VIDEOS

Watch: Trump tells Lesley Stahl he’s not okay with her asking tough questions prior to trainwreck interview

President Donald Trump has now released footage from his upcoming "60 Minutes" interview — and it starts with the president warning her that he doesn't want to deal with any tough questions.

Before the interview begins, Stahl can be heard asking, "Are you ready for some tough questions?"

"Just be fair," the president responded.

"But last time [I interviewed you], I remember you saying to me, 'Bring it on,'" Stahl replied.

"I'm not looking for that, I'm looking for fairness," he replied.

"You're going to get fairness," she said. "But you're okay with some tough questions?"

"No," the president replied. "You don't ask Biden tough questions!"

Watch the video below.

news & politics

The danger of laughing off Trump's fascist blather

"As President Trump entered the final stretch of the election season," reports The Washington Post, "he began making more than 50 false or misleading claims a day." Since then, "it's only gotten worse — so much so that the Fact Checker team cannot keep up."

Trump's relentless mendacity and constant ridiculousness numbs reporters and the larger public to just how dangerous his inclinations are when paired with the power of the presidency. Every day, he says something that would result in a major scandal for any other president, of either party, and after years of hearing this stuff, there's a natural tendency to dismiss it as 'Trump being Trump.'

On Wednesday, The Washington Post ran a story illustrating why this is so dangerous. While we shake our heads at Trump's favorite rhetorical gambit--accusing political opponents and reporters who ask him questions he doesn't like of committing unspecified crimes--the report reveals that he says the same things in private; it is more than just campaign gibberish.

President Trump and his advisers have repeatedly discussed whether to fire FBI Director Christopher A. Wray after Election Day — a scenario that also could imperil the tenure of Attorney General William P. Barr as the president grows increasingly frustrated that federal law enforcement has not delivered his campaign the kind of last-minute boost that the FBI provided in 2016, according to people familiar with the matter.
The conversations among the president and senior aides stem in part from their disappointment that Wray in particular but Barr as well have not done what Trump had hoped — indicate that Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, his son Hunter Biden or other Biden associates are under investigation, these people say. Like others, they spoke on the condition of anonymity to disclose internal discussions.
In the campaign's closing weeks, the president has intensified public calls for jailing his challenger, much as he did for Hillary Clinton, his opponent in 2016. Trump has called Biden a "criminal" without articulating what laws he believes the former vice president has broken.
People familiar with the discussions say Trump wants official action similar to the announcement made 11 days before the last presidential election by then-FBI Director James B. Comey, who informed Congress he had reopened an investigation into Clinton's use of a private email server while she was secretary of state after potential new evidence had been discovered.
[...]
The attorney general has been drawn into some of those disputes as the president has complained that a hoped-for report from Connecticut U.S. Attorney John Durham, who is scrutinizing the Russia investigation's origins, is not expected to surface before Election Day.
The president has stopped praising Barr and instead strikes a more critical tone toward him. Trump declined to answer a Newsmax reporter recently when asked if Barr would be kept around for a second term.
Trump was so focused on the Durham report that he would turn up the television volume when segments would air about it, people around him said. Trump has told allies that he once believed Barr would deliver "scalps" in the form of Durham's findings, according to an adviser who recently spoke to Trump about it. "But they aren't doing s---," the president said, according to this person.

Fortunately, with Trump trailing Joe Biden by a significant margin and unlikely to occupy the Oval Office after January, nobody in law enforcement is fabricating bogus charges against Trump's foes.

But keep in mind that Trump is hectoring the most corrupt Attorney General in memory--a guy who has turned the country's top law enforcement agency into Trump's personal law firm and probably obstructed justice on Trump's behalf--for perceived disloyalty. And recall that Trump picked Barr after his first choice, wingnut Matthew Whitaker, became a laughingstock when his past as a toilet-scammer became public. FiveThirtyEight currently gives Trump a one-in-eight likelihood of winning the Electoral College, and if he does, you can bet that Trump would find someone in MAGA world who wouldn't similarly frustrate his authoritarian impulses.

Trump's clownishness would be comical if he were a fictional character. But he controls the executive branch--and holds the nuclear codes--and we should take him both seriously and literally and understand that it's no laughing matter.

election '20

Trump’s push for voter intimidation is working as armed Florida men claim to have been hired by his campaign

During his first debate with former Vice President Joe Biden on September 29, President Donald Trump urged his supporters to serve as poll watchers. Trump's critics have been arguing that Trump was promoting voter intimidation and encouraging would-be vigilantes, and according to reporting from Vanity Fair and Florida's WFLA News 8, it appears to be working.

WFLA (an NBC affiliate in Tampa) reports that in St. Petersburg, Florida, two armed men dressed as security guards in a tent they set up outside an early voting site "were not hired by" Trump's campaign, even though they claimed to be.

Julie Marcus, supervisor of elections in Pinellas County, Florida, told WFLA that Sheriff Bob Gualtieri "told me the persons that were dressed in these security uniforms had indicated to sheriff's deputies that they belonged to a licensed security company, and they indicated — and this has not been confirmed yet — that they were hired by the Trump campaign."

Marcus, a Republican who was appointed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, also told WFLA, "The sheriff and I take this very seriously. Voter intimidation, deterring voters from voting, impeding a voter's ability to cast a ballot in this election is unacceptable and will not be tolerated in any way, shape or form."

During his debate with Biden, Trump said, "I'm urging my supporters to go into the polls and watch very carefully." And Trump's critics have been arguing that he wasn't talking about official poll watchers, but rather, was encouraging his supporters to become vigilantes.

In Vanity Fair, journalist Eric Lutz reports that "at several sites across the country, including California and New Mexico, Trump supporters have gathered near polling sites — in some cases, worrying those waiting to vote."

In Florida, Lutz notes, an armed police officer named Daniel Ubeda "was seen near a poll wearing a face mask that read 'TRUMP 2020' and 'NO MORE BULLSHIT' on the front of it."

Attorney Steve Simeonidis, who chairs the Dade County Democratic Party, saw Ubeda near that polling place and told the Miami Herald, "He may have been going to vote. But he was in full uniform with the mask and a gun. That's voter intimidation."

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, in response to that incident, said, "It's a violation of departmental orders. A police officer is supposed to be impartial."

On October 21, the Washington Post's Joshua Partlow reported, "A wide array of complaints have been reported around the country, many involving Trump supporters, according to tips reviewed by ProPublica's Electionland project and shared with other news organizations, including the Washington Post."

economy

Billionaire wealth has surged by nearly $1 trillion during 7 months of pandemic and economic collapse

Over just the past seven months—as millions lost their jobs and health insurance, tens of thousands of small businesses shuttered permanently, and more than 200,000 Americans were killed by the coronavirus—U.S. billionaires saw their combined net worth surge by more than $930 billion, bringing the collective wealth of just 644 people to a staggering $3.88 trillion.

That's according to an analysis released Tuesday morning by Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF) and the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS), progressive organizations that have been tracking the explosion of billionaire wealth since the start of coronavirus lockdowns in mid-March. (See the groups' compilation of billionaire wealth data here.)

The new analysis shows that the collective wealth of America's billionaires grew by $931 billion—or nearly 33%—between March 18 and October 13, a period that also saw unprecedented job loss, a nationwide surge in hunger, and a sharp increase in housing insecurity.

The groups noted that the jump in billionaire wealth over the past seven months exceeds the size of both Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) so-called "skinny" Covid-19 relief bill and the estimated two-year budget gaps of all state and local governments, which have been forced to lay off more than a million public-sector workers due to revenue shortfalls caused by the coronavirus crisis.

"Sadly, the Gilded Age is here again," ATF executive director Frank Clemente said in a statement. "We have extraordinary gains in wealth by a small sliver of the population while millions suffer, this time from the ravages of the pandemic, much of which could have been avoided."

"In the short-term we need a robust pandemic relief package that meets the urgency of the moment, not Senator McConnell's skinny bill that offers political cover," Clemente continued. "In the long-term we need major reform that taxes the extraordinary wealth of the billionaires and millionaires and uses that wealth to create an economy that works for all of us."


The new analysis shows that a handful of billionaires "have seen a particularly astonishing increase in wealth" over the past seven months:

  • Jeff Bezos' wealth grew from $113 billion on March 18 to $203 billion on October 13, an increase of 80%. Adding in his ex-wife MacKenzie Scott's wealth of $65.7 billion on that day and the two had a combined wealth of more than a quarter of a trillion dollars thanks to their Amazon stock.
  • Mark Zuckerberg's wealth grew from $54.7 billion on March 18 to $101 billion on October 13, an increase of 85%, fueled by his Facebook stock.
  • Elon Musk's wealth grew from $24.6 billion on March 18 to $92.8 billion on October 13, an increase of 277%, boosted by his Tesla stock.
  • Dan Gilbert, chairman of Quicken Loans, saw his wealth rocket by 656%, to $49.2 billion from $6.5 billion seven months earlier.

"With Mitch McConnell's Senate paralyzed with inaction, U.S. society is kicking into inequality overdrive, with wealth surging up to U.S. billionaires," said Chuck Collins, director of IPS' Program on Inequality. "The juxtaposition between surging billionaire wealth and the imploding livelihoods of ordinary Americans is grotesque and unseemly."

culture

How toxic masculinity became a threat to public health

As if the first two waves of COVID-19 hospitalizations in the United States weren't enough to inspire serious political changes to stop the coronavirus, health experts have sounded the alarm that a third wave is underway. Coronavirus cases and hospitalizations are rising across the nation, specifically in the Dakotas, Nebraska, and Montana, as the seasons change and the election nears.

It's certainly taken a lot of resilience and strength to persevere through this pandemic — particularly given the backdrop of political chaos, uncertainty and immense change in our daily lives. Yet perhaps it is this attitude of "staying strong," and acting stoically — which is rooted in a culture that favors and thrives off toxic masculinity — that has hurt and continues to hurt us the most.

Toxic masculinity, which has become a household phrase over the last few years, is when the archetypal image of masculinity, like displaying strength, becomes harmful to oneself. In 2005, in a study of men in prison, psychiatrist Terry Kupers defined toxic masculinity as "the constellation of socially regressive male traits that serve to foster domination, the devaluation of women, homophobia, and wanton violence." The phrase is used to describe the issues men face or sometimes, wrongfully, justify them. Certainly, in a patriarchal society, toxic masculinity not only defines people but politics — as its mores trickle into our entertainment, discourse and politics.

Notably, the pandemic response is being led by the most psychologically compromised, toxic men in America. As I wrote last weekend, President Donald Trump's insistence on depicting himself as so strong as to be able to "work through" his COVID-19 illness is deeply harmful, and apt to put Americans' lives at risk who mimic his behavior — either by working while sick or hiding symptoms.

Meanwhile, Trump's re-election campaign has tried to frame Trump as a "warrior" — masculine, strong and void of emotion. The administration's individualistic, pick-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps rhetoric personifies toxic masculinity, and trickles down to Trump's underlings, too. In June, Vice President Mike Pence wrote an op-ed essay in The Wall Street Journal claiming there was no second wave of COVID-19, despite all the evidence to the contrary. "We are winning the fight against the invisible enemy," Pence wrote then, adding "our greatest strength is the resilience of the American people."

Yet as psychologists will warn, there is a dark side to resilience.

"There is no doubt that resilience is a useful and highly adaptive trait, especially in the face of traumatic events," psychologists Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic and Derek Lusk wrote in Harvard Business Review. "However, when taken too far, it may focus individuals on impossible goals and make them unnecessarily tolerant of unpleasant or counterproductive circumstances." In other words, self-sufficiency is not always a show of strength; humans, as social creatures, rely on others for society to function and to remain healthy. Denying that means hurting ourselves, either by delaying care or eschewing guidance that may help us or save others.

I've often wondered how much my so-called "resilience" in all of this is just making me numb and tolerant, in an unhealthy way. When looking at which countries have the pandemic somewhat under control, we look and judge their leaders. It's interesting to do this through a gendered lens. For example, New Zealand has some of the lowest coronavirus numbers in the world under Prime Minister Jacinda Adern's leadership. That's partly because she never advertised grandiose ideas about being above or stronger than the coronavirus. As I've previously written, the strengths—such as empathy and compassion— Ardern has brought throughout her tenure are the very same traits that have been used against women seeking leadership positions in the workplace and in the public sector. When male leaders display traditionally feminine qualities, they can also be maligned as weak — former House Speaker John Boehner, for example, used to shed tears in public; Politico's response was to ask, "Why Does John Boehner Cry So Much?"

It's obvious the Trump administration is terrified of appearing "weak" during the pandemic. But where has that gotten us? Prioritizing the economy over our health. Over 8 million infections, and 218,000 Americans dead. And the politicizing of wearing masks, as though wearing them were a sign of weakness — something Trump mocked his opponent Joe Biden for at their first and so far only debate.

As much as toxic masculinity's social repercussion are harmful to our physical health, it is also taking a toll on our mental health. A study published in JAMA Network Open in September showed that three times as many Americans met criteria for a depression diagnosis during the pandemic compared to before it. According to an analysis of Google Trends, symptoms of anxiety increased too.

Why? In part, it could be a result of having to power through these extraordinarily abnormal times without seeking help — that "bootstraps" mentality innate to toxic masculinity. One's attempts to hold it together can devolve into emotional suppression, which in return can cause more emotional distress. In July 2018, Penn State researchers found that women tried to suppress their fears about the Zika virus reported higher levels of fear later. "It turns out that not only is suppression ineffective at handling fear, but it's counter-productive," one researcher said. "It creates a cycle of fear — and it's a vicious cycle."

As a society, many of us — particularly men — haven't been authorized to express sadness publicly, and these studies reflect that. With over 200,000 Americans dead of coronavirus, their loved ones are grieving. Seven months later, we've yet to have a moment of national reflection to mourn.

As it is with the death of a loved one, grief isn't lessened by ignoring one's uncomfortable emotions. Instead, it requires collective vulnerability, compassion and patience. As author David Kessler told HBR:

Emotions need motion. It's important we acknowledge what we go through. [...] We tell ourselves things like, I feel sad, but I shouldn't feel that; other people have it worse. We can — we should — stop at the first feeling. I feel sad. Let me go for five minutes to feel sad. Your work is to feel your sadness and fear and anger whether or not someone else is feeling something. Fighting it doesn't help because your body is producing the feeling. If we allow the feelings to happen, they'll happen in an orderly way, and it empowers us. Then we're not victims.

As we try to stay strong through this pandemic, the strength we seek to feel will come from falling apart and allowing ourselves to feel the loss and the chaos—physically and emotionally. By persevering through that, still standing in so much unknown, we can experience real strength. In other words, the non-toxic kind.

science

White House documents expose the truth: Trump lied — and people died

President Donald Trump has known for over a month that new coronavirus infections have been soaring even as the White House has lied about the seriousness of the surge, documents released Tuesday by a leading Democratic lawmaker show.

HuffPost reports Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), chair of the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, published six weekly White House Coronavirus Task Force reports (pdf)—dated August 16, August 23, August 30, September 6, September 13, and September 20—proving the administration has known since early September that Covid-19 infections were rising rapidly.

However, instead of being forthcoming with the American people and the world, Trump opted to hide the reports while spuriously claiming that the virus "affects virtually nobody"— even as it caused record infections and deaths in numerous states in September.

Not only did the administration fail to honestly inform the nation, Trump held several so-called superspreader rallies and other events in September, including in states hit hard by surging Covid-19 infections, such as Minnesota, North Carolina, and Wisconsin.

On October 1, Trump declared that "the end of the pandemic is in sight." The following day, he announced that he and First Lady Melania Trump had tested positive for coronavirus.

The reports also show that the White House was fully aware that the number of states in the so-called "red zone"—where new coronavirus cases rose above 100 per 100,000 people and where more than 10% of test results were positive—soared from 18 on September 13 to 31 on October 18.

On October 19, Trump told campaign staffers on a phone call that "people are tired of Covid... People are saying, 'Whatever. Just leave us alone.' They're tired of it. People are tired of hearing Fauci and all these idiots," a reference to National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Clyburn released a statement on Tuesday calling the reports proof that "Trump's contempt for science and refusal to lead during this crisis have allowed the coronavirus to surge."

"Contrary to his empty claims that the country is 'rounding the turn,' more states are now in the 'red zone' than ever before," Clyburn said. "It is long past time that the administration implement a national plan to contain this crisis, which is still killing hundreds of Americans each day and could get even worse in the months ahead."

Indeed, according to prominent University of Minnesota epidemiologist Dr. Michael Osterholm, "the darkest part of the pandemic [will occur] over the course of the next 12 weeks."

According to Johns Hopkins University, there have been more than 8.2 million confirmed Covid-19 cases and nearly 221,000 deaths in the United States, representing just under 20% of the global death toll of 1.12 million people.

belief

Pat Robertson: 'The Lord told me' Trump will be reelected — and help set off the Apocalypse

Christian fundamentalist evangelical and televangelist Pat Robertson is predicting that President Donald Trump will win reelection and usher in the end of the world.

The 90-year-old Robertson, this week on his long-running show, "The 700 Club," predicted, "I want to say, without question, that Trump is going to win the election…. He's going to win; that, I think is a given."

Robertson went on to say that after Trump wins in November, major wars will follow. Those wars, according to Robertson, will be part of the End Times — and Christians who vote for Trump can help to bring that about.

The far-right evangelical argued, "We've never seen the likes of it before, but I want to relate to you again: there is going to be a war. Ezekiel 38 is going to be the next thing down the line. Then, a time of peace and then, maybe the end. But nobody knows the day or the hour when the Lord is going to come back. He said the angels don't know it, and only the Father knows it."

Trump's reelection, according to Robertson, will be part of a series of events in which Jesus Christ returns to Earth.

"I am saying that if things that people thought would be during the millennial time with the coming of Jesus, they are going to happen in our lifetime," Robertson told viewers. "And the next thing is the election that's coming up in just a few weeks — at which time, according to what I believe the Lord told me, the president is going to be reelected."

Robertson continued, "I'm saying by all means, get out and vote. Vote for whoever you want to vote for, but let your voice be heard. But it's going to lead to civil unrest and then, a war against Israel and so forth…. I think it's time to pray. But anyway, that is the word. You ask what's going to happen next, and that's what's going to happen next."

One of the most prominent figures in the far-right evangelical movement, Robertson founded the Christian Broadcasting Network in the early 1960s and launched "The 700 Club" in 1966. Robertson, the son of the late Democratic Sen. Absalom Willis Robertson, ran for president in 1988 but lost to Vice President George H.W. Bush in that year's GOP presidential primary.

Robertson has a long history of predicting the Apocalypse, going back to at least the 1970s. In 1976, Robertson predicted that the Apocalypse would occur in 1982 — and when that didn't happen, Robertson predicted, in 1990, that 2017 would be the year of the Apocalypse. But since the End Times didn't come about in 2017, Robertson now has high hopes that a second Trump term will mean the end of the world.

human rights

Pope Francis says same-sex couples should be ‘legally’ protected by civil unions

Pope Francis is calling for same-sex couples to be "legally" protected by civil union laws.

"Homosexuals have a right to be a part of the family," the Pope says in a new documentary, Catholic News Agency reports. "They're children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out, or be made miserable because of it."

Later, Pope Francis defended his remarks in the film, saying, "What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered."

"I stood up for that," he added.

The Pope said nothing about the morality of same-sex relationships, which the Catholic Church still vehemently opposes.

The Vatican leader's remarks, while a step forward, show the Roman Catholic Church continues to treat LGBTQ people unequally.

Some are calling the Pope's remarks a "major shift," and a "long overdue moment." Others have noted to Catholics in countries where same-sex relationships or marriages are banned it is a welcome sign.

Pope Francis continues to oppose marriage for same-sex couples. He has a lengthy record of vacillating between making compassionate statements about same-sex couples and gay people, while denouncing in the strongest possible terms affording them the same rights and responsibilities as those in different-sex marriages.

In 2014, for example, Pope Francis called same-sex marriage "anthropological regression."

One year later he said same-sex marriage threatened to "disfigure God's plan." He later called marriages of same-sex couples "disfigured." Also in 2015 he announced support for constitutional bans on marriage and adoption by same-sex couples.

The following year Francis said the Catholic Church and Christians "must ask forgiveness" and "apologize" to gay people. In 2018 the Pope reportedly told a gay man, "God made you like this. God loves you like this. The Pope loves you like this and you should love yourself and not worry about what people say."

more news

Trump mocked for posting photo of a 'blank sheet of paper' touting ‘many things we’ve done for healthcare’

President Donald Trump is harping on his failed "60 Minutes" interview that he walked off from after veteran CBS News host Lesley Stahl began asking him questions about the coronavirus pandemic on Tuesday.

CNN reports Trump has been pushing his chief of staff to release the White House's recording of the interview, and barely minutes after that segment aired the President tweeted out photos of him with Stahl.

President Donald Trump is harping on his failed "60 Minutes" interview that he walked off from after veteran CBS News host Lesley Stahl began asking him questions about the coronavirus pandemic on Tuesday.

CNN reports Trump has been pushing his chief of staff to release the White House's recording of the interview, and barely minutes after that segment aired the President tweeted out photos of him with Stahl.



But as Vox journalist Aaron Rupar noted, the book appears to be filled with blank paper – or at least the page she happened to be looking at clearly is blank.


That observation was echoed by many, and others mocked the President for yet another empty plan.
























One of the photos shows White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany handing a huge book to Lesley Stahl.

"Kayleigh McEnany presenting Lesley Stahl (@60Minutes) with some of the many things we've done for Healthcare. Lesley had no idea!" Trump tweeted.

How a phony spy came ‘dangerously close’ to stealing $4 billion from US military — and getting away with it

A former Drug Enforcement Administration official was about to swindle nearly $4 billion from the military after ripping off $4.4 million from government officials and other victims, according to new court documents.

A sentencing memo filed in federal court by the Department of Justice shows that fake spy Garrison Courtney was "dangerously close" to taking his scam to another level before his cover was blown, reported The Daily Beast.

Courtney pleaded guilty this summer to one count of wire fraud as part of a complicated scheme posing as a deep-cover CIA operative after leaving his high-level spokesman position for the DEA.

According to investigators, Courtney convinced defense contractors to put him on the payroll so he could pose as a civilian while he supposedly worked on a top-secret national security mission.

The sentencing memo shows Courtney "seeking to corrupt over $3.7 billion in federal procurements" from defense contractors before investigators disrupted his fraudulent scheme.

"The government had requirements, he knew the requirements, and he was gonna deliver the requirements," one of Courtney's conspirators told The Daily Beast. "He only needed a little bit more time, and he actually would have delivered. If left alone, he'd probably be a billionaire right now."

That person, an ex-military intelligence officer, escaped criminal charges by cooperating with investigators, and he told The Daily Beast that he worked with Courtney at cybersecurity contractor Blue Canopy before taking part in the scheme that ultimately cost his job, life's savings and marriage.

"The FBI agreed not to put my name out there, so I thought I could walk away from this and try to create some semblance of a life," that individual said. "All I ever wanted to be was an intelligence officer, and I was really good."

Courtney's scam was so convincing that it almost became real.

A number of public officials actually tried to stop the FBI investigation on national security grounds, and investigators said Courtney came extremely close to effectively immunizing himself from prosecution by getting his phony mission legitimized under national security law.

"It is chilling to consider what the defendant could have accomplished," the sentencing memo said.

Prosecutors are seeking 37 months in prison for Courtney.

Epidemiologist delivers brutal epitaph to Trump’s COVID response: ‘Worst case of public health malpractice ever’

A top epidemiologist on Thursday delivered a brutal epitaph to President Donald Trump's handling of the novel coronavirus pandemic, which has killed over 220,000 Americans in just eight months.

Appearing on CNN, University of Nebraska Medical Center's College of Public Health dean Dr. Ali Khan pointed to new research from Columbia University claiming that over 100,000 Americans could still be alive today if the United States had enacted stronger measures to control the spread of the virus.

"We always had the tools to get this disease contained," he said. "And if we had used those public health tools — and not just at the national level, but the national, state, and local level — we would have had a marked decline in deaths, anywhere from maybe 10,000 to… 160,000 deaths. So, there's a whole lot of people who are dead in America. That was completely preventable."

He then looked at responses to the disease around the world and said the United States really stood out for being disastrous.

"There's no doubt, this is the worst case of public health malpractice we've ever seen in this nation," he said. "If we had followed the path of South Korea, Thailand, Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Rwanda — I mean, I can go all over the world of countries with excellent leadership… using tools that we have that have protected their populations."

Watch the video below.


Doctor delivers brutal epitaph to Trump's COVID response youtu.be

Read: Graphic handwritten letter from Maryland man who threatened to kidnap and ‘execute’ Biden and Harris

James Dale Reed is under arrest after leaving a handwritten and graphic note at a Fredrick, Maryland home that threatens to kidnap and kill Democratic presidential and vice presidential nominees Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. The house has Biden/Harris signs on its lawn.

The suspect's image was caught by a video doorbell camera.

"This is a warning to anyone reading this letter if you are a Biden/Harris supporter you will be targeted," the letter states, according to WUSA9 News.

The threats in the letter (image below) are graphic.

(Trigger warning:)

"When We capture Grandpa Biden We will all severely beat him to the point of death as for Mrs. Harris she will be bent over and Anally raped by my rifle barrel," it reads.

It also threatens Biden and Harris "both will be executed on National Television [sic]."

"We have a list of homes and addresses by your election signs," the letter claims.

"We are the ones with the scary guns, we are the ones your children have nightmares about."

"We will not let Biden/Harris turn are [sic] country into a Communist wasteland," it also says.

"If Biden/Harris Want A War [sic] then they will get one, of course that means Black lives matter and Antifa."

Brad Bell, Maryland Bureau Chief for ABC 7 News, posted a photo of Reed and an image of the letter:


Rudy Giuliani tricked by Sasha Baron Cohen into having ‘indiscreet encounter’ with young actress

Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani was reportedly tricked by comedian Sasha Baron Cohen into having an "indiscreet encounter" with a young actress who was playing as a far-right journalist in his new "Borat" movie.

The Guardian, which has seen footage from Cohen's upcoming movie, reports that "the former New York mayor and current personal attorney to Donald Trump is seen reaching into his trousers and apparently touching his genitals while reclining on a bed in the presence of the actor playing Borat's daughter."

The actress in question, 24-year-old Bulgarian native Maria Bakalova, posted as a right-wing journalist interested in interviewing Giuliani to ask him about his work for President Donald Trump.

According to The Guardian, Bakalova after the interview asks Giuliani to come to her hotel room for a drink.

Little does the New York mayor know, however, that Bakalova's room has been rigged with cameras — and as soon as Giuliani starts apparently playing with himself, Cohen's character bursts into the room and tells him that she's only 15 years old and thus "too old for you."

There were several glaring omissions in the FBI's bizarre announcement about election interference

Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe and FBI Director Christopher Wray announced on Wednesday in a last-minute press briefing that both Iran and Russia have obtained voter registration information and have "taken specific actions to influence public opinion."

In particular, Ratcliffe said that Iran has been found to have sent "spoofed emails designed to intimidate voters, incite social unrest, and damage President Trump." He seemed to be referring to an incident described in a Washington Post story published right before the conference, which said the U.S. has concluded that Iran had sent emails pretending to be from the right-wing group the Proud Boys to Democratic voters.

The Post explained:

The messages appeared to target Democrats using data from digital databases known as "voter files," some of which are commercially available. They told recipients the Proud Boys were "in possession of all your information" and instructed voters to change their party registration and cast their ballots for Trump.

It's not exactly clear the intent behind the emails. Ratcliffe, a partisan Republican put in place by President Donald Trump because he wanted a crony leading the intelligence community, seemed to give contradicting explanations. If the emails were intended to intimidate Democratic voters out of voting, that would presumably help Trump. But if the emails were meant as a false flag, designed to make Trump supporters look dangerous, then that would "damage President Trump," as Ratcliffe said. It's hard to see how Iran could have intended both outcomes. It's troubling that his explanation was this unclear, especially since he doesn't have a reputation for independence and credibility. (Ratcliffe and Wray took no questions at the briefing, refusing to give the press any opportunity to clarify their remarks.)

The other aim, though, seems quite plausible — the emails were designed to sow doubt, fear, and confusion about the election and its security. When Wray spoke, he encouraged viewers to trust in the American election system.

"You should be confident that your vote counts," Wray said. "Early, unverified claims to the contrary should be viewed with a healthy dose of skepticism. We encourage everyone to seek election and voting information from reliable sources, namely, your state election officials. And to be thoughtful, careful, and discerning consumers of information online."

He added: "We are not going to tolerate foreign interference in our elections or any criminal activity that threatens the sanctity of your vote or undermines public confidence in the outcome of the election."

Neither Wray nor Ratcliffe mentioned any details about how Russia is interfering in the election or what it might use voter registration data for. It's not clear whether that's because the FBI doesn't have any details about Russian interference or if it is simply unwilling to share them for whatever reason. This, too, is concerning, because the despite Ratcliffe's claim that foreign election interference isn't a "partisan" issue, Trump himself has repeatedly tried to cover up Russia's intervention in 2016 on his behalf. There's no way to be confident that isn't happening now.

But there was another even more glaring omission in the pair's comments. Neither mentioned the fact that Trump — not Russia, Iran, or anyone else — is by far the greatest threat to the credibility of the election. He has been fueling bogus conspiracy theories that the election is going to be "rigged" for months, and he has called mail-in ballots a "hoax." So there was something ridiculous about the press conference emphasizing the threat of foreign election interference, especially as Ratcliffe name-checked the president as authorizing the intelligence community's efforts to protect American democracy.

"The president has instructed me to keep the country informed as appropriate," Ratcliffe said. "We will not tolerate foreign interference in our elections."

Wray's remarks about "early, unverified" claims that votes won't count, and that state election officials are the most reliable sources of information about the process, could be read as an implicit rebuke to the president. Trump has repeatedly contradicted local election officials in trying to spread doubt about the integrity of the vote.

And in urging Americans to be "thoughtful, careful, and discerning consumers of information online," Wray was, essentially, telling them to be the opposite of Trump, who has spread absolutely ridiculous conspiracy theories on Twitter recently. When asked to defend himself at an NBC News town hall, he said simply: "l put it out there, people can decide for themselves."

'Disturbingly Kafkaesque': Judge slams Betsy DeVos for denying 94% of student debt forgiveness claims

Arguing that Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos had undermined the agreement, a federal judge on Tuesday denied approval for a class action settlement over the Trump administration's handling of a student debt forgiveness program.

U.S. District Judge William Alsup said DeVos had subverted the agreement by rejecting tens of thousands of applications from defrauded students without adequate explanation, Politico first reported.

Alsup, a Bill Clinton appointee, threatened to block DeVos from denying any additional applications, calling the denial notices "potentially unlawful" and the process faced by borrowers "disturbingly Kafkaesque."

The May settlement required DeVos to speed up the processing of about 160,000 backlogged applications, some of which had been pending for years. DeVos has thus far denied 94% of applications, approving just 4,400 claims while denying 74,000 others, according to Alsup. The department told borrowers they could appeal the decision but did not say why it had denied the applications, the judge said.

"All may not be entitled to relief, but all are entitled to a comprehensible answer," Alsup wrote. "For 18 months, the secretary refused, largely on the grounds that such answers required backbreaking effort and, thus, substantial time. Now, the secretary has begun issuing decisions at breakneck speed. But most are a perfunctory 'insufficient evidence' — without explanation."

Alsup also said he would consider requiring DeVos to be deposed in a probe of the administration's handling of the claims and authorized depositions for up to five Education Department officials.

The judge granted preliminary approval for the settlement in May, requiring the department to process the backlogged claims within 18 months. As the department began processing the applications, hundreds of students objected to the settlement. About 650 people attended a virtual hearing to raise concerns about the settlement earlier this month.

"Students came together to speak up for themselves and show the court the massive scope of the trauma they have endured at the hands of the Department of Education, and the courts are listening," Eileen Connor, the legal director at Harvard Law School's Project on Predatory Student Lending, which represents the students, told Politico. "We look forward to the next stage of litigation in which we depose Department of Education officials to explain their actions under oath."

Alsup noted in his ruling that the Obama administration had approved more than 99% of "borrower defense" claims, which allow students to seek debt relief if they were defrauded by for-profit colleges. Under DeVos, the department has rejected 89.9% of applications.

The Department of Education said it is "studying the ruling."

"It's important to understand that no claim is 'denied.' Many are simply ineligible, because the claimant wasn't enrolled in an eligible program at an eligible date," department spokeswoman Angela Morabito told The Hill. "Others claims don't demonstrate financial harm. Just because a claim was filed does not make it valid and eligible for taxpayer-funded relief. The department is following the publicly available process for resolving claims as quickly as possible, so those students who are eligible and were harmed get the relief they deserve."

DeVos revised rules related to the borrower defense program in 2019, prompting some Republicans to join Democrats to pass a bill blocking the policy.

"These for-profit colleges are the coronavirus of higher education," Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said at the time, adding that DeVos' rules made it "extremely difficult, if not impossible, for students to find relief."

But President Donald Trump vetoed the bill and allowed DeVos to implement the new rules in July.

Rep. Susie Lee, D-Nev., the lead sponsor of the bill, said Trump's veto "sent a message to the American people that he cares more about enriching predatory schools than protecting defrauded students and veterans."

DeVos has repeatedly run afoul of the courts in the borrower defense litigation. Last year, a judge held the education secretary in contempt for violating a court order by trying to collect debt payments from thousands of students defrauded by for-profit colleges.

"At best, it is gross negligence," U.S. Magistrate Jude Sallie Kim said at the time. "At worst, it's an intentional flouting of my order."

Arne Duncan, who served as the secretary of education under former President Barack Obama, said DeVos "consistently chooses the powerful over the vulnerable."

"Luckily, she is not very good at it," he added, "and very consistently loses in court."

‘A relativist dressed in originalist drag’: Catholic paper urges Senate to ‘reject’ Barrett in scathing op-ed

Republican supporters of Judge Amy Coney Barrett have been citing her Catholicism as one of the reasons why the U.S. Senate should confirm her nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court as soon as possible. But Barrett is by no means universally loved among Catholics. And the National Catholic Reporter has slammed Barrett this week in a blistering staff editorial, asking the U.S. Senate to "reject" her nomination.

In the editorial, the Reporter's editorial board argues, "We believed it was wrong for the Senate to consider this nomination in the first place given the precedent set four years ago when Justice Antonin Scalia died in February (2016), nine months before the election. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to even hold hearings on the nomination of Judge Merrick Garland, saying repeatedly that the American people should have a say in the matter. This year, when the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg created a vacancy less than nine weeks before Election Day, McConnell has seen fit to ram through the nomination."

The editorial complains that "hypocrisy is rank" with the nomination and that it is impossible to see how "rushing this nomination will be good for our democracy."

Although the National Catholic Reporter says that Barrett isn't responsible for McConnell's actions, she has let herself be used as a "vehicle for his agenda and that of President Donald Trump."

The Reporter stresses, "She could have phoned the White House and asked not to be considered for the nomination. Barrett is only 48 years old, and there will be other vacancies."

The publication also takes Barrett to task for being so evasive when answering questions from Sen. Amy Klobuchar and others during her confirmation hearings.

"It is her bad faith in discussing the law that warrants disqualifying her," the editorial stresses. "About the evils of climate change, access to health care and voter intimidation, Americans deserve better than a relativist dressed in originalist drag."

Why Donald Trump Jr. could crush Republican senators — and take over the GOP from his father

When Donald Trump first announced, in 2015, that he was seeking the Republican presidential nomination, no one in the GOP gave much thought to his son, Donald Trump, Jr. But the younger Trump has since become a prominent figure in the Trumpian version of the Republican Party. Journalist David Smith discusses the rise of Trump, Jr. in an article published in The Guardian this week, explaining why he has become so popular with a certain type of Republican voter — even though some conservatives view him as a glaring example of the GOP's intellectual decline.

Combative, snarky, belligerent and mean-spirited, Trump, Jr. has a lot more in common with his father than he does with his sister, White House Senior Adviser Ivanka Trump — who fancies herself as more of a conservative intellectual even though her critics view her as low-information. Ivanka Trump at least pretends to have a thoughtful tone when she is giving a speech or writing a Twitter post, whereas Trump, Jr. openly disdains intellectuals. And even though Trump, Jr. is a millionaire, MAGA voters with a fraction of his income adore his anti-elitist schtick.

"When Don Jr. and his father bash Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and (former Vice President Joe) Biden at campaign rallies, they generate louder reactions from the crowd than when they set out agenda items or achievements," Smith explains. "Don Jr.'s Twitter feed offers his 5.8 million followers little by way of policy but a torrent of Democrat-baiting and conspiracy theories."

Trump, Jr., Smith stresses, is "adept at throwing red meat to" his father's MAGA base, and Trumpians eat it up when he is giving a speech at a rally.

But Trump, Jr., now 42, has his share of critics on the right, including conservative activist/author Rick Wilson — a former Republican Party strategist who is supporting former Vice President Joe Biden in this year's presidential election and was a co-founder of The Lincoln Project, a right-wing anti-Trump group. Interviewed by The Guardian, Wilson slammed Trump, Jr. as a perfect example of the modern-day GOP's intellectual bankruptcy but stressed that he knows how to rally his father's base because he "speaks fluent MAGA."

The 56-year-old Wilson explained, "Trumpism replaced conservatism as the ideological underpinning of the Republican Party, and because of that, they don't really fight about issues anymore. They fight about effect and whether or not they're winning these ephemeral social media battles — and in that world, the highest order goal is the 'owning of the libs.' It is a throwaway phrase substituting the validity or strength of an argument with a sort of self-satisfaction that you have been transgressive in some way towards liberals or progressives."

The Never Trumper continued, "Donald Trump, Jr. is a master of that. He is a post-Republican Republican. He is there only to engage in that performative dickery that is lib-owning in the Trump world. It is a political performance art to show your contempt for norms, institutions and education."

But even though Wilson has a very low opinion of the president's son, he predicts that Trump, Jr. will run for president in 2024 and believes that the GOP has sunk low enough to give him the nomination.

Wilson told The Guardian, "What I tell all these Republicans who think they're going to run in '24 for president — Ben Sasse and Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz — is they're not going anywhere. They should stop right now. They're wasting their time and everyone else's, because the nominee in 2024 is going to be Donald Trump, Jr. He will come in, he will have his father's endorsement, and he will promise great feats of lib ownership."

Democrats are missing a big chance to increase turnout and take down the Trump machine

The anxiety over changes and irregularities with the United States Postal Service (USPS) in August finally spilled over. A functioning postal service undergirds many of our society’s most basic functions, so there was no shortage of reasons to be alarmed. However, one concern—the threat to November’s election—overwhelmingly rose to the top. And the public outcry over that threat pushed a normally lethargic House majority into action, winning some mild but incomplete reversals from USPS.

Keep reading... Show less

Bombshell study finds up to 210,000 Americans died of COVID because of Trump administration's ‘monumental screwup’

A bombshell Columbia University study finds President Donald Trump is responsible for the coronavirus deaths of 130,000 to 210,000 Americans.

"We believe that this was a monumental, lethal screwup by an administration that didn't want to deal with reality," Dr. Irwin Redlener, the lead author on the study and the founding director at Columbia's National Center for Disaster Preparedness told The Daily Beast.

The study calls Trump's response to the pandemic an "abject failure," citing "the staggering and disproportionate nature of COVID-19 fatalities in the United States."

"The inability of the U.S. to mitigate the pandemic is especially stark when contrasted with the response of high-income nations, such as South Korea, Japan, Australia, Germany, France, and Canada, as well as low- and middle-income countries as varied as Thailand, Pakistan, Honduras, and Malaysia. All of these nations have had greater success in protecting their populations from the impact of the coronavirus," researchers say in the report published Wednesday.

They note the U.S. per capita death rate is "more than fifty times that of Japan."

"If the U.S. had followed Canadian policies and protocols, there might have only been 85,192 U.S. deaths—making more than 132,500 American deaths 'avoidable.' If the U.S. response had mirrored that of Germany, the U.S. may have only had 38,457 deaths—leaving 179,260 avoidable deaths," according to the study.

The researchers say "Politicization, leadership vacuum, and the failure of top officials to model best practices" especially mask-wearing, have contributed to the disproportionately high U.S. death rate.

The report concludes the "two major deficiencies" of "inadequate testing and insufficient contact tracing, have blunted the United States' capacity to stop the exponential spread of COVID-19."

"According to Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Robert Kadlec at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), thousands of lives could have been saved if the White House had approved the distribution of over six million masks that were prepared for delivery in late February," the report notes.

Dr. Redlener does not mince words.

"Americans have a bad case of pandemic fatigue. We want to get back to some semblance of normalcy, but we never did what we had to do to achieve that state," Redlener told The Beast. "We've delayed the return of normalcy and fallen into this web of dishonesty and opposing science that was concocted by the president."

Redlener adds, "this incredibly anti-science administration has caused an enormous tragedy in America."

Watch: QAnon true believers let loose with their ridiculous theories to a CNN reporter

CNN reporter Donie O'Sullivan shed light on the disturbing QAnon movement hijacking the name of a respected humanitarian charity in order to spread disturbing, baseless conspiracies about Hollywood celebrities and prominent Democratic leaders, including presidential nominee Joe Biden and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Last week, O'Sullivan opted for a firsthand experience when he attended two QAnon events that recently took place —a protest in Los Angeles, Calif., and an indoor event that was held inside a conference room at a Scottsdale, Ariz., resort. On Tuesday morning, a clip of O'Sullivan's interviews aired on CNN. Despite having no evidence to support their claims, the QAnon supporters offered bizarre remarks about the non-existent pedophilia ring they believe Democratic leaders are involved in.

In reality, QAnon is a right-wing fiction that carries on the legacy of many darkly conspiratorial view over the years. It began with internet postings by someone known as Q dubiously claiming to be a Trump administration insider, but it has ballooned far beyond those origins. It has roots in anti-Semitic bigotry and accusations of blood libel, and it feeds off distrust in the media and mainstream sources, a skepticism that Republicans have been stoking for decades.

Apparently, QAnon followers are hijacking the "Save the Children" movement because they fully believe Democrats are using children for a pedophilia ring. O'Sullivan spoke with an individual who explained the moment as he admitted that most QAnon followers believe almost every high-ranking Democrat is a pedophile or supports pedophilia in some way.

Although President Donald Trump made countless promises to his supporters when he campaigned in 2016, QAnon followers are refusing to believe many of his promises were merely verbal commitments just to secure his presidency. In addition to the pedophilia claims, QAnon believes have also come up with a theory to justify Trump's failure to deliver on his campaign promises.

In the video clip, one QAnon believer baselessly claimed Trump could not lock up Clinton or remove all of the immigrants residing in the United States because the government is secretly controlled by the "deep state." However, the truth is that Trump's investigation into Clinton fell short and he never had the power to remove all immigrants.

Many of the QAnon protesters at the Los Angeles rally also expressed frustration with those who oppose their views as they insisted no one wants to "save the children." But, despite their uproar and outcry, the movement has faced heightened criticism because there is absolutely no evidence to back their conspiracies. The latest news comes just days after Trump was asked about QAnon during his NBC town hall with moderator Savannah Guthrie.

At the time, Trump insisted he knew very little about the conspiracy but also refused to condemn their theories. Despite QAnon believing children need to be "saved" from some pedophilia ring orchestrated by Democrats, the Save the Children charity is in no way connected to QAnon and its dangerous impact which serves as merely a distraction from real child protection organizations fighting for true causes.

Democrats may 'never win another national election': SCOTUS mail-in voting ruling raises alarm

Adivided Supreme Court rejected a Pennsylvania Republican effort to curtail mail-in voting, but experts say the Democratic victory may be short-lived — and confirming Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett would be a "disaster for Democrats."

With Chief Justice John Roberts joining the court's three liberals, the court split 4-4 to reject a request from Pennsylvania Republicans to block an order from the state's Supreme Court allowing mail-in ballots to be counted if they are received within three days of Election Day — even if they do not have a clear postmark. The tie left the state decision in place, which Democratic lawyers hailed as "great news for voting rights."

The four conservative justices, who would have blocked the state court ruling, did not issue a dissenting opinion to explain their votes.

"The unfathomable thing about the four justices siding [with] PA Republicans tonight: they would've stripped a state supreme court of the authority to say what the law is in their own state," Bard College Professor Steven Mazie wrote on Twitter. "That's way beyond right field. It's judicial activism on steroids."

If the conservatives had prevailed, the decision "would create legal chaos over a wide range of issues," attorney Max Kennerly added.

Some Supreme Court reporters called the split "really scary" and "terrifying." If Barrett is confirmed next week as expected, the court's conservatives could potentially upend the election.

"Tonight four conservative Supreme Court justices indicated their support for a radical, anti-democratic theory that would stop state Supreme Courts from enforcing state election laws to protect the franchise," Slate's Mark Joseph Stern wrote. "And Barrett could soon give them a fifth vote . . . The 2020 election may be in her hands."

Though the court allowed the state order to stand, "that victory may only last a matter of days," Vox's Ian Millhiser reported. "Indeed, the GOP may be able to raise this issue again after Barrett is confirmed, potentially securing a court order requiring states like Pennsylvania to toss out an unknown number of ballots that arrive after Election Day. If the election is close, that could be enough to change the result."

Some legal experts said it was possible, but unlikely, that the court would take the same case up again.

"It's possible that Republicans can renew their application if and when Judge Barrett is confirmed, in the hopes that she'd side with them," Steve Vladeck, a law professor at the University of Texas, wrote. "That said, that close to the election, it's hard to imagine that all four of tonight's dissenters would want to upset the status quo."

Even if the case does not return to the high court, Barrett could be the deciding vote in numerous other challenges brought by Republicans or President Donald Trump's campaign in Pennsylvania and other states, according to Rick Hasen, a professor at the University of California Irvine School of Law.

In the meantime, the Supreme Court's split decision leaves many questions unanswered only14 days before the election.

"We have no guidance from the court as to when and whether a state Supreme Court can rely on a state Constitution when it expands or changes state voting rules in a presidential election," Hasen wrote. "Even though Democrats opposed the stay sought by Republicans in the case, they begged the court to fully take the case and give an explanation as to the scope of state court power in this case. This lack of guidance could be a huge problem in the two battleground states — North Carolina and Pennsylvania — with Democratic state Supreme Courts and Republican legislatures who could battle over any post-election voting rules."

Trump has repeatedly said he wants Barrett on the court in time for the election, because it "will end up in the Supreme Court." He declared that he was "counting on them to look at the ballots" at the first presidential debate.

And other Republicans have echoed the president's rhetoric. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who opposed Merrick Garland's nomination months ahead of the 2016 election, has argued that it is imperative to confirm Barrett before the election. Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who likewise opposed Garland, also argued that it was necessary to speed through the confirmation, because "the court will decide" litigation about "who won the election."

Barrett, who has not ruled on any election-related cases on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, demurred when asked during her confirmation hearings if she would recuse herself from cases that could determine the outcome of the presidential election despite precedent possibly requiring her to do so.

"I commit to you to fully and faithfully applying the law of recusal, and part of the law is to consider any appearance questions," Barrett told Sen. Pat Leahy, D-Vt. "And I will apply the factors that other justices have before me in determining whether the circumstances require my recusal or not. But I can't offer a legal conclusion right now about the outcome of the decision I would reach."

All of this potentially makes Monday's ruling a disaster "for anyone who cares about democracy," Millhiser wrote.

"If Democrats win this election, and they don't pack the Supreme Court," he added, "they could very well never win a national election again."

BRAND NEW STORIES
alternet logo

Tough Times

Demand honest news. Help support AlterNet and our mission to keep you informed during this crisis.