You are browsing the archive for 2020 October 14.

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CDC director warns 'small gatherings' like Thanksgiving could spread coronavirus

October 14, 2020 in Blogs

By Salon

The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned America’s governors on Tuesday that “small household gatherings” have been proved to spread the novel coronavirus, a fact that he urged the state executives to keep in mind as their citizens prepare for Thanksgiving.

“In the public square, we’re seeing a higher degree of vigilance and mitigation steps in many jurisdictions,” Dr. Robert Redfield told America’s governors during a Tuesday call, the audio of which was obtained and initially published by CNN. “But what we’re seeing as the increasing threat right now is actually acquisition of infection through small household gatherings. Particularly with Thanksgiving coming up, we think it’s really important to stress the vigilance of these continued mitigation steps in the household setting.”Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus task force coordinator, made similar remarks last week, telling reporters at a media briefing in Massachusetts that “it’s important for all of us to not let our guard down during Thanksgiving. We see that from the High Holy Days, people are just yearning to be together.”

The health experts’ concern has new urgency now, as Johns Hopkins University reported that America’s 7-day average for new daily cases rose above 50,000 for the first time in more than two months on Tuesday. It is now 51,000. The 7-day new case average hovered around 35,000 as recently as one month ago.

Medical experts agree that when people are gathered they should practice social distancing, wear masks and make sure rooms are properly ventilated. All of these steps help to keep people safe from the novel coronavirus, influenza and other respiratory diseases.

“Biologically, both influenza and the common cold are respiratory viruses that share the same airborne modes of transmission as SARS-CoV-2,” Dr. Russell Medford, chairman of the Center for Global Health Innovation and Global Health Crisis Coordination Center, told Salon last month. “The use of face masks, for example, would be expected to not only protect against the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 by infected persons but also influenza and the common cold. Equally important is the growing evidence that supports the use of face-masks to protect the healthy wearer from acquiring respiratory infections such as SARS-CoV2, influenza and the common cold.”

Indeed, while it is widely understood that coughing and sneezing can spread the novel coronavirus, a May study published in the journal Proceedings …read more


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'We've broken the climate system': Earth just broke another disturbing record in September

October 14, 2020 in Blogs

By Common Dreams

As the climate crisis fuels devastating wildfires across the western United States and melts Arctic sea ice at an alarming rate, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Wednesday that Earth just experienced the hottest September on record and that 2020 is on pace to be one of the three hottest years on the books.

According to NOAA, “the 10 warmest Septembers have all occurred since 2005, with the seven warmest Septembers occurring in the last seven years.”

“We’ve broken the climate system,” tweeted meteorologist Eric Holthaus. “We are in a climate emergency.”

NOAA found that 2020 has a 65% chance of beating out 2016 as the warmest year on record, a 35% chance of being the second-warmest ever, and will almost certainly rank in the top three.

Climate scientists emphasized that this year’s record-setting temperatures have been accompanied by an unprecedented wave of extreme weather events. A report published Tuesday by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction examined the “staggering” increase in climate-related disasters, which doubled from 3,656 between 1980 and 1999 to 6,681 between 2000 and 2019, as Common Dreams reported.


Researchers at Yale found that eight weather-related disasters causing $1 billion or more in damage occurred across the world in September alone, bringing the annual total thus far to 35. There were 40 such events in both 2018 and 2019.

With 16 extreme weather events so far in 2020, the U.S. has already tied its record for most billion-dollar weather disasters in a single year.


NOAA’s findings echo a European Union study published one week ago. As Common Dreams reported, one of the EU climate scientists who contributed to the analysis noted that the planet “will carry on warming if greenhouse gas emissions continue at the rate they are at the moment.”

“It is baffling that we willingly and knowingly continue to sow the seeds of our own destruction,” the U.N. report stated, “despite the science and evidence that we are turning our only home into an uninhabitable hell for millions of people.”

…read more


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Trump urges California GOP to continue using 'illegal' ballot drop boxes

October 14, 2020 in Blogs

By Igor Derysh

President Donald Trump urged California Republicans to defy a state order to remove fake “official” ballot drop boxes after numerous top officials called them “illegal.”

State Attorney General Xavier Becerra and Secretary of State Alex Padilla on Monday issued an order to the California GOP and three county chapters requiring the removal of unofficial ballot drop boxes erected in front of locations like gyms, gun stores and churches that were falsely marked “official.”

Trump, however, urged the party to fight the order in court.

“You mean only Democrats are allowed to do this? But haven’t the Dems been doing this for years?” the president tweeted, drawing a dubious comparison between the boxes and the legal “ballot harvesting” efforts by Democrats that have drawn his ire. “See you in court. Fight hard Republicans!”

Trump’s call came after Becerra, Padilla and Gov. Gavin Newsom, all Democrats, labeled the Republican effort “illegal.”

“Nothing reeks of desperation quite like the Republican Party organization these days — willing to lie, cheat, and threaten our democracy all for the sake of gaining power,” Newsom tweeted. “These unofficial drop boxes aren’t just misleading, they are illegal.”

Trump’s comments also came after the California Republican Party already vowed to defy Monday’s order.

“Screw you!” Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., said in response to Newsom’s tweet, according to Politico. “You created the law, we’re going to ballot harvest.”

Fresno County Republican Chairman Fred Vanderhoof, who installed a dozen collection boxes, including one which was labeled an “Authorized Secure Ballot Drop,” claimed to GVWire that a 2016 ballot harvesting law passed by Democrats allowed the party to install drop boxes falsely marked as “official.”

“We are doing nothing illegal,” he insisted. “The whole ballot harvesting law is purposely designed very loosely so the Democrats can cheat, which they are doing in large numbers. They can do ballot harvesting, but we can’t. That’s what they’re saying, so they’re hypocritical.”

State officials rejected Republican claims that falsely-marked collection boxes were allowed under the law permitting ballot harvesting, which permits a third-party to submit ballots on voters’ behalf.

The offices of the attorney general and secretary of state said in a cease-and-desist order to the GOP that the law required “persons to whom a voter entrusts their …read more


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Trump-supporting Navy SEAL fumes after the president pushes fake news about Osama bin Laden killing

October 14, 2020 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson

The world’s most infamous terrorist, al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, was killed on May 2, 2011 when a team of U.S. Navy SEALs — on orders from President Barack Obama — raided a compound in Pakistan. A baseless far-right conspiracy theory claims that bin Laden wasn’t really killed that day, and a former Navy SEAL who was part of that team and witnessed bin Laden’s death first hand, Robert O’Neill, is calling out President Donald Trump for promoting that claim.

On Tuesday, Trump retweeted a QAnon-linked post claiming that a bin Laden double was killed that day and that the al-Qaeda terrorist is still alive nine years later. O’Neill, in response to that post, tweeted, “Very brave men said goodby to their kids to go kill Osama bin Laden. We were given the order by President Obama. It was not a body double. Thank you Mr. President.”

The QAnon-linked Twitter account, according to Politico reporter Connor O’Brien, has been suspended. O’Brien notes that although O’Brien disagreed with Trump’s retweet, he is a supporter of the president.

In a subsequent tweet on Tuesday night, O’Neill sarcastically posted, “Shit. I just found out that I killed Osama bin Johnson. Drinks are on me, I guess.”

This year’s Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden, was serving as Obama’s vice president during the raid that ended bin Laden’s life. On September 17, Trump tweeted that Biden “opposed the mission to take out Osama bin Laden” and claimed that “if it were up to Joe…. bin Laden would still be alive.” But now, Trump is retweeting nonsense claims that bin Laden wasn’t really killed in the first place.

…read more


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Why the 25th Amendment is no match for a madman and his party of sycophants

October 14, 2020 in Blogs

By Bill Blum

Should the 25th Amendment be invoked to remove Donald Trump from office? In a press conference on October 9, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Congressman Jamie Raskin unveiled legislation based on the amendment that would establish a bipartisan commission that could answer the question and determine if Trump has the capacity to discharge the powers and duties of his office.

The commission would have 16 members, selected in equal numbers by Democratic and Republican congressional leaders, and would include four physicians and four psychiatrists. The remaining members would consist of eight retired statespersons (either former presidents, vice presidents, Cabinet secretaries, or surgeons general). The appointed members would then select a 17th panelist to act as chair of the commission. Once the commission is formed, Congress could pass a concurrent resolution, directing it to conduct an examination of the president.

Formally enrolled as H.R. 8548, the measure is modeled on a nearly identical bill Raskin introduced in 2017. The new legislation has 38 co-sponsors, all liberal Democrats, and has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee for further review.

On the surface, H.R. 8548 makes perfect sense, offering a badly needed mechanism to rescue the nation from a chief executive who is patently unfit to sit behind the Resolute Desk for a single day, much less another four years. Under the terms of the bill, as Pelosi and Raskin stressed, the commission would become a permanent body, and could be summoned into action to deal with future presidents beyond Trump in the event they, too, become incapacitated.

Unfortunately, the legislation doesn’t have a prayer of being enacted. It is far too late in the legislative session for any action to be taken.

Even assuming the bill could be rushed to passage in the House, it would inevitably die in the sycophantic GOP-controlled Senate. And even assuming it somehow moved out of the upper chamber at unheard-of warp speed, it would never be signed into law by the very president whose competency has been called into question.

Still, as an expression of constitutional principle and good-government impulses, H.R. 8548 deserves serious debate and consideration.

Long before he was infected with COVID-19, Trump was a sick man unprepared and unable to serve the American people in …read more


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The Children's Crusade: When the Youth of Birmingham Marched for Justice

October 14, 2020 in History

By Alexis Clark

Facing a dwindling movement in Alabama, civil rights leaders recruited Black students to revive the march to end segregation.

Toward the end of April 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and fellow leaders in the civil rights movement faced a grim reality in Birmingham, Alabama. With diminished support and fewer volunteers, their campaign to end segregationist policies was teetering on failure. But when an unorthodox plan to recruit Black children to march was implemented, the movement reversed itself, reinvigorating the fight for racial equality, in what became known as the Children’s Crusade.

King had traveled to Birmingham in the spring of 1963, along with Southern Christian Leadership Conference co-founder Rev. Ralph Abernathy, hoping to shore up resistance against segregation in the state. The pair partnered with the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights, a local civil rights organization led by Fred Shuttlesworth, a prominent minister and activist.

But the Alabama movement was fresh off a failed attempt to end segregation in Albany, Georgia. Overall, fewer people were attending meetings, sit-ins and marches. After King was arrested and confined to a jail cell, where he wrote his famous work, Letter from a Birmingham Jail, he knew, along with other activists, that a new strategy was essential if the campaign were to succeed.

“The number of adults who were willing to volunteer, to get arrested, had steadily dwindled those last two weeks of April and it looked like the movement was about to fall apart,” says Glenn Eskew, a history professor at Georgia State University and author of the 1997 book, But for Birmingham: The Local and National Movements in the Civil Rights Struggle.

Recruiting Children to the Cause

WATCH: American Freedom Stories

James Bevel, a member of SCLC, came up with an idea to include school-age children in protests to help desegregate Birmingham. The strategy involved recruiting popular teenagers from Black high schools, such as the quarterbacks and cheerleaders, who could influence their classmates to attend meetings with them at Black churches in Birmingham to learn about the non-violent movement. There was also an economic reason to have children participate since adults risked being fired from their jobs for missing work and protesting.

Janice Kelsey was 15 when she attended her first meeting for the Children’s Crusade. “I knew what segregation was and separation, but I didn’t understand the extent or the level …read more


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How Ronald Reagan's 1976 Convention Battle Fueled His 1980 Landslide

October 14, 2020 in History

By Becky Little

In duking it out with incumbent Gerald Ford over undecided GOP delegates, Reagan burnished his rising star.

On the second day of the highly contested 1976 Republican National Convention, it was still far from clear which candidate the party delegates intended to choose: sitting president Gerald Ford or his challenger, former actor and California governor Ronald Reagan. Amidst this tight, raucous political battle, a scuffle broke out between the two camps—over a campaign sign—and reporters packed around then-Vice President Nelson Rockefeller, trying to get a sense of what happened.

“Somebody came by, who none of us knew, and just told [chairman of the New York delegation] Dick Rosenbaum that if he didn’t get that sign back, he was going to rip out the phone,” Rockefeller told reporters on the convention floor.

The encounter had started when a Reagan supporter’s sign had ended up in Rockefeller’s hands. That Reagan supporter, Jack Bailey, accused Rockefeller of taking the sign, putting it under his feet and refusing to return it. (Rockefeller claimed he took the sign because he thought Bailey was handing it to him.) In retaliation, Utah delegate Douglas Bischoff allegedly ripped out the New York state delegation telephone Rockefeller was using, causing security guards to remove Bischoff from the convention floor.

READ MORE: How Political Conventions Began—And Changed

The outburst highlighted the tense, combative atmosphere between the Ford and Reagan camps during the 1976 Republican convention at Kemper Arena in Kansas City, Missouri. In addition to the phone incident, there was an argument about whether one of Ford’s sons had dumped trash or confetti onto Reagan supporters. At one point, according to an oral history by Politico, things got so tense that when a Ford-leaning delegate fell and seemed to have broken her leg, his camp scrambled to get a doctor to splint her leg with campaign programs so she could stay on the floor and vote.

Although Reagan ultimately lost the nomination, his battle against Ford—who lost the election that November to Democratic candidate Jimmy Carter—helped propel the former California governor to the top of the party ticket four years later.

Reagan Already a Far-Right ‘Darling’

Presidential candidate Ronald Reagan shakes hands with a supporter in this 1976 Los Angeles, California, photo leading up to the Republican National Convention in Kansas City.

Primary challenges to sitting presidents are unusual, …read more