May 2020 News Reports

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Editor’s Choice: Scroll below for our monthly blend of mainstream and alternative May 2020 news and views

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

 

May 5

Pandemic Politics

Virus Victims

World News

 

 

Pandemic Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, President erupts at George Conway for video about the ‘deadly virus Trump ignored,’ Fred Barbash, May 5, 2020. George T. Conway III, prominent attorney and husband of White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, has been trying with only modest success to provoke george conway postPresident Trump’s Twitter wrath for the better part of his presidency. He finally succeeded close to 1 a.m. Tuesday.

What set Trump off was a video, sponsored by the Lincoln Project, the anti-Trump Super-PAC that Conway, right, co-founded with other Republicans and former Republicans. The video, released Monday, lays responsibility squarely at Trump’s doorstep for the severity of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, including the deaths and economic damage.

Considered a classic of the genre, the Reagan reelection ad showed happy prosperous Americans, smiling, going to work and getting married. It ended with the words: “It’s morning again in America, and under the leadership of President Reagan, our country is prouder and stronger and better. Why would we ever want to return to where we were less than four short years ago?”

“Mourning in America” is dystopian, showing dilapidated houses, a worried man in a hospital corridor, head in hands, a sick person being wheeled donald trump twitteron a gurney, vacant industrial buildings, a man applying for unemployment compensation, crowds of Americans lined up wearing masks and scenes from a Trump speech.

It concludes with these words: “There’s mourning in America. And under the leadership of Donald Trump, our country is weaker, sicker and poorer. And now, Americans are asking, ‘If we have another four years like this, will there even be an America?’”

Tens of thousands nationwide have died from the “deadly virus Trump ignored,” says the video, called “Mourning in America,” inspired by former president Ronald Reagan’s famous “Morning in America” 1984 campaign ad.

Trump responded at 12:46 a.m. Tuesday, firing off a string of tweets attacking those associated with the Lincoln Project as “LOSERS” before turning his wrath on Conway.

“I don’t know what Kellyanne did to her deranged loser of a husband, Moonface,” Trump tweeted, “but it must have been really bad.”

“RINO” stands for “Republicans in name only.” The Lincoln Project was established by Republican Conway, former GOP strategist Steve Schmidt, and Republican operatives John Weaver and Rick Wilson, among others. Evan McMullin, whom Trump called “Evan ‘McMuffin’ McMullin,” is a former CIA officer who ran as an independent in the 2016 presidential election.

“Reed Galvin” is presumably a reference to Reed Galen, a former Republican strategist and Lincoln Project co-organizer. Jennifer Horn is former chair of the New Hampshire Republican Party.

Conway, a contributing columnist to The Washington Post’s opinion section, has been denouncing Trump throughout most of his presidency, sometimes in biting personal terms, describing him as mentally impaired and unfit for office.

Most recently, Conway mocked Trump’s comments about the use of disinfectant to treat covid-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus. After Trump, in a since-deleted tweet, appeared to mistake the Pulitzer Prize for the “Noble prize,” misspelling Nobel, Conway changed his Twitter display name to “George Conway, Noble Committee Chair.”

Inside DC

New York Times, Trump Administration Signals It Will Wind Down Virus Task Force, Staff reports, May 5, 2020. Trump administration officials are telling members and staff of the coronavirus task force that the White House plans to wind down the operation in coming weeks despite growing evidence that the crisis is raging on, Maggie Haberman reports.

It is not clear whether any other group might replace the task force. But its gradual demise, which officials said might never be formally announced, would only intensify the questions about whether the administration is adequately organized to address the complex, life-and-death decisions related to the virus and giving adequate voice to scientists and public health experts in making policy.

While the task force’s advice has sometimes been swept aside by Mr. Trump and its recommendations for criteria on reopening for business defied by a number of states, it has served as the closest thing the White House has for running a centralized response to the pandemic.

While the task force met Tuesday at the White House, Monday’s meeting was canceled, and a Saturday session, a staple of recent months, was never held.

Separately, a federal scientist who says he was ousted from his job amid a dispute over an unproven malaria drug promoted by President Trump said on Tuesday that a top official at the Department of Health and Human Services repeatedly pressured him to steer millions of dollars in contracts to the clients of a well-connected lobbyist, Sheryl Gay Stolberg reports.

washington post logoWashington Post, Kushner virus effort said to be hampered by inexperienced volunteers, Yasmeen Abutaleb and Ashley Parker, May 5, 2020.  One volunteer filed a complaint with the House Oversight Committee outlining chronic problems obtaining supplies for hospitals and other needs.

The coronavirus response being spearheaded by President Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has relied in part on volunteers from consulting and private equity firms with little expertise in the tasks to which they were assigned, exacerbating chronic problems in obtaining supplies for hospitals and other needs, according to numerous government officials and a volunteer involved in the effort.

About two dozen employees from Boston Consulting Group, Insight, McKinsey and other firms have volunteered their time — some on paid vacation leave from their jobs and others without pay — to aid the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, according to administration officials and others familiar with the arrangement.

Although some of the volunteers have relevant backgrounds and experience, many others were poorly matched with the jobs they were assigned, including those given the task of securing personal protective equipment, or PPE, for hospitals nationwide, according to a complaint filed last month with the House Oversight Committee.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s pick for intelligence chief pledges in Senate hearing to keep politics out of job, Shane Harris and Ellen Nakashima, May 5, 2020. Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Tex.) withdrew his nomination for the same position last year amid questions about his qualifications.

 washington post logoWashington Post, Trump cheers on governors as they ignore White House guidelines in race to reopen, Toluse Olorunnipa, Griff Witte and Lenny Bernstein, May 5, 2020 (print ed.). A slew of states have pushed forward with relaxing social distancing guidelines despite their failure to achieve benchmarks set by the administration.

States across the country are moving swiftly to reopen their economies despite failing to achieve benchmarks laid out by the White House for when social distancing restrictions could be eased to ensure the public’s safety during the coronavirus pandemic.

These governors’ biggest cheerleader is President Trump.

A slew of states — such as Texas, Indiana, Colorado and Florida — have pushed forward with relaxing social distancing guidelines even as the number of people testing positive in many states has increased in recent weeks and testing continues to lag behind. White House recommendations released last month encouraged states to wait to see a decline in cases over a two-week period, as well as having robust testing in place for front-line workers before entering “Phase One” of a gradual comeback.

washington post logoWashington Post, Americans widely oppose reopening most businesses, poll finds, Dan Balz and Emily Guskin, May 5, 2020 (print ed.). Fears of infection and a sense that the worst is not over shaped attitudes in the Post-U. Md. poll. The poll found that many people were comfortable making trips to the grocery store, but would be uncomfortable shopping in a clothing store or eating in a sit-down restaurant.

washington post logoWashington Post,15 children in NYC have developed an unusual inflammatory syndrome linked to covid-19, Ariana Eunjung Cha, May 5, 2020 (print ed.). The children were admitted to intensive care and required cardiac or respiratory support, including five that required mechanical ventilation. None have died.

New York City health authorities warned this week of an unusual and potentially serious inflammatory condition possibly linked to covid-19 that they have seen in 15 hospitalized children.

The children, ages 2 to 15, experienced persistent fever and elevated inflammatory markers, similar to a syndrome known as Kawasaki disease. More than half had a rash, abdominal pain, vomiting or diarrhea. Fewer than half had respiratory symptoms.

All of the patients described in a bulletin issued Monday were admitted to intensive care and required cardiac or respiratory support, including five who required mechanical ventilation. None have died.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Fox News, Trump allies keep floating debunked theories about an inflated virus death toll, Aaron Blake, May 5, 2020 (print ed.). The idea of an inflated coronavirus death toll is something that just won’t go away, no matter how easily debunked the theories are.

It’s the notion that some Trump allies and conservative media figures just can’t kick: The idea that the official death toll from the coronavirus is being inflated. They use the argument to suggest, as Trump has, that outbreak is being politically weaponized against him. They also use it to argue for a swifter reopening of the economy.

Unfortunately, their latest theory is just as specious as its predecessors.

Over the weekend, this quest for an inflated-death-toll smoking gun focused on one page on the website of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Web page, which relays data from death certificates, currently shows the coronavirus death toll at 37,308 — far lower than other estimates, which have it around 66,000 or 67,000.

This led to allegations that the CDC had suddenly revised its death toll significantly downward or that the death toll is dropping off in recent weeks, as the week-by-week data on the Web page would appear to suggest. While it shows more than 12,000 coronavirus deaths for the week ending April 11, that drops to about 10,400 the following week and about 3,200 the next week.

Just The News, a website recently launched by Trump-friendly journalist John Solomon, ran with this headline: “CDC: Coronavirus, influenza deaths fall for second straight week.”

A tweet from right-wing media personality Tim Young went viral, stating, “Did I read this wrong or did the CDC just revised the national COVID-19 deaths to 37,308?!?!” Other right-wing media posts suggesting as much were widely shared.

Sign up for our Coronavirus Updates newsletter to track the outbreak. All stories linked in the newsletter are free to access.

The claim was also made on “Fox and Friends” this weekend via actress Sam Sorbo, with no pushback from the hosts. And Fox News host Laura Ingraham on Sunday night promoted an article from a random website called trendingpolitics.com that alleged the CDC had suddenly cut the death toll “Nearly In HALF.”

Even a cursory look at the Web page at issue should disabuse anyone of this particular theory. At the top, the page clearly says these data are based upon death certificates and are thus a lagging indicator of the death toll.

“Note: Provisional death counts are based on death certificate data received and coded by the National Center for Health Statistics as of May 1, 2020,” it says. “Death counts are delayed and may differ from other published sources.”

This word of caution is repeated throughout the page, in fact. Below the table of weekly deaths, it says, “Data during this period are incomplete because of the lag in time between when the death occurred and when the death certificate is completed, submitted to [the National Center for Health Statistics] and processed for reporting purposes. This delay can range from 1 week to 8 weeks or more.”

In other words, there is a very good reason the data show a drop in deaths for the last two weeks: because the data are incomplete and hardly up to date.

washington post logoWashington Post, As virus spreads in jails and prisons, correctional officers fear for themselves and their loved ones, Keith L. Alexander and Dan Morse, May 5, 2020 (print ed.). Nationwide, defense attorneys and other advocates have been pushing for the release of many inmates as they fear the spread of the virus in detention facilities. But corrections workers and their unions say more must be done to protect them as well.

Arnold Hudson Sr. started working as a correctional officer at the D.C. jail in 1997, just a year after he married his wife, Diane.

Before that, he spent six years as a guard at the now-closed Lorton prison. Ensuring the safety of incarcerated men and women, and providing them some guidance, Hudson believes, is a noble profession.

Hudson, 52, never worried about an inmate hurting him. If you show inmates respect, he says he learned over the years, they will return it in kind. Still, Hudson always had his eyes open for possible trouble.

But it was the danger Hudson could not see that he thinks he brought home from the jail. In March, both he and his wife fell ill. Her coughing became so severe that she was rushed to a D.C. emergency room and tested positive for the novel coronavirus. ­Diane Robin-Hudson was hospitalized for 10 days, an agonizing time for Hudson, who was not allowed to visit and could only get updates from harried nurses over the phone.

Days later, Hudson, too, tested positive for the coronavirus. His last day at work was March 25, the day his wife went to the hospital. It was also the day the city announced its first positive coronavirus test among inmates.

World News

washington post logoWashington Post, Kim Jong Un appears to be alive after all. So why did CNN and other news outlets report he was on his deathbed? Paul Farhi, May 5, 2020. The North Korean dictator was reported dead. Or brain dead. Or comatose. Or something. Except it appears he wasn’t.

washington post logoWashington Post, Philippines closes down its largest broadcaster, Regine Cabato, May 5, 2020.  The Duterte administration’s move against the ABS-CBN network, a day after its license expired, is the latest in a string of actions against outlets critical of the government.

washington post logoWashington Post, Venezuela’s Maduro says American ‘mercenaries’ held in attempt to incite rebellion, Ana Vanessa Herrero, Anthony Faiola and Alex Horton, May 5, 2020 (print ed.). Former U.S. Army Green Beret Jordan Goudreau, who heads a Florida company that says it offers strategic security services, confirmed the capture of two Americans who took part in “Operation Gideon.”

President Nicolás Maduro said his government had captured two American “mercenaries” Monday in a murky operation allegedly intended to infiltrate Venezuela, incite rebellion and apprehend its leaders, adding a fresh complication to escalating tensions between Washington and Caracas. The socialist leader said the plan was to kill him.

In a lengthy speech Monday night, Maduro decried an ongoing “terrorist” assault on Venezuela that he said had led him to dispatch 25,000 reservists to the coasts. He displayed images that apparently depicted the two apprehended Americans in a lineup, one of them forced to lower his head by a captor.

U.S. officials and the mainstream Venezuelan opposition headed by Juan Guaidó have strongly denied any connection with the operation, which allegedly involved several dozen men, most of them defectors from the Venezuelan military who had been living hand-to-mouth in camps in Colombia. Former Venezuelan National Guard officer Javier Nieto Quintero and former U.S. Army Green Beret Jordan Goudreau, head of a Florida company that says it offers paid strategic security services, released a video Sunday announcing the start of “Operation Gideon” and calling on Venezuelan soldiers to join them.

Goudreau, in an interview with The Washington Post, confirmed that two Americans in what he says was a force of about 60 men were captured Monday along with six Venezuelans. He identified the Americans as Airan Berry and Luke Denman. Also captured was one of the operation’s leaders, former Capt. Antonio Sequea.

The Americans, Goudreau said, were fellow former Special Forces members he had known for years who had joined the operation as “supervisors.” He said he has engaged a lawyer in Venezuela and was reaching out to the State Department to try to secure their release.

washington post logoWashington Post, Fact Checker Analysis: Trump trots out two claims attacking Obama during Fox town hall, Glenn Kessler, May 5, 2020 (print ed.). President Trump’s virtual town hall on Fox News on May 3 sounded like an oral reading of our Trump database of false or misleading claims (or our upcoming book, “Donald Trump and His Assault on Truth,” being published June 2 by Scribner). There were so many old chestnuts, from his false claims about NATO spending to his tale that the United States has spent $8 trillion on Middle East wars to his ahistorical bragging that he had built the greatest economy in the history of the world.

But the president’s favorite foil is his predecessor, Barack Obama. Anything Obama did is inherently suspect, in Trump’s telling, and anything Trump has done is surely superior.

We’ve also covered many of these in the past, such as his attacks on Obama’s successful handling of the swine flu pandemic. But here are two repeated claims that we have not had the opportunity to unravel previously. We will deal with them quickly in this roundup, so we won’t be awarding Pinocchios.

Medically, we had empty cupboards. The cupboards — I say, the cupboards were empty.”

This talking point emerged in April, with Trump often saying “the cupboard was bare,” referring to the Strategic National Stockpile, a repository of emergency medicines and supplies created in 1999 in case of enemy attacks. In 2003, the stockpile’s mission was expanded to prepare for a possible pandemic.

On its face, calling the cupboard empty might seem like a strange assertion because Trump has been president for three years, so he bears some responsibility for what was in the stockpile and whether it was appropriate for a pandemic. “The stockpile has grown and evolved to a greater than $8 billion enterprise,” wrote Greg Burel, the director at the time, in November 2019.

U.S. Business, Workers, Jobs

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. companies cut thousands of workers while continuing to reward shareholders, Peter Whoriskey, May 5, 2020. The companies paid shareholders more than $750 million in recent weeks while closing plants and stores and laying off or furloughing thousands of workers.

Media / #MeToo News

Mediaite, NY AG Reportedly Initiated Harassment Investigation Into NBC News Including Claims Against Andy Lack, Chris Matthews, Rudy Takala, May Letitia James 150x1505, 2020. New York’s attorney general Letitia James, right, launched an investigation into NBC News in late 2019, according to a new report, over allegations of sexual harassment, retaliation and gender discrimination.

The investigation involves allegations against former “Hardball” host Chris Matthews and NBC News chief Andrew Lack, according to the Tuesday report in Variety. It comes after the network’s Monday announcement that Lack was retiring earlier than anticipated.

Sources told the publication the attorney general’s office had interviewed a number of women in connection with the investigation, including former “Today” host Megyn Kelly. Attorney Douglas Wigdor is reportedly representing several of the women.

Former NBC News producer Rich McHugh said in a Monday interview he wasn’t aware of the details, but that the attorney general’s civil division was spearheading the investigation. “We’re not sure if it could lead to anything criminal, but I do know they have been looking into this and interviewing employees over a number of months,” McHugh said.

andy lackFormer “NBC News at Sunrise” anchor Linda Vester, who accused the network’s Tom Brokaw of misconduct in 2018, said the attorney general’s office asked her to share details of her allegations. “They asked me to recount my original experience, and wanted to know a lot about the retaliation after I told the Brokaw story and what I thought might be Andy Lack’s involvement in it.”

A woman who spoke anonymously said she was harassed by Matthews and that the network retaliated against her for reporting it. “Everyone in that company knew about it and they knew about it for years and it was horrible,” she said.

Another woman, Addie Zinone, who alleged that she had a 2000 affair with NBC anchor Matt Lauer while she worked as a 24-year-old production assistant, said the AG’s office also contacted her. “It’s time to ask what top management at NBC and other outlets are doing to change the culture that allowed Lauer, along with numerous news anchors with questionable attitudes toward women, to stay in their positions for nbc logoso long,” Zinone said.

Lauer, who was fired from the “Today” show in 2017 over a rape allegation, infamously had a button installed under his desk that allowed him to lock his door while visitors were in his office. NBC at the time denied the report in a vaguely-worded statement, saying, “The button releases a magnet that holds the door open. It does not lock the door from the inside.”

NBCUniversal said on Monday that Telemundo chief Cesar Conde would replace Lack at the network. Lack, who served as NBC’s president and chief operating officer, became a controversial figure after he quashed reporting by Ronan Farrow on allegations of sexual abuse by movie mogul Harvey Weinstein.

May 4

Public Health Top Headlines

U.S. Pandemic Politics

Trump Team Corruption?

Controversial Trump Nominee

Virus Victims, Prevention

 U.S. Courts, Justice System

 U.S. Business / Financial Virus Victims

 2020 U.S. Elections

World News

Media / Tara Reade Claims

 

Public Health Top Stories

djt i dont take responsibility at all

ny times logoNew York Times, Live Updates: Privately, Administration Projects Daily Deaths to Nearly Double in May, Staff reports, May 4, 2020. 3,000 Deaths Per Day Are Forecast as Some States Reopen.

The Trump administration is projecting that the daily toll would rise steadily over the next several weeks, according to an internal document obtained by The Times. President Trump stepped up criticism of China, part of an international response to the outbreak. The F.D.A. said that companies selling antibody tests must prove their accuracy within 10 days. Here’s the latest.

As President Trump presses for states to reopen their economies, his administration is privately projecting a steady rise in the number of coronavirus cases and deaths over the next several weeks. The daily death toll will reach about 3,000 on June 1, according to an internal document obtained by The New York Times, nearly double the current number of about 1,750.

The projections, based on government modeling pulled together in chart form by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, forecast about 200,000 new cases each day by the end of the month, up from about 25,000 cases a day currently.

The numbers underscore a sobering reality: While the United States has been hunkered down for the past seven weeks, significant risks remain. And reopening the economy will make matters worse.

“There remains a large number of counties whose burden continues to grow,” the Centers for Disease Control warned.

The projections confirm the primary fear of public health experts: that a reopening of the economy will put the nation back where it was in mid-March, when cases were rising so rapidly in some parts of the country that patients were dying on gurneys in hospital hallways as the health care system was overloaded.

“While mitigation didn’t fail, I think it’s fair to say that it didn’t work as well as we expected,” Scott Gottlieb, Mr. Trump’s former commissioner of food and drugs, said Sunday on the CBS program Face the Nation. “We expected that we would start seeing more significant declines in new cases and deaths around the nation at this point. And we’re just not seeing that.”

On Sunday, Mr. Trump said deaths in the United States could reach 100,000, twice as many as he had forecast just two weeks ago. But his new estimate still underestimates what his own administration is now predicting to be the total death toll by the end of May — much less in the months to come. It follows a pattern for Mr. Trump, who has frequently understated the impact of the disease.

See related Washington Post story below in next section Washington Post, Draft report predicts covid-19 cases will reach 200,000 a day by June 1.

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. Pandemic Toll: 67,222 people have died from coronavirus in the U.S.; At least 1,153,000 cases have been reported, Joe Fox, Brittany Renee Mayes, Kevin Schaul and Leslie Shapiro, Data as of May 4 at 8:12 a.m. The disease caused by the novel coronavirus has covad 19 photo.jpg Custom 2killed at least 67,000 people in the United States.

The country’s earliest covid-19 fatality was thought to be a 58-year-old man near Seattle, whose death was announced Feb. 29.

But on April 22, officials in California announced that tissue from two people who had died in early and mid-February in Santa Clara County had tested positive, signaling that the virus may have spread in the country weeks earlier than was previously thought.

U.S. Pandemic Politics

djt lincoln

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump, offering support to lockdown protesters, says it’s safe for states to reopen, Felicia Sonmez, Meryl Kornfield and Katie Mettler, May 4, 2020. He also projected that the U.S. death toll may be as high as 100,000, scaling up his earlier estimate of 65,000.

President Trump on Sunday sought to reassure Americans that it is safe for states to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic, offering support to protesters who have railed against the lockdowns across the country.

“I really believe that you can go to parks, you can go to beaches . . . [if] you stay away a certain amount,” Trump said during a Fox News Channel town hall at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington (shown above).

Trump said that it’s possible to “satisfy both” anti-lockdown protesters and those who are afraid to resume public life. He noted that Americans have been wearing face masks and social distancing in recent weeks and said that “you’re going to have to do that for a while,” even as states reopen their economies.

He scaled up the estimate he has used for the number of expected dead — projecting that the U.S. toll may be as high as 100,000, up from his prior prediction of 65,000 — while emphasizing that he takes the novel coronavirus seriously and noting that three of his friends have died after contracting it.

Trump’s comments come as governors continue to grapple with reopening pains amid ongoing pushback against coronavirus restrictions. They also come as the administration is ramping up its efforts to blame China for the virus, which has now taken the lives of more than 67,000 people in the United States.

washington post logoWashington Post, Draft report predicts covid-19 cases will reach 200,000 a day by June 1, William Wan, Lenny Bernstein, Laurie McGinley and Josh Dawsey, May 4, 2020. More than 3,000 people are projected to die daily of the disease by that date, according to the projections. A draft government report projects covid-19 cases will surge to about 200,000 per day by June 1, a staggering jump that would be accompanied by more than 3,000 deaths each day.

The document predicts a sharp increase in both cases and deaths beginning about May 14, according to a copy shared with The Washington Post. The forecast stops at June 1, but shows both daily cases and deaths on an upward trajectory at that point.

The White House and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention quickly disavowed the report, though the slides carry the CDC’s logo. The creator of the model said the numbers are unfinished projections shown to the CDC as a work in progress.

The work contained a wide range of possibilities and modeling was not complete, according to Justin Lessler, an associate professor of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, who created the model.

He said he didn’t know how the update was turned into a slidedeck by government officials and shared with news organizations. The data was first reported by the New York Times.

“I had no role in the process by which that was presented and shown. This data was presented as an FYI to CDC … it was not in any way intended to be a forecast,” Lessler said.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s Fox News town hall disaster just opened up a whole new can of worms for him, Bill Palmer, right, May 4, 2020. What bill palmera lot of people don’t understand is that Fox News is a for-profit corporation like any other major news outlet. The only difference is that Fox has a business centered around feeding convenient lies to conservatives in order to rile them up and keep them tuned in. But even Fox has to maintain relative credibility with its gullible audience, or it risks losing them.

When Donald Trump agreed to do a coronavirus town hall on Fox News last night, he and his handlers must have been expecting a series of softball questions. After all, Fox News viewers are the people who like him. Perhaps he thought he’d get asked questions about how successful he is, or what an amazing job he’s done with the coronavirus crisis. Instead, the audience questions were are all fairly reasonable and topical.

bill palmer report logo headerFox could have cherry picked questions that were about how great Trump is – surely a few were submitted – but that’s clearly not where Fox’s audience is. Even these gullible conservatives are worried about treatments and vaccines, food and income, and the importance of what’s going on right now. Donald Trump must not have expected these questions, because he had no idea how to answer almost any of them.

fox news logo SmallAt one point Donald Trump was telling a bizarre and inaccurate story about World War I. He’d been asked about nursing homes. At another point Trump began rambling about airline bailouts. He’d been asked about how to save an individually-run business with no employees. His answers didn’t even match the questions.

It’s not just that Donald Trump made himself look really inept in the eyes of an unusually sober Fox News audience. The real problem for Trump is that even a lot of Fox viewers seem to be looking for serious solutions and governmental competence right now – and Trump has absolutely no idea how to deliver that or even address it. Serious moments require serious leaders, and Trump is more of a failing carnival barker than ever.

Palmer Report, Opinion: There is no letter! Bill Palmer, May 4, 2020. Last night Donald Trump announced on live national television that Joe Biden recently wrote him a letter of apology over the way the coronavirus crisis has been handled. Because Trump was talking to a pair of Fox News nitwits, they didn’t bother to challenge him on this seemingly blatant lie.

Fortunately, Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler has confirmed what we pretty much instinctively already knew: there is no such letter. Donald Trump is making it up. That’s right, the sitting President of the United States just falsely claimed that his current general election opponent has sent him a written letter of apology. In any other time, this would be a major scandal. But because the bar is set so low for Trump and he has so many other scandals going on, there probably won’t even be a widespread call for Trump to turn over this supposed letter or admit he’s lying.

bill palmer report logo headerBut there should be. This week we saw multiple major media outlets make the ludicrous assertion that Joe Biden should turn over the entire contents of his Senate archive at the University of Delaware in the name of “transparency,” simply because a false allegation was made against him, even though there is zero expectation that the archive will contain anything relevant to the false allegation. It’s a fishing expedition and nothing more. The media is hoping to poke around in Biden’s archives, find some random thing that it can mischaracterize into a scandal, and drum it up for ratings.

Since Donald Trump can’t produce this supposed letter that he claims he received, we think he should have to turn over the full contents of his archives, along with his bank account, tax returns, and personal vault for good measure, or else he’s not being transparent, is he. If we’re going to invent ludicrous standards of transparency, we should at least apply them to the candidate who’s lying about everything and whose entire life has been one big long scandal.

Trump Team Corruption?

washington post logoWashington Post, Investigation: Before pandemic, Trump’s stockpile chief put focus on biodefense. An old client benefited, Jon Swaine, Robert O’Harrow Jr. and Aaron C. Davis​, May 4, 2020. Robert Kadlec’s office at the Department of Health and Human Services made a deal to buy up to $2.8 billion of smallpox vaccine from a company that once paid him as a consultant, a connection he did not disclose on a Senate questionnaire when he was nominated.

After Robert Kadlec was confirmed as President Trump’s top official for public health preparedness in 2017, he began pressing to increase government stocks of a smallpox vaccine. His office ultimately made a deal to buy up to $2.8 billion of the vaccine from a company that once paid Kadlec as a consultant, a connection he did not disclose on a Senate questionnaire when he was nominated.

Under the agreement struck last year with Emergent BioSolutions, Kadlec’s office at the Department of Health and Human Services is paying more than double the price per dose it had previously paid for the drug. Because Emergent is the only licensed maker of the vaccine, Kadlec’s office arrived at the price through negotiations with the company rather than through bidding.

The 10-year contract is part of an effort by Kadlec to bolster the nation’s stockpile of defenses against biological and chemical weapons, a focus he made a priority over preparing for a natural pandemic, an examination by The Washington Post found. Kadlec, a decorated veteran and biodefense expert, has argued for more than two decades in government and the private sector that the nation should devote more of its resources to preparing for bioweapon attacks.

In the two years before the coronavirus pandemic, Kadlec aggressively pursued efforts to fulfill his vision for national preparedness, the Post examination found. He assumed greater control over acquisitions for the Strategic National Stockpile, which in 2018 was moved from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and placed under his authority, the examination found.

Kadlec scaled back a long-standing interagency process for spending billions of dollars on stockpile purchases, diminishing the role of government experts and restricting decision-making to himself and a small circle of advisers, according to three former officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters.

Controversial Trump Nominee

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s pick for intelligence chief faces grilling by Democrats in confirmation hearing, Ellen Nakashima, Shane Harris and Seung Min Kim, May 4, 2020. Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Tex.) is expected to face pointed questions about his qualifications for the job and his willingness to provide candid intelligence free from political considerations.

U.S. Virus Responders, Victims

washington post logoNew York Times, Why Does the Virus Devastate Some Places and Spare Others? Hannah Beech, Alissa J. Rubin, Anatoly Kurmanaev and Ruth Maclean, May 4, 2020 (print ed.). Experts are trying to figure out the seemingly capricious impact of the coronavirus. The answers could have profound implications for how countries respond and for knowing when it’s safe to go out again.

washington post logoWashington Post, Remembering Paul Cary, the Colorado paramedic who voluntarily drove to New York to help fight covid-19 only to die for his deed, Meagan Flynn, May 4, 2020. When the call went out from New York for volunteers to travel to the epicenter of the pandemic in the fight against covid-19, from 1,800 miles away, Paul Cary raised his hand.

On March 28, the veteran paramedic got in an ambulance and drove for 27 hours straight from Colorado Springs, Colo., to New York City, trading shifts at the wheel with his colleague. They were part of a fleet of 29 private ambulances and 72 medics from across the country, from the company Ambulnz, headed there to ease the burden on the city’s overwhelmed EMS services.

And from the moment Cary arrived, before they had even gotten settled, “Paul just kept asking, when are we going out in the field?” said Ambulnz CEO Stan Vashovsky.

Cary would spend his final days in the field on the streets of New York, tending to coronavirus patients in the back of his ambulance as it raced from hospital to hospital.

He worked for nearly three weeks, until he fell ill with the virus himself.

Cary, a 66-year-old father of two and grandfather of four, died of covid-19 on April 30 after spending several days on a ventilator at a New York hospital.

U.S. Business / Financial Virus Victims

washington post logoWashington Post, The housing market faces its next crisis as May rent and mortgage payments come due, Renae Merle, May 4, 2020 (print ed.). While aggressive federal and state intervention and temporary corporate measures have prevented a surge in evictions and foreclosures, the housing and rental market has fallen into a severe crisis that threatens the ability of millions of Americans to stay in their homes even if the coronavirus pandemic eases in the coming months.

Aggressive intervention has prevented a surge in evictions and foreclosures, but the ability of millions of Americans to stay in their homes is under threat even if the pandemic eases.

The speed and broad reach of the disruption are likely to pit landlords and mortgage companies against homeowners and renters, with each side claiming it needs more assistance and fueling calls for billions in new aid for the housing sector.

The tension could explode this week as mortgage and rental payments come due for millions of Americans who have lost their jobs as the novel coronavirus has shuttered the U.S. economy. This is especially true in high-priced regions where stimulus payments of $1,200 per adult, for those making under $75,000 a year, are unlikely to cover more than a month of rent or mortgage payments, if that.Washington Post, No shows, no slots, no visitors: Coronavirus devastates Las Vegas, Robert Ray, May 4, 2020. The lockdown has taken a heavy toll on the entertainment and hospitality industries, and hundreds of thousands are out of work.

washington post logoWashington Post, Historic financial drop hits healthcare sector, threatens overall economy, Todd C. Frankel and Tony Romm, May 4, 2020. Stay-at-home orders didn’t just prevent people from dining in restaurants — they led people to avoid medical services, too.

Most elective surgeries nationwide were postponed beginning in mid-March. Dentists offices were closed. Physicians stopped seeing all but the sickest patients in their offices. Stay-at-home orders didn’t just prevent people from dining in restaurants — they led people to avoid medical services, too, amid concerns about the virus’s disease, covid-19. More than 200 hospitals, including Children’s National Hospital in Washington, have furloughed workers, according to a tally by Becker’s Hospital Review.

The result was that health-care spending declined at an annualized rate of 18 percent in the first three months of the year, according to Commerce Department data released last week, the largest reduction since the government started keeping records in 1959.

And that proved the biggest factor in driving the annualized 4.8 percent decline in first-quarter gross domestic product, which itself was the worst overall contraction in GDP since the Great Recession.

washington post logoWashington Post, J. Crew files for bankruptcy, becoming first national retail casualty of pandemic, Abha Bhattarai, May 4, 2020. A series of missteps, in both fashion and finance, left the onetime mall darling with stalling sales and huge debt.

 U.S. Pandemic Politics

Michigan thugs yell State Sen. Dayna Polehanki

Protester at Michigan’s State Capitol on April 30, 2020.

ny times logoNew York Times, The Coronavirus Is Becoming a Battle Cry for U.S. Extremists, Neil MacFarquhar, May 4, 2020 (print ed.). White supremacists are seeking to stoke the fear and disruption caused by the pandemic to push their agenda — and to recruit.

abc news logoAmerica’s extremists are attempting to turn the coronavirus pandemic into a potent recruiting tool both in the deep corners of the internet and on the streets of state capitals by twisting the public health crisis to bolster their white supremacist, anti-government agenda.

Although the protests that have broken out across the country have drawn out a wide variety of people pressing to lift stay-at-home orders, the presence of extremists cannot be missed, with their anti-immigrant and anti-Semitic signs and coded messages aimed at inspiring the faithful, say those who track such movements.

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washington post logoWashington Post, White House, Congress clash over liability protections for businesses, Erica Werner and Tom Hamburger, May 4, 2020 (print ed.). Republicans insist that employers be shielded from liability if their workers contract the coronavirus, while Democrats oppose blanket protections. The issue could have sweeping implications for health care and the economy.

Congressional leaders are girding for a huge fight over the reentry of millions of Americans to the workplace, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) insisting that employers be shielded from liability if their workers contract the coronavirus. He appears to have the backing of top White House officials.

Democratic leaders have declared they will oppose such blanket protections, putting Washington’s power brokers on opposite sides of a major issue that could have sweeping implications for health care and the economy in the coming months. The battle has unleashed a frenzy of lobbying, with major industry groups, technology firms, insurers, manufacturers, labor unions, and plaintiffs lawyers all squaring off.

The clash is a sharp departure from the past six weeks, when lawmakers from both parties came together to swiftly approve nearly $3 trillion in emergency funds as Americans hunkered down during the pandemic. Now, lawmakers are warring over what the rules should be when millions of Americans return to the workplace.

  • Washington Post, 34 days of pandemic: Inside Trump’s desperate attempts to reopen U.S., Philip Rucker, Josh Dawsey, Yasmeen Abutaleb, Robert Costa and Lena H. Sun, May 4, 2020 (print ed.).

washington post logoWashington Post, A security guard was fatally shot for enforcing the Michigan mask policy, prosecutor says, Meryl Kornfield, May 4, 2020. A Family Dollar store security guard was fatally shot in Flint, Mich. on Friday after telling a customer her child had to wear a face mask to enter the store, the prosecutor’s office said.

The argument began when the security guard, Calvin Munerlyn, 43, told Sharmel Lashe Teague, 45, that customers needed to wear face masks in the store, Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton said at a Monday press conference. She yelled at him, spit on him and drove off, Leyton said. About 20 minutes later, her car returned to the store and her husband and son, Larry Edward Teague, 44, and Ramonyea Travon Bishop, 23, stepped out and confronted Munerlyn, according to investigators who spoke to witnesses in the store and reviewed surveillance video. Bishop pulled out a gun and shot him, Leyton said.

Leyton said Munerlyn was doing his job, protecting others and enforcing a statewide executive order. In Michigan, people are required to wear face coverings in businesses. Stores can refuse service to anyone who isn’t wearing a mask.

“We simply can’t devolve into an ‘us versus them’ mentality,” he said. “We need to make a commitment as a community to do the things necessary to allow us to stay healthy and turn a page on this crisis together. Not for ourselves but for Calvin Munerlyn, who lost his life needlessly and senselessly.”

Michigan State Police arrested Sharmel Teague but are searching for the two men, Special 1st Lt. David Kaiser said.

Social media posts by friends and family memorialized Munerlyn, a husband and a father of eight children, by his nickname: “Big Duper.” A GoFundMe for the family has raised more than $22,000, exceeding its goal. Latryna Sims Munerlyn, his wife of 10 years, told NBC 25 that he worked at the store for more than a year.

U.S. Courts, Justice System

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washington post logoWashington Post, The public will get a rare glimpse into the inner workings of the Supreme Court today as justices work remotely, Robert Barnes, May 4, 2020. The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments by teleconference, taking a historic step into the technological present. The court doesn’t allow cameras in its courtroom and has never allowed simultaneous audio broadcasts.

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments by teleconference Monday, taking a historic but modest step into the technological present.

supreme court CustomForced from gathering in their grand courtroom because of the threats presented by the coronavirus, the justices will remotely hear 10 cases over the next two weeks. They are drawn from cases postponed in March and April. The justices have not sat as a group since March 9, doing their work and issuing opinions since then remotely.

The justices will remain scattered, and the advocates will present their cases from basements and conference rooms in Washington and around the country.

And with a live feed going to the media, anyone around the world will be able to listen in. The Supreme Court doesn’t allow cameras in its courtroom, has never allowed simultaneous audio broadcasts and only rarely even allows tapes of its hearings to be released the same day.

While various media groups intend to air the arguments live, a transcript and tape of the proceedings also will be posted on the court’s website supremecourt.gov

The court will start slowly, with only one argument Monday, and additional sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday. Next week, it will consider President Trump’s battle to keep his financial records from being turned over to congressional committees and a New York prosecutor.

Those tuning in Monday may wonder what the fuss is all about. While the arguments will feature two veteran advocates, the case involves a trademark dispute between the federal bureaucracy and a website that assists in booking hotel rooms, Booking.com

The question is whether a generic word such as booking can be recognized as a mark just by adding “.com” to it. Lower courts ruled for the company. Washington lawyer Lisa S. Blatt will be arguing on behalf of Booking.com from her dining room in northwest D.C. Justice Department lawyer Erica Ross plans to don the traditional morning coat worn by government lawyers who appear before the high court, and make her case to a speakerphone in the solicitor general’s conference room.

2020 U.S. Elections

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Incumbent Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Daniel Kelly and Dane County (whose county seat is the state capital of Madison) Judge Jill Karofsky, above, competed in an ostensibly non-partisan but intensely political race on April 7 for a 10-year-term on the court. The two were in a run-off from a February  primary in which Kelly won 50 % of the vote and Karofsky 37%. In a major update, Karofsky prevailed in the run-off by a nearly 11 point margin despite legislative and court decisions seemingly designed to suppress voting in liberal districts.

washington post logoWashington Post, Thousands of Wis. ballots that arrived after Election Day were counted, thanks to court, Amy Gardner, Dan Simmons and Robert Barnes, May 4, 2020 (print ed.). Under a Supreme Court order, election officials tallied Wisconsin absentee ballots postmarked by April 7, rather than just those received by then, underscoring the power of narrow court decisions to significantly shape which votes are counted.

supreme court CustomEarly last month, voters in Wisconsin navigated a dizzying number of rule changes governing the state’s spring elections as officials tussled over the risks of the novel coronavirus, prompting a backlog of absentee ballot requests and fears that many would not be able to participate.

But in the end, tens of thousands of mail ballots that arrived after the April 7 presidential primaries and spring elections were counted by local officials, a review by The Washington Post has found — the unexpected result of last-minute intervention by the U.S. Supreme Court.

In Milwaukee and Madison alone, the state’s two largest cities, more than 10 percent of all votes counted, nearly 21,000 ballots, arrived by mail after April 7, according to data provided by local election officials.

wisconsin map with largest cities CustomThe surprising outcome after warnings that many Wisconsinites would be disenfranchised amid the pandemic was the result of a largely unexamined aspect of the court’s decision that temporarily changed which ballots were counted. Because of the order, election officials for the first time tallied absentee ballots postmarked by Election Day, rather than just those received by then — underscoring the power of narrow court decisions to significantly shape which votes are counted.

What happened in Wisconsin has potentially far-reaching implications as the two parties square off in courtrooms across the country, hoping to notch legal victories that will shape the electorate in their favor before November.

Democrats think they have secured a game-changing precedent from the Supreme Court’s 5-to-4 order. In the past week alone, lawsuits bankrolled by Democratic committees have been filed in four states seeking similar postmark rules and citing the Wisconsin opinion to bolster their argument. More cases are expected in the coming week.

Sign up for our Coronavirus Updates newsletter to track the outbreak. All stories linked in the newsletter are free to access.

Republicans, meanwhile, say they are prepared to spend millions of dollars to oppose these efforts, arguing that extending ballot deadlines creates an opportunity for fraud. Some have also been open in their view that higher turnout could harm them politically. On March 30, President Trump said that if Democratic efforts to expand mail balloting succeeded, “you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden wins Kansas Democratic primary, Aaron Blake, May 4, 2020 (print ed.). Joe Biden has notched his latest victory in the increasingly elongated and vote-by-mail-dependent 2020 Democratic presidential nominating contest, winning the Kansas primary.

joe biden 2020 button CustomThe latest results from Saturday’s primary, which were released Sunday morning, show Biden taking 77 percent of the vote with 100 percent of precincts reporting. Bernie Sanders, who exited the race last month but was still in when ballots were mailed out, took 23 percent. Biden won 29 delegates, while Sanders took 10.

Kansas was the latest state to conduct balloting completely by mail during the coronavirus pandemic. It also was the latest to conduct its primary using ranked-choice voting, after replacing its caucus system.

Ranked choice meant supporters of other candidates who remained on the ballot but failed to clear 15 percent of the vote would get to vote for one of the candidates who did clear the threshold. Because of this, Biden’s support rose from 70 percent to 77 percent, while Sanders’s rose from 18 percent to 23 percent.

joe biden bernie sanders palmer headshotsBiden, who is the presumptive Democratic nominee with every other major candidate out of the race, has 1,435 of the 1,991 delegates needed to officially win the nomination. He needs 556 of the remaining 1,389 available delegates.

Sanders, notably, got about 25 percent of available delegates, which is key when it comes to his ability to influence the Democratic Party’s platform at the upcoming party convention. Sanders is estimated to need at least 15 percent of the remaining delegates to have such negotiating power.

Palmer Report, Analysis: Joe Biden just landed a big win, James Sullivan, May 4, 2020. The news cycle hasn’t given it much attention, so you might not joe biden 2020 button Customrealize that Joe Biden scored another big win on Saturday night, after the state of Kansas held its first vote by mail primary. This isn’t a big surprise, of course, and it’s not likely that he’ll even be able to flip Kansas in the general election, which is usually a reliably red state and doesn’t award a whole lot of electoral votes anyway, but some important things stand out.

bill palmer report logo headerFirst of all, he didn’t just win – he took 77% of the popular vote and 29 delegates in the contest – meaning he did even better than when he won in Ohio earlier last week, suggesting that the phony scandals being drummed up by Twitter aren’t making much of a dent in his popularity – and they’re also not making people much more enthusiastic to cast their votes for Bernie Sanders instead, who already endorsed Biden but gave his remaining supporters permission to vote for him in the primaries ahead. Although the state collected mail-in ballots up until April 24, they also allowed for in-person voting on Saturday, May 2.

This is also a state where Sanders won overwhelmingly in 2016 against Hillary Clinton – 68% of the vote back when Kansas still had its caucus format. Now that it switched to a vote by mail primary format, the voter turnout actually tripled in size – 143,183 people cast a ballot in the primary, which could be a good sign for Kansas Democrats in the general election, as the state will be holding a Senate race where Trump ally Kris Kobach is likely to be the Republican nominee. No wonder Republicans are so against voting by mail.

washington post logojennifer rubin new headshotWashington Post, Opinion: Can Republicans bet on a comeback? Jennifer Rubin, right, May 4, 2020 (print ed.). Rarely have polls painted as consistent a portrait of President Trump’s and Republicans’ standing: Terrible.

In multiple polls, former vice president Joe Biden has a comfortable lead nationally, and a small but consistent lead in battleground states ranging from Pennsylvania to Michigan to Arizona (!) and North Carolina. Needless to say, if the numbers hold and Biden wins Arizona, this will be a blowout election.

PRRI’s poll of battleground states finds, “Trump’s favorability in battleground states has dropped substantially since March, from 53% to 38%.” Non-college-educated voters, who previously were a key part of his base, are falling away. “Trump’s favorability among non-college graduates in battleground states has dropped 20 percentage points between March and April (59% to 39%), putting it more in line with his favorability in 2019 (45%).”

In sum, “Large declines are also evident among those living in battleground states (-15 percentage points), those age 65 and over (-14 percentage points), white Americans without a college degree (-12 percentage points), and white women (-9 percentage points).”

This does not mean Trump is a goner. It does not mean Biden is home free.

It does mean there has been a considerable erosion in Trump’s support, making him look more vulnerable than at any time this year. One can cite a host of reasons why now, of all times, the dam, if not breaking, seems less impervious to current events than have past incidents: Over 60,000 Americans have died and the economy is in shambles. Trump’s constant presence and irrational, incoherent rants make him seem even less capable and sober. Biden has sewed up the nomination, and has found campaigning from his basement has its pluses. He can control access and his message, while allowing Trump to self-immolate.

However, Trump is not the only one who looks vulnerable. Republican Senate Republicans’ polls are dreadful. An internal GOP poll from Georgia shows, “Voters are evenly split on Trump, but [Gov. Brian] Kemp’s disapproval rating (52%) outweigh [sic] his approval rating (43%). [Republican Sen. Kelly] Loeffler is deeper underwater after grappling with an uproar over her stock transactions during the pandemic, with an approval of 20% and disapproval of 47%.”

World News

ny times logoNew York Times, Worldwide Backlash Builds Against China Over Coronavirus, Steven Erlanger, May 4, 2020 (print ed.). Australia has called for an inquiry into the origin of the virus. Germany and Britain are hesitating anew about inviting in the Chinese tech giant Huawei. President Trump has blamed China FlagChina for the contagion and is seeking to punish it. Some governments want to sue Beijing for damages and reparations.

Across the globe a backlash is building against China for its initial mishandling of the crisis that helped loose the coronavirus on the world, creating a deeply polarizing battle of narratives and setting back China’s ambition to fill the leadership vacuum left by the United States.

China, never receptive to outside criticism and wary of damage to its domestic control and long economic reach, has responded aggressively, combining medical aid to other countries with harsh nationalist rhetoric, and mixing demands for gratitude with economic threats.

washington post logoWashington Post, Venezuela’s president says two Americans held in failed invasion attempt, Ana Vanessa Herrero, Anthony Faiola and Alex Horton​, May 4, 2020. U.S. officials and the mainstream Venezuelan opposition strongly denied any connection with the operation, which allegedly involved several dozen men.

washington post logoRussian FlagWashington Post, Russia has a huge fund for times of crisis. But Putin is hesitating on a sweeping rescue plan, Robyn Dixon, May 4, 2020 (print ed.). President Vladimir Putin has helped large companies hit by the coronavirus shutdown, while small businesses wonder whether they will be overlooked.

washington post logoWashington Post, Venezuelan government says it stopped ‘invasion’ launched from Colombia, Ana Vanessa Herrero and Anthony Faiola, May 4, 2020 (print ed.). Eight people were killed and two arrested in an incursion near the capital, authorities said. But the opposition and U.S. officials expressed skepticism.

Media / #MeToo Claims

washington post logoWashington Post, Andy Lack, longtime NBC News and MSNBC executive, steps down from chairmanship after internal, external criticism, Sarah Ellison and Elahe Izadi, May 4, 2020. Andy Lack, right, who has served as chairman of NBC News and MSNBC for five years after a longtime affiliation with the company, is stepping down from his job amid a corporate restructuring.

andy lackLack “has decided to step down and will transition out of the company at the end of the month,” according to a statement from NBC. The move came months ahead of schedule, according to people familiar with the deliberations, who said Lack had planned to step down after the 2020 presidential election.

The announcement ended Lack’s lengthy tenure at NBC, one split into two tours and marked by significant upheaval within his ranks, particularly in his most recent time at the network.

The news came the same day NBCUniversal announced it was reorganizing its news and entertainment divisions. Cesar Conde, who has overseen Spanish-language Telemundo and NBC’s international organization, will now serve in the newly created role of chairman of NBCUniversal News Group, which includes NBC News, CNBC and MSNBC.

It’s the first big executive shuffle by CEO Jeff Shell since he took over for Steve Burke earlier this year. Lack’s direct reports, who included NBC News President Noah Oppenheim and MSNBC President Phil Griffin, will now report to Conde, along with CNBC Chairman Mark Hoffman.

msnbc logo CustomThe move comes now in part because Shell wanted to make his imprint on the company and is facing intense budget pressure during economic fallout from the novel coronavirus, according to NBCUniversal insiders who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal matters.

That fallout had already forced NBC to place on hold an ambitious plan to launch a news service with Sky News, which NBC parent Comcast gained control of in 2018.

matt lauer todayLack, 72, a veteran TV news producer, first joined NBC as news division president in 1993 after a long career at CBS and oversaw a surge in the ratings for “NBC Nightly News” and the “Today” show. He left the network for a series of other corporate media jobs a decade later.

Since returning to the network as chairman of its news division in 2015, Lack oversaw a resurgence of some of NBC’s marquee shows, such as “Today,” and urged NBC News to fully embrace its cable partner MSNBC, pushing anchors from both divisions to work together.

He also oversaw high-profile controversies and missteps: anchor Brian Williams’s suspension and demotion for exaggerating his reporting exploits; the network’s apparent delay during the 2016 presidential campaign of the “Access Hollywood” recording from 2005 in which Donald Trump bragged about groping women; “Today” host Matt Lauer’s firing for sexual misconduct in 2017 (Lauer is shown at left in a file photo); and the ronan farrowsigning of Fox News host Megyn Kelly to a huge contract that resulted in a low-rated talk show and her eventual departure from NBC.

Lack was also in charge when NBC parted ways three years ago with investigative journalist Ronan Farrow, right, who subsequently won a Pulitzer for the New Yorker magazine with his groundbreaking story revealing Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein as a repeat sexual offender and harasser.

Palmer Report, Analysis, MSNBC Chairman Andy Lack resigns after network faces backlash for phony Biden scandal, Bill Palmer, May 4, 2020. MSNBC just had its ugliest five day stretch in the network’s quarter-century history. Host Chris Hayes falsely characterized a non-credible allegation against Joe Biden, which led to Biden going on Morning Joe and refuting the whole thing.

bill palmer report logo headerEven after the Associated Press confirmed that the accuser was fundamentally changing her story, MSBNC still spent the weekend obsessively hammering away at the story as if it were a real scandal. Meanwhile, MSNBC’s audience began loudly rebelling against MSNBC across social media for its journalistic malpractice.

Now MSNBC chairman Andy Lackandy lack, right, is suddenly resigning. NBC is officially saying that this is due to a larger restructuring. But these kinds of “restructuring” moves in the corporate world are often orchestrated as cover for getting rid of a specific executive without making it look like a controversial ouster.

Given the timing, it’s difficult to imagine that Lack’s abrupt departure is mere coincidence. We’re coming off a week in which large chunks of Chris Hayes’ own audience are calling for his resignation, the names of other MSNBC hosts like Ali Velshi have been trending amid backlash, and MSNBC figures like Andrea Mitchell have been getting severely “ratioed” with negative replies on Twitter.

It was fairly clear that certain MSNBC hosts felt confident in breathlessly hyping the phony Biden scandal – even as it was completely falling apart – because they felt that it was what the MSNBC bosses wanted them to do. Now that the entire thing has blown up in MSNBC’s face, and its audience is outraged, that “boss” is suddenly resigning. Again, NBC will continue to paint this as being mere coincidence. But let’s see if there’s a shift in on-air tone today at MSNBC, now that the debacle appears to have cost the network’s chairman his job.

May 3

Public Health Top Headlines

U.S. Pandemic Politics

joe biden 2020 button Custom2020 U.S. Elections

Virus Victims, Prevention

World News

More On U.S. Virus Victims, Relief

 

Public Health Top Stories

washington post logoWashington Post, Guide to the pandemic in the U.S.: There have been more than 3.4 million confirmed cases of covid-19, Joe Fox, Brittany Renee covad 19 photo.jpg Custom 2Mayes, Kevin Schaul and Leslie Shapiro, Updated May 3, 2020. The disease caused by the novel coronavirus has killed at least 66,000 people in the United States. The country’s earliest covid-19 fatality was thought to be a 58-year-old man near Seattle, whose death was announced Feb. 29.

But on April 22, officials in California announced that tissue from two people who had died in early and mid-February in Santa Clara County had tested positive, signaling that the virus may have spread in the country weeks earlier than was previously thought.

As the death toll rose through March and April and U.S. testing lagged, criteria for reporting deaths changed in some states and cities. Even now, jurisdictions continue to fine-tune their counting and reporting procedures, so numbers in this piece may fluctuate as local authorities classify and reclassify cases.

New York City, for instance, in mid-April added to its total more than 3,700 deaths of people who were presumed to have covid-19 but were never tested.

By April 13, the virus had killed in every state.

Hot spots have erupted in a few places with large outbreaks, none more dire than in New York, where at least 312,000 cases have been reported and at least 24,000 have died since March 14, when Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) announced the death of an 82-year-old woman.

As deaths of Americans mounted in April, he embraced fantasy cure-alls and tuned out both the reality that the first wave of infection has yet to significantly recede and the possibility of another wave in the fall.

 U.S. Pandemic Politics

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Two views of Trump, above and at right.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Trouble in MAGA land, Robert Harrington, May 3, 2020. Recall on February 26th Trump said, “And again, when you have 15 people [infected by COVID-19], and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero, that’s a pretty good job we’ve done.” From fifteen djt 2020 hat Customcases to sixty thousand deaths in just two months and he’s still crowing about what a “pretty good job” he’s done — and MAGAland is starting to notice.

Last month I predicted that Trump’s astonishingly laissez faire attitude toward the coronavirus pandemic might start to nibble away at his otherwise stalwart base of core believers. There is now some evidence that is actually happening.

Reports are beginning to trickle in that people in MAGAland are starting to die, or at least get very sick. Some of them are connecting the dots between Trump’s claim that everybody can now get tested and the reality on the ground. Not only can they not get tested, more often than not they have to get close to death before they are tested. By then it’s often too late.

bill palmer report logo headerThis was not a particularly difficult thing to predict. MAGAland is composed of inherently selfish people. They hate immigrants and anyone on welfare except themselves. They like to control others and deny them their rights — their reproductive rights, their right to marry, their right to live unmolested by the police — but despise being controlled themselves. The suffering of others means nothing to them so long as they and their families are okay.

djt maga hatIt is only when the world they created begins to infringe on their own rights, their own jobs, their own health, their own mortality, that they suddenly learn compassion, they abruptly grow suspicious of the people they once supported. It is the inevitable consequence of the Martin Niemöller confession: “Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.”

They are starting to wake up to the reality that Donald Trump cares no more about them than he does about anyone who isn’t named Trump. In other words, Trump is exactly like they are — and they hate what they see in the mirror.

Prior to this pandemic I was deeply worried that Trump might get a second term. I knew then what I know today, that most Americans are against him. That ought to be enough to ensure his failure in November’s election, but this is a world of Russians and Republican dirty tricks and, back before coronavirus, the election was still looking like enough of a squeaker that Republican dirty tricks might carry the day. I no longer think that way. I see strong evidence now to suggest that not only is Trump going to lose in November, he’s going to lose by a prodigious landslide.

washington post logojennifer rubin new headshotWashington Post, Opinion: Can Republicans bet on a comeback? Jennifer Rubin, right, May 3, 2020. Rarely have polls painted as consistent a portrait of President Trump’s and Republicans’ standing: Terrible.

In multiple polls, former vice president Joe Biden has a comfortable lead nationally, and a small but consistent lead in battleground states ranging from Pennsylvania to Michigan to Arizona (!) and North Carolina. Needless to say, if the numbers hold and Biden wins Arizona, this will be a blowout election.

PRRI’s poll of battleground states finds, “Trump’s favorability in battleground states has dropped substantially since March, from 53% to 38%.” Non-college-educated voters, who previously were a key part of his base, are falling away. “Trump’s favorability among non-college graduates in battleground states has dropped 20 percentage points between March and April (59% to 39%), putting it more in line with his favorability in 2019 (45%).”

In sum, “Large declines are also evident among those living in battleground states (-15 percentage points), those age 65 and over (-14 percentage points), white Americans without a college degree (-12 percentage points), and white women (-9 percentage points).”

This does not mean Trump is a goner. It does not mean Biden is home free.

It does mean there has been a considerable erosion in Trump’s support, making him look more vulnerable than at any time this year. One can cite a host of reasons why now, of all times, the dam, if not breaking, seems less impervious to current events than have past incidents: Over 60,000 Americans have died and the economy is in shambles. Trump’s constant presence and irrational, incoherent rants make him seem even less capable and sober. Biden has sewed up the nomination, and has found campaigning from his basement has its pluses. He can control access and his message, while allowing Trump to self-immolate.

However, Trump is not the only one who looks vulnerable. Republican Senate Republicans’ polls are dreadful. An internal GOP poll from Georgia shows, “Voters are evenly split on Trump, but [Gov. Brian] Kemp’s disapproval rating (52%) outweigh [sic] his approval rating (43%). [Republican Sen. Kelly] Loeffler is deeper underwater after grappling with an uproar over her stock transactions during the pandemic, with an approval of 20% and disapproval of 47%.”

This is Georgia.

Palmer Report, Opinion: ABC News retracts phony Joe Biden story, apologizes, Bill Palmer, May 3, 2020. Even as MSNBC continues to take a bizarre victory lap for having promoted a phony Joe Biden scandal that’s falling apart in real time, ABC News has made a mess of its own, with an entirely different phony Biden scandal. This has landed the ABC reporter in hot water and made an even bigger mess of things.

bill palmer report logo headerIt all started when a woman claimed that Joe Biden had made inappropriate remarks to her during a 2008 event, while she was underage. This allegation was dead on arrival, because there’s widespread documentation that Biden wasn’t even at the event in question.

But when ABC News reporter Sasha Pezenik posted a Twitter thread about the non-story, she listed the allegation in the first tweet – where everyone would see it – and then she only acknowledged the falseness of the allegation deeper in the thread, where no one would see it.

This morning Pezenik tweeted this: “Last night I posted a tweet about Vice President Biden. The allegations in my tweet had not been vetted or put through the ABC News standards process. I have since removed the tweet and I apologize for posting it.”

This is a huge and inexcusable error in judgment – but at least she was willing to retract it and apologize.

msnbc logo CustomWhen TV news outlets breathlessly overhype a “scandal” they know is phony, and then they’re called out on it, too often they sanctimoniously double down on the false story instead of backing down. There’s a hashtag pushing for Pezenik to be fired, but we’re not sure we agree with that. She handled this very differently than MSNBC host Chris Hayes, who openly mocked his audience for daring to point out that he mischaracterized a phony Biden scandal.

World News

ny times logoNew York Times, Worldwide Backlash Builds Against China Over Coronavirus, Steven Erlanger, May 3, 2020. Australia has called for an inquiry into the origin of the virus. Germany and Britain are hesitating anew about inviting in the Chinese tech giant Huawei. President Trump has blamed China FlagChina for the contagion and is seeking to punish it. Some governments want to sue Beijing for damages and reparations.

Across the globe a backlash is building against China for its initial mishandling of the crisis that helped loose the coronavirus on the world, creating a deeply polarizing battle of narratives and setting back China’s ambition to fill the leadership vacuum left by the United States.

China, never receptive to outside criticism and wary of damage to its domestic control and long economic reach, has responded aggressively, combining medical aid to other countries with harsh nationalist rhetoric, and mixing demands for gratitude with economic threats.

SouthFront, Appeal Of SouthFront Steering Committee Regarding Censorship On YouTube And Facebook, Viktor Stoilov (SouthFront steering committee member), May 3, 2020. On April 30th, our Facebook page with about 100,000 subscribers was deleted without any warnings or an opportunity to file an appeal.

Now, the situation appears to be even worse.

youtube logo CustomOn May 1st, YouTube terminated all of South Front’s channels, with approximately 170,000 subscribers. Our YouTube channels were also terminated without any warnings or notifications. The main YouTube channel in English had over 152,000 subscribers, 1,900 uploaded videos and approximately 60 million views.

The termination of our channels occurred regardless of the fact that our YouTube channels had zero active strikes. Covering conflicts in the Middle East, we expressly understand the inherent sensitivity of the issue. Therefore, we have strictly followed YouTube’s Community Guidelines and have always complied with the Terms of Service.

SouthFront’s YouTube channels were terminated without any warning. All that we got was a single automated email regarding the termination of our inactive channel in Farsi “SouthFront Farsi” that included several translations of our war reports. However, even this email provides no details regarding the decision and just claims that “SouthFront Farsi” violated YouTube’s Terms of Service without any elaboration.

facebook logoThroughout the past five years of our endeavors, South Front has been constantly subjected to pressure from different Euro-Atlantic structures and US tech companies that hold a monopoly on the dissemination of information. We have repeatedly faced attempts to censor our coverage of world events, in the form of written analysis, videos and livestream interviews.

The only reasonable explanation, we may imagine, is that US authorities ordered YouTube and Facebook to cleanse the media sphere of sources of objective coverage and analysis on the Middle East region as a part of the ongoing preparations for a war with Iran. (

ny times logoNew York Times, North and South Korea Exchange Gunfire Across Demilitarized Zone, Choe Sang-Hun, Updated May 3, 2020. The reports of North Korean flaggunfire came two days after the North’s leader, Kim Jong-un, reappeared in public after three weeks of absence and rumors about his health.

Gunshots fired from North Korea struck a guard post in South Korea on Sunday inside the Demilitarized Zone separating the two countries, and South Korean soldiers fired back, the South’s military said. There were no casualties reported on the South Korean side, the country’s military said in a brief statement.

More On U.S. Virus Victims, Relief

washington post logoWashington Post, Florida county’s medical examiner begged officials to close beaches, internal emails reveal, Meryl Kornfield, May 3, 2020. Beaches in Florida’s St. Johns County remained open to record crowds through most of March.

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Virus Updates, Mich. governor says swastikas, nooses at state house protest ‘not representative of who we are,’ Staff reports, May 3, 2020. Test results in Afghanistan suggest infection may be widespread. Miss. governor calls state’s case spike an anomaly, wants to reopen ‘as soon as possible.’

ny times logoNew York Times, U.S. Live Updates: Precautions are still needed, even at protests against precautions, Dr. Birx says, Staff reports, May 3, 2020. The White House wants to wait and see before considering more economic aid; Warmer weather and protests put pressure on states.

deborah birx profile palmer CustomThe White House coronavirus response coordinator, Dr. Deborah Birx (shown in a file  photo), said she found it “devastatingly worrisome” that hundreds of protesters amassed at Michigan’s state Capitol last week to object to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s plan to extend many business closures through the end of May to fight the spread of the coronavirus.

“It’s devastatingly worrisome to me personally, because if they go home and infect their grandmother or grandfather who has a co-morbid condition, and they have a serious or unfortunate outcome, they will feel guilty for the rest of their lives,” Dr. Birx said on Fox News. “So we need to protect each other at the same time we’re voicing our discontent.”

Pressed by the host, Chris Wallace, about whether some states were reopening too soon, Dr. Birx said it was important for individuals to keep track of coronavirus cases in their communities and keep following their own precautions through each phase of the gradual process that the task force recommends.

President Donald Trump official“You need to continue to social distance, you need to continue to practice scrupulous hand-washing,” she said. “And I think, most importantly, if you have any pre-existing condition, through Phase 1 and Phase 2 of any reopening, we have asked you to continue to shelter in place. We know who’s at very particular risk for a very difficult course for this virus.”

The White House coronavirus response coordinator, Dr. Deborah Birx, said she found it “devastatingly worrisome” that hundreds of protesters amassed at Michigan’s state Capitol last week to object to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s plan to extend many business closures through the end of May to fight the spread of the coronavirus.

“It’s devastatingly worrisome to me personally, because if they go home and infect their grandmother or grandfather who has a co-morbid condition, and they have a serious or unfortunate outcome, they will feel guilty for the rest of their lives,” Dr. Birx said on Fox News. “So we need to protect each other at the same time we’re voicing our discontent.”

Pressed by the host, Chris Wallace, about whether some states were reopening too soon, Dr. Birx said it was important for individuals to keep track of coronavirus cases in their communities and keep following their own precautions through each phase of the gradual process that the task force recommends.

“You need to continue to social distance, you need to continue to practice scrupulous hand-washing,” she said. “And I think, most importantly, if you have any pre-existing condition, through Phase 1 and Phase 2 of any reopening, we have asked you to continue to shelter in place. We know who’s at very particular risk for a very difficult course for this virus.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: She Predicted the Coronavirus. What Does She Foresee Next? Frank Bruni, May 3, 2020 (print ed.). Laurie Garrett, the prophet of this pandemic, expects years of death and “collective rage.”

Garrett has been on my radar since the early 1990s, when she worked for Newsday and did some of the best reporting anywhere on AIDS. Her Pulitzer, in 1996, was for coverage of Ebola in Zaire. She has been a fellow at Harvard’s School of Public Health, was a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and consulted on the 2011 movie “Contagion.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Millions have been placed under surveillance through their phones, as privacy advocates worry about lack of debate, Kareem Fahim, Min Joo Kim and Steve Hendrix, May 3, 2020. Governments and private companies observe the health, habits and movements of citizens, often without their consent.

May 2

Public Health Top Headlines

Anti-Lockdown Protests

Michigan thugs yell State Sen. Dayna Polehanki

U.S. Virus Victims

Claims Aagainst Biden

More U.S. 2020 Election News

U.S. Media News

Harvard Report On Epstein Ties

World News

Pandemic Politics

 

Public Health Top Stories anthony fauci graphic Custom

Newsweek, Dr. Fauci Backed Controversial Wuhan Lab With Millions Of U.S. Dollars For Risky Coronavirus Research, Fred Guterl, May 2 (print ed., April 28, 2020 electronic). Dr. newsweek logoAnthony Fauci is an adviser to President Donald Trump and something of an American folk hero for his steady, calm leadership during the pandemic crisis. At least one poll shows that Americans trust Fauci more than Trump on the coronavirus pandemic—and few scientists are portrayed on TV by Brad Pitt.

But just last year, the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the organization led by Dr. Fauci, funded scientists at the Wuhan Institute of Virology and other institutions for work on gain-of-function research on bat coronaviruses.

IChina Flagn 2019, with the backing of NIAID, the National Institutes of Health committed $3.7 million over six years for research that included some gain-of-function work. The program followed another $3.7 million, 5-year project for collecting and studying bat coronaviruses, which ended in 2019, bringing the total to $7.4 million.

Many scientists have criticized gain of function research, which involves manipulating viruses in the lab to explore their potential for infecting humans, because it creates a risk of starting a pandemic from accidental release.

HHS logoSARS-CoV-2 , the virus now causing a global pandemic, is believed to have originated in bats. U.S. intelligence, after originally asserting that the coronavirus had occurred naturally, conceded last month that the pandemic may have originated in a leak from the Wuhan lab. (At this point most scientists say it’s possible—but not likely—that the pandemic virus was engineered or manipulated.)

Dr. Fauci did not respond to Newsweek’s requests for comment. NIH responded with a statement that said in part: “Most emerging human viruses come from wildlife, and these represent a significant threat to public health and biosecurity in the US and globally, as demonstrated by the SARS epidemic of 2002-03, and the current COVID-19 pandemic…. scientific research indicates that there is no evidence that suggests the virus was created in a laboratory.”

The NIH research consisted of two parts. The first part began in 2014 and involved surveillance of bat coronaviruses, and had a budget of $3.7 million. The program funded Shi Zheng-Li, a virologist at the Wuhan lab, and other researchers to investigate and catalogue bat coronaviruses in the wild. This part of the project was completed in 2019.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump tries to project return to normalcy while relying on testing that public lacks, David Nakamura, May 2, 2020 (print ed.).  President Trump, Vice President Pence and their aides are tested regularly, and all who enter the White House campus to meet with them are required to undergo on-site rapid tests.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump moves to replace HHS watchdog who found ‘severe shortages’ at hospitals fighting coronavirus, Lisa Rein, May 2, 2020. Christi Grimm was attacked by the president at a news conference after her office’s report corroborated criticism of the administration’s pandemic response.

President Trump moved to replace the top watchdog at the Department of Health and Human Services after her office released a report on the shortages in testing and personal protective gear at hospitals during the coronavirus pandemic.

In a Friday night announcement, the White House nominated a permanent inspector general to take the reins from Christi A. Grimm, the principal deputy inspector general who has run the office since January.

The White House nominated Jason Weida, an assistant United States attorney in Boston, as permanent inspector general. The announcement said Weida was chosen because he has overseen “numerous complex investigations in healthcare and other sectors.” He must be confirmed by the Senate.

Grimm’s removal follows a purge of high-profile federal officials and inspectors general whose work has been critical of the president. Inspectors general at large agencies serve at the pleasure of the president, but they are considered independent monitors for waste, fraud and abuse.

Trump laced into Grimm at a news conference in April, after her staff report found “severe shortages” of testing kits, delays in getting coronavirus results and “widespread shortages” of masks and other equipment at U.S. hospitals.

The president demanded to know who wrote the report, calling the findings “wrong.” He then accused reporters of having withheld that Grimm had worked in the Obama administration.

“Where did he come from, the inspector general? What’s his name? No, what’s his name? What’s his name?” Trump responded on April 6, when asked about the report, which he said was politically biased. He then attacked Grimm on Twitter, writing, “Why didn’t the I.G., who spent 8 years with the Obama Administration (Did she Report on the failed H1N1 Swine Flu debacle where 17,000 people died?), want to talk to the Admirals, Generals, V.P. & others in charge, before doing her report.”

Grimm is a career investigator and auditor who joined the inspector general’s office, one of the federal government’s largest, in 1999 when Bill Clinton was president. She has served in Republican and Democratic administrations and is not a political appointee.

She took over the inspector general’s office in an acting capacity in January from another acting official, who retired.

A spokeswoman for the IG’s office said Grimm will remain in her current role as principal deputy inspector general. “HHS OIG has for more than 40 years held a deep commitment to serving taxpayers and the beneficiaries of HHS programs,” Tesia Williams said in a statement. “Our professionals have risen to a variety of challenges, including our groundbreaking work fighting the opioid epidemic and health care fraud, as well as oversight of the planning, response, and funding for COVID-19. We will continue to serve the American people by ensuring that their health and welfare are protected.”

Washington Sen. Patty Murray (D) criticized the president’s decision. “We all know the President hasn’t told people the truth about this virus or his Administration’s response, and late last night, he moved to silence an independent government official who did,” she said in a statement. “The President cannot be above oversight, no matter how he denies, attacks, and fights against it.”

Grimm’s report came as Trump was facing widespread criticism for his administration’s response to the pandemic. Its findings were based on a survey of 343 hospitals in 46 states. Auditors did their research during five days at the end of March.

The report said its findings were “not a review of HHS response to the covid-19 pandemic” but were intended “as an aid to HHS as it continues to lead efforts to address the public health emergency.”

But the auditors’ conclusions amounted to the first official critique by the federal government of the health care system’s capacity to cope with the flood of infected patients. And by substantiating complaints about inadequate equipment, the report called into question Trump’s claims that hospitals and state officials were making inaccurate claims about their needs, or being greedy.

ny times logoNew York Times, Global Virus Live Updates, Countries Where Coronavirus Is Under Control Live in a New Reality; Migrants Face New Threats, Staff reports, May 2, 2020. France will extend its state of health emergency until July 24, its health minister said.

• Migrants face roundups and detention in Malaysia and surging infections in Singapore’s dormitories.
• Our Baghdad bureau chief reports on the dire state of Syria’s fight against the pandemic.
• Latest in science: A lucrative trade in patients’ blood.
• India’s biggest single-day report in cases raises fears for Mumbai.
• U.S. roundup: Amid reopenings, many Americans weigh their lives against their livelihoods.
• The world’s wits skewer quarantines and leaders’ words — in song.

Worshipers at one of Seoul’s largest Catholic churches must refrain from singing hymns or saying “amen” for fear of spreading saliva. Priests sanitize their hands during communion. Holy water has been removed from the chapel.

South Korea even has a name for the new practices: “everyday life quarantine.” The authorities recently released a 68-page guide, offering advice on situations like going to the movies (“refrain from shouting”) and attending funerals (“bow your head instead of hugging”).

As cities in Asia, Australia and elsewhere get their coronavirus outbreaks under control, churches, schools, restaurants, movie theaters and even sporting venues are starting to open, creating a sense of normalcy for people who have spent weeks and even months in isolation.

There is plenty of competition for the worst place to be during the Covid-19 pandemic, but one of them would have to be Syria, especially those areas outside of government control or of little concern to Damascus.

As of March, the four million inhabitants of the northeastern region of the country, overseen by a Kurdish-led administration, lacked access to coronavirus tests, which could take as long as 11 days to come back from a lab in Damascus. They lacked access to health clinics — just 26 out of 279 were functioning — and had only two hospitals working out of 11, according to a letter released this week by Human Rights Watch demanding health care aid for the population.

Northeast Syria is where Syrian Kurdish forces, backed by United States troops, fought the Islamic State for five years.

The Iraqi Kurds have responded as best they can — although often they are at odds with the politics of their fellow Kurds on the Syrian side of the border.

Anti-Lockdown Protests

washington post logoWashington Post, Protests spread, fueled by economic woes and Internet subcultures, Craig Timberg, Elizabeth Dwoskin and Moriah Balingit, May 2, 2020. Crowds demanding a relaxation of restrictions gathered in several cities with more protests planned for the weekend.

Protests against coronavirus-related government restrictions continued to spread on Friday as a coalition of gun activists, vaccine opponents and anxious business owners used the organizing power of social media to build increasingly visible and vocal opposition movements in several states.

Crowds waving signs, honking horns and demanding an immediate relaxation of measures imposed to slow the pandemic gathered in Chicago, Los Angeles, Sacramento and Raleigh, N.C., on Friday. More protests were planned for the weekend, including in the state capitals of Kentucky, Oregon and New Hampshire, despite polling consistently showing that most Americans support public-health restrictions by governors and mayors even as the economic toll mounts.

The protests at first were mostly small and scattered, often organized by a few ardent gun rights activists, but the events drew mainstream attention and support this week, and dozens more are planned for the coming days. Hundreds of protesters in Michigan — many of them carrying guns and wearing military gear and some shouting at officers wearing protective face masks — entered the state capitol in Lansing on Thursday.

Guardian, Auschwitz memorial condemns presence of Nazi slogan at US anti-lockdown rally, Jedidajah Otte, May 2, 2020. ‘Arbeit macht frei’ on sign at Illinois demonstration against state’s coronavirus measures.

The organisation that runs the Auschwitz memorial has condemned the appearance at a US anti-lockdown rally of a picket sign bearing a Nazi slogan displayed above the entrance of the concentration camp.

A demonstrator attending a rally in Illinois, where hundreds of people protested against the state’s lockdown and social distancing measures, was jay pritzker Customphotographed carrying a sign bearing the words “Arbeit macht frei, JB”.

The German phrase translates as “work sets you free”, with JB referring to the Illinois governor, JB Pritzker, right, who is of Jewish descent.

The font of both instances of the letter “B” on the picket sign bore a striking resemblance to the shape of the letter “B” on the sign above the gates of Auschwitz, the largest of the German Nazi concentration camps and extermination centres, where more than 1.1 million men, women and children were murdered.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump’s supporters can’t decide what to do. No wonder they reach for their guns, Dana Milbank, right, May 2, 2020 (print ed.). Four years ago, Donald Trump’s core supporters embraced Hillary Clinton’s “deplorables” label because it encapsulated their class struggle dana milbank Customagainst the perceived ruling elite.

Now, as Trump’s reelection nears, the Deplorables are back, but this time they’re gunning for a new moniker: the Discombobulateds.

If his supporters are unified by anything in 2020, it is a shared confusion about his rationale for a second term. This has become a movement without a message.

djt maga hatAt the American Patriot Rally at the state Capitol in Lansing, Mich., on Thursday, many of the hundreds of protesters wore red “Make America Great Again” caps or flew “Trump 2020” banners and “Build the Wall” or “Drain the Swamp” signs. Others waved the yellow “Don’t Tread on Me” flags of the tea party. Demonstrators, several armed with military-style guns, then marched into the statehouse and stared down the police.

What did they propose to do with these weapons? Shoot the virus? Shoot the governor? Shoot themselves in the foot?

They didn’t seem to have a plan. They were there to rail against Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s pandemic restrictions, though hers are not so different from those in other states, even those run by Republican governors. They howled about “tyranny” even though the country is now run by the man they helped elect. They fretted about losing their Second Amendment rights even as they carried guns, legally under Michigan law, into the Capitol. They complained about runaway government spending and money-printing even though Trump and the GOP have championed it.

david clarke gage skidmoreBefore the armed stunt, David Clarke (shown at left in a Gage Skidmore photo), the former Milwaukee County, Wis., sheriff who was once offered a senior job in the Trump administration, stoked the crowd’s inchoate rage.

“I do not want the government to run any testing operation,” he told the demonstrators.

The crowd cheered.

He instructed the demonstrators to “leave your homes, open your businesses” in defiance of Whitmer’s restrictions.

“Lock her up!” the crowd chanted.

Immediately and fully reopening the economy, of course, would only cause unemployment to worsen, as the virus ran uncontrolled and the health-care system collapsed. But this crowd hadn’t come to rally for logic.

  World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (2018 photo via D. Procofieff and Flickr)

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (2018 photo via D. Procofieff and Flickr)

jair bolsonaro brazilwashington post logoWashington Post, Brazil’s Bolsonaro sits on a ticking coronavirus time bomb, Ishaan Tharoor, May 1, 2020. As the country’s leader battles his political demons, experts fear Brazil could be the hidden hotbed of the pandemic.

world health organization logo CustomOn Thursday, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, right, continued his steady stream of coronavirus diatribes on Facebook, this time raging against the directives of the World Health Organization while bizarrely suggesting that the U.N. health agency encourages masturbation and homosexuality among children.

The post, which was removed, fits into Bolsonaro’s bewildering coronavirus response — one marked by denial of the scale of the threat, anger at the lockdowns imposed by state governors, deep rifts with some of his cabinet officials, the accelerated ecological devastation of the Amazon and the steady spread of the virus in Latin America’s largest and most populous nation.

U.S. Virus Victims

ny times logoNew York Times, Stark Symbol of Pandemic in N.Y.: Homeless People Huddled on the Subway, Nikita Stewart and Nate Schweber, May 2, 2020. New Yorkers with no better place to go keep riding and sleeping on otherwise empty trains, stirring public health fears and prompting a nightly andrew cuomoshutdown for cleaning.

Generations of homeless people have used New York City’s subway as protection against the elements and a place to unsoundly sleep.

bill de blasio 11 2 2013But with little access to showers or medical care, they have become a health hazard during the coronavirus pandemic. And with ridership down 92 percent, images of them splayed across otherwise empty cars have become searing symbols of the city’s precarious condition.

So on Thursday, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, right, Mayor Bill de Blasio, left, and transit officials reached a consensus: Putting the city on track to eventual reopening, and restoring public confidence in public transportation, required an extraordinary step.

Beginning on Wednesday, a subway system famous for never shutting down will close each night during the pandemic from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m., allowing time for intensive cleaning and disinfecting while also eliminating the overnight refuge that some homeless people depend on.

New York Daily News, California city official says COVID-19 should be allowed to ‘fix’ society by culling elderly, weak and homeless, Nancy Dillon, May 2, 2020 (print ed.). A California city official said COVID-19 should be allowed to run its course, killing elderly and homeless residents to “fix what is a significant burden on our society.”

Now his public position could be a pandemic-era casualty, and he’s calling that a violation of his rights.

Ken Turnage, a member of the city planning commission in Antioch, said in a now-deleted April 23 Facebook post that coronavirus lockdowns should be lifted to “let nature take its course.”

“We would have significant loss of life, we would lose many elderly, that would reduce burdens in our defunct Social Security System, health care cost — once the wave subsided — make jobs available for others and it would also free up housing in which we are in dire need of,” Turnage 47, wrote, according to the East Bay Times.

In another excerpt reported by SFGate.com, Turnage said the natural spread of COVID-19 would also cull the “herd” of other people he considered undesirable.

“Then we have our other sectors such as our homeless and other people who just defile themselves by either choice or mental issues,” he wrote. “This would run rampant through them and yes I am sorry but this would fix what is a significant burden on our Society and resources that can be used.”

Antioch’s mayor, Steve Wright, called for a special city council meeting Friday night to recommend Turnage be removed from the Planning Commission.

In an email to the Daily News, Turnage said he’s fighting the move. He doubled down on his position and shared the comments he planned to submit for the special meeting.

“It is disheartening that I am being removed due to a personal opinion that has nothing to do with the city or my position on the planning commission. My opinion that I opened for debate is based on the theory of Ecological Balance which is science,” he wrote.

“Yes, I do understand that it is a difficult topic and even prefaced that if people are unable to handle an alternate opinion don’t read any further,” he said.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Covid-19 is spreading in jails. Here’s how to safely release those inmates convicted as children, Jody Kent Lavy and Silas Horst, May 2, 2020 Authorities should review the sentences of all those convicted as teenagers who have served at least 15 years to determine whether these people have aged out of criminal behavior.

  • Washington Post, Opinion: Anti-vaxxers will fight the eventual coronavirus vaccine. Here’s how to stop them, Jennifer Reich and Alan Levinovitz, May 2, 2020.

washington post logoWashington Post, Boom-and-bust federal funding after 9/11 undercut hospitals’ preparedness, Jenn Abelson, Dana Priest, John Sullivan and Nicole Dungca​, May 2, 2020. Congressional funding for hospital preparedness for national health emergencies peaked in 2004 and has plummeted since then. Of the more than $118 billion the federal government invested from 2001 through 2017 to protect U.S. citizens from health threats, less than $6 billion went to assisting the nation’s network of hospitals, records show.

washington post logoWashington Post, Global Live updates: Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway reports nearly $50 billion loss amid coronavirus pandemic, Staff reports, May 2, 2020.  More than half of America’s governors have relaxed restrictions put in place to stem the spread of the coronavirus, largely piecemeal efforts that come amid some protests, with access to beaches in coastal states becoming a social and political flash point.

Here are some significant developments:

• In the latest sign of a struggling economy, investor Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. on Saturday recorded a $49.7 billion loss in the first quarter of the year.

• Companies are launching vaccine trials at an unprecedented pace, but some worry about the trade-offs between speed and safety.

• As many as 98 residents of a Manhattan nursing home may have died of the virus in one of the deadliest nursing home outbreaks reported in the United States.

• The World Health Organization praised Wuhan, China, for having no serious remaining cases of coronavirus in the city where the virus originated.

• After seven weeks in confinement, millions in Spain ventured out for the first time to in a major step to ease one of Europe’s most severe lockdowns.

Claims Against Biden

ap logoAssociated Press, AP Exclusive: Harassment, assault absent in Biden complaint, Alexandra Jaffe, Don Thompson and Stephen Braun, May 2, 2020. Tara Reade, the former Senate staffer who alleges Joe Biden sexually assaulted her 27 years ago, says she filed a limited report with a congressional personnel office that did not explicitly accuse him of sexual assault or harassment.

“I remember talking about him wanting me to serve drinks because he liked my legs and thought I was pretty and it made me uncomfortable,” Reade said in an interview Friday with The Associated Press. “I know that I was too scared to write about the sexual assault.”

Reade said she described her issues with Biden but “the main word I used — and I know I didn’t use sexual harassment — I used ‘uncomfortable.’ And I remember ‘retaliation.’”

Reade described the report after the AP discovered additional transcripts and notes from its interviews with Reade last year in which she says she “chickened out” after going to the Senate personnel office. The AP interviewed Reade in 2019 after she accused Biden of uncomfortable and inappropriate touching. She did not raise allegations of sexual assault against Biden until this year, around the time he became the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee.

tara reade youngerThe existence of the Senate report has become a key element of the accusations against Biden, which he has flatly denied. Reade says she doesn’t have a copy of the report, and Biden said Friday that he is not aware that any complaint against him exists. He asked the Senate and the National Archives to search their records to try to locate a complaint from Reade.

But Reade [shown at left in a photo from her younger years] is suggesting that even if the report surfaces, it would not corroborate her assault allegations because she chose not to detail them at the time.

According to a transcript of her 2019 interview with the AP, Reade said: “They have this counseling office or something, and I think I walked in there once, but then I chickened out.” She made a similar statement in a second interview with AP that same day, according to written notes from the interview.

On Friday, Reade said she was referring to having “chickened out” by not filing full harassment or assault allegations against Biden. In multiple interviews with the AP on Friday, Reade insisted she filed an “intake form” at the Senate personnel office, which included her contact information, the office she worked for and some broad details of her issues with Biden.

Reade was one of eight women who came forward last year with allegations that Biden made them feel uncomfortable with inappropriate displays of affection. Biden acknowledged the complaints and promised to be “more mindful about respecting personal space in the future.”

During one of the April 2019 interviews with the AP, she said Biden rubbed her shoulders and neck and played with her hair. She said she was asked by an aide in Biden’s Senate office to dress more conservatively and told “don’t be so sexy.”

She said of Biden: “I wasn’t scared of him, that he was going to take me in a room or anything. It wasn’t that kind of vibe.”

The AP reviewed notes of its 2019 interviews with Reade after she came forward in March with allegations of sexual assault against Biden. But reporters discovered an additional transcript and notes from those interviews on Friday.

A recording of one of the interviews was deleted before Reade emerged in 2020 with new allegations against Biden, in keeping with the reporter’s standard practice for disposing of old interviews. A portion of that interview was also recorded on video, but not the part in which she spoke of having “chickened out.”

The AP declined to publish details of the 2019 interviews at the time because reporters were unable to corroborate her allegations, and aspects of her story contradicted other reporting.

In recent weeks, Reade told the AP and other news organizations that Biden sexually assaulted her, pushing her against a wall in the basement of a Capitol Hill office building in 1993, groping her and penetrating her with his fingers. She says she was fired from Biden’s office after filing a complaint with the Senate alleging harassment.

The accusation has roiled Biden’s presidential campaign, sparking anxiety among Democrats. Republicans have accused Biden backers of hypocrisy, arguing that they have been quick to believe women who have accused President Donald Trump and other conservatives of assault. Trump has faced multiple accusations of assault and harassment, all of which he denies.

Reade says she was reluctant to share details of the assault during her initial conversations with reporters over a year ago because she was scared of backlash, and was still coming to terms with what happened to her.

bill palmerPalmer Report, Opinion: Joe Biden accuser changes her story again, admits she didn’t originally even accuse him of assault, Bill Palmer, right, May 2, 2020. Even as certain MSNBC hosts continue to breathlessly hype a sexual assault allegation against Joe Biden that was already uniquely non-credible on its face, the accuser has now fundamentally changed her story yet again – and it appears she’s now trying to backtrack in rapid fashion.

Yesterday, Biden called on the National Archives and Senate archives to release their copy of the report that Tara Reade claims she filed in 1993. The National Archives says it has no such report. If the Senate confirms the same, it’ll strongly point to Reade bill palmer report logo headerhaving never filed a report to begin with. Now Reade is telling the AP that when she filed the report, she didn’t accuse Biden of sexual harassmentor assault. Instead she simply said that she felt “uncomfortable.”

This changes things in a rather massive way. By her own admission, the key supposed piece of her contemporaneous corroboration – the report she filed – absolutely does not corroborate her story. She can still argue that the assault happened and that she only filed a vague report about msnbc logo Customfeeling “uncomfortable” instead. But that won’t hold any credibility, because she originally claimed that she filed a report about sexual assault.

Biden’s accuser had already changed fundamentally changed her story in self-contradictory manner multiple times, and several of her supposed corroborators had already shot her down, before MSNBC host Chris Hayes opened this can of worms by falsely characterizing the allegation as “credible” and “corroborated.” How Hayes still has a job is anyone’s guess. At this point, this isn’t even a Joe Biden scandal; it’s a Tara Reade scandal. MSNBC had absolutely no business hyping this mess as if it were some legitimate story.

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Tara Reade (screenshot via The Hill newspaper).

The Hill, Tara Reade says she is not ready to respond to Biden denial, Marty Johnson, May 2, 2020. Tara Reade, the former Senate aide who alleged that former Vice President Joe Biden sexually assaulted her in 1993 while she was working on his staff, said Saturday that she isn’t ready yet to respond to Biden’s denial of the allegations.

“I’m digesting and processing everything he said,” she told The Wall Street Journal. “I will respond.”

Reade said that she had planned on doing a sit-down interview with Fox News on Sunday, but canceled it due to threats she received aimed at her and her adult daughter.

In 2019, Reade was one of several women who came forward and said that Biden’s alleged public touching made them uncomfortable. In late March, Reade alleged publicly that in 1993, the former vice president sexually assaulted her in a corridor on Capitol Hill.

Since Reade came forward with her allegations, Biden’s campaign has vehemently denied them. However, Biden – the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee — didn’t directly respond to them until Friday.

“It’s not true, I am saying unequivocally. It never, never happened,” Biden told MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski on “Morning Joe.”

Reade also told the Journal that she doesn’t remember if she used the words “sexual harassment” in the complaint that she said she filed at the time with Senate personnel office against then-Delaware Sen. Biden.

“I know that I described what happened, that I felt uncomfortable, that I felt retaliated against,” she said. “I don’t know that I used the phrase ‘sexual harassment’—I don’t remember, and I haven’t seen the form.”

She told The Associated Press on Friday that she remembered including in the complaint that Biden wanted her to serve drinks at an event because “he liked my legs and thought I was pretty.”

The complaint that Reade said that she filed has yet to be found.

Reade claims that the complaint is in Biden’s Senate records that are housed at the University of Delaware. However, Biden has said that he doesn’t have personnel files in his records, and the university has said that they won’t release Biden’s records until he’s stepped away from public life.

Medium, Investigation / Opinion: The Tara Reade Case: Eight things the media won’t tell you, Clifford MacArthur, May 2, 2020. The social media world has spent the last month obsessed with the Tara Reade sexual assault allegation.

The far right, led by the Trump campaign and Fox News, has heavily promoted the story. Anti-Biden outlets on the left, such as The Intercept, Chapo Trap House and The Young Turks, have been even more aggressive in their advocacy. Both groups have a vested interest in promoting the allegation as true and bullying doubters into submission. Their opinions have dominated social media.

The mainstream media, for its part, has been focused on “reaction pieces” rather than direct coverage. What are the consequences of the story? What does it mean for #MeToo? What does it mean for the Democratic Party? How should Biden respond? There is little interest in verifying the story itself. For the most part, the media has reported Reade’s account uncritically. CNN and POLITICO, like the political extremists on social media, are motivated to sensationalize the story and present it as true.

Missing from all this coverage is an answer to the most important question: Is the story true? Did Joe Biden sexually assault a staffer in 1993? The public deserves to make an informed decision based on all the available evidence. Analyzing Reade’s statements, as well as her past and present behavior, reveals a pattern of lies and deception.

1: Tara Reade’s ever-changing story

tara reade youngerTara Reade [shown in a file photo from years ago] first gained prominence in April 2019, when she was one of several women to accuse Joe Biden of inappropriate touching. Specifically, Reade said that Biden made her uncomfortable by rubbing her shoulders and neck. Her story was first published in The Union on April 3. She followed it up with a Medium post on April 6, and an opinion piece, also in The Union, on April 19. In these pieces, she says that in addition to the shoulder touching, she was told by a superior that she should serve drinks at an event because Biden “liked her legs.” She asserts that when she refused, Biden’s staff made life hard for her, and she eventually resigned and left DC.

This is a very different story from her sexual assault allegation, made in late March 2020. She explains the difference by saying she felt “shut down” in the April 3, 2019 interview.

I was going to tell the whole thing… the whole history with Biden… But the way I was being questioned, it made me so uncomfortable that I didn’t trust it. And no offense to the reporters out there, it’s just maybe that’s something that can be learned, how to talk to somebody who got… Because I just really got shut down.

This reasoning does not line up with Reade’s behavior. She published two separate pieces after the April 3 interview where she repeated her original story. Afterwards, she relentlessly promoted the story, sharing it hundreds of times on Twitter in replies to celebrities and politicians. She was proud to be “speaking out” with her shoulder-touching story. Is this the behavior of a woman who felt “shut down”?

Reade’s telling of the story evolved over time to become more and more severe. In April, Reade said “she didn’t consider the acts toward her sexualization. She instead compared her experience to being a lamp.” Despite sharing her story hundreds of times in 2019, she never once described her experience with Biden as “sexual harassment.” December 2019 was her first time adopting that characterization. She then wrote 37 tweets about experiencing “sexual harassment” from Biden.

On January 9, 2020, she wrote an article re-telling the drinks-serving episode, where she claimed to have been “destroyed” by Biden. On March 5, she called Biden a “misogynistic pred.” On the same day she claimed to have filed a “sexual harassment & worse complaint.” She made similar ominous tweets throughout the month of March, leading up to her interview on March 24.

On that same day, March 24 2020, Reade went back to her April 6, 2019 Medium post and edited it to remove details that contradicted her current telling. For instance, in the original piece she says she resigned, but after editing, she now claims to have been fired.

Throughout all this, Reade claimed that she was being “silenced.” In fact, between the Union interview in April 2019 and her Halper interview in March 2020, she wrote 59 separate tweets alleging that the Biden campaign was silencing her. Although she spent much of 2019 complaining about her story being silenced, in January 2020 she wrote a Medium post where she merely repeated her earlier complaints of shoulder-touching and drink-serving. What was stopping her from telling her story?

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump undercuts his campaign’s focus on Biden accuser by painting powerful men as victims, Toluse Olorunnipa, May 2, 2020 (print ed.). The president’s comments underscore the challenge Republicans will have in criticizing the former vice president on an issue that dogged Trump’s 2016 campaign and on which he remains vulnerable.

The White House and President Trump’s campaign are seeking to amplify an allegation of sexual assault against Joe Biden, left, hoping to tarnish the former vice president on an issue where the president’s own record is checkered with accusers.

Joe Biden (Gage Skidmore)But the effort could be thwarted by Trump himself, who has taken a different tack from that of his own advisers by indicating that false allegations against powerful men are the bigger issue.

“All of a sudden you become a wealthy guy, you’re a famous guy, then you become president. And people that you’ve never seen, that you’ve never heard of, make charges,” Trump said Friday in an interview with conservative radio host Dan Bongino, adding that he was “sticking up” for Biden in a way. “I would just say to Joe Biden, ‘Just go out and fight it.’ ”

Trump’s comments stood in contrast to those of officials from the campaign and the White House, who flooded the airwaves Friday to criticize Biden over his response to a former Senate aide’s sexual assault allegation, which Biden has denied. The president’s remarks underscore the challenge Republicans will have in attacking the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee on an issue that dogged Trump’s 2016 campaign and on which he remains vulnerable.

ny times logoNew York Times, Editorial: Investigate Tara Reade’s Allegations, Editorial Board, May 2, 2020 (print ed.). Americans deserve to know more about a sexual assault accusation against the likely Democratic Party nominee.

As is so often the case in such situations, it is all but impossible to be certain of the truth. But the stakes are too high to let the matter fester — or leave it to be investigated by and adjudicated in the media. Mr. Biden is seeking the nation’s highest office.

In 2018, this board advocated strongly for a vigorous inquiry into accusations of sexual misconduct raised against Brett Kavanaugh when he was nominated to a seat on the Supreme Court. Mr. Biden’s pursuit of the presidency requires no less. His campaign, and his party, have a duty to assure the public that the accusations are being taken seriously. The Democratic National Committee should move to investigate the matter swiftly and thoroughly, with the full cooperation of the Biden campaign.

Ms. Reade’s account has some apparent inconsistencies. Last year, she was one of several women who came forward with complaints of Mr. Biden hugging or touching them in ways that made them uncomfortable, but she did not raise the assault accusation until this March. She says she tried to share her story with the media earlier, only to get “shut down.”

Members of Mr. Biden’s staff from that period have denied that Ms. Reade expressed any complaints about Mr. Biden, and they reject the idea that the office tolerated any harassment.

Ms. Reade says that she filed a formal harassment complaint with a congressional personnel office in 1993. (She says the report did not mention the assault.) Although she kept some of her employment records from that time, she says she does not have a copy of that complaint. In his statement, Mr. Biden said that if such a document existed, there would be a copy of it in the National Archives, which retains records from what was then the Office of Fair Employment Practices. He called on the archives “to identify any record of the complaint she alleges she filed and make available to the press any such document.” Later on Friday, after the National Archives said it did not have personnel documents, Mr. Biden asked the secretary of the Senate to direct a more extensive search, also asking for “any and all other documents in the records that relate to the allegation.”

This is a start, but it does not go far enough. Any serious inquiry must include the trove of records from Mr. Biden’s Senate career that he donated to the University of Delaware in 2012. Currently, those files are set to remain sealed until after Mr. Biden retires from public life — a common arrangement. There are growing calls for Mr. Biden to make those records available to see if they contain any mention of Ms. Reade or perhaps others who raised similar complaints about his behavior.

While understandable, this concern is not prohibitive — and Mr. Biden’s word is insufficient to dispel the cloud. Any inventory should be strictly limited to information about Ms. Reade and conducted by an unbiased, apolitical panel, put together by the D.N.C. and chosen to foster as much trust in its findings as possible. Admittedly, this would be a major undertaking. Mr. Biden served 36 years in the Senate. He turned over nearly 2,000 boxes and more than 400 gigabytes of data to the University of Delaware; most of it has not been cataloged. But the question at hand is no less than Mr. Biden’s fitness for the presidency. No relevant memo should be left unexamined.

It has been noted that President Trump has been accused of sexual harassment or assault by more than a dozen women. Those claims also should be investigated, and the Republicans concerned about Mr. Biden’s behavior now should be at least equally focused on the questions about Mr. Trump’s. For his part, Mr. Trump does not seriously address the claims against him; he simply denies them and attacks his accusers.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The hypocrisy from Democrats on the Biden allegation is stunning but not surprising, Kathleen Parker, May 2, 2020 (print ed.). Now is the time to feel sorry for Christine Blasey Ford. Her days as the face that launched a million sexual assault allegations are over, thanks to Tara Reade and the blinding hypocrisy of Democrats who sought to destroy Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh during his Senate confirmation hearings.

Not one shred of evidence nor corroboration was ever produced to support Ford’s claims against Kavanaugh. Not. One. She just seemed credible, people said. But Reade doesn’t? On what basis? Don’t we believe all women these days? Where was the zeal with which reporters and editorialists investigated and repeated absurd tales of Kavanaugh’s high school life, including debunked gang-rape parties?

In the aftermath of the Kavanaugh hearings, Ford became a symbol of women’s empowerment. She appeared on the cover of Time magazine and received awards and praise for her courage. She also suffered vicious social media attacks and threats, as did Kavanaugh and his family.

She has largely kept to herself since, which is surely good for her soul but is also a reminder of another lesson in the decades-long culture war over sexual harassment. Once the feminist power brokers are finished with you, they move on to slay other monsters. Unless it’s one of their own monsters.

Harvard Report On Epstein Ties

2020 U.S. Election / #MeToo News

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washington post logoWashington Post, Campaign aides for Trump disagree over how to attack Biden amid worries over polls, Michael Scherer and Josh Dawsey​, May 2, 2020. The pandemic has thrown off plans for an early spring offensive on the presumptive Democratic nominee’s electoral brand.

For weeks the Trump reelection effort has diligently cut, catalogued and pushed out viral videos of every verbal stumble Joe Biden makes in interviews, relentlessly pushing the idea that the presumptive Democratic nominee is mentally unfit for the presidency.

“There is something missing,” Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale said last week in a campaign broadcast. “I feel bad for him. I wish his wife would pull him out of this.”

But behind the scenes, the offensive has become a point of contention among some of President Trump’s closest advisers, who have spent weeks debating without resolution the best message and strategy to accomplish the Trump campaign’s central goal of tarnishing the Biden brand as poll numbers continue to show a rocky road to reelection for the president.

Several political advisers, including White House senior aide Kellyanne Conway, have warned his allies against relentlessly mocking the 77-year-old Biden’s mental acuity because the president has already lost ground with senior citizens, people familiar with the matter said.

Senior Democratic and Republican strategists, in private conversations, are in full agreement about the stakes of the discussions now taking place at the White House and in campaign conference calls. If President Trump and his political machine don’t find a way to drive up Biden’s unpopularity with voters, they argue, the president will have little shot at winning a second term.

“We have to introduce people to a different Joe Biden,” a Trump campaign adviser said. “One of the reasons we won in 2016 is because so many people hated Hillary Clinton. I’m not sure people hate Biden that much.”

Law & Crime, Here’s What Jeffrey Epstein was Doing at Harvard After Giving the University Multi-Million-Dollar Gifts, Colin Kalmbacher, May 2, 2020. Harvard University released a report late Friday night detailing numerous connections to deceased pedophile and sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein.

The 27-page document recounts a myriad of relationships between Epstein (shown at right with his attorney and friend, Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz) and the elite university.

Jeffrey Epstein and Alan DershowitzThose relationships include the distribution of monetary largess, untoward and unearned professional ties and titles, a provision for personal office space, the cultivation of an Epstein-dominated fundraising network on Harvard’s behalf, and more.

“In 2005, Harvard admitted Epstein as a Visiting Fellow in Harvard’s Psychology Department for the 2005-2006 academic year,” the report notes before explaining. “Visiting Fellow is a title awarded to an independent re-searcher registered with the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences as a graduate research student.”

harvard logoEpstein, however, had absolutely no qualifications for such a distinguished position. What he did have was a longstanding relationship with Professor Stephen Kosslyn, the Chair of the Psychology Department — buoyed by $200,000 in money that Epstein had lavished on the psychologist who “recommended Epstein’s admission as a Visiting Fellow.”

“Epstein lacked the academic qualifications Visiting Fellows typically possess, and his application proposed a course of study Epstein was unqualified to pursue,” the report notes. “We found no evidence that he engaged with Harvard students as a Visiting Fellow. In February 2006, Epstein applied to be re-admitted as a Visiting Fellow for a second year, the 2006-2007 academic year, and Harvard again admitted him.”

The essential condition for understanding Epstein’s influence at Harvard is noted at the very beginning of the report itself: the now-dead man was rich.

Harvard University released a report late Friday night detailing numerous connections to deceased pedophile and sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein.

The 27-page document recounts a myriad of relationships between Epstein and the elite university.

Those relationships include the distribution of monetary largess, untoward and unearned professional ties and titles, a provision for personal office space, the cultivation of an Epstein-dominated fundraising network on Harvard’s behalf, and more.

“In 2005, Harvard admitted Epstein as a Visiting Fellow in Harvard’s Psychology Department for the 2005-2006 academic year,” the report notes before explaining. “Visiting Fellow is a title awarded to an independent re-searcher registered with the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences as a graduate research student.”

Epstein, however, had absolutely no qualifications for such a distinguished position. What he did have was a longstanding relationship with Professor Stephen Kosslyn, the Chair of the Psychology Department — buoyed by $200,000 in money that Epstein had lavished on the psychologist who “recommended Epstein’s admission as a Visiting Fellow.”

“Epstein lacked the academic qualifications Visiting Fellows typically possess, and his application proposed a course of study Epstein was unqualified to pursue,” the report notes. “We found no evidence that he engaged with Harvard students as a Visiting Fellow. In February 2006, Epstein applied to be re-admitted as a Visiting Fellow for a second year, the 2006-2007 academic year, and Harvard again admitted him.”

The essential condition for understanding Epstein’s influence at Harvard is noted at the very beginning of the report itself: the now-dead man was rich.

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: McConnell commits an irresponsible act of selfishness just to ram through judges, Colbert I. King, May 2, 2020 (print ed.). Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) decision to require senators, staff and building employees to descend on the Capitol on Monday — overriding the anti-coronavirus health and safety orders of the executives of the three jurisdictions of the national capital region, is an irresponsible act of partisan selfishness.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.), based upon guidance received from attending Capitol physician Brian Monahan, announced that House lawmakers will not return to Washington next week. “We had no choice,” Pelosi told reporters Tuesday. “If the Capitol physician recommends that we not come back, then we have to take that guidance.”

us senate logoBut McConnell’s office wouldn’t say whether he even bothered to consult with Monahan. What matters most to the majority leader is getting Senate Republicans back in town so he can ram through more of President Trump’s judicial nominees, including 37-year-old Justin Walker.

McConnell’s devil-may-care approach to the safety and well-being of people on Capitol Hill and in the Washington region is dangerous.

How could he be so cavalier with people’s lives? That question also extends to the Trump administration’s treatment of federal employees in the capital area. The Office of Management and Budget and the Office of Personnel Management recently called for agency heads to plan for ways to return government workers to their office buildings and workstations.

The instructions prompted Maryland, D.C. and Virginia leaders to implore the Trump administration not to force the region’s 360,000 federal workers from their homes, where many are now teleworking, without ensuring that returning can be done safely. Washington-region leaders are grappling with this pandemic under the same public health conditions that confront the federal government. A rise in covid-19 cases in the federal workforce could, they fear, cost lives and only delay the reopening of the entire region.

It’s not as though members of Congress or the federal workforce are immune from covid-19. A bipartisan group of legislators in both chambers has tested positive for the virus. The Post reports that there was a recent coronavirus outbreak among construction workers renovating the Cannon House Office Building.

The virus certainly hasn’t lost sight of the federal workforce. Among the 1 million confirmed covid-19 cases in the United States in April, more than 10,000 were federal employees.

Yet, that appears to be the least of McConnell’s and the administration’s concerns.

They seem hellbent on bringing back the Senate and the federal workforce to a contagious environment where covid-19 is still wreaking havoc. As of Friday, there were more than 45,000 known coronavirus cases and more than 2,000 fatalities in the Washington region. The numbers continue to climb.

More U.S. Media News

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washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis 15 minutes after pledging not to lie, Trump’s new press secretary made an obviously false claim, Philip Bump, May 2, 2020 (print ed.). It dealt with a former Trump official who admitted lying.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany held the first daily news briefing in more than a year Friday, her first since assuming her current role last month. McEnany, a veteran of rising to Donald Trump’s defense on cable news, when he was a candidate and now as president, was prepared for the moment, armed with voluminous talking points and an ability to seamlessly introduce them.

The reporters in the room were clearly at least somewhat skeptical of the extent to which they could take McEnany at her word. At one point, a reporter asked her to pledge that she would never lie to the reporters and, by extension, the public.

“I will never lie to you,” McEnany replied. “You have my word on that.”

Fifteen minutes later, she raised a subject no one had asked about and quickly offered an obviously false claim about it.

“I am glad that you brought up justice, and — because, look, there is, again, a case of injustice that has yet to be brought up today, but I certainly would like to bring it up,” she said. “And that’s the case of General Michael Flynn.”

She offered a rough presentation of the case being made by Flynn’s defenders that the former national security adviser was railroaded into accepting a guilty plea after misrepresenting his 2016 interactions with Russia’s ambassador during a conversation with FBI investigators. This week, the Justice Department released documents centered on the investigation, which included notes written before Flynn was interviewed by the FBI at the White House. They’ve been touted as a smoking gun showing bias against Flynn, though that interpretation is dubious.

What the notes did not say is what McEnany said they did.

World News

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washington post logoWashington Post, Video of North Korea’s Kim opening fertilizer factory quashes rumors, Simon Denyer, Min Joo Kim and John Hudson, May 2, 2020. Kim (shown in a Reuters photo) was seen walking, standing, joking and smoking in extensive footage of his visit. His three-week absence from the public eye appears to have been linked to coronavirus.

North Korean state television showed extensive footage of Kim Jong Un on Saturday presiding over the opening of a fertilizer factory, with many shots of the leader walking normally, standing, joking and smoking, in apparently good spirits and with no visible signs of any new health problems.

But the footage also showed thousands of cheering people all wearing face masks, demonstrating that concerns about coronavirus remain acute in the isolated state.

Speculation about Kim’s health circled after he failed to attend a ceremony to mark his grandfather’s birthday on April 15, and did not appear in public for around three weeks.

But officials in the United States and South Korea believe Kim retreated to a beach resort in Wonsan after becoming aware in mid-April that subordinates in his vicinity had suffered from a fever, according to two people familiar with the situation who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence reports.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The administration must release all approved funds to help Palestinians fight covid-19, Rashida Tlaib and Alan Lowenthal, May 2, 2020. Rashida Tlaib, a Democrat, represents Michigan’s 13th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. Alan Lowenthal, also a Democrat, represents California’s 47th Congressional District.

As members of Congress who come from different backgrounds — a Jewish American from Queens and a Palestinian American from Detroit — and who hold different views on how to achieve peace and justice in the Middle East, we share a fundamental belief that the humanity, dignity, safety and rights of all people should be protected.

Again and again, though, we see division and nationalism undermining the global response to the coronavirus pandemic. From withholding critical funding from the World Health Organization to failing to coordinate policies with our closest allies, the Trump administration has pursued counterproductive policies which make the world less safe.

The Palestinian people are particularly vulnerable at this moment. In 2018, the Trump administration eliminated funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), the international organization charged with addressing the humanitarian needs of Palestinian refugees. While covid-19 does not recognize borders, we must recognize that without aid and assistance, the Palestinian people will be greatly affected by this health crisis.

That’s why we are calling on the Trump administration to release all funds appropriated by Congress to support the well-being of the Palestinian people and restore the U.S. relationship with UNRWA.

washington post logoWashington Post, Editorial: El Salvador’s president is using covid-19 as an excuse to abuse his power, Editorial Board, May 2, 2020 (print ed.). Now is the time to feel sorry for Christine Blasey Ford. Her days as the face that launched a million sexual assault allegations are over,

Pandemic Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, Maryland cancels $12.5 million PPE contract with firm started by GOP operatives, Tom Hamburger and Juliet Eilperin​, May 2, 2020.​ The state of Maryland on Saturday terminated a $12.5 million contract for personal protective equipment with a firm started this spring by two well-connected Republican operatives.

State officials said the company, Blue Flame Medical, failed to deliver masks and ventilators as promised and that the matter has been referred to Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh (D) for review.

Blue Flame received a down payment of nearly $6.3 million from Maryland in early April — after promising to provide within weeks desperately needed PPE for front-line medical personnel dealing with the novel coronavirus.

Ethan Bearman, the Los Angeles attorney for Blue Flame, said Saturday he was unaware the state was unhappy with the firm.

Blue Flame was started in late March by Michael Gula, a Republican fundraising and lobbying consultant in Washington, and John Thomas, a California political consultant.

Before moving in to the medical supply business, Gula was known in GOP circles for his political fundraising prowess. His firm has raised campaign funds for Sens. Patrick J. Toomey (Pa.), Steve Daines (Mont.), Ron Johnson (Wis.) and dozens of other influential Republicans. He startled some longtime clients in March when he announced he was quitting the fundraising world during an election year to start the medical supply business with Thomas.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: The pandemic, the election and the sunshine paradox, Philip Bump, May 2, 2020 (print ed.).​ Joe Biden clearly learned from Hillary Clinton’s experience in 2016. We expect our political leaders to be honest, but being honest is often politically disadvantageous.

May 1

Public Health Top Headlines

Sex Claim Against Biden

U.S. 2020 Election News

Virus Victims

Inside DC

Alleged Virus Aid Abuses

More Public Health News

 Biden Claim Commentaries

World News

Disinformation Via Cults, Web

Trump-supporting, anti-quarantine fascist Alex Jones threatens to eat his Texas neighbors if his food runs out (Details below).

 

 Public Health Top Stories

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washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: As states begin to reopen, a report suggests pandemic could last two more years, Teo Armus, Antonia Noori Farzan, Rick Noack, John Wagner, Kim Bellware, Brittany Shammas, May 1, 2020. WHO says virus is natural, but investigation is needed to show how it spread to humans; Guatemalans deported from U.S. face backlash at home amid rising virus fears.

world health organization logo CustomReady or not, America is reopening: More than half of the nation’s governors are relaxing pandemic restrictions in their states by the end of this week while crossing their fingers that the novel coronavirus doesn’t spike, setting off another round of closures.

But some state leaders — many of them Democrats — are moving more cautiously in balancing the urgent need to reopen the economy with public health concerns over a virus that has killed more than 62,500 people in the United States.

Against that backdrop comes a new report from the University of Minnesota suggesting the coronavirus pandemic could stretch on for two more years with recurring spikes until roughly two-thirds or more of the population is immune. In one of three scenarios in the report, the U.S. is expected to experience a severe resurgence this fall or winter.

Here are some significant developments:

• European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen voiced support for investigating the origins of the novel coronavirus, lending E.U. backing european union logo rectangleto a suggestion that Chinese officials have opposed. Despite widespread speculation that the coronavirus accidentally escaped from a laboratory in Wuhan, China, there is no evidence of any connection between the two, experts said.

• A group of Senate Democrats unveiled a proposal Friday to pay businesses up to $90,000 for at least six months, allowing furloughed or laid-off workers to continue to receive the paychecks in their usual amounts. Nearly 1 in 5 Americans have sought unemployment benefits since the pandemic began.

• Armed demonstrators stormed the Michigan Capitol to protest Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s strict stay-at-home order. The Republican-djt maga hatled legislature decided against extending the emergency declaration, so Whitmer did it herself.

• Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert, warned governors to avoid “leapfrogging” crucial milestones before reopening. “Obviously you could get away with that, but you’re making a really significant risk,” he said.

• While millions of Americans will be able to return to stores, restaurants and movie theaters this weekend, stay-at-home restrictions are being extended in Ohio, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Arizona and Washington. As many rural and suburban areas reopen, cities are staying firmly shut.

• The Trump administration is racing to develop a vaccine that could be fielded nationwide by January.

Michigan thugs yell State Sen. Dayna Polehanki

Thugs, many armed with assault weapons and / or brandishing Confederate flag or pro-Trump signs in protests similar to those fostered by right-wing funders in the 2010 Tea Party movement, stormed Michigan’s State Capitol building on April 30 to protest the state’s virus-prompted lockdown (Photo above and at right by Michigan State Sen. Danya Polehanki, who expressed gratitude for the legislature’s security personnel).

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Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Commentary: Armed neo-Nazi militias storming state capitol buildings, Wayne Madsen, May 1, wayne madesen report logo2020. Armed neo-Nazi and racist thugs descended upon the Michigan state legislature in Lansing on April 30 in protest over the state’s continuation of public health lock down restrictions implemented by Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

The protesters, many of them armed with tactical weapons, shouted epithets from the gallery of the Michigan Senate and lawmakers, many of whom, according to state senator Dayna Polehanki, were forced to wear bullet-proof vests on the Senate floor.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: What the Proponents of ‘Natural’ Herd Immunity Don’t Say, Carl T. Bergstrom and Natalie Dean, May 1, 2020. Try to reach it without a vaccine, and millions will die.

The coronavirus moved so rapidly across the globe partly because no one had prior immunity to it. Failure to check its spread will result in a catastrophic loss of lives. Yet some politicians, epidemiologists and commentators are advising that the most practical course of action is to manage infections while allowing so-called herd immunity to build.

The concept of herd immunity is typically described in the context of a vaccine. When enough people are vaccinated, a pathogen cannot spread easily through the population. If you are infected with measles but everyone you interact with has been vaccinated, transmission will be stopped in its tracks.

Vaccination levels must stay above a threshold that depends upon the transmissibility of the pathogen. We don’t yet know exactly how transmissible the coronavirus is, but say each person infects an average of three others. That would mean nearly two-thirds of the population would need to be immune to confer herd immunity.

In the absence of a vaccine, developing immunity to a disease like Covid-19 requires actually being infected with the coronavirus. For this to work, prior infection has to confer immunity against future infection. While hopeful, scientists are not yet certain that this is the case, nor do they know how long this immunity might last. The virus was discovered only a few months ago.

But even assuming that immunity is long-lasting, a very large number of people must be infected to reach the herd immunity threshold required. Given that current estimates suggest roughly 0.5 percent to 1 percent of all infections are fatal, that means a lot of deaths.

Perhaps most important to understand, the virus doesn’t magically disappear when the herd immunity threshold is reached. That’s not when things stop — it’s only when they start to slow down.

Once enough immunity has been built in the population, each person will infect fewer than one other person, so a new epidemic cannot start afresh. But an epidemic that is already underway will continue to spread. If 100,000 people are infectious at the peak and they each infect 0.9 people, that’s still 90,000 new infections, and more after that. A runaway train doesn’t stop the instant the track begins to slope uphill, and a rapidly spreading virus doesn’t stop right when herd immunity is attained.

If the pandemic went uncontrolled in the United States, it could continue for months after herd immunity was reached, infecting many more millions in the process.

Dr. Bergstrom is a professor of biology at the University of Washington. Dr. Dean is an assistant professor of biostatistics at the University of Florida.

Sex Claim Against Biden

joseph biden mika brzezinkski may 1 2020

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden denies he sexually assaulted former Senate aide, Sean Sullivan and Matt Viser​, May 1, 2020. Joe Biden’s statement, released shortly before he appeared on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” is the first he has made about the allegation by Tara Reade, who worked in his Senate office for nine months ending in 1993. He also called on the National Archives to release any record of a complaint.

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on Friday denied that he sexually assaulted a former Senate aide, addressing the allegation publicly for the first time under increasing pressure from his party to speak about it.

joe biden 2020 button Custom“I want to address allegations by a former staffer that I engaged in misconduct 27 years ago,” Biden said in a statement released by his campaign. “They aren’t true. This never happened.”

Biden echoed his denial on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” shortly after the statement was released. “No, it is not true,” he said. “It never, never happened.”

Biden also called on the National Archives to release any record of a complaint that the former aide, Tara Reade, says she filed. “If there was ever any such complaint, the record will be there,” he said.

tara reade joe biden CustomReade, shown at left in separate file photos with Biden, has said that she filed a complaint with a congressional human resources or personnel office but did not remember the exact name. Her complaint dealt only with the alleged harassment, not the assault, she said.

The Post could find no record of the complaint, and Reade said she didn’t have a copy.

In his MSNBC interview, Biden, who appeared from his makeshift home television studio in Delaware, faced questions from host Mika Brzezinski.

Biden declined to comment on Reade’s motivations for her claims.

“I’m not going to question her motive,” Biden said of Reade, adding, “I don’t understand it.”

The presumptive nominee said he has never asked anyone to sign a nondisclosure agreement. And Biden said that “women have a right to be heard,” but that “in the end in every case, the truth is what matters.”

  •         Justice Integrity Project summary of prominent #MeToo claims, denials: click here.

Alleged Virus Aid Abuses

ny times logoNew York Times, Hotelier Got Millions in Small-Business Aid, and Plans to Keep It, Jeanna Smialek and Kenneth P. Vogel, May 1, 2020. Monty Bennett says the government should help companies like his. Now, Senator Chuck Schumer is asking for a review of use of the Paycheck Protection Program by Mr. Bennett’s companies.

Monty Bennett’s sprawling hospitality company is the biggest known beneficiary of the government’s small-business relief program. The Texas sba logo bestconservative has remained unwilling to return his loans even as public anger builds over large companies getting the funds — a fact now drawing the scrutiny of a key lawmaker.

Hotels and subsidiaries overseen by Mr. Bennett’s firm, Ashford Inc., have applied for $126 million in forgivable loans from the Paycheck Protection Program. According to company filings, about $70 million of that has been funded, the largest known amount to benefit a group of jovita carranzaclosely related companies since the program began in early April. The next biggest known recipient, Ruth’s Hospitality Group, asked for about one-sixth as much and has since decided to return the money. The average loan size in the program’s first round was $206,000.

On Friday, Senator Chuck Schumer, the minority leader, sent a letter to the Small Business Administration demanding a thorough review of use of the program by Mr. Bennett’s companies, saying that he is “deeply concerned that large, publicly traded companies, like Ashford, may be exploiting” it.

“It is imperative that limited taxpayer dollars go to help legitimate small businesses,” he said in the letter to Jovita Carranza, the small business administrator (shown above right).

Wall Street On Parade, Investigative Analysis: Wall Street’s Financial Crisis Preceded COVID-19: Chart and Timeline, Pam Martens and Russ Martens, May 1, 2020. If a reputable polling outfit were to ask Americans what caused the current financial crisis on Wall Street, they would say the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. If Americans were asked in the same poll when the financial crisis on Wall Street started, they would tie it to outbreaks of the virus in the U.S. this year.

But as the timeline below and the chart above clearly substantiate, the financial crisis on Wall Street began in earnest on September 17, 2019, almost four months before the first death from coronavirus anywhere in the world was reported in China on January 11, 2020 and five months before the first death in the U.S. was reported on February 29, 2020, having occurred one day earlier on February 28. (See the New York Times coronavirus timetable here.)

This big disconnect between what people believe about the current Wall Street crisis and the easily documented facts show just how effective Wall Street’s spin doctors and protection racket have become at promulgating a false narrative through mainstream media outlets. (To help get the truth out to the American people, Wall Street On Parade has chronicled each milestone in the crisis in an investigative series that now includes more than seven dozen articles.)

The reason that it’s critically important for Americans to understand that Wall Street is getting another massive bailout from the Fed for a crisis it started before COVID-19 was on our shores is because the structure of Wall Street, with trading casinos allowed to own our largest commercial banks, is far more deadly to the future of America than COVID-19.

In addition to the timeline listed below, pay close attention to the chart above. We show how the Fed jumped into the repo loan market (blue line) during the 2007 to 2010 Wall Street financial crisis versus the collapse in the 10-year Treasury Note. During that period, the Fed’s emergency repo loans reached a peak of $126 billion just before the bankruptcy filing of Lehman Brothers on September 15, 2008.

Last year, the Fed intervened in the repo loan market on September 17 for the first time since the financial crash of 2007 to 2010 (and five months before the first reported death in the U.S. from COVID-19). The Fed’s emergency repo loans outstanding last year hit a peak of $236.6 billion on December 18, 2019 — $100 billion more than during the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Crashing Economy, Rising Stocks: What’s Going On? Paul Krugman, right, May 1, 2020. What’s bad for America is paul krugmansometimes good for the market.

The economic news has been terrible. Never mind Wednesday’s G.D.P. report for the first quarter. An economy contracting at an annual rate of almost 5 percent would have been considered very bad in normal times, but this report only captured the first few drops of a torrential downpour. More timely data show an economy falling off a cliff. The Congressional Budget Office is projecting an unemployment rate of 16 percent later this year, and that may well be an underestimate.

Yet stock prices, which fell in the first few weeks of the Covid-19 crisis, have made up much of those losses. They’re currently more or less back to where they were last fall, when all the talk was about how well the economy was doing. What’s going on?

Well, whenever you consider the economic implications of stock prices, you want to remember three rules. First, the stock market is not the economy. Second, the stock market is not the economy. Third, the stock market is not the economy.

That is, the relationship between stock performance — largely driven by the oscillation between greed and fear — and real economic growth has always been somewhere between loose and nonexistent.

But I’d argue that there are deeper reasons for the current stock market-real economy disconnect: Investors are buying stocks in part because they have nowhere else to go. In fact, there’s a sense in which stocks are strong precisely because the economy as a whole is so weak.

What, after all, is the main alternative to investing in stocks? Buying bonds. Yet these days bonds offer incredibly low returns. The interest rate on 10-year U.S. government bonds is only 0.6 percent, down from more than 3 percent in late 2018. If you want bonds that are protected against future inflation, their yield is minus half a percent.

washington post logocovad 19 photo.jpg Custom 2Washington Post, $1 billion in funds meant for small businesses went to public firms, Jonathan O’Connell, Steven Rich and Peter Whoriskey, May 1, 2020. The publicly traded companies receiving money from the Paycheck Protection Program include 43 with more than 500 workers, the maximum typically allowed by the program, according to data compiled by The Post.

Several other recipients were prosperous enough to pay executives $2 million or more.

U.S. 2020 Election News

michael flynn djt

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Why Trump Is Obsessed With the Flynn Case, Norman L. Eisen (below right, former special counsel to the House Judiciary Committee during the impeachment and trial of President Trump), May 1, 2020. It’s the perfect combination of distraction, fear-mongering and red meat for his base.

norman eisen SmallIn the middle of the coronavirus crisis, a cratering economy and plummeting approval ratings, perhaps it’s not surprising to see President Trump return to a favorite theme: abusing the rule of law.

Of course, it’s a bit of luck for Mr. Trump, too, that on Wednesday evidence emerged from the case against Michael Flynn, his disgraced former national security adviser, providing a new glimpse into the F.B.I.’s investigation of him. To Mr. Trump and his allies, it reveals a deep state intent on taking down his administration right as it began. “What happened to General Michael Flynn, a war hero, should never be allowed to happen to a citizen of the United States again!” Mr. Trump tweeted.

Justice Department log circularTo Mr. Trump, trumpeting about maleficent federal agents must feel like slipping on a comfortable old shoe. A review of these internal F.B.I. communications, however, shows none of the wrongdoing that Mr. Trump would like to see. But no matter: The vladimir putin o wmischaracterization of these documents as evidence of F.B.I. misconduct — and by extension, absolution of Mr. Flynn — signals that the president will escalate his abuses of power in the run-up to the 2020 election.

The Michael Flynn scandal was one of the first to reveal the pattern of lawlessness that has characterized the Trump administration. In December 2016, Mr. Flynn, in a phone call, successfully implored Russia to moderate retaliation against the United States for sanctions imposed because of the attack on U.S. elections. The conduct raised serious questions under the Logan Act, which prohibits private parties from conducting U.S. foreign policy.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Why the Trump Ploy Stopped Working, David Brooks, right, May 1, 2020 (print ed.). As the nation unifies, divisiveness falls david brooksflat. Even in a pandemic there are weavers and rippers. The weavers try to spiritually hold each other so we can get through this together. The rippers, from Donald Trump on down, see everything through the prism of politics and still emphasize division. For the rippers on left and right, politics is a war that gives life meaning.

Fortunately, the rippers are not winning. America is pretty united right now. In an ABC News/Ipsos poll last week, 98 percent of Democrats and 82 percent of Republicans supported social-distancing rules. According to a Yahoo News/YouGov survey, nearly 90 percent of Americans think a second wave of the virus would be at least somewhat likely if we ended the lockdowns today.

republican elephant logoA Pew survey found 89 percent of Republicans and 89 percent of Democrats support the bipartisan federal aid packages. Seventy-seven percent of American adults think more aid will be necessary.

According to a USA Today/Ipsos poll, most of the policies on offer enjoyed tremendous bipartisan support: increasing testing (nearly 90 percent), temporarily halting immigration (79 percent) and continuing the lockdown until the end of April (69 percent). A KFF poll shows that people who have lost their jobs are just as supportive of the lockdowns as people who haven’t.

The polarization industry is loath to admit this, but, once you set aside the Trump circus, we are now more united than at any time since 9/11. The pandemic has reminded us of our interdependence and the need for a strong and effective government.

michael cohen mouth open Custom

Palmer Report, Opinion: What did Bill Barr just do to Michael Cohen? Bill Palmer, May 1, 2020. Two weeks ago, it was announced that Michael Cohen was being released from prison early due to the coronavirus outbreak in the prison system, and that he would serve the rest of his sentence from home. Then word surfaced that Cohen, right, is writing a tell-all book about Donald Trump that will be released before the election. Now, suddenly, Cohen isn’t going to be released from prison.

It’s not difficult to figure out what’s going on here. Donald Trump’s lawyer recently sent a letter to Michael Cohen, threatening him over the book. This gives away that Trump is scared to death of what Cohen might do to him. And now, according to the Daily bill palmer report logo headerBeast, Cohen is suddenly not being let out.

It’s fairly clear to us that Attorney General Bill Barr, below right, has intervened and is blocking Michael Cohen from being released. Of course this won’t actually stop Cohen’s book from being published; he’s been writing it while in prison, and it’ll come out before the election whether he’s still locked up or not. The book won’t contain any national security matters, like John Bolton’s book did, so there will be no method for Trump to use for trying to forcibly delay Cohen’s book.

william barr new oOf course Bill Barr is no dummy, so he knows that keeping Michael Cohen locked up won’t keep his book from coming out. But Barr knows that Donald Trump is the kind of dummy who thinks keeping Cohen locked up will somehow keep his book from coming out.

As usual, Barr is making a move that will please Trump, but not help Trump. If anything, this controversy over Cohen’s release hurts Trump, because now it’ll be a bigger story, and more people will be looking forward to seeing what’s in Cohen’s book.

Virus Victims

Nurses without normal protective gear use

Nurses without normal protective gear use “Hefty” bags at Mt. Sinai Hospital In New York City earlier this spring.

 washington post logoWashington Post, As states reopen, cities stay shut. That could mean more covid-19 in rural America, Griff Witte, May 1, 2020. Experts worry that staggered reopenings could give the virus more opportunity to spread.

All around Sioux City, Iowa, on Friday, restaurants were opening their doors to socially distanced customers. Treadmills were starting to roll as Iowans unleashed their quarantined frustrations at the fitness center. Shopping centers echoed with the footfall of patrons for the first time in weeks.

But not so in the city itself, home to the fastest growing coronavirus infection rate in the country.

“Now’s not the time,” said Bob Scott, Sioux City’s mayor. “We’re not even close to being ready.”

As America’s piecemeal reopening gathers pace, states are each making their own choices about how quickly to move toward what passes for the new normal in the age of covid-19. Numerous states joined the ranks Friday of those that have eased restrictions as April’s stay-at-home orders expired.

But within many states, there are still divisions: Even as rural and suburban areas reopen, cities are staying firmly shut.

ny times logoNew York Times, With No Dialysis, a Covid-19 Patient Fought for His Life, Nicholas Kulish, May 1, 2020. Orphaned as a youth in Bangladesh, Jamal Uddin worked in a ribbon factory in Lower Manhattan while attending high school, before graduating from college and ultimately finding a career helping people with H.I.V./AIDS.

Over his 68 years he had proved that he was a survivor, but the battle of his life would take shape in a Brooklyn intensive care unit as the new coronavirus swept the city.

He had a ventilator to help him breathe, the one piece of equipment everyone feared would be unavailable if the hospitals were overwhelmed. What Mr. Uddin lacked, his family says, was adequate access to dialysis, a common treatment for impaired kidney function that was not available in sufficient quantities to deal with wave after wave of Covid-19 patients arriving in ambulances at the emergency rooms.

More Public Health News

washington post logoWashington Post, Fact Checker Analysis: Was the virus accidentally released from a Wuhan lab? It’s doubtful, Meg Kelly and Sarah Cahlan, May 1, 2020. President Trump and his aides have speculated the new coronavirus sprang from a Chinese lab. Here’s why scientists say that is almost certainly wrong.

“I will tell you, more and more, we’re hearing the story [that the new coronavirus emerged from a Wuhan lab].”

President Trump, in a news conference, April 15, 2020

President Trump isn’t the only one hearing this tale. The political world, Internet theorists, intelligence analysts and global public health officials are abuzz with a big question: Is it possible that the new coronavirus — which causes covid-19 — leaked from a lab?

For months, Chinese authorities have pointed to the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan as the virus’s likely origin. A cluster of early cases had contact with the market. It sold a wide variety of wildlife that, officials hypothesized, was critical to the virus’s formation and spread. Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), which cause similar symptoms, were formed after a coronavirus from a bat transformed in another animal and then jumped to humans.

The logic seems straightforward. But a more complete analysis of early cases suggests that locating the origin of the virus may not be so simple. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that of the first 425 patients, only 45 percent had connections to the market. A separate Jan. 24 analysis published in the Lancet found that three of the first four cases — including the first known case — did not have market links.

Daniel R. Lucey, a pandemics expert at Georgetown University, put it simply: “In my opinion, the virus came into the market before it came out of the market.”

Sign up for our Coronavirus Updates newsletter to track the outbreak. All stories linked in the newsletter are free to access.

That tinge of uncertainty was bolstered after Washington Post columnist Josh Rogin revealed two 2018 cables in which State Department officials warned of safety issues at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, a laboratory studying bat coronaviruses. Renewed questions about the virus’s origin brought a rush of alternative theories. Some claimed the virus was a bioweapon. Others suggested it had been altered for a scientific experiment or was simply a viral sample that escaped from a lab.

Let’s be clear: No scientist we spoke to thinks the new coronavirus was designed as a bioweapon. When asked, Milton Leitenberg, a biological weapons expert at the University of Maryland, responded with a flat “No.”

Most experts say the new coronavirus was the product of a natural process. Still, the safety issues described in the 2018 cables, the Chinese government’s response and the proximity of the labs to the market have raised eyebrows.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Anthony Fauci did in five minutes what Trump has failed to do for weeks, Robert Gebelhoff, May 1, 2020. There was no hype when Anthony S. Fauci of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases relayed the outcomes of a study on a potential treatment for covid-19 on Wednesday. He didn’t promise a “game-changer” or that it would be “available almost immediately.” He didn’t tell us a story about a man taking the drug on his deathbed and miraculously feeling better within hours.

anthony fauci CustomBut as he sat in the Oval Office discussing a recent trial for the drug remdesivir with all the fervor of Ferris Bueller’s economics teacher, Fauci, right, did what President Trump failed to do despite weeks of hawking unproven treatments: offer Americans a real sense of hope.

“This is really quite important,” Fauci said, before going on to discuss the study’s statistical significance “for the scientists who are listening.” The drug, he reported, demonstrated “clear-cut, significant, positive effect in diminishing the time to recovery.”

Boy does that feel good. No, the drug is certainly not a magic bullet. The study Fauci was referencing was not the blockbuster Americans are looking for as the official coronavirus death toll blows past 60,000. The study showed no statistically significant effect on deaths, and it only demonstrated a “modest” benefit to those suffering from covid-19, reducing average recovery time from 15 to 11 days, compared with those given a placebo drug. Other studies have found less dramatic effects, so further research is needed.

washington post logoWashington Post, Justice Dept. scrutinizes White House-connected doctor linked to disputed coronavirus treatment, Rosalind S. Helderman and Matt Zapotosky, May 1, 2020. It is unclear how seriously prosecutors are scrutinizing the matter, but even passing interest from federal authorities into Vladimir “Zev” Zelenko’s efforts to promote the anti-malarial hydroxychloroquine is likely to chafe the president and his allies.

Federal prosecutors are examining the communications of a New York family doctor whose work has been discussed on Fox News and who has been in touch with the White House to tout an anti-malarial as a treatment for the novel coronavirus, according to people contacted as part of the inquiry.

jerome corsi screenshot 2018 09 06The examination of Vladimir “Zev” Zelenko’s records began when an associate, conservative commentator Jerome Corsi, right, accidentally sent an email intended for Zelenko to another “Z” name in his address book — federal prosecutor Aaron Zelinsky, who as a member of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s team had spent months scrutinizing Corsi’s activities during the 2016 presidential election.

During episodes of his daily podcast this week and in a YouTube video he posted late Thursday in response to questions from The Washington Post, Corsi said that Zelinsky responded to the unexpected email by reaching out to Corsi’s lawyer and requesting all of Corsi’s communications with Zelenko.

Corsi said he and Zelenko are collaborating on a website designed to connect people with doctors. They have acted lawfully, Corsi added, but he plans to cooperate with the request and has handed over his communications.

Zelinsky is tasked now with investigating coronavirus-related crimes in the Maryland U.S. attorney’s office, as part of a directive from U.S. Attorney General William P. Barr to prioritize such cases. The department already has charged a medley of fraudsters for peddling fake cures, selling personal protective equipment they didn’t actually have or running more complicated Medicare reimbursement schemes, and officials say tips are coming in droves.

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, House investigators demand Amazon’s Bezos testify in antitrust probe, Tony Romm and Jay Greene​, May 1, 2020. House amazon logo smalllawmakers investigating Amazon for antitrust violations demanded on Friday that Jeff Bezos, left, the company’s chief executive, agree to testify at an upcoming hearing or face a potential subpoena that would force him to appear.

jeffrey bezos washington postThe dramatic escalation between members of Congress and the e-commerce giant follows reports that Amazon employees tapped data from third-party sellers in its marketplace to make decisions about launching its own competing products, despite initially telling Democrats and Republicans it did not engage in such practices.

Lawmakers on the House’s top competition-focused panel specifically pointed to statements that Amazon made starting last July, when officials explicitly told Congress that “we do not use any seller data to compete with them.” Lawmakers raised the potential that Amazon might have committed perjury during its earlier testimony on Capitol Hill.

voice of america logo

washington post logoWashington Post, Pence staff threatens action against reporter who tweeted about visit to clinic without surgical mask, Paul Farhi, May 1, 2020. Pence Mike Pence, right, visits Mayo Clinic hospital, does not wear mask.

Vice President Pence’s office has threatened to retaliate against a reporter who revealed that Pence’s office had told journalists they would need masks for Pence’s visit to the Mayo Clinic — a requirement Pence himself did not follow.

Pence’s trip to the clinic Tuesday generated criticism after he was photographed without a surgical mask — the only person in the room not wearing one. The Minnesota clinic requires visitors to wear masks as a precaution against spreading the coronavirus.

Pence’s wife, Karen Pence, said in an interview with Fox News on Thursday that he was unaware of the mask policy until his visit was over.

But Steve Herman, who covers the White House for Voice of America, suggested that there was more to the story after Karen Pence’s interview.

“All of us who traveled with [Pence] were notified by the office of @VP the day before the trip that wearing of masks was required by the @MayoClinic and to prepare accordingly,” tweeted Herman, who covered the trip as part of his rotation as one of the pool reporters, who share information with other reporters in limited-space situations.

The tweet apparently enraged Pence’s staff, which told Herman that he had violated the off-the-record terms of a planning memo that had been sent to him and other reporters in advance of Pence’s trip.

Herman said he was notified by the White House Correspondents’ Association that Pence’s office had banned him from further travel on Air Force Two, although a spokesperson in Pence’s office later told VOA managers than any punishment was still under discussion, pending an apology from Herman or VOA.

VOA is continuing to talk with Pence’s staff, said Yolanda Lopez, the director of VOA’s news center. She said it wasn’t clear how the vice president intended to proceed. Pence’s press secretary, Katie Miller, declined to comment.

The issue, according to people involved, is whether Herman’s tweet violated the off-the-record terms of a planning document sent via email Monday evening by the vice president’s office to reporters who planned to travel with Pence to the clinic.

A copy of the document obtained by The Washington Post explicitly stated that masks are required for the visit and instructed reporters to wear them. “Please note, the Mayo Clinic is requiring all individuals traveling with the VP wear masks,” the document said. “Please bring one to wear while on the trip.”

The directive confirms that Pence’s staff was well aware of the need for masks, raising the possibility that none of his aides alerted him to the requirement or that Pence had intentionally flouted it, perhaps to avoid being photographed in a mask. (Pence himself told reporters after the visit that because he doesn’t have the coronavirus — he is tested frequently — he decided he could “speak to these researchers, these incredible health-care personnel, and look them in the eye and say thank you.”)

However, the planning document is marked, “OFF THE RECORD AND FOR PLANNING PURPOSES ONLY.” The off-the-record designation is standard for such logistical memos, indicating reporters are obligated not to publish or report the information. The White House typically keeps planning information confidential to maintain security for official trips.

But there’s some question about how long the obligation lasts — whether it is permanent or only applies to the period before and during the trip.

Herman’s tweet came nearly 48 hours after the vice president’s trip had ended, suggesting the vice president’s staff was more embarrassed by the disclosure than concerned about security.

“My tweet speaks for itself,” Herman said in a statement. “We always have and will strictly adhere to keeping off the record any White House communications to reporters for planning purposes involving logistics that have security implications prior to events. . . . All White House pool reporters, including myself and my VOA colleagues, take this very seriously.”

As is, the vice president’s office took no action against another reporter, Gordon Lubold of the Wall Street Journal, who traveled with Pence and tweeted something similar to Herman’s tweet Thursday. “Everyone in the entire Mayo Clinic had a mask on, everyone, and we were all told the day before we had to wear a mask if we entered the clinic,” Lubold tweeted.

In a now-deleted tweet, the clinic said it had alerted Pence to its mask policy before his visit. A later statement from the clinic said only that it had informed Pence’s office of the policy, not Pence personally.

Voice of America is a government-funded but independent news agency that has lately been the object of White House criticism. The Trump administration accused VOA this month of promoting Chinese government propaganda in its reporting about the coronavirus. The VOA’s director, Amanda Bennett, has defended its independence.

On Thursday, Pence wore a mask as he toured a General Motors auto plant in Indiana that has been converted into a factory making ventilators for hospitals around the country.

washington post logoWashington Post, Secret Service paid Trump’s D.C. hotel more than $33,000 for lodging to guard Mnuchin, David A. Fahrenthold, Joshua Partlow, secret service logoJosh Dawsey and Carol D. Leonnig, May 1, 2020 (print ed.). The Secret Service rented a room at President Trump’s Washington hotel for 137 consecutive nights in 2017 — paying Trump’s company more than $33,000 — so it could guard Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin while he lived in one of the hotel’s luxury suites, according to federal documents and people familiar with the arrangement.

steven mnuchin wMnuchin, left, a financier from New York, lived in the Trump International Hotel for several months before moving to a home in Washington. Mnuchin paid for his hotel suite himself, a Treasury Department spokesperson said.

But during his stay, the Secret Service also rented the room next door at taxpayer expense, to screen Mnuchin’s visitors and packages, according to three people familiar with that arrangement who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

For that room, the Trump hotel charged the maximum rate that federal agencies were generally allowed to pay in 2017: $242 per night, according to the billing records. The Secret Service checked in Jan. 25, according to billing records obtained by The Washington Post, and didn’t make its last payment until June 12.

World News

washington post logoWashington Post, Canada announces immediate ban on ‘military-grade’ assault weapons, Amanda Coletta, May 1, 2020. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the ban includes more than 1,500 makes and models of firearms.

  • Washington Post, Israeli bank fined nearly $1 billion in U.S. tax evasion, money laundering cases, Steve Hendrix, May 1, 2020. Bank Hapoalim, Israel’s largest bank, reaches plea agreement with U.S. prosecutors.
  • Washington Post, Meet Kim Yo Jong, Kim Jong Un’s sister, who could be North Korea’s next leader, Jung H. Pak, May 1, 2020.
  • Washington Post, Unprecedented Facebook video by Assad’s cousin points to rift in Syria’s ruling family, Liz Sly and Asser Khattab, May 1, 2020. The video posted by Rami Makhlouf asks President Bashar al-Assad to shield him from government attempts to seize his assets.

Biden Accuser Commentary

washington post logojennifer rubin new headshotWashington Post, Opinion: What Joe Biden did right in rebutting Tara Reade’s claims, Jennifer Rubin, right, May 1, 2020. Political pundits will “grade” former vice president Joe Biden’s response to Tara Reade’s allegation that he digitally penetrated her more than 25 years ago. The campaign’s written statement was empathetic and respectful but definitive. Biden sat for a tough interview Friday without losing his cool. He was not angry or accusatory; he did not claim a conspiracy nor insult the accuser. He volunteered to open Senate papers (which he said are at the National Archives, not at the University of Delaware).

In short, he did what an innocent person would do and say.

The lines “If you believe Christine Blasey Ford, you have to believe Reade” or “You didn’t believe President Trump, so you cannot believe Biden” (or other variations) are the worst examples of mindless “balance” and faux objectivity. It takes a minute to identify fundamental differences between situations that bear little resemblance to one another.

Trump never sat for a grueling interview to go through the facts of more than a dozen claims against him. Biden sat for an interrogation of a single claim of sexual assault. (And no, his penchant to ignore personal space and excessive hugginess were not sexual, although they were inappropriate.)

Unlike Republicans and now-Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh, who refused to allow a full investigation of charges, Biden has put no restrictions on media inquiries and has offered up relevant documents. (Republicans also refused to open up all documents relevant to Kavanaugh’s past White House work having nothing to do with Ford’s allegation.)

tara reade recent headshotAnd let’s get real: Reade [shown in a recent photo at left] and Ford [below at right] are not similar accusers.

Ford’s story was consistent for years. Reade’s has not been. Ford did not claim to have complained contemporaneously; Reade did and was rebutted by Biden staff to whom she would have complained. In Kavanaugh’s case, there was another witness to an alleged, separate incident of sexual misconduct at Yale University involving Kavanaugh. In Reade’s case, no one else has christine blasey ford sept 27 2018accused Biden of anything like Reade’s claim.

Biden’s statements in writing and in the interview are hard to dispute: Women should be heard and believed, but facts and the truth matter like in every other crime. (In his written statement enumerating the fundamental concerns in these cases, Biden said, “One is that women deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, and when they step forward they should be heard, not silenced. The second is that their stories should be subject to appropriate inquiry and scrutiny.”) If a witness changes her story (“Responsible news organizations should examine and evaluate the full and growing record of inconsistencies in her story, which has changed repeatedly in both small and big ways”), her credibility is seriously compromised.

Several points deserve emphasis.

First, the media do not question Trump about the serial allegations against him at his endless daily appearances. They’ve shrugged their shoulders and given up trying to pin him down on the numerous complaints of harassment and/or assault. They should continue to scrutinize his claims and ask questions whether he answers or not.

Second, people are entitled to believe Reade despite her inconsistencies, the denials from Biden and his staff and the (so far) dearth of written evidence of her complaint. The question is whether the American people decide the evidence is credible. Unless more evidence surfaces, I would wager they do not.

Third, Democrats perpetually worried that the Biden team is “blowing it” (Biden is hidden away! Not in the news!) might want to chill. This was a textbook example of effective campaign communication. The candidate is leading in the polls, and Trump is melting down (in the latest ABC/Ipsos poll, “his disapproval rating among Americans reached a numeric high of 57%, with only 42% approving.”) Maybe these people do know what they are doing.

les wexner mansion jeffrey epstein wmr graphic maria

The Justice Integrity Project in cooperation with the Wayne Madsen Report (WMR) has reported extensively on allegations of sex crimes by Donald Trump, as illustrated by a WMR graphics above and below at right. Authorities and the major media have for the most part failed to question Trump or investigate the specifics, including the circumstances of Epstein’s suspicious death last summer in a facility controlled by Trump’s defender, Attorney General William Barr.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Why we’ll never have resolution on Tara Reade’s accusation against Joe Biden, Paul Waldman, May 1, 2020. We will dct underage wmr tweetbe spending a good bit of time debating whether Biden’s comments were properly sensitive or politically deft, and people will continue to argue about whether Reade’s charge or Biden’s denial is more convincing.

But we should understand that there will be no resolution to this controversy, no satisfying conclusion, no point at which anyone feels that we’ve fully understood what happened and what we should think about it. It may fade as a campaign issue, but it will remain an open wound.

And yes, we can point out that President Trump [shown at left with his future wife Melania, his friend Jeffrey Epstein and Epstein’s friend and fellow sex trafficker Ghislaine Maxwell) has been credibly accused of various forms of sexual misconduct, all the way up to rape, by no fewer than two dozen women, not to mention the fact that djt knauss epstein ghislaine maxwell mar a lago getty full davidoff studioshe is on tape bragging about his ability to sexually assault women with impunity.

And we can observe that unlike Biden, who reiterates that women have a right to be heard and refrains from attacking Reade, Trump has met his accusers with the accusation that they’re all despicable liars; in one case, he said, “Believe me, she would not be my first choice, that I can tell you.”

You can point all that out to Trump’s supporters, but it won’t do you any good.

Unlike liberals for whom sexual assault and gender equality are important issues, many conservatives are unencumbered by questions of principle, and they’re practiced at pretending to care about something for donald trump ivanka bed kissonly as long as it gives them political advantage. Remind them that the president they worship is an accused sexual predator [JIP Editor’s note: including inappropriate involvement with his daughter, as shown at right], and they’ll just laugh.

And right now, they couldn’t be happier.

If you search “Tara Reade” at FoxNews.com, you come up with more than 2,500 results. It’s a game they’re practiced at playing. They don’t need to persuade the public that Trump is good, only that everyone else is just as bad as he is — just as corrupt, just as venal, just as dishonest, just as morally contemptible.

The fact that the charge against Biden is the same kind that has been leveled so many times (and far more persuasively) against Trump isn’t a bug; it’s a feature.

Palmer Report, Lindsey Graham just gave away the game for Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, May 1, 2020. Even as Bernie Bros like Chris Hayes have bent over backward to give false credibility to a uniquely non-credible allegation against Joe Biden, in the delusional hope of taking Biden down so Bernie Sanders can somehow become the nominee instead, pro-Trump forces have been largely avoiding the allegation like the plague.

bill palmer report logo headerAfter Hayes falsely characterized the allegation on Wednesday night it forced Joe Biden to go on Morning Joe on Friday to set the record straight. But prior to that, the one time Donald Trump was asked about the allegation against Biden, he insinuated that it was false – and even Fox News had been loathe to touch it.

Now that this nonsense story is out on the open, news outlets are still somewhat hesitant about what to do with it. For instance, Rachel Maddow and Anderson Cooper didn’t cover it at all, while Chris Hayes did a bizarre segment in which he tried to dishonestly characterize his own prior reporting on the story. When Lindsey Graham appeared on Fox News on Friday night, he was asked about it – and he gave away the game.

Lindsey GrahamNot only did Lindsey Graham, right, refuse to play up the allegation against Biden, he went out of his way to defend Biden, saying the two spent decades traveling together and he never once saw anything improper, or heard about anything improper. This is coming from the same Lindsey Graham who likes to promote the most phony and deranged Ukraine-related scandals about Biden that he can think of.

Graham just gave away that Donald Trump and his team don’t really want there to be a lot of focus on the Biden allegation.

The reason is fairly obvious. Biden has one overtly non-credible allegation against him, while Trump has dozens of credible allegations against him – and this will merely prompt the media to finally revisit Trump’s long history of sexual assault.

As Trump’s poll numbers continue to get uglier and the election gets closer, they could decide to revisit this.

When you’re facing the growing prospect of losing badly, you tend to start throwing everything at the wall – even the things that you suspect will backfire on you. And there’s already talk of Team Trump testing out a TV ad about the Biden scandal, just in case. But for the moment at least, Trump’s own people are afraid of the Biden allegation getting too much attention, and then morphing back into the Trump scandal that it should have been all along.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Biden begs off questions about University of Delaware documents, Aaron Blake, May 1, 2020. Joe Biden gave his first public interview Friday about allegations of sexual assault against him. And he set up the interview by issuing a lengthy statement in which he called for the National Archives to release any record of the complaint that his accuser, Tara Reade, says she filed in the early 1990s — but that Biden says didn’t exist.

But during the subsequent interview on MSNBC, he struggled to answer questions about other documents that could also potentially shed some light: ones housed at the University of Delaware.

Biden resisted repeated inquires from “Morning Joe” host Mika Brzezinski about also releasing documents from his personal files there. Those documents are being held back now since they are generally released once an official like Biden leaves public life.

Biden repeatedly sought to beg off questions about the files by saying that they would not contain any documents pertinent to the Reade allegations.

“First of all, let’s get this straight: There are no personnel documents. You can’t do that,” Biden said, adding: “You have my income tax returns. They’re private documents. They do not get put out in the public. They’re not part of the public record.”

He repeatedly drove home the point that there were “no personnel records” in the documents. Pressed further, he said he was also sure there was nothing about Reade in those documents.

“So personnel records aside, are you certain there was nothing about Tara Reade in those records –” Brzezinski asked.

“I am absolutely certain,” he said, adding: “There is nothing. They’re not there. I don’t understand the point you’re trying to make. There are no personnel records, by definition.”

Biden also said he worried that disclosing documents, including his confidential conversations with foreign leaders such as Russian President Vladimir Putin, “could really be taken out of context.” He emphasized that those documents are generally released when someone leaves public office.

“All of that to be fodder in a campaign at this time — I don’t know of anybody who’s done anything like that,” Biden said.

Brzezinski then offered a compromise: Why not have someone search just for documents that pertain to Reade?

Biden, though, wouldn’t commit to it. “Who does that search?” he said.

Brzezinski said the university or some kind of commission could do so, but Biden reverted to talking about how any actual complaint should be in the National Archives.

But while the complaint — which Reade has said was not for the alleged assault but for making her feel uncomfortable — might not be in Biden’s University of Delaware files, those files could contain other documentation that could shed light. As The Post’s editorial board wrote recently in urging Biden to release any such relevant records:

The editorial board repeatedly acknowledged there may indeed be nothing pertinent or about Reade in those files, as Biden now insists, but it said they should be examined:

There are 1,875 boxes and 415 gigabytes of electronic content, largely uncataloged. Searching won’t be as easy as some might assume. But an inventory conducted with an eye toward releasing only relevant material could at least ascertain whether personnel records are part of this archive at all.

Disinformation Via Cults, Web

washington post logoWashington Post, Internet Culture Analysis: Why dangerous conspiracy theories about the virus spread so fast — and how they can be stopped, Travis M. Andrews, May 1, 2020. Fighting online misinformation, such as the 5G conspiracy theory, can feel like fighting a waterfall. But it can be done.

Since the novel coronavirus pandemic began, misinformation has proliferated on the Internet — par for the course during a crisis. People took to social media in droves to share false claims that covering your body in chlorine or eating garlic were effective methods of fighting the virus, both of which were disproved by the World Health Organization.

The pandemic has also sparked a wave of more insidious conspiracy theories, such as the false claim that 5G mobile networks spread and worsen the coronavirus, which has led to dozens of instances of arsonists setting fire to cell towers across Europe.

Misinformation spreads online much like a virus itself. Although various types spread slightly differently, the transmission of the 5G conspiracy theory offers some insight into how false claims grow online.

In this case, it involved 5G, the newest, fastest type of cellular network, which began deploying globally in 2019. As is usually the case with new technologies, it has attracted its fair share of conspiracy theories. A general practitioner in Belgium named Kris Van Kerckhoven baselessly told the newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws in a Jan. 22 story that 5G was life-threatening and linked to the coronavirus, as Wired reported.

The newspaper quickly issued a correction and deleted the offending article from its website, but it was too late. Anti-5G groups began spreading the rumor, and some members of a frightened public, desperate for some sense of order, believed this deeply implausible lie.

It’s certainly more difficult to fight misinformation if someone is purposely and relentlessly spreading it, which is partially the case with various 5G conspiracy theories. The Russian network RT America has been peddling disinformation about the mobile network since long before covid-19, in part, according to the New York Times, to slow the rollout in the United States and give Russia time to catch up.

RT helped plant the seeds of mistrust surrounding 5G. Van Kerckhoven watered them.

Alex Jones Screen shot May 1, 2020 at 12.02.06 pm

If society collapses, Alex Jones says he would kill and cook his neighbours to feed his children (screenshot from Infowars )

Independent, Alex Jones says he’d kill and cook his neighbors to feed his kids, Oliver O’Connell, May 1, 2020. He has a few years’ worth of food stored away to get through first.

In an unhinged rant on his InfoWars radio show, notorious conspiracy theorist Alex Jones described in detail how he would kill and eat his neighbours to feed his children.

In a segment from his 28 April show: ‘Mission Accomplish! Coronavirus Panic Triggers Global Collapse,’ the controversial radio host said: “You know what, I’m ready. My daughters aren’t starving to death. I’ll eat my neighbors.”

He then explains in graphic detail how he would go about doing so.

A one-minute-long edited segment of the show was posted to Twitter by Jones’ ex-wife Kelly Jones, with whom he has battled in court for custody of their three children.

Ms Jones tweeted: “This is my ex-husband, Alex Jones, graphically describing how he’ll kill his neighbor to f e e d my kids: Homicidal. Terrifying.”
Watch more

“I lost my kids for tweeting about injustice. This is UNJUST to my kids. This is a mom’s worst nightmare. Court must act,” she added, before asking for retweets to further her cause.

The Joneses divorced in March 2015, and in 2017 Ms Jones sought sole or joint custody of the children due to her husband’s behaviour — he has a history of wild conspiracy theories and on-air rants. Ms Jones says that he is “not a stable person.”

 

 

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