Alex Henderson

Biden has been welcomed by Pope Francis — but shunned by right-wing US Catholics: report

President Joe Biden, a devout Catholic, has been welcomed by Pope Francis. But reporter Kathryn Joyce, in an article published by Mother Jones on November 26, stresses that while Biden is on friendly terms with the Pope, some right-wing bishops in the United States remain openly hostile to him.

“Once Biden won, many right-wing Catholics shifted their focus and became players in various efforts to overturn the election results,” Joyce explains. “One Texas bishop, Joseph Strickland, refused to acknowledge Biden as the president-elect and addressed a December rally in Washington, D.C., that was widely seen as a precursor to the violence on January 6. Another bishop tweeted a call for all Christians to pray ‘in conjunction with the filing of election-related documents at the Supreme Court.’”

Joyce continues, “More esoterically, beginning in November, a Colorado priest in Denver led a months-long series of prayers to ‘bind’ evil spirits that were attempting to steal the election. And on January 6, another priest traveled from Nebraska to perform an exorcism on the U.S. Capitol after watching YouTube videos from a popular Catholic Right author who charged that a demonic spirit was trying to ‘dissolve’ the United States and remake it into something new.”

One of the major factors in this anti-Biden animosity among some Catholics is the abortion issue. Biden has made it clear that he opposes overturning Roe v. Wade. Nonetheless, Biden’s history on abortion could be described as “pro-choice but anti-abortion.” Biden, essentially, has echoed President Bill Clinton’s declaration that abortion should be “safe, legal and rare.”

READ: Far-right Michigan Republican known for anti-vaxxer views hospitalized with COVID-19

Anti-vaxxers are pushing unscientific and 'potentially dangerous' ways to de-vaccinate' Americans: report

While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved COVID-19 vaccine booster shots for U.S.-based adults of all ages, anti-vaxxers continue to spread lies and misinformation about the effectiveness of vaccines. And some of those anti-vaxxers, according to Business Insider’s Tom Porter, are promoting fake and dangerous ways for people who have received COVID-19 vaccines and now regret it to “de-vaccinate themselves.”

Americans who have already been fully vaccinated for COVID-19 and received the Moderna or Pfizer booster shots are getting them because they want more protection from COVID-19, not less. Anti-vaxxers, however, are making the false claim that vaccines are harmful and that their “cures” can counter those harmful effects. But as Porter points out, it is physically impossible to “de-vaccinate” someone who has already received a COVID-19 vaccine.

Porter explains, “It is impossible to undo vaccination, a process which works by teaching the body to fight infection itself, and which doesn't rely on substances that can be isolated or removed. But with millions of people now vaccinated against COVID-19, some anti-vaccination advocates are pivoting to a new narrative aimed at those who took vaccines and regret it. They claim it is indeed possible to ‘de-vaccinate’ people, recommending a host of methods which range from quaint to potentially dangerous.”

Porter notes how wacky some of the fake “cures” for COVID-19 vaccines are.

READ: Far-right Michigan Republican known for anti-vaxxer views hospitalized with COVID-19

The reporter observes, “In a video hosted on Bitchute, a platform known for its extremist content, a man applies electrodes, a strong magnet and ‘55% Montana whiskey’ in the hope of removing a COVID-19 vaccine from a US military veteran. In another, a gory variant of the ‘cupping’ technique to draw blood from an injection site, a man makes extra incisions with a razor to extract a significant amount…. Neither method had any hope of working.”

But as nutty and totally unscientific as these COVID-19 vaccine “cures” are, Porter reports, the “de-vaccination movement” has been “spreading in Telegram groups with thousands of members, as well as other fringe platforms used by extremists.”

According to Porter, “Advocates have also established a presence on mainstream platforms that purport to restrict such activity, such as Facebook and TikTok, experts told Insider. In response to Insider flagging their presence, Facebook removed a de-vaccination group and several pages from its site for violating its COVID misinformation policies.”

READ: Aaron Rodgers denies having COVID toe after claiming to have had it

Ilhan Omar fact-checks 'buffoon' Lauren Boebert — and calls her out for promoting 'anti-Muslim bigotry'

Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado, a far-right MAGA Republican and conspiracy theorist with pro-QAnon views, hasn’t been shy about promoting Islamophobia — especially when it comes to progressive Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota. And Omar is calling her out, slamming Boebert as both a “bigot” and a “buffoon.”

Boebert has been describing Omar, who is a Muslim and a native of Somalia, as a member of Congress’ “Jihad Squad.” And during a speech in Colorado on Thanksgiving, the QAnon ally told a crowd of supporters that when she recently shared an elevator with Omar inside the U.S. Capitol Building, she told a staffer, ‘Well, she doesn’t have a backpack; we should be fine.’”

Boebert also claimed that inside the Capitol, she told a staffer, “Oh look, the Jihad Squad decided show up for work today.’”

But Boebert’s elevator anecdote, according to Omar, is fiction.

READ: Far-right Michigan Republican known for anti-vaxxer views hospitalized with COVID-19

On Thanksgiving, Omar tweeted:

The Guardian’s Hugo Lowell also had a hard time believing Boebert, tweeting:

Rev. Chuck Currie, a Protestant minister, called Boebert out as well on Twitter:

Of course, Omar is far from a jihadist. The Minnesota congresswoman holds decidedly feminist views, which are incompatible with far-right jihadist groups like al-Qaeda, ISIS (Islamic State, Iraq and Syria) and Boko Haram. But on the other hand, former Boebert aide Sherronna Bishop has praised the violent, far-right Proud Boys as an example of “everything that makes America great.”

READ: Aaron Rodgers denies having COVID toe after claiming to have had it

Anthony Fauci breaks down why a new COVID-19 variant is 'raising some concern'

Medical experts have been fearing that a new COVID-19 variant would emerge that is even more infectious than the Delta variant, and a new mutation that has emerged in South Africa has some doctors expressing concerns. One of them is 80-year-old expert immunologist Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Joe Biden’s top White House medical adviser. Fauci discussed this new South African variant, which is called B.1.1.529, during a Friday, November 26 appearance on CNN’s “New Day.”

Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told “New Day” host Brianna Keilar that the variant “has some mutations that are raising some concern, particularly with regard to possible transmissibility increase and possible evasion of immune response.”

Fauci added, “We don’t know that for sure right now. This is really something that’s in motion…. It is something that has emerged in South Africa and seems to be spreading in a reasonably rapid rate.”

Keilar asked Fauci if it is “possible” that the South African variant is “already in the U.S.,” and he responded, “You know, of course, anything is possible. We don’t know that. There’s no indication that is right now.”

READ: Far-right Michigan Republican known for anti-vaxxer views hospitalized with COVID-19

Fauci added that there have been cases of people who were infected with the South African variant in South Africa and traveled to Botswana or Hong Kong.

The immunologist also noted that medical experts in the U.S. are presently discussing B.1.1.529 with medical experts in South Africa.

“We are in very active communication with our South African colleague scientists,” Fauci told Keilar.

Keilar asked Fauci to address concerns that the B.1.1.529 mutation of COVID-19 could “evade immunity” with “the vaccines that we have.”

READ: Aaron Rodgers denies having COVID toe after claiming to have had it

Fauci responded, “That’s what we’re going to be looking out. When you look at a mutation, it can give you a hint or a prediction that it might evade the immune response…. Right now, we’re getting the material together with our South African colleagues.”

Kyle Rittenhouse says he wants to avoid politics — but has no problem talking to Donald Trump and Tucker Carlson

Following his acquittal on homicide and attempted homicide charges, teenage vigilante Kyle Rittenhouse insisted he has no desire to become more involved in politics. But in an article published by Vanity Fair on November 24, journalist Eric Lutz stresses that for someone who wants to keep his political involvement to a bare minimum, the 18-year-old Rittenhouse certainly isn’t shy about talking to prominent MAGA Republicans — including former President Donald Trump and Fox News’ Tucker Carlson.

Rittenhouse has received nonstop praise from the MAGA far right for his actions in August 2020, when the Illinois resident traveled to a racial justice protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin armed with an AR-15-style weapon. Rittenhouse, who was 17 at the time, shot three pro-Black Lives Matter protesters (two of them fatally). During his trial, Rittenhouse maintained that he acted in self-defense — and the jury returned a “not guilty” verdict on all charges.

Interviewed by television journalist Ashleigh Banfield for NewsNation on November 24, Rittenhouse insisted that he does not “want to get involved in politics at all” and that his trial was about self-defense and “not where you fall, left or right.”

Rittenhouse told Banfield, “I’m not a cause person. I’m just a person who was attacked and defended myself.”

READ: Far-right Michigan Republican known for anti-vaxxer views hospitalized with COVID-19

Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, Rep. Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina, Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona and Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado are among the far-right MAGA Republicans who have offered Rittenhouse internships. So far, he hasn’t accepted any of them.

Lutz, however, writes, “But while he may not be accepting any of those internship offers from Matt Gaetz and other right-wing lawmakers trying to out-crazy one another, Rittenhouse hasn’t actually divorced himself from the politics of his case. Before he spoke with Banfield, he sat down for a fawning interview with Tucker Carlson, who had a film crew embedded with Rittenhouse and his defense during the trial for an upcoming documentary on Fox Nation. And, after talking to Carlson, he and his mother went down to Mar-a-Lago to visit Donald Trump, who posed for one of his traditional thumbs-up photos with the smiling teen.”

After Rittenhouse’s visit to Mar-a-Lago in South Florida, Trump described Rittenhouse as a “fan” and said, “Just left Mar-a-Lago a little while ago…. He never should have been put through that. That was prosecutorial misconduct, and it’s happening all over the United States right now with the Democrats.”

Lutz wraps up his article by expressing skepticism about Rittenhouse’s desire to limit his involvement with politics.

READ: How Pennsylvania’s Democratic attorney general fought back against Trump’s bogus election lawsuits — and won at least 40 times: report

“He has seemingly tried to have it both ways — to accept the donations that have poured in as the right rallies around him and to accept Carlson’s offer to ‘memorialize’ his story, while at the same time insisting that there’s really nothing political about this, and if there is, it’s because of all those other people,” the Vanity Fair journalist writes. “This is, of course, a luxury — to decide what is and isn’t politics. It’s one that Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber — the men Rittenhouse killed — don’t have.”

How Pennsylvania’s Democratic attorney general fought back against Trump’s bogus election lawsuits — and won at least 40 times: report

In Pennsylvania, supporters of former President Donald Trump filed one bogus lawsuit after another following the 2020 election. None of them were successful, however, and Josh Shapiro — the Democrat who serves as Pennsylvania attorney general under Gov. Tom Wolf — aggressively fought back against Trump's election lies. Shapiro, according to the Daily Beast, prevailed in at least 40 Republican lawsuits. And Shapiro discussed his success with journalist Molly Jong-Fast during an appearance on the Beast's "The New Abnormal" podcast.

Shapiro told Jong-Fast, "When the former president began talking about how vote by mail was not OK and that the Democrats were going to try and steal the election — all of his greatest hits — I immediately put together a team in my office made up of lawyers from both our criminal division and our civil division."

The Pennsylvania attorney general told Jong-Fast that he expected the worst from Trump and his allies and asked himself, "How could we deal with the inevitable legal challenges that would come after the election, trying to deny people's votes from being counted? I predicted that would happen; unfortunately, I was right. We faced 19 lawsuits before a single vote was cast in Pennsylvania; we won every single one of them. Then, we had a free and fair, safe and secure election on Election Day. And then, we faced over 20 more lawsuits to try and make it harder for people's votes to be counted — and we won every single one of those."

Shapiro added, "But Understand, Molly, they didn't stop there. And that's why our democracy is still a central issue here in Pennsylvania and across the country. They continued with the Big Lie."

Pennsylvania is among the five battleground states that went to Trump in 2016's presidential election but was flipped by Biden four years later in 2020; the others were Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona and Georgia.

Two of the important elections that will be taking place in the Keystone State in 2022 are its gubernatorial race and a U.S. Senate race. Wolf, a two-term governor, is term-limited — and it remains to be seen who the Democratic and Republican nominees will be.

Primary battles are also taking place in Pennsylvania's 2022 U.S. Senate race. Sen. Pat Toomey, a hard-right Republican, is not seeking reelection, and the MAGA crowd hates Toomey for voting "guilty" in Trump's second impeachment trial.

On "The New Abnormal," Shapiro stressed the importance of Pennsylvania's 2022 gubernatorial election — telling Jong-Fast, "Democracy is on the ballot right now here in Pennsylvania and indeed across the country. And that is something that is motivating me. It is motivating the people I see when I'm traveling across the commonwealth. And I think it will be a central theme in this campaign."

Why plaintiffs may have a hard time collecting $26 million in damages from racist Unite the Right organizers: report

On Tuesday, November 23, a jury in Virginia found that a group of White nationalists and White supremacists who organized the infamous Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville in August 2017 were guilty of a conspiracy — and the plaintiffs were awarded $26 million in damages. But reporting from the Associated Press stresses that collecting the money may be challenging, as some of the Unite the Right organizers are broke.

According to AP, "Whether they will be able to collect a significant chunk of that money remains to be seen. Many of the defendants are in prison, in hiding or have dropped out of the White nationalist movement. At least three of the far-right extremist groups named as defendants have dissolved. And most of the defendants claim they will never have the money needed to pay off the judgments against them."

One of those defendants is Matthew Heimbach, who co-founded a neo-Nazi group called the Traditionalist Worker Party with Matthew Parrott, another defendant in the case. AP reports that Heimbach "said he is a single father to two young sons, works at a factory and lives paycheck to paycheck." And White nationalist Richard Spencer, before the trial in the case, told a judge that the lawsuit has been "financially crippling" for him.

AP notes, "Even with the many obstacles to collecting the full $26 million judgment, there are ways to secure at least some of it. Typically, plaintiffs' lawyers will seek court orders to seize assets, garnish wages and place liens on property owned by defendants."

Attorney James Kolenich, who has represented three of the defendants in the lawsuit, told AP, "I don't think any of them could afford to pay out of pocket these damages. We are going to do what we can to cut this down to size."

But Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism at California State University, San Bernadino, believes that plaintiffs may be able to collect at least some of the money because there are so many defendants in the lawsuit. In other words, payments here and there could add up.

Levin told AP, "The thing that's different about this case is you have a wide array of defendants. Some of them are currently locked up or destitute, but they might have assets, (insurance) policies or real estate that could be recoverable."

Far-right Michigan Republican known for anti-vaxxer views hospitalized with COVID-19

Time and time again, far-right MAGA Republicans have railed against COVID-19 vaccines, mask mandates and social distancing measures and downplayed the pandemic's severity — only to be hospitalized with the potentially deadly coronavirus. A recent example is William Hartmann, former vice-chairman of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers in Michigan. The Detroit Metro Times is reporting that Hartmann, known for his anti-vaxxer views, is in intensive care after being infected with COVID-19.

The Metro Times' Steve Neavling, on November 24, reported, "William Hartmann, former vice-chairman of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers, has been on a ventilator since about November 6, according to his sister Elizabeth Hartmann. Two sources confirmed to Metro Times that Hartmann has been in intensive care since early November. The status of his health is unclear."

William Hartmann has repeatedly attacked Democratic vaccination campaigns from Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and President Joe Biden. Whitmer held a lottery to encourage vaccinations in her state, and on July 30, Hartmann visited Facebook and wrote, "If the ouchie is so great, why do they have to offer bribes?"

The MAGA Republican was engaging in coronavirus denial as far back as February 2020. In a Facebook February 27, 2020 Facebook post, William Hartmann wrote, "I was at the Doctor's the other day, yes again, and we were talking about the CoronaVirus. I asked if I should be concerned. He said it's just a virus like any other virus, nothing to be concerned about. So why all the hullabaloo in the media about it. He thinks it's all about the money. Follow the money. Lots of corporations and people are making a ton of money off this thing. Like always wash your hands if you go out. Just be health conscious."

The virus that William Hartmann described as "nothing to be concerned about" has, according to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, killed more than 5.1 million people worldwide and over 775,000 people in the United States.

In addition to his anti-vaxxer and anti-masker views, William Hartmann has been a promoter of the Big Lie — the false, totally debunked conspiracy theory that Donald Trump really won the 2020 presidential election but was robbed of a victory because of widespread voter fraud. Hartmann, in November 2020, initially voted against certifying the presidential election results in Wayne County, but later agreed to certify them.

At this point, the majority of people being hospitalized with COVID-19 in Michigan are unvaccinated. Neavling noted that Hartmann has "criticized the vaccine and compared government COVID-19 efforts to Nazi Germany."

The Metro Times reporter wrote, "Hartmann's hospitalization is just the latest cautionary tale in a country where the virus and vaccine have become politicized and scientific research is often dismissed."

How racism failed the defense miserably in the trial of Ahmaud Arbery’s killers

When the three men facing murder charges in connection with the killing of Ahmaud Arbery were on trial in Georgia, their defense team resorted to overt racism in the hope of getting an acquittal. But even though there was only one Black person on the jury, it didn't work; a predominantly White jury in the Deep South delivered "guilty" verdicts for all three men. And in analysis for CNN's website, Nicole Chavez and Brandon Tensley stress that in the Arbery case, racism failed miserably for the defense team.

"Ahmaud Arbery was the victim," Chavez and Tensley explain. "But for weeks, he was painted as a brute and a thug in the trial of the three White men who killed him. This tactic isn't new, but rather, the latest example in a long history of court cases that criminalize and dehumanize Black victims."

Chavez and Tensley point out that although racism didn't work for the defense team in this case, it often worked for defense teams in the past when the aggressors were White and the victims were Black.

"Emmett Till. Jordan Davis. Trayvon Martin. Botham Jean. George Floyd — all of them Black, all of them victims, just as Arbery was," Chavez and Tensley note. "Arbery's family can now feel a sense of justice after Gregory McMichael, Travis McMichael and William 'Roddie' Bryan, Jr. were convicted on Wednesday, but that outcome is a rare exception to the rule."

Chavez and Tensley point out that the defense team resorted to racism countless times during the trial, from describing Arbery as having "dirty toenails" to claiming that African-American pastors who attended the trial were there to be intimidating.

"Fear was another racist dog whistle used by defense attorneys, who highlighted the worries prompted by a string of unreported crimes in the neighborhood," Chavez and Tensley observe. "Travis McMichael testified that on the night of February 11, 2020 — nearly two weeks before Arbery's shooting — he saw someone 'creeping through the shadows' in the neighborhood."

But in this case, racism couldn't prevent a conviction for White defendants.

"Nearly ten years after (Trayvon) Martin's death," Chavez and Tensley write, "civil rights activists and protesters secured some solace from Wednesday's verdict in the Arbery death trial case."

Here's why America’s ‘exhausted majority’ is feeling worn out and mentally overwhelmed

In an article published by Mother Jones on Thanksgiving 2021, journalist Monika Bauerlein describes Americans as feeling mentally "exhausted" because of all the bad news on top of bad news that they are being inundated with. And media outlets, Bauerlein stresses, are creating that climate of exhaustion because it is good for business.

Bauerlein, in her Mother Jones article, writes, "Are you part of the exhausted majority?.… So many people are tired of feeling like everything is a disaster, everything is at risk, and we'll never be done fighting with unvaccinated relatives over who gets to come to Thanksgiving. And tired, too, of the news. I'm a journalist who lives and breathes news, and I get tired. So many headlines that want to get your attention. So much to worry about. Democrats in disarray, inflation, the climate — it's all at 11, all the time."

Bauerlein acknowledges that "there are a lot of crises out there," but she is quick to add that the world has always had crises. The difference in 2021, she argues, is media outlets have a financial stake in promoting "outrage."

"This is obviously not the only time of crisis the world, or America, has ever been through," the journalist explains. "It is, however, the only one in which we have lived in a 24/7 media ecosystem that depends for a significant part of its business on instant reaction and instant outrage. If you've been reading Mother Jones for a little while, you know about the basic problem: Advertising revenue for publishers and broadcasters depends in large part on both quantity — clicks, eyeballs, video views — and engagement: how long you stick around, whether you share, whether you comment. And all of those metrics are juiced when content tugs at your emotions, especially fear and outrage."

Bauerlein continues, "That can take the form of sensational headlines about simple news stories, or it can take the form of opinionated hot takes. Even for newsrooms that depend less on advertising than subscriptions, as the New York Times and the Washington Post do, quick-turnaround opinion content is key in getting people to subscribe. That's why you're seeing these prestige outlets add more and more columnists and associated newsletters."

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