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Investigation reveals just how dangerous Trump's rallies are for public health

October 24, 2020 in Blogs

By Meaghan Ellis

An investigation into the latest accelerated spread of coronavirus in multiple states appears to be linked to President Donald Trump’s string of campaign rallies over the last several weeks.

As coronavirus plagues states all across America, Trump continues to blatantly disregard how dangerous his campaign rallies are for his campaign staff, White House advisors and aides, and everyone who attends his political events. Now, USA Today has explained the extent of the spreads in several counties following the president’s rallies.

According to the analysis released by USA Today, case rates in at least five counties—Blue Earth, Minnesota; Lackawanna, Pennsylvania; Marathon, Wisconsin; Dauphin, Pennsylvania; and Beltrami, Minnesota—increased at a faster pace after Trump’s rallies. Collectively, these counties reported 1,500 additional new cases in the two weeks after Trump’s campaign rallies. The previous number of 8,069 jumped to 9,647 cases.

As President Donald Trump jetted across the country holding campaign rallies during the past two months, he didn’t just defy state orders and federal health guidelines. He left a trail of coronavirus outbreaks in his wake.

While the absence of full contact tracing will make it a bit more difficult to definitively determine whether or not Trump’s rallies were the sole cause of the coronavirus’ accelerated spread in multiple states, the upticks in the counties highlighted clearly indicate that the president’s events likely influenced the spread.

Public health officials have also managed to link some cases and hospitalizations in Wisconsin to the president’s recent rallies.

Public health officials additionally have linked 16 cases, including two hospitalizations, with the rally in Beltrami County, Minnesota, and one case with the rally in Marathon County, Wisconsin. Outside of the counties identified by USA TODAY with a greater case increase after rallies, officials identified four cases linked to Trump rallies.

The USA Today report comes as the United States battles its highest number of coronavirus cases in a single day, now surpassing the massive surge over the summer. According to the Wall Street Journal, the United States topped 80,000 cases in a single day on

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Source: ALTERNET

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Legal experts slam Jared and Ivanka's 'abusively frivolous' lawsuit over Lincoln Project billboards

October 24, 2020 in Blogs

By Meaghan Ellis

Legal experts are pushing back against President Donald Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump and her husband, White House Senior Advisor Jared Kushner’s latest threat to file a lawsuit against the Lincoln Project over the political action committee’s billboards criticizing the White House’s handling of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

In a letter released on Friday, Trump family attorney Marc Kasowitz released a statement condemning the former Republicans’ billboards located in New York City’s Times Square.

“We represent Mr. Jared Kushner and Ms. Ivanka Trump,” Kasowitz wrote. “I am writing concerning the false, malicious and defamatory ads that the Lincoln Project is displaying on billboards in Times Square.”

Kasowitz went on to describe the billboards and his interpretation of the ads saying: “Those ads show Ms. Trump smiling and gesturing toward a death count of Americans and New Yorkers, and attribute to Mr. Kushner the statement that ‘[New Yorkers] are going to suffer and that’s their problem’ (alteration in original), with body bags underneath.”

However, multiple legal experts have taken to Twitter with their responses as they criticized the couple’s stance. In fact, First Amendment attorney Ken White also described their actions as “absolutely frivolous.”

“This is an abusively frivolous defamation claim,” White tweeted. “In a normal era, shamefully stupid, but standard for Trumps and the amoral hucksters they hire as lawyers.”

Robert Mueller’s former top lieutenant Andrew Weissmann also chimed in via Twitter with words of criticism toward Kushner and Ivanka Trump. Weissmann tweeted, “The apple does not fall far from the Donald Trump tree.”

Despite the couple’s threat, the Lincoln Project released a response via Twitter as they dismissed the threatening letter. The group tweeted, “Jared and Ivanka have always been entitled, out-of-touch bullies who have never given the slightest indication they have any regard for the American people. We plan on showing them the same level of respect.”

The anti-Trump group made it clear the billboards will remain …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Expert: 2020's biggest threat to American democracy isn't Trump — not directly

October 24, 2020 in Blogs

By Meaghan Ellis

The United States of America is widely known as “The Free World,” but sadly, voter suppression is still a major topic of contention and a contributing factor to the polarization of the country.

According to the LA Times, voter suppression is at an all-time high and President Donald Trump’s war on mail-in voting has only triggered more acts of voter suppression. From voters in Memphis, Tenn. being turned away from a poll location for wearing “Black Lives Matter” t-shirts to excessively long voting lines in Georgia as a result of nearly 10% of poll locations being shut down, voter suppression has played a dominant role in this election.

In fact, some Democratic voters have been faced with more aggressive acts of voter suppression as a result of voter intimidation. Richard L. Hasen, a University of California (Irvine) law professor and authority on voting, weighed in on the resurfacing of major voter suppression in the United States.

“We have an incredibly polarized country and we have a political party whose leader thinks it’s to the party’s advantage to make it harder for people to register to vote and to vote,” Hasen told the LA Times. “So that is where we are.”

Hasen went on to discuss the Republican Party and the difference between President Donald Trump and previous Republican presidential candidates like Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and the late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). Trump has focused on implementing ways to suppress votes, typically among Black and Latino voters.

The law professor also expressed concerns about the rise of a “voter suppression wing” as he highlighted Trump’s focus on suppressing opposing votes as a means of winning the election as opposed to pushing for inclusion of voters.

“There are two strands in the Republican Party,” said Hasen. “There is one that has tried to be more inclusive, as a means to win elections and there is a voter-suppression wing. With Trump in office, it’s clear the voter-suppression wing is dominant right now.”

Heightened concerns about voter suppression and intimidation continue to impact states all across America as Election Day approaches.

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Source: ALTERNET

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Faith and spirituality run deep in Black Lives Matter

October 24, 2020 in Blogs

By The Conversation

Black Lives Matters (BLM) has been portrayed by its detractors as many things: Marxist, radical, anti-American. Added to this growing list of charges is that it is either irreligious or doing religion wrong.

In late July, for instance, conservative commentator Andrew Sullivan tweeted that BLM was “incompatible” with Christianity.

He isn’t alone in that belief. Despite receiving the backing of diverse faith leaders and groups, BLM has been attacked by sections of the religious right. One evangelical institution felt compelled to issue a statement warning Christians about the movement’s “Godless agenda.” Other evangelicals have gone further, accusing BLM founders of being “witches” and “operating in the demonic realm.”

Joining conservative Christians are some self-proclaimed liberals and atheists who have also denounced BLM as a social movement that functions like a
cult” or “pseudo” religion.

As scholars of religion, we believe such views fail to acknowledge – let alone engage with – the rich spiritual and religious pluralism of Black Lives Matter. For the past few years, we have been observing the way the movement and affiliated organizations express faith and spirituality.

Since 2015 we have interviewed BLM leaders and organizers as well as Buddhist leaders inspired by the movement. What we found was that BLM was not only a movement seeking radical political reform, but a spiritual movement seeking to heal and empower while
inspiring other religious allies seeking inclusivity.

A love letter

Black Lives Matter was born from a love letter.

On July 13, 2013 – the day of the acquittal of George Zimmerman, who had killed an unarmed black teenage named Trayvon Martin – soon-to-be BLM co-founder Alicia Garza, posted “A Love Letter to Black People” on Facebook. She declared:

“We don’t deserve to be killed with impunity. We need to love ourselves and fight for a world where black lives matter. Black people, I love you. I love us. We matter. Our lives matter.”

Since its inception, BLM organizers have expressed their founding spirit of love through an emphasis on spiritual healing, principles, and practices in their racial justice work.

BLM leaders, such as co-founder Patrisse Cullors, are deeply committed to incorporating spiritual leadership. Cullors grew up as a Jehovah’s Witness, and later became ordained in Ifà, a west African Yoruba religion. Drawing on Native American, Buddhist and mindfulness traditions, her syncretic spiritual practice is fundamental to her work. As Cullors …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Voting while God is watching – does having churches as polling stations sway the ballot?

October 24, 2020 in Blogs

By The Conversation

Houses of worship may be busier than usual come Election Day as Americans head to the polls rather than the pews.

A 2010 census of religious congregations identified nearly 350,000 churches, mosques, temples and other religious establishments attended by more than 150 million Americans, primarily for spiritual needs and social relationships.

But during elections, such places double as centers of civic life – serving as community polling places. In some electoral districts, houses of worship make up a significant number of all voting places, raising important issues about whether voting in a place of worship influences how people cast their ballots.

Church and state

Voting in religious spaces is nothing new.

Americans have long been casting their ballots in the same place where they or their neighbors worship. In early America, the town meeting house often served both religious and secular functions – with the same space housing prayer meetings, schooling and town business.

Although the separation of church and state has largely moved the practice of religious and secular life into separate spheres, churches have continued to house voting booths.

As urban population densities have grown – more than 500% from 1910 to 2010 – election boards have been asked to identify polling sites that are large and empty enough to accommodate voters. They also need to be accessible and rent-free. Since government buildings can rarely accommodate these needs – indeed, less than 1% of polling sites in 2018 were specifically election offices – religious leaders have often offered their buildings as polling sites as a public service.

Although no national data on religious spaces as polling places exists, this arrangement appears to be very common.

For example, 22% of polling sites for the 2020 general election in Minneapolis are houses of worship. In St. Louis, 27% of precincts vote in religious spaces and, in one ward, all eight of the polling places are churches.

Priming voters

As a scholar who studies how social situations can influence attitudes, I believe where someone votes can subtly but significantly affect how they vote.

Social scientists have long understood that physical and social context shapes the way people think, feel and behave. Without even realizing it, most of us are likely to speak more quietly when talking about the possibility of visiting a library than when discussing plans to dine at an exclusive restaurant.

Each physical setting offers cues that, at least …read more

Source: ALTERNET