Sunday, June 28, 2020

Last Call For Lowering The Barr, Con't

Just days after promising to go after Black Lives Matter protesters on federal terrorism charges, Attorney General Bill Barr is doing just that this weekend with arrests and impending prosecutions, starting with federal charges in Washington DC.

The Justice Department has charged four men with destruction of federal property in connection with the attempt on Monday to bring down a statue of former President Andrew Jackson in Lafayette Park near the White House, the US Attorney for Washington, DC and other law enforcement officials announced Saturday.
The attempt to bring down the statue was stopped. 
The DOJ alleged Lee Cantrell, Connor Judd, Ryan Lane and Graham Lloyd, along with other unidentified people, damaged and attempted to tear down the statue on Monday. In a criminal complaint, authorities further alleged Judd was seen on video attempting to pull down the statue, and Lane was seen on video tying a rope to the statue and pulling on another rope tied to to it, according to a DOJ press release. 
The department also alleged that Lloyd was seen destroying the wheels of cannons located at the statue's base as well as pulling on ropes trying to bring down the statue.
The statue of Jackson, the seventh president of the United States, has become controversial because of his harsh treatment of Native Americans. 
Judd is the only one of the four men charged who had been apprehended as of Saturday, according to the Justice Department. He was arrested Friday and appeared in DC Superior Court on Saturday, according to the release. His case will be transferred to US District Court where he will make his initial appearance on Monday, the DOJ said. 
CNN is attempting to reach the four men charged for comment. 
President Donald Trump re-tweeted the announcement of the charges and has re-tweeted several law enforcement posts of posters of men wanted for questioning regarding the incident. Since the Monday incident, he has repeatedly criticized the protesters who tried to topple the statue. 
"The United States Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia will not stand idly by and allow our national monuments to be vandalized and destroyed. This Office remains steadfast in its commitment to protect the sacred First Amendment right of individuals to peacefully protest, but these charges should serve as a warning to those who choose to desecrate the statues and monuments that adorn our nation's capital: your violent behavior and criminal conduct will not be tolerated," acting US Attorney Michael Sherwin said in a statement.

Again, the move is clear: by equating these acts to acts of deadly terrorism by armed white supremacist Boogaloo insurgents, Barr is hoping to destroy the protests and support for the protesters.

More terrorism charges were filed in Oklahoma City, this time by state officials, taking their cue for Barr.

Protesters blamed for the violence that broke out in Oklahoma City the last weekend in May were charged Friday with terrorism, rioting and assault.

If convicted of the felony offenses, they could be sentenced to years in prison.

Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater made the decisions himself on the charges in a get-tough approach meant to deter others from going too far during protests in the future.

"This is not Seattle," Prater said Friday. "We're not putting up with this lawlessness here."

Also charged Friday were five defendants identified as involved in the painting of murals in downtown Oklahoma City this week. They are accused in an incitement to riot charge of interfering with a police sergeant who was trying to take a homicide witness for an interview at police headquarters Tuesday.

In court affidavits filed with the charges, police claimed that several agitators during the May 30 protest stayed to the center to keep the crowd in an agitated state.

"Several people were carrying flags that were identified as belonging to the following groups: Antifa, Soviet Union (communism), American Indian Movement, Anarcho-Communism (solid red) and the original Oklahoma flag ... currently adopted by Oklahoma Socialists," police reported.

"Several known supporters of anti-establishment organizations were present in the crowd."

Expect a lot more of this in the days and weeks ahead.  The message is that protesters risk long prison sentences for opposing Trump. It's a prime fascist tactic in regimes, and we've reached that point now.

Orange Meltdown, Con't

The Trump regime is so awful that they literally removed social distancing stickers at Trump's Tulsa rally last weekend to pack everyone in tightly, exposing the audience to COVID-19 on purpose just to keep from hurting Trump's ego. And then the arena was only one-third full anyway, and the social distancing would have been fine, but the ego on our malignant narcissist trash fire of a "leader" was too fragile to handle that.

In the hours before President Trump’s rally in Tulsa, his campaign directed the removal of thousands of “Do Not Sit Here, Please!” stickers from seats in the arena that were intended to establish social distance between rallygoers, according to video and photos obtained by The Washington Post and a person familiar with the event.

The removal contradicted instructions from the management of the BOK Center, the 19,000-seat arena in downtown Tulsa where Trump held his rally on June 20. At the time, coronavirus cases were rising sharply in Tulsa County, and Trump faced intense criticism for convening a large crowd for an indoor political rally, his first such event since the start of the pandemic.

As part of its safety plan, arena management had purchased 12,000 do-not-sit stickers for Trump’s rally, intended to keep people apart by leaving open seats between attendees. On the day of the rally, event staff had already affixed them on nearly every other seat in the arena when Trump’s campaign told event management to stop and then began removing the stickers, hours before the president’s arrival, according to a person familiar with the event who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal matters.

In a video clip obtained by The Washington Post, two men — one in a suit and one wearing a badge and a face mask — can be seen pulling stickers off seats in a section of the arena. It is unclear who those two men are. When Trump took the stage on Saturday evening, the crowd was clustered together and attendees were not leaving empty seats between themselves.

The actions by Trump’s campaign were first reported Friday by Billboard Magazine. As rally preparations were underway, Trump’s campaign staff intervened with the venue manager, ASM Global, and told them to stop labeling seats in this way, Doug Thornton, executive vice president of ASM Global, told the magazine.

“They also told us that they didn’t want any signs posted saying we should social distance in the venue,” Thornton said. “The campaign went through and removed the stickers.”

A spokesman for ASM Global declined to comment.

Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh did not directly respond to questions about the sticker removal.

“The rally was in full compliance with local requirements. In addition, every rally attendee received a temperature check prior to admission, was given a face mask, and provided ample access to hand sanitizer,” Murtaugh said in an emailed statement.

In a separate statement, the campaign said: “There were signs posted and we are not aware of any campaign staff asking that they be removed.”

Trump held his Tulsa rally despite opposition by Oklahoma health authorities and residents who feared that convening a large crowd indoors could accelerate the spread of the coronavirus. The number of coronavirus cases in Tulsa County was spiking in the days leading up to the rally and has continued to increase since.

The regime had them removed and lied about it, because they lie about everything.  They purposely exposed the people at the event to COVID-19, and lo and behold, people are testing positive after being at rally, including several Trump staff and at least one reporter on the scene.

Trump knows he is losing. And that makes him infinitely more dangerous.

Behind the scenes, Trump and his team are taking steps to correct course. In the week since his Tulsa rally, the president has grudgingly conceded that he’s behind, according to three people who are familiar with his thinking. Trump, who vented for days about the event, is starting to take a more hands-on role in the campaign and has expressed openness to adding more people to the team. He has also held meetings recently focusing on his efforts in individual battleground states.

Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, who effectively oversees the campaign from the White House, is expected to play an even more active role.

Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale was blamed internally for the Tulsa rally failure. Some people complained about him trumpeting that 1 million people had requested tickets, a boast that fell flat when thousands of seats sat empty during Trump's speech.

Parscale has been a target of some Trump allies who argue the campaign is lacking a coherent strategy and direction. But people close to the president insist that Parscale's job is safe for now. Trump, who visited the campaign’s Arlington, Virginia headquarters a few months ago, has told people he came away impressed with the sophistication of the organization.

Parscale, whose background is as a digital strategist, has received some reinforcements in recent weeks. Longtime Trump adviser Bill Stepien was given added responsibilities in the campaign, including working with political director Chris Carr and the Republican National Committee on voter turnout. And Jason Miller, a veteran of the 2016 campaign, was brought back to serve as a chief political strategist, a position that had been unfilled.

But those internal moves have done little to calm Republican jitters about the president's personal performance. Fox News host and Trump favorite Tucker Carlson issued a blunt warning on his show this week that the president “could well lose this election.” South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, another close Trump ally, told reporters that the president needs to make the race “more about policy and less about your personality.”

Trump's team insists the president’s numbers are bound to improve as he steps up his public events and intensifies his attacks on Biden. People involved in the campaign say they have settled on two main avenues to go after the former vice president: That he’s beholden to liberals who want to do away with law and order, and that he’s a consummate Washington insider.

The campaign has begun a massive TV ad campaign going after the 77-year-old former vice president, including over his mental capacity and his nearly five-decade political career. Hoping to make inroads with African-American voters, Trump's campaign is running ads slamming Biden over his central role in the 1994 crime bill.

The commercials are airing in an array of states including Georgia, a traditionally red state where Trump suddenly finds himself in a fight. The cash-flush campaign is expected to remain on the TV airwaves in a host of key states through the election.

And on it goes.  Trump is now on the defensive, and more than ever he's in danger of making a precipitous move that will drastically change America forever.

Sunday Long Read: The World Goes Viral

American medical and public health officials weren't the only ones to miss COVID-19's asymptomatic spread in the first two months of the year, but the response from different countries varied almost as much as the countries themselves did. But in nearly every country, the medical experts were initially ignored, and the world is paying for it today.

Dr. Camilla Rothe was about to leave for dinner when the government laboratory called with the surprising test result. Positive. It was Jan. 27. She had just discovered Germany’s first case of the new coronavirus.

But the diagnosis made no sense. Her patient, a businessman from a nearby auto parts company, could have been infected by only one person: a colleague visiting from China. And that colleague should not have been contagious.

The visitor had seemed perfectly healthy during her stay in Germany. No coughing or sneezing, no signs of fatigue or fever during two days of long meetings. She told colleagues that she had started feeling ill after the flight back to China. Days later, she tested positive for the coronavirus.

Scientists at the time believed that only people with symptoms could spread the coronavirus. They assumed it acted like its genetic cousin, SARS.

“People who know much more about coronaviruses than I do were absolutely sure,” recalled Dr. Rothe, an infectious disease specialist at Munich University Hospital.

But if the experts were wrong, if the virus could spread from seemingly healthy carriers or people who had not yet developed symptoms, the ramifications were potentially catastrophic. Public-awareness campaigns, airport screening and stay-home-if-you’re sick policies might not stop it. More aggressive measures might be required — ordering healthy people to wear masks, for instance, or restricting international travel.

Dr. Rothe and her colleagues were among the first to warn the world. But even as evidence accumulated from other scientists, leading health officials expressed unwavering confidence that symptomless spreading was not important.

In the days and weeks to come, politicians, public health officials and rival academics disparaged or ignored the Munich team
. Some actively worked to undermine the warnings at a crucial moment, as the disease was spreading unnoticed in French churches, Italian soccer stadiums and Austrian ski bars. A cruise ship, the Diamond Princess, would become a deadly harbinger of symptomless spreading.

Interviews with doctors and public health officials in more than a dozen countries show that for two crucial months — and in the face of mounting genetic evidence — Western health officials and political leaders played down or denied the risk of symptomless spreading. Leading health agencies including the World Health Organization and the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control provided contradictory and sometimes misleading advice. A crucial public health discussion devolved into a semantic debate over what to call infected people without clear symptoms.

The two-month delay was a product of faulty scientific assumptions, academic rivalries and, perhaps most important, a reluctance to accept that containing the virus would take drastic measures. The resistance to emerging evidence was one part of the world’s sluggish response to the virus.

It is impossible to calculate the human toll of that delay, but models suggest that earlier, aggressive action might have saved tens of thousands of lives. Countries like Singapore and Australia, which used testing and contact-tracing and moved swiftly to quarantine seemingly healthy travelers, fared far better than those that did not.

And as the US now faces close to 50,000 new cases a day, the daily death toll will likewise follow into several thousands as we head into the heart of summer.

Imaging what the flu season this winter will be like.

Black Lives Still Matter, Con't

As Black Lives Matter protests continue around the nation, the country has been focused on Louisville, where Breonna Taylor was killed inside her home by police in a no-knock raid in March. Late last week, a group of counter-protesters promised to show up armed on Saturday at Jefferson Square Park, where peaceful protests have been continuing for weeks.

Counterprotesters that include "armed patriot groups" may come to downtown Louisville Saturday, according to social media posts and a Facebook event acknowledged by police. 
The posts suggest a counterprotest to the ongoing racial justice demonstrations in Jefferson Square Park over the Breonna Taylor shooting.

Screenshots of Facebook posts that were shared with The Courier Journal show users discussing the protesters who have set up tents and camped out in the park over the past few weeks to raise awareness about the deaths of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd. 
"They have til the 27th to have their fun," one poster said. "On the 27th we will have ours." 
"The tents need to be destroyed," another said.

Saturday rolled around, and Black Lives Matter protesters remained peaceful, but ready.

Hundreds of anti-racist protesters lined a downtown Louisville block on Saturday morning, prepared for a confrontation that didn't come. 
Assembled at Jefferson Square Park, the crowd — comprised of young and old, Black and white, and some people with guns — expected to face off against an armed "patriot militia," which earlier in the week said it would descend on Louisville in the morning to confront those protesting in the wake of Breonna Taylor's death. 
But by mid-afternoon, no members of the "American Freedom Fighters," who organize themselves using a private Facebook group, had turned up near the downtown park.

Later in the day, a LMPD spokesperson confirmed that there was a smaller gathering of about 30 people in Thurman Hutchins Park for a few hours midday, but that group dispersed and never came downtown.

Unfortunately, that wasn't the end of the matter.  At least one armed individual did show up later Saturday evening, and at least one person is dead as a result as the gunman fired several shots.

Two people were shot, one fatally, in downtown Louisville Saturday evening, according to police. 
According to police, around 9 p.m., shots were fired in Jefferson Square Park. Personnel from the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department performed live-saving measures on a male victim who eventually died. 
Shortly thereafter, police received reports of another person shot at the Hall of Justice. That person was taken to University Hospital with non-life threatening injuries. 
"Officers cleared the park completely and have secured the entire area so homicide detectives can conduct their investigation," LMPD spokesman Lamont Washington wrote Saturday evening at 11:27 p.m. "Detectives are trying to gather as much information as possible in order to identify all who were involved in the incident." 
Washington added that the park will remain closed for the next several hours, and that police will provide additional information in the morning as it becomes available.
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said in a statement Saturday evening that he is "deeply saddened by the violence that erupted in Jefferson Square Park tonight, where those who have been voicing their concerns have been gathered." 
"It is a tragedy that this area of peaceful protest is now a crime scene," Fischer said. "My thanks to the first responders who assisted at the scene. I will have more to say tomorrow, as additional information becomes available."

We'll see what LMPD and Mayor Fischer have to say this morning, but right now I am furious. Yes, this could have had nothing to do with the protests, it could have been an altercation or any number of things.

But in my mind, this is clearly somebody who saw the news reports about the right-wing counter-protesters who didn't show at Jefferson Park during the day on Saturday and then went to the park to hurt or kill people on purpose, and at least one person is now dead as a result.

This was a terrorist attack. And you can bet there are a hell of a lot of people in this state and around the country who are cheering this on, and are even hoping that the LMPD never catch the person who did this.

And no, I don't really expect the LMPD to make arrests.  After all, they've had a murder suspect known for three months now and haven't lifted a finger against Breonna Taylor's killers other than to fire the guy, and even then he'll just get hired somewhere else.

I've learned years ago not to expect justice when it comes to Black America being targeted by racists, by police, and by racist police.  Not since the Rodney King verdict happened when I was in high school, and that was more than 25 years ago.

Black Lives Still Matter.
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