10,000 on ignore, Book 169: The Days of Reckoning, Part 28.....

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Watch Louie Gohmert ask if BLM can move the Moon
Mark Sumner

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Daily Kos has a policy against using terms that are associated with mental illness or with a disability for someone who has not been diagnosed with one. This is a good policy for any number of reasons, not least of all because it helps guard against the use of lazy, repetitive writing. Over the last five years, the tendency to fall back on ableist terms like “crazy” or “dumb” has been difficult to fight, but doing so not only helps to avoid stigmatizing those genuinely experiencing mental illness or disability, it leads to more precise and informative language.

And that is why, this morning, I have to say that … I have nothing to say about Rep. Louie Gohmert.

Gohmert: I understand, from what’s been testified to, the Forest Service and the BLM, you want very much to work on the issue of climate change. I was, uh, informed by the immediate past director of NASA that they found that the Moon’s orbit is changing slightly and so is the Earth’s orbit around the Sun, we know there’s been significant solar flare activities, um, and so, is there anything that the National Forest Service or BLM can do to, uh, change the course of the Moon’s orbit or the Earth’s orbit around the Sun? Obviously that would have profound effects on our climate.

The only thing you really need to know, is that in this clip, Gohmert thinks he is being clever.



And it is too bad no one followed up by asking what effects he believes altering the Moon’s orbit would bring.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Donald Trump recently exited the confines of Mar-a-Lago, following a familiar path traveled by many snowbirds: the former president relocated for the summer to his Bedminster golf club in New Jersey.

From a distance, it's easy to imagine Trump surrounded by a small army of sycophantic former White House aides, following a few steps behind him, jotting down his directives as he barks assorted orders.

The truth, however, appears to be far more pitiful. The New York Times reports that the former president slips into Manhattan to work out of Trump Tower at least once a week, but "the place isn't as he left it."

Many of his longtime employees are gone. So are most of the family members who once worked there with him and some of the fixtures of the place, like his former lawyer Michael D. Cohen, who have since turned on him. Mr. Trump works there, mostly alone, with two assistants and a few body men. His political operation has also dwindled to a ragtag team of former advisers who are still on his payroll, reminiscent of the bare-bones cast of characters that helped lift a political neophyte to his unlikely victory in 2016. Most of them go days or weeks without interacting with Mr. Trump in person.

The article added that some Trump associates joke that "the most senior adviser to the former leader of the free world is Christina Bobb, a correspondent with the far-right, eternally pro-Trump One America News Network, whom he consults regularly for information about the Arizona election audit."

In other words, Team Trump is noticeably short on team members.

It's an open question as to why the former president is isolated. Indeed, after raising hundreds of millions of dollars in the wake of his defeat, Trump should have the resources necessary to assemble an impressive crew. At least for now, that hasn't happened.

But of greater interest is the asymmetry between the Republican's paltry operation and the potency of his political reach within his party.......
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Biden heads to Europe to patch things up with American allies after the last guy's screwups
Hunter

President Joe Biden is traveling to Europe Wednesday, kicking off his first foreign trip as president. The itinerary is robust: It will kick off with the three-day G7 summit, jet to Brussels for NATO meetings, and cap things off by meeting in Geneva with Russian troll Vladimir Putin.

While the meeting with Putin is likely to generate the most press buzz, it is also likely to be the most pointless bit of the trip. Biden will likely bring up the new spate of Russian-originated ransomware hacks that have caused real damage to American markets; Putin will simply feign ignorance of the attacks, as he has feigned ignorance of each Russian provocation during his rule. Russia is at this point fully ruled by Putin's allied oligarchs and crime rings. So long as it's bringing cash into Russian accounts, he's not going to complain.
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Most of Biden's attention will instead be focused on conversations with U.S. allied foreign leaders, and the central diplomatic task of the trip will be to convince those leaders that the United States has not, despite all recent evidence to the contrary, gone completely off its rails. He meets with NATO leaders after an (incompetent) insurrection premised on overthrowing America's own government, and while the previous inhabitant of his office continues to stoke fascist hoaxes to goad his followers into new attempts to return him to power. Insurrectionist militias continue to make a point of challenging federal power at gunpoint. Republican lawmakers continue to support the hoaxes and premises of the insurrection, retooling election laws to better enable a next one.

Fully restoring confidence in America as a competent international partner is not something within a new president's power to do. The less ambitious goal is to at least assure partners that the nation's current leader is not an ever-addled incompetent jackass.

Fortunately, that one will be easier. It mainly requires Biden to not be a complete and total asshole to everyone he meets up with, something far beyond the last Dear Leader's capabilities but which is a familiar enough task to Biden to come naturally.

He is not expected to be weirdly snippy at Germany's leader, or regale British diplomats with tales of which royals he could probably have slept with, had he made a move. He is not expected to tell NATO members that they owe America money because Reasons, or to announce new troop withdrawals based on which leaders made him look a bit thick in public.

Bizarrely, Joe Biden is at this point not scheduled to visit even one self-owned golf resort. He does not even appear to be demanding that his assigned federal security agents rent golf carts from his company, and there seems to be no plan to rant about offshore wind power lowering his property values.

And unless some foreign leader insults Amtrak, there may be no fisticuffs at all.


Anyhoo, from now until June 16 you can expect ongoing reports from the Biden Is In Europe Tour. Two thirds of them will come from Fox News as they hunt for evidence that Joe Biden is the very essence of radical extremism; hosts will in particular be looking at examples of Biden being friendly toward American allies so that they can claim he is Secretly Plotting To Be Europe or whatever else is currently rattling through the network's pachinko brain. Sure, whatever.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Report claims police did not clear Lafayette Park for Trump photo op, despite your eyes and ears
Hunter

With a report that borders on gaslighting, U.S. Department of the Interior Inspector General Mark Greenblatt announced a bizarre finding that the violent clearing of Lafayette Park mere minutes before Donald Trump marched through the area for a brief photo-op at a church near the White House was not related to that photo-op. But it also finds that the previously planned clearing was sped up when Attorney General William Barr informed the site's Park Police operations commander that Trump was intending to walk through the area the protesters were currently occupying.

If that doesn't make sense to you, you're not alone. The two conclusions seem in direct opposition to each other, an attempt to come to the less damaging conclusion by redefining the question until it loses all meaning. That Greenblatt was tapped by the Trump White House for the role after incoherent maneuvering had Housing and Urban Development secretary Ben Carson announcing a completely different person for the role, and even though the administration was widely purging inspector generals seen as insufficiently loyal to Trump's interest, does not help.
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The inspector general's report hinges on a finding that the Park Police were already making plans to clear the park to install new fencing before commanders knew of Trump's intended plan. This is consistent with previous claims. Since the Park Police were already intending to clear the park, the report argues, it cannot be said that it was done for Trump's photo-op.

"[T]he evidence established that relevant USPP officials had made those decisions and had begun implementing the operational plan several hours before they knew of a potential Presidential visit to the park, which occurred later that day. As such, we determined that the evidence did not support a finding that the USPP cleared the park on June 1, 2020, so that then President Trump could enter the park," writes Greenblatt.

The problem is that everything else in the report, as in previous press reports and television coverage of the day, clearly demonstrates that while the plan to alter fencing in the park was already in the works before law enforcement knew Trump planned to walk through the area, the operation was sped up to hastily accommodate the Trump plan.

"Are these people still going to be here when POTUS comes out," William Barr had asked on-scene commanders after arriving at the White House. "The commander said that he [had] known until then that Trump would be coming out of the White House and into Lafayette Park," notes NBC News.

What happened next was broadcast nationally. Park Police, augmented with Bureau of Prisons officers and other federal officers under the control of William Barr, fired off tear gas as cable television channels tuned in live to await an announced Donald Trump speech. Federal forces violently cleared the square without, as the report notes, even giving the crowd due notice that they must disperse.

During
that operation, Trump appeared in front of the cameras to deliver a pointedly aggressive speech.

"I am also taking swift and decisive action to protect our great capital, Washington, D.C. What happened in this city last night was a total disgrace. As we speak, I am dispatching thousands and thousands of heavily armed soldiers, military personnel, and law enforcement officers to stop the rioting, looting, vandalism, assaults, and the wanton destruction of property," he said.

At the conclusion of the speech, he then announced the walk:


"Thank you very much. And now I'm going to pay my respects to a very, very special place."

So we know, for a fact, several things:

• We know that Trump was intending to walk to the church when he walked out to give his speech.

• We know that William Barr knew he would be doing it, and informed a commander in advance.
• We know that federal forces then began to violently clear the square precisely at the time designated for Trump's speech and walk.

It is self-evident that whatever plans the Park Police had previously made, those plans were changed specifically to clear the park for Trump's planned walk. Pretending that they were not is something very close to gaslighting. It's implausible.

If the square had been cleared prior to Trump's walk, it would be reasonable to say that Trump's walk had nothing to do with it. If the square had not been cleared, and Trump was obliged to either walk through the peaceful but booing crowd or to cancel the stunt, there would have been no scandal.

But it's simply impossible to argue that the square was not cleared more aggressively than it would have been if the sitting president of the United States had not intended to saunter through the area mere minutes afterword. It's ridiculous.


Why the inspector general's office is trying so very hard to immunize all of government from an act that was very clearly spurred by presidential actions is not clear, but this particular justification of events is not plausible. It does not square with Barr's actions. It doesn't square with the videotape we have of the day. It's simply not plausible.

 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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President Biden to purchase another 500M doses of Pfizer vaccine, then give them away to the world
Mark Sumner

At the moment, the United States has more than enough COVID-19 vaccine already purchased to treat every woman, man, and child in the nation. In fact, with the purchases President Biden has made, there are almost enough doses to treat everyone a second time — and that’s before the 100 million doses of Novavax’s upcoming vaccine are added in.

What the U.S. has isn’t a shortage of vaccine; it’s a shortage of patients. With the number of Republicans saying “no” to the vaccine is actually increasing, despite the fact that rural red counties are turning out the highest rates of COVID-19 infection in the nation, the last thing that the U.S. needs is still more vaccine. In fact, on Tuesday Kaiser Health News reported that over 10 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have been sitting on state shelves so long that they’re investigating ways to prolong viability. Hundreds of thousands of doses could begin expiring, unused, within a month. So naturally the United States has announced that it will purchase 500 million more doses of the highly effective vaccine from Pfizer / BioNTech — enough to vaccinate every American adult all over again.

Only these doses aren’t going to American adults. As he departed Washington on Wednesday, President Joe Biden made it clear he is preparing to announce and international vaccination plan. And the first step is giving those 500 million doses to nations around the world.

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While the United States is blessed with a superabundance of vaccine, this is far from a universal condition. Many nations—particularly in Asia and Africa—have much less vaccine than they need. Globally, the vaccination rate remains less than 6% and in Africa the rate is less than 2%. In some cases, the biggest issue is simply cost. Others are wrangling with the fact that the primary supply of effective vaccines had been snatched up by wealthy nations, which has been tagged as “vaccine apartheid.” And in still other cases, like Brazil, poor decisions by national leaders have left the nation with an inadequate supply even though manufacturers tried to offer them help.

In many countries, the Chinese-made Sinopharm vaccine is the only available option. But there has been concerns about the efficacy of Sinopharm. For example, even though more than 70% of those in the Seychelles islands have been received at least one dose of vaccine, the country is still seeing a surge of new cases, with many of those cases appearing among people who have reportedly been vaccinated with Sinopharm. That likely signals that this vaccine is not highly effective against the “delta” variant which originally become dominant in India.

Initial data also indicates that another Chinese-made vaccine, SinoVac, has been effective in the field, though not in areas where the delta variant is most dominant. And a number of questions remain about the widespread efficacy of either SinoPharm of SinoVac. Despite recent WHO approval for SinoPharm, that vaccine may be less than 50% effective in real world situations.

Studies have also indicated that the Covaxin and Covishield vaccines, which were developed in India, are also in not highly effective against the delta variant. And since Covishield duplicates the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine first developed in the U.K., these studies also raise fresh concerns about how that vaccine is holding up to the later variants.

However, the two mRNA-based vaccines from Pfizer / BioNTech and Moderna are proving to be highly effective in real world use, with a 91% drop in infections that closely mirrors the results predicted by Phase 2 / 3 testing. The Lancet reports that the Russian-made Sputnik V has also proven to he highly effective. (That vaccine employs a unique arrangement in which each of two doses use a different adenovirus as carriers for SARS-CoV-2 proteins. This could avoid problems in vaccines like Oxford-AstraZeneca, SinoPharm, or Covishield that use a single adenovirus.)

What all this means is that Pfizer / BioNTech is proving to be one of the most effective tools in fighting COVID-19 and one of the vaccines most in demand. Nations that are still trying to find doses for their populations are having to line up down the list, or settle for a vaccine who efficacy is either unproven — or proven to be significantly lower. Even though President Biden earlier expressed support for removing patent protection from COVID-19 vaccines, it’s unclear how many locations can currently manufacture these mRNA vaccines.
So Biden is purchasing the best available vaccine. And giving it to the world.

This may seem like a humanitarian gesture, or an effort to fend off earlier charges that the United States was hoarding vaccine to itself. Yes. And yes. However, it’s also an important factor in protecting people in America, because it should cut down on future variants and limit the circulation of COVID-19 in the world population.
The Washington Post reports that in previous distributions the White House shipped most vaccines to Covax, a vaccine-distribution organization founded by the WHO. It’s unclear if that will also be the route of distribution for the new dozes of Pfizer / BioNTech, but that answer should come in the next two days.

Biden is expected to formally announce the vaccine distribution at a Group of Seven meeting to be held this week in the U.K. The announcement will come as part of a larger global vaccine strategy that is likely to include shipping additional doses of the vaccines that are going unused in the United States.

However, it is unclear if Biden will address this pressing issue brought to the Ohio legislature by a concerned anti-vaxxer.


 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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The developer of the Keystone XL pipeline announced Wednesday it is pulling the plug on the controversial project after the Biden administration revoked its permit in January.

TC Energy, the Canadian company behind the project, said it decided to terminate the project after a comprehensive review of its options and consulting with the government of Alberta, Canada. The company said it would coordinate with regulators, stakeholders and Indigenous groups to ensure a safe exit from the project.

The cancellation ends more than a decade of controversy over the pipeline and marks a big win for environmentalists who argued the project threatened the environment and would only worsen the climate crisis......
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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McGahn Testimony Released by House Judiciary
jqjacobs









 
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Ten Thousan Marbles

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Feb 6, 2014
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The Trump administration battled with CNN for half a year to obtain the email records of a reporter and insisted it all take place under an extraordinary order of secrecy, CNN's lead attorney revealed on Wednesday.

The pursuit -- which started in July 2020 under then-Attorney General William Barr with a demand for two months' of CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr's 2017 email logs -- continued even after a federal judge told the Justice Department its argument for access to Starr's internal emails was "speculative" and "unanchored in any facts." .....