June 8, 2020

Posted by orrinj at 6:55 PM


Lockdowns worked, new research shows: 60 million infections were prevented in the US, and Europe saved 3.1 million lives (Aria Bendix, 6/08/20, Business Insider)

In other words, nations like China benefitted from locking down early, while delays in the US and Italy may have resulted in unnecessary deaths. Indeed, disease modelers from Columbia University recently found that the US could have prevented 645,000 infections and 36,000 deaths by locking down one to two weeks earlier.

Lockdowns also limited coronavirus-related hospitalizations and deaths in Europe. A team of researchers in Italy recently determined that the country's lockdown prevented around 200,000 hospitalizations between February 21 (when Italy's first case was reported) and March 25.

Another study from Imperial College London, published Monday, found that lockdown restrictions averted 3.1 million deaths across 11 European countries from the time these measures were implemented in March until May 4.

Italy avoided around 630,000 deaths during that period, according to the study. France, meanwhile, prevented around 690,000 deaths -- the most out of the 11 countries.

While less than 1% of Germany's population has contracted the virus, the nation averted around 560,000 deaths from March to May, according to the study. By contrast, Spain and the UK -- where more than 5% of the population has been infected -- managed to avert more than 400,000 deaths.

Nordic nations avoided the fewest deaths: around 34,000 in Denmark, 26,000 in Sweden, and 12,000 in Norway. About 3% of Sweden's population is infected, compared to 1% in Denmark and less than 0.5% in Norway.

Overall, the researchers determined that lockdowns have a "large impact on transmission." In all 11 countries, the current reproduction number (the number of other people one sick person infects, on average) was significantly below one. That means an average person with COVID-19 passes the virus to just one or fewer people -- a sign that an outbreak is contained.

"We cannot say for certain that the current measures will continue to control the epidemic in Europe," the researchers wrote. "However, if current trends continue, there is reason for optimism."

...is that those millions of lives saved were not worth disrupting the economy Donald wanted to run on. (Ignoring the fact that the economy would have tanked even worse given that level of pandemic.) 

Posted by orrinj at 6:48 PM



On June 3, St. Paul police officers were called to a home improvement store in St. Paul about an individual, later identified as Wolfe, wearing body armor and a law enforcement duty belt and carrying a baton was trying to get into the store. Store employees said WOLFE had been working as a security guard at the store but was fired earlier that day over social media posts about stealing items from the Third Precinct.

Police arrested Wolfe and say they found him wearing multiple items stolen from the Third Precinct, including body armor, a police-issue duty belt with handcuffs, an earphone piece, baton, and knife. Officers say Wolfe's name was handwritten in duct tape on the back of the body armor. Law enforcement says it recovered items belonging to the Minneapolis Police Department, including a riot helmet, 9mm pistol magazine, police radio, and police issue overdose kit, from Wolfe's apartment.

According to the criminal complaint, Wolfe admitted to police that he was inside the Third Precinct the night of the arson, took property from the building, and pushed a wooden barrel into the fire. Investigators say Wolfe also identified himself in multiple witness photographs capturing him in front of the Third Precinct holding a police baton, with smoke and flames visible in the background. Wolfe reportedly admitted to knowing that pushing the wooden barrel into the fire would keep the flames burning.

Posted by orrinj at 3:43 PM


'Enough is enough': Syria anti-government protests in Sweida swell for second day (Harun al-Aswad, 8 June 2020, Middle East Eye)

While emphasising the right to peaceful demonstration, protesters condemned government corruption and deteriorating security and economic conditions.

"But chants soon rose up for the overthrow of the Syrian regime, quoting slogans from the revolution that erupted in 2011," one of the demonstrators, who wished to remain anonymous for security reasons, told MEE.

Protesters also called for Iran and Russia - whose forces helped spur Assad's victories against the opposition - to leave the country.

They also praised the unity of the Syrian people, and saluted most of the country's provinces, including those on the Syrian coast, Latakia and Tartus, which is where Assad's family and support base is drawn from.

"The deliberate practices of the regime over the past nine years have led to a complete economic collapse and crazy increases in prices and starvation of civilians," a demonstrator who wished to be identified as Rayan told MEE.

The Syrian pound is plummeting in value, with its exchange rate hitting a new low on Tuesday at 3,200 to the US dollar - more than 60 times lower than what it was before 2011. 

Posted by orrinj at 3:39 PM


Lindsey Graham Challenger Jaime Harrison Promises 'New South' in Close Senate Race ALEXANDRA HUTZLER, 6/8/20, Newsweek)

The State, two dozen former financiers of Graham have jumped ship to back Harrison. The Democrat outraised Graham by more than $1 million in the first three months of 2020, joining a swath of challengers in key Senate races who have hauled in more cash than Republican incumbents so far this year.

Another good sign for Harrison is that the South is a region that's becoming more diverse, with more African American and Latino voters. While white residents still make up about 64 percent of South Carolina's population, the number of registered nonwhite voters surpassed 1 million for the first time in the state's history earlier this year. Harrison said he's working to build a broader coalition of voters than candidates before him.

"I'm talking about their aspirations, their hopes, their dreams and their fears--and doing it in such a way where they see a path forward. It's something Graham has not been able to do," Harrison said.

There's some proof he may be right. The most recent polling shows him and Graham tied at 42 percent support among registered voters.

Posted by orrinj at 3:32 PM


Texas May Be Won By A Democratic Presidential Candidate for the First Time in 44 Years, Poll Shows (JENNI FINK,  6/8/20, Newsweek)

Texas hasn't gone blue during a presidential election since former President Jimmy Carter, but it's possible that could change in November as polls show President Donald Trump losing the Republican hold on the state.

A Quinnipiac University poll released on Wednesday showed Trump and Democratic nominee former Vice President Joe Biden neck and neck in the race for Texas. Trump, with 44 percent, had a slim lead over Biden, who received 43 percent, an advantage that was well within the margin of error of 2.9 percentage points.

Texas, a Republican stronghold, hasn't voted for a Democratic president since 1976 when Carter ran against President Gerald Ford. 

Posted by orrinj at 3:28 PM


Protecting our Constitutional Monarchy and Australian Democracy (Greg Bondar, 8 June 2020, Online Opinion)

As a monarchist, there are two issues of concern. First, there is concern that left-wing political parties pledge to attempt constitutional reform without respecting the constitutional provisions for change, which has the real risk of undermining public confidence in our civic system including its government and its parliament.  Secondly, there is concern that the appointment of a 'Minister for the Republic' would contradict the Constitution and subject executive government and the office of the Governor-General to severe embarrassment.

While any political party is perfectly entitled to discuss and debate the republican question, it is not entitled to undermine respect and confidence in our existing system by inviting people to effectively vote against the Crown without offering any executable alternative.

There is every indication that MPs would not be able to agree on a model to be presented to the electorate in a referendum. Any referendum on a republic could lead to the same chaos which has arisen in the British Parliament following the Brexit debacle, when a popular desire cannot be executed owing to disunity within the Parliament.

As the British government has found to its horror and acute embarrassment, it is entirely foolish to gain a mandate for action without the ability to execute the change.

The resulting sheer distraction, waste of political energy, the lack of certainty, the demise of one prime minister, has utterly undermined confidence in government and in the institution of Parliament itself.

In Australia it would be improper for government to attempt constitutional change without respecting the constitutional provision, which is for the voters to be given precise details about any recommended changes so they can vote with certainty on the issue in a manner which binds the Parliament.

Anything less is to treat the people and the civic system with contempt, and to engage in a process of constitutional vandalism.

Posted by orrinj at 1:36 PM


Posted by orrinj at 1:23 PM


Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Police back off as peaceful protests push deep reforms (JAKE SEINER, LISA MARIE PANE and KIMBERLEE KRUESI, 6/08/20, AP)

Protesters nationwide are demanding police reforms and a reckoning with institutional racism in response to Floyd's death, and calls to "defund the police" have become rallying cries for many. A heavy-handed response to demonstrations in many places has underscored what critics have maintained: Law enforcement is militarized and too often uses excessive force.

Cities imposed curfews as several protests last week were marred by spasms of arson, assaults and smash-and-grab raids on businesses. More than 10,000 people have been arrested around the country since protests began, according to reports tracked by The Associated Press. Videos have surfaced of officers in riot gear using tear gas or physical force against even peaceful demonstrators.

But U.S. protests in recent days have been overwhelmingly peaceful -- and over the weekend, several police departments appeared to retreat from aggressive tactics.

Several cities have also lifted curfews, including Chicago and New York City, where the governor urged protesters to get tested for the virus and to proceed with caution until they had. Leaders around the country have expressed concern that demonstrations could lead to an increase in coronavirus cases.

For the first time since protests began in New York more than a week ago, most officers Sunday were not wearing riot helmets as they watched over rallies. Police moved the barricades at the Trump hotel at Columbus Circle for protesters so they could pass through.

Officers in some places in the city casually smoked cigars or ate ice cream and pizza. Some officers shook hands and posed for photos with motorcyclists at one rally.

In Compton, California, several thousand protesters, some on horseback, peacefully demonstrated through the city, just south of Los Angeles. The only law enforcement presence was about a dozen sheriff's deputies, who watched without engaging.

In Washington, D.C., National Guard troops from South Carolina were seen checking out of their hotel Sunday shortly before President Donald Trump tweeted he was giving the order to withdraw them from the nation's capital.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


The Revolt of the Center-RightProminent Republicans are balking at voting for Trump. Could it cost him the election? (Walter Shapiro, 6/08/20, New Republic)

At minimum, the pointed attacks from Mattis, Murkowski, and Colin Powell (who announced Sunday that he is again voting for the Democratic nominee, as he has in recent presidential elections) have gotten to the president. Even by his usual standards, Trump seems more unhinged than a toppling door. According to a tally by Jennifer Jacobs of Bloomberg News, Trump set a new record for the most tweets and retweets he has ever fired off in a single day on Friday: 200. (That's once every seven minutes, topping the old record he'd set during impeachment.)

The revolt of these prominent Republicans could do far more, though, than rattle the president. The target audience of Republicans for Biden would not be unswerving GOP partisans and MAGA-hat-wearing zealots too far gone to be lured back to reality. Rather, the goal would be to help sway soccer moms in the Phoenix suburbs and prompt troubled GOP party loyalists outside Detroit to leave the presidential line blank.

This strategy has worked whenever a political party has veered towards extremism. When the the GOP nominated Barry Goldwater against LBJ in 1964, defectors such as Jackie Robinson were prominent members of an ad hoc group called "Republicans for Johnson."

And in 1984, Jeane Kirkpatrick began a powerful speech at the GOP convention in Dallas with these words: "This is the first Republican convention I have ever attended. I am grateful that you should invite me, a lifelong Democrat. On the other hand, I realize that you are inviting many lifelong Democrats to join this common cause."

The hawkish Kirkpatrick, once a close ally of Hubert Humphrey, was already serving as Ronald Reagan's ambassador to the United Nations. But her excoriating the Democrats at the convention as "the blame America first" party carried an emotional heft far greater than if she had been a Republican all her life.

Reagan, in fact, is a testament to the persuasive power of political conversion. Reagan, who as a liberal Democrat made radio speeches for Harry Truman in 1948, liked to joke, "I didn't leave the Democratic Party. It left me."

That is a line that hopefully will be repeatedly quoted with the parties switched on Republican Night at the 2020 Democratic convention. The goal of this GOP outreach, it must be stressed, is not to turn the Biden campaign into pablum by mouthing centrist bromides. Rather, it is to recognize that the future of democracy depends on the largest coalition and the largest possible victory margin for Biden in November.

Time to start taking back our party.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Cop Violence Caused By Qualified Immunity and Police Unions (Chris Beck, 6/08/20, Splice Today)

There are two specific matters that must be addressed to bring an end to police misconduct: a legal concept called "qualified immunity," and police unions. Getting rid of them would accomplish more than a year of street protests.

Some have observed, after a cop uses violence against a civilian posing no danger to him (I haven't seen a female cop do this yet), that the police act like the laws don't apply to them. This is often said rhetorically, but in fact the laws don't apply to cops the way they apply to other citizens, a problem directly traceable to qualified immunity and police unions. The Supreme Court created qualified immunity in 1982 in order to grant all government officials immunity when they violate constitutional and civil rights, unless victims can demonstrate that their rights were "clearly established" by a previous legal case based on nearly the exact same circumstances.

What this means is that when Floyd's family goes to court to seek recompense for his death and hold the four police officers involved accountable, the case may be thrown out unless there happens to be a previous court case establishing the unconstitutionality of a cop kneeling on a man's neck while he's handcuffed. What reasonable person would say they wouldn't know if a cop cutting off someone's windpipe for nine minutes was a violation of his rights unless a court had already established that it was?

Qualified immunity strips citizens of their constitutional rights, just like the recent curfews have. The difference is that curfews are reserved for emergencies and qualified immunity is always in effect. It's a legal doctrine created by judges, not legislators, and it's a violation of American justice principles.

Police unions have also perverted justice. The taxpayers are picking up the tab for this form of "justice," not some wealthy corporation. There's an inherent problem in adding the power of a union to an institution already vested with monopoly power over the use of force against the public.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


CNN Poll: Trump losing ground to Biden amid chaotic week (Jennifer Agiesta, 6/08/20, CNN)

Overall 38% approve of the way Trump is handling the presidency, while 57% disapprove. That's his worst approval rating since January 2019, and roughly on par with approval ratings for Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush at this point in their reelection years. Both went on to lose the presidency after one term.

In the race for the White House, among registered voters, Trump stands 14 points behind Biden, who officially secured enough delegates to win the Democratic nomination in CNN's delegate estimate on Saturday. The 41% who say they back the President is the lowest in CNN's tracking on this question back to April 2019, and Biden's 55% support is his highest mark yet.

The best part of all this is that the Trumpists so distrust the media and think the 2016 campaign was so much a function of Donald that they aren't even worried, nevermind responding.
Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Arizona GOP's 10-Year Plan to Turn the State BlueAre the state's Republicans in trouble because of Trump, or is Trump in trouble because of the state party? Too close to call! (SHAY KHATIRI,  JUNE 8, 2020, The Bulwark)

After Janet Napolitano joined the Obama administration in 2009, Jan Brewer succeeded her as governor of Arizona. Two years later, Brewer won her own full term as governor, and Russell Pearce was elected to be the senate president. Pearce had neo-Nazi and white nationalist connections. His major agendum was the passing of the infamous S.B. 1070, with the support of white-nationalist groups and the votes of Republican lawmakers, signed into law by Brewer. That harshly anti-illegal-immigrant law would be struck down by the United States Supreme Court over its provision "authorizing state and local officers to make warrantless arrests of certain aliens suspected of being removable," otherwise known as racial profiling. An early indicator of how the GOP's stance on immigration had alienated Arizonans: A year after S.B. 1070 became law, Pearce was removed from office in a recall election, becoming the first Arizona lawmaker ever to be so removed. (The state party kept him around, though, making him its vice chairman, until he was forced out even from that job for saying that women on Medicaid should be sterilized. Clearly the eugenicism runs deep with him.)

The state's gerrymandered congressional districts have also had an effect on the party and its immigration stance. Case in point: The 4th congressional district--which is demographically the whitest district in Arizona, and among the most sparsely populated, encompassing most of the state's western part--first elected Rep. Paul Gosar in 2010. He is an anti-immigration hardliner and a close ally of the anti-immigrant Iowa congressman Steve King (who lost a primary re-election bid last week). Like Gosar, all of the other Republicans in the Arizona congressional delegation came into office in the last decade. And like Gosar, they all currently have rankings of A or A+ from the anti-immigration group Numbers USA.

By 2014, the state GOP had shifted so far that it passed a resolution censuring McCain--its longtime incumbent senator and the GOP's presidential nominee in 2008--over his "disastrous and harmful" record. What had sparked the resolution was McCain's championing of the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 that had passed the Senate and was stalled in the House.

The same year, the governorship opened up again as Brewer's term came to a close. Polls in July 2014 showed that the difference between the top contenders for the Republican nomination, Doug Ducey and Christine Jones, was within the margin of error. But an August 1 endorsement from the notoriously anti-Hispanic--and soon-to-be nationally disgraced--Maricopa County sheriff Joe Arpaio boosted Ducey and helped get him the nomination. After securing the nomination, Ducey would continue to make joint appearances with Arpaio. He won the general election that year.

In 2018--the year Ducey ran for and won re-election--two members of Arizona's congressional delegation, Rep. Gosar and the similarly anti-Hispanic Rep. Andy Biggs, signed a letter calling for forced labor for illegal immigrants for a $1 a day wage, something that one might call slavery.

The same year, Kelli Ward, a former state senator and a failed 2016 Republican challenger to John McCain for his U.S. Senate seat, announced her intention to challenge incumbent Jeff Flake. Knowing that he would lose, Flake announced he would retire rather than run for re-election. This created an opening for Martha McSally, who was at the time pro-immigration, having twice won a House seat twice in Hispanic-heavy southern Arizona.

But in the race to replace Flake, McSally had to fight off two other major Republican contenders who were strongly anti-immigration: not just Ward but "Sherrif Joe," who was trying to stage a comeback. To secure the nomination, McSally took a hard line on immigration. Then, during the general election, she lamely tried to portray her opponent, Kyrsten Sinema, as an elite by calling her "Hollywood Sinema" and framing her as too feminine. McSally lost to Sinema by a very narrow margin, with 70 percent of Latinos voting for Sinema. Arizona had elected a Democrat to the Senate for the first time in 30 years.

Why did Kelli Ward lose the GOP nomination to McSally? Because Ward is just awful. She liked to pal around with Steve Bannon and Sebastian Gorka. She won praise from white nationalists. She associated with alt-right figures like Mike Cernovich. A day after McCain's announcement of his illness, she suggested that McCain should resign and the governor should appoint her. The day that McCain announced that he had stopped treatment, she claimed that the announcement was timed to hurt her Senate campaign. McCain would die a day later. Her husband is infamous for such acts as spitting on one of Ward's former volunteers for switching allegiance to McSally.

With baggage like that, surely the state GOP would want nothing to do with Ward, right? Wrong: Five months after losing the primary, Ward was elected the chairwoman of the state GOP. Ever since, Ward has made headline after headline in the Arizona press for her ridiculous actions, outrageous tweets, and mismanagement--not to mention an allegation of corruption. In a fundraising email from last September, Ward wrote that "we'll stop gun-grabber Mark Kelly dead in his tracks." This is grotesque. Kelly, the Democratic nominee, is nationally famous in his own right for being a NASA astronaut (and the twin brother of another NASA astronaut) but also for being the husband of former Arizona congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who was shot in the head at point-blank range in an attack that nearly killed her and did kill six others.

Yeah, but the party achieved racial hygiene.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Car Rams Into Seattle George Floyd Protesters, Driver Allegedly Shoots One Man (EWAN PALMER, 6/8/20, Newsweek)

A man has been arrested after he allegedly drove into a crowd of protesters in Seattle, Washington, and shot at least one person.

Footage taken from the scene shows the aftermath of a black car hitting a barricade on East Pine Street and 11th Avenue on Capitol Hill on Sunday, where people had been gathering to protest the death of George Floyd for the past several days.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


US should invite Hong Kongers to America (BENJAMIN POWELL, 06/06/20, The Hill)

If the Trump administration wants to do more than slap China's wrist, it should follow the United Kingdom's lead. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has announced that the U.K. will extend visa stays and provide a path to citizenship for Hong Kong residents who hold British National Overseas passports. That would allow about 315,000 people who received these passports before sovereignty was transferred China to emigrate to the U.K.  

The U.K. government, like President Trump, has taken a tougher line on immigration in recent years. So offering these Hong Kong residents a path to U.K. citizenship marks a significant departure from the norm. 

President Trump should similarly change course and significantly expand the availability of asylum visas to Hong Kongers wishing to preserve their freedoms. 

Hong Kongers are highly productive and already share, as the ongoing protests confirm, most American values, including free speech, freedom of the press, the right to assemble. One out of every four Hong Kong residents is a college graduate. Hong Kongers have a long history of supporting civil and economic freedoms.