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Pastors are 'expressing alarm' at QAnon's growing influence among fundamentalist evangelicals: report

May 31, 2021 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson

Those who had been warning that the QAnon conspiracy cult was dangerous were reminded just how dangerous when QAnon supporters — along with members of the Proud Boys, the Oath Keepers, the Three Percenters and other extremist groups — attacked the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6. Some QAnon supporters identify as Christian fundamentalists, and journalist Mike Allen discusses the inroads QAnon has made among white evangelicals in an article published by Axios on Memorial Day 2021.

Allen explains, “QAnon conspiracy theories have burrowed so deeply into American churches that pastors are expressing alarm…. Russell Moore, one of America’s most respected evangelical Christian thinkers, told me he’s ‘talking literally every day to pastors, of virtually every denomination, who are exhausted by these theories blowing through their churches or communities.’”

Allen reports that a poll taken by Ipsos in March for the Public Religion Research Institute and Interfaith Youth Core found that 15% of Americans join QAnon in believing that “the government, media, and financial worlds in the U.S. are controlled by a group of Satan-worshipping pedophiles who run a global child sex trafficking operation.”

Kristin Du Mez, a historian at Calvin University and author of the book “Jesus and John Wayne,” told Axios, “For those who hope that the events of January 6 are in our past, I think this data gives little in the way of assurance.”

That poll found that 26% of Hispanic Protestants and 25% of White evangelical Protestants were more likely to agree with QAnon than other groups.

Du Mez told Axios, “There’s also an emphasis in certain circles on deciphering biblical prophecies that bears some similarities to decoding QAnon conspiracies — the idea that there is a secret meaning hidden within the text that can be discerned by individuals who have eyes to see. This isn’t just a problem for faith communities, of course. It is deeply troubling in terms of the health of our democracy.”

Natalie Jackson, research director at PRRI, told Axios the poll doesn’t mean that 15% of Americans “are spending their entire lives only paying attention to Q…. but it does mean this group is amenable to believing these conspiracy theories.”

…read more

Source: ALTERNET

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US defense secretary slams Ted Cruz for claiming Biden wants a 'woke, emasculated military'

May 31, 2021 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson

Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas has been attacking the Biden Administration for promoting a “woke” or politically correct military. But Gen. Lloyd Austin, Biden’s secretary of defense, pushed back aggressively against Cruz’s claims during an interview with CNN on Memorial Day 2021.

“Perhaps a woke, emasculated military is not the best idea,” Cruz recently tweeted.

But 67-year-old Austin told CNN that the U.S. military will never be “soft,” saying, “I will not lose one minute of sleep about what the Chinese leadership is saying or what (Russian President) Vladimir Putin is saying. What I will focus on, and what I am focused on, is the defense of this nation, and making sure that we have what’s needed to be successful.”

Cruz has been attacking a series of U.S. Army recruitment videos called “The Calling,” claiming that military recruitment efforts under the Biden Administration are promoting diversity over military preparedness. But Austin dismissed such claims as nonsense.

Austin told CNN, “I think we’re doing a great job in terms of recruiting the right kinds of people, providing access to people from every corner, every walk of life in this country. As long as you’re fit and you can qualify, there’s a place for you on this team.”

Austin also said that governments that are adversarial to the United States, including Russia under Putin and the government in Mainland China, “would like to capitalize on” the type of “talking points” that Cruz is promoting.

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Source: ALTERNET

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'Historic' Illinois bill makes it illegal for police to lie to or trick juveniles during questioning

May 31, 2021 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson

Civil libertarians have long complained about police being able to mislead suspects during interrogation in order to get a confession out of them. But the Illinois State Legislature, Fox 32 Chicago reports, has passed a bill making it illegal to lie to or trick juveniles during questioning.

“This has been a common police tactic across the country,” Fox 32 Chicago reports. “Minors are considered especially vulnerable, and have a much higher rate of confessions to crimes they did not commit.”

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, a Democrat, is expected to sign the bill into law, according to Fox 32 Chicago.

Illinois Senate Bill 2122 was introduced by State Sen. Robert Peters, a Democrat, and was supported by the Innocence Project and the Center on Wrongful Convictions at the Northwestern University School of Law in Evanston, Illinois (a Chicago suburb).

In an official statement, Rebecca Brown — director of policy for the Innocence Project — said, “The Innocence Project’s initial foray into false confession reform was mandating the electronic recording of interrogations — a foundational change that makes a record of what transpires in the interrogation room. Now that more than half the states have implemented this reform, we have also turned our attention to interrogation methods employed by law enforcement. This historic legislation — the first of its kind to pass a state legislature — is a breakthrough in safeguarding against the wrongful convictions of young people. It is far more likely than one might think for someone, particularly a child, to confess out of fear, coercion, or desperation when deceptive tactics are used during an interrogation.”

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Source: ALTERNET

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Even right-wing media are slamming Arizona's bizarre 'election audit'

May 31, 2021 in Blogs

By Ray Hartmann

The conservative Washington Times, a noted purveyor of conspiracy theories, didn’t mince words in criticizing the spectacle of a partisan election “audit’ — to placate Donald Trump — in Maricopa County, AZ.

“‘Hoping something sticks’: Arizona election audit promises more intrigue than answers,” read the headline on a Saturday piece at the newspaper’s website.

“The ongoing audit of the 2020 election in Arizona has the state’s Republican leaders at each other’s throats and their disputes over the process are raising doubts about the outcome of the high-tech recount,” the paper reported.

The Times was not alone among leading conservative information sites in shying away from Trump’s obsession. The Arizona audit has received scant coverage at FoxNews.com and Newsmax.com — likely because Arizona Republicans are allowing the even-battier OANN to livestream the festivities — and other right-wing sources have also seemed unimpressed.

“The Madness of the Maricopa Election Audit,” blared a headline Friday at the National Review. “The election results in Arizona’s largest county have been certified and authenticated multiple times. This audit effort has been pure folly.”

Even the agitators at Breitbart.com have been circumspect, eschewing their customary red-meat screeching and picking up AP News stories on the audit instead. Imagine the confusion among Breitbart believers upon seeing the audit described like this last week:

“EXPERTS OR GRIFTERS? LITTLE-KNOWN FIRM RUNS ARIZONA AUDIT.”

The Washington Times analysis did not read like one would expect from a newspaper known for birtherism, climate denial and most recently, wondering aloud if Antifa hadn’t pulled off the January 6 Capitol riot in disguise.

“The pro-Trump faction that is championing the effort says all they want is the truth about an election in which President Biden was declared the winner by a less than 1% margin and GOP challenges over irregularities were rejected by the courts,” the newspaper reported.

“Republican officials in Maricopa County, which is Arizona’s largest county and the target of the audit, say the auditors have made impossible demands. Some analysts suspect the audit is less about getting answers and more about injecting new uncertainty.”

The National Review piece — one of three critical of the audit in recent weeks, with none in support — was authored by Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer, a Republican elected to that post in November. The article was carried until the “Elections” tab and not identified as a guest column.

Richer offer …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Trump appointees furious after being asked to 'immediately' pay thousands in deferred payroll taxes

May 31, 2021 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson

In August 2020, then-President Donald Trump sidestepped Congress and used an emergency declaration to defer some payroll taxes — and according to Politico reporters Brian Faler and Daniel Lippman, some ex-members of his administration are not happy about the tax bills they have been receiving.

Faler and Lippman explain, “Many of former President Donald Trump’s political appointees got a nasty surprise when they left the government: a big tax bill. They’ve been ordered to immediately repay months of payroll taxes that had been deferred under a bid by Trump to boost the economy ahead of last year’s elections — levies he had assured them would later be forgiven.”

A May 18 letter sent to a former Trump White House official, according to Faler and Lippman, is demanding $1500 and reads, “If the indebtedness is not paid in full within 30 calendar days, we intend to forward this debt to the Department of Treasury, Treasury offset program, for further collection.”

Another former Trump official, according to Faler and Lippman, is being asked to pay $1300 and told Politico that Trump officials “gave our time and effort to this agency, and this is how we’re getting paid back.” That bill, the official complained, is “unacceptable.”

Faler and Lippman explain, “It’s a little-noticed addendum to Trump’s much-criticized plan last summer to prime the economy. In August, he issued an executive order allowing employers to put off paying their workers’ share of the 12.4% Social Security tax for the rest of the year. The idea was to boost consumer spending by putting more money in the pockets of millions. But the initiative was widely rejected by private sector employers, in part because they feared workers would be unprepared to pay the money back. It was mandatory, though, for federal employees making less than $4000 per biweekly paycheck, and the government began implementing it in September.”

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Source: ALTERNET

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No Republican is going to save the Republican party from itself

May 30, 2021 in Blogs

By Daily Kos

The media have focused a lot of attention on those few Republicans — Liz Cheney, for example — who have spoken out publicly as the GOP transformed itself before our eyes into an authoritarian Trump cult, committed to overturning fair elections while disenfranchising as many Americans as possible in the process. You can appreciate this effort in the coverage on MSNBC, CNN, the New York Times and others surrounding the supposedly noble attempts by these dissident Republicans to save their party. And the attention is understandable; just seeing Republicans grant interviews to any other media outlet than Fox News has been quite a novelty in itself.

But if the traditional media are hoping such isolated voices as Cheney’s, Adam Kinzinger’s and a few others will somehow shift the course of the rest of the GOP — the 98% or so Republicans who have embraced this new ethic of sedition, voter disenfranchisement and outright violence –they’re going to be disappointed. While the outsized coverage afforded to these outlier voices make for compelling political drama, the reality is that they do not represent the now-overwhelming consensus of the GOP at both the state and national levels: namely, that the party’s future course is now inextricably tied to its obeisance to Donald Trump, and specifically Trump’s Big Lie that the 2020 election was somehow nefariously snatched from his grasp. While most in the media will acknowledge this transformation and the danger it represents, only a few appear to be willing to explore the reasons why that transformation has occurred.

Elie Mystal, writing for the Nation, points out that what we are seeing in the GOP’s stunningly rapid descent into something indistinguishable from nascent fascism is an inevitable byproduct of where that party has been headed since at least the 1950′s. He uses former GOP House Speaker Paul Ryan, the most recent example of Republicans now expressing their indignation at their party’s current trajectory, as an example.

Given that the Republican Party has now mainstreamed infection and insurrection, I get why mainstream media makers might think it’s newsworthy when any erstwhile Republican leader is willing to speak out against the party orthodoxy of lies and deceit. But let’s not make any mistakes about who Ryan still is and what his “principles” are. Before he debased himself into retirement, Ryan was an …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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'The GOP is destroying democracy': Alabama GOP hit with a barrage of criticism after curbside voting ban

May 30, 2021 in Blogs

By Lauren Floyd

First, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey came after women, signing into law in 2019 a bill outlawing abortions, even for victims of rape and incest, except when medically necessary. Then, she targeted transgender youth and signed into law on April 23 a bill prohibiting the children from participating in public school sports. Now, Ivey’s targeting people with disabilities.

The Republican governor signed a bill into law on Wednesday to ban curbside voting and in effect make casting ballots more difficult for people with disabilities. The unfortunate law prohibits placing voting machines outside of voting places and prevents poll workers from taking ballots into or out of voting places except when done as part of the established process to transport ballots. The bill sponsored by Republican Rep. Wes Allen was passed by the Alabama House of Representatives in a 74-to-25 vote on March 18 and pushed through by the Senate in a 25-to-6 vote on May 17, the last day of the legislative session, the Montgomery Advertiser initially reported. The ACLU of Alabama tweeted: “With our state is in the middle of a devastating pandemic and economic downturn, what is the Alabama Legislature doing? Passing bills that burden or attack Alabamians.”

Ivey didn’t mention curbside voting ban’s potential impact on people with disabilities in her press release bragging about rubber stamping Republican Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill’s voter suppression effort. “Our freedom of speech is rooted in our ability to vote,” she instead said. “A strong election process is what sets our democracy apart from every other country in the world.” Protecting the electoral process has become a popular guise for voter suppression tactics embraced throughout the country among Republicans following a triple loss for the party, last year in the White House and in two U.S. Senate runoff races effectively flipping the Senate from majority Republican to majority Democratic.

Maria Schell-Cannon, a mother and educator, called the new Alabama law “disgraceful’ in a tweet on Wednesday. “This doesn’t prevent fraud, just mks it more difficult 4 the disabled & elderly 2 gt 2 the polls,” she said in the tweet. “Sad! The GOP is destroying democracy.” Randy Wilson, a real estate investor and father, tweeted on Thursday: “No lottery. No expanded medicaid. No …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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GOP's blocking of January 6 commission will blow up in their faces in 2022 — and beyond: columnist

May 30, 2021 in Blogs

By Tom Boggioni

In a scorching column for Cleveland.com, editorial board member Ted Diadiun claims Republicans will come to regret blocking the Democrat’s attempt to create a bipartisan commission tasked with investigating the Jan. 6th Capitol riot.

According to the columnist, the Capitol insurrection that followed Donald Trump’s speech at a “Stop the Steal” rally was “a national embarrassment, a dark day in the country’s history,” that sickened him but admitted he was on the fence about a commission to investigate the events of that day — but now he has changed his mind.

In a scorching column for Cleveland.com, editorial board member Ted Diadiun claims Republicans will come to regret blocking the Democrat’s attempt to create a bipartisan commission tasked with investigating the Jan. 6th Capitol riot.

According to the columnist, the Capitol insurrection that followed Donald Trump’s speech at a “Stop the Steal” rally was “a national embarrassment, a dark day in the country’s history,” that sickened him but admitted he was on the fence about a commission to investigate the events of that day — but now he has changed his mind.

“I’ve changed my opinion on the Democrat-led effort to establish an independent bipartisan commission to investigate and report on what happened that day. And I’m beyond disgusted with the Senate’s refusal Friday to allow that to happen,” he wrote. “I initially assumed it was simply another political gambit from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, to keep the events fresh in people’s minds as we move toward the 2022 midterm elections that could change the balance of power in both houses of Congress. And I’m probably right. Pelosi doesn’t do anything that’s not steeped in a striving for partisan advantage.”

What changed his mind, he admitted, is that there are people who have taken to downplaying the riot — including a GOP lawmaker who attempted to paint the insurrectionists as “tourists” — and that a commission is needed to set the record straight.

According to Diadiun, the very fact that Republicans have attempted to quash the investigation will haunt them when the 2022 midterms roll aorund — and that Democrats will hang it around their necks.

In a scorching column for Cleveland.com, editorial board member Ted Diadiun claims Republicans will come to regret blocking the Democrat’s attempt to create a bipartisan commission tasked with investigating the Jan. …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Fox News melts down at 'spoiled' Kamala Harris after she calls Memorial Day holiday a 'long weekend'

May 30, 2021 in Blogs

By David Edwards

Fox News hosts on Sunday lashed out at Vice President Kamala Harris after she told her Twitter followers to “enjoy the long weekend” during the Memorial Day holiday.

“There are many who are upset the leaders in this country do not quite remember the meaning of this weekend,” Fox & Friends co-host Will Cain said before pointing to Harris’s tweet.

“It’s more than a long weekend,” co-host Pete Hegseth complained. “The landing craft at Normandy beach. Long weekend. Or soldiers storming Iwo Jima. Long weekend. We talk about antifa or the anti-racists. Talk about the real anti-fascists and the real anti-racists, those men in World War II who put on the uniform to go fight real fascists and real racism around the world.”

“You’re in a position of such power and your only answer is ‘Look at me, I’m cute, have a long weekend,’” he remarked.

Co-host Carley Shimkus argued that former President Donald Trump won in 2016 because of “those kinds of messages” and “President Obama’s apology tour.”

“Now we are going back to that Obama era of apologies and have a nice long weekend,” she said. “She’s the vice president. That tweet may be acceptable for not a politician, maybe somebody that’s not running for office, or anything like that. But she’s the second most powerful person in the world and she said on Memorial Day, have a nice long weekend.”

The three co-hosts also slammed President Joe Biden over a tweet in which he is seen eating ice cream.

“We’ve become so spoiled,” Cain opined. “We are the spoiled grandchildren, the spoiled great-grandchildren of people who truly built this country from a place where your freedom wasn’t something you could so easily take for granted.”

Watch the video below from Fox News.

Fox News attacks ‘spoiled’ Kamala Harris over her Memorial Day tweet

via Fox News

…read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Trump furious over his massive legal fees as investigators close in: report

May 30, 2021 in Blogs

By Tom Boggioni

According to a report from Business Insider, former president Donald Trump is growing increasingly furious over his mounting legal fees stemming from a multitude of lawsuits as well as state and federal investigations into his business dealings.

With reports of a special grand jury having been empaneled in New York City to hear evidence from prosecutors looking into the ex-president taxes and business dealings — as well as civil suits filed against Trump and his family — the one-term president has told aids that his legal bills are “such pain in the ass.”

According to Business Insider, “The former president is reportedly frustrated with the investigations because of the possible legal peril they bring and the financial costs attached to them,” quoting the Daily Beast reporting, “The former president is reportedly also worried that investigators could drag the case out for years.”

During an interview on MSNBC on Saturday afternoon, former Trump Organization Executive Vice President Barbara Res told host Alex Witt, “I think he’s so angry. All the things that he put in place, the things he put in place to get elected the first time and almost get elected the second time, both were unreasonably based, and all the other things, the attorney general and the kinds of — the judges and all the things that he thought he had working for him all of a sudden are not there anymore. it’s — he can’t avoid this. This happened and this is something he thought he could avoid.”

Business Insider also is reporting, “Trump has still not paid [former New York Mayor Rudy] Giuliani for his work and instructed his aides not to pay the legal fees because he was upset that Giuliani had not done more to push back against his second impeachment that month.”

You can read more here.

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Source: ALTERNET