May 22, 2020

Posted by orrinj at 7:06 PM


Beijing Moves to Control Hong Kong (MICHAEL AUSLIN, May 22, 2020, National Review)

Under cover of the global coronavirus crisis, China is moving to rewrite Asia's geopolitical map. Beijing has announced it will essentially take control of Hong Kong by directly imposing a sweeping national-security law, bypassing the territory's elected Legislative Council. Despite repeated assurances by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) that it would abide by the 1984 agreement with Great Britain to allow Hong Kong to maintain a loose independence under the so-called "one-country, two-systems" framework for 50 years after the 1997 turnover, the past decade has seen a steady erosion of Hong Kong's freedoms, culminating in the massive million-person-plus demonstrations throughout 2019. Now, those last freedoms face extinction.

The new national-security law will criminalize "foreign interference," secession activities, and subversion of state power. Moreover, the CCP appears ready to alter Hong Kong's Basic Law, essentially its constitution. Moreover, China's security services will be able to operate openly in Hong Kong, further reducing Hong Kong's sovereignty.

Start by joining TPP and signing a mutual defense treaty with Taiwan...

Posted by orrinj at 5:38 PM


Behind Trump's demand to reopen churches: Slipping poll numbers and alarm inside his campaign (GABBY ORR, 05/22/2020, Politico)

A sudden shift in support for Donald Trump among religious conservatives is triggering alarm bells inside his reelection campaign, where top aides have long banked on expanding the president's evangelical base as a key part of their strategy for victory this November.

The anxiety over Trump's standing with the Christian right surfaced after a pair of surveys by reputable outfits earlier this month found waning confidence in the administration's coronavirus response among key religious groups, with a staggering decline in the president's favorability among white evangelicals and white Catholics. Both are crucial constituencies that supported Trump by wide margins in 2016 and could sink his reelection prospects if their turnout shrinks this fall.

The polls paint a bleak picture for Trump, who has counted on broadening his religious support by at least a few percentage points to compensate for weakened appeal with women and suburban populations. 

Posted by orrinj at 12:50 PM


Trump Needs to Win Michigan. So Why Is He Dumping on the State?: Pushing unpopular responses to COVID-19 and threatening federal aid isn't exactly a winning strategy. (Martin Longman, May 22, 2020, Washington Monthly)

The polls out of Michigan haven't looked very good recently for Donald Trump or really any members of the Republican Party. This is a problem for both Mitch McConnell and the president. For McConnell, Michigan is probably his second-best chance to knock off an incumbent Democrat after Alabama, as he tries to protect his party's slim Senate majority. But Sen. Gary Peters is leading in every survey taken this year, often by double digits. For Trump, it's a cause for anxiety because he probably needs to carry Michigan if he wants to be reelected, and over the last couple of months he's been down six to nine points.

To demonstrate what I mean, if we were to spot Trump every swing state but Michigan and Pennsylvania, and give Trump one Electoral college vote from Maine for good measure, he would lose 271-267. If we were to give Trump Pennsylvania but take away Arizona and Wisconsin, he'd lose 272-266. If Trump loses both Michigan and Florida, he could carry Minnesota, Wisconsin, Arizona, North Carolina, and Georgia and still lose 270-268.

By November he'll be curled in a ball on the floor of the bunker shrieking that we never deserved him.

Posted by orrinj at 12:46 PM


One reason why coronavirus is hitting black Americans the hardest (Ranjani Chakraborty  May 22, 2020, Vox)

Across the US, black people are dying from Covid-19 at disproportionately high rates. While there are many different factors at play behind the stark racial disparities -- there's one possible reason that's been lurking in the air for decades: pollution.

Decades of segregation and housing discrimination have put black Americans at greater risk of living near chemical plants, factories and highways, exposing them to higher levels of air pollutants. These pollutants have had a chronically negative impact on health, leading to conditions like hypertension and asthma. Now, those same diseases are associated with more severe cases of Covid-19.

According to Robert Bullard, a professor of urban planning and environmental policy at Texas Southern University, the combination of racist policies, pollution, and coronavirus, is a lethal mix. "All these things converge, and then you get this pandemic, you get this heat-seeking missile that is targeting, that is zeroing in on the most vulnerable community. And when it targets that community, what we end up with is a death bomb."

Posted by orrinj at 12:33 PM

Posted by orrinj at 11:11 AM


Biden: 'If you have a problem figuring out whether you're for me or Trump, then you ain't black' (QUINT FORGEY, 05/22/2020, Politico)

Former Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday emphatically defended his ties to the African American community -- telling a popular black radio personality that he "ain't black" if he was still weighing whether to support Biden or President Donald Trump in November's general election.

Posted by orrinj at 11:07 AM


Hydroxychloroquine shows no coronavirus benefit, raises death risk: study (PATRICK GALEY, 5/22/20, AFP) 

A study of nearly 100,000 coronavirus patients has shown no benefit in treating them with anti-viral drugs hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine and even increased the likelihood of them dying in hospital.

Hydroxychloroquine is normally used to treat arthritis but pronouncement from public figures including US President Donald Trump -- who announced this week he is taking the drug -- has prompted governments to bulk buy the medicine.

Posted by orrinj at 7:57 AM


For at-Risk GOP Senate, Trump Is an Albatross (A.B. StoddardMay 22, 2020, Real Clear Politics)

If things looked bad for Senate Republicans two months ago, the scenario now is much worse.  As Republicans defend 23 seats, and Democrats just 12, forecasters now say the battle for control of the chamber is a 50-50 tossup. 

McConnell doesn't like answering questions about Trump pushing unpopular "oversight" pursuits on his fragile Senate majority, but he has bluntly characterized the Senate campaign as "a dogfight." Last week he added: "We have a lot of exposure." 

Republicans are now focused on more than eight seats that are competitive and several more that will drain resources, like Texas, where Biden is close or tied in polling with Trump. Should Republicans lose four of the 53 seats they have, under President Joe Biden they would lose their majority. If Trump is reelected they will need to hold their losses to three. Trump himself is behind Biden in every national poll, by 5.5 percentage points in our RCP average, and behind him in averages of battleground states Wisconsin, Florida, Arizona, Michigan and Pennsylvania. Trump is ahead in Ohio and North Carolina in RCP's averages by less than the margin of error. 

The most imperiled Senate incumbents remain Martha McSally in Arizona, Cory Gardner in Colorado,  Thom Tillis in North Carolina and Collins in Maine. Yet polls have now tightened for Joni Ernst in Iowa, David Perdue in Georgia, and Steve Daines in Montana, with some showing the incumbents behind their challengers. Kelly Loeffler, appointed to fill former Sen. Johnny Isakson's Georgia seat in January, is way behind and could lose to Republican Rep. Doug Collins, though if none of the 14 contenders in the open "jungle" election Nov. 3 garners 50%, a run-off will take place in January. Republicans will have to spend handsomely to defend two seats in Georgia, where Peach State Republicans say Democrats are highly competitive up and down the ballot.

In Kansas, McConnell has just days left to convince Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to change his mind and file for the GOP primary race there after all, or Kris Kobach is likely to prevail, giving Democrats a chance at retiring GOP Sen. Pat Roberts' seat. Kobach, a controversial politician, lost his bid for governor in 2018 to Democrat Laura Kelly. Republicans' only likely pickup this cycle is the seat of Doug Jones in Alabama, but they also have a challenger in Michigan with a chance of winning the only other pickup opportunity, making Trump's broadside against Michigan on Wednesday -- a state he won in 2016 and should also want to win in 2020 -- particularly strange. 

Republicans care more about holding their Senate majority than keeping the presidency, but Trump either doesn't know this or he doesn't care. While he has repelled many of the independent and former Republican voters that GOP senators need to win, Trump has the potential to hold on with his own voters who aren't necessarily Republicans and may only vote for the top of the ticket. But his standing with voters outside his base would have to improve, and thus far he has chosen mobilizing and alienating over persuasion. Charlie Cook of the Cook Political Report recently wrote there is a more than one in three chance the Democrats will win a "trifecta" to control the White House, Senate and House of Representatives come January. There are no electoral analyses showing control of the House in play for Republicans.

Posted by orrinj at 7:47 AM


The coronavirus invades Trump country (Caitlin Owens, 5/22/20, Axios)

 For the last four weeks, counties newly designated as having a high prevalence of coronavirus cases -- meaning at least 100 cases per 100,000 people -- were more likely to have voted for President Trump than Hillary Clinton in 2016, according to a recent analysis by the Brookings Institution.

The most recently identified counties tend to be in the South and the Midwest.

Between March 29 and May 17, the portion of Americans living in high-prevalence counties rose from 8% to 79%.

Quaint how the Right believed the virus was going to be confined to cities.

Posted by orrinj at 7:40 AM


McConnell Says 'High Likelihood' Next Coronavirus Relief Bill Will Come Soon Amid Growing GOP Calls for Further Relief (AILA SLISCO, 5/21/20, Newsweek)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Thursday that new legislation to counter the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is "not too far off" as calls for another relief package have been met with increasingly bipartisan support.

The country is governed from the House.

Posted by orrinj at 7:36 AM


Brazilian President Bolsonaro's response mirrors the Trump playbook from praising protesters to touting unproven remedies -- and the death toll is mounting (Sarah Al-Arshani, 5/22/20, Business Insider)

Brazil has emerged as a coronavirus hotspot, and President Jair Bolsonaro seems to be taking a page out of US President's Donald Trump's playbook to tackle the growing number of cases.

Over the past several days the country's daily spikes of cases have grown. On Tuesday, the country recorded 1,179 fatalities. On Wednesday, Brazil has the largest spike of cases in 24 hours with close to 20,000 cases, about a fifth of the overall record 106,000 new global cases the World Health Organization recorded. 

The country holds the third-highest number of cases behind the US and Russia, with over 310,000 infections and more than 20,000 deaths. 

Thankfully, we have the republican Deep State that Brazil lacks.

Posted by orrinj at 7:34 AM


Cranks of the world unite for Plandemic's crazed Covid conspiracies (Oliver Kamm, 5/22/20, CapX)

The coronavirus crisis is a conspiracy. It's the latest scheme concocted by Big Pharma in alliance with the Gates Foundation and the World Health Organisation to make money. This "circular cabal" are pushing vaccines on consumers, which damage health by weakening their immune systems. So far from shielding you, wearing a face mask "literally activates your own virus".

I've just summarised the argument of a purported documentary film titled Plandemic that went viral on YouTube last week. The film is irrationalist piffle from beginning to end. It's the work of a disgraced former research scientist in the United States called Judy Mikovits, who has form for bogus claims. In 2009 she co-authored a paper linking the medical condition known as chronic fatigue syndrome to a retrovirus from mice. Other researchers were unable to replicate Mikovits's results and her paper was subsequently retracted by the journal in which it appeared.

Heck, scientists can't even demonstrate that Chronic Fatigue Syndrome exists.

Posted by orrinj at 7:32 AM


Court cases where Biden accuser Tara Reade served as an expert witness are under scrutiny amid concerns that she misrepresented her educational credentials (Sarah Al-Arshani, 5/22/20, Business Insider)

Court cases where Tara Reade, a former Senate staffer who accused former Vice President Joe Biden of sexual assault, was an expert witness are being reviewed by several California defense lawyers over concerns that Reade "misrepresented her educational credentials in court," The New York Times wrote.

According to The Times, Reade who was then known as Alexandra McCabe described herself "as an expert in the dynamics of domestic violence who had counseled hundreds of victims," when she testified as a government witness in Monterey County for almost a decade. 

CNN previously reported that while Reade had claimed to graduate from Antioch University under a "protected program," officials from the university claimed she never graduated. 

"Alexandra McCabe attended but did not graduate from Antioch University. She was never a faculty member. She did provide several hours of administrative work," Karen Hamilton, an Antioch University spokesperson told CNN. 

An Antioch University official also told CNN that the "protected program," that Reade spoke of did not and still does not exist. 

Posted by orrinj at 6:52 AM