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Voting wars: Inside the Republican Party's most overt voter suppression effort in years

October 30, 2020 in Blogs

By Independent Media Institute

Two countervailing forces are competing to determine the outcome of the 2020 elections’ highest-stakes contests before the close of voting on November 3.

President Trump and his Republican allies are pursuing a full-court press where their success hinges less on winning popular vote majorities and more on disqualifying volumes of absentee ballots via lawsuits to be filed after Election Day—if preliminary results in a few key states are close. The Democratic Party and their allies, meanwhile, have been pushing their party’s more highly motivated voter base to continue their turnout lead seen in early and absentee voting, so Republicans cannot gain traction when they turn to the courts to disqualify late-arriving absentee ballots, or cite other technicalities to disqualify votes.

“We are targeting 8.8 million students, faculty and staff in universities in Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas. We have state-specific ads for every one of our campaigns,” said Andrea Miller, executive director of People Demanding Action, which has been turning out voters in communities of color. “And then we are also advertising our election protection tool, ‘See Something, Say Something‘… We have done outreach to nearly 20 million people and the election isn’t over.”

More than 85 million people have already voted as of Friday, October 30, according to the U.S. Elections Project early voting tracking website. So far, more than 55 million absentee ballots have been received by local election officials, 30 million people have voted in person, and another 35.5 million absentee ballots have yet to be returned. According to those voters’ party registrations, Democrats and Republicans have split the in-person voting, but Democrats lead in absentee ballots—where sizable numbers of voters registering as independents have cast ballots.

Whether or not the apparent enthusiasm gap continues through Election Day—or shifts via what the Republicans hope will be a large in-person turnout on November 3—is an open question. However, the Trump campaign and its allies are not counting on popular vote victories to secure a winning margin among state Electoral College delegations. Their litigation strategy arguably has been the Republican Party’s most overt voter suppression effort in years—building on Trump’s ongoing and baseless attacks on the legitimacy of absentee balloting.

The voting wars are legal fights over technicalities in processes that can end up disqualifying—or empowering—blocs of voters to tilt close-margin contests. The 2020 …read more


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Trump is on a final crime spree of negligent homicide

October 30, 2020 in Blogs

By Neil Baron

Germany and France just imposed nationwide lockdowns in response to a new wave of Covid-19 cases and deaths. Donald Trump mocked them and refused to follow suit, even though the U.S. has more deaths per 100,000 people and record daily cases continuing to surge in 44 states. Trump exposing Americans to death from Covid-19 is not only a reason to vote him out of office; it also fits the definition of criminal negligent homicide.

That crime occurs when a person who is aware of the risk causes the death of another by a careless or reckless act, or by failure to perform a duty. The crime does not require an intent to cause death. It is punishable by imprisonment for six months to ten years, depending on the state.

Trump was well aware of the risk of death from his brazen actions, omissions, and failure to fulfill his acknowledged duty to keep Americans safe. The upward trajectory of Covid cases and deaths, now at 8.93 million and 228,000 respectively, has been a siren alerting everyone to the risk that many people would die. Even 70% of Republicans were alarmed. Indeed, Trump admitted on February 7 that he knew Covid was a deadly threat.

Today it’s estimated that another 250,000 to 300,00 Americans will die from the virus in the coming months. Not even President Trump, with his penchant for dismissing inconvenient facts and fake news and conspiracy theories, can claim he was or is unaware of Covid’s risk of death.

In fact, he was aware of our vulnerability to deadly pandemics even before he took office. President Obama presented a simulation of a global pandemic to Trump’s transition team and warned that the U.S. could face shortages of ventilators, anti-viral drugs, and other medical essentials. Trump was told we would need to mount a unified national pandemic response. Trump was also told that unless he invested more in biodefense now, we’d pay much more in “human and economic costs” later.

Trump ignored those warnings and never prepared for a pandemic. He fired Homeland …read more


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Horrifying video shows Philadelphia cops assaulted a family in a car — then tried to use it as propaganda

October 30, 2020 in Blogs

By Common Dreams

The conduct of Philadelphia police officers and the nation’s largest law enforcement association this week amounted to what one journalist called “an extraordinary mix of police violence and disinformation,” after it was revealed Friday that officers beat a young mother who had accidentally driven into a protest and then snatched her toddler from the car and later used his image in pro-police propaganda.

Along with several posts urging voters to support President Donald Trump, the Fraternal Order of Police on Thursday night posted a photo of a toddler who the union falsely claimed had been found by Philadelphia police “wandering around barefoot” amid the “lawlessness” of the fourth night of demonstrations over the killing of Walter Wallace, Jr.

But the union soon deleted the post after being confronted by the Philadelphia Inquirer and lawyers for the two-year-old boy’s mother, Rickia Young, said the officers forcibly removed the toddler from his mother’s vehicle after smashing the car’s windows and violently arresting Young after she accidentally drove into an area where protesters were being confronted by lines of riot police.

The reality of what the photo shows, tweeted HuffPost reporter Ryan J. Reilly, offers “a tremendously valuable lesson in why you always need to treat initial police narratives with intense skepticism.

According to attorneys Riley H. Ross III and Kevin Mincey, Young attempted to turn around immediately after she turned down a street where police were clashing with protesters Thursday night, while her son and teenage nephew were in the car with her.

While she was trying to make a three-point turn as directed by officers, the police suddenly surrounded her SUV, smashing Young’s windows while the toddler sat in the back seat. The police violently dragged Young out of the car, beat her with batons, and then threw her to the ground.

A nearby resident, Aapril Rice caught the police violence on video:

While Young …read more


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Here's how Barack Obama is brilliantly getting under Trump's skin on the campaign trail

October 30, 2020 in Blogs

By Daily Kos

Former President Barack Obama is having fun and getting under Donald Trump’s skin. Obama is campaigning for his former vice president, Joe Biden, and saying some of the things we’ve all known he thought about Trump, but had to keep under wraps for the sake of the decorum and norms Trump shatters every day.

“What’s his closing argument? That people are too focused on COVID?” Obama said on Tuesday in Orlando. “He said this at one of his rallies. ‘Covid, Covid, Covid,’ he’s complained. He’s jealous of COVID’s media coverage.” Obama’s speech at that event stung Trump into a tweet whining about Fox News covering it, so, yeah, Obama knows how to hit Trump where it hurts.

At another Florida rally, on Saturday, Obama listed some of Trump’s greatest hits, like suggesting bleach injections to cure coronavirus. “Florida Man wouldn’t even do this stuff!” Obama said. “Why do we accept it from the president of the United States?”

And yeah, Trump immediately tweeted about that speech, too.

Obama is a high-profile surrogate who draws media coverage in a way few others would. He is a great speaker. And he has another advantage: One traditional role of a vice presidential nominee is to serve as an attack dog, dealing out the hard hits a presidential candidate can’t. Sen. Kamala Harris, though, would face outsized backlash if she did that on a regular basis, since she’s a woman—a Black woman. Obama is taking over that role while Harris meshes her tone more with Biden’s unity-focused theme.

And Obama is using some of the political capital he accumulated through more than a decade now of preternatural control of the anger he has to have felt at the racism he’s faced throughout his career and at Trump’s systematic efforts to dismantle his legacy, and allowing himself to show some of that anger, in carefully controlled doses. For years, Obama had to work to deny anyone the chance to stick “angry Black man” stereotypes on him, and he did that work. We know who he is by now, we know how much it takes to get him to show anything but cool, calm control, and a little bit of anger showing through the sardonic mockery and the disbelieving tone at Trump’s failures is now going to work for him, not against him.

And boy does it enrage Trump.

<Img align="left" …read more


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Here's why the most determined tracker of Trump's lies finally had to give up

October 30, 2020 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson

At CNN, President Donald Trump has had a very aggressive and tireless fact-checker in Daniel Dale — who, time and time again, has called out the president’s lies and distortions. The Canadian reporter discussed his fact-checking of Trump during a Q&A interview with the Los Angeles Times, noting that Trump lies so much that keeping up with all the lies has been a never-ending task.

Friday on Twitter, Dale tweeted the Times’ article and posted, “So…in September, I had to abandon my 3.75-year count of every Trump false claim. Because he’s talking so much and telling so many important lies that I don’t have the time to research all the little ones. It was fun while it lasted. (No it wasn’t.)”

The Times’ Meredith Blake notes that Dale’s fact-checking of Trump started in 2016, when he was a Washington, D.C. correspondent for the Toronto Star. On September 21, 2016, progressive activist and filmmaker Michael Moore praised Dale for fact-checking Trump so thoroughly, writing, “This Canadian journalist, every single day in the Toronto Star, lists all the lies that Donald Trump spoke that day. Shames the US media.”

Blake asked Dale, “What’s the tally of Trump’s false claims as of right now?” — to which he responded, “I don’t know because I’ve fallen behind during the campaign. I had to make a decision to stop updating over the last month and just focus on the big stuff. Because the president is talking so much — just the sheer volume of words right now is very large, and so many of them are false that if I tried to keep up comprehensively as I have for the past four years, I wouldn’t have found time to write the most important stories about the most egregious stuff he’s saying. So, I’ve had to make an executive decision to put it on hold for now. My tally for his presidency is over 9,000 false claims.”

Blake asked Dale if there was a “most egregious” lie from Trump that stood out the most, and he replied, “Some of the claims of the pandemic I would put on the most egregious list. The claim that it’s disappearing, which he’s made 40-plus times since February. This is a national crisis where millions of people respond to the president’s words, and he’s constantly reassuring …read more


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Titanic by the Numbers: From Construction to Disaster to Discovery

October 30, 2020 in History

By Lesley Kennedy

More than just facts and figures, these statistics highlight the massive scale of Titanic’s ambition—and of its tragic sinking.

It took just two hours and 40 minutes for the “unsinkable” reported the luxury liner was carrying cargo worth $420,000 ($11 million today). The manifest included such items as 3,000 teacups, 40,000 eggs, five grand pianos and 36,000 oranges. It was also a mail ship (RMS stood for Royal Mail Steamer) and contained a post office with 3,364 bags aboard.

A menu given to first-class passengers on the day of the sinking of the Titanic and a set of keys used by Titanic crewman Samuel Hemming to unlock the door where the lifeboat lanterns were held after he was ordered by the ship’s captain to ensure all 15 lifeboats had lit oil lamps.

Number of courses served during the ship’s final first-class dinner: 10

Menu choices included oysters, consommé, poached salmon, filet mignon, lamb with mint sauce, punch romaine, roast squab, cold asparagus vinaigrette, paté de foie gras and Waldorf pudding. Each course included wine pairings. And after dinner? Spirits and cigars were offered.

Second-class passengers, according to NPR, were served classic French bistro and American dishes, while third-class dinner was typically soup or stew.

READ MORE: Last Meal on Titanic

Message sent from Titanic: ‘CQD require assistance position 41.46 N 50.14 W struck iceberg Titanic.’ ‘CQD’ was the international signal used before the introduction of ‘SOS’.

Number of iceberg warnings received that day: 6

According to Titanic: The Legend, Myths and Folklore by Bruce Alpine, Titanic received three ice warnings from other ships in the area on April 14 (one never reached Smith), as well as three messages from the SS Californian, a small steamer that had stopped approximately 19 miles from the luxury ship. Its final warning, sent at 11 p.m.: “We are stopped and surrounded by ice.”

READ MORE: Why Did the Titanic Sink?

A letter from Titanic survivor Laura Mabel Francatelli, with her account of the sinking of the ship.

Miles sailed before sinking: 2,070

The ship embarked from Southampton, England, then made stops at Cherbourg, France and Queenstown, Ireland before setting sail to New York. The ship was 400 miles south of Newfoundland on April 14 (1,250 miles from its final destination), when, at 11:40 p.m., watchmen saw the iceberg that punctured six of the Titanic’s 16 water-tight …read more


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6 Renowned Tuskegee Airmen

October 30, 2020 in History

By Farrell Evans

These pioneering Black aviators not only took on the Germans; they shattered racist stereotypes and helped advance civil rights.

As the first Black aviators to serve in the U.S. Army Air Corps, the Tuskegee Airmen broke through a massive segregation barrier in the American military. Their success and heroism during World War II, fighting Germans in the skies over Europe, shattered pervasive stereotypes that African Americans had neither the character nor the aptitude for combat. And their achievements laid crucial groundwork for civil rights progress in the decades to come.

In the summer of 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Civilian Pilot Training Program Act to train civilian aviators at colleges and vocational schools in preparation for a national emergency. The law contained a provision that “none of the benefits of training or programs shall be denied on account of race, creed, or color.” At the time, there were only 124 licensed Black pilots in the United States—and none in the Army Air Corps.

Of six historically black colleges and universities included in the program, the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama became the most renowned. In January 1941, the War Department, under pressure from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People to include black aviators, established at Tuskegee the nation’s first Black flying unit: the 99 th Pursuit Squadron, which was later renamed the 99th Fighter Squadron.

Between 1941 and 1945, nearly 1,000 pilots trained in the Tuskegee program; of those, 450 saw combat during World II in the 99th and 332nd Fighter groups. In aerial battles over North Africa and Europe, these pilots flew more than 1,500 missions, largely as escort planes for the bombers, but sometimes in direct combat. Of the extraordinary men who served as Tuskegee-trained pilots, here are six standouts:

READ MORE: The Birth of the Tuskegee Airmen

Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. (1912-2002)

Colonel Benjamin Oliver Davis, Jr. poses in his airplane.

At a time when African Americans faced overwhelming racism and discrimination in the military, Benjamin O. Davis, Jr., son of the Army’s first Black general, built a historic career: One of a small handful of African Americans to be admitted to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point since Reconstruction—and the only one there during his own tenure—he went on to command the Tuskegee Airmen, serve in three wars and become a general himself.

After graduating from West …read more