The Evening Blues - 10-28-20
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features blues harmonica player Lazy Lester. Enjoy!
Lazy Lester - They Call Me Lazy
"I don't see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist due to the irresponsibility of its own people. The issues are much too important for the Chilean voters to be left to decide for themselves."
-- Henry Kissinger
News and Opinion
Michigan Judge Accused of Jeopardizing Safety and Democracy With Reversal of Open Carry Ban at Polling Places
Dismissing glaring concerns about voter intimidation, a Michigan judge on Tuesday struck down a directive from the secretary of state banning the open carry of firearms at polling places on Election Day.
The Associated Press reports Michigan Court of Claims Judge Christopher Murray granted a preliminary injunction in favor of gun rights advocates who had filed a lawsuit challenging an October 16 order from Democratic Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson declaring a universal ban on the open carry of guns within 100 feet of polling places on November 3. The injunction does not apply to places such as schools or churches that already prohibit open carry.
Benson had argued that the ban was needed to deter voter intimidation in the wake of the revelation of a plot by far-right militia members—who are supporters of President Donald Trump—to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat.
However, Murray asserted that Benson was attempting to create a new administrative rule without following the proper procedures.
"It is important to recognize that this case is not about whether it is a good idea to openly carry a firearm at a polling place, or whether the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prevents the secretary of state's ... directive," Murray wrote in his opinion.
"The court's duty is not to act as an overseer of the [Michigan] Department of State, nor is it to impose its view on the wisdom of openly carrying firearms at polling places or other election locations," wrote Murray. "More importantly its constitutional role is properly limited to only declaring what the law is, not what it should be."
"The secretary just didn't do this in the right way and at the right time," Murray said, adding that if she wanted to ban open carry at polling places she "should have done this months ago."
The Detroit Free Press reports state Assistant Attorney General Heather Meingast countered that concerns regarding guns at polling places weren't as prevalent months ago as they are now, especially in light of the plot to kidnap the governor. Meingast said that now "there are voters who are afraid, there are election workers who are afraid."
Benson and Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, also a Democrat, vowed to appeal Murray's injunction.
Jimmy Dore rocks this one:
Ian Welsh, worth a full read:
So, Amy Coney Barret has been confirmed to the Supreme Court. We knew this would happen, since the idea of the Democrats fighting the right is ludicrous. There is now a 6-3 moderate conservative majority on the Court, and a 5-4 reactionary majority on the Court.
I do not expect Roe vs. Wade to survive, and I do expect the Court to be used to change laws in an attempt to give Republicans a permanent advantage, to enshrine further rights for the rich, and so on. One can expect civil liberties to be further gutted. Citizen’s United was the red line “this is now an oligarchy” moment. This is the “rights? You have no rights” moment.
This is what the US conservative movement has been working towards for over 50 years. They have relentlessly had their eye on the prize. The court cases will now go forward, and precedents will fall like dominoes: do not be deceived, they have prepared for this moment and will use it.
If the election is close, the Court will also be used, as in 2000, to award the Presidency to the Republicans. Those who squeal about a possible coup forget that the US already had one in 2000, and that one mattered more: it set the precedent for many things, including that Democrats would just roll over.
The last debate between Trump and Joe Biden was another corporate Debate Commission effort to control the narrative and prevent any meaningful discussion from taking place. Biden says the word Covid over and over again as if it is a magical incantation. Trump repeats the word socialism which seemingly has the same effect on his supporters and accuses a right wing Democrat of belonging to a group that he constantly demonizes. “I beat the socialist,” is just one memorable statement from Biden. He always obliges Trump by denying that he will do anything that rank and file Democrats want and that would in fact increase his odds of winning.
Meanwhile millions of people are suffering from unemployment, loss of homes, and loss of health care in the wake of the Covid pandemic that Biden talks about so much. But he hasn’t said what he would do as president to make their lives whole again. His plan consists of platitudes and a promise to do more testing and tracing. Trump owns the Covid disaster but it isn’t clear how Biden would undo any of the damage he caused.
Trump’s supporters are showing their aggression and fear that the man who represents them may leave office. They turn out in droves to his rallies and surely some of them will make good on his directive to, “Stand by,” and presumably wait for his orders to create mayhem. The collapse of what is left of the American political and economic system has turned sensible people crazy and made the “deplorables” live up to the moniker.
The word fascist is thrown around rather too easily among people who rarely engage in serious thought. Despite the many debates about how fascism can be defined, there is a characteristic which everyone agrees upon. Fascism thrives where there is weak opposition. The same people who are in a constant state of upset about Trump seldom even discuss what is needed to defeat him. A fascist can’t be defeated by a watered down version of himself. Biden and the Democratic Party establishment are committed to doing as little as they can get away with while still hoping to win election. The millions of unemployed who should be engaged in bringing victory are ignored instead. There will be no stimulus plan to help them until after Election Day. They may go months living in desperation while the duopoly political leadership posture for public relations purposes.
No wonder everyone is a bit off kilter. Trump is at his worst and the Democrats are too, pretending to be for inclusivity and fairness while promising rich funders that nothing would fundamentally change. Millions of people look to Election Day to breathe a sigh of relief, when in fact they will have to struggle regardless of the outcome.
Henry Kissinger still belongs in the dock at The Hague.
Nearly 50 years after a U.S.-backed coup toppled Chile's democratically-elected socialist president Salvador Allende and paved the way for military dictator General Augusto Pinochet to impose a right-wing constitution that still exists three decades after his regime ended, Chileans on Sunday voted in a 4-to-1 landslide to approve the creation of a new constitution.
"Chile is reborn," political theorist Melany Cruz said on social media.
Cruz explained earlier on Sunday in Tribune that the waves of privatization and other free-market policies implemented in the 1970's and 80's under anti-democratic circumstances at the behest of economists from the University of Chicago led to vast inequalities and rendered egalitarian reform exceedingly difficult, even in the post-dictatorship period that began in 1990.
There have been numerous attempts over the past 30 years to rein in market fundamentalism in Chile, but because neoliberalism was so deeply embedded into the country's constitution during the dictatorship era, Cruz wrote, the reign of Pinochet's politics outlived the military dictator.
Cruz called the historic referendum a "chance to bury Pinochet's legacy... and rebuild the country on a truly democratic basis."
The Chilean people responded en masse, seizing the opportunity to deliver a resounding blow to Pinochet's constitution. The vote signaled the culmination of a decades-long revolt against the era of neoliberalism that was unleashed in the wake of the U.S.-supported bombing of the capitol building in Santiago on September 11, 1973.
Celebrations erupted Sunday night as results of the plebiscite rolled in. The final vote tally showed that of the more than 7.5 million Chilean citizens who cast ballots, the vast majority—nearly 80%—were in favor of rewriting the country's right-wing constitution.
A video shared by AFP captures the jubilant mood of the massive pro-reform crowd that gathered in downtown Santiago:
VIDEO: Mass celebrations in Chile as pro-change camp holds big lead in vote.
Thousands flock to Santiago's emblematic Plaza Italia as the pro-change camp holds a big lead in the historic referendum to rewrite Chile's dictatorship-era constitution, according to partial results pic.twitter.com/7bhaRQSLB4
— AFP news agency (@AFP) October 26, 2020
"We've been living under an illegitimate constitution created by a military regime, that's only allowed progress to those who have money," Catalina Miranda told The Guardian on Sunday night. "There's been very few times that Chilean people have shared a collective victory like today."
Before every US presidential election, a few disgruntled Americans can be relied on to promise that they’ll move to Canada if the results don’t go their way. Canadians watch US elections with close attention – and occasional horror – but they rarely expect many voters to make good on that vow. A few do make the move; most do not.
However, in recent weeks the political temperature in the US has mounted: senior Republicans have called for supporters to “guard” polling stations, and right-wing militias have openly called for armed revolt in the event that Donald Trump loses.
In Canada, fears are growing that the fallout from a contested vote could spill across the border. The spectre of unrest, trade disruption, and even violence is likely to have prompted frantic strategising among senior government officials, said Thomas Juneau, a professor of international relations and security studies at the University of Ottawa. “We are absolutely at the point where we have to think about scenarios that … start raising really difficult questions for Canada,” said Juneau.
A contested election, or a second term of Trump where he begins making decisions that are bad for Canada, are both looking like plausible outcomes, he said. As one of the United States’ largest trading partners, Canada cannot afford to be caught off-guard. The two nations share the world’s longest undefended border and have highly integrated economies. ...
But whatever happens on 3 November, tussles over trade and tariffs are likely to persist. A Biden administration would still face domestic pressure to bring manufacturing jobs home and to maintain hardline US positions on commodities such as softwood lumber. “Because Trump is so unpopular in Canada, people naturally tend to idealise what a Biden presidency would look like,” said Juneau. “But the idea Biden would just erase all of the bilateral trade irritants between the two countries is not true. And I think the Canadian government understands that very well.”
Congresswoman Katie Porter has taken her criticism of the Fed to a new level, with plenty of ammunition in her arsenal. In a letter to the Fed last Wednesday, Porter wrote that “using billions of taxpayer dollars to play kingmaker on Wall Street—effectively awarding billions of dollars to a handful of corporations—using a decision-making process that you have not made public, appears corrupt.”
Porter was talking about several distinct issues. First, the Fed had stated that its corporate bond buying program would not include the debt of the Wall Street banks. Nonetheless, wrote Porter, the Fed “is using billions of taxpayer dollars to purchase the debt of banks like JPMorgan Chase.” The Fed is making those purchases by buying debt-based Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs).
Porter quotes from a September 21 Yale School of Management study titled “Despite Stated Exclusion, the Fed Is Buying Bank Debt.” The report notes that “a close review of its holdings reveals that by buying exchange traded funds, [the Federal Reserve] has indirectly bought $2 billion of bank bonds—over 15% of its total corporate bond holdings.”
Porter is particularly critical of the fact that the Fed is using money from the pandemic stimulus legislation passed in the spring and known as the CARES Act to facilitate these corporate bond purchases. Porter writes: “Your decision to buy corporate debt with taxpayer dollars directly benefited Wall Street and the world’s richest corporate executives.” ...
Porter’s letter also expresses outrage that the Fed has appointed a Wall Street investment firm that is one of the largest purveyors of ETFs to manage the corporate bond buying programs. Porter writes that the Fed’s decision to “appoint the CEO of BlackRock to administer the largest corporate bailout in history has resulted in windfall profits for a few hand-selected corporations and eroded public faith in an institution that is foundational to our democracy. To begin to remedy these wrongs, I request that you immediately develop and implement stronger safeguards against conflicts of interest. The profits that BlackRock has made off the exchange-traded funds (ETF) market since your March 23 announcement that the Fed would begin to purchase ETFs that invest in bank debt are clear evidence that any current precautions are wholly insufficient.”
Where the President Goes, Coronavirus Follows: Analysis Shows Spike in Covid-19 Cases After Numerous Trump Rallies
Half of the 22 campaign rallies held by President Donald Trump between June and September were followed by county-level increases in Covid-19 cases, suggesting that these frequent in-person events attracting thousands of people may be unnecessarily intensifying the spread of coronavirus and "endangering host communities" throughout the United States.
That's according to a new analysis from the Center for American Progress (CAP), based on an examination of county-level data on Covid-19 from the New York Times.
By comparing the number of daily new cases and the seven-day moving average of new cases during the 21 days before and after each rally, researchers were able to discern the extent to which Trump's rallies "were associated with heightened cases."
While the authors stress that "multiple factors prevent a definitive, causal connection," CAP found "unambiguous increases" in county-level cases after rallies in the following cities:
Mankato, Minnesota Bemidji, Minnesota Henderson, Nevada Londonderry, New Hampshire Swanton, Ohio Middletown, Pennsylvania Old Forge, Pennsylvania; and Newport News, Virginia
CAP also detected a more "subtle" increase in the county-level case count trend after Trump's rallies in Vandalia, Ohio; Latrobe, Pennslyvania; and Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
According to the analysis, "counties that had a lower Covid-19 incidence—a measure of new cases per capita—prior to the rally were more likely to have a visible increase in cases after the rally, perhaps because any uptick in cases was more likely to stand out against the pre-event level."
"By virtually any standard, Trump's rallies ignore every public health recommendation to mitigate the spread of Covid-19," said Thomas Waldrop, policy analyst at CAP and co-author of the report, in a statement released Tuesday.
"They involve thousands of people, packed closely together, with few people wearing masks and no attempts at social distancing," he added.
Emily Gee, a health economist at CAP and co-author of the analysis, noted that "eight months into the pandemic, we know the factors that can stop the spread of the coronavirus."
"The president and his team have flouted the rules at every turn," Gee said. "These rallies offer a boost to the president's ego but risk leaving behind a trail of sickness and increased strain on local public health departments and medical systems."
Trump announced Tuesday morning via Twitter that he has "three BIG rallies today" in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Nebraska. In response, Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wisc.) pointed out that Wisconsin on Monday passed 200,000 Covid-19 cases, with half occurring in "just the last 36 days."
According to CAP's report, the majority of Trump's rallies—where attendees typically do not wear masks or spread out—"have been in violation of local or state restrictions on gatherings to limit the spread of Covid-19."
A federal judge on Tuesday denied Donald Trump’s request that he be replaced as the defendant in a defamation lawsuit alleging he raped a woman in a Manhattan department store in the 1990s. The decision by US district judge Lewis A Kaplan came after the justice department argued that the United States – and by extension US taxpayers – should replace Trump as the defendant in a lawsuit filed by the columnist E Jean Carroll.
The government’s lawyers contended that the United States could step in as the defendant because Trump was forced to respond to her lawsuit to prove he was physically and mentally fit for the job. The judge ruled that a law protecting federal employees from being sued individually for things they do within the scope of their employment didn’t apply to a president. But even if it did, Kaplan ruled, Trump’s public denials of the rape allegation would have come outside the scope of his employment.
Lawyers for Carroll had written that “only in a world gone mad could it somehow be presidential, not personal, for Trump to slander a woman who he sexually assaulted”. In a statement, Carroll said: “When I spoke out about what Donald Trump did to me in a department store dressing room, I was speaking out against an individual. When Donald Trump called me a liar and denied that he had ever met me, he was not speaking on behalf of the United States.
“I am happy that Judge Kaplan recognized these basic truths. As the judge recognized today, the question whether President Trump raped me 20 years ago in a department store is at ‘the heart’ of this lawsuit. We can finally return to answering that question, and getting the truth out.”
Worth a full read:
Lee Percy Christian III didn’t think Arizona law enforcement could stop him from protesting – until they locked him up indefinitely. Earlier this month, Christian, 27, was arrested for “unlawful assembly” after a Black Lives Matter protest in Phoenix and jailed without bond because of outstanding charges from previous demonstrations. Prosecutors later suggested bond be set at $100,000. Christian’s lawyers and a judge agreed he could be released on a lower bond – if he didn’t participate in future public protests. Christian was mortified, but agreed to sign away his right to protests so he could leave jail – he had spent nine days locked up. “I’m guilty until proven innocent,” he said recently on the phone. “We’re in a police state, and the last thing the police want is for me to be out there using my voice.”
Since the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May, millions of Americans have marched in cities big and small to protests racial violence and police brutality. The demonstrations have been overwhelmingly nonviolent, yet in many jurisdictions law enforcement has responded with force. Tens of thousands of demonstrators, activists and BLM supporters have been arrested.
More than five months since the start of the unrest, hundreds of these protesters have been slapped with serious charges by federal and local prosecutors, according to researchers and a review of court data. Some protesters have faced stacked charges and threats of life sentences. Others have been charged with “assaulting” police officers where there’s no evidence of violence and no reports of injuries. Some arrested protesters have been transferred to immigration authorities. The crackdown comes as Donald Trump, eager to put Democrats on the defense, has ramped up warnings about Black Lives Matter, anti-fascists and the “far left” in the lead up to the election. He has called BLM a “symbol of hate” and claimed without evidence that “Antifa” will “attack your homes”.
Research has shown that the vast majority of BLM-related demonstrations this year have not involved damage to property, harm to people or ties to extremist groups. In fact, physical force at protests has typically come from militarized police units, and the FBI continues to regard white supremacists and far-right groups as the most lethal domestic terror threat. Still, federal prosecutors have doubled down on cases involving leftist protesters. From the end of May through October, federal prosecutors have filed more than 300 felony cases related to protests, according to The Prosecution Project (TPP), a research group that tracks political violence. Of those 300, roughly 30% are in Oregon (where nightly protests have received national attention), 9% in New York, 7% in Pennsylvania and 6% in Minnesota. ...
Michael German, a former FBI agent and fellow with the Brennan Center for Justice, said federal prosecutors have targeted leftist protesters more intensely than far-right activists. “Clearly, there is an effort that is directed from the top levels of the justice department to target protesters more aggressively if they are Black Lives Matter, anti-fascist, anti-racist,” he said. A DoJ spokesperson declined to comment, but noted that a recent agency memo encouraging US attorneys to pursue specific charges related to “violent riots”.
Care Not Cops: Marc Lamont Hill Makes Case for Abolition After Philly Police Kill Walter Wallace Jr.
Hundreds took to the streets of Philadelphia on Monday night to protest against the fatal police shooting of Walter Wallace, a 27-year-old black man who officers said had a knife. Police said the shooting occurred just before 4pm as officers responded to a report of a person with a weapon. Video footage of the incident shows multiple shots being fired at Wallace bringing him to the ground on a residential street in front of horrified onlookers.
Hours later, protests erupted. Interactions between protesters and police turned violent at times, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported. Video showed many yelling at officers and crying. Cars and dumpsters were set on fire as police struggled to contain the crowds. More than a dozen officers, many with batons in hand, formed a line as they ran down 52nd Street chasing protesters away. The crowd largely dispersed.
Thirty officers were injured, most struck by projectiles such as bricks and rocks, according to preliminary information from police, and 91 people were arrested. One officer was hospitalized in stable condition with a broken leg and other injuries after she was struck by a pickup truck, police said. The other injured officers were treated and released.
The city was bracing for another night of protests on Tuesday, with police deploying more officers and asking the national guard to assist them. The police commissioner, Danielle Outlaw, said the department is anticipating “additional incidents of civil unrest” tonight. “Several hundred guardsmen” from the national guard are expected to arrive in the city within the next two days, according to the Philadelphia inquirer.
The civil rights lawyer Ben Crump said Wallace was shot “10+ times”. He wrote on Twitter: “He allegedly had a knife but cops made NO attempts at de-escalating the situation in this video. They went straight to killing Wallace in front of his loved ones.” On Tuesday afternoon the video had been viewed over one million times.
At least 17 women treated by a doctor alleged to have performed unnecessary or overly aggressive gynecological procedures without proper informed consent remain in detention at Irwin County Detention Center, a privately run facility in Georgia housing U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement detainees, according to a briefing and written materials submitted by attorneys and advocates to Senators in a closed-door meeting on Capitol Hill. The total number of women known to have been seen by the doctor since 2018 who say they underwent or were pressured to undergo unnecessary treatments has risen to 57 — a higher number than previously known — according to the group of lawyers.
The new numbers of relevant cases and women who remain in detention were included in the materials submitted to the closed-door meeting on Capitol Hill about the ordeal over women’s medical care at Irwin. Organized by the Senate Democratic Caucus, attorney Sarah Owings of Owings MacNorlin law firm in Atlanta, two women previously detained in Irwin, and four independent doctors presented recent findings, including more than 60 pages of written materials, in a Monday briefing for the senators. The briefings came as part of Congressional investigations into the allegation, which Democratic leaders in both houses of Congress have pledged to look in to.
As the number of women alleging medical misconduct at Irwin, which is run by the private prison company LaSalle Corrections, grows, advocates for detainees worry that there may never be a full accounting. The numbers presented to the Senate on Monday were limited to only those cases lawyers could identify, the advocates said. Because of the opacity of the immigration system and the constant flux of detainees — as well as the deportation of witnesses and survivors — a comprehensive review is unlikely. ...
Since the initial whistleblower report was submitted in September, ICE has deported at least five women who were seen by Dr. Mahendra Amin, the doctor at the center of the allegations. At least two more women may be deported this week, according to the Senate briefing. “ICE, LaSalle, and DHS are ensuring fewer witnesses are able to participate in the pending federal investigation,” the Senate briefing materials say. Members of Congress are taking note. “Advocates have shared with my team that many of the women who questioned Dr. Amin’s advice were quickly deported, and that many others at the facility are now fearful of seeking medical care at all,” Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., said in a statement to The Intercept. “We need a full accounting of what has been done to the women at Irwin, so we can hold perpetrators of any horrific actions accountable, and give the American people the answers they deserve.”
After Supreme Court Guts Expansion of Mail-In Voting in Wisconsin, Fears Grow of Similar Rulings in Pennsylvania and North Carolina
The U.S. Supreme Court, which now includes right-wing Justice Amy Coney Barrett, will soon weigh in on Republican Party efforts to narrow the deadline for receiving mail-in ballots in the key battleground states of North Carolina and Pennsylvania amid the ongoing coronavirus crisis, allegations of widespread voter suppression, concerns about mail delays, and fears President Donald Trump will foment Election Night chaos.
On Monday, the same day the Senate confirmed 48-year-old Coney Barrett and strengthened the court's conservative majority, the Supreme Court barred the state of Wisconsin from extending its Election Day deadline for the arrival of absentee ballots. In a 5-3 decision, the court rejected a bid by Wisconsin Democrats and voting rights groups to allow mail-in ballots to be counted if postmarked by Election Day and received by November 9. Instead, the court sided with Republicans to keep the current deadline which means that only mail-in ballots that arrive by 8:00 pm on Election Day will be counted.
That decision looms large as voting rights advocates eye expected decisions from the court regarding ballots in North Carolina and Pennsylvania.
And we have a ruling in Wisconsin, prohibiting counting of ballots mailed before but arriving after Election Day. This will result in thousands of ballots being discarded in a razor-thin race in a key swing state.
— Elie Honig (@eliehonig) October 27, 2020
Pennsylvania Republicans last week made a second request to stop a mail-in ballot deadline extension. According to CNN:
In Pennsylvania, a state critical to President Donald Trump's path to victory, the state Republican Party asked the high court last week to reconsider whether the state should count ballots received within three days of Election Day, even if they do not have a legible postmark. The court issued a 4-4 ruling earlier this month denying the GOP challenge and leaving in place a lower-court ruling allowing the ballot receipt extension to stand. Now Republicans want the court to decide the case in an expedited fashion.
If their effort is successful, The Hill reported, the Republicans' "long-shot bid could disenfranchise a number of mail-in voters, with the harm likely to fall disproportionately on Biden supporters, who are considered about twice as likely as Trump backers to vote by mail."
The Luzerne County, Pennsylvania Board of Elections, in a filing Tuesday submitted by respondents including Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar, called for Barrett to recuse herself from the Pennsylvania case, saying the justice's "impartiality might reasonably be questioned given the circumstances of her nomination and confirmation."
In North Carolina—a state upon which the president's "reelection hopes could hinge"—state election officials extended from Nov. 6 to Nov. 12 the deadline for ballots to be counted that are postmarked by Election Day. The Trump campaign asked the top court to block the extended deadline after the state GOP failed in its effort to do so at a federal appeals court.
Pointing to the Pennsylvania case, Scott Lemieux, a lecturer in the political science department at the University of Washington and co-author of "Judicial Review and Democratic Theory," opined that it could "directly aid in the president's re-election efforts."
"But even if the Supreme Court ultimately does not intervene in Pennsylvania," Lemieux wrote in his NBC News op-ed, "Barrett's elevation will consolidate control of the court by judges who are not just remarkably hostile to voting rights, but who have also increasingly held that a state's interest in preventing a small number of fraudulent ballots from being cast—none of which have been shown to affect a race—trumps Americans' broad access to the franchise."
"It would be very, very proper and very nice if a winner were declared on Nov. 3, instead of counting ballots for two weeks, which is totally inappropriate, and I don't believe that's by our laws." -- Trump (In fact tallying all the ballots is consistent with the law.) pic.twitter.com/Dlj7DCiCT1
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) October 27, 2020
Barack Obama ridiculed Donald Trump at a Florida rally on Tuesday for the president’s complaints about the media closely covering the national coronavirus crisis. The 44th president has recently abandoned traditional decorum where a former president refrains from publicly criticizing his successor, lambasting the 45th president in recent speeches for his response to the coronavirus pandemic, in particular. ...
He spoke of record numbers dying of coronavirus in the US and asked rhetorically of the president: “What is his closing argument?” with the election just a week away. “That people are too focused on Covid. He said this at one of his rallies ‘Covid, Covid, Covid’, he is complaining. He is jealous of Covid’s media coverage,” Obama said with mock incredulity as the crowd laughed. ...
Obama also roasted the White House for chief of staff Mark Meadows’s remark on television at the weekend that the administration was not going to control the pandemic. Obama said: “Winter is coming. They are waving the white flag of surrender.
Now @FoxNews is playing Obama’s no crowd, fake speech for Biden, a man he could barely endorse because he couldn’t believe he won. Also, I PREPAID many Millions of Dollars in Taxes.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 27, 2020
A surge in new cases of coronavirus in the midwest continues, as Donald Trump plans multiple rallies in the region and presidential rival Joe Biden heads out to campaign in Georgia. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University recorded 60,789 new cases in the US on Monday, not far off all-time highs reached at the weekend. Total cases have surpassed 8.6m, with more than 225,000 deaths.
Trump continues to bleed political support from the perception that he does not take the virus seriously. Despite that, on Monday night he held a ceremony at the White House for the supreme court justice Amy Coney Barrett, which was reminiscent of an earlier event linked to an outbreak of Covid-19 that infected the president himself. Trump, Barrett, her husband, Jesse Barrett, and the supreme court justice Clarence Thomas appeared outside the White House without masks for a ceremonial swearing-in.
On Tuesday, Trump traveled to a rally in Michigan and planned to go on to events in Wisconsin and Nebraska the same day, on a pre-election blitz across three states where cases are rising most steeply. New daily cases in Michigan have more than doubled in the last week, while Nebraska has one of the highest rates of test positivity in the nation at 21.5% over the last week, according to Johns Hopkins.
Wisconsin, one of the most important electoral prizes, where the Democratic governor has asked Trump previously not to hold rallies that could spread coronavirus, broke one-day state records on Tuesday in Covid-19 deaths and cases as state officials told residents to stay home, wear a mask, and implored them to cancel travel and social gatherings. The state had 64 deaths due to the virus and 5,262 new cases over the last 24 hours, state officials said during an afternoon news conference.
Thousands of supporters attended a Trump rally last week in Waukesha, Wisconsin, for which a local rural activist group rented out a billboard reading “Trump Covid Superspreader Event”, with an arrow.
In the pivotal Senate race between Republican Sen. David Perdue of Georgia and his Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff, the candidates have traded accusations around financial connections to China. But previously unreported business disclosures show that Perdue, during a touchstone period of his business career, expanded aggressively into China to import cheap products into the United States.
Before entering the Senate in 2015, Perdue spent much of his career advising and managing large corporations, including serving as the chief executive of Dollar General from 2003 through 2007. Investor reports and earnings call transcripts from that period show that as chief executive of the variety goods giant, Perdue pushed to increase profitability by importing products made by factories in low-wage overseas markets.
Shortly after taking over at Dollar General, Perdue told an analyst with JPMorgan Chase that the company was “light in sourcing relative to some of our competitors” and pledged to “redouble” the effort to tap into markets in Asia. In 2004, Perdue opened a Chinese affiliate, Dollar General Global Sourcing Holdings, which maintains offices in Shenzhen and Hong Kong, to integrate the company’s import strategy.
“We have opened a sourcing office in Hong Kong, and I can tell you we have had a dramatic impact on our business by having direct contact with our manufacturers,” boasted Perdue during a talk to a group of investment bankers the following year. Subsequent investor reports noted that Dollar General’s focus on “utilizing our Hong Kong Office” improved profitability by increasing the amount of goods “manufactured overseas” at low cost. Hong Kong, which became part of China in 1997, has long served as the regional hub for international buyers seeking to source low-cost manufactured goods and raw resources for U.S. companies.
The outsourcing record contrasts sharply with the Georgia Republican’s rhetoric on the campaign trail. Perdue has swiped at Ossoff, claiming that his Democratic opponent has financial connections to China.
Scientists have found evidence that frozen methane deposits in the Arctic Ocean – known as the “sleeping giants of the carbon cycle” – have started to be released over a large area of the continental slope off the East Siberian coast, the Guardian can reveal. High levels of the potent greenhouse gas have been detected down to a depth of 350 metres in the Laptev Sea near Russia, prompting concern among researchers that a new climate feedback loop may have been triggered that could accelerate the pace of global heating.
The slope sediments in the Arctic contain a huge quantity of frozen methane and other gases – known as hydrates. Methane has a warming effect 80 times stronger than carbon dioxide over 20 years. The United States Geological Survey has previously listed Arctic hydrate destabilisation as one of four most serious scenarios for abrupt climate change.
The international team onboard the Russian research ship R/V Akademik Keldysh said most of the bubbles were currently dissolving in the water but methane levels at the surface were four to eight times what would normally be expected and this was venting into the atmosphere. “At this moment, there is unlikely to be any major impact on global warming, but the point is that this process has now been triggered. This East Siberian slope methane hydrate system has been perturbed and the process will be ongoing,” said the Swedish scientist Örjan Gustafsson, of Stockholm University, in a satellite call from the vessel.
The supreme court is shifting right, at a pivotal moment when it could have the last word on how much the US contributes to battling the climate crisis. Amy Coney Barrett’s addition to the court could leave an indelible mark on how fiercely the US, and perhaps the rest of the world, can fight rising temperatures, even as scientists warn society has just years to take serious action. ...
From deciding the legality of climate regulations for polluters to determining whether oil companies should pay for climate damages, Barrett and five other conservative justices will wield considerable influence. While Barrett’s history of decisions on environmental issues is limited, her appointment to the court by Trump – as his third justice in four years – solidifies a transfer of power from an often progressive or moderate court. “Adding one more conservative justice just gives all the conservative justices more fuel to be more political in what they’re going to do,” said Jean Su, an attorney who directs the energy justice program for the Center for Biological Diversity.
Congress has long been too divided to enact significant legislation on climate change. Barack Obama turned to his agencies to write regulations for power plants and cars. His Clean Power Plan for the electricity sector was stalled by the supreme court before it took effect. Republicans say it was executive overreach. Democrats say it was the only way forward. ...
If Donald Trump wins re-election, the supreme court could be poised to side with his administration on major rollbacks. If Joe Biden is in the White House, the court could shoot down climate standards written by his agencies. The legal disagreements are unlikely to be about whether climate change is real and a threat. Instead they could come down to whether a president has the authority to write climate rules when Congress has refused to do so.
“Hurricane-level winds” combined with low humidity led to the sparking of 42 wildfires throughout the state in the past 24 hours, said Gavin Newsom, California’s governor. In Orange county, two blazes that ignited Monday, the Silverado and the Blue Ridge fires, quickly took hold and grew amid wind gusts of up to 88mph.
“In a year of extremes, as I’ve said often, the hots are getting hotter and the dries are getting drier,” Newsom said. “The winds are also whipping up.” ...
The Silverado fire prompted evacuation orders for more than 20,000 homes in the area of Irvine, while the Blue Ridge fire, which doubled in size overnight, forced evacuation orders a few miles north in the Yorba Linda area. In total, more than 100,000 people were ordered to evacuate, with 90,710 currently evacuated, Newsom said. One home was reported damaged.
Diablo winds in the north and Santa Ana winds in the south are typical for this time of year, but officials have described this wind event as particularly fierce. Wind gusts reached 96mph in the San Gabriel mountains north of Los Angeles and 140mph in the Sierra Nevada south of Lake Tahoe on Monday.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Lazy Lester - Sugar Coated Love
Lazy Lester - I'm A Man
Lazy Lester - I Hear You Knockin'
Lazy Lester - I Told My Little Woman
Lazy Lester - You're gonna ruin me baby
Lazy Lester - Pondarosa Stomp
Lazy Lester - I'm A Lover Not A Fighter
Gonna Stick to You Baby
Lazy Lester - Blues Stop Knockin'