Daily Blog for July 2020

Stories on and under the headlines for July 31

Trump’s plan to jiggle to Covid stats should be terminal for his 2020 Election chances
  • Why Trump cannot delay the election – plus the truth about mail-in voting
  • COVID-19 Hospital Data System That Bypasses CDC Plagued By Delays, Inaccuracies

127 thoughts on “Daily Blog for July 2020

    1. I’m foregoing restaurants until someone creates the Get Smart franchise where every table is equipped with its own “Cone of Silence.”

          1. I dunno, I think we could roll that idea around too and maybe find the perfect solution somewhere in the middle, because as we all know, the best solutions always come from the middle. That’s what all the wise pundits say. 🤮

  1. Fox News Touting QAnon Is All You Need to Know About the So-Called ‘News’ Network

    QAnon has “uncovered a lot of great stuff,” Jesse Watters falsely claimed

    Fox News’ Jesse Watters and Eric Trump. FoxNews/Screencap

    Fox News’ Jesse Watters made a decision to disregard the well-being of his audience on Saturday night in order to whine about unsubstantiated grievances of media “censorship” and election interference against those on the right.

    Watters commiserated with his guest, the president’s son Eric Trump, over the non-issues by praising the harmful conspiracy group QAnon. Both the host and Eric framed Twitter’s recent ban of the fringe movement as a way to explain the falsity that there is a liberal media that is in cahoots with big tech with the aim of silencing Trump and his allies.

    Watters began by asking Eric if the banning of “Q” was an attempt to interfere in the coming presidential election while heaping praise on the group.

    “Q can do some crazy stuff with the pizza stuff and the Wayfair stuff, but they’ve also uncovered a lot of great stuff when it comes to [Jeffrey] Epstein and when it comes to the Deep State. I never saw Q as dangerous as ANTIFA. But ANTIFA gets to run wild on the Internet. What do you think? What’s going on there?” Watters asked.

    Amazingly, Watters breezed by the Pizzagate theory as if it had no real-world ramifications. It’s a dangerous false theory that claims prominent Democrats were running a pedophile ring out of a D.C. pizza shop and led to a believer entering the business armed with an AR-15 back in 2017.

    Read more

  2. Trump aims barb at Reagan Foundation in fundraising coin kerfuffle

    * Campaign and Republican party told to stop selling ‘iconic’ coins
    * President ties predecessor to Washington Post, a familiar target

    A screenshot from a Trump fundraising email sent on 19 July. Photograph: Trump Make America Great Again Committee

    Donald Trump famously fell out with the Bush family and has regularly claimed to be the greatest Republican president since the first, Abraham Lincoln. He has largely avoided attacking another claimant to that title, Ronald Reagan. Until now.
    Biden holds daunting lead over Trump as US election enters final stretch
    Read more

    On Sunday, after the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation asked Trump and the Republican party to stop fundraising off the 40th president’s name, the 45th fired a characteristic volley in return.

    “So the Washington Post is running the Reagan Foundation,” Trump tweeted on Sunday afternoon, linking Reagan to a mortal media enemy, shortly after sallying out of his New Jersey golf club to throw red campaign hats to a group of supporters.

    In doing so, the president retweeted Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, who noted that “Frederick J Ryan Jr, who chairs the Reagan foundation board, is also publisher and chief executive of the Washington Post”.

    Sabato added: “Hmmm…”

    The source of the strife was a Post column published on Saturday. It said the Reagan foundation “has demanded that Donald Trump and the Republican National Committee (RNC) quit raising campaign money by using Ronald Reagan’s name and likeness.”

    The complaint concerned an email sent on 19 July. From “Donald J Trump” and titled “Ronald Reagan and yours truly”, it offered for donations of $45 or more a “limited edition” set of two “iconic” gold-coloured coins, one showing Reagan, one Trump.

    “The coins,” the Post reported, “were mounted with a 1987 photograph of Reagan and Trump shaking hands in a White House receiving line – the type of fleeting contact that presidents have with thousands of people a year.”

    The email was sent to a list that included reporters but it also said: “This offer is NOT available to the general public, so please, do NOT share this email with anyone.”

    The RNC had agreed to stop, the Post said, though it noted that on Saturday the coins remained available. The Post also noted its connection to Ryan Jr, who it said declined to comment.

    Reagan, who made Jimmy Carter a one-term president, is a modern Republican hero. Trump, staring at being a one-term president himself, less so.

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  3. Biden’s path to the White House could hit a dead end on Facebook

    Mark Zuckerberg’s autocratic nature and fear of anti-trust legislation might see him plump for Trump in the race for president

    President Trump welcomes Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to the Oval Office last September. Photograph: Alamy

    Way back in June, I wrote a column under the headline: “One man stands between Joe Biden and the US presidency – Mark Zuckerberg”. Trump, flailing against the pandemic at the time, was trailing Biden in the polls, just as at the same point in 2016 he had been trailing Hillary Clinton. And yet we know what happened that November: Trump’s team made inspired use of Facebook’s targeting engine to suppress Democratic turnout in key states – and it worked. What is perhaps less well known is that Facebook offered to “embed” employees for free in the campaign offices of both candidates to help them use the platform effectively. Clinton’s campaign refused the offer. Trump’s crowd accepted, and Facebook employees helped his campaign craft the messages that may have clinched the election.

    So here we are in 2020, 100 days from the presidential election. Trump is still trailing Biden. But his base support has remained solid. So the point I made in June still stands: if he is to win a second term, Facebook will be his only hope – which is why his campaign is betting the ranch on it. And if Facebook were suddenly to decide that it would not allow its platform to be used by either campaign in the period from now until 3 November, Trump would be a one-term president, free to spend even more time with his golf buggy – and perhaps his lawyers.

    For Facebook read Zuckerberg, for Facebook is not just a corporate extension of its founder’s personality, but his personal plaything. I can’t think of any other tech founder who has retained such an iron grip on his creation through his ownership of a special class of shares, which give him total control. The passage in the company’s SEC filing detailing this makes for surreal reading. It says that Zuckerberg “has the ability to control the outcome of matters submitted to our stockholders for approval, including the election of directors and any merger, consolidation, or sale of all or substantially all of our assets. This concentrated control could delay, defer, or prevent a change of control, merger, consolidation, or sale of all or substantially all of our assets that our other stockholders support, or conversely this concentrated control could result in the consummation of such a transaction that our other stockholders do not support.”

    Such a concentration of power in the hands of a single individual would be a concern in any enterprise, but in a global company that effectively controls and mediates much of the world’s public sphere it is distinctly creepy.

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  4. Rich Republican Nihilists Don’t Care If You Can’t Pay Rent

    Millionaires in Congress have long since lost touch with most constituents’ concerns.

    Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

    While the op-ed pages of The New York Times and Wall Street Journal, and apparently at least one dinner party at a million-dollar Brooklyn brownstone, are increasingly obsessed with the sharpening ideological divides among the public, people in the United States seem to agree often enough. According to a recent Pew Research study, while Democrats are still likelier than Republicans to say they regularly wear masks while they’re out, an estimated 80 percent of Americans say they always or sometimes wear masks at stores and other public places.

    Likewise, the reopening of public schools in the fall has become a flashpoint of grievance for Trump, Betsy DeVos, and several Republican governors, who have called for schools to resume—a ghoulish rejection of public health recommendations that has prompted some teachers to draft wills. Yet a Reuters poll released last week found that three out of four parents said they thought it was unsafe for schools to reopen, and nearly half resolved to keep their kids at home if schools resumed in-person classes in the fall. “I’ve had a migraine every day for the past month, just with the stress and fear of all of this,” Tameka Dumas, the mother of a high schooler in Mississippi, told Reuters.

    In light of what seems to be a fairly widespread public consensus on best practices for weathering the coronavirus, the far more troubling divide, perhaps, is the one that exists between Americans and their representatives. Congress, which reconvened at the start of this week, wasted no time in passing a massive defense spending bill to the tune of $740 billion but continues to quarrel over a new stimulus package. While Democrats have advocated for an extension of the unemployment supplement, increased assistance to renters, and fiscal aid to cash-strapped state and local governments, their Republican colleagues have vowed to oppose all of it.

    This, despite the fact that by several measures we’re in worse shape now than we were when the first stimulus was passed in March, and a growing number of economists, advocates, and commentators have warned that further inaction will guarantee wide-scale suffering. At the same time, Republicans incredibly continue to raise the alarm over the national deficit, with senators like Ted Cruz and Rand Paul vehemently objecting to more spending. “There is significant remorse over letting deficits rise by $9 trillion during the previous economic expansion,” a Manhattan Institute spokesperson who consults for GOP Congress members told The Washington Post.

    But the deficit, as it happens, is one classic example of how wildly the priorities of Congress diverge from those of their constituents. To put it bluntly, almost no one in America cares about the deficit save for a small minority of upper-class voters who hold undue sway over the policymaking process.

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  5. Sinclair delays interview containing Fauci Covid-19 conspiracy theory

    * ‘Plandemic’ researcher claims expert created the coronavirus
    * Company says it is ‘incredibly aware’ of pandemic dangers

    Dr Anthony Fauci in Washington DC, on 30 June. Photograph: Getty Images

    Sinclair Television said on Saturday it would delay airing an interview with a conspiracy theorist who claims baselessly that Dr Anthony Fauci, the country’s top infectious disease expert, created the coronavirus behind the current pandemic.

    A disgraced scientist and a viral video: how a Covid conspiracy theory started
    Read more

    Dr Judy Mikovits, a former research scientist, is behind the widely discredited Plandemic video, which makes a string of false and outlandish claims including that any coronavirus vaccine will kill millions and that beaches should not be closed because the sand and ocean will somehow treat Covid-19.

    Fauci is the 79-year-old director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. He has served six presidents, but Donald Trump has sought to keep him off television, called him “alarmist” and frequently undermined his work.

    The US is in the grip of a worsening coronavirus outbreak in which more than 4.1m cases have been recorded and more than 145,000 people have died.

    Mikovits’ lawyer, Larry Klayman, was also interviewed on Sinclair’s America This Week with the former Fox News host Eric Bolling. Footage was posted online.

    According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors far-right groups in the US, Klayman, the founder of the Judicial Watch, is “a pathologically litigious attorney and professional gadfly notorious for suing everyone from Iran’s supreme leader to his own mother”.

    On Bolling’s show, Klayman and Mikovits said they planned to sue Fauci because, Mikovits claimed, in the last decade the doctor “manufactured” and shipped coronaviruses to Wuhan, China, the origin of the pandemic.

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  6. Leaf-blower wars: How Portland protesters are fighting back against tear gas and forming ‘walls’ of veterans, lawyers, nurses

    A Black Lives Matter protester runs through a cloud of chemical irritant near the federal courthouse on Tuesday in Portland, Ore. At right is one of several members of “PDX Dad Pod” who brought leaf blowers to blow back tear gas fired by police. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

    PORTLAND, Ore. — The tear gas started early Friday night, interrupting a line of drums and dancing, chanting protesters, an artist painting in oils underneath a tree in the park and a man with a microphone speaking about the issues of racial justice and policing at the center of these nightly demonstrations.

    “Hey guys, don’t panic, don’t panic,” the man said from the steps of the Multnomah County Justice Center, one block over from the federal courthouse in downtown Portland. “All you first-timers out here, it’s just tear gas. Everybody just relax.”

    As if on cue, a brigade of orange-shirted men with leaf blowers descended on the cloud, revved their engines and blew the tear gas away. The crowd cheered.

    “Thank you leaf-blower dads!” shouted a young woman.

    Every night for more than a week, federal agents have been unleashing a barrage of tear gas on crowds of demonstrators, a small number of whom have lobbed fireworks at the federal courthouse, set fires and tried to tear down a tall, reinforced metal fence surrounding the building. The noxious fog burns and stings. Some people who get hit with the dense plumes of chemicals that cloud Portland’s streets each night feel like they can’t breathe, like their eyes are on fire, like they might vomit onto the asphalt.

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  7. Made-for-TV fascism: how Trump’s ‘crime explosion’ ploy could backfire

    Trump is facing a big election with an even bigger need for a political masterstroke – enter a surge of federal agents to fight supposed violence

    Federal agents fire teargas at protesters near the federal courthouse in Portland, Oregon, on 23 July. Photograph: Mike Logdson/RMV/Rex/Shutterstock

    With an election looming and the polls looking bad, Donald Trump was in need of a quick political boost.

    Seizing on television images of a procession of refugees out of Honduras, the president announced an imminent “invasion” of the United States by a “migrant caravan” and said he would deploy 15,000 military personnel to stop it. For weeks, Fox News blared “coverage” of the emergency.

    That was in October 2018, and as a political strategy ahead of the midterm elections, the gambit utterly failed.

    The Democrats flipped 40 seats in the House of Representatives the next month and racked up the largest popular vote margin in midterm elections history, on the highest turnout in 100 years. The “caravan” emergency was heard of no more.

    Now two years later, Trump is facing an even bigger election, with an even bigger need for a political masterstroke if he is to win a second term in November.

    Instead of deploying troops to the border to confront a made-up threat, Trump has announced “a surge of federal law enforcement into American communities” to fight a supposed cataclysm of violence born of a Democratic plot to undermine local police.

    “To look at it from any standpoint, the effort to shut down policing in their own communities has led to a shocking explosion of shootings, killings, murders and heinous crimes of violence,” Trump said at the White House on Wednesday. “This bloodshed must end. This bloodshed will end.”

    The deployment against anti-racism protesters is a ploy to burnish his strongman credentials, critics say – Trump is pursuing made-for-TV fascism, with the imposition of federal forces into US cities against the will of local authorities. As with 2018, the unmistakeable bogeyman is people of color, whom Trump portrays, with the help of conservative media, as again posing an existential threat to the country that only he can defend against.

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  8. Stop fretting about Trump and do something about it. Right now.

    Dave Turnier processes mail-in ballots in West Chester, Pa., on May 28. (Matt Rourke/AP)

    Do this now.

    Take a pause from President Trump’s latest outrage (sending federal police to foment violence in U.S. cities in hopes that it will help his flagging campaign) or inanity (“Person. Woman. Man. Camera. TV.”) — and do the only thing guaranteed to end the nightmare.

    Go to Vote.org, or, if you are reading this in the dead-tree edition, type vote.org/am-i-registered-to-vote into your browser, spend 30 seconds entering your name, address and date of birth, and you’ll find out instantly if your voter registration is current. If not, follow the instructions to register.

    Next, click this link or type vote.org/absentee-ballot into your browser, and sign yourself up to receive an absentee ballot for the November election. That takes about two minutes.

    Finally, make sure your friends and family do the same. If they’re technology-challenged, help them through it or give them the phone numbers for their states’ elections offices, available here at the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, eac.gov/voters/election-day-contact-information.

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  9. Trump’s free-speech legal folly has merely emboldened his critics

    The president remains as keen to sue as ever – but his attempts to intimidate his targets have proved a spectacular flop

    Trump can’t silence Michael Cohen by throwing him back in prison

    Donald Trump always had a problem with free speech. Back in the day, he sued reporter Tim O’Brien and the New York Times for allegedly underestimating his wealth. Trump claimed that he was worth billions, but O’Brien pegged the number at no more than $250m, not shoddy but also not jaw-dropping. In the end, New Jersey’s courts tossed Trump’s libel claim, but only after the tabloid star acknowledged that his personal balance sheet was influenced by his own guesstimates.

    Time passes and some things don’t change. Trump remains censorious as ever while the courts continue to deny him the relief he ultimately seeks – free media that fawns and flatters but does not actually hold him to account.

    On Thursday, a federal judge sitting in Manhattan delivered yet another reminder that the Bill of Rights secures free speech. This time, the court also made clear that the federal prison system was not created to silence Trump’s adversaries. In other words, two divorces and three wives do not make him Henry VIII.

    The court also made clear that the federal prison system was not created to silence Trump’s adversaries

    Judge Alvin Hellerstein ordered Michael Cohen released from federal prison after finding that the administration had sought to illegally muzzle Trump’s one-time consigliere. Cohen had been furloughed to home confinement on account of Covid-19, but was then sent back to jail after refusing to shut up about his about his former boss in an upcoming book.

    Hellerstein, an 86-year-old Clinton appointee, remarked that this was the first time he had seen this kind of power play by the government in more than 20 years on the bench. He described the administration’s stance this way: “You toe the line about giving up your first amendment rights or we’ll send you to jail.” Hellerstein also found the government’s conduct to be impermissibly retaliatory.

    From the sound of things, the 45th president has more in common with Tony Soprano than with his immediate predecessors. But by now, that is not exactly news.

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  10. That’s an illegal order’: veterans challenge Trump’s officers in Portland

    Two veterans asked federal agents if they understood their oath to defend the constitution as teargas was fired

    Federal agents shoot teargas and pepper balls at protesters near the federal courthouse in Portland, Oregon, on 23 July. Photograph: Mike Logdson/RMV/REX/Shutterstock

    The Black Lives Matter protest in Portland looked to be winding down last Saturday night when US marine corps veteran Duston Obermeyer noticed a phalanx of federal officers emerge from the federal courthouse.

    They shot teargas at the crowd and pushed a protester to the ground with such force that, Obermeyer said, she slid 6ft across the pavement.

    The 42-year-old had driven about 40 minutes from his home in the Molalla area for his first protest after hearing the many recent reports of federal personnel in tactical gear emerging from unmarked cars with automatic weapons to pick up protesters. His plan was to observe first-hand what was happening.

    But in that moment, he said, he realized he couldn’t stand by and simply watch.

    In a Pokémon hat and Superman T-shirt, and with a cotton mask protecting his face, the 6ft 4in, 275lb man walked up to the officers and asked whether they understood their oath to defend the constitution.

    “They are not supposed to be coming and attacking protesters,” Obermeyer told the Guardian. “They didn’t even give any warning, there was no ‘hey you need to move’, ‘hey back up’. There was basically them walking out and assaulting a protester just to prove that they could.”

    Just a few feet away, Obermeyer was aware of another man, US navy veteran Chris David, asking virtually the same question.

    Despite both being graduates of the naval academy, David is 11 years older and thus the pair had never met. But after more than 50 consecutive days of anti-racism and anti-police brutality protests in Portland, following the killing of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis, and the recent deployment of militarized federal agents by Donald Trump, both veterans had decided simultaneously now was the time to start asking questions.

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  11. AOC’s speech about Ted Yoho’s ‘apology’ was a comeback for the ages

    Click here if video isn’t available

    “You can be a powerful man and accost women,” said the New York Democrat. “You can have daughters and accost women, without remorse. You can be married and accost women. You can take photos, and project an image to the world of being a family man, and accost women, without remorse, and with a sense of impunity. It happens every day in this country.”

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  12. Trump knows he’s going to lose. He’s already salting the earth behind him.

    Mad Max

    How can you tell President Trump thinks he’s going to lose in November? Because he has already begun salting the earth behind him.

    And his fellow Republicans are helping by sabotaging key institutions that the next (presumably Democratic) president will inherit.

    On Tuesday, the Republican-controlled Senate Banking Committee approved Trump’s latest two picks for the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. One of these nominees, Christopher Waller, would be a competent, reasonable, totally qualified addition to the most powerful economic body in the world.

    The other is Judy Shelton.

    Shelton, a professional crank, has previously suggested that the Fed shouldn’t exist. She has repeatedly likened the Fed to a “Soviet State Planning Committee” because the central bank, rather than the quantity of gold, controls the money supply. Shelton has spent her career trying to bring back the gold standard, a monetary system abandoned worldwide and roundly rejected by economists.

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  13. The Congressional Progressive Caucus Is Trying Something New: Winning Primaries

    Beth Doglio convenes for floor debate at the Washington State House of Representatives on Feb. 12, 2020. Photo: Courtesy of Beth Doglio’s campaign

    The Congressional Progressive Caucus, fresh off a first-in-its-history win in a New York primary, is turning next to an open seat in Washington state. The CPC, founded in 1991 to organize progressives within the House Democratic caucus, has never previously been an electoral powerhouse, with its political action committee exerting its little influence by contributing $5,000 to candidates it supported.

    In 2018, as the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee used its considerable weight to help centrist candidates beat progressives in open primaries, the CPC mostly stayed on the sidelines. In New York this year, the CPC finally got into the game — and got a major return on its investment.

    In a race to replace the outgoing Rep. Nita Lowey, the CPC set up an independent expenditure arm and spent nearly $200,000 helping Mondaire Jones clinch the nomination against a field of better-funded, more corporate-friendly candidates. Now the CPC wants to replicate that success in the race to replace outgoing Rep. Denny Heck, a leading member of the business-friendly New Democrat Coalition who is retiring after serving five terms to run for Washington lieutenant governor.

    The CPC is throwing its weight behind state Rep. Beth Doglio, who backed CPC Co-Chair Pramila Jayapal during her first run for Congress in 2016 in an open primary, and has been her ally since. Out of a field of 19 Democrats in the primary in Washington’s 10th Congressional District, a solidly blue district that includes Olympia and part of Tacoma, Doglio is one of three viable candidates.

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  14. The Infernal Logic of Professional Sports in a Pandemic

    Plutocratic interests and the coronavirus crisis have made “Value Over Replacement Human” baseball’s hottest new statistic.

    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    “Please don’t take me,” said four-time Major League Baseball All-Star and Braves franchise first baseman Freddie Freeman, as he described to reporters the prayers he offered on his worst night of battling Covid-19. “I wasn’t ready [to die].”

    The disclosure was as unexpected as it was raw. Freeman, after all, was not required by MLB’s coronavirus rules to identify himself as a player who tested positive, let alone to discuss his experience with the virus. These nondisclosure rules are underpinned by a ghoulish logic. It is not in the League’s interest for a marquee player like Freeman to test positive for the virus, let alone detail his battle with Covid-19, because MLB and its 30 aristocratic owners are both perpetuating and capitalizing on the unspoken secret of American sports: Fans are more likely to view the millionaire players as more entitled than the billionaire owners and, more significantly, have accepted that athletes dying for our entertainment is an occupational hazard. How acceptable that risk of injury or death is to fans exists not on a sliding scale of humanity but on a continuum of players’ talent and value to the team.

    On the occasion of MLB’s much-delayed and highly anticipated Opening Day, it’s time for us to reckon with American sports culture, the way we’ve normalized the risks that athletes incur for the sake of our entertainment and how the glorified Moneyballification of sports—in which wonky former McKinsey consultants build dream teams based on the way statistics dance on spreadsheets—have all contributed to dehumanizing players into commodifiable assets. If the rampaging pandemic has brought a new innovation to this diabolical design, it’s the way this dehumanization now reaches down the organizational chart, drawing in “players” both on field and off, and of every asset class.

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  15. President Trump Stars in Cognitive Test Part Deux: Person, Woman, Man, Camera, TV

    “[The doctors] said, ‘That’s amazing. How did you do that?’” the president claimed

    President Trump was at it again on Wednesday night in a widely mocked new interview where he went to excruciating lengths to prove that he deserves his self-anointed moniker of an “extremely stable genius.”

    On Fox News, Trump was triggered into a more than five-minute uninterrupted rant when he was asked about the importance of health and holding the position of president of the United States. The winding tale included lengthy details of a cognitive test that the president claims to have not only taken earlier this year but to have “aced.”

    Trump had previously made news on Sunday about this same subject when, in an interview with Chris Wallace, the host pushed back on Trump’s claims that the test was difficult. Wallace told Trump that he took the test himself and that it included simple questions like identifying drawings of animals.
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  16. There’s Never Been a Better Time to Be a White Collar Criminal

    Thanks to the Trump administration’s signature mix of incompetence and corruption, America is knee-deep in fraud and corporate malfeasance.

    Illustration by Mario Wagner Getty (x1)

    In January, before the pandemic destabilized federal law enforcement efforts, the number of new federal white-collar prosecutions reached an all-time low, according to data spanning nearly 35 years. Just 359 new defendants were prosecuted for white-collar crime across all 94 federal districts, down 25 percent from five years prior.

    It was at least the fourth time since the start of the Trump administration that Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), which compiles the data from requests under the Freedom of Information Act, had announced an all-time low in the number of federal white-collar prosecutions. The decline was the continuation of a trend that began at the end of Barack Obama’s first term—but one that should not have continued this long, let alone accelerated so noticeably.

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  17. Democrats Unveil Draft Foreign Policy Platform With Promises to End “Forever Wars” and “Regime Change”

    …a sign of how far the party’s center of gravity has shifted in four years.

    Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden speaks at the Chase Center on July 14, 2020, in Wilmington, Del. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

    New draft text of the Democratic Party’s 2020 platform calls for bringing “forever wars to a responsible end” and pledges to end the U.S. role in the conflict in Yemen — a sharp reversal from the Obama administration’s policy of arming and assisting the Saudi-led intervention.

    The 80-page text, first reported by the Washington Post, is a sign of how far the party’s center of gravity has shifted in four years. The draft was released Tuesday evening to the more than 150-member platform committee for an amendment process. It will likely be ratified at the 2020 Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee next month.

    With lengthy sections on racial justice, immigration, climate change, and health care, the document hews closely to many of the policy recommendations produced by a Biden-Sanders unity effort earlier this month. But that unity report largely left out foreign policy, which is where some of the Democratic platform draft’s most significant departures from the 2016 platform lie.

    “I think the platform shows that they’ve taken a number of important progressive foreign policy priorities on board,” said Matt Duss, foreign policy adviser for Sen. Bernie Sanders. >“There’s a lot to celebrate here, both in terms of where the party is moving on these issues, and of a broader unifying vision for the country.”

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  18. The US politicians volunteering other people’s lives to fight Covid-19

    The pandemic has been marked by political figures inviting Americans to sacrifice themselves to save the economy

    Daniel Uhlfelder, a Florida attorney dressed as the Grim Reaper, walks along the newly opened beach near Destin, Florida, on 1 May. Photograph: Devon Ravine/AP

    On Friday, Governor Mike Parson of Missouri weighed in on the schools reopening debate by suggesting that children who contract the coronavirus will “get over it”.

    “When they go to school – they’re not going to the hospitals. They’re not going to have to sit in doctor’s offices. They’re going to go home and they’re going to get over it … We gotta move forward,” Parson said in an interview on local radio.

    If that surprises you, just consider that as early as April, the TV host Dr Mehmet Oz called reopening schools an “appetizing opportunity” – citing a Lancet paper that showed that reopening schools would “only cost us 2 to 3% in terms of mortality”.

    Both join a long list of journalists, pundits and – importantly – politicians who have casually suggested that everyday Americans would be willing to sacrifice their lives for the US to reopen. Here’s a list.
    Grandparents should be willing to die for America

    Remember back in March, when we were barely into state-wide shutdown orders, and people were already eager for the US economy to reopen? One person, the lieutenant governor of Texas, Dan Patrick, felt particularly strongly about that: arguing the elderly should be sacrificed to make it happen.

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  19. Congress approves billions for US national parks in rare bipartisan push

    Great American Outdoors Act allocates $9.5bn over the next five years for previously neglected park maintenance

    Zabriskie Point in Death Valley national park. The park needs $129m to fund maintenance. Photograph: bukki88/Getty Images/iStockphoto

    The US Congress has approved a sweeping, long-awaited bill to continuously fund national, state and local parks – a major boon to conservation and one of the few pieces of significant legislation the government has been able to agree on in a divisive election year.

    The Great American Outdoors Act, passed on Wednesday afternoon, allocates $9.5bn over the next five years for previously neglected park repairs. And it sets up $900m a year to acquire land for conservation and continue maintenance.

    Victory for Yellowstone’s grizzly bears as court rules they cannot be hunted
    Read more

    “Parks are at the crux of nature access, and we’ve seen them become especially important during coronavirus, where especially communities of color are less likely to live within walking distance of a park, let alone a national park,” said Shanna Edberg, the Hispanic Access Foundation’s director of conservation programs. “The start of the solution to that is fund for public lands.”

    After years in limbo for the funding plan, Donald Trump surprised lawmakers when he agreed to back it in March. The Senate passed the legislation with bipartisan support in June. It will now head to the White House for Trump’s signature.

    About 9 million more people visited national parks in 2019 than 2018. Yet national parks such as Yellowstone and Grand Canyon have a huge backlog of work that crews have been unable to perform – leading to the collapse of historic buildings and the shuttering of trails.

    Read more

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