June 19, 2020

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Roger Stone Told Trump In Advance Wikileaks Would Release Documents Harmful To Clinton Campaign, Aides Claimed (Jason Leopold, Anthony Cormier, Ken Bensinger,  June 19, 2020, BuzzFeed News)

Donald Trump was told in advance that Wikileaks would be releasing documents embarrassing to the Clinton campaign, according to newly unredacted portions of the Mueller report released Friday.

In July 2016, political consultant Roger Stone told Trump as well as several campaign advisors that he had spoken with Julian Assange and that Wikileaks would be publishing the documents in a matter of days. Stone told the then-candidate via speakerphone that he "did not know what the content of the materials was," according to the newly unveiled portions of the report, and Trump responded "oh good, alright" upon hearing the news. Wikileaks published a trove of some 20,000 emails hacked from the Democratic National Committee on July 22 of that year.

Former Trump attorney Michael Cohen told federal investigators that he overheard the phone call between Stone and Trump. 

Posted by orrinj at 7:43 PM


Chick-fil-A CEO calls on white Christians to repent & stand up for black Americans (Nate Flannagan, 19 Jun 2020, Christianity Today)

Chick-fil-A CEO, Dan Cathy, has called on white Christians to repent and fight for black Americans following a number of high profile black deaths at the hands of white police officers.

Conservative Christian, Cathy, said Christians could take advantage of this "special moment" in American history to repent of racism, and show their support for their black "brothers and sisters".

Posted by orrinj at 8:05 AM


Peter Wehner: 'I Am Critical of Trump Because I Am a Conservative' (In Conversation with Andrew Keen, June 17, 2020, LitHub: Keen on Podcast))

Peter Wehner: Donald Trump is not just a liar, but he's engaged in an all-out assault on truth, an effort to annihilate truth, categories of truth and falsity, and to try and overwhelm people with misinformation and disinformation. That is not conservatism, certainly, as I had come to understand it. Indeed, if you go back to the 1980s, which were formative years for me, I was in a sense a child of the Reagan revolution.

One of the most important books of that decade for conservatives was The Closing of the American Mind by Allan Bloom. He was a University of Chicago professor, scholar of Plato, disciple of Leo Strauss, and he argued about this danger of relativism in this assault on truth in the academy.

Now it's not simply been confined to the academy, but in politics itself, and that has huge radiating effects on the transgression of norms and the rule of law, which conservatives once stood for proudly and strongly. The tremendous damage that I think Trump is doing to our political and civic culture, and I'm sure this is not confined to conservatives, but he is just psychologically and emotionally deeply unwell. I've worked in three administrations. I've worked in the White House for seven years. I think I have some appreciation for the power of the presidency and the importance. As I've gotten older and been more involved in politics, politicians checking the box on issues has become somewhat less important and their character, temperament, judgment, and their wisdom has become more important. I don't mean to play down how important politics is. I spent most of my life in it, but there are so many decisions in life, especially for a president and in a presidency, that you can't anticipate, and you have to depend on the wisdom, judgment, and temperament of the person you elect.

Not only do I think that Donald Trump is bad in that regard, I don't think that anyone has ever come close to being as bad. Last thing I'll say is I don't consider Trump to be a conservative and I don't consider his supporters to be conservative. I consider them to be angry populists and ethnic nationalists. If you go through the pedigree, the history of conservatism, there was a deep concern for mob mentality and stoking up the passions of the people. That's why we have this system of government. We do with checks and balances, separation of powers, and all the rest, and Trump is the antithesis of that. He is constantly stoking up mob mentality and passions. So those are some of the reasons why I am a conservative. It's not that I'm simply a conservative who is critical of Trump. I'm critical of Trump in large part because I am a conservative.

Posted by orrinj at 8:01 AM


On John Coltrane's "Alabama" (Ismail Muhammad, June 17, 2020, Paris Review)

The John Coltrane Quartet's "Alabama" is a strange song, incongruous with the rest of the album on which it appears. Inserted into Coltrane's 1964 album Live at Birdland, it's a studio track that confounds the virtuosic post-bop bliss of the album's first three tracks, live recordings that include a jittery rendition of Mongo Santamaria's "Afro Blue." All of that collapses when we reach the sunken melancholy of "Alabama." We are far, now, from the cascades of sound that Coltrane introduced us to in "Giant Steps," far from the sonic innovations and precise phrasing he refined in this album's live recordings. Here, Coltrane's saxophone sounds hoarse and enfeebled, until it collapses on the threshold of a hole in the ground.

In "Alabama," Coltrane asks us to bear witness to this hole in the ground, which is also a hole in America's story, which is also a hole in the heart of black Americans. He wants us to grieve alongside him at this absence. The quartet recorded the track in November 1963, two months after the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, made an absence of four little black girls. When I listen to Coltrane playing over Tyner's piano I hear smoke rising up from a smoldering crater, mingling with the voices of the dead. He asks us to peer down into the hole, to toss ourselves over into this absence. Just past the one-minute mark, even this funeral dirge collapses in on itself, as Coltrane's saxophone sinks into a descending arpeggio, coaxing us in.

Then Elvin Jones's drums enter the fray and Jimmy Garrison begins playing the bass; suddenly we're on a brisk jaunt that slightly recalls the virtuosity that preceded this track, even though all Coltrane's sax can muster is squeaking and croaking. We hear Jones mumbling (in delight? Disconcertion?) in the background as if to answer that croak. It all sounds like someone working up a smile in the midst of immense pain, so that he doesn't disturb the comfort of those around him. And it almost works: we swing and swing until the jaunt comes to an abrupt end, as if the players have remembered why they gathered in the studio that day. We get a second of silence before we find ourselves dropped back down at the beginning of the song, with Tyner's tremulous keys and Coltrane's meandering horn. Jones's and Garrison's playing disarticulates until they mirror Jones's mumbling from only a few seconds ago. We're back at the beginning.

Posted by orrinj at 7:53 AM


Bessie Jones: Get in Union review - 60 songs straight from the gut and heart: This remastered set of Jones's recordings with the Georgia Sea Island Singers richly celebrates a traditional vocalist of key historical importance (Jude Rogers, 19 Jun 2020, The Guardian)

A woman from a small farming community in the state of Georgia, Bessie Jones was one of the most important traditional singers of the mid-20th century. Her accordion-playing grandfather, Jet Sampson, was enslaved as a child before the American civil war. He lived to 105 and taught her the songs of his times, which Jones was so determined to share with future generations that she travelled 1,000 miles to ethnomusicologist Alan Lomax's New York flat in 1961 and told him to record her. [...]

The 60-track anthology includes a cappellas and spirituals with the group that Jones joined, the Georgia Sea Island Singers. All sing from the gut, clear and warm. Jones sings O Death straight-backed, speeding up, asking straightforwardly to be spared. Her version of folk standard John Henry, about an African-American steel driver who died after working too hard, is powerfully slow, drawing you into his last moments.

Posted by orrinj at 7:41 AM


Florida sees record number of coronavirus cases as experts eye possible new epicenter (HAYLEY MILLER, Jun 19th 2020, AOL.com)

Florida has shattered its previous record for the number of new coronavirus infections recorded in a day, roughly two weeks after the state transitioned into the second phase of its reopening plan.

The Florida Health Department reported 3,207 new cases on Thursday, marking the largest daily increase since early March. The previous record occurred on Tuesday, with the announcement of 2,782 new cases. 

As of Thursday, Florida has recorded over 85,000 cases and at least 3,061 deaths. The recent spike in infections has some experts worried the state could become the next major hotspot for the virus.

"Florida has all the makings of the next large epicenter," scientists at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia's PolicyLab wrote in a blog post Wednesday. "The risk there is the worst it has ever been in our projections."

Roughly 4 million people who are 65 or older live in Florida. That population is particularly vulnerable to the virus.

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China finds heavy coronavirus traces in seafood, meat sections of Beijing food market (Reuters, 6/19/20) 

China has found the trading sections for meat and seafood in Beijing's wholesale food market to be severely contaminated with the new coronavirus and suspects the area's low temperature and high humidity may have been contributing factors, officials said on Thursday.

Their preliminary report comes as the country's capital tackles a resurgence of COVID-19 cases over the past week linked to the massive Xinfadi food center, which houses warehouses and trading halls in an area the size of nearly 160 soccer pitches.

The latest outbreak infected more than 100 people and raised fears of wider contagion in China.

Among the patients who work at the Xinfadi market, most serve at seafood and aquatic product stalls, followed by the beef and mutton section, and patients from the seafood market showed symptoms earlier than others, Wu Zunyou, chief epidemiologist at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said at a daily briefing on Thursday.

Posted by orrinj at 7:20 AM


Trump's Nazi triangle post the latest in a series of seeming dog whistles (Ari Feldman, June 19, 2020, Tablet)

Bergen, the professor of Holocaust studies, said that the use of the red triangle was most pernicious not simply because it harkens back to Nazism and concentration camps, but because of the moment in Nazi history it represents.

Most Jews are familiar with the yellow star patches that Nazis forced Jews to sew into their clothes. But those were not required in Germany until 1941.

When Hitler moved to seize dictatorial power in Germany in February 1933, the first people arrested en masse were communists, suspected communists and their supporters, she said. They were rounded up in the first concentration camp -- Dachau -- and labeled with the red triangle. With the communist members of the German parliament imprisoned, Hitler's legislative allies were able to pass a law that gave him near-complete control of what had until recently been a free German society.

"It's a political symbol of a means that was used to crush a democratic process," Bergen said of the triangle.

Allegations that Trump's presidential campaign has used images tied to anti-Semitic conspiracies and Nazism have dogged him since 2015. In July of that year, he ran an ad that used a stock photograph of Nazi soldier re-enactors in a place that many would have expected to see American soldiers: layered under the American flag. Trump said the image was the fault of a "young intern."

In 2016, Trump tweeted an image of Hillary Clinton's face superimposed over a pile of money with a six-pointed star -- often identified by Jews as a Star of David -- that contained the words "Most Corrupt Candidate Ever!" The graphic had been shared on a Nazi internet forum, and critics considered it a "dog whistle" to white supremacist supporters. Trump defended the tweet by saying that the star could have been a Sheriff's star or a "plain star." He later used a poster of graphic earlier shared by David Duke, a former Klu Klux Klan leader and anti-Semite.

More examples have cropped up during his presidency. In August 2019, his official Twitter account posted a video supporting his reelection campaign that featured a stylized lion icon, one tied to the white nationalist website VDARE and white supremacist groups.

In May, he praised the "good bloodlines" of Henry Ford, a notorious anti-Semite with strong ties to the Nazi regime.

Last week Trump referred to the Secret Service as the "S.S.", which one Jewish group deemed a "dog whistle to white supremacists and neo-Nazis" for its apparent reference to the Nazi paramilitary police responsible for enforcing the regime's racial policies.

In response to the triangle ad, Bend the Arc, a Jewish social justice group, noted that it was not an anomaly.

"This is dozens of carefully targeted ads from the official pages of Mike Pence, Donald Trump, and Team Trump," the group said in a tweet. "All paid for by Trump and the Republican National Committee. All spreading lies and genocidal imagery."

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It's Time for All of America To Celebrate Juneteenth (Barrett Holmes Pitner, Jun. 19, 2020, dAILY bEAST)

For far too long Juneteenth, marking the official end of slavery in America, has remained a niche holiday within the Black community. Now it must turn into a national holiday that all Americans should embrace.

Following George Floyd's murder, Americans have stood up and declared that they can no longer tolerate the American status quo that devalues Black lives. Americans of all walks of life have supported defunding the police, and forcefully removed statues and monuments celebrating Confederates, slave owners and colonizers who terrorized indigenous people. Americans have occupied the streets chanting Black Lives Matter and shouting down white supremacy. 

But for this revolutionary movement to last, we must erect monuments and elevate holidays that champion these ideals, and Juneteenth is part of this journey. 

We should obviously celebrate our greatest achievement as a people,