Jared Kushner, Erik Prince and Sam Clovis to federal prosecutors. The report found that Donald Trump himself was not truthful in his written responses.

The report debunks that Ukraine was involved in the 2016 election interference. While the Report is not a criminal finding, it demonstrates beyond doubt that Russia had ties with the 2016 Trump campaign.

The GOP members of the Committee are:

marco rubio official.jpg SmallMarco Rubio – Acting Chair, right;
Richard Burr;
James Risch;
Susan Collins;
Roy Blunt;
Tom Cotton;
John Cornyn; and,
Ben Sasse.

Marco Rubio has done a William Barr in recent days, arguing the report does not say what it says. Take a look at that list and consider how strident many of these feckless SOBs have been when it comes to defending Trump and asserting there is nothing to see, move on, when it comes to anything Trump has done. Especially troubling is the behavior of Rubio, Cotton and Cornyn. Collins is a sad excuse for a Senator as well. Many of these folks are up for re-election this fall, and Americans must throw these traitorous anti-Americans out of office.

ny times logoNew York Times, Joe Biden Is Officially Designated as Democratic Nominee for President, Alexander Burns and Jonathan Martin, Updated Aug. 19, 2020. An Extraordinary Virtual Roll Call From All States and Territories. On Night 2 of their convention, Democrats delivered to Mr. Biden a prize he has pursued intermittently since 1988, in a triumph of endurance for him. The roll call vote showcased the cultural diversity of Democrats’ coalition and exposed a generational gulf that is increasingly defining the party.

Democrats formally nominated Joseph R. Biden Jr. for the presidency on Tuesday night, anointing him as their standard-bearer against President Trump with an extraordinary virtual roll call vote that showcased the cultural diversity of their coalition and exposed a generational gulf that is increasingly defining the party.

DNC 2020 convention logoDenied the chance to assemble in Milwaukee because of the coronavirus pandemic, Democratic activists and dignitaries cast their votes from locations across all 50 states, the American territories and the District of Columbia — from the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., to the iconic welcome sign in Las Vegas and far beyond to the shores of Guam, “where America’s day begins.” They offered a grand mosaic of personal identities and experiences, many speaking in raw terms about their aspirations and adversities.

Appearing with his wife in a Delaware school after his home state put him over the top, Mr. Biden was feted by his grandchildren, who burst in with balloons and streamers and wore T-shirts bearing the words “No Malarkey” — one of his favorite phrases — in what amounted to a miniature version of the celebrations that typically ensue after roll call votes. “See you on Thursday,” he said, speaking briefly to thank the delegates, and referring to the day he will formally accept the nomination.

The second night of the Democratic National Convention straddled themes of national security, presidential accountability and continuity between the past and future leaders of the party. Like the opening night on Monday, it took the form of a kind of political variety show. Hosted by the actress Tracee Ellis Ross, the program skipped between recorded tributes from political luminaries, personal testimonials from activists and voters, and various forms of music and entertainment.

Two tributes by Republicans carried particular symbolic weight for a Democratic candidate seeking to appeal across party lines: Colin Powell, the retired general and former secretary of state in the George W. Bush administration, delivered a message of support for Mr. Biden, whom he had previously endorsed. And Cindy McCain, the widow of Senator John McCain, appeared in a video about Mr. Biden’s relationship with her husband.

Nancy Pelosi, Elizabeth Warren, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and Kamala Harris, the Democratic nominee for Vice President, were featured speakers on Aug. 19, the third day of the Democratic National Convention

Nancy Pelosi, Elizabeth Warren, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and Kamala Harris, the Democratic nominee for Vice President, were featured speakers on Aug. 19, the third day of the Democratic National Convention.

washington post logoWashington Post, Hillary Clinton’s bittersweet message to Democrats: Don’t repeat the mistakes of 2016, Anne Gearan, Aug. 19, 2020.  Clinton spoke to a convention that, had things gone differently, would’ve been renominating her.

Hillary Clinton Wednesday sought to channel the lessons, energy and disappointment of her campaign to become the first female president into an effort to unseat the man who defeated her, urging Democrats who never fully unified around her to come together against President Trump.

Since Clinton’s loss to Trump in 2016, many Democrats have seen her as the rightful winner — robbed by the electoral college, Russia’s intervention and her own mistakes. For Trump supporters, who cheered his promises to “lock her up,” Clinton remains the personification of the liberal establishment and all that Trump is fighting.

On Wednesday, Clinton ceded the role of anti-Trump to Joe Biden and the status of exciting trailblazer to Sen. Kamala D. Harris of California.

“I know something about the slings and arrows she’ll face and believe me, this former district attorney and attorney general can handle them all,” Clinton said in an address aired live from her home in Chappaqua, N.Y.

Still popular with many Democrats, blamed by others for losing in 2016 and divisive for much of the country, the first woman to head a major-party ticket served Wednesday as a bridge to another historic first — and a warning of all that can go wrong.

More On Democratic Convention

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: Hillary Clinton: Vote ‘so Trump can’t sneak or steal his way to victory,’ Colby Itkowitz, Felicia Sonmez and John Wagner, Aug. 19, 2020. Trump tweets all-caps rebuke to Obama; Obama on Trump: ‘Trump hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t;’ Trump to appear on Hannity on Biden speech night.

washington post logoWashington Post, Democrats officially nominate Joe Biden for president, Touluse Olorunnipa, Chelsea Janes, Felicia Sonmez, Colby Itkowitz and John Wagner, Aug. 19, 2020 (print ed.). Jill Biden, in school where she once taught, reflects on sorrow in U.S. Joe Biden officially secured the Democratic nomination for president Tuesday, winning votes cast by party delegates scattered across bridges, beaches and statehouses in 57 states and territories in an online spectacle that marked the first virtual national party roll-call vote.

joe biden kamala harris logo 2020When his nomination became official, cameras flipped to the 77-year-old Biden, who was watching the virtual roll call with his wife, Jill, in a Delaware school. His grandchildren joined them, and shot off streamers and tussled with balloons as Biden beamed at a camera instead of a crowd.

“Thank you very, very much from the bottom of my heart. Thank you all. It means the world to me and my family, and I’ll see you on Thursday,” Biden said, standing in a room filled with more books than people.

“Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.”

jill biden dnc resized aug 18 2020Former second lady Jill Biden, right, headlined the two-hour event from an empty classroom. Classrooms like the ones she stood in, empty now because of the pandemic, “will ring out with laughter and possibility” if her husband is elected, she said.

She was one of a mix of speakers from across the country who extolled the nominee as a man of character and virtue while making an aggressive and unsubtle case that Trump’s presidency has been a failure.

“The burdens we carry are heavy and we need someone with strong shoulders,” Jill Biden said in an emotional speech about the tragedies in their lives that ended with a surprise appearance by the nominee.

“I know that if we entrust this nation to Joe, he will do for your family what he did for ours. Bring us together and make us whole.”

Democrats also used the night to elevate the issue of health care, both as an asset to Biden’s candidacy because of his current and previous commitment to the Affordable Care Act and as an indictment against Trump, who has tried to gut the ACA.

Palmer Report, Opinion: It was a good day, Bill Palmer, Aug. 19, 2020. Here’s something we don’t get to say too often in this era: on the whole, yesterday was a good day.

For the second night in a row the Democratic National Convention was an uplifting, successful, and – considering the conditions – jimmy carter dnc photo 2020surprisingly coherent event. The two big stories of the day were that Colin Powell and Cindy McCain, two high-profile Republicans, appeared at the convention to endorse Joe Biden. We also got to see living legend Jimmy Carter, right, and his equally legendary wife Rosalynn Carter in action at the convention. And we got a wonderful speech from Dr. Jill Biden.

bill palmer report logo headerAll that Donald Trump could do in response was to whine about how the spotlight wasn’t on him, which is a good thing in and of itself.

These are still difficult times. Americans are still dying in the Trump pandemic. Even more Americans are struggling to feed their families in the Trump recession. But by 2020 standards, it was a good day – and we should take a moment to be thankful for that, and hopeful about what we might be able to achieve once we weather this storm.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Takeaways from the night: Digs at Trump and a charming roll-call vote, Aaron Blake, Aug. 19, 2020 (print ed.). As Democrats formally nominated Joe Biden, speaker after speaker seemed to tempt President Trump to make the election about himself instead.

The baiting of Trump: In some ways, the Democratic National Convention has thus far felt as much a messaging operation as an effort to bait President Trump. On Monday night, Michelle Obama led that effort, calling into question Trump’s fitness for office. Her use of Trump’s “it is what it is” comments about the coronavirus death toll has been repeated often at the convention, and her speech drew several rebukes from Trump on Tuesday morning.

At Tuesday night’s session, that latter effort continued apace. Speaker after speaker cast Trump as uninterested in being a good president, woefully unprepared and out of his depth. And the digs cut to the core of Trump’s self-cultivated image as a tough-guy world leader who commands respect.

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said that Trump “hid in a bunker as Americans were tear-gassed” in Lafayette Square outside the White House — a story Trump has disputed despite multiple outlets confirming it.

“When this president goes overseas, it isn’t a goodwill mission; it’s a blooper reel,” former secretary of state and 2004 Democratic presidential nominee John F. Kerry said. “He breaks up with our allies and writes love letters to dictators. America deserves a president who has looked up to, not laughed at.”

An unusually compelling roll call:  In what is normally a pretty boring process involving representatives from each state announcing how many delegates have gone for each candidate, Tuesday brought an opportunity for a more compelling trip around the country (and to seven territories). Each state got a chance to display a scene and offer a message it wanted to emphasize.

The representatives from Oklahoma and Texas took the opportunity to point to tragedies, in Tulsa a century ago and El Paso last year. Those from Puerto Rico and other territories emphasized that they were U.S. citizens too. Tennessee noted that it was the deciding state on giving women the right to vote. Wisconsin noted that it was the first state to ratify the 19th Amendment.

Perhaps it was because we’re all largely confined to our houses and our communities, but it provided some variety and worked better than the same representatives shouting into a packed convention hall.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The DNC’s second night was about normal, decent people. We need more of them, Jennifer Rubin, right, Aug. 19, jennifer rubin new headshot2020 (print ed.). Democratic convention producers on Tuesday had their work cut out for themselves trying to meet the bar set on Monday, when slick videos, compelling music and stellar speeches from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and former first lady Michelle Obama helped put the party’s best foot forward.

democratic donkey logoA keynote address delivered by 17 rising stars was not so much a speech as a display of diversity and youthful engagement. It ended with extended remarks from Stacey Abrams, who projects maturity, gravitas and high-mindedness. Overall, the address was a smart way to connect with young voters, whose participation Democrats will need in November.

An elegant Sally Yates spoke earnestly about President Trump’s abuse of power and corruption. “From the moment President Trump took office, he he’s used his position to benefit himself rather than our country,” she said. “He’s trampled the rule of law. … Rather than standing up to Vladimir Putin, he fawns over a dictator who’s still trying to interfere in our elections.”

She continued, “Put simply, he treats our country like it’s his family business — this time bankrupting our nation’s moral authority at home and abroad. But our country doesn’t belong to him. It belongs to all of us.”

ny times logoNew York Times, As D.N.C. Unfolds, Trump Reprises Grimmest Language of 2016 Campaign, Michael D. Shear, Aug. 19, 2020 (print ed.). Speaking in the border city of Yuma, Ariz., President Trump boasted about his own efforts to sharply limit immigration during his time in office.

President Trump on Tuesday accused former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., his Democratic rival, of seeking to throw open United States borders to criminals and disease, using the backdrop of the border city here to stoke fears of immigrants as Democrats prepared for the second day of the party’s nominating convention.

Donald Trump Logo Make America Great AgainSpeaking at an airport hangar, Mr. Trump boasted about his own efforts to sharply limit immigration during his time in office, claiming to have made the country safer by blocking asylum seekers, refugees and other immigrants seeking to live and work in the United States.

The president reprised the darkest language of his 2016 campaign, warning that should Mr. Biden win the presidency, the Trump-era restrictions on foreigners would be abandoned in favor of policies that he said would allow “aliens with criminal records” to roam free across the country, threatening violence and stealing jobs from Americans.

“We’re talking about abolishing ICE. We’re talking about abolishing prisons,” Mr. Trump said to an enthusiastic but small crowd, referring to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. “Biden’s campaign has turned into a cult for open border and other zealots.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Democratic Convention: Best and Worst Moments of Night 2, Staff reports, Aug. 19, 2020. Our columnists and contributors give their rankings.

ny times logoNew York Times, Who Spoke Most on Night 2 of the Democratic National Convention? Weiyi Cai and Reid J. Epstein, Aug. 19, 2020. Jill Biden had nine minutes, Bill Clinton had about five, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez a minute and half. Here’s how the virtual event’s air time played out.

Once again the night’s emcee — this time, the actress Tracee Ellis Ross — had the second-most speaking time, followed by former DNC 2020 convention logoPresident Bill Clinton. But with less than five minutes of air time, Mr. Clinton, who has been a fixture of Democratic conventions since the 1980s, had a much briefer speaking slot than in the past. In the 2012 convention, he spoke for 48 minutes.

Rather than with a single keynote speaker, the evening began with a 17-person keynote montage, reflecting the difficulty of elevating one person as the face of the party’s future as it undergoes an ideological and generational transition. Still, the montage did not include any officials who endorsed Mr. Sanders during the primary.

Party officials have said the average speaking time for all convention participants aside from the five major speakers — the Bidens, the Obamas and Senator Kamala Harris, Mr. Biden’s vice president pick — will be about two minutes.

ny times logoNew York Times, Ocasio-Cortez Makes Symbolic Nomination of Sanders, Rebecca R. Ruiz, Updated Aug. 19, 2020. In a procedural move, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez nominated Senator Bernie Sanders, a fellow democratic socialist, for the presidency.

alexandria ocasio cortez officialRepresentative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, left, spoke for roughly 90 seconds on Tuesday night at the Democratic convention to nominate a fellow democratic socialist, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, for the presidency and laud the progressive movement he had helped advance over the course of the race.

In remarks that she had been asked to deliver on behalf of Mr. Sanders — who received some delegates based on primary results — Ms. Ocasio-Cortez hailed “a mass people’s movement working to establish 21st-century social, economic and human rights, including guaranteed health care, higher education, living wages and labor rights for all people in the United States.”

The relatively small and procedural speaking role for Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, a huge young star in the Democratic Party, was disappointing to joe biden bernie sanders palmer headshotsmany of her admirers, especially given the swaths of time allotted on Tuesday night to lesser-known Democratic state officials and even Republicans like Colin L. Powell, the former secretary of state.

But those officials had backed Joseph R. Biden Jr. in the presidential race, while Ms. Ocasio-Cortez was a staunch champion of Mr. Sanders.

washington post logoWashington Post, The security guard blurted ‘I love you’ to Joe Biden in an elevator. One viral video later, she nominated him for president, Annie Linskey, Aug. 19, 2020 (print ed.). She was last seen blurting “I love you” to Joe Biden as she escorted him in an elevator jacquelin brittanyto an editorial board meeting at the New York Times last December, part of an exchange that went viral as the Biden campaign cast her adulation as a bigger deal than the news organization’s endorsement, which he lost.

On Tuesday night, Jacquelyn Brittany, right, a 31-year-old African American security guard, did something else for Biden: she became the first person to put his name into nomination for president.

Jacquelyn epitomized for the Biden campaign the dynamics of the primaries: The hopes of Biden, who was spurned by others, rested on Black women and working-class voters, who would eventually resurrect his campaign.

On Tuesday, she praised Biden as “my friend.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: White House press secretary leaves open door to Trump rejecting results of election, Philip Bump, Aug. 19, 2020. That’s what Americans are afraid of. According to Kayleigh McEnany, President Trump himself actually believes his dishonest claims about widespread voter fraud.

U.S. Virus Updates, Responses

ny times logoNew York Times, Live updates: Emergency Approval of Blood Plasma for Virus Patients Is Put on Hold, Staff reports, Aug. 19, 2020. Top U.S. health officials intervened just as the F.D.A. was prepared to issue an emergency authorization for plasma as a coronavirus treatment. A relief proposal by Republicans would provide less money than their previous offers. Here’s the latest.

Last week, just as the Food and Drug Administration was preparing to issue an emergency authorization for blood plasma as a Covid-19 treatment, a group of top federal health officials including Dr. Anthony S. Fauci intervened, arguing that emerging data on the treatment was too weak, according to two senior administration officials.

The authorization is on hold for now as more data is reviewed, according to H. Clifford Lane, the clinical director at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. An emergency approval could still be issued in the near future, he said.

Donated by people who have survived the disease, antibody-rich plasma is considered safe. President Trump has hailed it as a “beautiful ingredient” in the veins of people who have survived Covid-19.

But clinical trials have not proved whether plasma can help people fighting the coronavirus.

In other news: Senate Republicans are circulating text of a narrow virus relief package that would spend less money, in fewer areas, than earlier offers, including reviving extra unemployment benefits at half the original rate.

The draft measure appears to be an effort to break through the political stalemate over providing another round of economic stimulus to Americans during the pandemic. And it comes at a time when rank-and-file lawmakers facing re-election from both parties have grown increasingly uneasy with the lack of congressional action.

The latest offer, however, is unlikely to alter the debate in Washington, where Democrats have repeatedly rejected previous Republican offers as insufficient, a theme likely to be raised Wednesday evening during the Democratic National Convention when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, of California, is scheduled to speak.

Inside DC

wayne madesen report logo

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Special report & commentary: Trump likely a KGB/ Czechoslovak StB intelligence asset as early as 1976, wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallWayne Madsen, left, Aug. 19, 2020. A detailed study of declassified Soviet Committee for State Security (KGB), Czechoslovak State Security (StB), and the State Security Service of the German Democratic Republic (Stasi) files yields a picture of Donald Trump having been recruited as either willing or unwilling intelligence asset for the Communist Russian Flagbloc in 1976, the year he met Czechoslovak model Ivana Zelníčková Winklmayr, then a fashion model and resident of Montreal, during a Canadian Summer Olympics promotion tour of New York.

Note: The above is an excerpt from a larger report titled, "The Axis Reconstituted," which will be made available soon to WMR members in the WMR store.

washington post logoWashington Post, How Trump was able to shape the USPS board to enact a new agenda, Lisa Rein, Aug. 19, 2020 (print ed.). Sen. Bernie Sanders’s blocking of Barack Obama nominees to the board contributed to vacancies that President Trump has filled.

postal service old logoSen. Elizabeth Warren called on the Postal Service’s governing board Monday to oust Postmaster General Louis DeJoy and roll back the cost-cutting moves Democrats warn are designed to sabotage mail-in voting.

“That’s why we have a board of governors,” Warren (D-Mass.) told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow. “We need them to just get rid of Louis DeJoy and say, all those mailboxes they took out, all those [mail] sorting machines they took out, the no-overtime policy . . . we’re done.”

djt quizzical uncredited palmer CustomIt is highly unlikely to happen. DeJoy, the North Carolina businessman and Trump campaign donor who arrived in June to make sweeping cuts to postal operations, was appointed by a board that is now controlled 4 to 2 by loyalists to President Trump. “We just got the board,” Trump told reporters Tuesday.

After years without a voting quorum, Trump was able to reshape the once-obscure Postal Service Board of Governors in three years into a behind-the-scenes powerhouse that is setting his priorities in motion, possibly for years to come.

washington post logoWashington Post, Ex-FBI lawyer admits to falsifying document in probe of Trump’s campaign, Matt Zapotosky and Ann E. Marimow, Aug. 19, 2020. A former FBI lawyer pleaded guilty Wednesday to altering an email that one of his colleagues relied on as he sought a court’s blessing to surveil a former Trump campaign adviser during the bureau’s 2016 investigation of Russia’s election interference.

Kevin Clinesmith, who worked in the FBI general counsel’s office starting in 2015, told a federal judge he thought at the time he was inserting truthful information, though he conceded he doctored the message.

“At the time, I believed the information I was providing in the email was accurate, but I am agreeing the information I inserted was not originally there and I inserted the information,” said Clinesmith, 38.

“You agree you intentionally altered the email to include information not originally in the email?” the judge asked.

The criminal case is the first to come from the investigation led by Connecticut U.S. Attorney John Durham, who was assigned last year by Attorney General William P. Barr to review the FBI’s handling of the 2016 investigation into possible coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign. With the 2020 election approaching, Durham’s probe has become the subject of intense partisan fights.

Republicans are hopeful the prosecutor will bring cases against higher-level Justice Department or FBI officials who worked during the Obama administration, which could validate their critiques of the Russia probe. Democrats, though, fear Durham’s exercise is a politically motivated attempt to undercut an investigation that dogged Trump’s campaign and presidency, and they fear Barr might orchestrate a late revelation of his findings and alter the presidential race.

washington post logoWashington Post, How Paul Manafort promoted Russian disinformation that has been embraced by Trump, Rosalind S. Helderman and Tom Hamburger, Aug. 19, 2020. A counternarrative Manafort helped to craft that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election began as a Russian influence operation designed to distract attention from the Kremlin’s own activities, according to a new Senate Intelligence Committee report.

washington post logoWashington Post, Judge orders Tavis Smiley to pay $2.6 million, $1 million more than originally sought by PBS, Keith L. Alexander, Aug. 19, 2020. Six women accused the former talk show host of sexual harassment.

A District judge ordered former PBS talk show host Tavis Smiley to pay the network more than $2.6 million. The amount was about $1 million more than what PBS originally argued in court that Smiley owed after it was forced to cancel his contract upon learning six female employees had accused him of sexual harassment.

tavis smiley CustomA D.C. Superior Court jury ruled March 4 that Smiley had violated his PBS contract. On Aug. 5, Judge Yvonne Williams who oversaw the three-week trial heard additional arguments from PBS and determined Smiley must pay PBS $1.9 million in damages associated with his final two seasons with the network, and another $703,000 in losses connected to the network’s underwriters who put up the funds to enable PBS to cover Smiley’s contract.

n her 10-page ruling, Williams wrote: “The court determines that the amount sought by PBS in liquidated damages is reasonable because it is the amount it paid to produce Season 13 and 14 of ‘The Tavis Smiley Show.’ ”

Smiley’s attorneys could not be reached for comment on Judge Williams’s ruling on the damages.

The harassment accusations and subsequent verdict led to a dizzying downfall for Smiley, 55, who was awarded a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame and whose nightly show for 14 years became a must visit for politicians, actors, singers and authors who also wanted to reach African Americans within PBS’s core adult audience.

During the trial, six women testified through video deposition that during their tenure with his company, Smiley had pressured them for sex or told lewd jokes.

Smiley took the stand twice and admitted to having intimate relationships with two of the women. PBS stipulates in its contracts that such relationships among its employees or contractors are prohibited. Smiley testified he never used his position as their boss to pressure or threaten them. He also said any jokes were innocent and not intended to offend.

U.S. Race Protests, Crime

washington post logoWashington Post, As Breonna Taylor protests stretch into 12th week, calls for officers’ arrests intensify, Josh Wood and Tim Craig, Aug. 19, 2020 (print ed.). Five months after Louisville police fatally shot Breonna Taylor, the prospect of prosecution is complicated by state laws, leaving local leaders concerned about public emotion.

washington post logoWashington Post, Portland police identify man suspected of assaulting driver during Black Lives Matter protest, Katie Shepherd, Aug. 19, 2020. Marquise Love, 25, is a suspect in a violent assault in downtown Portland on Sunday that was captured on video.

The assault came near the end of a volatile weekend in Portland, during which far-right extremists pepper sprayed people, shot people with paintball guns and allegedly fired two gunshots from a car as they peeled out of a downtown parking garage on Saturday. Portland Police are also investigating reports that someone threw an explosive device from a black SUV in downtown that same afternoon, the bureau said in a statement.

World News

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump demands restoration of ‘snapback’ sanctions on Iran, Carol Morello and Felicia Sonmez, Aug. 19, 2020. Trump says U.S. demands restoration of all U.N. sanctions against Iran. President Trump announced Wednesday that he has instructed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to demand the restoration of sanctions on Iran that were suspended as part of the nuclear deal struck with Tehran during the Obama administration.

Trump pulled the United States out of that deal early in his administration and has instead embarked on a “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran, arguing that it is the only way to contain the country’s nuclear ambitions.

“Today, I am directing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to notify the U.N. Security Council that the United States intends to restore virtually all of the previously-suspended United Nations sanctions on Iran,” Trump told reporters Wednesday. “It’s a snapback. Not uncommon.”

The United States argues that even though it has left the nuclear deal, it retains the right as an original “JCPOA participant” to trigger the “snapback” of sanctions over any issue that violates the agreement, even though it no longer is a participant in it.

Pompeo calls it ‘just nuts’ to allow Iran to trade in arms as U.N. rejects embargo extension

Both Russia and China have dismissed the U.S. position, saying that since it left the agreement, it has no right to keep the arms embargo in place.

Dropping out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the deal’s official name, has isolated the United States on the issue, even among allies that share its concerns over Iran and its imminent resumption of buying and selling weapons. Most members of the council want to preserve the nuclear agreement, and Iran could have bailed out of it if the embargo had been extended and resume its nuclear program full tilt.

Some observers fear that the U.S. pursuit of a sanctions snapback could cause an existential crisis in the Security Council itself.

“The question is, does the rest of the Security Council believe the snapback is legitimate?” said Trita Parsi, executive vice president of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. “It’s possible they’ll ignore it. And what’s the value of the Security Council if they can’t agree on what authority they have?”

ny times logoNew York Times, Venezuela Deploys Security Forces in Coronavirus Crackdown, Anatoly Kurmanaev, Isayen Herrera and Sheyla Urdaneta, Aug. 19, 2020. A ruined economy and a broken health care system have left President Nicolás Maduro, right, to fight the pandemic by detaining thousands of people.

nicolas maduro customVenezuelan officials are denouncing people who may have come into contact with the coronavirus as “bioterrorists” and urging their neighbors to report them. The government is detaining and intimidating doctors and experts who question the president’s policies on the virus.

And it is corralling thousands of Venezuelans who are streaming home after losing jobs abroad, holding them in makeshift containment centers out of fear that they may be infected.

President Nicolás Maduro has tackled the coronavirus much as he has any internal threat to his rule: by deploying his repressive security apparatus against it.

In commandeered hotels, disused schools and cordoned-off bus stations, Venezuelans returning home from other countries in Latin America are being forced into crowded rooms with limited food, water or masks. And they are being held under military guard for weeks or months for coronavirus tests or treatment with unproven medications, according to interviews with the detainees, videos they have taken on their cellphones and government documents.

According to the Colombian government, about 95,000 Venezuelans have crossed back into their home country since March, and 42,000 are waiting their turn along the border.

Only 1,200 are allowed to return each week through the main border crossing, under Venezuelan government guidelines, forcing others to wait for months in makeshift camps. Those who use illegal trails to cross the porous land border are publicly labeled threats.

California Wildfires

washington post logoWashington Post, California wildfires prompt urgent evacuations as lightning-sparked blazes explode in size, Andrew Freedman, Aug. 19, 2020. Fires come amid record-breaking, long-lasting heat wave with lightning strikes. Thousands are under evacuation orders in California as more than two dozen large wildfires burn in the central part of the state, with the most serious and urgent situation unfolding in the city of Vacaville, about 35 miles north of Sacramento. The city of 100,000 is under partial evacuation orders because of the advancing flames.

More On U.S. Politics

Western Journal, Opinion: Joe Biden Gets Horrible News from His Sex Assault Accuser, Tara Reade, During Democrat Convention, C. Douglas Golden, Aug. 21, 2020. Could Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s sexual assault accuser be speaking at the GOP convention next week?

In an appearance on Fox News on Thursday — the same day Biden gave his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention — Tara Reade said she would “absolutely” speak at the Republican convention, adding that she would be “more than happy to do so.”

tara reade joe biden Custom“I think survivors need a voice, and I would be humbled and honored to help raise and lift that voice if that’s possible,” Reade said.

In the interview, the self-described “lifelong Dem” said sexual assault should be a “nonpartisan issue.”

“What I find really astounding has been the hypocrisy around the sexual assault and sexual harassment that I brought forth,” Reade said.

“When there were Republicans being accused of that, the media and the reaction from the Democratic Party was quite different and quite aggressive and quite hostile to the perpetrator, potential perpetrator, before it was even investigated,” she said. “In my case, the hostility was directed right towards me, and I was basically silenced and erased by using classism and so on.”

“I lost everything coming forward. I lost my work, housing, money, everything because I spoke out against one of the most powerful members of the Democratic Party,” Reade said.

She criticized the speaker lineup chosen by the Democratic National Committee for the convention — particularly former President Bill Clinton, who’s been credibly accused of sexual assault.

“I’m a sexual assault survivor, so to me, what the speaker lineup showed is kind of a thumb in all of our faces. It was … really disappointing,” Reade said.

“Rape culture in the United States is thriving under the Democratic Party,” she said. “I feel that they are not only enabling but they are allowing that behavior to continue just by virtue of who they lined up as speakers who have credible sexual assault and harassment allegations against them, and I feel like there’s an abandonment of the voices that were trying to be heard that really wanted systemic change about issues like sexual harassment in the workplace and sexual assault.”

She also said in the interview that the Democratic Party had “gaslighted” survivors of sexual assault by claiming to be their protectors.

“I’ve communicated with other people who are watching this who had very visceral reactions to what’s happening and how sexual assault survivors. … We’re being gaslighted, right, collectively,” Reade said.

ny times logoNew York Times, Kansas Democrat, 19, Who Admitted to Revenge Porn, Ekes Out Primary Win, Maria Cramer, Aug. 19, 2020. Aaron Coleman defeated a seven-term incumbent for a state House seat by 14 votes, alarming Democrats who worry he will hurt other candidates in the general election.

Aaron Coleman admitted that he harassed girls online when he was in middle school. He called one sixth-grade girl fat and told her she should kill herself.

Seven years ago, he told another girl, who was 13 at the time, that he would circulate a naked photo of her if she didn’t send him more nude images. When she refused, she said, he followed through on his threat.

“They’re accurate,” Mr. Coleman, 19, said of the women’s claims.

On Monday, Mr. Coleman, a dishwasher and community college student, was declared the winner of a Democratic primary for a seat in the Kansas House of Representatives, defeating the incumbent, Stan Frownfelter, by 14 votes. The final count was 823 to 809.

What would have been a story about a young upstart taking down a seven-term incumbent during a period of nationwide youth activism has instead alarmed Democratic state leaders, who said they were worried that Mr. Coleman’s acknowledgment of his troubled past and other comments he made during the campaign would hurt their party's chances in competitive races.
Democrats had been making inroads in Kansas, a state long dominated by Republicans, and hoped to capture enough seats in the Legislature to break the Republicans’ super majority. Mr. Coleman is not facing a Republican opponent but Democratic leaders, including Gov. Laura Kelly, have said they are supporting Mr. Frownfelter, who announced on Tuesday that he would run as a write-in candidate in the general election against Mr. Coleman.

“Aaron Coleman is not fit to serve in the Legislature,” said Lauren Fitzgerald, a spokeswoman for Ms. Kelly.

Tom Sawyer, the Democratic House minority leader, said he did not believe most voters in the 37th district, in Wyandotte County, knew about Mr. Coleman’s past. The party plans to campaign hard on behalf of Mr. Frownfelter, he said.

“I hope he can pull it out so I don’t have to deal with this kid,” Mr. Sawyer said.

Mr. Coleman, who has apologized for the way he treated the women, said the party should accept the will of primary voters, who supported his platform of a single-payer health care system, fighting climate change and legalizing cannabis.

“We need and we deserve someone who will stand up for those policies and I’m the only one in the race who will do it, and that’s why I’m the only one on the ballot,” he said in an interview. “When you pay so little attention to your district that you lose to a 19-year-old with no political connections, it probably means you should retire.”

Mr. Coleman ran for governor as an independent when he was 17, before a law was passed setting an age requirement for candidates seeking that office. Candidates running for governor must now be at least 25.

Mr. Coleman declined to comment on the claims of the women and referred to statements he gave to The Associated Press and The Kansas City Star, which detailed the women’s accounts. The women could not be reached for comment on Mr. Coleman’s behavior or his primary win.

One of the women, who is now 18, said on Facebook that she attempted suicide after Mr. Coleman repeatedly attacked her over her physical appearance when she was in the sixth grade.

Another woman said she was furious when he followed through on a threat to circulate a naked photograph of her after she refused to give him any more nude pictures of herself.

The woman, Kati Hampton, now 20, of Kansas City, Kan., said in an interview that she did not know Mr. Coleman at the time and believed he found her through Snapchat.

“I just don’t think he needs to be in a powerful position considering what he’s done to girls,” Ms. Hampton said.

She added, “It’s good that he admitted to what he did.”

A third woman said on Facebook that Mr. Coleman harassed her and would relentlessly call her at home until she picked up the phone.

 

Aug. 18

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The Democratic National Convention featured speakers on Aug. 17 included former First Lady Michelle Obama, center, primary election runner-up Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and fellow senator and 2020 presidential contender Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)

The Democratic National Convention featured speakers on Aug. 17 included former First Lady Michelle Obama, center, primary election runner-up Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and fellow senator and 2020 presidential contender Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Crisp opening for Democrats, but questions remain that only Biden can answer, Dan Balz, Aug. 18, 2020.  Democratic and Republican speakers went after President Trump as the virtual convention offered a new look to an old tradition.

No one ever envisioned a political convention like the one that began on Monday night. The question for Joe Biden and his Democratic Party is DNC 2020 convention logowhether this reimagined creation of an old-fashioned tradition will persuade people he has the vision and the capacity to deal with a devastating pandemic, an economic crisis and a reckoning on race.

That work began with the opening-night program, stylistically and substantively. Substantively, the array of speakers began to make the case against President Trump as a failed leader, described Biden as compassionate and experienced and issued appeals for unity, both within the party and across party lines. Stylistically, the production was faster-paced and slickly produced.

If Biden was looking for inspiration, Michelle Obama provided it Monday night. As the evening’s keynote speaker, the former first lady lit a spark under Democrats with an indictment of the president that was sharp-edged and passionately delivered.  

Eva Langoria 2020 DNC Convention host on Aug. 17, 2020

Eva Longoria hosted the first night of the virtual Democratic National Convention, "which kept some political rally standards," one commentator said, and borrowed from a grab bag of other TV formats."

washington post logoWashington Post, On 1st night highlighting broad support for Biden, Michelle Obama casts Trump as incapable, Jenna Johnson, Michael Scherer, Cleve R. Wootson Jr., Chelsea Janes, Isaac Stanley-Becker, Felicia Sonmez and John Wagner, Aug. 18, 2020 (print ed.). Speakers from michelle obama resized dnc 8 17 2020Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) to Ohio’s former Republican governor John Kasich praised Joe Biden and pleaded with voters to set aside ideological differences to defeat President Trump.

Democrats kicked off their virtual nominating convention Monday with a focused denunciation of President Trump, showcasing dozens of testimonials that culminated in lancing criticism from former first lady Michelle Obama, right, who cast Trump as incapable of meeting America’s needs and said Joe Biden would usher in racial justice and ease the coronavirus pandemic.

In the centerpiece speech of the night, a searing indictment of her husband Barack Obama’s successor, Obama declared that Trump has mishandled the pandemic and failed to respond to outcries over the deaths of Black Americans. She warned that the nation would suffer more if he is elected to a second term.

USTR seal Custom 2“Let me be as honest and clear as I possibly can: Donald Trump is the wrong president for our country. He has had more than enough time to prove that he can do the job, but he is clearly in over his head. He cannot meet this moment. He simply cannot be who we need him to be for us,” she said, before quoting a line Trump used about covid-19 deaths in a recent interview: “It is what it is.”

She spoke passionately about protests over police brutality this year — and Trump’s response of declaring those in the streets to be anarchists.

“Here at home as George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and a never-ending list of innocent people of color continue to be murdered, stating the simple fact that a Black life matters is still met with derision from the nation’s highest office,” Obama said, wearing a necklace that read “Vote.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: Obama spoke her mind and unleashed profound sorrow, John Wagner, Aug. 18, 2020. Obama’s full speech, annotated; Trump raises prospect of needing to redo the election; Trump responds to lancing criticism from Michelle Obama; Trump to pardon Susan B. Anthony.

Some of the Democratic Party’s leading luminaries, as well as Joe Biden’s wife, Jill Biden, are scheduled to speak on the second night of the party’s virtual convention, following a first night capped by a searing indictment of President Trump by former first lady Michelle Obama.

Trump responded Tuesday to Obama’s speech, saying her husband Barack Obama’s tenure was responsible for his 2016 election. He also attacked John Kasich, the former Republican governor of Ohio, who spoke to Democrats on Monday. Later Tuesday, Trump plans to touch down in two presidential battleground states, Iowa and Arizona.

andrew cuomoTrump on Tuesday called New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), right, “Crooked & Incompetent," leveling his latest in a series of attacks on Democratic convention speakers from Monday night.

“A horrible Governor. Crime is taking over NYC & State, everyone is leaving,” Trump said in a tweet in which he also blamed Cuomo for deaths from the coronavirus in nursing homes in his state.

During his virtual speech, Cuomo lambasted the Trump administration for its management of the pandemic.

“Our nation is in crisis, and in many ways, covid is just a metaphor,” the governor said. “A virus attacks when the body is weak and when it cannot defend itself. Over these past few years, America’s body politic has been weakened.”

dnc young people anthem

A chorus of young people sang a moving version of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” (Democratic National Convention/AP)

washington post logoWashington Post, Critic’s Notebook: Forget soporific speeches and goofy hats. A virtual political convention is the way to go, Peter Marks, Aug. 18, 2020. On Night 1 of their convention, the Democrats showed how to make it all work effectively.

Who would have thought that the two aspects you would miss least at a national political convention would be party delegates and network commentators?

DNC 2020 convention logoPared to a little over two hours, the first night of the nearly all-virtual 2020 Democratic National Convention — a conventionette, really — revealed that politicians can be trained to give terse, disciplined oratory. And that, aside from a stemwinder of a keynote address from former first lady Michelle Obama and a robust talk by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), everyday people provide the event’s galvanizing core.

Without convention floors and podiums to cover, the cable channels and other outlets gave the Democratic National Committee extraordinary control over the evening’s content. Not only did that sideline the anchor folk for much of the proceedings, but it also allowed for a smooth and surprisingly rich program of videos and live speeches to flow dynamically from segment to segment.

And with actress Eva Longoria Bastón serving as a serene and confident host from a Los Angeles studio, Night 1 of the four-night production came across as an elegant, multidimensional campaign ad.

CNN, The moments you missed at the DNC last night, Staff edits, Aug. 18, 2020 (2:48 min. video). Watch speech highlights from former First Lady Michelle Obama, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, former Gov. John Kasich, as well as voters like Kristin Urquiza.

washington post logo Washington Post, Live Updates: Jill Biden, Bill Clinton to speak on night 2 of mostly virtual event, Staff reports, Aug. 18, 2020. Nearly 30 million watched the first night of the Democratic convention, Biden campaign says; Cindy McCain to appear via video at Democratic convention to support her late husband’s friend Biden; Pelosi defends Democrats inviting Kasich to speak: ‘We have to find our common ground.’

jill biden full official CustomSome of the Democratic Party’s leading luminaries, as well as Joe Biden’s wife, Jill Biden, right, are scheduled to speak on the second night of the party’s virtual convention, following a first night capped by a searing indictment of President Trump by former first lady Michelle Obama. There will also be a roll-call vote that “will take convention viewers to all 57 states and territories” over a span of just a half-hour.

Tuesday’s speakers include Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York; former president Bill Clinton; and Jill Biden.

DNC 2020 convention logoTJ Ducklo, a campaign spokesman, said the number of digital viewers, 10.2 million, set a record for convention streaming. Meanwhile, fewer Americans watched the quadrennial event on television than they did four years ago, with about 18.7 million tuning in on the major networks for the unconventional, all-virtual affair, according to Nielsen data. About 26 million people watched the first night of the 2016 convention, which was held in person in Philadelphia.

President Trump has a built-in advantage when it comes to attracting online viewers for live events — a necessity for a mostly virtual campaign. His page on Facebook has more than 30.7 million followers, compared to the roughly 2.7 million users following Biden’s page.

In other news, a new video featuring Cindy McCain, the widow of Republican senator John McCain, will play during tonight’s Democratic convention, highlighting the “unlikely friendship” between McCain and Joe Biden. The Democrats released a one-minute tease of Cindy McCain’s video, a heartstring-pulling account of how the two men met when Biden was a young senator and John McCain was assigned to him as a military aide for a trip overseas.

The move is the latest sign of the shifts within the GOP. Unlike the Democratic convention, which will feature the party’s three living former presidents, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, and its last presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, no past GOP standard-bearer will be at next week’s Republican National Convention.

That was also true in 2016, when former president George W. Bush, and former presidential candidates Mitt Romney and John McCain, did not attend Trump’s first nominating convention.

Inside DC

mike lindell anderson cooper aug 18 2020

bill palmerPalmer Report, Opinion: The MyPillow guy goes on CNN and gets destroyed by Anderson Cooper, Bill Palmer, Aug. 18, 2020. When the news broke over the weekend, it felt like something straight out of The Onion. Braindead brain surgeon Ben Carson and the clown from the MyPillow commercials were teaming up to hawk a laughably phony coronavirus miracle cure, and they’d gotten Donald Trump on board with it.

bill palmer report logo headerBut sure enough, the whole thing was very much a real story. Ben Carson has a documented history of lending his name to useless supplements disguised as phony miracle cures, including hawking tree bark as a supposed cancer cure, so it wasn’t surprising to see him involved in this latest scheme. But the MyPillow guy was somewhat of a surprise. After all, he’s always come off as a mere informercial doofus who likes Donald Trump way too much.

But when MyPillow guy Mike Lindell, above left, appeared on CNN with Anderson Cooper today (video here) it immediately became clear that Lindell was someone different than the happy and goofy guy he portrays in his TV ads. When Cooper explained that there were no clinical trials for Lindell’s supposed coronavirus drug, Lindell turned angry and aggressive, as if the mask had finally been pulled back.

By the time Cooper, above right, pointed out that there was no real difference between Mike Lindell and a “snake oil salesmen,” Lindell just about lost it. We should have known that there was something more sinister to the MyPillow guy than just being a goofy pitchman who was naive enough to fall for Donald Trump’s lies. Lindell exposed himself today in an ugly way. We’ll see if he now pulls back on this coronavirus scam, before it snowballs and destroys his pillow business as well.

washington post logoWashington Post, Senate to hold USPS hearing with DeJoy on Friday as mail delay fears grow, Jacob Bogage, Aug. 18, 2020. It will be the postmaster general’s first opportunity to publicly answer lawmakers’ questions about the nation’s embattled mail service.

louis dejoy CustomPostmaster General Louis DeJoy, left, will testify at a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on Friday about the U.S. Postal Service’s vote-by-mail financial requirements, according to two people familiar with the decision.

It will be DeJoy’s first opportunity to publicly answer lawmakers’ questions about the nation’s embattled mail service, which is experiencing delays as a result of policies DeJoy implemented cutting overtime and eliminating extra trips to ensure on-time mail delivery. DeJoy and USPS board of governors Chairman Robert M. Duncan are also set to testify before the House Oversight Committee on Monday.

postal service old logoClamors from Democrats in both chambers for hearings with DeJoy grew over recent days after Trump said he wanted to withhold funding from the Postal Service to attempt to hobble its ability to process election mail.

Democrats have alleged that DeJoy, a former Republican National Convention finance chairman, is taking steps that are us senate logocausing dysfunction in the mail system and could wreak havoc in the presidential election.

Republicans brush off those allegations, saying DeJoy must take decisive action to cut costs at the long-beleaguered agency. The Postal Service is in the process of removing 671 high-speed mail-sorting machines nationwide this month, a process that will eliminate 21.4 million items per hour’s worth of processing capability from the agency’s inventory.

On Thursday and Friday, it began removing public collection boxes in parts of California, New York, Pennsylvania, Oregon and Montana. The agency said Friday that it would stop mailbox removals, which it said were routine, until after the election.

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ny times logoNew York Times, Critic's Review: A D.N.C. Opening Night for the New Abnormal, James Poniewozik, Aug. 18, 2020. The first night of the pandemic-era TV convention was intense and sometimes weird. That was part of the message, our critic writes.

For three and a half years of Donald Trump’s presidency, Democrats have repeated a phrase as a reminder, talisman and battle cry: “This is not normal.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Keynote Speaker? How About 17 of Them, Reid J. Epstein and Adam Nagourney, Aug. 18, 2020. Democrats have assembled a mash-up of the “next generation of party leaders.” But are they missing an opportunity to showcase the next Barack Obama?

Mario Cuomo shot to Democratic Party stardom with a rousing depiction of a tale of two cities in 1984. Ann Richards brought down the house in 1988 by declaring of George H. W. Bush: “Poor George, he can’t help it. He was born with a silver foot in his mouth.” Barack Obama launched himself toward the White House in 2004 with his stirring account of “the hope of a skinny kid with a funny name who believes that America has a place for him, too.”

DNC 2020 convention logoBut as the virtual Democratic National Convention begins its second evening on Tuesday, there will not be — for the first time in memory — a single keynote speaker handed the opportunity to capture the imagination of delegates and viewers at home. Instead of designating a star for the party’s future, the Democrats have assembled a mash-up of 17 of the “next generation of party leaders” to speak via video montage Tuesday night.

Party leaders said they were trying to accommodate all the demands for time from politicians eager for exposure, at a convention that has Democratic-Republican Campaign logosbeen cut to two hours a night because of the coronavirus crisis. It also reflects the difficulty of elevating one person as the face of the party’s future as it undergoes an ideological and generational transition; it’s a choice that could lead to precisely the kind of dissent Democrats have been eager to avoid.

And the party’s nominee, Joseph R. Biden Jr., is hardly one of its most dynamic personalities. Democrats were understandably wary of picking a keynote speaker — such as Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York — who might have overshadowed the candidate and become the star of the convention.

ny times logoNew York Times, For Bill Clinton, a Chance to Address a Party That Has Left Him Behind, Adam Nagourney and Peter Baker, Aug. 18, 2020. When the former president speaks on Tuesday, it will be the first Democratic convention in 36 years where he will be little more than a bystander.

Bill Clinton was a prime-time star when Democrats gathered in 2012 to nominate President Barack Obama for a second term, delivering a 48-minute speech that stretched way past his allotted time and all but stole the show from the incumbent. The crowd loved it.

But as Democrats hold their virtual nominating convention this week, Mr. Clinton, the 42nd president of the United States, is almost an afterthought. He will speak for less than five minutes on Tuesday, well before the 10 p.m. prime-time hour, in an address that he prerecorded from his home in Chappaqua, N.Y.

Tuesday’s Democratic Convention schedule:

Monday night, they gathered virtually to nominate a challenger, Joseph R. Biden. And boy, was it ever not normal — in ways that even Mr. Trump’s direst critics in 2016 could not have predicted.

joe biden kamala harrisThe first night of the Democratic National Convention, exiled by coronavirus to the ether of teleconferencing and prerecording, was an experiment in how to sound the theme “We the People” with a “we” constructed entirely virtually.

At its shakiest, it was, like much pandemic-era TV, uncanny, disjointed and unsettlingly weird. (To its credit, though, there were few of the glitches that have riddled so much bandwidth-dependent live television.) At its most engaging, it dispensed with some relics of televised conventions and found faster-paced and more intimate alternatives.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump just delivered his concession speech, Robert Harrington, Aug. 18, 2020. On the eve of the Democratic National Convention, Donald Trump delivered his concession speech. That is to say, he told us in advance what he plans to claim should he lose. Despite his trailing poll numbers and no evidence of fraud, Trump said that the “only way we’re going to lose this election is if the election is rigged.”

Of course, grace in defeat was never an option for Donald Trump. In order for Trump to concede anything he must tacitly, if not overtly, admit he has lost. In Donald Trump’s corrupt mind that would constitute a confession of weakness. So his insistence that a loss could only mean that he was cheated has always been a foregone conclusion.

bill palmer report logo headerMany of us have become so inured to Trump’s infantile, whining, self-dealing and self-aggrandizement, that it’s hard to imagine him behaving any other way. After all, this narrative is nothing new. He said the same thing in 2016. And, as it turned out, not even winning that election was enough for him. He became the first candidate in history to claim that an election he won was rigged.

Trump’s ego was so wounded because Hillary Clinton got almost three million more votes than he, that Trump squandered taxpayer money on a commission to investigate voter fraud in the 2016 election. Try though they might — and, as they were Trump appointees, they tried mightily — after an investigation a year and a half long, members of the “voting integrity commission” found not one shred of evidence of fraud.

In his speech at Monday night’s convention, Bernie Sanders referred to the Trump phenomenon as “The unthinkable has become normal.” I think that nicely summarizes what has happened in America. It wasn’t that long ago that a harmless (albeit clumsy) statement like “we have binders full of women,” or a candidate misspelling the word “potato,” or a president splitting hairs over the definition of the word “is,” became a national scandal.

Virus Victims, Responses

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. stocks hit record high, ending shortest bear market in history, Hamza Shaban and David J. Lynch, Aug. 18, 2020.  Defying the coronavirus pandemic’s mounting human and economic toll, stocks closed Tuesday at a record high. 

After notching three consecutive weeks of gains, the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index closed at 3,389, gaining 0.23 percent on the day. The finish capped a remarkable comeback from the March plunge that slashed 34 percent off the previous record, set Feb. 19, as the pandemic tightened its grip on the country.

Investors Tuesday brushed aside worries about the nation’s continuing struggle to contain the pandemic, focusing instead on signs of strength in the housing and retail sectors. Housing starts in July rose 22.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of nearly 1.5 million, the Commerce Department said. Permits also rose sharply for both single- and multifamily dwellings.

washington post logoWashington Post, University of Notre Dame halts in-person teaching for two weeks as virus count climbs, Nick Anderson, Aug. 18, 2020. The shift echoes many occurring in recent days and weeks as the pandemic has laid siege to higher education and thrown schedules for students into chaos.

Michigan State University also announced Tuesday that it will teach most courses remotely starting on Sept. 2, scrapping plans for some in-person and hybrid instruction. The public university in East Lansing urged undergraduates to stay home. The public University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which opened for in-person teaching last week, is also moving online after a surge in cases.

washington post logoWashington Post, Phone apps were seen as a way to track covid-19. It hasn’t worked that way, Craig Timberg, Steve Hendrix, Min Joo Kim and Fiona Weber-Steinhaus, Aug. 18, 2020. Some countries’ initiatives have drawn fire from privacy advocates, while others have been criticized as ineffective. And voluntary usage of the apps has lagged — possibly because of distrust.

washington post logoWashington Post, The U.S. has too many ventilators, Faiz Siddiqui, Aug. 18, 2020. In the spring, the government launched a $3 billion effort to build ventilators. Then virus treatments evolved — and now the devices are piling up unused in a strategic reserve. Some suppliers delivered ahead of schedule. Others, like Ford, faced production delays.

ny times logoNew York Times, ‘Frats Are Being Frats’: Greek Life Is Stoking the Virus on Some Campuses, Amy Harmon, Frances Robles, Alan Blinder and Thomas Fuller, Aug. 18, 2020. Universities are struggling with how to prevent tightly packed sorority and fraternity houses from turning into virus clusters.

The concerns over Greek life come amid reports of virus outbreaks at fraternities and sororities across the country. Universities are struggling with how to prevent tightly packed sorority and fraternity houses from turning into coronavirus clusters.

At the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, officials abruptly called off in-person classes on Monday after identifying four clusters in student housing facilities, including one at the Sigma Nu fraternity.

The New York Times has identified at least 251 cases of the virus tied to fraternities and sororities. At the University of California, Berkeley, 47 cases were identified in a single week in early July, most of which were connected to the Greek system. In Mississippi, a significant outbreak in Oxford, home to the state’s flagship university, was partially blamed on fraternity parties. At the University of Washington’s Seattle campus, at least 165 of the 290 cases identified by the school have been associated with its Greek Row.

ny times logoNew York Times, What Happened When Homeless Men Moved Into a Liberal Neighborhood, Daniel E. Slotnik, Aug. 18, 2020. When New York City moved shelter residents into tourist hotels on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, the neighborhood’s values were tested.

The guests arrived at the Lucerne Hotel, two blocks from Central Park, carrying their belongings, stepping off buses and filling the hotel’s empty rooms, which typically cost more than $200 a night.

They were not tourists nor business travelers but residents of homeless shelters whom the city sent to the Lucerne to contain the spread of the coronavirus in the crowded shelter system. Over three days, 283 men moved into the hotel.

Their arrival has become a flash point and a test of values for the Upper West Side — a neighborhood with a reputation as one of the most liberal enclaves in New York and in the entire country.

The city had already moved shelter residents, including some women, in May into three other Upper West Side hotels — the Park West, the Belleclaire and the Belnord — and the neighborhood is now home to about 730 homeless people transferred during the outbreak.

One day after the men began moving into the Lucerne, on West 79th Street, a private Facebook group — Upper West Siders for Safer Streets — was created by residents who were up in arms. The group has more than 8,700 members.

Many commenters said the men menaced pedestrians, urinated and defecated on the street and used and sold drugs in the open.

In interviews, some longtime residents said the hotel’s conversion into a shelter had dimmed the quality of life and evoked memories of an era when the neighborhood was filled with single room occupancy hotels that helped fuel crime.

On the other side are neighbors like Amanda Fialk, a clinical social worker, who said in an interview that she was appalled by “some pretty tone-deaf, racist, biased, privileged” things people have said on social media.

The controversy comes at a moment of national ferment over systemic racism, economic stratification and the disproportionate impact of the virus on people of color and the poor.

And it is unfolding in a neighborhood that lies in a congressional district where Democrats outnumber Republicans by nearly seven to one, and where nearly 90 percent of voters supported Hillary Clinton four years ago. The neighborhood is 68 percent white, and the average home value is $1.2 million, nearly double the New York City median.

World News

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: The crisis in Belarus echoes in Trump’s America, Ishaan Tharoor, Aug. 18, 2020. Europe’s “last dictator” is in trouble. A week after securing victory in an election widely considered to have been rigged, Belarusian President Aleksandr G. Lukashenko, left, finds his more than quarter-century grip on power slipping.

alexander lukashenko resized 2019Protesters took to the streets of the capital Minsk and other cities in the country for the ninth consecutive day Monday. They were spurred, rather than dissuaded, by violent police crackdowns and indiscriminate arrests. More than 100,000 people flooded Minsk on Sunday, demanding new elections.

After ruling the former Soviet state for most of its independent history, Lukashenko sees the walls closing in around him. The peaceful demonstrations showcased the vibrant civil society of Belarus, drawing in a cross-section of the country, from women to students to farmers to workers from myriad state-owned enterprises who joined a general strike.

Media News

washington post logoWashington Post, The newsroom was the beating heart of a local newspaper. What’s lost when the owner shuts it down? Elahe Izadi, Aug. 18, 2020. The coronavirus crisis is devastating the news industry. Many newspapers won’t survive it.

Through war, depression and every kind of turmoil the country endured over the past 100 years, the Morning Call’s newsroom was on the same downtown corner in Allentown, Pa. Until now.

Hit this year by a pandemic and an economic downturn, Tribune Publishing informed journalists at the Morning Call and four of its other newspapers Wednesday that their newsrooms would permanently close.

tribune publishing logo“These decisions were not made lightly or hastily,” reads a memo sent to reporters for the Capital Gazette of Annapolis that promised to continue “our in-depth community coverage.” Other shuttered newsrooms include the New York Daily News, the Carroll County Times of Westminster, Md., and the Orlando Sentinel. An Aurora, Ill. bureau of the Chicago Tribune was also closed.

Like office workers across the United States, journalists have been pushed by covid-19 to retreat from communal spaces and into remote work. Now some are confronting the very real possibility that they may never again work in a physical newsrooms — a touchstone of journalism — and what that could mean for the future of their profession.

“People need to know that we’re a presence in Allentown and that we’re there to cover their communities, their school boards, their municipalities,” said Jennifer Sheehan, a features and entertainment reporter for the Morning Call. “When you don’t even have a physical location, it’s almost like you’re not there, even though you are.”

The pandemic era has forced news organizations to figure out new ways to produce high-caliber journalism, collaborating via video conferencing and messaging platforms. But in newsrooms — the original open-plan offices — reporters across disparate beats can shape each others’ ideas. Young journalists sharpen their skills by overhearing how veteran reporters conduct their interviews.

Law, Courts, Prisons

A Just Cause Radio via BlogTalkRadio, Justice reform commentary, Aug. 18, 2020. Tune in and listen to Lamont Banks and Cliff Stewart of A Just Cause, a nonprofit, social justice organization as they discuss what happens when the wheels of justice trample over the rights of innocent Americans.

Special Guests for tonight's show are known as the Colorado IRP5: David Banks, Kendrick Barnes, Clinton Stewart, David Zirpolo, and Demetrius Harper, who were all indicted, sentenced, and wrongly convicted in 2012 for (mail/wire fraud) crimes they didn't commit. On May 28th, all were released and finally free to return home to their families after serving 8 years in prison wrongfully. Please join tonight to hear the horrific details of how a rogue prosecutor and judge set out to destroy them and the lives of their families.

A Just Cause is currently campaigning for the exoneration of the remaining "FreeTheIRP5," who was wrongly imprisoned in Florence, CO for 8 years for a crime they didn't commit. Read their full story: www.freetheirp6.org.

 

Aug. 17

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 U.S. 2020 Elections, Politics

More On Postal Service, Voting

Virus Victims, Responses

Environment, Weather

Law, Courts, Crime

Media News

 

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michelle obama resized dnc 8 17 2020

Palmer Report, Opinion: Michelle Obama just brought down the house, Bill Palmer, Aug. 17, 2020. The first night of the Democratic National Convention saw a number of impressive speakers from across the political spectrum, breathing life into the virtual convention. But then First Lady Michelle Obama came along at the end of the night and blew everyone out of the water with a speech that we’ll all be quoting for quite some time.

Michelle Obama made a point of emphasizing that she still believes in her 2016 catch phrase “When they go low, we go high.” But that didn’t stop her from eloquently and gracefully spelling out why Donald Trump isn’t fit to be President of the United States. She said that Trump is “clearly in over his head” because “you simply cannot fake your way through this job.” Then she dropped the bomb on him.

bill palmer report logo headerMichelle Obama used Donald Trump’s own recent infamous line against him when she said that Trump “simply cannot be who we need him to be for us. It is what it is.” It was a moment that’s going to resonate, from a speech that’s never going to be forgotten.

Michelle Obama explained that she knows Joe Biden personally, she worked alongside him for eight years, and she knows first-hand that he has what it takes to be President of the United States.

ny times logoNew York Times, What to Watch: The First Night of the Democratic National Convention, Alexander Burns, Aug. 17, 2020. [Speakers, start time, schedule and more: Here’s how to watch the Democratic National Convention.] Michelle Obama, right, will appear, and Democrats will see whether there’s an anti-Trump consensus or a mishmash of messaging, with speakers ranging ideologically from Bernie Sanders to John Kasich.

michelle obama 2013 official portraitThe climactic events of the week come on Wednesday and Thursday, when first Ms. Harris and then Mr. Biden, the former vice president, are set to deliver their acceptance speeches. But the party is hoping to hook voters’ attention on Monday, with speakers meant to highlight the diversity of Mr. Biden’s political coalition in terms of ideology, geography, race and more.

Here is the lineup for the first night, which is scheduled to run from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. Eastern, as announced by the Democratic National Convention Committee:

Introduction: the actress Eva Longoria.

Call to order: Representative Bennie Thompson of Mississippi.

Featured speakers: Representative Gwen Moore of Wisconsin; Mayor Muriel Bowser of Washington; Representative James Clyburn of South Carolina; Mr. Cuomo; Kristin Urquiza, who lost her father to the coronavirus; Sara Gideon, the speaker of the Maine House of Representatives; Ms. Whitmer; Christine Todd Whitman; Meg Whitman; Ms. Molinari; Mr. Kasich; Senator Doug Jones of Alabama; Senator Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada; Ms. Klobuchar; Mr. Richmond; and Mr. Sanders.

The main event: Ms. Obama will deliver keynote remarks.

washington post logoWashington Post, House accelerates oversight of USPS as uproar grows, demands top officials testify at ‘urgent’ hearing, Jacob Bogage and Joseph Marks, Aug. 17, 2020 (print ed.). House Democrats have been calling for a hearing — the chamber is currently on recess — as fears have grown postal service old logothat Postmaster General Louis DeJoy is implementing policies that are slowing the mail and could create election havoc.

The House Oversight Committee announced a hearing for Aug. 24, inviting Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, left, and Postal Service louis dejoy Customboard of governors Chairman Robert M. Duncan.

The House Oversight Committee will hold an emergency hearing on mail delays and concerns about potential White House interference in the U.S. Postal Service, inviting Postmaster General Louis DeJoy and Postal Service board of governors Chairman Robert M. Duncan to testify Aug. 24, top Democrats announced on Sunday.

Democrats have alleged that DeJoy, a former Republican National Committee chairman, is taking steps that are causing dysfunction in the mail system and could wreak havoc in the presidential election. The House had earlier not planned a hearing until September.

carolyn maloney o“The postmaster general and top Postal Service leadership must answer to the Congress and the American people as to why they are pushing these dangerous new policies that threaten to silence the voices of millions, just months before the election,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), House Oversight Chair Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.), left, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) said in a statement announcing the hearing.

The Postal Service is beset with delays because of policy changes implemented by DeJoy, a former logistics executive and ally of President Trump. DeJoy banned postal workers from making extra trips to ensure on-time mail delivery and cracked down on overtime hours. Localities across the country have struggled with USPS backlogs of up to a week, hamstringing local businesses and delaying the arrival of crucial mail items, including prescription medications, Social Security checks and bills.

nancy pelosi djt 2 older

washington post logoWashington Post, Pelosi calls House lawmakers back to vote on Postal Service legislation, Joseph Marks, Aug. 17, 2020 (print ed.). House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called House lawmakers back Sunday to try to prevent Postal Service changes that Democrats fear could make it harder for millions of Americans to cast mail ballots in November. Members will be expected to return to Washington this week.

The move comes as Democrats warn that changes implemented by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a former Republican National Convention finance chairman, could wreak havoc during the election in which a record number of people are likely to vote by mail because of concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.

The House previously wasn’t scheduled to return until September.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Trump, the Mail and the Unbinding of America, Paul Krugman, right, Aug. 17, 2020. The Postal Service facilitates citizen paul krugmaninclusion. That’s why Trump hates it. In June the independent website Factcheck.org made a dig at Joe Biden, publishing a post titled “Biden Floats Baseless Election Conspiracy.” Biden, you see, had suggested that Donald Trump “wants to cut off money for the post office so they cannot deliver mail-in ballots.” There was, said the post, no evidence that Trump’s “stance toward the U.S. postal system is related to the presidential election.”

A few days ago Factcheck.org conceded that Biden had, in fact, been right. The confirmation? Trump’s own statements.

Nancy Pelosi is calling the House back from summer recess to consider legislation on the issue, and for good reason: There are not one but two possible constitutional crises looming. In one, millions of votes never get counted. In the other, delays in the counting of mail-in votes lead Trump to claim victory in an election he actually lost.

These November nightmares are the reason we need to act urgently to secure the integrity of America’s mail. But there’s also a larger, longer-term aspect to the assault on the postal system. It’s part of a broader attack on the institutions that bind us together as a nation.

There was, after all, a reason the Constitution specifically granted Congress the ability to “establish post offices and post roads.” Clearly, the founders saw some kind of national postal system as one way to help turn the still shaky idea of the United States as a nation into reality. In fact, in its early years one of the post office’s key roles was the delivery of newspapers, as a way to keep Americans informed and connected.

washington post logoWashington Post, State officials rush to shore up confidence in Nov. 3 election, Amy Gardner and Seung Min Kim, Aug. 17, 2020 (print ed.). Attorneys general from at least six states are huddling to discuss possible lawsuits against the Trump administration to block it from reducing mail service in the wake of President Trump’s unprecedented attacks on the Postal Service and widespread mail delays around the country.

President Trump’s unprecedented attacks on the U.S. Postal Service amid widespread mail delays across the country are shaking voters’ faith that their ballots will be counted, prompting a rush among federal, state and local officials to protect the integrity of the Nov. 3 election.

Thousands of voters have called government offices in recent days to ask whether it is still safe to mail their ballots, according to officials across the country. Attorneys general from at least six states are huddling to discuss possible lawsuits against the administration to block it from reducing mail service between now and the election, several told The Washington Post.

State leaders are scrambling to see whether they can change rules to give voters more options, and Democrats are planning a massive public education campaign to shore up trust in the vote and the Postal Service. “He is undermining the safest voting method during a pandemic and forcing people to cast a ballot in person,” Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold (D) said of Trump . “It is reprehensible.”

U.S. 2020 Elections, Politics

ny times logoNew York Times, How Bernie Sanders Became a ‘Unity’ Night Speaker, Sydney Ember, Aug. 17, 2020. Progressive candidates are winning. The pandemic increased support for “Medicare for all.” What does Mr. Sanders make of it?

It has been four months since Mr. Sanders ended his campaign for president. Since then, progressive candidates have notched once-improbable primary victories against longtime Democratic incumbents. Each member of the so-called Squad, the group of progressive women of color in the House, will almost certainly return to Washington. The coronavirus pandemic has revitalized support nationwide for progressive policy proposals including “Medicare for all.”

ny times logoNew York Times, All the Republicans Who Have Decided Not to Support Trump, Isabella Grullón Paz and Jonathan Martin, Aug. 17, 2020.  As November draws nearer, a few current and former Republican officials have begun to break ranks with the rest of their party, saying in public and private conversations that they will not support President Trump in his re-election. Some have even said that they will be voting for his Democratic opponent, Joseph R. Biden Jr.

As Mr. Trump’s political standing has slipped, fueled by his failures in handling the coronavirus pandemic and by the economic recession, some Republicans have found it easier to publicly renounce their backing.

Here is a running list of those who have said they will not support Mr. Trump in the fall, those who have gone a step further and said they’ll vote for Mr. Biden, and those who have hinted they may not back the president.

ny times logoNew York Times, The ‘Rage Moms’ Democrats Are Counting On, Lisa Lerer and Jennifer Medina, Aug. 17, 2020. With millions of American families facing an uncertain start to the school year, the struggle for child care, education and economic stability is fueling a political uprising, built on the anger of women who find themselves constantly — and indefinitely — expected to be teacher, caregiver, employee and parent.

washington post logojennifer rubin new headshotWashington Post, Opinion: Trump’s argument: Look how awful things are — now reelect me, Jennifer Rubin, right, Aug. 17, 2020. President Trump has this bizarre notion that if he can show how chaotic, dysfunctional and dangerous things have become, Americans will reelect him.

He sent federal law enforcement into Portland, Ore., seemingly with the purpose of stoking violent confrontations with protesters that could be used to create ad footage for his campaign. He is the only thing standing between you and carnage! Well, except that he caused it. This is on his watch. It is evidence of his inability to maintain order.

If there are assaults on federal property (statues, for example), if the president is forced to retreat to a bunker and if certain crimes have increased in locations around the country, then one has to ask how Trump took a peaceful country with declining crime rates and turned it (in his own telling) into a dystopian nightmare. Law-and-order presidents (or as Trump likes to tweet, LAW & ORDER!) do not preside over crime and disorder. His handiwork is proof that we need someone new.

In this regard, the Republican Senate is equally deserving of blame for the unraveling economy and societal chaos. It refuses, over the objections of the Federal Reserve, business leaders, economists and voters, to pass a meaningful stimulus bill (which would include money for testing and tracing to fight the coronavirus, money to reopen schools safely or conduct virtual classrooms, $25 billion for the USPS and an economic lifeline to tens of millions of unemployed Americans).

washington post logoWashington Post, Post-ABC poll shows double-digit lead for Biden, Harris, Dan Balz, Scott Clement and Emily Guskin, Aug. 17, 2020 (print ed.). As the two major political parties prepare to open their national conventions, the presidential race tilts toward the Democrats amid continuing joe biden kamala harris campaign shotdisapproval of the president’s handling of the pandemic.

Today, Biden and Harris lead by 54 percent to 43 percent among those who say they are absolutely certain to vote and who also report voting in 2016. A month ago, Biden’s lead of 15 points overall had narrowed to seven points among similarly dnc square logocommitted 2016 voters. Biden now also leads by low double-digits among those who say they are following the election most closely.

The president’s supporters are more eager than are Biden’s to cast ballots for him, with nearly 9 in 10 calling themselves enthusiastic and 65 percent saying they are “very enthusiastic.” Slightly more than 8 in 10 Biden supporters say they are enthusiastic about voting for him, with 48 percent saying they are “very enthusiastic.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: A poll shows Trump slicing into Biden’s lead. Should he panic? Aaron Blake, Aug. 17, 2020. The CNN poll, which showed the former vice president up 14 points in June, now has the margin at four. But other polls show no shift.

Palmer Report, Analysis: Here’s the thing about that infamous new CNN poll, Bill Palmer, Aug. 17, 2020. Depending on which news outlet or pundits you’re listening to today, you’re either thrilled to learn that Joe Biden now has a twelve point lead in the new Washington Post poll, or disheartened to learn that Joe Biden now has a four point lead in the new CNN poll.

bill palmer report logo headerOf course once you get away from punditry and back into the real world, you shouldn’t be looking at either poll individually.

Ask any polling analyst, or any statistician in general, or even anyone with a math degree, and they’ll tell you that the only valid way to look at the polls is to look at the average of the polls. Several polls have been released over the past week, and if you average them all together, you see that Biden currently has a roughly eight point lead. When you take these two new polls, Biden+12 and Biden+4, and you plug them into the average, it turns out Biden still has about an eight point lead.

This CNN in particular has some severe problems. In May, it had Biden+5. In June it had Biden+14. Now it has Biden+4. If you’ve been following the election, you know that there have been no real-world news events that could have caused Biden to jump nine points or drop ten points. It’s fairly clear that when CNN saw its original Biden+5 poll was way below the polling averages, it concluded its methodology must have been off, and ended up overcompensating. Then after CNN realized the Biden+14 poll was way above the averages, it shifted its methodology again, overcompensating in the other direction. This means the CNN poll is invalid. There’s no conspiracy here; sometimes statistical sampling just goes awry.

Fortunately, when you average the polls together, it compensates for any bad apples. In fact the polling averages tend to be pretty consistent from one week to the next, and pretty accurate when you look back at the final results. The averages are pretty boring. The way the media sees it, that’s the problem with the averages: they’re bad for ratings. No one stays tuned in for a race that keeps not changing.

More On Postal Service, Voting

ny times logoNew York Times, Live updates: House Judiciary Democrats Urge Criminal Inquiry of Postmaster, Aug. 17, 2020. Two Democrats asked for an Louis DeJoy Custominvestigation into the role that Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, right, played in mail delays that they said threaten to compromise the election. Here’s the latest.

ted lieuThe committee members, Representatives Ted W. Lieu of California, left, and Hakeem Jeffries of New York, made the request in a two-page letter to the F.B.I. director, Christopher A. Wray. They also called on the bureau to scrutinize the actions of the Postal Service’s Board of Governors.

“Multiple media investigations show that Postmaster DeJoy and the Board of Governors have retarded the passage of mail,” they wrote. “If their intent in doing so was to affect mail-in balloting or was motivated by personal financial reasons, then they likely committed crimes.”

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s Postmaster General Louis DeJoy just caved, Bill Palmer, Aug. 17, 2020. Donald Trump’s Postmaster General Louis DeJoy agreed over the weekend to testify before the House in mid-September. This meant he was going to have to start playing defense in the name of protecting himself, making it harder for him to play offense. The House then seized on DeJoy’s display of weakness, by demanding that he testify next week instead.

bill palmer report logo headerNow Politico says DeJoy has indeed agreed to testify next Monday.

DeJoy is clearly more interested in covering his own backside, than he is in trying to help Trump by dragging out a court battle over his testimony. Of course DeJoy is facing investigation by the Post Office Inspector General and the New Jersey Attorney General, the latter of whom can put him in prison, so DeJoy has a lot of backside-covering to worry about right now.

washington post logoWashington Post, Top Democrats call on USPS governing board to undo mail changes, Tony Romm, Aug. 17, 2020. Senate Democrats have raised the prospect that the little-known board could remove Postmaster General Louis DeJoy from his post if he chooses not to cooperate. Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Charles Schumer and five other senators contend that the postmaster general’s policies have ‘endangered’ Americans.

The Board of Governors includes nine members appointed by the president, and confirmed by the Senate, who have the task of selecting the nation’s postmaster general and overseeing the USPS. Trump has filled six of the nine slots, and all but one of them is a Republican.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump is actively working to undermine the Postal Service — and every major U.S. institution, William H. McRaven, william mcraven 2012right, Aug. 17, 2020 (print ed.). Let us ensure postal workers have every resource possible to provide the citizens of this country everything they need.

In the 1997 film “The Postman,” set in post-apocalyptic America, Kevin Costner plays a drifter trying to restore order to the United States by providing one essential service, mail delivery. In the story, hate crimes, racially motivated attacks and a plague have caused the breakdown of society as we know it.

In his quest to restore order and dignity to the nation, the Postman tries to recruit other postal workers to help rebuild the U.S. government. But Costner’s character is opposed by the evil General Bethlehem, who is fighting to suppress the postal carriers so he can establish a totalitarian government. Fortunately, our hero, gaining inspiration from the motto, “neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night,” fights on against Bethlehem and saves the country.

Not surprisingly, the movie was panned by critics and was a financial disaster. I mean really, racial strife and a plague so bad that it threatened our society? And even if that happened, who would try to destroy the Postal Service? Where do they come up with these crazy plots?

At the end of “The Postman,” our hero’s grown daughter unveils a statue of her father and praises the mail carrier’s courage and perseverance for saving the country. The reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes hated the movie, stating that “The Postman would make for a goofy good time if it weren’t so fatally self-serious.”

Well, maybe it’s time we all got a little self-serious, before Trump’s actions are fatal to our institutions and our democracy.

William H. McRaven, a retired Navy admiral, was commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command from 2011 to 2014.

Virus Victims, Responses

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘A national crisis’: Millions of disconnected students are being left behind, Moriah Balingit, Aug. 17, 2020 (print ed.). As the pandemic forces many schools to switch to remote learning, more than 17 million U.S. schoolchildren do not have high-speed Internet at home and are locked out of virtual classes.

Before the pandemic, it was called “the homework gap,” because of the growing number of teachers who assigned homework that required Internet access. Now, as the pandemic forces many schools to switch to remote learning, disconnected students will miss more than homework. They’ll miss all of school.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Ben Carson and the MyPillow guy have cooked up a phony new coronavirus cure – and Donald Trump is buying it, Bill Palmer, ben carsonAug. 16-17, 2020. Ben Carson, right, has a history of hawking phony miracle cures for cancer. MyPillow founder Mike Lindell has a history of hawking a plain old pillow that he claims is some kind of miracle pillow. So perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that they’ve teamed up to hawk a phony coronavirus miracle cure, which they’re now pitching to Donald Trump.

In an article that feels straight out of the Onion, but is instead coming from very real news outlet Axios ( 1 big thing: Trump eyes new unproven virus "cure" by Jonathan Swan), it turns out Ben Carson and the MyPillow bill palmer report logo headerguy really are pushing an oleander dietary supplement as a cure for coronavirus, despite no evidence whatsoever that it can do any such thing. It turns out they’ve basically got Trump on board with it.

But some folks in the Trump regime are so alarmed by it, they’re leaking the story to the media in the hope of stopping the whole thing before it can get off the ground.

Two things stand out here. First, this means that Mike Lindell isn’t just a guy who sells crappy overpriced pillows on cable news and stands way too close to Donald Trump.

Instead, Lindell is the kind of dangerous con artist who’s using his relationship with Donald Trump to try to con Americans into buying into a fake cure for a deadly pandemic, which means Lindell is extremely dangerous.

Second, Donald Trump clearly had so little interest in Ben Carson’s past as a medical doctor, he put him in charge of HUD instead making him Surgeon General. But now Carson is having no problem getting Trump to buy into his medical quackery. It’s the latest sign that Trump’s mind has deteriorated to the point that everyone around him – even the half-braindead Carson – is able to steer Trump in whatever direction they want.

washington post logoWashington Post, Staggering number of pregnant Latinas with covid-19 serve as a warning sign, doctors say, Samantha Schmidt and Rebecca Tan, Aug. 17, 2020 (print ed.). Latina mothers make up nearly half of the covid-19 cases among pregnant women in the U.S., showing just how widespread the virus is in their communities.

ny times logoNew York Times, Virus Misinformation Becomes a New Front for Doctors to Battle, Staff reports, Aug. 17, 2020. Some doctors say patients are more inclined to believe social media posts than professionals. New York’s gyms can reopen on Aug. 24, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said. Students and teachers will be screened for infection even as the Los Angeles school district begins instruction remotely. The Democratic National Convention begins today and will be conducted almost entirely online. Here’s the latest.

Doctors on the front lines of the pandemic say they are fighting not just the coronavirus, but also a never-ending scourge of misinformation about the disease that is hurting patients. Some say they regularly treat people more inclined to believe what they read on social media than what a medical professional tells them.

Before the pandemic, medical professionals had grown accustomed to dealing with patients misled by online information, a phenomenon they called Dr. Google. But in interviews, more than a dozen doctors and misinformation researchers in the United States and Europe said the volume related to the virus was like nothing they had seen before.

According to the doctors and researchers, several factors are to blame: leaders like President Trump who amplify fringe theories; social media platforms that are not doing enough to stamp out false information; and individuals who are too quick to believe what they see online.

ny times logoNew York Times, The Recession Is About to Slam Cities. Not Just the Blue-State Ones, Emily Badger and Quoctrung Bui, Aug. 17, 2020.  Those with budgets that rely heavily on tourism, sales taxes or direct state assistance will face particular distress.

The coronavirus recession will erode city budgets in many insidious ways. It will slash the casino revenues that Detroit relies on. It will squeeze the state aid that is a lifeblood to Rochester and Buffalo in upstate New York. It will cut the sales tax revenue in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, where a healthy government depends on people buying things.

The crisis has arrived faster than the damage from the Great Recession ever did. And it will cut deep in the fiscal year ahead, with many communities likely to lose 10 percent or more of the revenue they would have seen without the pandemic, according to a new analysis. That’s enough for residents to experience short-staffed libraries, strained parks departments and fewer road projects. The hardest-hit cities like Rochester and Buffalo could face 20 percent losses.

“The Great Recession was a story of long, drawn-out fiscal pain — this is sharper,” said Howard Chernick, a professor emeritus of economics at Hunter College and the Graduate Center at the City University of New York, who worked on the new analysis estimating revenue shortfalls for 150 major cities across the nation.

These numbers give a sense of the possible economic pain for cities if Congress and the White House fail to agree on a new relief package that includes aid to state and local governments. It also rebuts some of the prevailing, largely Republican arguments that have stalled those negotiations: that federal help will bail out only blue cities and those that have mismanaged their finances.

What matters more in this pandemic moment is how a city generates money: Those highly dependent on tourism, on direct state aid or on volatile sales taxes will hurt the most. Cities like Boston, which rely heavily on the most stable revenue, property taxes, are in the strongest position — for now.

Environment, Weather

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Administration Finalizes Plan to Open Arctic Refuge to Drilling, Brad Plumer and Henry Fountain Aug. 17, 2020. The department cleared the way for the government to auction off leases to companies interested in drilling inside the refuge’s coastal plain. The plan sets the stage for what is expected to be a fierce legal battle over the fate of a vast, remote Alaska habitats.

washington post logoWashington Post, Death Valley soars to 130 degrees, potentially Earth’s highest temperature since at least 1931, Jason Samenow, Aug. 17, 2020 (print ed.). Typically, such blazing heat records fall during July, which is the Northern Hemisphere’s hottest month.

In the midst of a historic heat wave in the West, the mercury in Death Valley, Calif., surged to a searing 130 degrees on Sunday afternoon, possibly setting a world record for the highest temperature ever observed during the month of August.

If the temperature is valid, it would also rank among the top-three highest temperatures ever measured on the planet at any time and may, in fact, be the highest.

The temperature in Death Valley hit 130 degrees at 3:41 p.m. Pacific time on Sunday, according to the National Weather Service. If verified, the reading would break Death Valley’s previous August record by three degrees, the Weather Service tweeted.

“Everything I’ve seen so far indicates that is a legitimate observation,” Randy Cerveny, who leads the World Meteorological Organization’s weather and climate extremes team, wrote in an email.

Some climatologists consider 129-degree readings recorded in Death Valley on June 30, 2013, and in Kuwait and Pakistan in 2016 and 2017, respectively, as the highest ever reliably measured on the planet. If only those readings are considered, then Sunday’s 130-degree temperature would unseat them as the highest measured.

The scorching temperature occurred amid a suffocating heat wave that has gripped the Western United States since late last week, and is forecast to continue into the coming week.

washington post logoWashington Post, Japan ties national high-temperature record amid blistering heat wave, Matthew Cappucci, Aug. 17, 2020. Hamamatsu, a coastal city, hit 106 degrees Monday, tying a national record set in 2018 within a day of Death Valley in California recording one of the hottest temperatures observed on Earth.

Law, Courts, Crime

washington post logoWashington Post, Federal judge blocks Trump administration from ending transgender health-care protections, Samantha Schmidt, Aug. 17, 2020. The rules, which were set to take effect Tuesday, would have reversed Obama-era regulations that said discrimination protections “on the basis of sex” should apply to transgender people.

Law & Crime, Lawsuit: Jeffrey Epstein Raped a 13-Year-Old Girl in 1978, 3 Years After Working at the Dalton School, Colin Kalmbacher, Aug. 17, 2020. Nine women are suing the estate of Jeffrey Epstein based on decades-old abuse allegations dating as far back as 1978.

“In or about 1978, and continuing for a period of time thereafter, when Plaintiff Jane Doe XIV was approximately thirteen years old, Epstein sexually assaulted, abused, battered and raped her multiple times,” the lawsuit alleges. “As a result of the aforementioned sexual abuse, Plaintiff Jane Doe XIV suffered, and continues to suffer from severe and serious injuries including, but not limited to, severe emotional distress and physical manifestations thereof.”

This appears to be the oldest known allegation of sexual abuse against Epstein. The 1978 claim is three years after Epstein taught teens at the Dalton School, an elite institution that was helmed by Attorney General William Barr’s father Donald Barr.

Another Jane Doe plaintiff alleges that Epstein began sexually abusing her even before she was a teenager.

“In or about 1993, when Plaintiff Jane Doe XIII was approximately eleven years old, Epstein sexually assaulted, abused, battered and digitally penetrated her on three, separate occasions,” the lawsuit continues. “Epstein also forced Plaintiff to perform oral sex on him.”

Three of the other plaintiffs claim to have been sexually abused by Epstein as part of his “massive sex trafficking network” while they were minors; four women say they were sexually assaulted by Epstein when they were adults. According to the lawsuit, the sexual abuse against some of the plaintiffs continued until 2004.

Law & Crime, Indictment Reveals Real Reason Behind Arrest of InfoWars Correspondent Millie Weaver, Jerry Lambe, Aug. 17, 2020. Millicent “Millie” Weaver, 29, the correspondent for the Alex Jones-helmed conspiracy-theory website InfoWars, was arrested Friday at her Ohio home and charged with several felonies stemming from a dispute with her mother, documents filed in the Portage County Common Pleas Court show.

millie weaver maga hatWeaver’s arrest, which came hours before she was scheduled to release a “documentary” claiming to show that President Donald Trump was set-up by government officials in the Russia scandal, gave rise to a slew of conspiracy theories, but the truth appears far more mundane.

Weaver, left, along with her brother, Charles L. Weaver Jr., and boyfriend Gavon Wince, were all charged with one count each of robbery, tampering with evidence, obstructing justice, and domestic violence, stemming from an incident with Weaver’s mother Felicia McCarron.

According to the indictment from the Portage County Grand Jury, all three were charged with robbery (a second-degree felony) for “attempting or committing a theft offense, or in fleeing immediately after the attempt or offense, recklessly inflict, attempt to inflict, or threaten to inflict physical harm upon Felicia McCarron.”

The trio also face charges of evidence tampering (a third-degree felony), obstructing justice (a fifth-degree felony), and domestic violence (a first degree misdemeanor). The obstruction charge stems from allegedly communicating “false information” about the dispute in order to hinder law enforcement’s investigation.

A YouTube user claiming to be McCarron reportedly wrote that the charges stemmed from a “family dispute” over a $50 cell phone. That post expressed shock, surprise and disapproval of the charges. Other new stories reported by Law & Crime:

      • DOJ Charges Puerto Rico Legislator and Family in Alleged Multi-Year Bribery and Kickback Scandal
      • Two Suspects Charged in Murder of Run-DMC’s Jam Master Jay 18 Years After Shooting
      • 3 Officers Were Shot, and Subject Barricaded Inside Home in Ongoing Stand-Off, Police Say

washington post logoWashington Post, Violent clashes erupt between far-right groups, police and Black Lives Matter, Katie Shepherd and Holly Bailey, Aug. 17, 2020 (print ed.). The renewed tensions in Portland, Minneapolis and other cities pushed the country into its 80th day of demonstrations in some places.

Far-right extremists and continued clashes between Black Lives Matter protesters and police this weekend renewed tensions in Portland, Minneapolis and other cities, pushing the country into its 80th day of consecutive demonstrations in some places.

A group with ties to far-right organizations that have long targeted Portland gathered downtown Saturday afternoon to wave American flags and push back against Black Lives Matter protests challenging police brutality. The event ended with two gunshots.

Protests in other cities also erupted into violence Saturday, as police grappled with small groups hijacking otherwise peaceful events, including far-right activists armed with pepper spray and wooden flagpoles.

One clash ended in fistfights after Proud Boys marched in Kalamazoo, Mich. Police intervened as the Proud Boys retreated into a parking garage, about seven minutes after a large brawl broke out between members of the far-right group and their opponents. Officers arrested some counterprotesters who had come out to oppose the right-wing group.

ny times logoNew York Times, Special Prosecutor Finds ‘Abuses of Discretion’ in Jussie Smollett Case, Julia Jacobs, Aug. 17, 2020. A special prosecutor tasked with reinvestigating the case against Jussie Smollett has found that the Cook County state’s attorney’s office did not violate the law in its handling of the case but did abuse its discretion in deciding to drop charges and put out false or misleading public statements about why they did so.

jussie smollett mugshotThe findings, published in a news release on Monday, conclude the investigation by the special prosecutor, Dan K. Webb, who was appointed last year after a judge ruled that the state’s attorney, Kim Foxx, had not properly handled the Smollett case the first time. In February, Mr. Webb announced that a grand jury had revived the criminal case against Mr. Smollett, right, indicting him on charges that he lied to the police in connection with an alleged hate crime attack against him.

The second part of Mr. Webb’s investigation involved determining whether any person or office engaged in wrongdoing while handling the Smollett case. In the news release, Mr. Webb’s office said that it unearthed evidence that supports “substantial abuses of discretion and operational failures” by the state’s attorney’s office in prosecuting the initial case in 2019.

Mr. Webb’s office found that lawyers who work in the office’s criminal division were “surprised” or “shocked” by the terms under which prosecutors dropped the charges against Mr. Smollett, just a month after his arrest.

An investigation has found that the state’s attorney’s office did not violate the law in its handling of the case against the actor Jussie Smollett, but it cited substantial “operational failures.”

Media News

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: The Month Old Hollywood Finally, Actually Died, Ben Smith, Aug. 17, 2020. The streaming services are in charge, and bringing a ruthless new culture with them.

For decades, the best thing about being a Hollywood executive, really, was how you got fired. Studio executives would be gradually, gently, even lovingly, nudged aside, given months to shape their own narratives and find new work, or even promoted. When Amy Pascal was pushed out of Sony Pictures in 2015, she got an exit package and production deal worth a reported $40 million.

That, of course, was before streaming services arrived, upending everything with a ruthless logic and coldhearted efficiency.

That was never more clear than on Aug. 7, when WarnerMedia abruptly eliminated the jobs of hundreds of employees, emptying the executive suite at the once-great studio that built Hollywood, and is now the subsidiary of AT&T. In a series of brisk video calls, executives who imagined they were studio eminences were reminded that they work — or used to work — at the video division of a phone company. The chairman of WarnerMedia Entertainment, Bob Greenblatt, learned that he’d been fired the morning of the day the news broke, two people he spoke to told me. Jeffrey Schlesinger, a 37-year company veteran who ran the lucrative international licensing business, complained to friends that he had less than an hour’s notice, two other people told me.

“We’re in the brutal final scenes of Hollywood as people here knew it, as streaming investment and infrastructure take precedence,” said Janice Min, the former Hollywood Reporter co-president who did a brief stretch as an executive at the streaming platform Quibi. “Politesse and production deal kiss-offs for those at the top, and, more importantly, the financial fire hose to float a bureaucracy, seem to be disappearing. It’s like a club, already shut down by the pandemic, running out of dues to feed all its members.”

Aug. 16

Top Headlines

Virus Updates, Responses

2020 U.S. Election Updates

Inside DC

World News

Trump v. Intelligence Agencies?

U.S. Law, Courts, Crime

U.S. Media / Politics

Trump Family

 

Top Stories

Axios Sneak Peek, Investigation: 1 big thing: Trump eyes new unproven virus "cure," Jonathan Swan, right, Aug. 16, 2020. To the alarm of some government health jonathan swan twitterofficials, President Trump has expressed enthusiasm for the Food and Drug Administration to approve an extract from the oleander plant as a dietary supplement to cure COVID-19, despite lack of proof that it works.

• The experimental botanical extract, oleandrin, was promoted to Trump during an Oval Office meeting in July.
• It's embraced by Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson and MyPillow founder and CEO Mike Lindell, a big Trump backer, who recently took a financial stake in the company that develops the product.
• Lindell told Axios that in the meeting, Trump "basically said: …'The FDA should be approving it.'"
• The White House did not respond to requests for comment.

Why it matters: A senior administration official familiar with the internal conversations told Axios, "The involvement of the Secretary of HUD and MyPillow.com in pushing a dubious product at the highest levels should give Americans no comfort at night about their health and safety during a raging pandemic."

The big picture: It's part of a pattern in which entrepreneurs, often without rigorous vetting, push unproven products to Trump — knowing their sales pitches might catch his eye. Trump will then urge FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn to "look at" or speed up approval.

Donald Trump (Gage Skidmore portrait)• In March, Trump personally lobbied Hahn to authorize hydroxychloroquine's emergency use to treat COVID-19.
• The FDA obliged. But in June, after a large trial, the agency revoked that authorization and warned of the "risk of heart rhythm problems" in COVID-19 patients treated with the drug.

Behind the scenes: Senior administration officials familiar with the internal conversations around oleandrin have raised concerns about the way this botanical extract — pushed by Andrew Whitney of Phoenix Biotechnology — is being promoted at the highest levels of the Trump administration.

• There is no public data showing oleandrin has ever been tested in animals or humans for its efficacy against COVID-19, but the extract has shown some evidence of inhibiting the virus in a non-peer reviewed laboratory study.
• In an interview on Saturday, Whitney told Axios that oleandrin has been tested on humans for its efficacy against COVID-19 but said the study has not been published yet. He also said the lab study is in the process of being peer reviewed.

ben carsonHUD Secretary Carson, right, has enthusiastically promoted oleandrin to Trump administration officials and to the president himself.

• MyPillow CEO Lindell, who is a major advertiser on Fox News and a personal friend of Carson and Trump, helped Whitney get an Oval Office meeting with the president in July to discuss oleandrin as a potential COVID-19 cure. (The Washington Post first reported this meeting.)
• Lindell said that he, Carson, at least one lawyer and, briefly, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, joined Trump and Whitney for the meeting. Notably absent was Hahn, the head of the agency that studies and approves medical treatments.
• Asked why the HUD secretary was promoting an unproven botanical extract to cure COVID-19, a Carson spokesperson emailed the following statement to Axios: "Secretary Carson is a member of the Coronavirus Task Force, he has been directly involved with the Administration's response to this disease from the very beginning."
• "The Task Force is looking at a plethora of therapeutics to fight COVID-19," the statement also said. "To suggest that Secretary Carson, who is a world-renowned expert in the medical field, shouldn't be involved is not only absurd but unhelpful in our collective fight to eradicate the pandemic."

• A senior official familiar with Carson's involvement noted that while Carson is a world-renowned expert in pediatric neurosurgery, he is not a world-renowned expert on antiviral drugs or infectious diseases.

What's next: Whitney said he is pursuing multiple paths to getting oleandrin to market.

• The first path is as a COVID-19 drug, which would involve a rigorous process that includes clinical trials.
• But to hedge his bets, Whitney said he is also pushing the FDA to allow oleandrin to be sold off the shelf as a dietary supplement — a move that could be made immediately, Whitney has told administration officials.

Whitney has claimed to administration officials that oleandrin cures COVID-19 in two days, according to a source familiar with his private comments.

• But if the FDA allows oleandrin to be sold as a dietary supplement, the company would not be allowed to make medical claims about its ability to treat or cure COVID-19.
• Asked about this claim about oleandrin being a "cure" for COVID-19, Whitney said he stands by it "100%."

washington post logoWashington Post, Tracing Trump’s grievance-fueled crusade against the USPS, Philip Rucker, Josh Dawsey and Ashley Parker, Aug. 16, 2020 (print ed.). His attempts to make the post office a tool in his reelection campaign by slowing service and challenging the integrity of mail-in ballots represent a culmination of his efforts against the popular public institution that date to the start of his presidency.

us mail logoSoon after taking office in 2017, President Trump seized on the U.S. Postal Service as an emblem of the bloated bureaucracy. “A loser,” he repeatedly labeled one of America’s most beloved public institutions, according to aides who discussed the matter with him.

Allies coddled Trump by telling him the reason he lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton in 2016 was widespread mail-in balloting fraud — a conspiracy theory for which there is no evidence — and the president’s postal outrage coarsened further.

Then Trump complained to senior White House advisers that Jeff Bezos — a presidential foe in part because he owns The Washington Post, whose news coverage the president thought was unfair and too tough on him — was “getting rich” because Amazon had been “ripping off” the Postal Service with a “sweetheart deal” to ship millions of its packages, one of them recalled. They explained that this was not true and that the Postal Service actually benefited from Amazon’s business, the adviser added, but the president railed for months about what he described as a “scam.”

And now Trump has fixated again on the Postal Service, this time trying to make it a tool in his reelection campaign by slowing mail service, blocking an emergency infusion of federal funds and challenging the integrity of mail-in balloting. The president acknowledged last week that his opposition is rooted in his desire to restrict how many Americans can vote by mail.

      • Washington Post, FedEx and UPS are wary of delivering ballots for election

ny times logoNew York Times, Fact Check: Trump Ads Attack Biden Through Deceptive Editing and Hyperbole, Linda Qiu, Aug. 16, 2020 (print ed.). We reviewed all of the Trump campaign’s television ads since June. Two-thirds contained clearly misleading claims or videos.

President Trump’s re-election campaign has spent tens of millions of dollars on television ads attacking his Democratic opponent, Joseph R. Biden Jr. While their content varies greatly, be it the coronavirus, police funding, taxes or charter schools, the tactics used remain constant: selectively edited remarks and exaggerations.

djt biden smiles resizedThe New York Times reviewed 22 ads from the Trump campaign that have aired since June and that have been tracked republican elephant logoby Advertising Analytics. We found that 14 of those ads contained clearly misleading claims or videos. Here’s a review.

Throughout much of June and July, the ads have focused on activists’ calls to defund the police with hyperbolic warnings about the ramifications.

One, titled “Break-In,” begins with a voice describing “Seattle’s pledge to defund its police department by 50 percent, even including a proposal to remove 911 dispatchers from police control” as an older woman notices someone breaking into her house and dials 911.

Virus Updates, Responses

ny times logoNew York Times, The Virus Is Not Slowing. But the Pace of Testing Is, Sarah Mervosh, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs and Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Aug. 16, 2020 (print ed.). For the first time during the pandemic, the United States saw a downward trend in the number of daily tests. y some estimates, several million people may need to be tested each day, including many who don’t feel sick.

washington post logoWashington Post, Live updates:‘No way to spin that,’ Romney says of U.S. deaths, blaming Trump administration, Derek Hawkins and Marisa Iati, Aug. 16, 2020 (print ed.). Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) offered rare Republican criticism of the Trump administration’s coronavirus response Friday, saying the federal government dismissed the virus’s threat and failed to protect Americans as infections spiraled out of control.

mitt romney w“Short term, I think it’s fair to say we really have not distinguished ourselves in a positive way by how we responded to the crisis when it was upon us,” Romney, left, said in a video interview with the Sutherland Institute. “And the proof of the pudding of that is simply that we have 5 percent of the world’s population but 25 percent of the world’s deaths due to covid-19.”

“And there’s no way to spin that in a positive light,” Romney said.

Romney attacks Trump for undermining election for ‘political’ reasons

More than 166,000 people nationwide have died of coronavirus-related complications — about 22 percent of the worldwide death toll. An additional 1,220 U.S. deaths were reported Saturday.

Here are some other significant developments:

The number and rate of infections in children under 17 have increased since March, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in recently updated guidance, underscoring the risk for young people and their families as schools weigh whether to reopen with in-person instruction. While the virus is far more prevalent and severe among adults, the true incidence of infection in American children remains unknown because of a lack of widespread testing, according to the agency.

ny times logoNew York Times, As Colleges Move Classes Online, Families Rebel Against the Cost, Shawn Hubler, Aug. 16, 2020 (print ed.). Schools face rising demands for tuition rebates, increased aid and leaves of absence as students ask if college is becoming “glorified Skype.”

A rebellion against the high cost of a bachelor’s degree, already brewing around the nation before the coronavirus, has gathered fresh momentum as campuses have strained to operate in the pandemic. Incensed at paying face-to-face prices for education that is increasingly online, students and their parents are demanding tuition rebates, increased financial aid, reduced fees and leaves of absences to compensate for what they feel will be a diminished college experience.

At Rutgers University, more than 30,000 people have signed a petition started in July calling for an elimination of fees and a 20 percent tuition cut. More than 40,000 have signed a plea for the University of North Carolina system to refund housing charges to students in the event of another Covid-19-related campus shutdown. The California State University system’s early decision to go online-only this fall has incited calls for price cuts at campuses from Fullerton to San Jose.

washington post logoWashington Post, South Dakota declines to boost jobless payments under Trump’s order, Tony Romm, Aug. 16, 2020 (print ed.). An order signed by President Trump to boost unemployed workers’ weekly benefits will not deliver any new aid to South Dakota, where Republican Gov. Kristi L. Noem appeared to become the first state leader to decline the heightened federal support.

kristi noemNoem, right, one of Trump’s most vocal allies, said South Dakota did not need to accept the additional federal jobless aid because workers in the state are being rehired, and its economy is on the mend, even as the coronavirus pandemic continues to rage across the United States.

Under Trump’s order, the federal government aims to divert billions of dollars in federal disaster assistance to out-of-work Americans, adding at least $300 more to their weekly benefit amounts — and more if states put up additional financing of their own. The program is supposed to offer a brief, temporary respite after the $600 payments that millions of workers had received regularly expired at the end of July.

2020 U.S. Election Updates

washington post logoWashington Post, Live updates: Post-ABC poll: 54 percent of Americans approve of Biden’s choice of Harris, Staff reports, Aug. 16, 2020. Sanders says he will ‘do everything I can’ to elect Biden; Biden extends condolences to Trump on the death of his brother Robert Trump.

kamala harris debate june 27 2019 filePresident Trump is continuing to defend Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s changes to the U.S. Postal Service, which are resulting in mail delays, but says he can’t speak to the specifics of what DeJoy has done since taking office in June.

“He’s a fantastic man. He wants to make the post office great again,” Trump said during a news briefing at his private golf resort in Bedminster, N.J., on Saturday night.

joe biden bernie sanders palmer headshotsDejoy, a former logistics executive and major Republican campaign donor, banned postal workers from making extra trips to ensure on-time mail delivery and cracked down on overtime hours. Localities across the country have struggled with USPS backlogs of up to a week.

Sanders, shown at right, weighed in on White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows’s acknowledgment Sunday that Sen. Kamala D. Harris is eligible to be vice president. He suggested that Meadows should “talk to the White House [about] why they tweet out stuff that is terrible and lying.”

washington post logokaren tumulty resize twitterWashington Post, Opinion: How Jennifer O’Malley Dillon transformed Joe Biden’s campaign, Karen Tumulty, right, Aug. 16, 2020 (print ed.). When Jennifer O’Malley Dillon was brought in to take over the Joe Biden campaign operation five months ago, she jennifer omalley dillonbarely knew a soul there — and that included the candidate himself.

If that wasn’t a big enough adjustment, there was another big announcement during the staff meeting where she was introduced as campaign manager: Biden’s Philadelphia headquarters was about to be shuttered due to the coronavirus. Starting the next day, they all would be working remotely — indefinitely, it turned out.

Since then, O’Malley Dillon, 43, above left, has been transforming what had been an underfinanced, undisciplined and dysfunctional Democratic primary operation into a general-election machine capable of carrying Biden through to the November election. (Disclosure: My adult son works for the Biden campaign.)

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The convention that could bend history, E.J. Dionne Jr., right, Aug. 16, 2020. Democrats will gather for their convention this ej dionne w open neckweek with dreams of another New Deal dancing in their heads.

“Gather” is a polite fiction, of course, since nearly everything will occur remotely in the purest media event ever. But the format will not stop party loyalists from savoring the possibility of a sweeping victory akin to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s triumph over President Herbert Hoover in 1932.

dnc square logoTheir hopes are not fanciful. President Trump’s catastrophic fumbling in the face of a pandemic and economic collapse invites comparison to Hoover’s haplessness, even if the 31st president was as morally upright as the 45th is not.

Every second of the gathering will be an advertisement of Trump’s failure: The convention that could not meet because of the health crisis the incumbent could not manage.

franklin d rooseveltWhen Roosevelt, right, broke with tradition by appearing in person at the 1932 Democratic National Convention in Chicago — a move he called, “unprecedented and unusual, but these are unprecedented and unusual times” — he gave a phrase to history: “I pledge you, I pledge myself, to a new deal for the American people.”

But he also spoke of “two ways of viewing the Government’s duty in matters affecting economic and social life.”

“The first,” he said, “sees to it that a favored few are helped and hopes that some of their prosperity will leak through, sift through, to labor, to the farmer, to the small business man. That theory belongs to the party of Toryism, and I had hoped that most of the Tories left this country in 1776. But it is not and never will be the theory of the Democratic Party.”

washington post logojoe biden 2020 button CustomWashington Post, Biden, often defined by words, faces his biggest (and strangest) speech yet, Matt Viser, Aug. 16, 2020 (print ed.). The former vice president faces the prospect of giving a rousing address in a largely empty room.

washington post logoWashington Post, Kamala Harris’s wooing of Black activists paved a path to the ticket, Annie Linskey and Chelsea Janes, Aug. 16, 2020 (print ed.).  The senator's failure to galvanize the Black community was devastating for her presidential campaign. But she worked relentlessly to repair those relations, easing the way for Joe Biden to choose her as his running mate.

As speculation mounted in recent months about her chances of being tapped as Joe Biden’s running mate, Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) began introducing some eye-catching legislation.

kamala harris debate june 27 2019 fileOne measure boosted research for uterine fibroids, a condition that threatens pregnancies and disproportionately affects Black women. Another toughened a measure to ban police chokeholds following the killing of George Floyd. In the same stretch, she used her Senate perch to push for greater voting access.

All those issues are of deep concern to the Black activists whose skepticism of Harris helped doom her own presidential campaign but who were gaining influence in the Democratic Party amid a season of racial reckoning. Harris turned to some of those activists, meeting with them repeatedly as she crafted the Senate provisions. And by the time Biden was in the final throes of his arduous selection process, many of the same critics who had looked with suspicion at Harris’s past work as a prosecutor were suddenly pulling for her as a fellow Black woman.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: In Republican Alaska, GOP incumbents face strongest challenges in decades amid the coronavirus pandemic, Paul Kane, Aug. 16, 2020 (print ed.). Five months ago, Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) appeared before more than 50 seniors in a town north of Anchorage and dismissed the surging coronavirus pandemic as “the beer virus” that was built mostly on “hysteria” by the media.

don youngA chastened Young, right, taped a message soon after from Washington doing the almost unthinkable — apologizing, sort of — for a lawmaker whose gruff demeanor has fit nicely with the Last Frontier. “Weeks ago I did not fully grasp the severity of this crisis,” he said, urging Alaskans to follow all federal guidelines to stop the coronavirus’s spread. “This pandemic is dangerous and is threatening, especially threatening, to our senior citizens, which I am one.”

Young, 87, isn’t just any senior citizen. First elected in 1973, he is the dean of the House, the longest-serving member of Congress. He’s been nearly untouchable ever since, outlasting an FBI probe, an ethics investigation and several anti-Republican waves, including his 2018 win by nearly 7 percentage points over education activist Alyse Galvin.

republican elephant logoBut 2020 is different, and Galvin, running as an independent with the blessing of Democrats in Washington, is back for a rematch and is raising far more money than Alaska’s longest-serving politician.

Galvin has company in Al Gross, a doctor who is also running as an independent with the blessing of Democrats, in his battle to unseat Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska).

Gross, whose father was state attorney general, has steadily outraised the incumbent this year, particularly after he released his first ad last month. It was a biographical piece that included very Alaskan behavior like killing a grizzly bear “in self-defense after it snuck up on him.”

He brought in nearly $600,000 in July, almost double Sullivan’s haul

A confluence of events has created a moment for a Georgia pastor to take a Senate seat away from warring Republicans

Together, Galvin and Gross are putting up the toughest fights that incumbent Alaska Republicans have seen since 2008, the last time a Democrat won one of the state’s three seats in Congress, as Young won by just 5 percentage points.

The Republican incumbents remain favorites — Alaskans have voted out just two congressional incumbents in the last 40 years — but Tuesday’s primary will help measure just how rough the head winds are that Republicans are running into this fall.

To independent analysts, these races will indicate whether it is a 2008-like environment — in which Republicans could lose in exurban and rural states they usually win comfortably — or if it is an echo of 2018, when Democrats stormed through the suburbs to win the House majority but also saw conservative-leaning states break to Republicans in Senate battlegrounds.

GOP strategists working on congressional races privately acknowledge that President Trump’s spring and summer slump served as a major drag on their candidates, but they believe, at a minimum, the environment this fall will return to its 2018 setting.

Galvin and Gross are ready to test that fight, believing that America’s 50th state has maintained a more independent lean than its political veneer from presidential contests.

Each candidate expects to win the Democratic nomination on Tuesday, through a quirk in the law that allows independents to win one of the party’s nominations. Assuming they both win, they will appear on the November ballot with a label “nonpartisan” but also a notation that they are the Democratic endorsee.

bill palmerPalmer Report, Opinion: Here’s thing about this John Boehner – Jeff Flake – Joe Biden storyline, Bill Palmer, right, Aug. 17, 2020. On Sunday night John Kasich announced that a “prominent” Republican member of Congress was set to endorse Joe Biden on Monday. This set off all kinds of speculation across social media about who it might be. Kasich then clarified that it was a former member of Congress, setting off a second round of speculation.

bill palmer report logo headerTo be clear, no one has any idea who the person is. But so many observers on Twitter guessed that it might be John Boehner or Jeff Flake, their names both started trending on Sunday night. This in turn set off a widespread debate about whether we even want the likes of Kasich, Boehner, and Flake endorsing Biden. After all, they all suck.

I’ll make it easy for you: of course we want their endorsement. Yes, they suck – but that’s not relevant. They can get us some moderate votes. Maybe a lot, maybe just a few, we have no way of knowing. But there’s no scenario where this somehow costs us votes. So of course we want it. This is too important of an election to be puritans about it. This is about winning.

It’s not as if Joe Biden is caving to the likes of Boehner or Kasich on policy by accepting their endorsements. In reality, any Republicans who endorse Biden will be the ones caving on policy, because they’ll be choosing to accept the Democratic Party’s political positions just to get Donald Trump out of office. So if you’re thinking about pitching a fit because you don’t like the Republicans who are getting behind Biden, please find something more constructive to be outraged about. Again, this is about winning.

OpEdNews, Star-Studded Panel at Netroots Nation Conference Analyzes Woman Power vis-a-vis E2020, Marta Steele, Aug. 16, 2020. This panel, moderated by Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, executive director/CEO of MomsRising.org, included other key leaders of women's movements in this country: Alicia Garza, founder of the international Black Lives Matter movement; Ai-Jen Poo, director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance; Maria Teresa Kumar, President and CEO of Voto Latino; and Cecile Richards, former president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America from 2006 to 2018 and presently a trustee of the Ford Foundation board.

The subject of Kamala Harris's nomination as Joe Biden's VP candidate electrified all five along with, they said, the communities of color. They also expressed elation about Corey Bush's upset victory to become US representative of Missouri's first congressional district.

Women and communities of color are experiencing unprecedented wins across the country up and down the ballot, said Garza. Ai-Jen Poo raved about the greatly expanded possibilities when women and particularly women of color take charge of things.

There is no Plan B, said Kumar. Harris can fix Barr's mess; the covid19 pandemic exposed all the systemic injustices in this country.

Richards praised Biden for breaking stereotypes with his choice of Harris. This week gave us the energy to persevere through to November 3. She pointed out that Trump and Ryan's pledge to abolish Planned Parenthood never reached fruition. A record number of black women are running for office and "will carry us over the line," she said. In 2018, Texas elected two Latinas to Congress for the first time.

Inside DC

washington post logo Washington Post, Senate panel told Justice Dept. of suspicions over Trump family members’ Russia testimony, Karoun Demirjian, Ellen Nakashima and Matt Zapotosky, Aug. 16, 2020 (print ed.). A referral from the Senate Intelligence Committee raised questions about the sworn testimony of Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, Steve Bannon, Erik Prince and others.

donald trump jrThe Republican and Democratic chairmen of the Senate Intelligence Committee notified federal prosecutors last year of their suspicion that several individuals, including President Trump’s family members and confidants, might have presented misleading testimony in the panel’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election, people familiar with the matter said.

The list of individuals included the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., right, and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, below left, whose accounts of their pre-election meeting with a Russian lawyer were contradicted by the president’s former deputy campaign chairman Rick Gates in interviews that were part of the criminal investigation led by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, these Jared Kushnerpeople said. Like others, they spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss what remains a highly politicized and sensitive matter.

But the intelligence committee, one person said, reserved its harshest allegations for the president’s former chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon, former campaign co-chair Sam Clovis and private security contractor Erik Prince, saying it had reason to believe all three had lied to congressional investigators — a potential felony.

The committee’s concerns were detailed in a formal letter sent to the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington, D.C., in June 2019, people familiar with the matter said. Existence of the letter was first reported by the Los Angeles Times late Friday night.

World News

ny times logoNew York Times, Coronavirus Crisis Has Made Brazil an Ideal Vaccine Laboratory, Manuela Andreoni and Ernesto Londoño, Aug. 16, 2020 (print ed.). The chaotic response to the coronavirus in Brazil, where it has killed more than 105,000 people, made the country’s experience a cautionary tale that many around the world have watched with alarm.

brazil flag wavingBut as the country’s caseload soared, vaccine researchers saw a unique opportunity.

With sustained widespread contagion, a deep bench of immunization experts, a robust medical manufacturing infrastructure and thousands of vaccine trial volunteers, Brazil has emerged as a potentially vital player in the global scramble to end the pandemic.

Three of the most promising and advanced vaccine studies in the world are relying on scientists and volunteers in Brazil, according to the World Health Organization’s report on the progress of vaccine research.

washington post logocanadian flagWashington Post, As overdoses surge in Canada, officials seek to decriminalize illicit drugs, Amanda Coletta, Aug. 16, 2020. Overdoses have killed nearly four times as many people in British Columbia this year as covid-19. Advocates want the same sense of urgency.

Trump v. Intelligence Agencies?

ny times logoNew York Times, Unwanted Truths: Inside Trump’s Battles With U.S. Intelligence Agencies, Robert Draper, Aug. 16, 2020 (print ed.). Last year, intelligence officials gathered to write a classified report on Russia’s interest in the 2020 election. Our investigation uncovered what happened next.

In early July of last year, the first draft of a classified document known as a National Intelligence Estimate circulated among key members of the agencies making up the U.S. intelligence community. N.I.E.s are intended to be that community’s most authoritative class of top-secret document, reflecting its consensus judgment on national-security matters ranging from Iran’s nuclear capabilities to global terrorism. The draft of the July 2019 N.I.E. ran to about 15 pages, with another 10 pages of appendices and source notes.

CIA LogoAccording to multiple officials who saw it, the document discussed Russia’s ongoing efforts to influence U.S. elections: the 2020 presidential contest and 2024’s as well. It was compiled by a working group consisting of about a dozen senior analysts, led by Christopher Bort, a veteran national intelligence officer with nearly four decades of experience, principally focused on Russia and Eurasia.

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 Bort explained to his colleagues, according to notes taken by one participant in the process, that 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 reliable.”

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 him.” According to this former adviser, both John Bolton and Mick Mulvaney, who were Trump’s national security adviser and acting chief of staff in 2019, went to considerable lengths to keep the subject of Russian election interference off the president’s agenda.

U.S. Law, Courts, Crime

ny times logoNew York Times, California’s Ban on High-Capacity Magazines Violates the Second Amendment, Court Rules, Michael Levenson, Aug. 16, 2020 (print ed.). Supporters of tougher gun laws called the ruling a dangerous infringement on the ability of states to protect their residents from mass shootings.

California’s ban on high-capacity magazines violates the right to bear arms under the Second Amendment, a federal appeals court ruled on Friday.

In a split decision, a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit gave several reasons for rejecting the state’s ban. Among them, the court said that high-capacity magazines are “protected arms” under the Second Amendment and that they are often used for legal purposes and are not considered “unusual arms” that would fall outside the scope of constitutional protection.

Judge Kenneth K. Lee, who wrote the majority opinion, noted that California enacted the ban on large-capacity magazines, or LCMs, that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition after “heart-wrenching and highly publicized mass shootings.”

“But even well-intentioned laws must pass constitutional muster,” he wrote. “California’s near-categorical ban of LCMs strikes at the core of the Second Amendment — the right to armed self defense.”

ny times logoNew York Times, 3 Mississippi Police Officers Charged With Murder of Black Man, Michael Levenson and Marie Fazio, Aug. 16, 2020 (print ed.). A grand jury indictment accused the officers of pulling George Robinson, 62, from his car in Jackson, Miss., last year, slamming him headfirst into the pavement, and striking and kicking him in the head and the chest.

Three Mississippi police officers have been charged with killing a Black man by body-slamming him to the ground and then beating him last year, the authorities said on Friday.

The three officers — Desmond Barney, Lincoln Lampley and Anthony Fox — were indicted this month on charges of second-degree murder in the death of George Robinson, 62, of Jackson, Miss.

The officers, who were all members of the Jackson Police Department at the time, caused Mr. Robinson’s death by pulling him from his car, throwing him headfirst onto the roadway pavement, and then striking and kicking him multiple times in the head and the chest, according to the indictment, issued by a grand jury in Hinds County, Miss. The indictment said the officers’ actions evinced a “depraved heart, regardless of human life.”

Jody E. Owens II, the district attorney in Hinds County, said the officers saw Mr. Robinson sitting in his car on Jan. 13, 2019, when they were canvassing a predominantly Black neighborhood in Jackson after a pastor, Anthony Longino, was fatally shot in a botched robbery outside his church hours earlier.

The officers, who are also Black, approached Mr. Robinson because they believed they had seen him dealing drugs with another person, although that person was never detained, Mr. Owens said.

When the officers ordered Mr. Robinson to get out of his car, he was slow to comply, perhaps because he had survived a stroke, Mr. Owens said. According to witness accounts, Mr. Owens said, officers then proceeded to assault Mr. Robinson.

Palmer Report, Opinion: The battle over Donald Trump’s DNA is only only of his problems this week, Robert Harrington (shown on his Twitter portrait robert harrington twitterbelow right), Aug. 16, 2020 (print ed.). A man who claims he’s innocent of rape has a chance to score a huge victory to prove his innocence in a court of law. All he needs for exoneration is to provide the court with a sample of his own DNA. His lawyers are fighting tooth and nail to delay his giving said DNA sample — at least until after November. The man, of course, is Donald Trump.

A man who promised to stop taking children from their parents and throwing them in cages is still, two years later, taking children from their parents and throwing them in cages. Now there’s a new twist. Those children are also confined in crowded conditions during a deadly pandemic. The man, of course, is Donald Trump.

bill palmer report logo headerA man who dismissed the notion that Vladimir Putin is paying Taliban terrorists to murder American soldiers in Afghanistan as a hoax had, as it turns out, been given credible intelligence proving it’s true. But the man is too busy to think about it right now because he’s dealing night and day with a problem that hasn’t happened yet and almost certainly never will: nationwide election fraud. The man insists the potential nationwide election fraud stems from the fact that there’s an important difference between absentee ballots and mail-in voting. There isn’t. That man, of course, is Donald Trump.

So when that man went to visit his critically ill brother Robert in the hospital on Friday, and he said, “I hope he’s okay, he has a tough time. He’s having a tough time.” Then he added, “I have a wonderful brother. We’ve had a great relationship for a long time. From day one. Long time. And he’s in the hospital right now. Hopefully, he’ll be all right, but he’s having a hard time,” do we have any reason at all to believe his sincerity? Again, that man, of course, is Donald Trump.

The foregoing narrative about how Donald Trump had a “great relationship for a long time. From day one,” was contradicted by Mary L. Trump’s new book, Too Much and Never Enough. In it she said that from the time they were small Donald cruelly tormented his younger brother Robert every chance he got. He did it mercilessly and without any regard for their mother’s attempts to intervene. Indeed, as a child Donald Trump’s contempt for his mother and her authority was so complete that there was no effective difference between how he misbehaved when she wasn’t around and how he misbehaved when she was. In any event, Robert Trump died Saturday night.

From these ignominious roots grew the monster who rapes women, betrays his nation’s soldiers to a murderous dictator, cages children, invents falsehood to subvert the democratic process and has told over 20,000 lies. Meanwhile, since I last wrote to you, another thousand Americans have died from a pandemic he has virtually ignored.

U.S. Media / Politics

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Campaign Makes Huge Digital Ad Buy During Democratic Convention, Nick Corasaniti and Maggie Haberman, Aug. 16, 2020 (print ed.). The Trump campaign is trying to make sure that Mr. Trump’s message will be almost impossible to miss even during the Democrats’ biggest week.

The Trump campaign is launching an aggressive four-day digital advertising campaign that will take over some of the internet’s most conspicuous real estate during the three marquee days of the Democratic National Convention, which most viewers will watch online.

Adhering to the president’s penchant for focusing attention on himself during major Democratic events, the Trump campaign will be taking over the banner of YouTube for 96 hours starting on Tuesday, the second day of the convention, an expensive and far-reaching digital gambit.

Salon, Analysis: What is QAnon? A not-so-brief introduction to the conspiracy theory that's eating America, Robert Guffey, Aug. 16, 2020. (This is the first article in a series.)_ Do millions of Americans really believe Donald Trump is saving children from underground demons? It seems that way.

I've been involved in the wild world of conspiracy theories for 24 years now, ever since I published my first article in the pages of Paranoia Magazine in the spring of 1996 when I was 24 years old. What most impressed me about Paranoia was the anarchy of information available within its pages. It wasn't a right-wing conspiracy magazine. It wasn't a left-wing conspiracy magazine. It didn't even exist between these two poles. Its editorial mission (or non-mission) was beholden to values (or non-values) that lay far beyond these limiting parameters, a dedication to cataloging and analyzing the extremes of fringe beliefs from multiple points of view. As Marshall McLuhan once said, "A point of view can be a dangerous luxury when substituted for insight and understanding." The editors of Paranoia dedicated themselves to not having a point of view. It was the exact opposite of propaganda. By its very nature, propaganda excludes any information that contradicts or undermines the message the dedicated propagandist is intent on disseminating.

Conspiracy theories have always been used by what we now call "persuasion engineers" as tools of mass indoctrination. A good conspiracy theory that seems plausible and frightening enough can be worth more than a thousand well-reasoned stump speeches.
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In my first book, "Cryptoscatology: Conspiracy Theory as Art Form," I broke conspiracy theories down into five distinct categories: 1) Insanity, 2) Disinformation, 3) Misinformation, 4) Satire, and 5) Legitimate Research. Some theories manage to merge two or more categories into one. Only on very rare occasions do such theories manage to combine all five categories. The most recent — and arguably most impactful — strain of this hybrid form of conspiracy-mongering first emerged in 2017, promulgated by an anonymous 4chan poster known only as "Q" — or "QAnon." You've been hearing a lot about this lately, most likely. At least one QAnon supporter is almost certain to be elected to Congress in November, and devotees of this particular conspiracy theory are eagerly supporting the re-election of Donald Trump.

The average person, who has not spent the past couple of decades studying the origins of conspiracy theories (a reasonable choice, I might add), would probably not recognize the origins of most of the quasi-surreal elements that make up the convoluted QAnon narrative.

Earlier this year, in March, I was talking to a friend about COVID-19 and the national lockdown. He's 10 years older than me and lives in a small town in the Midwest. I live in Long Beach, California. While chatting with him on the phone about all the unexpected difficulties that have arisen from teaching my English classes online, he suddenly volunteered the opinion that COVID-19 would be a positive development in 2020.

As of May 28, only 10 days after being posted, this video had already received 33,105 views and only 34 dislikes. I've seen YouTube videos of random kids opening birthday presents get more dislikes than that. The Blessed to Teach YouTube channel has 92,600 subscribers.

If it's not clear to you yet, let me spell this out: Even as you're reading these words, there are thousands of "Christian Patriots" living in the United States who sincerely believe that Donald Trump saved them from being eaten by demons when he entered the White House. This is not hyperbole. This is a literal interpretation of what they believe.

This is the mentality you're dealing with. No amount of logic, common sense or reason can combat such convoluted delusions. These people are clearly the product of incessant brainwashing, and yet they think everyone else in the country is mind-controlled to such an extreme degree that people who do not support Trump are either A) soulless demon-worshippers or B) poor unfortunates incapable of understanding the obvious truths being unveiled by geniuses like "Rick B2T" and his pal "Gene." On Nov. 18, 1978, hundreds of "True Believers" in Guyana held similar beliefs, only seconds before they literally drank the Kool-Aid.

You might assume that most of Rick's viewers are hardcore evangelicals dwelling in a deep pit in the Ozarks. But my friend wasn't raised a hardcore Christian and had never expressed such views in my presence over the course of many, many years. Something happened to change him radically between the emergence of QAnon in 2017 and the advent of the national lockdown in 2020. Even a regular Joe can be swayed by nonsense with a fair amount of ease.

Nonsense has always been an essential part of the American landscape, from Salem witch hunts in the 1690s to New Age UFO cults in the 1990s, but QAnon takes this tradition of nonsense to a whole new level.

Robert Guffey is a lecturer in the Department of English at California State University, Long Beach. His books include the novel "Until the Last Dog Dies" and "Chameleo: A Strange but True Story of Invisible Spies, Heroin Addiction, and Homeland Security." Visit his website.

Heavy.com, Millie Weaver: Filmmaker Arrested Hours Before ‘Shadow Gate,’ Erin Laviola, Aug. 16, 2020. Millie Weaver is a conservative filmmaker who was arrested at her home in northeastern Ohio hours before she was scheduled to debut her new documentary called Shadow Gate on YouTube.

Weaver, shown at right and below at left, claimed she had uncovered a plot, orchestrated by both major political parties, against President Donald Trump and that the documentary would explain how it all worked.

The timing of her arrest flamed conspiracy theories online, with critics wondering whether the arrest was related to the Shadow Gate documentary. Heavy confirmed with the Portage County Jail that Weaver, along with her significant other, Gavin Wince, were both arrested on August 14 on felony charges including robbery and domestic violence. There is no evidence to suggest her arrest was related to the documentary.

The Portage County Sheriff further confirmed via email that Weaver was arrested on an indictment from the Portage County Grand Jury. Heavy has reached out to the county prosecutor’s office to ask about obtaining a copy of the affidavit.

Here’s what you need to know:

Millicent Weaver and Gavin Wince were both arrested by the Portage County Sheriff’s Office on August 14. Inmate records show they were booked into the Portage County Jail around 1:50 a.m.

Heavy confirmed with the Portage County Jail, over the phone, that Weaver and her partner are both facing four charges: Robbery; Tampering with evidence; Obstructing justice; Domestic violence.

The Portage County Jail official Heavy spoke with referred to Weaver’s partner as her husband. The Cleveland Plain Dealer, in a separate report, described Wince as Weaver’s boyfriend. Heavy has not independently verified whether the couple is married.

millie weaver maga hatWeaver was being held over the weekend without a bond. She was expected to face a judge on Monday, August 17, although it was not clear whether she would physically appear in court or remotely. Weaver is the mother of two children. The official at the Portage County Jail did not have information about who was caring for the two children while their parents were behind bars.</