/ 264 posts
12 Nov 20 3:56 am
+ AP News
U.S. Politics

Report: Trump Disparaged US War Dead as ‘Losers,’ ‘Suckers’

A new report details multiple instances of President Donald Trump making disparaging remarks about members of the U.S. military who have been captured or killed.



DELRAY BEACH, FLa. (AP) — A new report details multiple instances of President Donald Trump making disparaging remarks about members of the U.S. military who have been captured or killed, including referring to the American war dead at the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery in France in 2018 as “losers” and “suckers.”


/ 264 posts
14 Nov 20 2:21 am
+ Twitter flags ballot conspiracy theory shared by Trump – after it is shared widely

Kari Paul and Maanvi Singh

Wed, November 11, 2020, 7:40 PM CST

Twitter took more than an hour to flag a highly misleading video shared by Donald Trump, which baselessly pushed claims of ballot fraud and was retweeted more than 70,000 times before the platform took action.

The tweet from Trump – and Twitter’s failure to flag it – led to outrage and concern. It also prompted renewed calls to have the president’s Twitter account suspended or permanently banned. Twitter has said the president will no longer receive the same treatment under its policies for newsworthy individuals when he is out of office.

“It’s going to be really nice to have a President who isn’t an internet troll trafficking already debunked conspiracy theories,” the spokesman for California’s secretary of state tweeted in response to Trump’s sharing of the video.


/ 264 posts
14 Nov 20 2:25 am
+ Life after QAnon: Trump's loss allows some to escape conspiracy cult's grip

Caitlin Dickson
Thu, November 12, 2020, 12:20 PM CST·15 min read

The voter fraud claims first began flooding Justin’s Twitter feed late Tuesday night, as the results of the presidential election were still trickling in.

The 26-year-old, who lives in Austin, Texas, and once wanted to become a journalist, hadn’t even voted, nor did he ever really like Donald Trump. But he quickly found himself falling down a familiar rabbit hole, following one Twitter thread after another in search of proof that the election had been rigged by the Democrats against the president.

“I just became obsessed with figuring out that it was rigged and putting pieces together that it was,” Justin, who asked to be identified only by his first name, told Yahoo News. “I wanted to say that I was on to this before everyone, when everyone else blindly believed the lies of the media.”

As Tuesday night spilled into Wednesday, Justin said, he called off work and he spent the rest of the week “on Twitter trying to convince myself of this election fraud stuff.”

Millions of others were doing the same thing, and some of them undoubtedly still are. How it will end for them is unclear: disillusionment, resignation, anger are all possible outcomes. A worst case would be further radicalization, leading to violence.

But Justin’s failed search for evidence of fraud in the election had a very different effect. It was the key that allowed him to escape his years-long obsession with QAnon, the conspiracy theory that holds millions of people around the world in its cultlike grip.

Like Justin, many American Q devotees were struggling to make sense of the outcome of the presidential election, which seemed to upend the core mythology of their worldview.

After all, QAnon is rooted in the baseless belief, seeded on the internet fringes by an anonymous figure known as “Q,” that Trump has been secretly working to dismantle an alleged satanic cabal of child-eating pedophiles including prominent Democrats like Hillary Clinton, high-ranking government officials and other members of the “global elite,” code on the far right for “Jews.” And though the movement has since evolved to encompass various other beliefs including opposition to vaccines, COVID-19 skepticism and concerns about human trafficking, its central premise remained an apocalyptic faith in the imminence of “the Storm,” a day of reckoning in which Trump’s righteous followers would round up this nonexistent cabal for trial and execution.

Now, not only had Trump lost the election before achieving the highly anticipated demise of the “deep state” cabal, but the individual or group behind the shadowy “Q” persona had conspicuously gone silent since Election Day.....


/ 264 posts
14 Nov 20 10:50 am
+ As Soon as Trump Leaves Office, He Faces Greater Risk of Prosecution

William K. Rashbaum and Benjamin Weiser
Fri, November 13, 2020, 7:13 AM CST

President Donald Trump lost more than an election last week. When he leaves the White House in January, he will also lose the constitutional protection from prosecution afforded to a sitting president.

After Jan. 20, Trump, who has refused to concede and is fighting to hold onto his office, will be more vulnerable than ever to a pending grand jury investigation by the Manhattan district attorney into the president’s family business and its practices, as well as his taxes.

The two-year inquiry, the only known active criminal investigation of Trump, has been stalled since last fall, when the president sued to block a subpoena for his tax returns and other records, a bitter dispute that for the second time is before the U.S. Supreme Court. A ruling is expected soon.

Trump has contended that the investigation by the district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., a Democrat, is a politically motivated fishing expedition. But if the Supreme Court rules that Vance is entitled to the records, and he uncovers possible crimes, Trump could face a reckoning with law enforcement — further inflaming political tensions and raising the startling specter of a criminal conviction, or even prison, for a former president.

“He’ll never have more protection from Vance than he has right now,” said Stephen I. Vladeck, a law professor at the University of Texas.

/ 264 posts
15 Nov 20 12:03 am
+ Tens of thousands rally in DC to support outgoing President Trump; 10 arrested as protesters clash with counter-protesters

Christal Hayes, N'dea Yancey-Bragg and Grace Hauck, USA TODAY
Sat, November 14, 2020, 5:39 PM CST

WASHINGTON — Tens of thousands of people clad in red, white and blue rallied and marched in support of outgoing President Donald Trump in Washington, D.C., on Saturday afternoon to protest supposed "voter fraud" in the 2020 presidential election. But as night fell, skirmishes between protesters and counter-protesters broke out across the city.

At least 10 people had been arrested as of Saturday evening, according to the Metropolitan Police Department. Four people were arrested for firearm violations, two for assault, one for not having a permit, one for assaulting a police officer and two for disorderly conduct, according to public affairs officer Alaina Gertz.

The daytime rally – advertised by several names including Million MAGA March, Stop the Steal and March for Trump – started at Freedom Plaza, where the crowd's chants of "four more years" and "stop the steal" largely drowned out event speakers. Part of the group then marched to the Capitol.

The crowd was largely protesting "voter fraud," to "show support for our President" and to "preserve the integrity of the vote," according to various event pages. Trump has refused to concede and leveled baseless allegations of voter fraud to falsely claim the election was stolen from him.

Most of the rally participants were not wearing face masks, which help prevent the spread of COVID-19. The massive crowd, filled with red Make America Great Again hats and large flags with Trump’s name, was an unusual site in the nation’s capital, a liberal city. Biden won D.C with 93% of the vote, according to the Associated Press.


/ 264 posts
15 Nov 20 4:58 am
+ Trumpworld's faux-intellectual grifters are helping him debase democracy with bogus 'voter fraud' claims. And Republicans rake in the cash.

Anthony L. Fisher
Sat, November 14, 2020, 7:28 AM CST


Trump lost the election, by a lot. Because he's too weak to admit he's a loser, he's damaging democracy.

Internet "skeptics" are amplifying his fake voter fraud claims by engaging in baseless speculation couched in faux intellectual inquiry.

The skeptics created smoke in search of a fire, but these gullible simpletons are just helping Republicans raise money, while GOP voters' faith in the democratic process plummets.

This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.

Trump seems intent on not admitting that he lost the election. He seems doubly intent on ignoring the fact that he will lose the election by slightly more than the electoral college margin by which he defeated Hillary Clinton in 2016 — while also losing the popular vote by twice that election's margin.

Instead of accepting the plain reality staring him in the face, Trump insists there has been widespread voter fraud, while providing zero compelling evidence.

He's been peppering his base with voter fraud allegations for years (remember his shameless lie about caravans of illegal 2016 voters in New Hampshire?). And the president spent months pre-emptively subverting public confidence in the election to keep his base exorcised if he were to lose (which he has, decisively).

Meanwhile, the facts are not in Trump's favor. The right-wing Heritage Foundation tried to prove an epidemic of voter fraud in the US and came up with 1,298 cases of alleged election misconduct. But that was spread out over 36 years and 1,826,807,464 ballots. Heritage effectively proved voter fraud is a negligible issue.

And in a joint statement by the Election Infrastructure Government Coordinating Council Executive Committee and Election Infrastructure Sector Coordinating Council, the non-partisan government election watchdogs stated plainly: "There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised."

"The November 3rd election was the most secure in American history," the agencies declared.

Republicans refuse to push back
But all that "evidence" is just Deep State hooey to the "very stable genius" in the White House. Trump still won't accept the message that he's been fired — with good cause — by the American people.

The president's disdain for the will of the people goes hand in glove with his idealization of "tough" authoritarian tactics and "strong" authoritarian leaders. Trump's never going to be a dictator, but when it comes down to it, he's just not that into democracy.

Also not being much of a reader or law-abider, it's conceivable that Trump may legitimately not know he can't illegally occupy the White House after January. And most of his fellow Republicans don't seem inclined to tell him, so they're sitting back while he smashes the retweet button on every berserk internet fabrication that comes across his screen.

(In a thread that spans hundreds of tweets —with more coming every few hours! — the journalist Issac Saul has attempted to assemble a comprehensive debunking depot for suspicious-sounding but ultimately baseless voter fraud claims spreading across the internet.)

To be sure, there are a few Republicans willing to "bravely" demonstrate that they live in a reality-based world.

George W. Bush's political mastermind Karl Rove wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that there's "no evidence" of voter fraud.

The Trump-appointed Election Assistance Commission Chairman Benjamin Hovland told Insider that the president's claims of voter fraud are "shameful," they "hurt the fabric of our nation," and the "undermining of confidence in our elections and our democracy" is "exactly what our foreign adversaries want to see."

Republican Philadelphia City Commissioner Al Schmidt — who sits on the board that oversees elections — probably put it best to CNN: "I have seen the most fantastical things on social media, making completely ridiculous allegations that have no basis in fact at all ... One thing I can't comprehend is how hungry people are to consume lies."

There'd be less to worry about if most of Trump's fellow Republicans similarly cared enough about the country's future as a liberal democracy to insist that he accept the will of the people, graciously concede, and help provide a stable transition of power to the next democratically-elected administration.

If the GOP stepped up and denounced the president's wild theories, then Trump could continue to be a clown who debases the country to enrich himself — but he'd just be an increasingly irrelevant one.

Unfortunately for our democracy, there's money to be raised, and two runoff elections in Georgia that will determine the balance of power in the Senate.

So the GOP tacitly supports Trump's very lame but very dangerous assault on democracy. They're ok with poisoning their party's voters' faith in a fair US presidential election. According to a Politico/Morning Consult poll, almost 70% of Republican voters said the election was not "free and fair," a figure which doubled in the week after the election.


/ 264 posts
16 Nov 20 2:34 pm
+ Her Abuse Was a 'Family Matter,' Until It Went Live

Elsie Chen
Sun, November 15, 2020, 10:38 AM CST

Screenshot from Lhamo’s Douyin, the Chinese version of the TikTok app.

Lhamo, a Tibetan farmer in southwestern China, lived her life mostly outdoors and shared it online, posting videos of herself cooking, singing and picking herbs in the mountains around her village. By this fall, she had about 200,000 followers, many of whom praised her as cheerful and hardworking.

Over 400 of them were watching one evening in mid-September as Lhamo, 30, streamed a video live from her kitchen on Douyin, the Chinese version of the TikTok app. Suddenly, a man stormed in and Lhamo screamed. Then the screen went dark.

When Lhamo’s sister Dolma arrived at the hospital a few hours later, she found Lhamo struggling to breathe, her body covered with burns. The police in Jinchuan County, where she lived, are investigating Lhamo’s ex-husband on suspicion that he doused her with gasoline and set her on fire.

“She looked like a piece of charcoal,” said Dolma, who, along with her sister and many other Tibetans, goes by one name. “He burned almost all her skin off.”

Lhamo died two weeks later.


/ 264 posts
17 Nov 20 2:56 am
+ Trump, Trying to Cling to Power, Fans Unrest and Conspiracies

Michael D. Shear
Mon, November 16, 2020, 7:07 AM CST

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s refusal to concede the election has entered a more dangerous phase as he stokes resistance and unrest among his supporters and spreads falsehoods aimed at undermining the integrity of the American voting system.

More than a week after President-elect Joe Biden was declared the winner, Trump continues to block his successor’s transition, withholding intelligence briefings, critical information about the coronavirus pandemic and access to the vast machinery of government that Biden will soon oversee.

Some former top advisers to Trump have said that his refusal to cooperate is reckless and unwise. John F. Kelly, Trump’s former chief of staff, called it “crazy” on Friday. John R. Bolton, the president’s former national security adviser who wrote a scathing memoir about his time in the administration, said the refusal “harms the country.”

“Every day that he delays under the pretense that he’s simply asking for his legal remedies ultimately is to the country’s disadvantage,” Bolton said on ABC’s “This Week” program on Sunday morning.

The president’s attempt to cling to power played out against a backdrop of protests by Trump supporters and opponents late Saturday, with sporadic clashes near the White House. The police arrested 21 people as one protester was stabbed and four officers were injured. Rather than seek to calm tensions, Trump lashed out.

“ANTIFA SCUM ran for the hills,” he posted on Twitter on Saturday as he urged the police to move in aggressively. “DC Police, get going — do your job and don’t hold back!!!”

By Sunday morning, the president seemed to briefly acknowledge defeat, but he quickly reversed himself, declaring “I concede NOTHING!” He repeated lies about the vote-counting process, falsely insisting that Biden’s victory was the result of a “RIGGED ELECTION” orchestrated by the “Fake & Silent” news media.

Facing his final 65 days in office, Trump appears unwilling to break from the gut instincts that have guided his pursuit of the presidency and his exercise of authority in the past 5-1/2 years: a fierce determination to act only in his self-interest and a near-total refusal to accept blame or responsibility for his failures.

As the total number of coronavirus cases in the United States soared past 11 million and deaths neared 250,000, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease specialist, warned that 200,000 more people could die by spring if Americans did not more fully embrace public health measures, even with an effective vaccine.

“We are not going to turn it on and off, going from where we are to completely normal,” Fauci said on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday, challenging Trump’s claims that the virus would go away quickly once a vaccine was ready. “It’s going to be a gradual accrual of more normality as the weeks and the months go by, as we get well into 2021.”

Fauci said health officials had not begun working with Biden’s transition team. He also said the president had not attended a meeting of his coronavirus task force in “several months,” vanishing from participation in the panel.

But anyone hoping for a similarly quiet withdrawal from Trump as he leaves the presidency appears destined not to get it. He continues to deny facts and science in favor of baseless conspiracy theories and has moved aggressively to remove anyone he views as disloyal: a fact underscored by a purge of top officials at the Pentagon last week that was followed by an implicit rebuke by the military’s top general.

“We do not take an oath to a king or a queen, a tyrant or a dictator. We do not take an oath to an individual,” Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in a speech on Wednesday. “We take an oath to the Constitution.”


/ 264 posts
17 Nov 20 4:48 am
+ 7 scathingly funny cartoons about Trump's refusal to concede
The Week Staff

November 12, 2020

/ 264 posts
17 Nov 20 12:02 pm
+ Perdue backs out of debate after being called a “crook," Ossoff will face off against empty podium

Igor Derysh
Mon, November 16, 2020, 5:02 PM CST

Democratic Senate candidate Jon Ossoff called Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., a "coward" on Sunday for refusing to participate in any debates ahead of their January runoff election in Georgia.

Perdue will be "represented by an empty podium" at the Atlanta Press Club's Dec. 6 debate, according to Georgia Public Broadcasting. The debate organizer said the move was not its "preference," but Perdue had "decided not to participate."

Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., is scheduled to debate her Democratic challenger Raphael Warnock in Georgia's other runoff race on Dec. 6, the Atlanta Press Club said. The two runoffs will determine which party controls the U.S. Senate for the next two years. Democrats will retain control of the House of Representatives as they reclaim control of the White House under President-elect Joe Biden.

Perdue likewise withdrew from his previously scheduled final debate with Ossoff before Election Day after a clip of the Democrat calling the incumbent a "crook" went viral.

Related Articles
Exclusive: GOP Sen. Thom Tillis embraced QAnon conspiracy about COVID-19 death count in town hall

Trump campaign working with police union to recruit ex-cops as “poll challengers”: report

"It's not just that you're a crook, senator. It's that you're attacking the health of the people that you represent. You did say COVID-19 was no deadlier than the flu. You did say there would be no significant uptick in cases. All the while, you were looking after your own assets and your own portfolio," Ossoff said as he brought up the senator's stock trades.

As the Associated Press reported, "Perdue was among a group of senators whose stock trades came under scrutiny. Perdue denied any wrongdoing, saying the trades were handled by outside advisers and that he was cleared by a Senate Ethics Committee investigation."

After Perdue declined to participate in the Dec. 6 debate, Ossoff said, "Perdue isn't just a crook -- he's a coward too."

"David 'empty podium' Perdue," Ossoff also tweeted, adding that the Republican "can't defend his lies about COVID-19, self-dealing stock trades, his bigotry, or his votes to take away Georgians' health care."


/ 264 posts
20 Nov 20 2:32 am
+ The Thanksgiving Myth Gets a Deeper Look This Year

Brett Anderson
Wed, November 18, 2020, 1:58 PM CST

FORT PECK INDIAN RESERVATION, Mont. — On a frigid November morning inside a tractor barn in northeast Montana, 10 members of the Sioux and Assiniboine tribes joined in song to bless a thirty-aught-six hunting rifle, and to lift up the spirit of a buffalo they were preparing to kill. One man played a painted hand drum. Others passed around burning sage.

The hunt that followed took place on Turtle Mound Buffalo Ranch, 27,000 acres of rolling pasture on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation. Every stage of the hunt was marked by a ceremony to give thanks for a buffalo that descends from animals killed to near-extinction by white settlers in the late 19th century.

The mass killing was part of a government-approved effort to seize land from Native Americans who depended on the animal to survive. The brutality of settlers’ expansion into the Great Plains and American West has been drastically underplayed in popular myths about the founding and growth of the United States.

Arguably the best-known of those myths is the story of the first Thanksgiving, a holiday Robert Magnan, who led the buffalo hunt at Fort Peck, does not observe. “Thanksgiving is kind of like Columbus Day for Native people,” he said. “Why would we celebrate people who tried to destroy us?”

It is now widely accepted that the story of a friendship-sealing repast between white colonists and Native Americans is inaccurate. Articles debunking the tale have become as reliable an annual media ritual as recipes for cornbread stuffing.

But this year should be different, say Native American leaders, scholars and teachers.

The holiday arrives in the midst of a national struggle over racial justice, and a pandemic that has landed with particular force on marginalized communities of color. The crises have fueled an intense reexamination of the roots of persistent inequities in American life.

This Thanksgiving also comes on the heels of an election in which 110 American Indian and Alaska Native candidates ran for office, according to the National Congress of American Indians, and on the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower voyage.

Winona LaDuke, the Native American activist and writer who ran for vice president in 1996 and 2000 as Ralph Nader’s running mate, believes that the country is primed to reenvision Thanksgiving as an occasion to come to terms with the cruelty Native Americans have experienced throughout history.

“I’ve seen a growing awareness, a wake-up, to the systemic oppression of people of color,” said LaDuke, an enrolled member of the White Earth Ojibwe Nation. “There is a movement toward justice for Native people. People want to listen.”

Thanksgiving, of course, is a time for listening, a welcome opportunity for prayer, reflection and looking back, and many Indigenous people celebrate it in their own way. But the problem with its origin story, LaDuke and others say, goes beyond misrepresentations about what was served on Cape Cod in 1621. (There is no evidence that turkey was on the menu, and pie couldn’t have been, because there was no flour or butter available for crust.)

Linda Coombs is a Wampanoag historian and a member of the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah), on Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. Wampanoag people attended the harvest ceremony that later became known as the first Thanksgiving.

“There was an event that happened in 1621,” Coombs said. “But the whole story about what occurred on that first Thanksgiving was a myth created to make white people feel comfortable.”

The caricature of friendly Indians handing over food, knowledge and land to kindhearted Pilgrims was reinforced for generations by school curricula, holiday pageants and children’s books. These stories were among the few appearances made by Native Americans in popular historical narratives, effectively erasing history-altering crimes, like the killing of tens of millions of buffalo, from the country’s consciousness. That massacre led to the mass starvation of Indigenous people.

“Erasure isn’t taking down a conquistador statue,” said LaDuke, 61. “Erasure is when you don’t even know the name of the people who own the land where you live.”

Work to reverse this historical amnesia has spanned decades. The National Day of Mourning dates back to 1970, established on Thanksgiving by activists in New England to recognize the suffering of Native Americans. Fourteen states and the District of Columbia now celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day instead of Columbus Day, recasting a holiday that honored an explorer who presided over the enslaving and killing of Indigenous people.


/ 264 posts
23 Nov 20 5:49 am *
+ How to talk about conspiracy theories

Jon Ward
Sat, November 21, 2020, 4:21 PM CST

The holidays are coming up. And although gatherings will probably be smaller this year, or taking place virtually rather than in person, you may find yourself in a difficult conversation with a friend or family member.

Now normally, a good rule of thumb is to avoid politics at the dinner table altogether — but this year, in the aftermath of a bitterly divisive election, and with a global pandemic raging, there may be no way around it. Political arguments are a part of life, but increasingly in the U.S. they take place between people who disagree over not just policies but also objective reality, posing a dilemma over how to respond when confronted with misinformation, baseless internet rumors or conspiracy theories.

Well, first, maybe don’t start by calling them conspiracy theories. The term is occasionally useful. But to those accused of harboring them, it increasingly comes across as a pat dismissal, a way of closing off discussion. It might be helpful, however, to point out the difference between a proven conspiracy and an unproven conspiracy theory, and we’ll talk about some of those differences in a moment.

Here are the telltale signs of a conspiracy theory:

Negative evidence. The absence of evidence is a clear sign. Often someone who asks for evidence is then painted as closed-minded and potentially even part of the plot to suppress the truth.

Errant data. Conspiracy theories often rely on obscure statistical or historical data, meant to suggest a sophisticated approach but which doesn’t stand up to analysis.

An imaginary master plan. A hallmark of a conspiracy theory is that it discounts the possibility of coincidence or random events. There are no accidents; everything is part of the plot, or the counterplot. Of course, that’s not how the world works. Ask yourself: Is this true of anything in your own life?

A cabal behind the scenes. There is a shadowy, often nameless villain or group of bad guys pulling the strings.

Circular reasoning or contradictory claims. Conspiracy theories don’t hew to deductive logic.

Skepticism toward accepted truth. If you hear someone saying that we can’t actually know for sure what happened, that’s a hallmark of conspiracy theories.

Self-justifying rationales. Reality itself — the existence of a plausible explanation, even one backed by evidence — is part of the plot, because “that’s what they want you to believe.”

So how to talk about it?

First, assess your audience. Are you speaking with someone who is confused by conspiracy theories, or committed to them?

If it’s simply someone who is not sure what to think, then talk about media literacy and the standards for distinguishing good information from bad.

The Cornell Alliance for Science, in its Conspiracy Theory Handbook, recommends four basic questions to help someone assess the credibility of information.

The four questions are:

Do I recognize the news organization that posted the story?

Does the information in the post seem believable?

Is the post written in a style that I expect from a professional news organization?

Is the post politically motivated?


/ 264 posts
23 Nov 20 11:17 am
+ Cancel the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree for Good

Brian Kahn
Thursday 11:50AM

This week, the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree was unfurled in all its floppy, haggard glory. As many a Twitter user were quick to point out, its appearance was a metaphor for this year of pandemic, a slapdash coup attempt, and a general drubbing of American exceptionalism.

This year’s tree is also perfectly poised to reflect something more than our national mood: It reflects the absolutely toxic relationship we have with the natural world and the need to rapidly reverse course. If this year’s tree sees any justice, it’s that it should be the last.

Everything about this tree tells a piece of the story of our past century-plus relationship with nature and extractive capitalism. The tree came from Oneonta, New York, located 170 miles outside New York City. It stood in someone’s yard, a 75-foot (23-meter) giant amid an otherwise entirely uninteresting, ecologically destructive swath of lawn. It’s not that this is some old growth, native tree or remnant of the forest that grew where Oneonta now stands. The tree is a Norway spruce, which, as you can likely guess from the name, is not native to the U.S. That in and of itself reflects how upended our relationship with nature is. In its previous home, though, it had an iota of dignity lost completely once it was transported to Midtown Manhattan. And in that home, it served as a veritable island for wildlife in a vast, biodiversity-poor sea of lawns.

As if to reinforce that, workers discovered an owl in the tree after transporting it to Rockefeller Center. The Northern saw-whet owl was “rescued” from the tree, which is, of course, being spun as a feel-good, cute story. NBC’s Today framed it that way, talking to Ravensbeard Wildlife Center founder Ellen Kalish who called the owl “the little gift in the tree this year.” Great, can’t wait for the children’s book to be optioned.

Today host Craig Melvin noted the owl “picked the right tree.” But me, personally, I’d call it picking exactly the wrong tree. (This is why I’m not a morning show host.) This poor owl was transported on a harrowing 170-mile (274-kilometer) journey on a flatbed and miraculously wasn’t crushed. Sure, it’s great the owl survived and will be released back into the wild. But that’s a pretty piss-poor definition of “right.”

To sum things up, the Rockefeller tree was cut down in a town itself carved out of what was, more than a century ago, an old growth forest. The tree itself was a pocket of cover for wildlife who happened to wander into said town. And an owl was scooped up in the process of cutting down the tree and transported to New York. All this reflects the ways in which we’ve subjugated nature to our whims. And really, the evolution of the Rockefeller Center tree tradition is a very apt stand-in for that in general.


/ 264 posts
23 Nov 20 11:24 am
/ 264 posts
23 Nov 20 11:33 am
/ 264 posts
24 Nov 20 6:19 pm *
+ 'Beyond an embarrassment,' legal experts say of Trump and Giuliani's floundering efforts in court

"It's as dysfunctional a litigation strategy as I've ever seen," one attorney told NBC News.

Nov. 24, 2020, 6:28 AM EST / Updated Nov. 24, 2020, 7:26 AM EST
By Dareh Gregorian

Rudy Giuliani was brought in to lead an "elite strike force" of lawyers to guide President Donald Trump's legal challenges to the 2020 election, but their efforts have been "dysfunctional" and "an embarrassment," based on "unsubstantiated evidence" and "outlandish claims," legal experts told NBC News.

"It's beyond an embarrassment," said lawyer Glenn Kirschner. "It's both really poor lawyering and it has the worst possible motive behind it. It's all in the name of overturning the will of American voter."

Election lawyer Matthew Sanderson compared Giuliani unfavorably to James Baker, who led George W. Bush's legal effort in the 2000 presidential election.

"This is like Bush v. Gore, but replace James Baker with the editor of a QAnon subreddit," he said. "It's not competent lawyering. There are strategic errors, typographical errors — every kind of error you can make in a case."

"It's as dysfunctional a litigation strategy as I've ever seen," Sanderson added.


/ 264 posts
25 Nov 20 12:05 am
+ Op-Ed: In what moral universe does Biden require a Catholic task force when Trump got a free pass?

Randall Balmer
Mon, November 23, 2020, 5:00 AM CST

The election of the second Roman Catholic as president of the United States should be the occasion of great celebration among his coreligionists. Not all Catholics supported Joseph Biden, of course, though about half did. On Nov. 7, the head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, José Gomez, archbishop of Los Angeles, congratulated Biden and Kamala Harris, and five days later so did Pope Francis. Then last week, Gomez wasn’t so sure. On Tuesday, at the end of the national meeting of the American bishops, he declared that the president-elect’s support for abortion rights presents the church with a “difficult and complex situation.”

News reports suggest that the bishops may want to deny Biden, a lifelong Catholic, access to the sacrament of Holy Communion, much the way that conservative bishops declared John Kerry, the Democratic presidential nominee in 2004, unwelcome at the communion rail in their dioceses. Gomez has set up a task force to consider the matter. No one is yet calling this a threat of excommunication, but that effectively is what the bishops are considering.

Back in 2016, the same U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops rushed to congratulate Donald Trump after his presidential victory, even before the results were certified. This year, at least one member of the conference, Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas, refused to acknowledge Biden as president-elect after the race was called.

To pretend that there is anything approaching moral equivalency between Joe Biden and Donald Trump, let alone to decide the matter in Trump’s favor, represents an appalling failure to exercise ethical judgment.

President Trump without remorse has separated refugee children from their parents and confined them to cages; he has borne false witness more than 22,000 times during the course of his presidency; and he has used his office to advance his political, economic and legal interests. All of that, you may say, emerged after the bishops offered their 2016 postelection congratulations, but Trump’s life to that point — littered with divorces and extramarital affairs, with workers forced to sue for their rightful pay, as well as his nasty, race-baiting campaign — foretold it all.

In what moral universe does Joe Biden, devout Roman Catholic, public servant and family man, present the bishops with difficulties and complexities while Trump gets a pass?


/ 264 posts
26 Nov 20 2:29 am
+ Bill Maher Says Catherine Oxenberg’s “Hate The Cult, Love The Cultist” Approach Is Perfect For Donald Trump Era

By Dade Hayes

November 20, 2020 9:04pm

In tonight’s season finale of Real Time with Bill Maher, the host invoked the case of New York-based sex cult Nxivm in suggesting a way to handle Donald Trump supporters who believe the election was stolen.

“The challenge for us is, how do you get people out of a cult?” Maher asked. “Especially when every time you present evidence of what is obvious reality, they take it as proof of you being in on a conspiracy to destroy them?” A recent poll found that 88% of Trump voters believe he won the election, he noted, and their conviction could cleave a large swath of America from the workings of democracy and society.

For a living example of how to rise to such an existential challenge, Maher saluted Catherine Oxenberg. The former Dynasty star’s dogged work to free her daughter, India, is depicted in two documentary series, HBO’s The Vow and Starz’ Seduced: Inside the Nxivm Cult.

Maher played a series of clips showing the unbridled admiration of followers of Nxivm leader Keith Raniere, who was sentenced to 120 years in prison last month, and Republican leaders lavishing praise on Trump. Maher found many points of comparison between Trump and Raniere, who gave himself the nickname Vanguard. “They had to have that one queen bee around them, who they deputized to recruit others into their sick games,” he quipped. “Vanguard had Smallville actress Alison Mack. Trump has Lindsay Graham.”

In trying to fight a “cult” that has grown tens of millions strong, he added, “you’re not just fighting the leaders, but all the enablers. They see you as an enemy. Truth is a threat to them.


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27 Nov 20 10:40 pm
+ 'He will be away from children': Houston-area priest pleads guilty to child indecency charges

Belisa Morillo, Noticias Telemundo and Luis Antonio Hernández, Noticias Telemundo
Wed, November 25, 2020, 1:53 PM CST

A Houston-area priest has pleaded guilty to child indecency charges in a case that has put a focus on the archdiocese of Galveston-Houston and its failures over the handling of sexual abuse cases.

The Rev. Manuel La Rosa-Lopez, 62, pleaded guilty to two out of five charges of indecency with a child Nov. 17, as part of an agreement with the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office. He faces 10 years in prison in the case which deals with allegations that he molested two teens more than 20 years ago after gaining the trust of their families; his sentencing is Dec. 16.

La Rosa-Lopez avoided a possible 20-year sentence with the guilty plea.

"We offered him to plead guilty on two of the greater charges, which were second-degree felonies, indecency with a child," Montgomery County chief prosecutor Nancy Hebert told Noticias Telemundo Investiga. "In exchange for that plea, we're dismissing the other three charges."


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29 Nov 20 3:26 am
+ Ex-Trump Lawyer Sidney Powell Mocked For Typo-Laden Lawsuits
The estranged Trump campaign lawyer filed lawsuits to overturn election results in Michigan and Georgia, rife with spelling and formatting errors.

By Ja’han Jones
11/26/2020 01:18 PM ET

Sidney Powell — a former lawyer for President Donald Trump’s campaign — filed typo-laden lawsuits alleging without evidence that voter fraud took place in Michigan and Georgia, and critics on social media roundly mocked the error-filled legal documents.

Some wondered how any lawyer could submit a formal claim so rife with errors.

In the Michigan case, for example, Powell misspelled the word “district” in the heading as “distrct.” She also dropped spaces throughout the document that groupedseveralwordstogether.

In the Georgia lawsuit, Powell misspelled “district” twice more — as “districct” and “distrcoict.”

Powell and Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, have filed largely unsuccessful lawsuits intended to overturn the results of the presidential race in the weeks since Election Day. President-elect Joe Biden won in states where Giuliani and others have filed suits.