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Postal Service patriots help lead the resistance

September 29, 2020 in Blogs

By Daily Kos

When Postmaster General Louis DeJoy came on the job this summer and ordered that postal carriers break their single most critical directive enshrined in their unofficial motto—”Every piece, every day”—the resistance took shape. Mechanics slow-walked removal of sorting machines. Supervisors made surreptitious trips to deliver mail left behind in distribution centers. Carriers made sure prescription and checks and bills weren’t left behind. They used every available excuse for a late return to their buildings to cover for spending disallowed overtime to make sure their rounds were completed.

The Washington Post talked to a more than a dozen postal workers and union leaders from around the country about their quiet campaign to subvert DeJoy, and their awareness of exactly what was happening to them. “I can’t see any postal worker not bending those rules” from DeJoy, one worker in Philadelphia told the Post. They could see what was happening, knowing that DeJoy was a Trump fundraiser. A worker in Michigan watched as public mailboxes were removed mostly from racially diverse working-class neighborhoods. That, said the postal worker—who is Black—reinforces a message: “It’s kind of like everything else. It wasn’t built for us.” The same worker said that the common knowledge that DeJoy was a Trump donor and fundraiser made it feel as though the Postal Service had become an organ of the Republican Party. “Taken together, Trump’s repeated attacks on mail-in voting, his connection with DeJoy, and DeJoy’s operational changes look too conspicuous to be coincidental, the carrier said.”

The Pennsylvania worker reiterated that, and added that the June primary there—in the pandemic—gave a frightening window into this fall. The worker said that “we had a lot of issues. There were people at the plant that weren’t coming in or were sick. We were seeing delays with that. So now we’re looking at this [general election] and going, ‘Oh, jeez, this is not going to be good.’ The stakes definitely feel higher, especially given what this election really means.” What it really means could be the very survival of the Postal Service, along with everything else good.

The mechanic in New York who copped to slowing down the demolition of sorting machines told the Post: “It’s disheartening to hear from my boss that he wants me to do something that could very potentially cripple the system.” He added: “It’s disheartening to hear that people think we’re going …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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How St. Augustine Became the First European Settlement in America

September 29, 2020 in History

By Patrick J. Kiger

St. Augustine, Florida was settled by Spanish explorers long before Jamestown and the Plymouth Colony.

Even before, an account of the expedition by Menéndez’s brother-in-law, Gonzalo Solís de Merás.

“He went up to the fort, by ship, where he discovered that the French had a very large fleet,” Arbesú explains. “So he retreated to a place that he had discovered the week before and had called St. Augustine, and waited for the French to attack.”

Menéndez and his men were badly outnumbered and pretty much defenseless. But then nature dealt Menéndez a lucky break.

“The French fleet appears and is prepared to crush the Spaniards, when at that exact moment, a large storm or hurricane blows the French fleet to the south and sinks them, saving the Spaniards from disaster,” Arbesú explains.

Instead of being slaughtered, “all that Pedro Menéndez had to do in the next couple of days was to walk up to Fort Caroline, which now had very few soldiers inside, and conquer it without even shedding a drop of Spaniards’ blood,” says. Arbesú.

“It appears the enemy did not perceive their approach until the very moment of the attack, as it was very early in the morning and had rained in torrents,” Francisco López de Mendoza Grajales, the expedition’s chaplain, later wrote. “The greater part of the soldiers of the fort were still in bed. Some arose in their shirts, and others, quite naked, begged for quarters, but, in spite of that, more than one hundred and forty were killed.”

The chaplain praised Menéndez for “the ardent desire which he has to serve our Lord in destroying the Lutheran heretics, the enemies of our holy Catholic religion.”

Matanzas Inlet Named for Slaughter

Spanish explorer Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, 1519 – 1574.

When Menéndez got back to his encampment at St. Augustine, local Indians told him about seeing white men walking on the beach south of St. Augustine. “Pedro Menéndez realizes that these are the Frenchmen who had been blown away in the storm,” Arbesú explains.

Menéndez rushed to the location and found some shipwreck survivors, who had lost their weapons and food in the storm, according to an National Park Service account. Mendoza, the chaplain, asked for permission to offer the Frenchman a chance to survive if they converted to Catholicism. Sixteen of them accepted, and the other 111 were killed.

Two weeks later, French commander Jean Ribault and his surviving men …read more

Source: HISTORY

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‘The View’ hosts corner Ted Cruz over lame attempt to blame Democrats for COVID-19 deaths

September 28, 2020 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson

Under President Donald Trump’s leadership, the United States has the highest COVID-19 death count in the world — and states with Republican governors, including Florida and Texas, had some of the worst coronavirus surges over the summer. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas tried to defend the GOP response to the COVID-19 pandemic during a Monday, September 28 appearance on ABC’s “The View” — and it didn’t go well for the GOP senator.

Grilling Cruz forcefully, liberal co-host Joy Behar noted that Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis “recently lifted all restrictions on businesses, allowing bars and restaurants to operate at full capacity without a mask mandate. He said they won’t be closing anything going forward.” Behar asked Cruz if Texas should do the same thing, and he responded by trying to blame Democrats for coronavirus deaths — especially New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Cruz claimed that the death rates have been “much, much lower” in Florida than in states with Democratic governors, failing to mention how quickly Cuomo enacted a stay-at-home policy.

Behar, however, reminded Cruz that New York was “hit early” by the pandemic. And when Cruz wouldn’t say anything about DeSantis’ policies, Behar told the senator, “You are deflecting, sir. You are deflecting the question.”

Whoopi Goldberg, another co-host, jumped in, reminding Cruz how disastrous Trump’s response to the pandemic has been at the federal level.

“Had the man who is running the country right now given us this information in January when he had it — when we could have maybe done something a little differently — it might have worked differently,” Goldberg told Cruz. “I just wanted to point that out. It’s not about whose people died more. People died, and they didn’t have to.”

Watch the video below:


Idiot Ted Cruz – YouTube

www.youtube.com

…read more

Source: ALTERNET

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DeJoy and Trump lose a third time in federal court as Postal Service works to undo sabotage

September 28, 2020 in Blogs

By Joan McCarter

For the third time in a matter of weeks, a federal court has warned that the sabotage at the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) at the hands of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy is politically motivated and aimed at crippling the USPS’ work in helping secure a free and fair election. U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan of Washington, D.C., ordered DeJoy to halt implementing the changes that have resulted in mail delivery delays nationwide. His is the third such ruling. A fourth case was heard last week in Pennsylvania.

At this point, DeJoy is enjoined from continuing his “trucks on time” delivery restrictions that have upended the system, leaving mail behind for days and sometimes weeks and resulting in empty trucks leaving distribution centers when they couldn’t be loaded according to schedule. He has been ordered to stop removing mail sorting machines and collection boxes now by three courts, and by all accounts has halted these operational changes. This is as clear a demonstration of why the independent courts are so vital to the nation as you’re going to get, because every judge who has intervened has called out the blatant politicization of the institution by Trump and DeJoy. “It is clearly in the public interest to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, to ensure safe alternatives to in-person voting, and to require that the USPS comply with the law,” Sullivan wrote.

That follows a ruling in New York last week in which a federal judge blasted DeJoy, Postal Service leadership, and Donald Trump. “They have not provided trusted assurance and comfort that citizens will be able to cast ballots with full confidence that their votes would be timely collected and counted,” Judge Victor Marrero wrote. “The right to vote is too vital a value in our democracy to be left in a state of suspense in the minds of voters weeks before a presidential election, raising doubts as to whether their votes will ultimately be counted,” Marrero said in his opinion.

Judge Stanley Bastian in Washington State was even more pointed. DeJoy and Trump, he wrote, are “involved in a politically motivated attack on the efficiency of the Postal Service” and said “this attack on the Postal Service is likely to irreparably harm the states’ ability to administer the 2020 general election.” …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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CNN’s Avlon slams Trump as a pseudo-populist ‘fraud’ for paying less in taxes than ‘the average school teacher'

September 28, 2020 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson

Next to President Donald Trump formally announcing that he had chosen Judge Amy Coney Barrett as his nominee to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the U.S. Supreme Court, the biggest political bombshell of the weekend was the New York Times’ damning report on Trump’s tax returns. And CNN’s John Avlon analyzed that bombshell during a Reality Check segment aired on the morning show, “New Day,” on Monday, September 28 — stressing that Trump is hardly the populist he pretends to be.

“Question: who pays more in federal income taxes than President Trump?,” Avlon told CNN viewers. “Basically, every American who works hard and plays by the rules.”

Avlon noted that according to the Times, Trump “paid no federal income taxes ten out of 15 years starting in 2000″ — adding, “And get this: during his campaign (and) in the first year of his presidency, the Times says Trump paid only $750.”

The fact that Trump paid so little in federal income taxes considering how wealthy he is, Avlon argued, is “evidence of a broken system.”

“Donald Trump, with a tower on 5th Avenue and an estate in Palm Beach, paid less in taxes than the average household in America — which makes just shy of $69,000 a year,” Avlon noted. “In fact, Trump paid less in federal income taxes than the average single grade school teacher, nurse, cop, farmer, firefighter and truck driver.”

Avlon added, “And that’s not all. Trump’s $750 in federal income taxes is less than the monthly average rent families pay in Pennsylvania, Florida, Michigan or Wisconsin, according to a 2017 survey. This is real man-of the-people stuff here….. And he and his companies paid more in taxes to Panama, India and the Philippines than to his own country.”

Trump, Avlon noted, “kept living a lavish lifestyle while losing millions and parlayed it into becoming president, in part, by assuring Americans he was a successful businessman.”

Avlon wrapped up his Reality Check segment by quoting “another infamous New York real estate magnate”: the late Leona Helmsley, who went to prison for tax evasion. Helmsley, Avlon recalled, infamously said, “We don’t pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes” — and Avlon added, “Only this time, the contempt for hard-working men and women who pay their taxes comes straight from the president of the United States.”

Watch:

<blockquote …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Trump wanted to tap daughter Ivanka as his running mate in 2016: Rick Gates

September 28, 2020 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson

During his 2016 presidential campaign, President Donald Trump showed the Christian Right how badly he wanted their votes when he picked then-Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, a far-right social conservative, as his running mate. But in a new book, Rick Gates — who served as a deputy campaign manager for Trump in 2016 — reveals that before he picked Pence, Trump was seriously considering someone else: his daughter Ivanka Trump, now a White House senior adviser.

Rosalind S. Helderman and Tom Hamburger of the Washington Post report that according to Gates, Donald Trump told a group of allies, “I think it should be Ivanka. What about Ivanka as my VP?…. She’s bright, she’s smart, she’s beautiful, and the people would love her.”

Trump’s suggestion, Helderman and Hamburger note, was not a “passing fancy,” but an idea that he brought up “repeatedly over the following weeks, trying to sell his campaign staff on the idea — insisting she would be embraced by the Republican base.”

It was Ivanka Trump herself, according to Gates, who dissuaded her father.

Helderman and Hamburger explain, “Trump was so taken with the concept of his eldest daughter as his vice president — and so cool to other options, including his eventual selection, then-Indiana Gov. Mike Pence — that his team polled the idea twice, according to Gates. It was Ivanka Trump who finally ended the conversation, Gates writes, going to her father to tell him it wasn’t a good idea. Trump eventually came around and selected Pence.”

Had Donald Trump chosen his daughter as his running mate, she would have been just barely old enough. Ivanka Trump, born in New York City on October 30, 1981, was 34 when her father was considering her for his running mate and turned 35 — the minimum age to be president or vice president — on October 30, 2016. A presidential candidate’s running mate, under the U.S. Constitution, can be 34 but has to be 35 by Inauguration Day.

Gates’ book, “Wicked Game: An Insider’s Story on How Trump Won, Mueller Failed, and America Lost,” is due out on October 13. Helderman and Hamburger note that unlike other Trump-related books released in 2020, “Wicked Game” is not a tell-all book but rather, a “defense of the president and how he and others helped elect him.”

…read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Taxpayers looking at their monthly bills have a lot of thoughts about Trump's $750 tax bill

September 28, 2020 in Blogs

By Daily Kos

The $750 in federal income taxes that Donald Trump paid in 2016 and 2017 is an attention-grabbing number—in large part because $750 is a number that a lot of people can wrap their heads around. It’s not on the massive scale of federal budget numbers or even of only-for-billionaires expenditures. For people making minimum wage or just above, it may in fact be their annual tax bill. “We’re talking about someone who works at a McDonald’s, and not someone who is managing it,” Joseph Bankman, a tax law expert at Stanford Law School, told The Washington Post. “This is an hourly worker at a fast-food restaurant.”

But lots of people have something to compare that number to: monthly insulin costs for some diabetics. A DACA renewal. Rent, rent, rent. An emergency room visit. A family’s monthly grocery budget. And, of course, while the Trumps are only paying $750 in income tax, you can look at their lifestyle and make plenty of comparisons of a different kind.

It’s about half of 1% of the Secret Service’s golf cart rental contract at Trump’s New Jersey golf club … for summer 2020.

There’s Ivanka’s $750 shoes. Melania’s $795 shoes—or her $51,500 coat or estimated $114,000 in Hermès Birkin bags.

$750 was a little less than two nights at Trump’s Washington, D.C., hotel in August—except for the nights right around the Republican National Convention, when $750 was only slightly more than one night there. It’s also a little less than getting the “restore and revive ritual” and “contour and lift” facial at that hotel’s day spa.

A table of four could very easily spend $750 at one meal at the steak restaurant in that hotel.

It’s less than 1% of the $77,000 in taxpayer money for Don Jr. to get Secret Service protection on a hunting trip to Mongolia to kill a threatened argali sheep. We don’t have enough information to speculate about the relationship of $750 to Junior’s bleary-eyed, sweaty appearances of late.

$750 is also a little less than …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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The Mariel Boatlift: How Cold War Politics Drove Thousands of Cubans to Florida in 1980

September 28, 2020 in History

By Karen Juanita Carrillo

After Fidel Castro loosened emigration policies, some 125,000 Cubans landed on U.S. shores over a span of five months.

The Mariel Boatlift of 1980 was a mass emigration of Cubans to the United States. The exodus was driven by a stagnant economy that had weakened under the grip of a U.S. trade embargo and by Cuban President Fidel Castro‘s exasperation with dissent.

“Those who have no revolutionary genes, those who have no revolutionary blood…we do not want them, we do not need them,” Castro declared in a May 1, 1980 speech. In a stance that reversed the Communist regime’s closed emigration policy, Castro told Cubans who wanted to leave Cuba to leave, and directed would-be emigrants to go to the Port of Mariel.

Some 125,000 Cubans took Castro up on his words and boarded fish and shrimp vessels, crossed the treacherous Florida Straits and arrived at U.S. shores. Their arrival—over the course of five months—infused the United States with a dynamic group of new immigrants and raised alarm about strains on resettlement facilities and the U.S. economy.

READ MORE: Communism Timeline

Under Cold War: Cuban Economy Vulnerable

Castro’s surprise opening of his nation’s border came at the heels of a series of events demonstrating Cuban dissidents’ desire to leave the country. As other global powers allied themselves with the United States in a Cold War against Cuba, the island’s foreign trade was crippled. Cuba faced an economic crisis brought on by pressure from a U.S. trade embargo that began in 1962 and from the slow dissolution of its main commercial support, the Soviet Union.

Cubans—even those who had initially supported the 1959 Cuban Revolution—began to lose faith in the nation. Asylum efforts began in the late 1970s and continued throughout the early 1980s with attempted forcible entries into both the Venezuelan and Peruvian embassies along Havana’s Embassy Row.

On May 13, 1979, a group of Cubans crashed a bus into the Venezuelan Embassy in order to seek asylum. Later that year on June 11, Cuba’s National Revolutionary Police (Policía Nacional Revolucionaria, PNR) opened fire on a group of Cubans trying to force their way into the Venezuelan Embassy. And on July 16, 1979, two Cubans sought asylum at the Venezuelan Embassy. The following year, on April 1, 1980, six Cuban dissidents seeking political asylum rammed a bus into the perimeter fence of Havana, Cuba’s Peruvian embassy.

Cuba’s PNR officers fired submachine …read more

Source: HISTORY

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Sitting federal prosecutor says AG Barr has ‘brought shame’ and ‘unprecedented politicization’ to DOJ

September 27, 2020 in Blogs

By Elizabeth Preza

Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts James D. Herbert on Thursday slammed Attorney General William Barr for his “unprecedented politicization” of the Department of Justice, marking the first time a sitting U.S. attorney has publicly rebuked the head of the DOJ.

Herbert made the remarks in a letter published by the Boston Globe, arguing the attorney general’s efforts to serve President Donald Trump are “a dangerous abuse of power.”

“While I am a federal prosecutor, I am writing to express my own views, clearly not those of the department, on a matter that should concern all citizens: the unprecedented politicization of the office of the attorney general,” Herbert wrote. “The attorney general acts as though his job is to serve only the political interests of Donald J. Trump. This is a dangerous abuse of power.”

Herbert cited Barr’s “misleading summary of the Mueller Report” as one example of the attorney general’s apparent willingness to protect the president at the expense of truth. Barr offered his abridged summary of the report in 4-page letter to the members of the House and Senate Judiciary Committee, and also commented on the report during an April 18 press conference. Mueller himself said Barr’s letter “did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance” of his report.

“William Barr has done the president’s bidding at every turn,” Herbert argued in his letter to the Boston Globe. “For 30 years I have been proud to say I work for the Department of Justice, but the current attorney general has brought shame on the department he purports to lead.”

…read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Trump's top 10 tricks: Here's a useful guide to have on hand as the presidential debates get underway

September 27, 2020 in Blogs

By Mark Green

Ready for even more Trumpian disinformation?

Cornered by a continuing pandemic, teetering economy and racial strife, President Houdini has been resorting to rhetorical tricks honed over a lifetime to escape political calamity. One way to prepare for this Tuesday’s first debate and his Fall barrage is to reveal Trump’s “magic” beforehand so that viewers and voters can be their own BS Detector when he next tries to sliver away from lying about Covid-19 or his fascistic plans to overthrow the election.

1. Cherry-picking — Black Swans.

This trick is based on seeing a black swan and then pretending all swans are black.

So when millions of Black Lives Matter protesters peacefully march against police brutality, Trump will cite one who years ago allegedly called cops “pigs in a blanket, fry ‘em like bacon” to imply that all are looters and anarchists. And when a Republican US Attorney in Pennsylvania this week told AG Barr that his office had found nine discarded Trump ballots (later changed to seven), the White House immediately played it up to imply that this was organized mail-in ballot fraud (though it was quickly shown to be an isolated, local administrative error, not a Democratic conspiracy).

The idea is to make the aberrational appear typical. Would anyone judge Michael Jordan’s career based on a reel of three missed clutch shots rather than his career stats?

2. Adjectives and Assertions.

Since it’s hard to enact legislation, why not instead just predict great or awful events since hard to prove the contrary. Or to paraphrase Nike, “Just Say It.”

Hence “next year [the economy] will be the best ever.” This summer Trump began declaring that Democrats would “destroy the suburbs.” How? Presumably by prohibiting segregated public housing, stating that this time the 2018 “caravan” from Latin America might directly settle in White Plains, New York.

The ‘tell’ here his frequent refrain, “believe me!”

3. The Bully’s Pulpit.

Humorist Larry Wilmore joked that Trump was indeed our Roosevelt since “the only thing Trump has is fear itself.”

Politico reported that a third of his first 2000 president tweets disparaged people, totaling a hard-to-believe 598 people by the end of 2018. Here he’s channeling the Italian philosopher and politician who said five centuries ago, “it’s better to be feared than loved.”

Like Machiavelli’s princes, Trump loves being feared. And since a president’s bullying can do real reputational damage, this thuggish tactic often …read more

Source: ALTERNET