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Here's the evidence that suggests the White House knew of Trump's illness before debate — but deliberately hid it

Even after rattling off various positive measures of Donald Trump's health in various press conferences, White House physician Dr. Sean Conley has been adamant about not answering one of the most vital questions facing those exposed to Trump in recent days: When was the last time testing showed Trump was not carrying the pandemic virus that would send him to the hospital only a day after the White House admitted he was sick?

That's important, because it would allow those who came into contact with Trump during last Tuesday's presidential debate to know whether they spent 90 minutes in an enclosed space with a COVID-19 carrier shouting at them for most of that time—one of the precise scenarios that experts warn is most likely to result in pandemic spread.

It's also important because all evidence so far points to the White House knowing of Trump's illness at least as of Monday, before the debate. And it's important because the pattern of infections coming out of the White House do not appear to correlate with people who attended the Rose Garden celebration the previous weekend. They appear to more closely correlate with people known to have spent significant amounts of time in proximity to Donald Trump himself.

On Monday, we were treated to a rare sight at the White House: An outdoor press briefing in which Trump spoke at a podium alone, while all other speakers at the pandemic-related briefing used a podium set up on a separate platform well-distanced from Trump's own.

Tuesday's debate featured another unusual sight: Melania Trump alone, among the Trump family, followed debate venue rules and kept her mask on during the full event—only removing it when approaching Donald at his podium for the usual post-debate family visuals. But the Trump family arrived at the debate venue too late to be given COVID-19 tests at the venue, debate moderator Chris Wallace said afterward. "There was an honor system when it came to people that came into the hall from the two campaigns."

There are reasons to believe the White House is lying about the outbreak timeline, and it is absolutely certain that they are hiding key elements of that timeline, as White House doctor Conley did yet again on Monday. The first known illnesses from the White House outbreak are, for the most part, those immediately surrounding Trump himself.

• White House adviser Hope Hicks and assistant Nicholas Luna

• First lady Melania Trump

• Trump's debate prep team member Chris Christie and Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien

• White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany and two assistant press secretaries

But what of the multiple Rose Garden guests who tested positive after the Saturday celebration held for Amy Coney Barrett, including Sen. Thom Tillis, Sen. Mike Lee, pastor Greg Laurie, Notre Dame president John Jenkins, and Kellyanne Conway?

All of them were seen in close proximity to Trump in the Diplomatic Room of the White House, during an indoors reception for Barrett that featured a much smaller group of people. Infections during the Rose Garden event were not, as far as we know, spread evenly throughout the outside crowd. They have appeared predominantly among the most important guests, the ones allowed to sit and the first few rows—and who were invited inside for a more personal meet-and-greet hosted by Trump.

The evidence, then, is that Trump himself may have been the source of infection for most of the COVID-19 cases in his orbit. Whether he was or wasn't, the outbreak was in full swing as of Saturday, during the Diplomatic Room event.

The White House, however, is flatly refusing to tell the public, the Biden campaign, the debate staff and others Trump met with when Trump, who is allegedly as president tested daily or near-daily, was last known to be free of the virus. They either don't know—because they haven't been doing the testing—or they're hiding it because they have a reason to hide it. The White House has also announced that it will not be doing contact tracing of Rose Garden guests, nor will they allow the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention to launch that effort itself.

They are quite insistent on not finding out either the true extent of the White House outbreak, or revealing its origins.

It's reasonable to question whether the White House knew Trump was infected, or suspected it, at least as of Monday, when Trump's press event was set up to have the unusual dual-podium arrangement. It's reasonable to question whether the Trump campaign avoided testing at the venue not out of lateness, but because they did not want testing to be done. It's not just reasonable to assume Trump, a malevolent narcissist, would willingly expose others to his illness for momentary gain: It's proven, both from Trump's pointless but self-celebrating joyride around Walter Reed, unnecessarily putting Secret Service agents in an airtight container with him at the likely height of his own contagiousness, and his immediate removal of his mask upon returning to the White House.

There are very good reasons to suspect that the White House knew or believed Trump to be infected with COVID-19 before the debate with Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden took place, and that the White House covered up his infection to allow the debate to go forward. It is possible that, had Trump not become so physically ill two days afterward as to require public acknowledgement, then hospitalization, the White House intended to hide Trump's infection from the public completely.

This would be unconscionable behavior by itself, but exposing a rival presidential candidate to a deadly disease on purpose brings it past unconscionable and into the realm of the unthinkable. But here we are.

This is not an idle, fringe supposition. Senate Democratic leaders are themselves demanding that the White House explain their secrecy around Trump's initial diagnosis, accusing the White House (correctly) of "deliberately" hiding this information. The press is focusing in on this question as well. It is entirely within the realm of possibility that this White House would cover up a presidential illness even if it caused the possible death of others, and even if it exposed Trump's immediate campaign rival to the same disease. On the contrary, it is the most plausible theory we have as to why the White House is refusing to clarify the timeline of Trump's illness.

White House physician Dr. Sean Conley is explicitly hiding this information—and endangering lives. This is not tenable. If the press cannot scrape an answer from him, Vice President Biden's Secret Service detail might need to go question him directly.

Murkowski faces Trumpian GOP primary challenge from the far right — putting McConnell at odds with other Republicans

In the minds of Trumpistas, conservative Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska committed an unpardonable sin when, earlier this year, she voted "guilty" during former President Donald Trump's impeachment trial for "incitement to insurrection." Trump devotees are hoping to unseat Murkowski via a 2022 GOP senatorial primary, and Republican challenger Kelly Tshibaka is campaigning on an overtly Trumpian platform — slamming Murkowski for failing for honor Trump,

CNN reporters Manu Raju and Alex Rogers explain, "Nearly a dozen years after overcoming a Tea Party-inspired challenge from the right, Murkowski again is facing a Republican seeking to claim the mantle as the most aggressive version of today's GOP — or in this case, the Trumpiest. Republican Kelly Tshibaka, a former Alaska Department of Administration commissioner, has offered herself as a vessel for the supporters of the former president, who won the state twice, as she lambasts Murkowski for her penchant for deal-cutting and breaking with Trump."

Raju and Rogers, in an article published by CNN's website on April 19, describe the Murkowski/Tshibaka competition as "the first proxy battle between Trump, whose top political advisers have joined Tshibaka's campaign, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is backing the nearly 20-year incumbent." And they note that the Alaska GOP senatorial primary puts Republican senators and the National Republican Senatorial Committee "in an awkward position as they remain divided about the former president's role in the party" and "try to unify ahead of the 2022 midterms with control of Congress at stake."

In an interview with CNN, Tshibaka promoted the false claim that there was widespread voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election — in contrast to Murkowski, who acknowledged Joe Biden as the legitimate president-elect after the 2020 election.

Tshibaka told CNN, "We don't know the outcome of the 2020 election. In the 2020 election, there were questions raised in several states, and we're not allowed to look into the questions of those allegations to see what actually happened. I still have questions, and I think millions of other Americans do too."

In fact, now-President Biden defeated Trump by more than 7 million in the popular vote, and cybersecurity experts for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security have stressed that the election was undeniably secure. Even former Attorney General Bill Barr, a Trump loyalist, said he saw no evidence of the type of widespread voter fraud that Trump alleged.

Raju and Rogers note, "There was no evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 election, which President Joe Biden won resoundingly with 306 electoral votes to Trump's 232. And Trump and his allies' many lawsuits contesting the election were roundly rejected in court, including before conservative judges and the U.S. Supreme Court. But Tshibaka's willingness to cast doubt over the legitimacy of the election illustrates how those eager to win over the former president must adopt his baseless claims."

Voting to impeach Trump was not the first time Murkowski infuriated Trumpistas, who were disappointed when — along with Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and the late Sen. John McCain of Arizona — she voted against repealing the Affordable Care Act of 2010, a.k.a. Obamacare. Trump loyalists have never forgiven Murkowski for helping Obamacare to survive or for voting against the confirmation of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh in 2018.

Murkowski has not officially announced that she will seek reelection in 2022, but she filed a statement of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission on March 9. And Tshibaka is obviously looking forward to taking on Murkowski in the primary.

Murkowski told CNN, "We'll see how much is invested in the sense of time and energy and resources by those that think that I should have been a more loyal Trump supporter."

Josh Hawley's latest attempt to rebrand himself is a sad 'joke': columnist

In his column for the Daily Beast, longtime political observer David Lurie took Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) to task for trying to reshape his image from staunch business-friendly conservative to a trust-busting man-of the-people by taking on Major League Baseball for pulling the 2021 All-Star Game out of Georgia.

Hawley, whose rising political star plummeted when he tried to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election -- and was compounded when he expressed support for the Jan 6th Capitol rioters -- jumped into the Georgia fray by joining with equally controversial Sen Ted Cruz (R-TX) with plans to introduce legislation to strip Major League Baseball of its anti-trust exemption.

According to Lurie -- under the headline "Josh Hawley Attempting To Be Teddy Roosevelt is Stupid and Sad" -- Hawley is trying to remake himself as a modern-day Teddy Roosevelt and the only thing they have in common is their racism.

Explaining, "Roosevelt, a Republican, was the nation's first progressive president. He used the Sherman Antitrust Act to break up railroad and other monopolies as part of his Square Deal, which had three major prongs: conserving the nation's natural resources, protecting consumers and workers, and bringing plutocratic corporate interests to heel," Lurie noted Hawley's motives are cynical at best.

"Hawley's concern with the MLB has nothing to do with promoting market competition. Rather, Hawley wants to punish the big leagues because they are trying to promote civil rights," he accused. "According to Hawley, who has never been heard objecting to large corporations funneling money into his own campaign coffers, it is 'egregious' that MLB chose to move the All-Star Game to Colorado after Republicans in Georgia pushed through a law transparently intended to suppress Democratic and minority voter turnout."

Calling Hawley move -- likely to flop -- a "sham," the columnist flayed him and stated he and his proposed legislation are a "joke."

"Hawley's trust-busting rhetoric is a joke, and should be treated as such. It is directed at serving his ideological agenda, not making markets more competitive or fair to consumers, as Teddy Roosevelt sought to do.," he wrote before concluding, "Hawley purports to offer hope to those who have been left behind economically, but his rhetoric of standing on the side of workers and the downtrodden is directly at odds with the policies he advocates. Instead of offering opportunity or real hope to people facing hardship in a changing world, Hawley offers only resentment and prejudice toward other Americans."

You can read more here (subscription required).

Noam Chomsky tells Mehdi Hasan why he thinks the GOP is the ‘most dangerous organization in human history’

Although many progressives were disappointed that the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination didn't go to Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont or Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, they rallied around now-President Joe Biden when he received the nomination — arguing that having a centrist Democrat in the White House would certainly be preferable to four more years of Donald Trump. Two people on the left who had strong reservations about Biden but endorsed him anyway were author Noam Chomsky and firebrand pundit Mehdi Hasan, now with MSNBC. But when Chomsky appeared on Hasan's MSNBC show on April 18, the author told Hasan how pleasantly "surprised" he has been by Biden's presidency in terms of domestic policy.

The 92-year-old Chomsky told Hasan, "On the domestic front, I am surprised. It's better than I expected. In fact, quite reasonable, particularly considering the nature of the opposition."

The author added, however, "On foreign policy, it's pretty dangerous. (There is) a lot to be desired."

Despite his criticism of Biden from a foreign policy standpoint, Chomsky vehemently disagrees with people on the left who argue that Republicans and Democrats are equally bad. Chomsky has been highly critical of the Democratic Party over the years, but he considers them to be by far the lesser of two evils in 2021.

Hasan asked Chomsky why he considers the modern GOP "the most dangerous organization in human history" — to which the Philadelphia native, born in 1928, responded, "They're the only organization in human history that is dedicated, with passion, to ensuring that human survival, survival of organized human society, will be impossible. That's exactly their program since 2009, when they shifted to a denialist position under the impact of the Koch Brothers juggernaut."

By "denialist," Chomsky was referring specifically to climate change, telling Hasan that climate change denial has grown worse and worse in the GOP. At least Democrats, Chomsky has been stressing, have enough common sense to realize that climate change is a perilous reality.

'Pot calling the kettle violent': CNN host throws Cruz's own words in his face after GOP senator feigns outrage over Maxine Waters

With the defense having rested in former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin's murder trial, Rep. Maxine Waters of California was asked how "justice for George Floyd" activists will response if Chauvin is found not guilty. And the congresswoman called for a vocal response if that happens, saying, "We've got to get more confrontational. We've got to let them know that we mean business." Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas was among the far-right Republicans who claimed that Waters was advocating violence — and CNN's John Berman called Cruz out and reminded viewers of the ways in which the Texas senator's false claims of widespread voter fraud encouraged the January 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol Building.

On CNN's "New Day," host Berman explained, "She didn't say what type of confrontation. Still, this is not the language that business owners in Minneapolis want to hear or that people calling for calm, including the president or the family of George Floyd (want to hear)."

But he went on to explain why Cruz is the last person who should be accusing a congresswoman of overly incendiary rhetoric.

Berman told viewers, "House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy called it incitement of violence and said he will take action if Speaker Nancy Pelosi does not. But this is how Ted Cruz chose to respond in a tweet: 'Democrats actively encouraging riots and violence, they want to tear us apart.' That's Ted Cruz of the not accepting the election results before or after the insurrection Cruzes, which might lead one to wonder if this a case of the pot calling the kettle violent."

The "New Day" host went on to show a clip of former President Donald Trump giving his "Stop the Steal" speech on January 6 hours before a violent mob attacked the U.S. Capitol Building as well as clips of Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani using inflammatory rhetoric while promoting bogus election fraud claims. Giuliani said, "Let's have trial by combat" — and Berman pointed out that Cruz had no problem with that rhetoric.

"So, I don't recall the Republicans-encouraging-violence tweet from Ted Cruz after that," Berman told viewers before airing an inflammatory "Stop the Steal" speech from Cruz.

Berman said, "It's not like this guy is some peaceful prophet of gentility. This is the man who wants to do unspeakable things to books that say mean things about him, asking his supporters to vote on whether we machine-gun John Boehner's book, take a chainsaw to it or burn the book and light cigars. Where does that rank on the they-are-tearing-us-apart meter?"

Watch the video below:

CNN / Ted Cruz www.youtube.com

Professor of religious studies: Here's the problem with calls to 'deprogram' QAnon followers

Paul Thomas, Radford University

Recent calls to deprogram QAnon conspiracy followers are steeped in discredited notions about brainwashing. As popularly imagined, brainwashing is a coercive procedure that programs new long-term personality changes. Deprogramming, also coercive, is thought to undo brainwashing.

As a professor of religious studies who has written and taught about alternative religious movements, I believe such deprogramming conversations do little to help us understand why people adopt QAnon beliefs. A deprogramming discourse fails to understand religious recruitment and conversion and excuses those spreading QAnon beliefs from accountability.

A brief brainwashing history

Deprogramming, a method thought to reverse extreme psychological manipulation, can't be understood apart from the concept of brainwashing.

The modern concept of brainwashing has its origin in Chinese experiments with American prisoners of war during the Korean War. Coercive physical and psychological methods were employed in an attempt to plant Communist beliefs in the minds of American POWs. To determine whether brainwashing was possible, the CIA then launched its own secret mind-control program in the 1950s called MK-ULTRA.

By the late 1950s researchers were already casting doubt on brainwashing theory. The anti-American behavior of captured Americans was best explained by temporary compliance owing to torture. This is akin to false confessions made under extreme duress.

Still, books like “The Manchurian Candidate," released in 1959, and “A Clockwork Orange," released in 1962 – both of which were turned into movies and heavily featured themes of brainwashing – reinforced the concept in popular culture. To this day, the language of brainwashing and deprogramming is applied to groups holding controversial beliefs – from fundamentalist Mormons to passionate Trump supporters.

In the 1970s and 1980s, brainwashing was used to explain why people would join new religious movements like Jim Jones' Peoples Temple or the Unification Church.

Seeking guardianship of adult children in these groups, parents cited the belief that members were brainwashed to justify court-ordered conservatorship. With guardianship orders in hand, they sought help from cult deprogrammers like Ted Patrick. Deprogrammers were notorious for kidnapping, isolating and harassing adults in an effort to reverse perceived cult brainwashing.

For a time, U.S. courts accepted brainwashing testimony despite the pseudo-scientific nature of the theory. It turns out that research on coercive conversion failed to support brainwashing theory. Several professional organizations, including the American Psychological Association, have filed legal briefs against brainwashing testimony. Others argued that deprogramming practices violated civil rights.

In 1995 the coercive deprogramming method was litigated again in Scott vs. Ross. The jury awarded the plaintiff nearly US$5 million in total damages. This bankrupted the co-defending Cult Awareness Network, a popular resource at the time for those seeking deprogramming services.

'Exit counseling'

Given this tarnished history, coercive deprogramming evolved into “exit counseling." Unlike deprogramming, exit counseling is voluntary and resembles an intervention or talk therapy.

One of the most visible self-styled exit counselors is former deprogrammer Rick Alan Ross, the executive director of the Cult Education Institute and defendant in Scott v. Ross. Through frequent media appearances, people including Ross and Steve Hassan, founder of the Freedom of Mind Resource Center, continue to contribute to the mind-control and deprogramming discourse in popular culture.

These “cult-recovery experts," some of whom were involved with the old deprogramming model, are now being used for QAnon deprogramming advice.

Some, like Ross advocate for a more aggressive intervention approach. Others, like Hassan, offer a gentler approach that includes active listening. Cult specialist Pat Ryan says he only recommends intervention after a thorough assessment in conjunction with a mental health professional.

Choice vs. coercion

Despite the pivot to exit counseling, the language of deprogramming persists. The concept of deprogramming rests on the idea that people do not choose alternative beliefs. Instead, beliefs that are deemed too deviant for mainstream culture are thought to result from coercive manipulation by nefarious entities like cult leaders. When people call for QAnon believers to be deprogrammed, they are implicitly denying that followers exercised choice in accepting QAnon beliefs.

This denies the personal agency and free will of those who became QAnon enthusiasts, and shifts the focus to the programmer. It can also relieve followers of responsibility for perpetuating QAnon beliefs.

As I suggested in an earlier article, and as evident in the QAnon influence on the Jan. 6, 2021, capital insurrection, QAnon beliefs can be dangerous. I believe those who adopt and perpetuate these beliefs ought to be held responsible for the consequences.

[Get the best of The Conversation, every weekend. Sign up for our weekly newsletter.]

This isn't to say that people are not subject to social influence. However, social influence is a far cry from the systematic, mind-swiping, coercive, robotic imagery conjured up by brainwashing.

Admittedly, what we choose to believe is constrained by the types of influences we face. Those restraints emerge from our social and economic circumstances. In the age of social media, we are also constrained by algorithms that influence the media we consume. Further examination of these issues in relation to the development of QAnon would prove fruitful.

But applying a brainwashing and deprogramming discourse limits our potential to understand the grievances of the QAnon community. To suggest “they were temporarily out of their minds" relieves followers of the conspiracy of responsibility and shelters the rest of society from grappling with uncomfortable social realities.

To understand the QAnon phenomenon, I believe analysts must dig deeply into the social, economic and political factors that influence the adoption of QAnon beliefs.

Editor's note: This article was amended on April 15 to clarify Pat Ryan's approach to interventionThe Conversation

Paul Thomas, Chair and Professor of Religious Studies, Radford University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

The federal government will now give PPP loans to borrowers in bankruptcy

ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for The Big Story newsletter to receive stories like this one in your inbox.

Series: The Pandemic Economy

Fiscal Responses to COVID-19

The federal government has quietly reversed course on a policy that had kept thousands of businesses from applying for pandemic economic aid, with only weeks to go before funds are expected to run out.

In late March, ProPublica reported on a Small Business Administration rule that disqualified individuals or businesses currently in bankruptcy from getting relief through the Paycheck Protection Program, an $813 billion pot of funds distributed to small businesses in the form of loans that are forgiven if the money is mostly spent on payroll. The agency had battled in court against several bankrupt companies attempting to apply for PPP loans, and did not change course even after Congress explicitly passed legislation in December allowing it to do so.

Referencing ProPublica's story, the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys wrote a letter to newly installed SBA Administrator Isabella Guzman urging her to follow Congress' suggestion and tell the Executive Office for U.S. Trustees — a division of the Justice Department that oversees most American bankruptcy courts — to allow debtors to receive PPP loans.

The agency has not yet contacted the Justice Department. But on April 6, the SBA released new guidance as part of its frequently asked questions for the program, redefining what it means to be “presently involved in any bankruptcy." Under the new interpretation, debtors who filed under Chapter 11, 12 and 13 — which cover businesses, family farms and individual consumers, respectively — are eligible for PPP loans once a judge has approved their reorganization plan. A spokesperson for the SBA said the explanation had been added for “clarity."

A reorganization plan specifies the debtor's path to paying off obligations to creditors, and is monitored by a trustee. In simple cases, a judge can confirm it within a few months of filing. This is what often happens in consumer Chapter 13 cases, about 279,000 of which were filed in 2019, as well as in relatively straightforward Chapter 11 cases that don't require extensive litigation. About 5,500 companies filed for Chapter 11 in 2019.

The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts doesn't track how many of those companies have confirmed reorganization plans in place, but it's estimated to be in the thousands. Now, companies on the road out of bankruptcy — which usually takes years to complete — can apply for PPP loans before the program's May 31 deadline. With $50 billion left after several extensions, PPP funds are likely to run out before then.

Ed Boltz, a bankruptcy attorney on NACBA's board who circulated the organization's letter, said he believes the SBA changed its position after becoming “aware of the foolishness of the prior administration's position."

The change would not have helped all the companies that sued the SBA over its policy. Florida-based Gateway Radiology Consultants, for example, didn't have a confirmed reorganization plan before it applied for a PPP loan last year, prompting a lawsuit. But the bankruptcy lawyer in that case, Joel Aresty, said plenty of his current clients could benefit.

“If they were lucky enough to already be confirmed, they could freely qualify for a PPP loan — the fact that you were in bankruptcy is no longer a deterrent," Aresty said. “It's amazing how difficult they made such a simple proposition, really."

The new definition may now help Mark Shriner, a coffee shop owner in Lincoln, Nebraska, who filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy in 2018 following a divorce. His plan was confirmed the same year. The SBA's exclusion of debtors from the PPP originally prevented him from applying, forcing him to take on higher-interest loans to keep his doors open.

His cafe likely would have qualified for up to $25,000, and Shriner said he could have used some of the money to improve his online ordering or devise a takeout-friendly menu. Even now, he said, getting PPP money would help him plan for the future and bring back more staff.

Informed of the change last week, Shriner sent an application to his bank, which said it would hear back from the SBA within a couple weeks.

“Wow," Shriner said. “That would be great."

'Impeach and remove Maxine Waters': New York Post condemns Democrat as violent. What about the police?

Far-right commentators tried to rebrand calls to action as quests for violence on Sunday following statements from both CNN host Chris Cuomo and Rep. Maxine Waters about the need for police reform. Days before closing arguments are set to begin on Monday in the murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, Cuomo said Friday on his show "Cuomo Prime Time: "Shootings, gun laws, access to weapons. Oh, I know when they'll change. Your kids start getting killed, white people's kids start getting killed."

The anchor said only then will white parents start asking: "'What is going on with these police? Maybe we shouldn't even have police.'"

Cuomo made the statements on the fifth night of protests following the death of 20-year-old Daunte Wright, who former Brooklyn Center police officer Kim Potter shot and killed allegedly when she reached for a Taser but grabbed a gun instead. Wright was killed some 10 miles away from the courthouse where Chauvin's trial is being held. Waters, of California, joined protesters demanding justice and change on Saturday night in Minnesota. "We've got to stay in the street, and we've got to demand justice," she told the crowd. Demonstrators protested well into the early morning on Sunday despite a curfew in effect from 11 p.m. Saturday until 6 a.m. Sunday.

"We've got to get more active," Waters said. "We've got to get more confrontational. We've got to make sure that they know that we mean business." With those words, supporters of former President Donald Trump, journalists included, seemed to have a field day.


"Democrats actively encouraging riots & violence. They want to tear us apart," Sen. Ted Cruz tweeted. Rep. Lauren Boebert added: "Why is Maxine Waters traveling to a different state trying to incite a riot? What good can come from this?" Political commentator Tim Pool asked in a tweet on Sunday: "More confrontational than burning down buildings?"

One social media user @MVP28_ responded: "Nah, more confrontational than storming the Capitol building and killing a police officer." Another who goes by Sean Fisher tweeted: "Question: do you think it's confrontational for police to murder unarmed citizens?" He didn't get an answer from Pool or the other Trump apologists making similar claims, more notably among them the New York Post's editorial board. The journalists interpreted Waters' interview as "trying to create a Civil War," and they described her words as "irresponsible rhetoric" in an article with the headline 'Impeach and remove Maxine Waters.'

"In supporting the second impeachment of President Trump, California Democrat Rep. Maxine Waters said he was 'inciting' his followers, and was 'trying to create a Civil War.' By her own standards, Maxine Waters should be impeached and removed," the Post's editorial staffers wrote. I find it curious to say the least that no such outrage is expressed regarding the actual details of George Floyd's death, but "rioting, looting, graffiti" is outright condemned by the Post. The entire editorial board actually seems to value the integrity of walls more than a Black man's life.

Chauvin kneeled on Floyd for more than nine minutes while the Black father called for his mother and repeatedly said he couldn't breathe. The cop is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter, and he spoke live for the first time in court on Thursday to invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. "This is guilty for murder," Waters said. "I don't know whether it's in the first-degree, but as far as I'm concerned, it's first-degree murder." The congresswoman said she would like to see a police reform bill passed in Congress but "the right wing, the racists are opposed to it."

Black men and women have been shot down and killed by police for decades, and Republicans are condemning a legislator who called out the atrocities and an anchor who pointed out their hypocrisy. "See, now (if) Black people start getting all guns, forming militias, 'protect themselves. You can't trust deep state,'" Cuomo said, describing the exact behaviors of Trump supporters. "Whoo who, you'll see a wave of change in access and accountability. We saw it in the 60s. That's when it changes cuz that's when it's you."

WARNING: This video contains video clips that may be triggering to some readers.

CNN's Chris Cuomo talks police reform www.youtube.com

It's a point similar to one activist Tamika Mallory made in the days immediately following Floyd's death on May 25, 2020. "Don't talk to us about looting," she said in a simply inspired speech. "Y'all are the looters. America has looted Black people. America looted the Native Americans when they first came here. So looting is what you do. We learned it from you. We learned violence from you. We learned violence from you.

"The violence was what we learned from you. So if you want us to do better, than damnit you do better."

Oath Keepers leader reveals militia are being trained by police in '60 Minutes' interview

In an interview with "60 Minutes" Sunday evening, Oath Keepers leader Jim Arroyo revealed that active-duty law enforcement is part of their movement and helping with militia training.

"Our guys are very experienced. We have active-duty law enforcement in our organization that are helping to train us. We can blend in with our law enforcement," he said.

Javed Ali, Towsley Policymaker in Residence at the Gerald Ford School of Public Policy, formerly served as a former NSC senior director and was a counterterrorism official at the FBI under the Trump administration. Speaking to CBS News, he explained that the Oath Keepers is "unique."

"Beyond the fact that they are a formal group with chapters all over the country, is that a large percentage have tactical training and operational experience in either the military or law enforcement," the domestic terrorism expert said. "That at least gives them a capability that a lot of other people in this far-right space don't have."

In August 2020, Michael German is a former FBI special agent who penned several reports on U.S. law enforcement failing to control the right-wing terrorists in their ranks. According to his findings, law enforcement officials are increasingly tied to racist militant activities in more than a dozen states since 2000. Updated research has revealed things are much worse.

His report explained that over the years, police had grown increasingly linked to militias and white supremacist groups in Alabama, California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia.

As Americans are growing increasingly concerned about police brutality and police shootings of unarmed people of color, the conversation about the white supremacists flocking to law enforcement are an even greater concern.

PBS reported in 2016 that ten years prior, the FBI warned of the problem. Since then, little has changed.

In Feb. the New Yorker reported on associate professor Vida B. Johnson, at Georgetown Law, who "authored a paper in 2019 that included a list of more than a hundred police departments in forty-nine states that have faced scandals over racist texts, e-mails, or public social-media posts by officers just since 2009. Johnson proposes that, if police officers have a history of racist speech or behavior, or are known to belong to hate groups, this information should, in cases that involve the testimony of those officers, be disclosed to the defense, under the Brady doctrine, which requires prosecutors to share information that might be exculpatory or show witness bias. The credibility of a known racist cop can, in some cases, be attacked on those grounds, as O. J. Simpson's defense team memorably showed."

Given police and sheriff's departments are governed largely by state, county and local communities, implementing national standards would likely be seen as a federal overreach. So, it leaves it up to local entities to police their police.

See the segment on "60 Minutes" below:


The Oath Keepers militia group's path to breaching the Capitol www.youtube.com

Scientists calculated how many T. Rexes lived on Earth — here's how

The Tyrannosaurus rex is perhaps the most iconic of all the dinosaurs, immortalized in film, children's toys and silly Halloween costumes. Its name translates into "king of the tyrant lizards," and its fearsome profile makes it clear why: T. Rex had a massive head, powerful jaws, razor-sharp teeth and a whip-like tail. (Although its puny arms are a comic contrast to the rest of its visage.) The T. Rex is believed to have been one of the largest land carnivores of all time, more than 40 feet long and 12 feet tall at the hips.

But like many extinct animals, it is hard to know just how much of a threat the T. Rex was during its reign. (Notably, for years there was debate over whether T. Rex was a predator or scavenger, though recently the scientific consensus tilts towards predator.) Were they as common as rabbits, or highly dispersed predators like snow leopards?

A group of scientists led by University of California Museum of Paleontology director Charles R. Marshall set out to answer just that. They believe they can now roughly estimate how many T. Rexes roamed the planet.

Their estimate is roughly 2.5 billion specimens that roamed Earth collectively during their existence, which lasted a few million years. (They would likely have lived more generations if not for the extinction event likely caused by either a meteor or comet 66 million years ago.)

The researchers, who published their findings in Science Magazine, estimate that the abundances of T. Rexes at any given period was roughly 20,000 individuals, and that they lived for roughly 127,000 generations. To put that in context with today's predator populations, that 20,000 number is comparable to today's African lion population, which conservationists estimate at 25,000.

The scientists arrived at their estimate using a wide range of data. For one thing, they took into account a principle known as Damuth's Law, which holds that species with larger body sizes will usually have lower average population densities. Because this formula includes individuals in a species that had not reached their maximum size, the scientists used an estimate for "postjuvenile individuals" — the T. Rex equivalent of an angsty teenager. (Now there is a sobering thought.) Once they had that information, they multiplied it by the estimated geographic area where paleontologists believe the monstrous beasts once roamed. They then incorporated what we know about when the T. Rex lived, although the scientists acknowledge that this figure is particularly unclear "because of the poor temporal control on most T. rex fossil localities and because there is a substantial dinosaur preservational gap below the oldest T. rex fossils."

Since experts believe based on fossil evidence that they lived for anywhere from 1.2 million years to 3.6 million years, the team settled on the mean figure of 2.4 million years. From there, they plugged in other numbers until they eventually arrived at their estimates.

Despite their short reign over the planet — one regrettably cut short by the Cretaceous-Triassic Boundary Extinction Event — the fact that another bipedal predator would perform a census of them 66 million years later speaks to their cultural immortality.

Public health expert explains how to heal America after Trump's COVID disaster

Joe Biden has only been president for three months. In that short time his administration has made remarkable strides in the fight against the COVID pandemic and the economic and social devastation it has caused to the United States and the American people. The Trump regime's approach to the pandemic was one of incompetence, negligence, sabotage, lies, conspiracy theories, cruel indifference and outright democide, all filtered through political sadism and authoritarianism. By comparison, the Biden administration has responded to the plague with science, reason, expertise and genuine care and concern for the well-being of the country and its people.

Unfortunately, Biden's leadership does not change the fact that more than 550,000 Americans are now dead from the coronavirus pandemic — and that many or most of those deaths did not need to occur. Even as this season of death begins to wind down — or so we hope — it has revealed the nation's character in ways both spectacular and grotesque.

Americans often overlook or forget that the U.S. is part of a global community. Pandemics do not respect borders in an interconnected global economy and culture. The nativism and racism of Trumpism and his "America First" cadre did little if anything to protect America and the world from the coronavirus plague. Such regressive values and beliefs made the pandemic worse, in fact, by hindering America's willingness to cooperate with its allies and international partners to defeat the disease.

The Republican Party and the contemporary conservative movement frequently claim to be "pro-life." During the pandemic they have once again revealed their true nature as a death cult, where at almost every key moment Trump and other Republican leaders, as well as their followers, made decisions that caused more death, suffering and calamity from the coronavirus pandemic and its fallout across society.

American society is profoundly unequal in terms of race, class and gender. The coronavirus pandemic further revealed and exacerbated these fissures and divides, and has also accelerated the power and growth of the surveillance society and the corporate oligarchy.

Many of the worst traits of American society, including racism, nativism, gun culture, conspiratorial thinking, anti-intellectualism, irrationality, narcissism, hyper-individualism and other anti-social ideas and behaviors have also been made worse by the Age of Trump and the pandemic. These divides have become increasingly political and ideological as Trumpists, Jim Crow Republicans, and other members of the right wing have transformed basic questions of public health and the common good into battlefields for white identity politics and a culture-war struggle between "freedom" and "political correctness."

To be fair, the pandemic has highlighted some of the American people's strengths as well. Despite threats of right-wing terrorist violence, the attempt by Trump and his supporters to nullify the election, and the illness and death from the coronavirus pandemic, many tens of millions of Americans voted to defend America's multiracial democracy in the 2020 election. The risks were especially great for Black and brown people, who — as at many other key points in America's history — organized, voted and stood up against white supremacy at the polls and other areas of public life to save democracy for all people.

In their self-sacrifice, risk-taking, generosity of spirit, civic responsibility and true patriotism, many Americans expanded their circle of community, friends and family to help others survive the coronavirus pandemic and all the pain and suffering it has caused.

But where do we go from here? To explore that question, I recently spoke with Gregg Gonsalves, a leading expert on public health, social inequality and health outcomes. He is co-director of the Global Health Justice Partnership and assistant professor of epidemiology (specializing in microbial diseases) at the Yale School of Public Health. Gonsalves is also a leading HIV/AIDS activist, having worked for more than 30 years with such organizations as the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, the Treatment Action Group, Gay Men's Health Crisis and the AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa.

In this conversation, Gonsalves reflects on the vast harm caused by the pandemic and the Age of Trump, and how it will require a broad approach to healing American society. He explains how full recovery from the coronavirus pandemic will require a national reckoning and steps towards substantive justice that should include a truth and reconciliation committee.

Gonsalves also warns that the coronavirus pandemic has caused intergenerational trauma and pain in terms of health, the economy, social capital and in other ways which will impact the United States and its people for decades to come.

Toward the end of this conversation, Gonsalves shares his hopeful vision of a more progressive American future, in which the Biden administration may be able to sustain the momentum and public support gained from its forceful efforts to defeat the coronavirus pandemic.

More than 550,000 Americans are dead from the coronavirus pandemic, and the real number is likely much higher. It appears that there will be no accountability for this disaster. The whole situation is enraging. How are you handling your emotions? What do we do with our collective anger and pain?

There are several elements at play here. This year, 2021, is quite different from last year. There are vaccines. Trump is no longer president. Last year I was a ball of anger, and rightly so. Every time I would think that I was overreacting to the situation I would realize that perhaps I was not reacting enough — and that the amount of rage the American people were feeling should have been greater. If so, many more lives could have been saved from the pandemic. To be fair, many people did the right thing and stayed at home at various points during the pandemic. It could have been a lot worse. However, we can look around the world and see how many other countries such as New Zealand and Australia did much better in terms of stomping down on the virus and putting systems in place to buffer the pain and suffering caused by the pandemic and efforts to stop it.

In retrospect it was not only Donald Trump, and it was not just Bolsonaro in Brazil. There are many countries that did not do what was best to stop the pandemic. There is so much anger, grief and sadness. The pandemic has caused a cataclysm of enormous proportions. More than half a million people have lost their lives so far to the pandemic here in the United States. What does it mean to go through a generational calamity like that? Few Americans have any experience with such a thing.

What does accountability look like? I believe that there should be a truth and reconciliation commission. There should be public hearings about the decisions made by the Trump regime, about the pandemic and other matters. How do we as a country and society move forward properly if there is no accountability?

We do need accountability. This is beyond putting people in the hot seat and bringing people to justice. If we cannot have an honest and transparent reckoning of what happened last year and what's happening now with the pandemic, then there is no way we will be able to conduct a proper diagnosis which will reveal how to stop another pandemic disaster such as the one we as a society experienced last year.

Yes, we need a truth and reconciliation commission, which is the best way to go about this business so that it does not turn into some sort of witch hunt. The commission needs to be independent. There is a strong pressure to just move on from these events. The pressure is political and personal. People are just tired. People do not want to hear any more about how this all came to be, with Trump and the events last year. But we cannot just sweep it all under the carpet. A truth and reconciliation commission is not intended to drag people out into the public square for a flogging. It is to have an accounting and itemization of all the ways we went wrong, so as to figure out how to keep it from happening again.

If such a commission were ever convened, what are two questions you would contribute?

We need an independent inquiry on the Trump administration's response to COVID-19 because the policies embraced by the former president resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans since the pandemic began. However, it's the manner in which these policies were accomplished, silencing scientists, suppressing the data or manipulating it, spreading misinformation, interfering in the work of agencies, which all needs to be documented in detail. How did it happen? How did our systems of governance and accountability fail so terribly, to allow the entire U.S. government to be put in service of policies that led to so many deaths?

The Trump regime and its allies and enablers were engaged in acts of structural violence against the American people, in terms of the pandemic and other ways. See the abandonment of Puerto Rico after the hurricane and a general disregard for the lives of Americans who did not vote for Trump and the Republicans. But there are many Americans who because of their class background or skin color or other forms of privilege cannot even conceptualize the very idea of structural violence and state-sponsored violence being committed by Trump and his regime against the American people.

It is slightly worse than what you are describing. Of course, for people who have experienced structural violence, whether they are people of color or they are queer and trans people, those who are living with disabilities and other groups, they understand the dynamic.

There are in fact plenty of white people who have experienced structural violence, but they do not acknowledge or conceptualize it in those terms. The art of the con is distraction. In so many ways racism has been used to divert and distract people by focusing their pain on other groups. As Jonathan Metzl explains in his most recent book "Dying of Whiteness", there are plenty of people who are dying of whiteness and they don't even know it.

How will the trauma of the pandemic impact future generations?

There was recent research which shows that for everybody who dies from COVID-19, there are half a dozen or more people who are in that direct network of grief. Take 500,000 or more people here in the U.S. who have died from the pandemic and multiply that out by five, six, seven, eight, nine or more people. These are the people in the direct circle of grief, such as mothers and fathers, sisters, daughters, grandparents, etc. Extend it out another circle to people who were best friends or long-term co-workers, and you have a cascading effect of grief and trauma that is going to impact people for a long time. The pandemic and its effects have ripped apart the social fabric in so many ways. It is going to take a lot to stitch that back together.

America's infrastructure impacts the country's social fabric as well. Contrary to what many Republicans and other members of the white right would like to believe, racism and other forms of social inequality are in fact baked into the infrastructure of the United States. This is shown through disparate health impacts from the pandemic across different groups and communities.

Pete Buttigieg recently discussed how racism is built into American highways. Of course it is. Urban renewal, the American highway system, figures such as Robert Moses and others destroyed communities of color. If you read the interchange between Buttigieg and his critics, and you consider Robert Moses, it's clear that he set up the parkways on Long Island to keep African Americans away from the suburbs and beaches and parks. But more importantly, this root shock of displacement and urban renewal fractures families and communities, and makes them vulnerable to many diseases, both psychological and physical. There are many ways in which social policy presents serious complications for health and well-being.

New research shows that Black children are more likely to lose a parent or other primary caregiver from the pandemic, compared to white children. In terms of stress and trauma how is that going to impact future generations?

We do not need to discuss epigenetics in order to understand how a person's situation at present can have long-lasting effects on one's genes. Children who face trauma pass things down through culture. The opportunities that kids have today are dependent on the wealth of their parents before them, for instance. Inheritances in their many forms are passed along, for good or for bad, across generations. This is the story of intergenerational social mobility and life chances.

What does all the anxiety, distrust and fear around the COVID vaccines reveal about American society?

Last year was epic in terms of the mistrust and misinformation that was spawned across the United States. It does not matter which side of the political aisle one is on, there was this feeling that someone was deceiving and tricking you. It could be Trump or Pelosi, depending on one's political values and beliefs. There was a huge campaign of disinformation from Trump's White House. We saw this with "fake news," for example. And now we're in 2021, and there is skepticism about the vaccines and many people do not know what to believe. These are people who are otherwise sensible in many other aspects of their lives, but are very nervous about what it means to put a vaccine into their bodies, given all the mixed messaging. We need to build a culture of trust. Unfortunately, we have had the opposite of that over the past four years.

During this season of death, I have been thinking a great deal about the landmark documentary about AIDS and HIV, "The Band Played On." In the near future, what do you think artists will focus on and reveal about the coronavirus plague?

These cataclysms have a tendency to capture artists' imaginations. The artists are going to start to tell us what they saw. We are going to see a mirror up to ourselves about what this all meant.

What would sewing back together America's social fabric look like, as a practical matter? What would you focus on repairing?

This is a task that will take a generation or more to accomplish. The legacy of white supremacy in the U.S. has a 400-year history, which has had a strong influence on how our health care and social welfare systems have been set up in the 20th and 21st centuries. Writers like Jim Downs, in his "Sick From Freedom: African American Sickness and Suffering during the Civil War and Reconstruction," and the New York Times' Jeneen Interlandi in her essay for the 1619 Project, "Why doesn't the United States have universal health care? The answer has everything to do with race," point to the ways in which universalizing care in the U.S. has been impossible because the exclusion of African Americans from these programs has been the not-so-secret motivation of many in power, and that is still true in the U.S. today.

Furthermore, since the 1980s we have been told that the market would provide, and in the words of Ronald Reagan, "the nine most terrifying words in the English language are, 'I"m from the government and I'm here to help.'" That is, the state has no role in our lives, particularly in the realm of care, which is to be purchased or given away by charitable organizations. Democrats like Bill Clinton did us no favors by yoking the Democratic Party to this kind of thinking in his own pledge to end welfare as we know it, with his welfare reform bill that in the long run reduced the incomes of the poor and expanded extreme poverty in the U.S. The U.S. spends more on health care than our peer nations around the world, yet has worse health outcomes. Betsy Bradley at Vassar has suggested that some of this has to do with the weak nature of our social protections in the U.S., in that we cannot address the social determinants of health with a paltry welfare state. Unless we confront this legacy of Reaganism and its Clintonian appeasement, we will never even catch up to our peer nations, because we'll never make the investments necessary to get there.

What would justice look like for the 550,000-plus dead from this disaster? For their families and communities?

This is a critical question. Many are dead because of the policies the Trump administration pursued. Tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands. What is justice in this context? There is clearly no appetite for holding President Trump accountable. Two attempts at impeachment resulted in acquittal in the Senate, and it's unlikely that he will ever be held accountable for what he did to fuel the fires of the pandemic in the U.S. This is why a truth and reconciliation approach is vital — we need to know what happened in detail, and perhaps the best way to do that is to tell people to come forward to tell us what they did, without fear of retribution. Believe me, I am so angry about what happened over the past year or so. But I am more interested in knowing how it all happened, how it was allowed to happen. I want it to all come out into the open — the lies, the misinformation, the bullying, the corruption and graft — for all to see, to know who didn't simply remain silent but actively assisted in pushing these policies along.

Given the myriad forces at work in this moment, one that feels truly transformative both in terms of possibilities for positive change and also great right-wing backlash and destruction, what do you see as opportunities for transformation in American society?

I came into 2021 with the idea that we were getting a middle-of-the-road, Clintonian Obama restoration. Instead, we have a president in the form of Joe Biden who wanted a $2 trillion COVID relief bill. Now he wants another multi-trillion-dollar bill for infrastructure and other issues. Biden is articulating a progressive vision that was probably last seen with President Johnson. We are witnessing what is potentially a generational shift by the oldest president in American history, where the United States could finally leave the Reagan era behind. But we must be aware of how incredibly powerful the reactionary forces are.

I'm more hopeful than ever over the past few months. I'm ready to fight for this more progressive vision being offered by Biden. We should all be ready to fight for it, because as a society we cannot go back to where we were last year, or anything like it.

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